Snow was Falling pt 4

Kylie Rae
4 min readApr 5, 2023

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Helen patted Lillian on the shoulder as she passed and took the lead again. “Okay, let me get around the corner and count to one hundred again. I doubt anyone else is going to come up the tunnel, he was the replacement. They don’t send people up randomly since there’s nothing else up here. But just to be on the safe side, I don’t want you right with me.”

Damon nodded and she walked away. I couldn’t even tell she’d been shot. Nothing in her body movement even suggested she was in pain. Helen was a lot tougher than she looked.

After Damon signaled us to follow, we inched down the path again. Damon paused every hundred or so feet to listen for any new voices. He wasn’t going to let us be snuck up on unannounced again.

I wasn’t sure how much time passed, but gradually, I heard voices and the clatter of people working with metal and rocks. Damon slowed his steps and held up his hand for us to do the same. When the light changed and it was clear we were moving into a work space instead of the tunnel, Damon stopped completely and waited.

He turned to us with a finger pressed to his lips and waved us closer. “A guide will be through in a moment. They’ll take you around back and through the checkpoints to get you paperwork. Once you’re across the border, you’re on your own. But you’ll be free and no one will be coming after you.”

Lillian gasped and pressed her hand over her mouth.

“What about you?” Steph asked.

“I have to get back up the mountain. There will be another group to organize.”

“Why do you risk your life for strangers?”

Damon looked away and sighed. I wanted to change the subject, this was obviously something touchy for him to talk about.

“My wife was stuck in one of your work camps. She didn’t get across the border in time before the takeover. I went in to rescue her. I set up the entire route and got people to help me. It wasn’t hard, to get help. There were plenty of people on our side that didn’t like what’s happening over there. So we set up the tunnels. And I went in to bring her over. Her and anyone else who could move fast enough.”

He paused and now I was hooked too and was glad Steph had asked.

“But?” Steph prompted.

“But she didn’t want to come. She was trying to fix things in the camps. Get better conditions and rations. She thought she could do better over there. But she liked what I’d done and we began to run the tunnels to get people out, a few at a time. Never too many to draw suspicion.”

“Where is your wife now?” I asked, even though I was sure I knew the answer.

“She died. About a year ago. She got caught sneaking children extra food. All their trials end in a death sentence. But she made me promise to keep running the tunnels. So I do. Every chance I get.”

Steph wiped a tear from the corner of her eye. “Well, we really appreciate you doing this. You’ve saved our lives.”

Damon nodded. “I know.”

Before we could say anything else, a man poked his head around the corner. He smiled at us.

“Only three, Damon?”

“Yup. One didn’t make it down the mountain.”

“Shame. Well, my name is Scott. Let’s get you folks across the border.”

“Just like that?” Lillian asked.

“Just like that.” Scott beamed at her. “Follow me.”

“Thank you again,” Steph said to Damon and squeezed his arm as we passed.

I smiled at him, hoping it conveyed my thanks and followed them out of the tunnel. Before we walked more than a few steps, Steph grabbed my hand and laced her fingers between mine. I looked down at them, our thick gloves making it look a little comical, but I held on tight.

“I’ve made up my mind,” Steph said.

“Oh?” I didn’t want to say more, my heart already leaping into my throat.

“Yes. I think if Damon and his wife could make it work across a border and a work camp, that we can make it work.”

“Yeah?” My excitement kept me tongue-tied.

“Yeah. When you told me how you felt… well, I was scared. I know you knew I returned your feelings, but… I didn’t know how it would be accepted. Obviously that isn’t where my worries needed to be. But now that we’re here… about to be over the border and free… I can put my focus in other places.”

My pulse raced with joy and I squeezed her hand. If it wasn’t for the fast pace Scott was keeping us at to pass through the last checkpoint, I would have stopped to hold her. But I knew the moment we were over the border, I wasn’t ever going to let her go.

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Kylie Rae

Independant author | Book lover | Whiskey Drinker | Mother of two crazy boys | www.kylieraewriter.com