Alice squinted into the light, moving her head along with the long sweeps. "Where are we? There's nothing like this nearby..." She knelt down and picked up a piece of the crumbling asphalt, then watched it fall into a powdery mix of gravel and dried bits of tar. "Should we try to find the end?"
Joshua helped Derek out, then hopped down from the complete wreckage of his car with a pang of regret. "Well, yeah," he said when he heard Alice, "I mean, what are we going to do, stay here all night?"
Alex, however, was quiet, and trembling just slightly. 'Nothing like this nearby'? Where the hell were they, then? Trying not to panic, she turned the light first down one side of the tunnel, then the other. "I think that's the way we came from, so...which way should we go? I think you might be right about the tunnel collapsing...we should be able to see out from here..."
Derek shook his shoulders, still feeling a little pain from the crash, "Forward, then. If there's no opening out the back, there should be to front. Maybe we'll run into another car on the way there."
Alice shrugged, it was logic she couldn't argue. "Do we all agree, then? We start walking, and hope we run into help."
"I don't know what there is to discuss," Joshua said, giving one last forlorn look at his car before starting to walk forward, confidently...a little over-confident, one would think.
"How can you be so nonchalant?" Alex demanded, catching up to him and grabbing his arm, "You haven't even told us why this happened! What did you see? There wasn't anything in the road, Joshua!"
Angirly, he shoved her off of him, and spun to face her. "How would you know? You weren't driving--" The word cut off as he seemed to see her for the first time since the crash, his eyes widening at the still-oozing blood that made a wide, rather grotesque streak from her forehead, over the bridge of her nose, and down her cheek. "A-ah..."
Alex noticed the extreme change in expression, looked to the side, and dragged her fingers across her cheek. She'd definitely lost more blood than she'd thought, but she felt fine, so it couldn't have been a dangerous amount. "I'm fine," she muttered, "But don't change the subject. Tell me what you saw that made you panic so badly that you rolled the damned car."
The expression that had triggered her own panicked reaction flashed through Alice's mind. "You saw something, that's for sure. Tell us what it was."
"I didn't see anything. I wasn't paying much attention, though." Derek put his hands on his hips, "Something must have happened, though. No one loses control of a car that suddenly."
Joshua turned back around, stuttering, "I-I didn't..." With a sigh, he gave up. He knew that once he started faltering, he was transparent. "Look...don't think I'm crazy, okay? I swear...I swear to god I saw the road up ahead of us completely...'destroyed' isn't even the word; the road was gone. I don't know how else to say it. I didn't see the road anymore."
Derek broke the silence that overtook the group. "The road was gone? That's fucking crazy." He turned to Alice, accusation flashing in his eyes, "You put something in the food this morning, didn't you? He's the only one who ate anything! "
To say Joshua was startled was putting it lightly. "What...what the fuck are you talking about, man? Where in the hell did you get that idea?"
"Hey, hey!" Alex shouted, "Now everyone just calm down! Getting at each others' throats isn't going to solve anything, okay? It doesn't matter what you saw, I'm sorry I brought it up. Let's just...let's just get the hell out of this tunnel, all right? We'll figure out what to do from there." She wasn't used to playing mediator, but it was the only thing she could do in the situation - she was scared, and if the only people she was with started to fall apart, she didn't know what she'd do.
"*I* ate the breakfast, how's that for theory breaking?" Alice shoved past Derek, stopping his objection with a sharp push from her elbow, "This is the way, you said? Then let's go." She couldn't help but fume. She had figured out that he was a paranoid SOB, but didn't expect him to jump to such a rash accusation.
Joshua followed suit, brushing past Derek without another word. Alex sighed - disaster averted, at least for a moment. She started to follow, but paused by Derek, speaking quietly, "I know this is weird. I'm scared too. Let's just try to get out of here, and it won't be so bad. Okay?"
Why she was being so kind, she wasn't sure. Ordinarily, she'd have snapped at him just as much as anyone else. Maybe it was because she was so frightened herself, and imagined that everyone else was as well...
Derek was a little taken aback. The tone of voice from Alex was completely different from the one he'd heard the previous day in his hotel room. She suddenly seemed more mature, with actual confidence behind her actions, instead of the relentless drive of good manners. Out of a feeling of odd respect, he held back his comments, and quietly followed behind the group.
Joshua led the group, going for the 'strong, silent type' image. His irritation at Derek had faded quickly, and now he was just trying to focus on getting out of the seemingly never-ending tunnel.
After a long while, he squinted, leaning forward slightly as though that would help him see better. "I...I think I see light. It's faint, but..."
Alex came up beside him, squinting slightly as well, and sure enough, she saw it too - a spot of dim, grey light ahead of them. "Thank god," she breathed, picking up the pace a bit as she was anxious to get out.
As they moved closer, though, Alex noticed that the beam of light from the tiny flashlight was being obscured by a film of dust, or smoke, or...no, it was fog. The cool clamminess against her skin was unmistakable. "How strange," she said, almost to herself, "It was perfectly clear out when we left. Were we out for a long time?"
Alice squinted at her watch, "No... Looks like, about a half hour since we left. It isn't even 1 yet." She watched the watch for a moment, "Wait, shit! The battery died. Never mind, then. It didn't seem like we'd been there very long." The fog was thick, and she could feel it settling into her lungs. "Fog comes off the lake sometimes, but never like this."
Finally, they'd passed out of the tunnel, and both siblings let out a breath of relief. Even if it was foggy and somewhat cold, anything was better than the decrepit coffin that they'd come from.
Still, Alex thought, something seemed off. "Is it usually this quiet? I would think there'd be more people around..."