The wind whipped the fire into a frenzy. Popping sparks rose through the night, blinked out above the heads of the ten kids that surrounded the fire that kept them warm and mesmerized.
They picked up their backpacks and their coats and began to follow Omega, who was following Larry, the lost one. With their flashlight, they began to track Larry's boot prints, over sand, over rocks, over bushes, along a path. They couldn't see where they were going, the night grew dark and dense; they sorta traveled on a little bit of faith that the tracks would lead them to Larry.
Maybe Larry went moon crazy. Maybe he got lost. Maybe he got mad and just left. There were lots of questions and barely any answers.
Three hours of silence, three hours of walking bunched together, three hours of really not knowing where they were or where they were going. Petey was getting hungry; John-John was getting lost. Omega said, "Keep the faith, children. I think Larry was headed to a little oasis up here a little ways. There will be clear, clean water."
And soon enough, there was a soft, sweet glow in the night and they were headed that direction. They were able to see a little better there; there were a few trees, a little creek. The kids downloaded their packs and stopped for a little drink and a quick rest.
Everybody was perched on low rocks that they could use for seats while they caught their breath. John-John said, "You know what's weird about this place?"
"What?" Petey said.
"It's lighter here. We can actually see, and the sun won't be up for two hours yet."
"That's true," Suzie breathed out. "It's like there is flickering candle light here. But there aren't any candles. . ,"
"Is that a good thing? Or a bad thing?" Rick asked.
"Don't know just yet," Omega said. "It looks like Larry turned around a few times," He said, peering at Larry's cowboy tracks, "And then he hightailed it out of here, really, really fast." Omega was looking at the sand float through the oasis as the breeze kicked up a little bit. "I wonder what spooked him."
The wind whistled through the trees, sounding like people far away, moaning and crying.