Will to Survive

Will to Survive by Eric Walters Read Free Book Online Page A

Book: Will to Survive by Eric Walters Read Free Book Online
Authors: Eric Walters
“We’re not setting out to kill people!”
    Everyone on the plane went silent.
    â€œI guess I deserved that,” Quinn said after a minute or so. “I’m sorry I offended you … You’re the last person in the world I want to offend—after you saved my life and all.”
    Of course I hadn’t saved his life—it was all part of an elaborate con to trick him into giving us information that he knew nothing about. I wondered whether I should tell him the truth about what happened, but then decided not to. It was good to have Quinn feeling indebted to me. Still, I felt lousy about my outburst.
    â€œI’m the one who should apologize,” I said. “I’m just … just edgy. It’s not your fault. You probably saved my life, too.”
    â€œHow do you figure that?” Quinn asked.
    â€œIf you hadn’t helped us find out about Brett and his men, they probably would have been successful in taking the plane, and me with it, or killing me before we found out about them. I guess that makes us even.”
    I turned around in my seat, reached over, and offered him my hand. “Sorry … Friends?”
    â€œI’d like that.”
    We shook.
    We continued to fly until first the lake and then the refinery came into view. It was big, a tangled mess of pipes and towering metal superstructures. Catwalks and gigantic tanks all painted white surrounded it. I counted fifteen tanks, ranging in size from big to huge.
    The complex took up almost as much acreage as our neighborhood. It had always been an eyesore, and people who lived around it had objected to the fumes. Now someone had planted crops between the tanks. The plants looked sickly and small, and I couldn’t imagine how bad it would be to eat food grown in soil that was probably contaminated with petroleum and other pollutants. I guess it beat the alternative of not eating at all.
    The refinery had always had high metal fences topped with barbed wire. Those remained, but they’d been reinforced in places with what looked like guard towers. I could make out the small figures of sentries, weapons in hand. I was sure they were all looking at us the same way we were looking at them. We were either a curiosity or a threat, but either way we were worthy of being watched.
    â€œThe refinery isn’t working, is it?” Todd asked.
    â€œUnlikely. A refinery requires massive amounts of electricity that would be far beyond the power produced by an emergency generator,” Herb said. “But from this distance I don’t see any noticeable damage, so perhaps it could be put back into operation if it had power.”
    â€œThen what’s the value?” Todd asked.
    â€œIf the refinery was operating normally when the blackout hit, then we can assume that one-third of the oil had already been converted to gasoline, one-third was in the process, and one-third was waiting to be refined.”
    â€œThat means that five of those tanks are filled with gas,” Todd said. “That’s enough gas to fuel all the gas-guzzling old cars and trucks and go-carts and planes that we have running for years to come.”
    â€œCertainly a year or two,” Herb said.
    â€œSo in there would be more than enough for what we would need?” I prodded.
    Herb didn’t answer right away. Did he think the blackout was going to last more than two years? I was almost afraid to ask that question, and certainly wasn’t going to ask it in front of Todd. Besides, I knew that even if Herb thought that, he wouldn’t say it. He always talked about how you couldn’t give people more truth than they could handle. Already—just judging from the way the food was being rationed, the way wood was being harvested and stacked for fires—people had started to suspect that the blackout would last throughout the winter.
    â€œWe have enough gas to run our neighborhood vehicles, this plane, and

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