Chapter 24

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"I need food." Megan said as we were about to take off for the three day journey. We all needed food.

"I'll tell you what, we walk down to the lake and catch some fish with my fishing skills. We start a fire down there and as soon as we finished eating we head off and try our best to get out of here in three days." Megan said, winking at us as she headed off.

"Uhm, Megan," I said awkwardly, "I need to, uhm, go."

"Go? You're not going to get anywhere, love." Megan said, not getting what I meant.

Hayley understood, however. "We'll wait here." She said. As I was walking off I heard Hayley explaining to Megan that I meant I needed to relief bodily fluids. That was a lie. I just needed to go back to the house to confirm. I was not going to tell Megan that, she would have never let me go back. I wanted to take Hayley with me, but I did not know how I would tell Hayley my plan without Megan over hearing us.

So here I was, walking deeper into the cloud of smoke that was already thick and hard to see through. I wondered if anyone would see this and report it to emergency services.I suddenly got a slither of hope. As I walked I realised that we had gotten very far from the house while we were running away from the bomb; must have been adrenaline.

I did not think that it was possible for the smoke to get even thicker; but it did. The closer I got to the house the thicker and thicker the smoke got. I could hardly breathe anymore. I coughed as the smoky air filled my lungs and I gasped for air. My eyes began to tear and my mind was telling me I needed to get out. I faintly called out Pete's name before everything went black.

                                                                ****

I woke up to my entire tracheal tract burning. I could basically feel how the air molecules had travelled down my windpipe and into my lungs as it ached. I needed to cough but it was too painful, only a small sound escaped my throat. I was so thirsty.

I was wet and cold and I was lying in a pool of mud. I jumped up and looked around me. In front of me was the burnt down lake house, there was nothing left of it but ash. My heart sank as I saw the ruins that was once a beautiful lake house.

It had rained and the rain extinguished the fire.

"Tess?" I heard Hayley's voice coming from trees nearest to me.

"There you are! You are in so much trouble young lady!" Megan's voice came too.

I could not look at them. I only stood there, stunned, looking at the ruins of the house and thinking that somewhere in there is someone who knows me better than I know myself. Someone that can turn any bad day into some of my favourite memories. Pete.

A tear slipped down my cheek before I could stop it.

"How long have I been out here?" I asked, my voice hoarse.

"How can you not know? You were gone for about ten minutes when it started pouring down. After it stopped raining for a while we came looking for you. Why would you come here, Tess. What could have happened if it wasn't for the rain to extinguish the fire?" Megan stated.

"The rain killed every chance we had of escaping." I said bluntly.

Megan and Hayley's faces dropped. They hadn't realised that there could have been fire fighters here in no time, and that we would have been rescued.

I turned to Hayley. Her eyes were fixed on what used to be the lake house. What used to be her boyfriend.

"PETE!!" I yelled out as I fell to me knees in the mud. Fresh tears made their way down my face. Pete was gone. I was now certain of it, as much as I hated to accept it. No one could have ever escaped this even if they were as little as five metre behind us. This blast was horrific.

Hayley was better than me at keeping the tears away. She sat down next to me and whispered in my ear. "We lost some great guys in this blast. They would have wanted us to make it out of here, Tess. That's all Pete would have wanted for you; to be safe. So we need to get going. We haven't got much time left." I was surprised as these words made their way out of Hayley's mouth. I thought it would have been Megan to say something like that, but Hayley was very compartmentalised.

She pulled me to my feet and the three of us dissapeared into the bush heading back towards the lake. Leaving behind all the memories and thoughts of the ones who we will miss so dearly.

I thought I caught a glimpse of a tear on Hayley's cheek, but I decided not to bring it up.

"Did you love him?" Megan asked and I rolled my eyes at her. Megan was straight to the point and she always got the information she needed.

"Yes." Hayley admitted.

"Why?" Megan asked.

"I thought he could have been the one. He made me feel like there is nothing to worry about. He could make me laugh even though I was so stressed out because my best friend was kidnapped.Megan, I know that you would disapprove of him and I know what you would say about him, but I can't help the way I feel about him. I really love him!" She said finally getting it off her chest. "Loved." She corrected herself after a while. I saw Megan grabbing her hand.

"If he loved you the same way, then who would I have been to stand in your way?" She said softly, squizing her hand.

For a few minutes we just walked in silence. Thinking about the lives lost and how we are never going to forget what happened here today.

 In your life you always dream of adventure, exploring the forest, wanting to know how it feels to be in a movie-like situation. Those are shallow dreams and you do not really want them to come true, though you won't know that unless you've been in one of those situations.

We passed all the things again that we saw on the way to the lake house, though this time the memories were dull. Nothing seemed to make sense anymore. Nothing seemed to be right.

I just wanted to be home. I just wanted to wake up and realise it was all a dream. I needed to see Pete. Though I knew none of that was going to happen. Deep down, I still had hope.

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