Saturday, January 29, 2011

Hollow World Chapter 26


Peter awoke with a start as Rocky licked his hand. He softly scratched the dog behind the ears. “Hey boy, you hungry?”

“Yeah, are you?” Came the sound of Chris’ voice in response, from behind him.

“Oh, hey,” Peter sat up and turned his head. Chris sat at the kitchen table, silently fingering his guitar. Peter almost asked him what he was playing but thought better of it, knowing what the answer would be. “Are the others awake?”

“Amy and Kyle are, I think Julie may still be asleep. Don’t know about Zach or Brian.”

“I’m awake,” Brian said as he joined them. “Look what I found upstairs.” He held out a thin book, a little larger than a magazine, to Chris, who took it.

Flipping through the pages, Chris smiled giddily and Peter moved around the table to see why. “The Best of REM for Guitar” stood on the table now before Chris, who began to play “It’s the End of the World as We Know It” again before Peter grabbed the book.

Flipping through the pages, he picked a different song, and placed the book back down, open to “Man on the Moon”

“Work on that,” Peter said and walked back towards their shopping carts. Digging through their collective belongings, Peter pulled out a bag of cereal and a chipped bowl, poured himself some, and sat back down at the table, carrying the bag with him. Silently, he ate and listened to Chris as he worked on the new song.

After a few minutes of trial and error, Chris figured the song out more or less, and Peter added his voice to the song, doing a poor imitation of Michael Stipe. After a few lines, Brian began to tap his hands on the table.

“What’s going on in here?” Sarah came in.

Chris laughed as he flipped through the book and began to play “Nightswimmer.” Sarah joined with Peter on vocals as Brian continued to bang on the table.

As the song came to a close, Amy called out from the next room, “You know Peter, you suck at that.”

“Yeah, that’s why I play hockey.” He said, laughing.

Chris continued to play, flipping through the book to various songs.

Caught up in the experience, Brian grabbed the book and opened it to the last song. “Now this one.”

Chris looked at the book and put his guitar down, gently leaning it against his leg. He reached out and tore the remaining pages out of the book and then continued to shred those into tiny pieces.

A knock at the front door made everyone jump and caused Rocky to run, barking, towards the foyer.

“Rocky,” Peter called out, but it was too late, another knock came at the door.

Grabbing weapons, everyone went into the front room.

Peter made it to the door first and put his eye to the peephole. “Shit, it’s James.” He glanced at Sarah quickly before surveying the rest of the faces. Absent were Zachariah, Kyle, and Julie, but everyone else’s eyes were on Sarah.

“Ok, let me open the door.” She stepped forward, dropping the pistol she held to her side.

Peter stepped back and flipped the safety off of his own pistol. “He didn’t look armed, but be ready.” He nodded towards Sarah who opened the door.

Her boyfriend stood in front of her, apparently unarmed. Dry grass nestled in his dark, almost black hair and dirt framed his face. His eyes still possessed the blank stare that caused Peter to shudder.

“James? What do you want?” Sarah asked.

James looked past her, his empty eyes making contact with each individual in turn, before finally coming to rest over Peter’s shoulder. “Julie,” he started.
Peter peered back and saw Julie coming down the stairs. At her name, she froze.

“Yes,” she said, unable to see the source of the voice.

“Graham told me to tell you that your husband is safe.” James cocked his head as he spoke, his eyes stayed fixated on Julie.

“What? Kevin, where is he?” She leapt down the remaining stairs and ran toward the door, shoving past Peter. It was not until she stood in front of James that she realized who, or better what, he was.

She shrieked as James reached into his pocket. Every weapon except for Sarah’s clicked, ready for whatever the Other produced. James hand withdrew, closed around a small object, which he presented to Julie, who he had yet to remove his eyes from.

Tentatively, she took the thing from the outstretched hand and looked at it. “It’s his name tag, it’s Kevin’s name tag.”

The object delivered, James lowered his arm mechanically, turned, and walked away without another word.

Kyle came running down the stairs. “What’s going on, I heard mom scream, why is she crying?” He asked in a blur of motion as he ran up to her.

“Your dad’s alive,” she said in between tear filled gasps.

“Now we can’t….” Brian started but an elbow from Peter silenced him. “Ow.”


“But mom, I know he’s alive.” Kyle said, smiling. “He’s already at the dam.”

“What do you mean, how do you know this?” Peter bent over so that he was face to face with the boy.

“Last night, I dreamed of seeing my father. He’s waiting for us at the gate to Boulder City.”

“What Gate?”

Crying even harder, Julie looked at her son, but it was Zach that answered from the staircase.

“They made a ring of cars around the city, and there are large wooden gates built into the wall at all the major highways.”

“You mean like they did around the building the other day?” Amy asked, trying to process the idea.

“No, the cars are up on their sides and long ways.” Kyle said.

“Peter, what’s going on here?” Amy asked.

“I don’t know. Zach, is this from a dream?”

“Yeah, I saw his dad too,” he nodded towards Kyle.

“Um, guys?” Sarah broke into the conversation, “James is back, and he is not alone.”

James stood on the lawn, flanked by a man and a woman with the same hollow stare. “Leave now,” James said.

Peter stepped up to the door and fired his pistol, the head of the man next to James snapping backwards from the impact of the shot, the whole body toppling over backwards.

James nor the woman moved, but James did repeat “Leave now.”

Peter aimed again, but before he could fire Amy grabbed his arm. “Why?”

“I am tired of running.” He pushed her hand away and took aim again, the shot dropping the woman next to James.

A third time Peter leveled pistol, but Sarah stepped in front of him.

“No, besides, look.”

More people were closing in on the house that the group occupied.

“Leave now,” James said again from in between the corpses.

“Peter,” Amy pulled at his arm again, “Let’s go.”

Peter allowed the gun to be taken from his hand. Defeated, he turned back into the house to begin gathering their belongings.

By the time they were ready to depart, the house was surrounded by Others, but James was no where to be seen. Silently, the group trudged out, and as they approached the circle of people, it opened to let them pass.

Peter, pushing a cart full of food, was one of the last two through, next to Amy.
He reached out and grabbed the gun from where Amy carried it tucked into her belt and leveled the gun at the nearest Other, a rather large blonde woman. “You keep telling us a war is coming. Here it is.” He pulled the trigger.

If you read something you liked, didn't like, or just have a question about the story in general, I would love to hear from you. even if it is as minor as an misspelled word or a misplaced apostrophe, it made it this far so someone obviously missed it.\

I take feedback seriously, it is the best way for me to improve and the easiest way for you to help me improve.


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