Survivor's Guilt - Page 6

“We didn't know,” I repeated.

“But you did know you were trespassing.” It was another statement.

“Private property, sure!” I snapped. “We were out hiking and just came upon the fence. Since we were in the middle of nowhere, Johnny figured it would be fun to see what somebody was fencing off. He figured that even if we were caught, the worst we'd get was a warning.” I choked back a sob. “But there was no warning. No warning at all.”

She just nodded.

I fought to get my control back, happy mask, remember? “We were just looking around at . . . at nothing, because it turns out everything was hidden or underground, then a voice snapped from somewhere that we needed to 'Get the hell off his lawn. NOW!'”

Even in memory I almost jumped at reliving the sharpness of that voice, but I managed to continue. “Johnny just laughed and said we didn't mean any harm, and the voice started to answer, then swore and said, 'I see it.' We didn't even have time to be confused before the voice was telling us to 'Get down and do not look no matter what!'”

“And you complied.”

“You're damn right we did!” I said a little too loudly. “We didn't realize it quite then, but when the Raven gives you an order, you just want to . . . do it, you know?”

She nodded again. “So I have heard.”

“Of course the ground rumbling as the doors on some kind of hidden silo started to open nearby helped us along,” I said wryly. “I don't know what kind of weapon it was, but the beam was a bright, bright red; I could tell that even with my eyes closed and my face to the dirt . . . and the heat . . ." I shivered despite myself. "I can't even begin to describe it, like every day of summer compressed into the space of thirty of the most terrifying seconds of my life.” With my happy mask now firmly in place, I felt like risking a bit of cockiness, so I added, “Up to that time, of course.”

The white coat wasn't impressed. “Of course.”

Page 6

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