Carli had tried to get up the courage all day to again broach the touchy subject of moving farther north for the winter. Coming across the three sisters crop with its Native American connotations seemed like an omen. She took a deep breath.
"I had the dream again."
"Don't start with that." Renee turned her back on her.
"I don't think we should ignore it."
Renee spun on her. "I can't believe you expect me to travel north just because some Indian tells you to. An Indian you dreamed, may I remind you."
"I don't think it's just a dream." Carli tried to keep from begging, but a plaintive note crept into her voice. "It's so real. It's not like any other dream I've had," she lied. Renee didn't need to know about the other dreams, the ones that came true. "It's just as real as you and I standing here right now."
Renee shook her head. "This is ridiculous."
"Please." Carli had to make her listen this time. "Last night he said we can reach the Rock before the first snows if we start north now. All we have to do is go to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania—"
"Then north to an old limestone mine converted into a secret hideaway the aliens know nothing about. And we'll live happily ever after." Renee straightened to tower over her. Her dark brows beetled together, but she kept her voice below a shout. "It's just a dream, a fairy tale. If you don't get that through your head, you'll really crack up."
A lump formed in Carli's throat. She swallowed it down. "What could it hurt to check?"
Renee threw her hands up. "Remember how cold it was last week? This is just a brief hot spell. Winter is coming, which means snow up north. Which means you and me freezing to death."
"But the Native American—"
"Enough about the Indian and the Rock! They don't exist!" Renee exploded, her last vestige of patience disappearing. "You need to make a choice. Come south with me to Florida, or follow your delusions to your death. Either way, I don't want to hear another word about the Rock."
She tied her bag closed with sharp, economical gestures, her lips tight. She slung the bulging sack over her shoulder. She looked like a harridan Santa Claus. "I've put up with this dream nonsense for two months now. I'm not going to listen to any more. I'm heading south, and it makes no difference to me whether you come along."
Carli knew Renee cared more than she would let on, but she meant business this time. The tall woman turned and stalked away. Carli fumbled to tie her own bag closed. She looked after Renee's retreating back then turned longing eyes in the opposite direction.
He waited there, in the north. Waited for her. But to go alone, without protection, where the specter of Death beckoned with a mocking grin and empty eyes...
With a resigned sigh she hoisted her heavy sack and hurried to catch up to Renee.
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