Cal knows something unexpected. Joe has a dream...
Jake opened his mouth to talk but Cal jumped in and answered instead. “Mute people have a special connection. As long as their eyes meet they can understand each other,” he explained looking at his shoes.
Zora looked back at Cal and studied him for a few seconds. A faint smile appeared on her face and she looked ahead again.
“Some people start talking but maintain the connection,” he continued.
By this time the group had stopped, surprised and amazed that Cal knew this information.
“My first word wasn’t said until I was eight,” he said answering the unasked question. “I’m guessing that Jake was once mute too and that’s why he adopted Zora. Unlike all the others that took Zora into their homes Jake can communicate with her without the need for her to talk. If I’m correct that is.”
“Yeah, that’s correct. I met Zora when we had the same foster parents at one point. I was still mute then. We met not long after my parents died when an old art museum they were visiting collapsed. I bounced around foster homes just as Zora did. That’s when I decided that I wanted to adopt Zora as soon as I could,” Jake explained.
Cal turned and faced Jake straight on. “I realized from the start that Zora was mute. Earlier I asked her a question, which you answered. I snapped at you not out of ignorance but out of annoyance. Although, after you told me what I already knew I realized that you didn’t know that I knew. Guess I shouldn’t have snapped at you, I apologize.” He gave an embarrassed chuckle then asked,” Is everything clear?” The group nodded. “It’s actually quite handy being able to communicate this way. It prevents eavesdropping,” Cal joked. Nobody laughed.
An awkward silence came over them and they started heading north this time. Nobody said anything the whole trip until it started getting dark.
Dilton yawned and said, “Where are we going anyway?”
“I don’t know. Wherever the PODs lead us,” Scout replied, blinking repeatedly.
“We’re stopping here. You all look really tired and we need to rest if we’re going to face what’s ahead of us,’ Jake said, dropping his pack on the ground.
“What if they see us while we’re asleep? We’ll be killed instantly,” Alex protested.
“We’ll be fine for the night. We need to sleep or we’ll all be dead for sure,” Jake replied firmly.
Alex reluctantly set up his tent and went to bed. He fell asleep the instant his head hit the pillow. He started to snore softly.
Gradually the others climbed into their sleeping bags and fell asleep until it was only Cal and Zora that were left awake.
Zora was sitting with her knees close to her chest in the opening of her tent staring out at the fading sun. The dim light reflected off the blue in her short, spiky hair.
Cal saw her sitting alone as he was taking out his sleeping bag. He slowly walked over and sat down beside her. “You cold?” he asked.
Zora shook her head then rested her chin on her knees.
In Joe’s tent he lay with tense muscles, his eyes closed tight. In his dreams he watched a montage of destruction. Arrows sped past him everywhere, houses were consumed in flames. Blood was everywhere and his arm, oh how it hurt! He looked down at his left forearm and saw a spot of white protruding from the skin amidst the crimson blood. His vision flashed to another scene where there was an explosion, then to a pile of the dead, then to Lara.
She was lying unconscious. Joe saw himself kneeling beside her holding her head. Tears streamed down his face as he softly whispered in disbelief, “She’s gone.”
Joe was suddenly back in his tent sitting bolt upright with a look of horror on his face. With hesitation he got out of his bed, packed his things, rolled up his sleeping bag and collapsed his tent. He then quickly headed off to wake the others.
He was headed to the closest tent when he saw Cal and Zora sitting side by side. He sprinted toward them and stood directly in front of them. “Pack up your things, we need to go,” he commanded.
“It’s the middle of the night. What’s the rush? Can’t we wait until the sun comes up?” Cal asked looking up at the figure towering over him.
“Not unless you want to live a very short life,” Joe replied quickly.
“Is that a threat?” Cal asked beginning to stand up in defence.
“No! I mean no, it’s a warning. The people that are after us are moving fast and, unless you want to be killed, we need to move too,” Joe hurriedly said. “Now help me wake the others.”
When everybody had finally reluctantly crawled out of their tents Joe ordered them to pack up and head out.
“Can we at least get an explanation?” Scout asked groggily.
“I’ll explain on the way,” he quickly replied.
And he did. He described all the gory details, all except Lara’s death. He couldn’t bring himself to voice it, afraid that if he said it out loud then it might come true.
“How are you getting all of these visions?” Lara wondered, snapping Joe out of his momentary daze.
Joe shrugged so Dilton answered instead. “There must have been something in that venom that poisoned him. I can see no other explanation.”
“Well, if these visions are really true then they certainly are a gift from God,” Cal interjected.
“How can you say that? I hardly get any sleep and the sleep I do get is haunted with nightmares! Sure some of these visions are just what I might eat for breakfast, but all of them wake me up!” Joe shouted red in the face.
“Somebody’s a pessimist,” Dilton muttered.
“Have you even stopped to think what good these visions are doing?” Cal snapped back. “You’ve saved our lives multiple times. At least according to you. Wouldn’t you rather go through a few bad dreams than wake up dead?”
Joe took a slow, shaky breath before he continued talking. “Yes, you’re right. It’s just if you could see them then you’d know that they aren’t the easiest things to see. I just barely stopped having nightmares about my brother and now I have these visions haunting my dreams.”
He felt a gentle hand on his arm and turned to see Lara. “Hey, you’ll be fine. We’ll get through this and soon it will all be a bad dream.” There was a short pause then, closing her eyes, she apologized, “Sorry, but you know what I mean.”
Scout walked over and patted Joe hard on the back. “Just hold in there, big guy.”
Joe nodded but told the group, “We better pick it up. We’re not out of the radar yet. The village where part of my dream took place is just over this hill. There’s something there we have to pick up then we have to hightail it out of here. It’s amazing how detailed these nightmares can be.”
They all nodded but it was Jake who voiced their thoughts. “This is so weird, eh?” Joe couldn’t help but laugh.