The kids had trekked across the vast desert all day, found an abandoned orchard and ate sour apples until they couldn't move. The fruit was so wild and untended that it made for really unsettled tummies, and they kept sneaking off behind the brushes.
They were not a merry band of teens. Larry complained every thirty seconds, Rick just got really grim and pushed ahead regardless. Suzie followed him. She trusted him to get the two of them through this, but she wasn't sure it was going to work or how.
Cheryl and Julie chatted the whole time, oblivious to hunger or pain. And Tim brought up the rear with Omega and Petey and John-John.
Tim was saying, "Why are we headed to Scarlet Mountain?"
Omega explained, "Mountains are sacred places. Lots of mysterious things happen there. Besides, that's where we're going to find out why they are after Larry. If we don't solve it, Larry will have very bad things on his tail the whole rest of his miserable life. The Native American people know this about mountains—and what lives up there—better than most. They don't have churches to worship in or an Arc, like our great, great, grand grandfathers, so they head to the high, windy, remote places and listen to the Great Spirit."
"Is that God?" Petey asked.
"It is, God in a form that makes sense to them." Omega said.
They turned to the red mountain range, glowing in the dusk. The wind cooled off and they kept moving.
"I think there oughta be a 10 commandments for kids," Tim said. "We can get into all kinds of trouble. Excuse me, we get into all kinds of trouble."
"What do you think they should be?" Omega asked.
"I think that kids should be nice to each other," Larry said. "I don't like anybody picking on me. Or anybody else, no matter how weird they are."
"I don't have a problem with that," Omega said.
"We think you should love God," Cheryl said and Julie nodded. "Pretty easy to get lost if you don't have somebody good to think about and to follow around," Cheryl explained. "And you feel plum ugly if you are so darn lost you can't find a leg to stand on. Good to know you belong somewhere, to somebody bigger than yourself," Julie said. "I hate being by myself."
"That's a good one," John-John said.
"I don't think you should lie to girls to have sex," John-John said. "I don't want anybody lying to Suzie or Cheryl or Julie and pretending to like them just to have some touchie-feelies."
"Boys lie to girls?" Petey was smirking.
"I don't like it; girls shouldn't be lying to boys either." Suzie said. "You gals?"
Cheryl and Julie nodded, "Lots of bad things can happen. You can stop smirking, Petey. Being lied to is dismal, makes you feel like you don't even have enough worth to get the straight truth."
"It's those things that sets off the neon lights of the heart." Omega said. "The things that make me really, really mad is when you intentionally, knowingly set out to hurt people. Girls. Boys. Old folks. Gay kids. Your parents. Your teachers. Your coaches. Bad, bad, bad."
"Stay out of other people's stuff. Leave it alone," Larry said. "Get your own stuff. Best if you work, that's what my dad says, anyways. Don't even want other people's gear."
"And I think you gotta take care of your body and your brain," Rick said. "Stay off drugs, weed, and booze, 'cause you can really mess up bad. Knock off too much sugar and too much fat. Eat your veggies and run some miles. Dance when the music moves you."
"Those are smart, brilliant, actually."Omega said as he shaded his eyes against the setting sun. "Be the love; do the work. You're gonna need it when we head up Scarlet Mountain. It gets tricky up there."