Sharon’s note: It’s easy to over look other’s problems. Most of the time, it’s done out of carelessness, not malice. Either one hurts, but it’s important to acknowledge the difference. People might not seem recognize your problems or limitations, but they aren’t doing it to be cruel. They may just not see it. Try to have a little faith. Yes, people suck, but a lot of time they suck less than you think they do. Understanding works both ways. Don’t be as careless as they are by just nursing your hurt over words instead of seeing their intentions. Warning: Author is getting dangerously close to screaming, “Can’t we all just get along?!”
Brain killed a lot of time telling me the sordid story of his love life. I felt a little bad for him, but mostly I just made sympathetic noises while trying not to laugh. It was a tale as old time, him falling for the wrong person and constantly chasing after them. When he told me that he switched the circle to the youngest boy, my heart squeezed painfully. The clock was running down so fast.
By the time I got to the gate I knew all about his job and the constant power struggle between management and the people who worked the floor. I’d never had a normal job, so I had to admit to a certain amount of curiosity. It sounded boring, but you learned the value of boring when you’re a Hunter. Boring meant nothing bad was happening.
I almost sobbed in relief when I saw the gate. This late at night it was padlocked, but that wasn’t a problem. I had bolt cutters in the back, standard equipment for a Hunter, but I was fighting a clock. Not just the circle, but my own body. I hadn’t been particularly conservative with my energy, and if I exhausted myself, I wouldn’t be any good to anyone.
I stomped the gas and launched the SUV at the gate. The metal tab that the chain was attached to tore like paper and the gate swung free.
“What was that noise?” Brian’s voice rose almost a full octave.
“That was just me getting to the park. I had to go through the gate.”
“What, did you just bust through it?” He snickered.
“Yeah. You know, for the fun of it.” It wasn’t a lie. It was kind of fun.
“So you guys are here?” The relief in his voice made guilt knaw at my gut.
I forced a smile so he’d hear it as I told him, “Yeah, were here, but we have to get in position. It will take a little bit, so hang tight, alright?”
“Yeah. Were okay here. The wolf is just pacing. But . . .” Brian’s voice got quieter. “I’m not sure the kid’s going to be able to hold the circle long. He’s already starting to feel a little woozy.”
“That’s not unexpected,” I assured him. “Just switch him out before he faints. It’ll be fine. Just hang in there a little bit longer.”
I took the path up to the observation tower as fast as I dared. Branches scraped the side of my car, but that didn’t bother me. It was already pretty scraped up, and hitting the fence had probably added a new dent. When I saw the sign saying the path was washed out, I didn’t pay it any mind. I had four wheel drive. It would be fine.
Not a hundred yards up the road, I stopped. I’d known there was a small slough with a bridge across it. It was on the website. What wasn’t on the website was the fact that the bridge was out. It looked fine, but there were loops upon loops of yellow caution tape and a sign warning that the bridge was out. I was hesitant to risk the bridge, but even with four wheel drive, I wasn’t stupid enough to try the slough.
This wasn’t a few feet of mud, this was a gulf of sludge and stagnant water. Who knew how deep it was. A twenty yard river of muck stood between me and the other side. The stomach churning oder of swamp was almost mocking. I pulled up the park map on my phone. This was the only path. It was the bridge or nothing. I bit my lip and took a deep breath to stave off panic. It would be fine. Someone was just being careful.
“Hey, Joy, are you there?” Brian asked.
“Yeah. I’m just doing a little figuring. It’s going to be . . . no problem.” I backed the car up as far as I could and still get a straight shot and gunned it again.