At least three large trucks skidded to a stop near us. Everyone was still as they turned their sirens off and hopped out. John and Matt instantly took charge of the situation, telling what looked to be the captain of the rescue team something quietly as we all waited anxiously. “All right kids, we are here to help.” The captain bellowed when they had finished talking.
“We are going to drive you to into the city, where our friends will do their best to get you back to your families.” He continued, and I grinned. Finally, someone is here to really help. I thought. Several men and women came out of their trucks and started to guide us into the trucks in a single file line. Ali ran over to my line that was mostly made up of boys. I just hoped they wouldn’t make her leave.
It seemed that the rescue teams were just trying to pack as many kids into one truck as possible though, and gender wasn’t an issue. The trucks had four benches in them and I was seated in between Ali and Louis, who was looking very confused. He looked like he was trying to figure out a very tough math problem in his head.
“What’s up?” I finally asked after we had been driving for a few minutes. “How far did we go on that mudslide?” Louis asked. I frowned, “I don’t know, why?” Louis took a deep breath and I sighed because that meant he had a lot to say. “The guy said city. Not town, city. There are no cities near the valley, the nearest big city is…”
“Los Angeles.” I finished his sentence in disbelief. Had the mudslide really taken us so far? Our questions were answered in less than twenty minutes. We all stared out of the windows in awe as we approached the city. It was so unaware of what was happening just a few miles away, and if they were aware they sure were good at hiding it.
The truck stopped in front of a big brick building with no sign on it. When they opened the doors of the truck I saw that the other trucks were there too. Two men motioned for us to go into the building and said, “Single file line please.” Ali was the first person out. Just before she opened the bright red door, a woman swung it open, just missing Ali.
“Sorry dear,” She said “Come in, come in.” Reluctantly, we walked through the door. We were in a lobby area, and Ali was guided to the front desk first, where the receptionist kept her answering questions for almost ten minutes. Then Ali went and sat down and it was my turn. “What’s your name?” Was the first question asked? “Samuel Casey.” I replied. She then grilled me about everything and anything, from my street address to my Mothers hair colour.
Exhausted, I sat down in the chair next to Ali. “I think we’re on the home stretch.” She smiled vacantly, as if that might not be a good thing. Within a matter of hours, all the kids had been interviewed and the lobby was packed. We were then called by name and given a room with up to four roommates. I shared a room with any other boy that had their last name beginning with ‘C’.
That was three of us. We spent most of the day in the room, until room by room; we were called down for lunch and dinner. At dinner I asked why we had to stay in our rooms during the day, and the woman said that we didn’t, as long as no one got in trouble. That was good enough for me. As soon as I excused myself from dinner I started at my floor, searching for Ali and Louis. I was on the first floor, and just as I was about to knock I remembered we were in alphabetical order according to our last names.
That meant Ali would be on one of the higher floors. Louis last name was Dumont, so I knew he would only be a floor higher than me. I ran up the stairs to the second floor, and started at room 11. At room 18, I finally found Louis. He looked relieved to see me, and after the door was didn’t hold back how annoying hid roommates were.
“What floor do you think Ali would be on?” I asked as we got back into the elevator. “M through P is on the fifth floor.” Louis replied. “How did you know that?” I asked, dumbfounded. “How does anyone know anything?” He replied, but after I shot him a disapproving look he rolled his eyes and said, “I eavesdropped.”
I laughed and pressed the button for floor five. It took much less time to find Ali since there were two of us. Ali gratefully left a group of other girls in her room and joined us in the hallway. I nodded at Louis, who I could tell was just bursting at the seams with information. He looked at both of us and went off.
“Down in their offices they’re making calls and emails and connecting all of us up with our nearest living relatives. And for Ali they’re arranging a free flight for you home and a call to your Mom tomorrow.” He spat out, and started panicking. My mouth hung open and Ali bit her lower lip. She practically jumped at Louis, hugging him tightly. That was not the kind of reward Louis liked. At school people paid him to get them information.
Hugging was definitely more of a punishment. He stood still until Ali let go and hugged me. “I can’t believe I’m going home!” She grinned from ear to ear.
I went to bed happy that night, at least, happy for Ali. I didn’t think about my family too much though. If the worst HAD happened and my whole family was left that meant I only had my one Aunt left as family. I couldn’t remember exactly where she lived, but I knew she travelled a lot with my three cousins and my Uncle. I groaned as I remembered. The last I heard, she was living in China.
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