shocking it, the water flattening the projectiles into
mushroom-headed pieces of metal that rip and tear into its scaled
feeling perfectly in control of my vehicle, I bend my knees and
angle my approach so that Cam’s drifting form flies through the
front of my bubble and under my steering arm, slamming into me with
the speed of my travel. The impact almost knocks me clear off the
board, but I manage to hold my footing through a sliding,
pants-wetting moment. I grab her collar, leaving her limp legs
trailing outside the safe zone, and don’t look down at the blood
sloshing over my feet, or at the insistent glow of my hands. I
don’t look at anything except the six-inch patch of magic that
controls our movement, sending us back upward.
out only fifteen metres from the bank, and I basically crash us
right into the edge, having lost all sense of direction and
movement now that we’re above water. My neck tingles with fear, my
mind convinced the Serpent will come for us, chase us up to dry
land, until welcome hands are finally hauling us off the water and
over the barrier, onto the blessedly solid concrete.
I sit in a heap and shiver, choking on the snot caught in my
throat as people fuss over Cam. At least I
got her body out of the water. She doesn’t have to stay under there
forever. She’s not lost. That wouldn’t be okay, being dead down
there, lost and alone.
shoves a hot cup of tea at me, slopping the liquid onto my hands in
a burning puddle. Tentatively, I lift it to my trembling lips and
take a sip. It’s sweet and milky and helps me to stop shaking. It
does nothing for the block of ice that’s replaced my inner organs,
Ruble, and Cam. Cam’s partner? How many more?
stare finally manages to provide some confusing information.
They’re bandaging Cam’s body. White, white bandages taking on muddy
rings of water from her sopping clothes and dripping hair. Why are
they bandaging her when she’s dead?
she’s alive. She must be alive!
stumble to my numb feet and manage to stagger over to the flurry of
activity. I’m shunted out of the way, but persistently worm into a
small space near Cam’s unbandaged hand. Reaching out slowly, I
slide our fingers together, and soon both of my hands are wrapping
around her larger one, a hand-sandwich.
Open your eyes, Cam. Open them. C’mon. Be okay, you can’t be
beaten by an itty-bitty snakeling. Think what people will say! It
wasn’t even a big one.
relax, can’t stop the tension quivering at the base of my spine.
There’s bile burning my throat, and I’m worried I’m going to vomit
all over the people trying to help my friend.
doesn’t open her eyes, but she does finally open her mouth. I
squeak, squeezing her hand tightly and bending down to hear her,
careful not to let my gross hair fall onto her cheek.
“ Hallie?” It’s barely a whisper. But it’s there.
She’s not dead. Thank you. Thank you. Tears sting the corners of my eyes, but I hold onto her with
both hands, refusing to let go for even a second.
“ I’m here, I’m here. Oh God, I thought you were dead. You
scared the shit out of me. Holy guacamole...”
She groans, flinching as an
enthusiastic paramedic pushes another stitch through the bloody
meat of her thigh. “You shot me, you jerk.”
Warriors. As long as they aren’t dead, they’re
and laugh, and lean down to kiss my best friend’s grimy forehead. I
stay standing by the stretcher, even as I see a limp body being
pulled from the water, the distinctive shock of hair dripping pink
onto the gray concrete. They lay him down with careful movements,
and cover his form with a black cloth.
I should go over, I know. But I don’t move. The paramedics
eventually insist that I get out of the way, and load Cam into an
ambulance. Another team comes in, one girl half carrying a boy, who
collapses as the medics run toward him. In the water a Serpent