Autumn – Chapter 9 – 02

                I savagely seized the flap of the supply tent and flipped it open, only to hear Kellin shouting for me from the ward line.  I spun around, cursing under my breath.  I couldn’t quite hear what she was saying, what she was shouting.
                “You two check this out,” I growled at Thom and Rory.  “I’ve got to go see what Kellin needs.”
                “Be careful,” Thom said, squeezing my arm before he let me go.  I gave him a quick smile that I’m pretty sure didn’t reach my eyes.
                “I will be.”
                I jogged across the lawn toward the sound of Kellin’s voice.  It wasn’t until I got closer that I realized she wasn’t yelling because of a ward or anything like that.
                “Mar, get Jacqueline down here with her bag!  I think we’re going to need her.”
                Shit, shit, shit and goddamn.  “What’s going on?”
                “Just do it!”
                I cursed again and took off for the tent.  “Jac!  Jac, where are you?”
                She stood up from here seat near the fire, her kit arranged around her with a blanket spread by the fire, still ready to accept any wounded that might have been brought back to her—preparations that had been for naught so far, but probably not for much longer.
                “What’s wrong?”
                “Don’t know,” I said, stopping to catch my breath for a second.  Blood pounded in my ears and my head throbbed.  My adrenaline spiking up and down wasn’t doing me any favors; I’d be a mess tomorrow if I survived today.  “Kel said we needed you.  Grab your bag and let’s go.”
                “Most of my bag’s spread out all over the place here,” she said, scooping up a roll of bandages, a bag of cotton swabs, and a bottle of alcohol.  She stuffed them in her satchel and hopped over the blanket laid out next to the fire.  “Where’s J.T.?”
                I winced.  She doesn’t know.  Shit.  “Looking for Phelan in the ravine.”
                “Looking for—what?”
                I waved my hands quickly, then grabbed one of hers and started to drag her toward the ward lines and Kellin.  “Don’t ask, just come.”
                “Too bad!  I’m asking.”  She kept pace with me easily as we jogged toward where I’d last seen Kellin.
                “Best we can figure, Phelan tackled Vammatar into the ravine.  J.T. and Matt and some of the others went to try to find him down there, since there wasn’t any sign below where they went down.”
                “Idiot,” Jacqueline growled.
                My thoughts exactly.  I set my jaw.
                Kellin had crossed the wards and stood at the very edge of the ravine by the time we made it to her.  She glanced up at the sound of our voices and waved us over.  Her expression was grave, complexion washed out.
                My heart dropped to my knees.  “What’s wrong?”
                “Kel, give me your hand.  My foot’s stuck.”
                Kellin turned around and reached down over the edge of the ravine, then hauled back.  Carolyn’s head appeared, followed by the rest of her, soaking wet and spattered with mud.
                Jacqueline went pale and moved toward the edge.
                I was right behind.
                We peered over the edge and Jacqueline gave a strangled cry as she caught sight of J.T. and my brother struggling with the steep, slick ravine walls, Phelan slung between them.  Water plastered Phelan’s hair down, full of muck from the river. I couldn’t see if he was breathing, but I thought that he must be, if they were carrying him like that.  From how muddy all of them were, it was hard to tell how badly Phelan might have been hurt.
                “We found him in the river,” Carolyn said, swallowing hard and wavering on her feet.  I grasped her arm and she steadied slightly.  “There wasn’t any sign of the bitch.”
                “That could be a good thing,” I offered, heart hammering like a jackhammer.
                “Maybe,” she agreed.  She stumbled away from the ravine’s edge as I let go of her arm.
                Jacqueline and I got down on our knees at the edge of the drop and hauled Phelan up once Matt and J.T. got him close enough for us to reach.  He was floppy like a sack of flour and twice as heavy as he dragged him up onto solid ground.
                Jacqueline reached immediately to check his pulse and I couldn’t blame her for doing it.  Phelan’s lips were blue; his face looked like a thin layer of flesh stretched across his skull, more dead than alive.
                “Damn,” I muttered, feeling sick.  “He looks like he was in the river.”  I could see a darkening spot beneath his jacket.  Either his stitches had broken open, or he’d been hit again.
                “We got lucky,” Matt said as he cleared the ravine himself, speaking between panting breaths.  “He got caught on some roots before the river could sweep him further downstream.  Couldn’t figure out where he went in, though.”
                If it looked like the current swept him downstream, does that mean that Vammatar went into the river, too?  A shiver shot through me and I swallowed hard.  I hoped she was dead, and that hope terrified me.  I’d never hoped anyone or anything was dead before in my life.  Either way, until we saw evidence of her continued existence or Phelan woke up, we couldn’t be sure.
                “We need some kind of stretcher,” Jacqueline said, snapping me out of my thoughts.  Kellin grabbed my arm.
                “Come on,” she murmured.  She had to tug twice to get me to straighten up and come with her.
              Heart beating in my throat, we walked to the tent to get the stretcher.  It wasn’t until we were halfway there that I began to wonder why Jacqueline had asked for it instead of just having us carry Phelan back to the tent without it.

                “I think this is bad, Kel,” I said quietly.
                “I know,” she answered.  “Believe me, I know.”

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One Response to Autumn – Chapter 9 – 02

  1. Good news! The Deluxe e-book edition of Awakenings: Book One is now available at Amazon, BN, and Smashwords. Instead of doing a hard release, I’ve updated the old $0.99 version of the work–so if you already downloaded the $0.99 version, you should be able to upgrade to the $4.99 Deluxe version without a problem.

    The ebook/print edition of Book One contains numerous edits (including a whole new chapter), an essay on writing Awakenings, a FAQ, and the never-before-seen short story that started my adventures in serial-writing.

    The print edition will be available sometime in early May and will retail for $15.95 in as many venues as I can get it (Amazon and BN for sure). It’s an oversized paperback of almost 400 pages that was a lot of fun (and work!) to put together. I’m just waiting on the final proof to come in so I can triple-check for errors before it’s released upon the wild, crazy world.

    Happy Friday!

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