Survivor's Guilt - Page 11

“I can't have been out long, but I came to clutching on to Tyr like I was some gigantic baby,” I continued, trying to sound nonchalant and failing miserably. “We were in the air on the back of his horse, and normally I'd have been more impressed about riding a real flying horse, but I made the mistake of looking back to see the mountain in the distance.” The tears started flowing again. “Except that there wasn't anything to see; it was just . . . gone. Everything, and I mean everything was just . . . gone.”

I savagely suppressed my sniffles.

“'I'm sorry,' Tyr whispered. 'I'm so . . . so sorry, and to make matters worse, I can't even stay.' He gently sat me down on the ground like he was afraid he might break me. 'Mike,' he said to someone else on whatever radio channel J.I. was using. 'E.T.A. on evac unit?'”

“'One point four minutes, T-Man,'” this 'Mike' answered.”

“'Understood,' Tyr said with more brusqueness than professionalism. 'One survivor, my coordinates. Scan for others . . . by the book.' I could tell he was upset too, and by the way he said 'by the book' I could tell he didn't expect to find anything, but felt it was important to look anyway.” I managed a bitter smile. “And there wasn't anything to find, of course. Three cubic kilometers of rock was just . . . gone.” I made an 'up in smoke' gesture with my hands.

“'You got it,'” Mike answered him, then Kestrel chimed in. 'Erik, we need you,' she reminded him. 'The device is acquiring a new target.'”

“'On my way,' Tyr said with a nod, and I thought it was funny he'd nod when he knew only I could see him. He looked down at me from his horse. 'Just hang on,' he told me. 'Please.'”

“And then he was just gone . . . like my whole life.” I repeated my 'up in smoke' gesture. “I can't eat, I can't sleep, I can't go anywhere because how can I do anything in a world where everything can be gone just like that?”

I'd have snapped my fingers to emphasize my point, but I'd never learned how.

Page 11

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