The four of us got into a heated argument just moments ago. It was several minutes past 1.00am when Dave piped out that we should perhaps turn back. The gas tank indicator was fast approaching the half mark, and Dave explained that it would be the best time to do so.
Cecilia seemed unsure of the suggestion at first, echoing the worst case scenario that was already playing on my mind. “What if there is no turning back?” she murmured. You could hear her trying to control the fear in her voice. It’s scary to see how our minds begin to reason when we’re afraid.
While Dave’s suggestion is logical, my gut was in agreement with Cecilia. Logical choices never seemed to work in situations like these. Amanda, who was by now fully awake and seemed to be slowly realizing our situation, supported Dave’s decision. I remained quiet, unable to make up my mind.
Realizing that we may need convincing, Dave slowed our car down and parked in the middle of the road. He killed the engine and opened his door. There was no need to worry about other incoming vehicles along the road anyway, since we’re the only ones in there.
The silence when he did so was deafening. We had grew so accustomed to the sound of the car’s engine accompanying us that I wished Dave would have kept the car going.
Dave tapped his fingers on the steering wheel, before he turned to face each of us. He was still wearing that worried look of his. It only seemed to weigh down on the situation we’re in.
“Look,” he whispered, “I don’t think if we’ll reach anywhere if we continue to drive, and we might as well take this chance to turn back. It’s better than going forward aimlessly. Maybe we’ll get out eventually.” My gut was telling me then that he himself did not believe what he was saying.
But there was not much choice for us to choose, and not knowing what laid ahead, all of us agreed. Cecilia offered to take the wheel, and Dave reluctantly switched over. We’re moving now, the sound of the engine working now feels like music to my ears. Hopefully by the time 3.00am rolls by, we’d be out from the tunnel. Hopefully.
I had sincerely wished that this would be just a bad dream, but it seems that our worst fear did come true. We have driven longer in the opposite direction, but the exit never grew closer. What laid in beyond the windshield never changed. A constant, tiny black dot sitting right in the middle of the tunnel, mocking our futile attempt to escape.
All of us are out of the car now. I would have thrown up if I was any longer in there. Cecilia is crying beside the car. She’s squatting down, her arms tightly hugging her knees. All the stress have finally gotten to her, I suppose. She keeps repeating the sentence “I don’t want to die” in between her sobs over and over again. It’s giving me the creeps. But I don’t have the heart to ask her to stop.
Dave’s muscular arms wrapped around her, trying to calm her down. “Don’t worry, I am here,” he repeatedly said. I was unsure if he was trying to convince Cecilia or himself.
Amanda is leaning on the back on the car, her hands typing on her phone. Perhaps she’s writing a note, just like me. She had walked up to me earlier and casually asked if I think we’re going to die in here. I shrugged and mumbled “Don’t know.” She smirked, before casually replying that we most probably will. It definitely did not calm my nerves.
“All the horror stories that I’ve read don’t usually end well, and it seems we may be caught in one,” she added, and walked away. I didn’t even had the chance to respond. I must admit that her nonchalant attitude continues to catch me off guard. I am starting to admire her ability to not panic.
I’ve never been more thankful for Dave’s experience in the army than now. The first thing that he did — once the girls calmed down and were soundly asleep in the car — was to do an inventory check. We were lucky that we decided to go on a shopping spree before we left our last destination. Aside from our clothes, we managed to cram 10 bottles of 1.5 litre mineral water and a carton of beer in the trunk of our car. Together with the drinks, also have an assortment of chocolate and local biscuits.
I had initially protested the need to buy so many things at one go, saying that we could always purchase them when needed, but now I was absolutely grateful that we did. Thank god Cecilia insisted. If we do survive this ordeal, I could picture myself becoming an obsessive compulsive hoarder.
Dave mentioned something about rationing, and the need to dump all of our belongings aside from our passports, wallets and money. His no nonsense personality was kicking in.
I followed his orders and helped him sort the essential items into four bags. We threw the rest of our belongings unto the road. Our clothes, shoes, electronics. I was not comfortable at first, seeing how everything that I owned was just discarded like some useless trash. Especially my camera bag.
A part of me still wanted to deny the situation that we found ourselves in. I wanted to believe that as soon as we got into the car and start driving, we would emerge back into civilization like nothing ever happened. Bad, scary things only happened to others not me. I had done nothing to end up in this type of situation. Dave would have none of it.
“Our life depends on us focusing,” he snarled as he gripped my arm, as if he read my thoughts. “Because in case you didn’t realize it, our normal lives have gone flying out of the window the moment we drove into this cursed place.”
He let go of me soon after, and headed for the car.
Dave’s sleeping now, Cecilia’s head resting on his chest. He had ask me to get some rest too, as we may need it come tomorrow. I am trying to, but I can’t shake the feeling that Dave is hiding something from us. If only I have the courage to confront him, though the last thing that I want to do is to doubt him. I am not even sure of what to believe now.
My phone is left with 50%. I don’t know what will happen when the battery eventually run out.