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While rolling beneath the overhang, the engine groaned again. It sputtered. It wheezed. It died with a sickly cough of black exhaust. Maggie muttered a curse beneath her breath and tried to open the driver's side door. Of course the road was narrow and the car's proximity to the rocky face of the cliff was far too close to allow her to open the door more than a couple of inches. With another oath, she unbuckled the seatbelt and twisted her body to crawl over the stick shift and out the passenger side of the car. The car shuddered. She dismissed it as the engine's death rattle and continued moving. She barked her shin against something hard. Her wrist threatened to give under her weight and she regretted the extra forty pounds she carried on her frame. The car shuddered again and that time she noticed that rocks and pebbles bounced off the car.
"Dear Lord, it's an earthquake," she muttered as the entire car shook again as though the mountain were trying to shrug the vehicle off its shoulder.
Then the earth gave way and the car plunged down. Maggie screamed. Like every silly heroine in every adventure movie, she screamed in terror even though she knew that screaming would help nothing. She slammed into cloth-covered metal when the car hit the cold, murky water.
From across Loch Saorach in the far northeast of Scotland, Connor Matasan watched in horror as the hillside crumbled beneath the car.
"Come help" he bellowed as he shot out of his chair to run, run as though his own life depended upon it.
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