Sep 3, 2010

Terror in the High Desert


Brett held the phone up. It bleated out its plaintive ring. The shrill wails kept the bees back.

"Bees?" She picked off the one smooshed on her arm. Red mixed with red. Some of the pigment came from her wounds, the rest came from the insect. She tucked it into the breast pocket of her shirt.

"Keep calling, Bill, keep calling." She backed away from the swarm holding the phone up. She prayed the signal wouldn't cut out then swore every time a bit of lava turned her ankle threatening to take her down.

Her steps picked over the rugged terrain. Steady and slow, she headed toward where they had left the battered Ford that morning. Brett whimpered. Just a few hours ago she had Paul and Jen to keep her company. She didn't dream of making her way back to Bend alone when picking which lava tube to spelunk. She swiped the trickling tears from her cheeks. The phone went silent. "Damn it!"

She reeled, digging in for a life-or-death sprint. She could spy the dull orange paint of the truck through the trees. Safety loomed near. Brett glanced over her shoulder at the swarm buzzing into a frenzy. Death loomed just as near.

She put her head down and put everything she had into that run. As her foot hit the dust of the packed down parking area, the phone bleeped back on. Without looking, she held it up behind her and kept going. "Don't stop, Bill, don't stop calling me."

She pulled on the door handle. The truck stuck. Her fist pounded on its frame. "Damn it!" She risked closing the distance between herself and the bees to open the passenger side. With a great heaving gasp, she slammed the cab shut.

The truck put a needed barrier between Brett and death, but it also put a barrier between the bees and the sound of the cell phone. She groped around for the keys then remembered the spare key under the frame of the back tire. Of course on the side closest to the bees. Brett swallowed the dread. "Damn it!"

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