Friday, December 9, 2016

FREE FRIDAY FICTION : Welcome to the End : Part 9 -- Feast

Hello, Readers. 


I know that you aren't getting anything from me other than these posts right now, but I hope that's OK. Life is busy with family and a day job. I told a nice sized chunk of people about our little serial story this week. They were part of a mailing list that I created after a promotional opportunity in September. Saw an uptick in traffic to the blog after that, so hopefully we've picked up a few new readers. If you found us as part of that group, welcome.

Still, I'd love to see more people find our story, so, if you're enjoying reading his little tale as it unfolds, would you tell someone about it? Reading is better when it's a shared experience, so share it

OK, I think that's it for this time. Here's Part 9. 

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Welcome to the End//Part 9: Feast

We all sit in silence — like most nights at camp — and watch the fire. We listen to the wailers screech from far off somewhere. Caroline is reading a book that she found in one of the first excursions from camp. It feels like forever ago, but it wasn’t all that long.

I’d just met her and her mom. I’d just met everyone at camp. We had nothing more than what we’d brought with us, and, for me, that was almost nothing. I’d come in late at night, like J.R. I was walking down Interstate 30. The sun was setting, and I could see the fire they’d made glowing from the overpass. I braved the trip through the surrounding neighborhood to make it to their camp and the fires burning in the large drums. I said my introductions then gave myself over to exhaustion. I laid down on a bench and slept until morning.

I woke up the next day and walked the surrounding neighborhood with Caroline and her mom. We spent the day getting to know each other some and looting the local stores. One had books on a spinner rack, like something I saw in an older drug store I’d frequent with my grandparents when I’d visit them. Caroline loaded her pockets with paperbacks. Now, if she’s not off with me scavenging or arguing with her mom,  she’s got her head in a book.

“Haven’t you already read that one?” Walter asks as he walks back to our circle. He’s dressed the rabbits and put them on the spit he’s cobbled together from things he found on the fairgrounds.

“It’s good,” Caroline says, never pulling herself from the pages.

Walter gets the rabbits positioned above the fire. We take turns spinning the spit, and the meat is soon roasting. It’s smelling delicious, and we make meaningless conversation while we wait to eat better than we have in a couple of weeks.

The fire’s hot, and we are impatient so it takes less than an hour for us to get the rabbits cooked and cut up. Other than some repeated thanks to J.R. for bringing the meat, we eat in silence. Everything’s gone in just a few minutes. It’s amazing how quickly manners and decorum get tossed aside when the world falls apart around you. I look around the fire, everyone’s cheeks and chins shine with the fatty leave-behinds of a meal hastily eaten.

We are all sitting fat and happy when a wailer cries out. Then another. And another. We wait for the choir to really start singing. Get a couple of different voices talking all at once and they can all get riled up and start screaming. But it doesn’t happen. It’s quiet for another few minutes, then Maggie announces that she’s going to bed.

It feels late, but no one really knows what time it is. Maggie says: “I’ve got an early morning. She smiles like she does every night when she makes that joke. We all tell her to sleep well. Caroline dismisses herself a few minutes later. J.R. just walks away without saying anything. And since we don’t know where in camp Britt and Bethany are, it’s just me and Walter around the fire.

“The natives seem restless tonight,” I say.

He looks out into the dark. “They surely do. Wonder what has them so worked up.”

“Think they are worked up, or are things changing?”

“I hope it’s the former, but I fear it’s the latter.”

“Me too.” I nod. “Me too.”

“Go to bed,” Walter says. “I’ve got this tonight.”

“You sure? I don’t mind taking the first go.”

Walter shakes me off and pulls the shotgun that’s been sitting on the ground next to him into his lap. “Just come relieve me before morning.”

“Deal.” I stand and step behind my chair. I push. The casters squeak and a chorus of wailers call out. I leave the chair next to Walter.

“Yours for the night,” I tell him and pat the chair’s seat back with an open palm. “If you want it.”

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