of loose soil from the quakes and staying where they were put them in danger if the rain
came down hard enough.
“Everyone listen up,” he said loudly. “Just down through the tree line is a small ridge. It’s
a two kilometre walk and we can get there fairly quickly, if you do as I say, understood?”
he asked. There was a general murmur of agreement. John got the two boys helping
Michael with the sled to lead the uninjured part of the group down through the tree line.
He gave them exact instructions about where to go. It started to drizzle.
“Here, take this,” he said to the two boys as he handed them the tent material, “see if
you can make a plan to keep everyone dry when you get there.” John had faith in the
boys and the rest of the group, he had to, otherwise they would never make it out in
time. They moved off quickly. John helped Michael finish off the sleds in the rain and
then loaded the two girls. They had made harnesses for the sleds and this made them
easier to pull along. As they were high up on the shoulders only the bottom ends
touched the ground and the girls, who were quite young, were strapped in with belts to
take the weight off their legs. It was relatively easy going. Katherine helped the rest of
the injured along and they caught up to the main group just as they were stretching out
the tent material over a fallen tree to make a frame tent. It was large enough to house
the whole group and the ground inside was still dry from all the foliage. The edges were
secured with large stones just as the wind picked up. The back end was long enough to
fit over the splintered tree trunk and acted as a back wall which was sheltered enough
from the wind.
Once they were all inside John told them to rest as much as they could. When the rain
stopped they would be moving out. He just hoped that the rain did stop as they only
had a couple of hours to rest. If they spent any more time than that they would be in
danger of being right in the middle of the terrifying main quake. John looked around at
the faces in the group. He would get them out if it was the last thing he did. He knew