4 - Day Three

53 1 0

Carl walked toward his van with a fresh cup of coffee in hand and raised his hand to greet the group of musicians approaching him.

"We've had another sighting by our team," Carl announced cheerfully, leading everyone toward the van. "Louis and his S&R dog found another shelter at the edge of the river. Right here." He pointed to the map on his computer which showed a bright yellow line from the road to the first shelter and another line from the shelter to the edge of the river where the second shelter had been located. "No sign of them, but they were able to find some foot prints in the mud by the river. Some with shoes, some without."

"That's a good sign," Kevin announced. "Melanie doesn't have any shoes on, right?" He squeezed Emma close to his side and waited, hoping to get some reaction out of her. He sighed and kissed the side of Emma's head before shrugging at the other girls.

"She'll come around," Geri said, smiling sadly as she placed her hands under Emma's chin. "She just needs a bit of rest. Would it help to call your mum, love?" She waited in vain for a few seconds before brushing Emma's cheek with her finger and taking her hand in hers.

The radio crackled to life once more and Carl immediately answered the call. The girls waited with baited breath as Carl mapped out coordinates on his computer once more. He turned to the girls as they looked at him expectantly.

"The dogs found conflicting trails," Carl explained. "The river forked a good distance away from the last shelter and the dogs picked up a scent on both sides. The team ended up crossing the river and following the fork heading north. I've contacted Kent and he's going to take his dog along the other side. We've got the 'copter following Louis since the dogs had a stronger pull to that side."

"They've split up?" Nick asked. "Why would they do that? Are we close to finding them?"

"The current is really strong in that area," said Carl. "It's possible one or two of them may have been swept away. I can't imagine they would have separated intentionally."

There was a sudden feeling of tension among the group as they imagined the worst. Geri quickly excused herself and walked away from the group, not wanting Emma to see her cry for fear of making Emma's condition worse.

Kevin nodded to the group as he took off after Geri to make sure she was all right. They watched as he stopped her next to their trailer and wrapped his arms around her as she broke down.

"I want an underwater crew scanning the river," Officer Shaw could be heard shouting a few meters away. "Get a crew down river working their way up. Has the air crew seen anything?"

"What is the likelihood of survival if they're in the river?" Howie asked softly. He gripped his crutches tightly, making his knuckles turn white.

"It's hard to say," Carl replied. "I'm not familiar with this river. It would depend on how strong the current is and whether there are rapids and tree roots that could drag them under."

Emma stepped away from the group and walked slowly toward the GPS screens. She was focused on a single screen and she hugged her arms around herself as she choked back a sob.

"Are all of these waterfalls?" she whimpered, looking over at Carl.

Carl looked at the screen and nodded solemnly at Emma.

"So, every single section of the river ends in waterfalls here?" Mel asked. Again, Carl nodded. "How big are they?"

"About seventy-five feet," Carl replied softly.

"And if they went over?" Victoria asked. Carl shook his head, confirming what everyone was thinking. The chances weren't good of surviving the drop or the rapids.

"I'm going to throw up," Emma sobbed. She attempted to walk away from the group, gasping for breath as she was gripped by a panic attack. Nick quickly wrapped his arm around her and pulled her over to the first aid table to sit down. She leaned forward and gagged as Nick pulled her hair back and one of the first aid crew members grabbed a bucket for her to puke in.

"How soon can they get a crew out there?" Victoria asked, her voice wobbled as she began to lose her resolve. Mel quickly took Victoria's hand and squeezed it supportively.

"I don't know," Carl replied. "You'd have to ask Officer Shaw. We only have about an hour of sunlight left, so I can't imagine an underwater crew would be very effective until tomorrow. They can probably fly in a few search and rescue teams to scan the edge of the river tonight, maybe within the next few hours. There are too many trees in this area for the helicopter to drop anyone off though. They'd have to drop them off at the base of the falls."

"They're not likely to find them tonight, are they?" Howie asked solemnly.

"I'm afraid not," Carl replied regretfully. "In an area like this, I really don't think they'll find anything until the sun comes back up."

"So, we're on hold again until tomorrow?" Mel asked. Carl nodded apologetically and watched as the remaining band members consoled each other, devastated by the news.

In The DarkRead this story for FREE!