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A loud crack of thunder rattled the building’s fragile roof. In the office area, tiles crashed to the dusty floor. In the adjacent room, Tina looked up from where she was kneeling next to Martin and observed the dilapidated fireplace. Nothing there. But she was sure if she inspected the other room, she’d find the gaping hole in the roof much bigger, just where she’d observed the loose roof tiles yesterday.
“Hold this to his head,” Kit said as she pressed Tina’s hand. “I’ll get some ice from his cooler.”
Tina looked down into Martin’s face. He was wincing with pain. “We need to get you medical attention,” she said. “You might have a concussion.”
“I got a hard head. I’ll be okay,” he said.
Kit returned with a bundle of ice wrapped in a plastic bag. When she touched it to his head, he yelped.
“It’s okay, I have you,” Tina said. She looked up to find Kit watching him with worried eyes. “The others?” she said softly.
Kit nodded. “Stay here, let me check.”
Kit rushed from the room, and Tina cradled Martin closer in her arms. She closed her eyes and tried to focus on her breathing as she was taking only shallow gulps of air. All around her, she could hear the approaching storm, the sounds mixing with Martin’s labored breathing. She felt numb all over, realized she was in a state of shock. Her mind was reeling with everything she’d seen and heard over the last thirty-two hours. She wasn’t even sure she truly comprehended what was going on, but a part of her mind—perhaps the most gullible part—was telling her to believe her eyes, to accept what Kit had told her a few hours before.
“None of this is your fault,” Kit had said handing her a cup of hot broth.
They were sitting by the fire. Kit was agitated, Tina could tell, and she’d kept looking over to the doors as if she wanted to run after Bette and help with Harlan who’d become trapped in the stairwell off the classroom. But Kit’d stayed and began to unfold what had really happened to Alice.
As Kit had related the tale, she didn’t use Alice’s name, but Tina could tell she felt sympathy for her. She explained how Alice had been targeted. How she’d felt something watching her from the shadows, hunting her in the dark. How she and Bette had argued, with Bette accusing her of being drunk or stoned or both. How in the middle of the night, Alice had ripped the keys from Bette’s hands and had driven off, only to die alongside the road outside of Bitter Springs.