Disclaimer: This is a work of pure fiction. Any resemblance to anyone, living or dead is purely coincidental. The characters are fictional and of my own creation. The place, time, and incidents are purely fictional. Copyright © April 2004.
This work is rated as adult material because it involves a relationship between consenting adults of the same gender, and because anything can happen in my stories. If you are easily offended please read something else. If any of this is illegal where you live, stop reading. Beyond this you may wish to take the following immediate actions. First, move. Second, if it is your wish, resume reading. Let no one dictate what you may or may not read, except you, the only person who should be in control of your life.
Warning! This section contains violence and extreme language.
Inevitable Destiny 17
Inevitable Destiny 18 - The Uncertainty Factor
By Ken Rogers
"Hey, are you okay?"
"Uhm... not sure. How about you?"
"I'll manage. You· your voice is muffled. What's wrong?"
"Jaw. Luca nailed me a couple good ones. Don't think it's broken· but it hurts a lot." Angela was hurting all over but her nice comfortable resting spot made her not want to move. She shivered from the cold and reluctantly began to push Samantha up after the blonde did the same, missing the contact immediately. "Sam, you need to get up. I may know where our clothes are."
"You do? How?" She moved away from the brunette, feeling a disquieting sense of loss when they broke contact.
Angela snorted. "You were laying on them when Luca shot you."
"Later then," she remarked realizing Angela's throat was probably just as dry as hers was and, with an injured or broken jaw, talking would be an agony. She forced her curiosity to remain quiet for now.
"Okay, Angel. Point me in the right direction then you just rest."
Angela took her hand and moved it in the direction she hoped was the right one. "There."
"Ten, fifteen feet, I think."
Samantha oriented herself and then moved away from Angel, going in what she hoped was the direction Angel remembered, but afraid she might have become disoriented in the utter darkness.
"Sam?" There was an undertone of panic in her rough voice.
"I'm right here." She tried to make her voice strong for Angel but a nervous note still crept in, despite her best efforts. She went to where she was sure she had passed the clothes then a little further before stopping. She'd missed them. Carefully she turned back then turned a little more to follow a slightly new path. Just a short distance away she felt something soft under the fallen dust and dirt. Carefully she searched, turning up several items. Then she found their shoes and the rest of their things nearby, along with a bonus that eluded her first fumbling touch. She shook the plastic bottle. It was less than half full. Carefully she opened it and sniffed the contents. Water! She took a very small sip, enough to rinse her mouth and wet her throat then, after carefully recapping the bottle; she gathered the clothes into a bundle and stood.
"Here," came the straining voice, from her right and slightly behind her. Carefully she moved back to her, calling again to her to keep her bearings.
She dropped the clothes at her feet and opened the bottle.
"I found a bottle with a little water in it. I'm holding it in front of you."
Sam's voice sounded better so Angela knew she had already drank some of it. She took the bottle and sloshed it. There wasn't much.
"Sam, you need this."
"Don't be silly. We share. Now drink."
Angela did the same thing Sam did, taking only a small amount and wetting her mouth and throat, giving the bottle back. "Thanks." Her voice was still distorted but stronger, more distinct.
Sam heard the change in Angel's voice and by the weight of the bottle could tell she had taken only a little. Carefully she capped the bottle then set the precious liquid nearby before digging into the pile of clothes.
The clothing was gritty even after being shaken out but they both felt immensely better when they were dressed, the clothes warming to their skin and driving the cold away some, though not nearly enough.
"Never dressed anyone in the dark before." she murmured.
"Never been dressed by anyone in the dark before," Angel mumbled. Her ribs were killing her, not to mention that everything else seemed to hurt. "Thanks. I don't know about you but I feel a little better now."
"Well, I'd feel better if I had pants to put on instead of this stupid skirt. I thought of trading but figured I'd never get you into my skirt."
Angela chuckled at the attempt to lighten the mood a little, then winced. "So, you're my lawyer. Get me out of this mess."
She caught the returning attempt a humor in Angel's voice and it raised her own spirits. "Somehow I doubt my legal skills will help much in this situation."
"I'm disappointed. I thought you could talk your way out of anything."
"How about if I revert to a different set of skills?"
"A cell phone, maybe?"
"In my bag, which your brother was thoughtless enough not to provide."
"That's him. Selfish."
"I noticed. Do you think you will be okay here for a few minutes while I look for a way out of here?"
"Better yet, why don't you go get help."
Samantha ran her hand up Angel's arm, across to her neck then up to gently take her jaw in her roughened fingers for emphasis. "That's the last time I want to hear that. We go together."
Angela suppressed a groan of pain as even the gentle touch to her aching jaw increased the pain but Sam's words warmed her even though she firmly believed she should go alone. "No, Sam. Don't think I can make it very far. You go get help. I'll be here when you get back."
"No you won't, because you either go with me or I don't go."
"No. Now you just rest up while I find out which way we can try. And be quiet."
She filled her hands with some small pieces of debris and began tossing it in different directions. She made a full circle around Angela tossing bits of rubble. They seemed to be in a small pocket with destruction all around them. Reluctantly she went further, checking out the two places that seemed to offer some hope. The first one ended a short distance into it, in another small pocket, smaller than the one they were in. The second became a narrow passage but didn't close completely, like the first one had, and she felt the slightest movement of air ruffle her bangs. The hope was faint but at least there was hope. Carefully she made her way back to Angel, calling out to her several times and using her answer to keep her going in the right direction.
"Find anything?" Angela asked as Sam's hand touched her. Her fingers remained lightly on her arm, the touch immediately settling the knot that had begun to grow in her stomach while Samantha was away.
"Maybe. Where do you think we are?"
Angela sighed. "Luca said we're under a building."
"One they just destroyed." Samantha finished.
"Which means the chances aren't very good that we'll find a way out."
"That'd be my guess."
"Waste of time even looking."
"You ready to waste some time?"
"Sam, you'd make better time alone."
"Can you stand?" Samantha asked, ignoring her comment, then biting her lip and wincing, waiting for the dreaded answer.
"Not sure." She reached out to the figure she knew was standing next to her and a strong hand took hers. "I guess I better try."
Samantha helped pull her carefully to her feet amidst several quick intakes of breath and tensing of muscles. It was obvious that Angela was in a lot of pain but trying to ignore it.
When she was standing she leaned back against the pillar that had recently been her captor. Her breathing was rough and her body tense. Sam stayed beside her so Angela could use her for partial support.
"How you doing?"
"I'll manage," was the strained reply after a moment. Carefully she reached to wipe away her tears even though Samantha couldn't see them.
Samantha wanted to let her sit back down but resisted the urge. They couldn't stay here and she was sure if she left her to find help she would never see her again, something that she oddly found very unsettling, given her increasing dislike for her over the past year.
Finally Angel's rough breathing slowed and she relaxed a little.
"Still think you should leave me here. I'll just slow you down."
"That's not happening, and I didn't plan to go very fast anyway. Come on, you can lean on me."
"You do know that rooting around in here could bring the whole place down on us."
"Yeah. Personally, if we have to die in this place, I'd rather be squashed like a bug looking for the way out than wait around to starve to death."
"Then shut up and concentrate on helping me out here."
"How? I'm the one dependent on you, you know."
"Yeah, but you have good ears and your other hand still works."
"Okay, okay. Oops, easy. Big slab of concrete here, knee high." Samantha moved them to the left a little. "Better."
"Watch your head, stretch."
"Ouch! Thanks for the warning."
"Are you gonna gripe the whole way?"
"Beats listening for the roof to cave in."
"That's true. Uhm, I'm gonna have to limit my talking while I lug you around, you better too," she remarked, knowing talking was hurting her.
"Just keep me posted on low bridges."
"Like I can see them."
"Just kidding. I'll check for low bridges, you just keep me from bumping into stuff."
"How do I do that?"
"Just let me know when you bump into stuff so I won't."
"Funny. Now shut up."
"I don't suppose we could stop off for a drink?"
"You get another sip a little later."
"That wasn't what I meant."
"I know. First place I see, now be quiet."
Not talking was worse, the mind, concentrating harder on trying to see and hear, substituting fleeting phantoms in the absences, but they were making slow progress. They stopped often to rest and let Samantha feel out their surroundings and the way to go next. Twice they got into dead ends, but the kept trying even though both of them were hurting and well beyond tired.
* * *
"Hey, baby." Phyllis reached down and touched Tanya's cheek, her eyes were bright with unshed tears. Tanya had a bandage on her head and one over her left ear. Her arms were outside the covers, also covered in bandages. There was an IV in her left arm and a clear tube in her throat with a smaller oxygen tube in her nose. "You scared me good this time." A tear slid down her cheek and dropped unnoticed to the blanket. "You're doctor says you're lucky, but I'm the lucky one. I thought you were going to leave me. I've been driving poor Lesha crazy trying to take care of me."
Lesha smiled at the words, from her position at the door. She was very diligently watching that no one interfere with Phyllis.
"I'm gonna have to leave you for a while, baby, but I'll be back as soon as I can, I promise." She leaned down and kissed her gently on the cheek. "I love you, T. Come back to me." She backed out of the room, her eyes locked on the still features of the woman she loved.
Lesha was right beside her as they headed for the elevator. When they passed the nurses station there was a different nurse at the desk.
"I want two guards on her room, Lesh."
"They're on the way, boss."
"Tanya's the boss, Lesha," she reprimanded.
"Yes, ma'am, she is, but she is also down for the count. You're her partner. You're the boss, lady, and that comes from Tanya herself."
They were silent while they waited for the elevator.
Lesha entered and pressed the ground floor. "What's the plan?"
"Simple. Find Samantha and Angela."
"We're doing everything we can."
"Yes, ma'am. Anything else."
"Yeah. Find Luca. I want a few words with him."
"With pleasure, ma'am."
"Stop calling me ma'am."
"Okay, boss." She chuckled as she dodged the playful swat.
* * *
"Sam, we have to stop for a while, you're killing yourself." She failed to mention that she was well beyond her limit for pain just now.
Reluctantly Sam stopped. She was exhausted from supporting Angela through the passages and over debris. It seemed like they had traveled for days, making only very slow progress. She hurt all over and her body was so tired she trembled. It was this that had prompted Angela to try again to get her to stop for a while.
Angela leaned back against the debris to her right, bracing her feet, hoping they would hold.
"We have to rest, Sam. You can't go on like this and neither can I."
"Okay" she agreed reluctantly. She cast around finding what seemed to be a relatively safe spot where they could sit against the debris. She returned to her companion and led her to the spot, then eased her down against the nearly vertical slab of concrete before seating herself next to her, an involuntary groan escaping her.
Angela kept hold on Samantha's hand, the touch soothing both of them. She noted that Samantha did not pull away.
When she felt she could move a little, Samantha opened the water bottle and handed it to Angel, but it was promptly pushed back.
"You need it more than I do, Sam. You're doing most of the work."
"Shut up and drink, Angel. We both need it to continue."
Reluctantly she took a small drink, then handed it back. Samantha took a small drink and capped the nearly empty bottle. Then she lay back against the rough slab, her mind already drifting. In a very short while they both fell into an exhausted sleep, unconsciously snuggling against one another.
* * *
Phyllis stared sightlessly out through the darkened window of the limousine, the dreary rain soaked streets and occasional hurrying pedestrian unnoticed. It had been an agonizingly long day since she had last ventured out, a day of constant worry and bad news. Luca had again pulled a disappearing act, though her men, and through anonymous tips, the police, were beginning to break down his organization. Slowly it was unraveling, but not nearly fast enough.
Nothing had been found of Samantha or Angela. It was as if they didn't exist and the pain in her heart told her that they were most probably dead, but she would not stop searching until she knew, one way or the other.
The limo turned into the drive of the hospital, behind the lead car, a chase car right behind them. Though she wasn't currently with her, Lesha, like Tanya before her, was taking no chances, especially since the hit on the redhead had been on her watch. She would not let it happen again.
Phyllis waited until her guards were in place before rushing from the car and into the hospital. The staff and patients made sure to get out of the way of the security team that escorted the redhead, the people that were unfamiliar with her visits wondering who she was to have such a potent escort. Phyllis missed having the strong silent Lesha by her side but she was in the field following leads. Everyone that could possibly be of any help was in the field. Phyllis was making this trip on her own and she longed for Lesha's strong support. She felt naked, exposed, even with Lesha's best team around her.
They used the stairs, the elevator a possible death trap. Tanya was now on the third floor and her team hurried her up the stairs to that level. As soon as Phyllis stepped onto the floor she knew something was wrong. The guards were missing from Tanya's door. Her team was immediately alert to the trouble as well and surrounded her, guns drawn. Two men already had their cell phones dialed and were talking rapidly but softly.
"Move to T's room, now!" Phyllis whispered urgently, forcing herself against the man in front of her.
The leader silently dispatched two men to check it out while he forcefully pushed Phyllis into a hurriedly checked out waiting room. Shots were fired suddenly and Phyllis struggled to get away from them but they held her back. Two more men went to investigate.
A few moments later one of the men returned.
"All clear, boss," he reported to Phyllis. "You can go·." He was speaking to thin air, because she was already racing down the hall towards Tanya's room, her guards trailing helplessly along behind her. She stopped at the door to the room taking in the scene. Tanya was still in her bed, her machines still monitoring her. There were five men in the room, three standing around the bed with their guns drawn and two more lying in spreading pools of blood. Her guards had surprised them and they had gone down in a hail of bullets.
Phyllis stepped over one of the men to the side of the bed, touching her hand to Tanya's neck, immensely relieved to find a pulse. She noticed that the needles had been ripped from her wrists. Wads of cotton hurriedly taped over the holes were darkening as she watched. She looked up at the man that had turned to her as she entered the room. Already the other men were organized, searching the rooms for the missing guards and nurses and any other possible infiltrators.
"Did you pull these?" she asked of the man watching her.
"Yes, ma'am. One of the men was injecting something into her IV. I pulled it immediately."
"Good work. Find a nurse or a doctor. We need to get her plugged back in as soon as we can. Take those IV's down first. I want to know what he put in them. We need to know what it was in case any got into her."
One of the other men was already searching the dead men, something the police wouldn't be happy about, but that was a small worry.
"Got it, boss," he said as he stood holding up a small bottle.
She held out her hand just as a harried Janice Kerland was practically dragged into the room by two large men. She gasped when she saw the two men on the floor, starting towards them.
"They're dead, Janice. Don't bother. Tell me what this is." She held out the bottle.
Janice took it scanning the label then looked up, concerned.
"Where did you get this?"
"That guy you were going to try to help was injecting it into Tanya's IV."
Janice's eyes flicked to the man, then the patient, noting the missing IV's. She turned to a nurse who had been led in behind her, and issued some hurried instructions. The nurse left on the run as Janice pushed past one of the guards and began checking Tanya over.
"Did you pull these, Phyllis?" she asked as she checked Tanya's eyes.
"One of the men that caught them at it did, as soon as he could."
"Then she may have a chance. Get everyone out of here so my staff can work."
Phyllis nodded and the guards started moving out as three nurses hurried into the room, two of them carrying equipment, the third, more IV's.
"Go with them, Phyllis."
She didn't want to, but she trusted Janice. Reluctantly she let go of Tanya's hand and left the room. Two of her men stayed just outside the door while another of the team coaxed Phyllis into the lounge.
All they could do was wait.
* * *
The sound and the shaking woke them. Angela pulled herself up over the smaller woman to protect her from falling debris. Dust billowed into their space and they could hardly breath. Angela was struck in the back by something and shoved hard against the woman under her. Something else struck her head and she lost consciousness.
The sound stopped and slowly the air cleared.
Samantha was being crushed, having trouble breathing, yet coughing from the cloying dust. She tried to move, but Angela was a dead weight on top of her. Her hands were pinned as well.
"Angel?" She struggled until she pulled her right hand free. "Angel?" She reached up, her hand touching the back of Angela's head, which lay touching her head, sort of cheek to cheek. She jerked away, her hand bloody. "Angela!" The bigger woman didn't move. Carefully she felt out the wound, relieved when she found it wasn't very large but still concerned that she wasn't responding.
Samantha managed to get her hand against the woman's neck, all the while calling her. The throbbing in her neck was there but she thought it was fluttery. She forced her panic down, trying to think. It would do neither of them any good if she panicked. She needed to get out from under her in order to help her. With that thought she began to feel along Angela's back to see what was pressing into her. Again her hand came away bloody. Something had injured her back, but again she was relieved to find only a small cut.
At her waist she struck a piece of concrete about the size of a football, which she managed to get off of her. Below that was other debris, most of it just small rubble, but piled on top of them, weighing them down. This wasn't going to be easy.
She began to struggle, straining to pull out from under Angela but careful to try not to further injure her. It seemed to take hours but she was making slow progress. She stopped for a rest, Angela's cheek pressed into her breast, the feel of her warmth on her chest comforting. Carefully she checked her neck again. Her pulse seemed a little stronger but she couldn't be sure. It could just be her imagination. After that it was easier. She slithered out from under her but instead of resting she immediately grabbed her by the armpits and began pulling her out of the debris, lest it move and trap her further.
When she had her out from under the debris she continued to drag her further away from the pile of debris until she felt they were safely away from the danger, then she sat down and pulled her into her lap still on her stomach. She pulled her own shirt loose from her skirt and ripped off a piece. She shook it out then began trying to clean up her wounds a little, enough to make sure the bleeding had stopped.
She tore another piece off her shirt and made two small pads, holding them against the wounds to help stop the bleeding. Again hours seemed to pass as she held the pads and intermittently tried to wake Angela, but she didn't respond. Frustrated because she could do so little in the dark, and afraid the woman was in serious need of medical attention, all she could do was stay where she was and try to be of some comfort to her, emotional if not medical, when she woke up. If she woke up.
At last, her own condition caught up with her and she fell into a restless sleep, waking often to check on her charge.
* * *
Phyllis turned away from her vigil to find Lesha in the doorway.
"Need to talk," she whispered.
Phyllis released Tanya's hand and stood, following a soaked and dripping Lesha a short distance down the hall so they wouldn't disturb Tanya.
"Man! Can you believe this damned weather? It was cloudy and cool when I left to come here and now it's pouring buckets. Thought I'd drowned getting in here." She pushed her dripping hair back and wiped at her eyes.
"Yeah, I can hear it. The wind is rattling the windows. So, what have you got?" Lesha was grinning like a Cheshire cat so she knew it was good news for a change. "Did you find them?" Hope flared.
Lesha's smile faded slightly as she shook her head and the hope died in Phyllis's pleading gray eyes. "No, but we found Luca."
Phyllis smiled, but if Luca had seen the smile, it would have made him very nervous. "How, where, when can I see him?"
"He screwed up. Called in a pizza order for six pizzas. They would have been okay but the dumb ass answered the door himself. I talked to the delivery guy and he said Luca was walking past the door when he rang the bell. Must have opened it without thinking."
"How'd you find out?"
Lesha grinned again. "We've been canvassing fast food places in all the likely areas. Elaine showed him the pictures then leaned over to suck the guy's eyeballs into that cleavage of hers. Must have triggered a brain cell in the guy. Fifty bucks bought her a personal tour of the location. Had the block surrounded in an hour."
"You're sure it's him?"
"Yeah. Elaine got a good look through some Înocs. Seems he likes to stand by the patio doors and look out at the yard. I thought the jerk was smarter than that. Can't imagine how we didn't tumble him before now."
"Maybe he's going stir crazy and getting careless."
"Maybe. Anyway, we'll ferret the little rat out tonight."
"Good work, Lesh."
"Thought you'd like it. Listen, I gotta get back. Buzz you later and let you know when we have him."
Phyllis watched the woman leave with a jauntiness in her step she hadn't seen in quite a while. It was nice to have some good news for a change even though there was still nothing on the two missing women. She sighed as the turned back to the room and her vigil, carefully lifting Tanya's hand into hers. After gently caressing her cheek and softly letting her know she was back, she began to relate the good news to her in the same soft, soothing voice.
* * *
Sam jerked awake as a large drop of water splashed on the bridge of her nose. Another struck her and then another, coming faster until she was forced to move to get out of the way.
Angela groaned at her movement, a groan of pain, her body tensing.
"Angel?" She forgot about the water, concern for Angela's condition her new focus.
Angela reached for her head, bumping into Samantha's leg, then flinched when she did touch her head. "Ow! Oh, wow· my head·." She started to move then groaned. "Ugh! Was I hit by a bus?" she mumbled. "D'you get his number?"
"Hey, stop moving around. You're hurt."
"No, really?" she groaned sarcastically. "What happened?"
"Building fell on you."
"Yeah. This time it hit you."
"Does that mean we're dead? I feel like it. No, uhm wait, I hurt too much to be dead, unless I'm in hell. That must be it, I'm in hell. Oh, damn I hurt." She carefully cradled her head in her hands. "Big sledge hammer setting off explosions in here."
"I think you're right. We are in hell, but we're still alive."
"Are there options? I need options, this isn't working for me." She moaned again, trying to curl into a ball in Samantha's lap. Samantha wanted to comfort her but was afraid to touch her to more than brush her hair back on the side away from the injury or lay a comforting hand on her shoulder.
"Wish I had something to help."
"Maybe the rest of the building will fall on me. Put me out of my misery."
"Don't say that Angel. That nearly happened. We were half buried. I had to dig us out."
"Should have left me," she mumbled.
"Oooo, sorry, don't shout. I'm dying here."
Samantha impulsively but carefully felt her forehead. She was feverish.
"We need to get moving before you get really sick."
Angel was silent for a moment longer.
"I· Oooh, I can't. Oh, god." She started retching, her stomach heaving, but there was nothing to come up. Samantha could do nothing but hold her. When she finally stopped she curled tight against Samantha, shivering slightly.
Samantha let her rest for a few moments before saying anything.
"We really need to continue trying to find a way out of here."
"Not sure·. Uhm·." She convulsed as her stomach heaved. "I· can't, ooooh· uhm· can't do it." She convulsed again.
Samantha left her alone. She continued to convulse with occasional dry heaves but a little while later her breathing started to even out. Samantha poked her.
"Huh· Ooooh, Jesus, Sam let a girl die in peace."
"No. You can't go to sleep."
"Sure I can. Just quit poking me."
"No you can't. I think you have a concussion. If you do, you can't sleep for a while."
"Oh come on, Sam, I need to. I have to get rid of this headache."
"No. If you go to sleep you might not wake up again."
"Works for me," she mumbled already beginning to doze off.
Samantha located her ear then snapped a finger against it.
"Ow! Damn, what'd you do that for?"
"So you'd stay awake."
Angela pushed herself up off of Samantha, her breath catching several times, but she made it.
"That was uncalled for, damn it." She was mad. She felt like hell and hurt everywhere, even her ear now, which really stung. Samantha had snapped it good.
Sam took the opportunity to stand, catching Angela's arm on her way up and pulling her up as well. She took the sudden anger as another sign that Angela had a concussion but also as a good opportunity to get her moving. She was well aware what she should do with a person with a concussion but that was not an option right now and she figured that getting her moving was better than letting her sleep.
"Sam, stop it!"
"No, damn it. You are not going to lay here and die on me. We need to get moving."
"Yeah? Where? We haven't got a clue where we are or where we're going. We can't see a thing, and there is a damned demolished building all around us! Where the hell are we going?" She didn't really know why she was so mad, but she was steaming. "For all you know we're going around in circles."
"Maybe. But at least we'll be trying to find a way out instead of just sitting here waiting to die."
Angela suddenly felt dizzy and fell against Samantha, her knees buckling.
"Whoa, stretch. You okay?" Samantha caught her and steadied her though it was a strain.
"Hell no. I told you that." She was very queasy and her temper had faded away with the advent of the dizziness. She staggered and Sam got a better hold on her, bracing herself.
"Easy. Just lean on me, Angel, I've got you."
Angela had wrapped her arms around the smaller woman to try and regain her balance. The feel of the smaller woman against her was· right. She felt an enormous sense of comfort just being in close contact with her. The dizziness and the roiling stomach slowly subsided.
"Think you're right."
Samantha smiled though it was lost in the darkness. "About what?"
"The concussion. As if I didn't have enough problems."
"You'll manage. I'm pretty screwed up right now."
"Okay, I'll manage. Come on, let's get started." Samantha slowly changed her position so she was beside Angela, with her arm around her waist with Angela's arm across her shoulders.
"All right, Angel, lets see if we can move a little." The woman slowly began moving without answering. Samantha could tell she was hurting by the tenseness in her body and the occasional sudden halt as a bolt of pain coursed through her.
"Hang in there, Angel, it's not much further." They had walked for what seemed like half an hour, though she was sure they hadn't gone very far. Angela was having more and more trouble and she was sweating, not a good sign.
"You sound like· like you have a destination· in mind."
"I do. I'm hearing water up ahead. More than just the few drips we're getting here and there, and I was hoping maybe it would lead to something. Besides, I feel a very slight chill in the air coming from that direction and thought I felt a little gust of air once."
"The chill is because it's freezing in here."
"Yeah, but this was like a sudden drop in temperature for a moment, and it's not as cold as you think. You have a fever, remember?"
"Kind of hard to forget right now."
"How's your head?"
"Ready to explode."
"All right, just a little further and I'll let you rest. Hear the water?"
"Yeah. I guess I was hearing it earlier but with my pounding head it didn't register until you mentioned it."
Samantha's toe struck something and she stopped.
"Can you stand for a minute?"
"Okay, stand right here and don't move. I'm going to find a place for you to rest." She slowly released Angela, making sure she was stable and had a good grip in the pillar she had bumped into. "I won't be long."
"I'd appreciate that." Angela sounded exhausted.
Samantha quickly did a survey of the surrounding area with her hands. There was a lot of debris here including two flat pieces of concrete, one standing almost vertical, and the other nearly horizontal.
"Okay, I found just the place."
"Hope it's got a tub. I could use a bath."
Samantha chuckled. "Were you a comedian in another life? Okay, easy here. There is a flat slab of concrete here. I want you on it."
"You sure it's safe?"
"Silly question. Trust me, it's just as safe as this whole place is. I did jump up and down on it a few times though."
"That was probably a really safe thing to do."
"I needed the exercise." She turned her around and carefully seated her on the slab. "Lay down and I'll swing your feet up. I want you up off the floor. It's wet here."
Samantha got her as comfortable as she could then sat down beside her, placing her suit coat over her to help warm her a little.
"No, you need that, Sam."
"I'm not the one freezing her, Angel. Just shut up." She arranged the jacket carefully then brushed her hair back carefully.
"How you doing?"
"Don't even ask."
"I'm gonna have to leave you for a little while. "You really should try to stay awake, Angel."
"I promise not to be gone too long, but I need to check and see if we can go any further."
Somewhere ahead, water was running in a steady though small stream that splashed into standing water.
"Hey. You still got that bottle?"
Samantha pulled the battered bottle out of her coat pocket. She shook it. There was still a tiny bit in it.
"Yeah, I do."
"Well do me a favor and fill it will you?"
"That's probably not the cleanest water, Angel."
"I figure it's rain water and from the sound of it its been running for a while. Should be pretty damned good compared to what we have now."
"All right, I'll fill it. Here, there's still a swallow in this thing."
Angela took it, knowing Sam would be to the water shortly and could drink her fill.
"You just relax and rest up. I'm hoping this water will give us a way out of here."
"I'll keep my fingers crossed."
"Good idea. I'll be back shortly."
"I'll be here."
Angela listened with her whole being as Samantha carefully made her way towards the running water, the absence of the comforting presence and the growing distance between them bringing an ache in her heart and a fear that she would never see her again.
Samantha hadn't mentioned her greatest hope. A few moments ago she would have sworn that she had seen a very faint flicker of light. She prayed that it hadn't been just a trick of her eyes because of the light depravation. She was afraid that Angela was on the brink of serious illness and that all the unusual moving around might reinjure her slowly healing back and possibly do some permanent damage. All that would be academic if she came down with pneumonia from the exposure she was suffering. Without care soon, her life could be in jeopardy. Samantha steadfastly refused to believe that they were hopelessly trapped underground. It was just not in her nature to give in to hopelessness.
She came to a jumble of broken concrete and the sound of water was beyond. Carefully she began feeling her way over the rubble. Several times she had problems with the rubble shifting and collapsing, but she was fast enough to get out of the way. She finally made it over the rubble, making her way through a fairly small opening. As she was climbing down the other side she was startled to see a faint flicker to her left. By the time she turned that way it was gone, but a moment later it happened again. This time she was looking in that direction and she saw a faint cone of light from the ceiling to a pool of water. She also caught a brief glimpse of the water running a little further back, apparently from the same opening.
Cautiously she made her way towards the flickering light and running water, the water on the floor here was a couple inches deep and cold as it soaked into her feet. She moved towards the flickering light like a moth to a flame, starved for anything but the utter darkness they had been living in for what seemed like forever. Cautiously she looked up what turned out to be a rather large opening, a flash of light making her close her eyes against the sudden brightness. In the next flash she could see that she was looking up through a fairly large opening to a small patch of flickering sky. The flashing she was seeing was lightning and the water running down the far edge of the hole was indeed rainwater. Her hopes rose, but another glance up that opening proved that it would be a treacherous assent, one that she wasn't sure she could make and one she was sure would be nearly impossible for Angel.
"Hello! Help!" She screamed into the flickering darkness five or six times without any real hope. Who would be out in weather like this and if they were, what were the chances they would be near a treacherous hole in the ground. Still, she listened with her every fiber for any sound that someone might be up there. Nothing but an occasional distant rumble from the storm, which seemed to be some distance away. Reluctantly she turned to the stream of water filling her water bottle. She drank her fill, the water cold and wonderful, her body craving the moisture. It was cold and fairly clear with only a hint of grit. Angela was right; it had been running for a while. She refilled it then looked back up the hole again, shouting her plea for help again. Her pulse quickened when she though she made out a movement at the top of the hole and she shouted herself hoarse, but there was no answer and the movement wasn't repeated. Reluctantly she decided it was a trick of her eyes and the flickering light and turned away, moving towards the opening to return to Angela. On her second step the ground disappeared beneath her feet and she was suddenly falling.
"Angel!" she screamed as she fell into the darkness.
* * *
Inevitable Destiny 19
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