Fear drenched Simon Clark like the sweat that covered his body. The wooded path made it look like a morning in early Spring, but the reality of the brutal August heat and the hazy smoke of a dozen wildfires across the west belied the scenery.
“I can’t do this. It’s too hard.” He wasn’t muttering to himself, but to his unseen companion.
“You have to, Simon. Too many people are depending on you.” She always sounded like a young woman, but there was something slightly mechanical about her tone.
“I just want to go home.”
“You are home.”
“I don’t mean that. I want to go someplace where I can be safe. Someplace where it’s cool and dry and I can relax.”
“You don’t have time for that right now. You have a job to do.”
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