I stumble to my feet and rush out the classroom, not wanting to waste a single moment. I’ve ruled out the possibility of the authorities getting a hold of her but that doesn’t mean they won’t. Out there in the desert a guard could quite easily find her, and then I would be saying hello to a foster home and good-bye to my little sister.
My body’s tempted to run out to the depths immediately but my mind’s telling me to go home and gather supplies. I stand there a moment weighing my options. I decide to make a quick trip home to get essentials like food, the last of the water and a sleeping bag. It’s a good decision, I tell myself, you never know how long you might be out there. I hope Thalia made the same decision.
After taking these things and stuffing them in my oversized backpack, I hurry out the door of our scruffy little shack and climb the city fence to the desert beyond.
I get thirsty after about 20 minutes of walking quickly. I don’t want to run, for that would make me tired, hungry, and thirsty much quicker. Instead I take a tiny sip of the water bottle and continue walking.
The sun’s starting to set now and soon the temperature will drop, so I decide to make a campfire. I gather a few small dry rocks from around the place and arrange them in a circular formation. Dry tinder will be easy to find since it hardly ever rains now so I break off a few branches from a nearby tree and settle down by the circle of rocks. I can’t remember whether or not I brought matches so I search through all my gear and I’m relieved to see them sitting on top of my sleeping bag. My father taught me how to make a fire when I was 7 but I can hardly remember that now.
I strike a match and light the tinder, then being careful not to touch the flame I place the tinder inside the circle.
Just before I settle in for the night I take a long drink of water, it does good for my dry, longing, mouth. A shiver crawls up my spine and I realise how tired I am, so I climb into my warm blue bag and try to get some sleep. I can’t. Even when I do drift off I’m plagued with nightmares. I see my sister in my dreams, happy and smiling. then suddenly she’s gone and no matter how hard I look she’s nowhere to be found. I panic and wake with a start yet again. I sigh and toss some more wood on the fire. Shivering I climb back into my warm, toasty, sleeping bag. I check my watch and see that it’s only 12:30am, much too late to go back to sleep, but also much too early to get up and continue towards the depths. This is going to be a very long night.