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When my eyes had searched back over the dunes, I’d thought it impossible we’d find the Jeep again. The sun was pushing up at the darkness, but the Jeep was nowhere in sight. I stood holding onto Helene’s shoulders, still trembling from my out of body experience combined with the horror of finding Alan after all. I dismissed the thought that all this time, our bonfires had been built from human bodies.
“We’re taking him with us,” Helene said.
I wanted to argue that this was his grave, but Alan was whole if not lifelike in his petrified state. Glossy, tinted purple, slick as glass. His hair was parted to one side as if it had never been out of place, despite a screaming, flailing fall into the unknown. His face was peaceful. Happy, almost. I bent to look closer. Helene’s back shifted and blocked my view. I tried to make sense of the rush of emotion she was trying to hide. She was recomposing the expression on her face. Possessive. She was filled with fire and hate. I stepped backward.
“Of course we’ll take him with us. I’m just trying to figure out how.”
As if something were listening, the sand began to rise beneath us. Helene threw her arms around Alan, trying to find purchase so he wouldn’t slide from her grip. I threw my arms around her. We rode the shifting dunes back toward our fire. I could see it burning, a small dot in the lightning distance, and there was Helene’s Jeep.
“What’s happening?” she shouted.
“I don’t know.”
The motion stopped near our fire, some sand snuffing it out. Helene cradled Alan’s head. I turned to watch dunes ripple in and out of existence until whatever had carried us was back home in the seabed. I wanted to shout after it. “What are you?” Maybe, “Thank you, but why?” Why had it given us Alan, delivered us and him back to the Jeep? I saw the twin stars again in my mind. The glow was controlled and furious. I felt the mystery calling to me, calling through me. I was certain I was necessary for some goal, but I felt intermediary. “What do you want?” I was shouting.
“I want to go home! Let’s just go, Bria. Thank you for coming with me. I don’t want you to tell me what happened out there. There was . . . something.” She shivered. “Something you did. I know that. But whatever you did, I know you weren’t trying to hurt me.” She shivered again, making me aware of the physical pain she was feeling. It had been hidden until now.
Wait, what was she saying? Helene knew about our bond, but she wasn’t sure what it was. She wanted me to explain, but first-
“ . . . home,” she was saying. “Can you drive us? Bria?”
I took the keys. We’d have to make time to get there before daylight. And there was Sheriff to get past.
We loaded Alan in the car, flat on his back, stretched out as he was. We had to tip the front seat down.
Helene sat in the back, her hand over one of his.
“Are you in there, Alan?” she was saying. “It’s almost like you’re in there. I know it’s silly, but, are you?”
I saw her hand play over his face. She trailed her fingertips over his throat, the love plain on her face and fractured heart. When her tears began to fall, I kept my eyes on the road. I needed to focus. I gripped the steering wheel, reweaving the shield as I blinked rapidly against tears of my own.
Click here for Episode 6 of The Docks.