Title: The Storm
Author: Virginia Bergin
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Three months after the killer rain first fell, Ruby is beginning to realize that her father might be dead… and that she can’t survive on her own much longer.
But safety comes at a price when Ruby finds herself back in the army camp where she left Darius Spratt, her geeky ex-companion. If Ruby wants to stay, she must keep her eyes- and her mouth- shut. When she uncovers the horrifying truth about the camp she thought was an oasis of safety, she fights back and makes a shocking discovery. One that could mark the end, or the beginning, for them all…
About the Author:
Virginia Bergin works as a writer for TV, eLearning, and corporate projects. Most recently, she has been working in online education, creating interactive courses for The Open University. She lives in Bristol, England.
Finding Virginia online:
From Chapter 16 of The Storm by Virginia Bergin
We pull up at a gate. There are no crowds of the useless here. It is just a gate in the middle of nowhere. I will my guts not to lurch, but they ignore me.
“All right, mate?” grins the driver, rolling down his window.
“All right?!” A soldier at the gate grins back. “What you got in there, then?”
“Drunk guy and a kid.”
The gate soldier speaks into his walkie-talkie: “Exit confirmed.”
“Confirming exit,” a walkie-talkie voice says back.
“On you go,” says the gate soldier as he steps back and swings open the gate.
“Cards later?” the driver yells.
“Lamb to the slaughter!” the gate soldier yells back.
“We’ll see about that,” the driver laughs to me as we bump out into the night.
It is such a starry, moonlit night—so bright I can see exactly what the sky is thinking. It is happy to light our way for now, but it is cooking up other plans; a fat slice of sky is already missing, smothered by nimbostratus, a cloud so thick with rain not a single star shines through it. That’s pretty much how my brain feels: dark and deadly. Erm, and dense and dim. Obviously, the plan is to escape… It’s just that the precise details of how I’m going to do that are not known to me.
“He took me to the cleaners last night,” my driver is saying. “Totally skinned me.”
I do not respond. On the track ahead of us, puddles glisten.
“You want in?” the driver asks me.
I glance at him, wishing he’d just shut up so I can think. The driver hates the puddles, swears at them a lot as he tries to weave slowly around them.
“C’mon,” he says, in between a bout of swearing, “you want in on the game? I could get you in.”
A random star in my brain twinkles feebly in the gloom: My enemy’s enemy is my friend. (That’s what my history teacher said when she was trying to explain some of the jaw-droppingly “as if!” pacts that got made in World War Two.) My enemy’s enemy is my friend.
“High stakes, though,” the driver is saying. “You need serious—and I do mean serious—stuff to put on the table. You got that?”
I nod. I am just looking out of the windshield, desperately trying—trying to think.
“I’m not talking cash, mind. It’s gotta be jewelry—good stuff—maybe a nice piece of art. None of that modern nonsense—”
He swears, then shuts up for a moment as he maneuvers slowly around some more puddles. My enemy’s enemy. I take a deep plasticky-rubbery breath and then remove my helmet. I am almost certainly going to need to shout, and it will only get in the way.
“Proper paintings, that’s what people like,” he says, and glances at me—does a shocked double take when he sees that I am just a kid. “I’m a Turner man, myself…” he says, but I can see his brain has moved on to a different subject: me.
No going back now.
I fling open the door and jump out.
“q!” he shouts, braking. “What the q hell do you think you’re doing?!”
What I am doing is scooping up a double handful of puddle water, and I am back at the door in a flash.
“Get out!” I tell him, my gloved hands dripping.
Shaking, they’re also shaking, and my voice has found its natural frightened squeak.
He stares at my hands in horror for 0.1 micrometers of a nanosecond—then he’s out of the ambulance.
What’s supposed to happen next is I get in and drive off.
What actually happens is the soldier gets out before I can do that, gun waving between me and the driver because he can’t work out what the problem is, only that there is one.
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