Saturday, October 2, 2010
Posted by Jonathan Martin
A little bit slower of a pace now, back to our regularly scheduled party.
Zach awoke in agony, gritting his teeth against the pain. He was in a strange room, white walls, a flat panel television mounted across from him. A mirror rested on the wall above a chest of drawers, all of which were empty. A clock radio sat upon the nightstand next to where his head rested. It did not appear to be working. In the drawer he found a copy of the New Testament, with a stamp on it that read “Placed by THE GIDEONS.”
His first thought was to wonder where he was, closely followed by, had it all been a dream? He swung his feet out from under the sheets and retched, throwing up all over the floor. His head was pounding, and the little light coming from in between the curtains was excruciating to look at. Taking a moment to steady himself on the edge of the bed, Zach used his right arm to push off and stood up.
After another explosion of pain Zachariah looked at his arm, and saw the blood soaked bandage there. So it had not been a dream, he thought. He made his way to the bathroom, used it, and rinsed his mouth with a small bottle of mouthwash. He then left the room, and found himself outside, facing a parking lot with a few cars in it, and a few pieces of car in it.
Sitting at a table that he had dragged out of his motel room was Peter, a bottle of orange juice on the table in front of him. “Good morning,” he greeted Zach.
“How are you feeling?”
“Dude, your voice is like needles in my brain, shut up.”
Peter laughed, and opened a cooler that sat on the ground next to him, drawing out another orange juice. He set it on the table. “Sit.”
“Oh good, you’re awake. How are you feeling?” Amy walked out of a nearby room.
Zach hung his head and Peter laughed again.
“He’s hung over, but looks okay,” Peter said. “Want some oj?” He fished another out of the cooler and tossed it to where Amy stood leaning against the door to her room.
“We need to look for Sam.”
This statement had the effect of sobering Zach up, and started to remove the fog that hung over the last twenty-four hours. He remembered having the bullet pried out of his arm, and he remembered the smell of smoke, and the feeling of moist grass against his face. Beyond that, he did not even know where they were. “What do you mean?”
“We’re pretty sure he made it out, but we didn't see him after the fire. I was planning on going back to look for him. If everyone wants to hole up here today, then we can move out tomorrow?”
“We going to go to Hoover Dam?” Zach asked, he did not know why he suggested it, but by the look on the other two faces at the table, he had hit the nail on the head.
“You must've heard us talking,” Amy responded, as Kyle walked out of the motel's main building, a box of Frosted Flakes in one hand, and a bowl with a spoon resting in it in the other. Rocky followed a few paces behind, his tail wagging furiously when he saw Zach.
“Must have,” mumbled Zach.
“I’ll go,” Brian said as he opened the door. “Next time, could you not be outside my door having this conversation?”
“Sorry,” Amy replied sheepishly.
“It’s alright, I needed to get up. I want to go find Sam.” His Pooh blanket was tucked into his belt.
“Ok, get some food, then we go.”
Brian found some cereal, ate it quickly and washed it down with some of the orange juice that Peter had in the cooler. “I'm ready.”
“Grab a shotgun and let’s go.”
Two minutes later, after telling everyone to leave in the morning if they did not come back, Peter and Brian left the motel, each with a shotgun, Brian with a knife tucked into his belt, and Peter with the Colt stuck in his pants, in the small of his back.
They walked for a few minutes in complete silence, the only sound coming from the wind. The same wind that carried the smoke from the still burning Dallas, the still burning Fort Worth.
“It’s quiet, where are the gunshots?” Brian broke the silence.
“I don’t know, maybe everyone has killed each other already. Hey, can I ask you something?”
“It’s the last thing my mother bought for me.”
“The blanket, it’s what you were going to ask me about, right? My mom was in a car accident when I was two. A drunk driver hit her head on, killed her.”
“Oh, I’m sorry.”
“Not your fault man, you know what? The bastard lived. I've hated him my entire life. It was crazy, but last night, I could've sworn he was one of the twelve outside that house.”
“No. But it’s been seven years since I saw him. I think so.”
“Well, hopefully it isn’t him, but if it is, we can help…” Peter let the sentence, and it’s meaning, hang. “SAM!” He began to shout, calling for their missing companion as they approached the street they had spent the last few days living on.
As Peter began shouting, a look of panic came across Brian's face. "Peter, what if they hear us?"
"I know, but how else will we find Sam?"
"We could, I don't know, search all of the houses?"
Peter looked up one side of the street and then down the other. "In which direction?"
The place where their temporary home had been was nothing more than ash, and a handful of beams, lying in a contorted pile. There were a few places where smoke was still coming from, but this did not stop Peter. “Watch my back,” he told Brian and went into what remained of the structure. He grabbed a large piece of wood and used it to push things around, looking for any sign of life, but finding none.
"Brian, it's awfully hot in there still, go next door and see if there are any shovels or something. Be careful." Peter stepped out of the wreckage and wiped sweat from his brow.
Brian returned with a pair of shovels a few minutes later. "Sorry it took so long, there weren't any next door."
"Thanks," Peter grabbed one of the shovels and returned to the ashes.
“This is about where the office was,” Brian had joined him, and was digging around, the Pooh blanket was hanging on a stray piece of wood, so as not to get soiled. They spent until noon digging through the ash and wood looking for a body and, after finding none, they wandered off dirty and worn out. They travelled for a few blocks in every direction, shouting Sam’s name as loud as they could and, while they felt they were being watched, they did not find him, or any sign of his passing.
As dusk approached, the two men decided that they needed to clean off somehow and broke into a house to see if the water was still on. After knocking on the door of a house and getting no response, they broke a window and climbed in. Water came out of the sink after Peter tried it, and he smiled. “OK, you go first, I'll stand watch.”
After both had showered, Brian taking his turn on guard duty, they put their filthy clothes back on and headed back toward the motel, calling for Sam again, but still getting no response.
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Labels: Hollow World