The Calling Page 60

I took the phone and called my mother. Then my dad. Both times rang through to a message saying the number was no longer in service. I tried a third number plucked from memory—a guy I dated last summer, I think. Someone answered. I hung up.

“The phone works,” I said. “But my parents’ numbers are disconnected, too.”

“Cutting off contact,” Daniel said.

I glanced at him.

“Who pays for their cell service? The St. Clouds, right?”

I nodded. “They’re on the corporate plan, like everyone—”

Everyone else in town was on the same plan, even if they didn’t work for the St. Clouds directly. That was one of the benefits of Salmon Creek life. Free cell service for all. Cell service that could be discontinued or monitored at any time.

“So why did they leave ours—” he stopped. Then he snatched the phone away from me. “We can’t use that.”


“They didn’t disable our phones. They must think we could still have them. If we do, and they dry out after the crash…”

“We could use them and they could track us.” I dropped the phone onto the bed. “We need to get out of here.”

Sam picked up the phone and turned it off. “We didn’t talk to anyone. It’ll be fine.”

Daniel hesitated, then said, “We have to get to Maya’s place and check the shortwave radios.”

Sam’s leg wasn’t up to the walk. I’d suggested retrieving the truck and trying to zip into the park without being noticed. Daniel said it was too risky. He asked Corey to stay behind with Sam, but clearly Sam wasn’t comfortable with that. I suggested Daniel stay. She refused. I didn’t like leaving her behind, but that’s what she wanted, and she wasn’t budging. The moment I stepped into the park, my eyes filled with tears. It looked exactly as I’d left it. As we walked along the trail, other than the smell, there was no sign that there had been a fire. It had been veering south when we’d last seen it, but I’d barely dared hope that meant my park had been spared. I knew the animals in my rehabilitation shed were all safe—Mom had transported them to a facility in Victoria when the fire hit—but I was worried about every other creature out there, too.

When we reached the house, I stopped. The Jeep was gone. The windows were dark.

“They aren’t here,” I said, barely able to get the words past the lump in my throat.

“Let’s go in,” Daniel said. “Make sure.”

The front door wasn’t even locked. I stepped inside. The air was heavy and empty. Just empty.

Even Kenjii hung back, as if it was the home of strangers. She gingerly walked through and looked around, sniffing, then stood at the back door and whined.

“I’ll get her some food andwater,” Daniel said.

Corey stayed with him. I went straight to my dad’s office. His computer was gone. So were his shortwave radios.

I headed upstairs. Nothing had been touched. My parents’ clothing was still there. My stuff was still there. A few drawers were open, in the bedroom and the bathroom, from when Dad must have packed our evacuation bags.

I stood in my parents’ room, looking at their hastily made bed, an empty duffel bag taken from the closet, then dumped on the floor, rejected. There was something else on the bed. Picture frames. Three empty ones.

In an evacuation, we weren’t supposed to take anything but an overnight bag. Most people would grab other stuff, though. A laptop. Jewelry. Whatever was important to them. My dad had taken their wedding photo and two baby pictures of me.

My eyes burned again. I hurried into the bathroom and turned on the tap. The pipes spit and hissed. Nothing came out.

“Hydro’s off,” Daniel said as he stepped into the open doorway. “For you guys, no electricity means no water. I found jugs under the sink for Kenjii. Do you want me to bring one up?”

I shook my head.

He moved closer. “We’ll find them, Maya. It’s just a matter of getting to your grandmother.”

“Only we can’t do that, can we?” I said. “The St. Clouds and the Nasts will be prepared for that. I need to let her and my parents keep thinking I’m dead until I can…”

I took a deep breath. “I don’t even know how to finish that sentence. Everything was about getting back here and telling my parents. But they aren’t here. I don’t know where they are. I have no damned idea what to do next.” I looked up at him. “Do you?”

“I … I have some thoughts.” He cleared his throat. “We’ll come up with a plan.”

I brushed past him and headed for the stairs.


I turned. He stood there, looking as lost and confused as I felt.

“I’m sorry,” I mumbled. “You’re right. We’ll come up with something. I just…” I looked through my bedroom door and out the huge windows at the forest. “I need to go outside for a minute. Just … for a minute.”

Corey was still in the kitchen when I got downstairs. I brushed past him. Kenjii tried to follow as I slid out the back door. I closed it with a whispered apology.

I ran into the forest. I planned to keep going, get in deep enough to relax and refocus and, yes, maybe feel sorry for myself for a few minutes before I faced the others again. As I was running, though, tears filled my eyes and I nearly flipped over a downed tree.

I swiped at my eyes and I looked at the tree, and I remembered the last time I’d seen it. Remembered who’d sat on it.

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