Saturday, November 13, 2010

Hollow World Chapter 17


Sarah, Julie and Kyle had all sat down at a table in the building’s break room, and were eating stew that had been offered to them. The woman who was there tending the food, said her name was Samantha, and told them that the stew was beef. “There’s a farm not too far from here, and one of the guys is a hunter. He killed and cleaned a cow a couple of days ago. This stew is the last of the meat. He’ll probably kill another cow tomorrow though, so eat up, there’s plenty.”

The trio ate heartily, all going back for seconds. Kyle had gone back for thirds when Samantha told him to save room for peach cobbler. “Mmmm, that’s my dad’s favorite!” His eyes lit up, if only for a moment, before realizing that his dad was not there to share the cobbler with him.

“Hey Kyle,” started Samantha, she could see the distress in his eyes, “how old are you?”

“I’m five!” Kyle said emphatically.

“Perfect, I have a job only a five year old can help me with. Julie, do you mind if I take him for a moment?”

It was the first opportunity Julie had had to be away from Kyle since she had grabbed him off the bus moments before it had blown up. The panic must have been evident on her face.

Samantha mouthed the words “ice cream” at her and smiled.

Julie, the moment of panic passed, nodded and took a deep breath.

“Come on Kyle,” Samantha took his hand and walked out of the room heading down the hallway.

At the same time, Peter, Zach, Brian, and Chris came in to the room, led by Jim.

“Hey, Jim was just going to show us his operation here. They have refrigerators someone has rigged to work off of car batteries!” Chris was excited, and he let it show. “You want to come?”

Amy caught the look that came across Jim’s face, and declined, knowing that Julie, Sarah, and herself were not really welcome. “No, Kyle just went off to get ice cream, I’m hoping he brings some back to us.”

Peter broke into the conversation, he had seen the look on Jim’s face too. “Jim, you said you used to sell cars. Do you still have access to any of them, and the keys?”

Sarah’s voice caught in her throat. “Peter, no…”

“I have an idea. Listen Jim, the cars, and anything with gas for that matter, were blowing up, and it continued for days after that first day.”

“Yes, the Great Disaster. I remember watching a whole row of cars go up, the first one had been started, and they were packed so close together….”

“Jim, focus please.” Peter snapped his fingers, bringing Jim out of his reverie.

Sarah shot Amy a glance, who held up a finger. “Let Peter continue, I want to see where he’s going.”

“Well, correct me if I’m wrong, but I haven’t heard an explosion in a few days. This nightmare might be over.”

Zachariah, broke Peter’s chain of thought, “This nightmare is just beginning man. But, you‘re right, I don’t remember any explosions recently.”

Looking out, all of the others in the room, including Jim, shook their heads, not one of them remembered hearing an explosion.

“But Peter, you can’t be suggesting starting one of the cars up. What if it does explode?” It was Julie’s turn to interject.

“Jim, did any of your cars have remote starters?”

Jim nodded, a smile dawning on his face. “I have to tell the others.”

Before anyone could stop him, Jim ran out of the room. Brian turned to chase, but Peter stopped him.

“Let him go. This is really just a test. I just want to know if we’re safe yet.”

“Peter, even if we can get a car to start without exploding, what if whatever caused the explosions comes back, and even so, none of the roads we’ve seen are drivable.”

“I know Amy, I know. I’m not sure where it’ll get us, but where’s the harm in trying? We might be able to rig a gas generator to work and who knows how that could help us? Besides, this is the first time we’ve been alone since we got here. Anything out of the ordinary?”

Amy had been thinking the same thing, “They seem to be well organized, but if the Others were to make an attempt at them, this building would be a death trap.”

Brian, who had remained silent until now, spoke up. “They’re trying to grow stuff in the cubicles. It’s a real cubicle farm, where the main office is on the second floor, underneath the skylights.” His face turned dark. “I don’t like it here, they seem too well organized, and too, I don’t know, left alone, maybe.”

“I was thinking the same thing. Let’s test the cars tonight, and we can leave in the morning. Boulder City is still a long way off, we have a lot of walking to do.”

Just then, Jim re-entered. “I was just talking to Diego and Larry, they think, even if what’s left of my lot doesn’t have one, they know where to find a car they can test. They are excited, they’re grabbing flashlights, let’s go.” Jim was rubbing his hands together excitedly.

It took them an hour of navigating through back streets to reach Buchanon’s Used Automotives. It was just Diego, Larry, Peter, Jim and Chris, each carrying a flashlight, and they kept to the shadows, turning off their lights at every noise.

Shining the lights over what was left of the dealership, Jim pointed to a row of three cars, “There, that one in the middle, let me see if the keys are in that building there.” He slipped into a small shack that said employees only and the group promptly heard a scream as soon as the door swung shut behind him.

“Jim, you okay?” Larry shouted as he unslung the shotgun that had, until then, rested easily on his shoulder.

Jim came out, keys in hand, and a sheepish look on his face. “Rat,” he said and laughed uneasily.

“Pussy,” Diego spat.

“So Peter, this was your idea, do you want to do the honors?” Jim held out the keys, which Peter took.

“Ready?” Peter hit the button that would start the engine, and all five men hit the ground as the car exploded, causing the vehicles on either side to explode as well.

“It was a good thought Peter,” Chris placed his hand on Peter’s shoulder after they had stood up and dusted themselves off.

“Yeah, and now we know of a way to test without killing ourselves,” Jim replied. “Once they stop exploding, this place will be good as new in no time!”

The look Peter received from Diego told him that the vision was not shared.

“Maybe so, I think it’s time to go back and get some rest.”

The trip back to the law offices was marred by more explosions coming from all directions, but none close enough for the small group to see. When they arrived back at their home for the night, the five men parted ways, and all said good night.


The man wearing his jersey was standing over Peter, who was asleep in a small office. Graham was humming Pachelbel’s Canon, Dallas burning in his eyes.

Sunlight flooded the small office as Peter woke with a start. He quickly looked around the room, but no trace of Graham was to be found. A chill ran down his spine as he realized he had been having a nightmare.

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