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Title: The Watershed
They were dead. They were all dead and they knew it, but the survivors of flight D41173A were too scared to put words to the thought. After the elation of surviving a plane crash wore off, reality set in for the eleven strangers that they wouldn’t survive much longer. Snow fell around them in earnest, the wind howled, and the only thing for them to do was to rush down the mountain they had found themselves stranded on.
“How do you make God laugh?” Dwayne asked.
He was walking just behind Brody, who was jolted out of a deep thought by the question. Brody had no time for riddles. He had been on his way to confront his ex-fiancée when the plane crashed in the Rockies.
The group of strangers had only been hiking for a couple hours, but to Christopher, a man unfamiliar with physical activity requiring more effort than putting a chicken wing in his mouth and chewing, it felt like an eternity. The skies had lightened a shade or two in the past thirty minutes, which only helped highlight the large amounts of snow falling. Each of them knew rescue could not come as long as the storm continued. That was, unless they got far enough under the storm where helicopters could safely maneuver in for a pick up.
“Son, maybe it’s best not to talk about God at this time,” Yuki Ikejira spoke up near the back of the pack, “Who knows, He may be listening.”
Ike was the oldest of the group. You could tell the cold was hitting him the hardest as he labored down the mountain with assistance from a cane. Each breath was a hard day’s labor for him. Yuki Ikejira, or, “Ike” as he asked to be called, had not accepted any extra clothing or blankets for himself when the extra supplies were divided. He was a globe-trotting pastor who wore a traditional black pair of pants, black shiny shoes, black dress shirt, and a recognizable white band in his collar. The only outward protection he had against the fierce wind was a purple scarf around his neck. Well, that and his faith.
Dwayne laughed and retorted, “Perfect answer, Ike, especially from a priest. Isn’t it you who should be talking our ears off about God right about now?”
Nora O’Grady, the first female detective to make the missing persons division in her former precinct, was ready to put an end to any bickering. Before she made a sound, a quick surprised inhale was heard to her left.
O’Grady turned to see Stephanie Berea struggling to breathe, her red cheeks flashing to purple. The older woman, O’Grady estimated Stephanie to be in her mid-sixties, burst into a fit of violent coughing.
This was the third or fourth outbreak from her that night. It was becoming apparent to everyone shivering down the mountain together that Stephanie was not well, crash or no crash.