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Kelly heard the others running up behind her, heard their exclamations of disbelief, the beginning of murmured condolences. They crashed against her like waves on the rocks, all paling in comparison to the conviction that had been growing in her for some time.
“We need to get out of here,” she said.
“Right,” Betsy said. “It isn't safe on the shore.”
“No,” Kelly said. “Out of this place.”
“How?” Lark asked. “The truck is totaled, and without the sun we don't even know which way out is.”
“And I'm pretty sure out is away from this lake and that goddamned monster,” Kelly said.
“Okay,” Betsy said, stepping between them. “Step one is we head back to the campfire.” She put an arm around each of their shoulders and started to push. Reluctantly, they started moving together.
“And step two?” Denny asked.
“We figure that out together,” Betsy said. “Because whatever we do, we have the best possible chance of making it out if we do it while watching each others' backs. Comprende?”
“Sure,” Lark said.
They took up their seats around the campfire, taking up the same spots they had at the beginning of the night. Seeing that their circle was missing two hammered home the urgency of the situation.
“What should we do about Angel?” Lark asked.
“I don't think we should try to guess at what he'd want,” Kelly offered.
“He doesn't get a vote,” Betsy agreed. “Unless he wakes up and starts talking sense.”
“That wasn't what she was asking,” Denny said.
“He's hurt,” Betsy said. “But he's tied up. I think I can march him out of here.”
“And if you can't?”
“We tie him to a tree, and come back for him with help.”
“With those other things still rambling around?” Lark asked.
“Maybe I'd stay with him.”
“You just said we needed to stay together.”
“And we do,” Betsy said. “But if we decide to go and he can't... let him be my responsibility, okay? If we're making a break for it, it doesn't make sense to all stay behind because one of us can't make the trip.”
“I'll stay,” Denny said.
“Or we can draw straws,” Lark said.
“Or we can stop prancing around the actual decision,” Kelly said. “We have a choice to make, first. Stay and try to strengthen our defenses to wait for the sunrise. Or trek out of here. The road gives us structure, but it also leaves us defenseless; we're easier to track and have the same exposure to threats using the trees for cover, but without the added bonus of having them work as a partial wall.”
“So it's a vote, then?” Denny asked. “Because it seems simple, to me. I'm not leaving Betsy. I'm not leaving Angel. It seems like we probably don't think they can make it out. And the sun's coming up, likely soon. And like Kelly just said, the road leaves us vulnerable. If we can figure out where we're going, we've got a better chance of making our way there through the forest.”
“Really?” Kelly asked. “You pick now to trot out your do-or-die loyalty to your friends?” she yelled across the fire, her voice cracking. He sighed, threw up his hands and left the circle. “Fuck, I'm...”
“Talk to him after you cast your vote,” Lark said.
“There's a goddamned lake-monster that could decide it wants to eat all of us- or worse.”
“And I'm assuming you'd rather err on the side of caution,” Lark said, “since we may have a hard time even waking Angel to march him out right now.”
“Yeah,” she said, “I guess so.”
“And I never made it a secret how I felt. So ladies, pitch your tents for tonight. We move out at dawn.”