As I slept, I had that dream again. The one where I'm suspended above Raven City and Drayton. This time, instead of Drayton, Raven City lies broken and burning below me. I could hear screaming coming from the city. A voice whispered my name over and over again. It took me a moment to open my eyes. Exhaustion threatened to keep them shut. Looking up, I saw Audrey's dirt-smeared face.
"The pilot," I said as I tried to sit up.
"He's dead. We saw...what was left of him when we were looking for you," Audrey answered sadly.
"Then the flight attendant—"
"Are you okay?"
"I'm a lot better than you."
She was right. Other than being covered in dirt, Audrey was unharmed. I, on the other hand, was suffering from major 'rock-rash' and a few broken ribs.
"I don't suppose we have enhanced healing abilities, do we?" I asked as I grimaced in pain.
"No, sorry. Can you walk?"
"Yeah. Where are we?"
"They call this place Deadman's Island. It's surrounded by walls of canyon rock. If we're going to get out, we have to scale them. Looks like that 'scaling tall buildings' talent of yours is going to come in handy."
"Great. We land in a place called Deadman's Island and I get to scale hundred foot rocks. This days keeps getting better. 'It's not that bad,' you say."
"That plane was sabotaged. I don't understand who could've known about our assignment. The only people who knew were us, Dr. Corey, the pilot, and the flight attendant. The flight schedule should be private."
"How do we get to Strayfort now?"
"Once we get up those cliffs, there's a town about two hours' walk. If we go now, we should be able to make it there by about midnight."
"Why not wait? Wouldn't it be better if we go during daytime?"
"This place is called Deadman's Island for a reason. It's not just because of the cliffs. There's rumors that say there are cannibals here with abilities. I'd rather take my chances with a giant rock than flesh-eating monsters."
"Ew. Good point. Which direction?"
"How do you know the town is that way?"
"Because. One, I've been here before on a training exercise. Two, I have a good sense of direction. Keep your senses heightened. Our vision will adjust and you'll be able to see."
"Night vision? I'm really starting to love these abilities."
"Be careful. Since your senses are heightened, that includes your sense of touch. It will enhance the pain from your wounds if you brush up against anything," Audrey warned.
"Awesome," I whispered.
She's right though. I can see the rocks and the sides of the cliff as if it was already daytime. I actually wished I hadn't seen the cliffs as clearly as I could. They were sprayed with dried blood where helpless victims had splattered on the rocky ground trying to scale the cliffs. Either that, or the cannibals got to them. As we walked, a strong odor hit my sensitive nose. My eyes watered as I inhaled the rotten aroma of decayed bodies. An echoed shriek rebounded off the canyon walls. Audrey and I froze. Secretly, I pulled out my switchblade I hid in my right sock. It was an instinct. I probably didn't need it with my heightened senses, but it made me feel safer.
"We need to make a run for it," Audrey whispered.
"Won't they attack us if we run?" the flight attendant asked.
"Not if we're faster."
"Get on my back. You won't be able to keep up once we move," I ordered.
The flight attendant did as I said and Audrey gave the signal. We bounded as fast and as silently as we could over the rough terrain. My rock-rash burned intensely as the attendant clung to me. I let out a ragged breath as I bore through it. Loud shrieks bounced around us. I could clearly hear numerous footsteps on the rocks as they chased us. Off to the side, I caught glimpses of shadowed people. They're as fast as we are. They must really have our abilities. There are a lot of them. Are we going to be able to climb with these things on our heels? Suddenly, a hole opened up in the ground in front of us. Audrey leapt over it and I followed. We soared over the hole and something slammed into me. I hit the ground hard and heard screams. I looked up in time enough to see multiple people standing around the flight attendant. They dove into her, tearing her into pieces. Audrey silently grabbed my arm and pulled me up. We continued running as if nothing had happened. My adrenaline thundered through me at lightning speed. The faster my heart pounded, the fast I ran. We could still hear the cannibals following us. We were on top of the Cliffside before we saw it. Audrey stepped on a rock and jumped. I did the same and we crashed into the wall. My body screamed in protest. We scrambled up the rock wall as quickly as we could. The monstrous shrieks of the cannibals grew distant. I glanced below us and saw them. Disfigured faces and bodies. Outcasts. Cast out here and forced to adapt in order to survive. They could've been us. I don't know what made me sympathize with them. I had to shake it off before I continued to climb. The higher we climbed, the less of a threat remained. Nonetheless, my heart still pounded heavily. The thought of my ability failing me and sending me towards the cannibals' outstretched hands kept my adrenaline pumping and my senses heightened. My arms burned. I slowed down.
"Keep going, Nick! We're almost there!" Audrey shouted down to me.
She's had more training in this kind of thing. I'm tired. My whole body hurts. I want to climb into my broken mattress back in Drayton and sleep. It wasn't much but it was comfortable. It was home. Out here, I don't know what's safe. I don't know who's safe.
"Talk to me, Nick," Audrey shouted.
"How much further?" I called.
"I can see the edge. Just a few more feet."
"I'm tired. This whole heightened-senses thing really has its downsides, doesn't it?"
"Your body hurt?"
"A lot. My muscles are burning. I could really use a good physique right about now. This one's no good for scaling canyon walls."
I heard Audrey laugh.
"If you can still use sarcasm then I don't have to worry about you falling to your death."
"Can you please not use 'fall' and 'death' in the same sentence while we're still climbing a wall of rock, possibly a few thousand feet above ground?"
The half-casual conversation was beginning to calm me down. My senses were slowly returning to normal. My vision faded and darkness took over.
"On second thought, I could really go for a cannibal chasing us. The threat helps," I said as fear crept into my voice.
"Come on, Nick. We're right here."
"Too late. My senses are normal. I don't know if I can pull myself up."
I froze. My muscles quivered as I barely kept myself from falling off.
"Okay. Hold on. Stay there."
"Sure thing. No problem."
I heard rock breaking off and a grunt from Audrey. It sounded like she made it over the top.
"Okay. Reach up. Reach for me."
"I can't see you."
I took a few deep breaths. I carefully let go and reached up blindly.
"A little more."
I took my left foot off the ledge I was perched on and felt for a foothole. My foot found it. I pushed up and felt my fingers touch skin.
A hand wrapped around my arm.
"I got you. Now, give me your other hand."
Balancing carefully, I let go completely and reached up. The foothole my left foot rested in broke off and left me half-dangling, half-scrambling for the wall. I thrust my hand up desperately and Audrey grasped it tightly. She pulled me slowly up and over the ledge of the cliff. I collapsed. Audrey's quick breaths told me that she was tired as well.
"We have to move. We have to get to the town. We can call Dr. Corey when we get there. Come on, Nick."
"I-I can't. I can't move."
Rocks rattled as Audrey stood up. I felt her grab my arm and lift me up. I glanced at her. Her glowing green eyes assured me that she could hold my weight. Audrey put my arm around her shoulder and led me to the distant glow of light I assumed to be a town.