Megan stepped into the water. With the first step, the water hit her mid-thigh, but she didn’t go down. She took a second and it had risen to her waist, but she stood. With the third step, the current knocked her off her feet. She went under and Jessica gasped. Megan’s head popped back up ten yards downstream and she began to stroke. It looked like she was edging closer to the opposite bank when the river turned around a bend and she was lost to their view.
A shot rang through the trees and the voices were upon them. Jack grabbed Jessica and kissed her hard on the mouth and then shouted at her to go.
Jessica wasn’t as tall and strong as Megan, so she decided on a different approach. She took a running start and dove as far as she could out into the river. The last thing she heard as she went under was a string of gunfire and as she surfaced in the middle of the river downstream, a loud explosion rumbled through the corridor between the trees.
She flailed frantically and went under again. She swallowed a mouthful of dirty river water and spit as she surfaced. She tried to remember what Jack had told her. As his voice eased into her head, she quit fighting. She took slow strong strokes as the current pulled her down the river, but she kept her head above water. As she edged closer to the far side she could see Megan running down the bank screaming at her to keep stroking.
Just as Jessica thought her muscles had nothing left to give, she felt Megan’s hand grasp her wrist. She began churning her legs and realized she could touch the bottom. With Megan pulling and her feet pushing at the bottom, Jessica was able to scramble up the bank. She rolled over onto her back and gasped for air. It took several moments to realize she was still alive and once she was certain she would live, her thoughts quickly returned to Jack.
She pushed herself to a sitting position and looked upstream. All she could see was a plume of smoke. They had been carried a long way from the scene. She tried to get her bearings. Jack had said to head for the helicopter, but she didn’t want to leave him.
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