Saturday, October 22, 2011

Hollow World Book 2 Chapter 22


"What was that?" Amy asked Peter.

"I don't know, but I don't like it," he replied, bending down and scooping up the coins that the strange man had left lying in the snow. "Let's keep it to ourselves for now."

“But why?”

“Because I said so,” Peter snapped, and then apologized, counting the new coins he held in his hand. Seven, and with his two, that made nine.

"But what if he was one of them?"

"He's not."

"How do you know?"

"I saw into his eyes."

"What did you see?"

Peter ignored the question, unable to reconcile what he had seen into words.

“Did he just disappear?” Amy asked, trying to change the subject.

“I think so, how’d he get here though?” Peter asked, kneeling down and looking for any trace of footprints leading up to the house.

“The same way he left?” Amy offered. “I’ve seen him before, and while I was staring at him, I couldn’t figure it out. I think I know where now. After Zach was shot, Sarah and I ran into him standing over a dead body, on our way back from getting supplies.”

“What was he doing?”

“I don’t know. Are those obols too?” She asked, pointing at Peter’s hand.

“Yeah, they look the same. I mean it’s the same guy, Demetrius, Jud said his name was.” He pocketed all nine of the coins, the weight of change feeling odd after months of not worrying about money.

“I’m going to go check on Aubrey and the turkey, it should be done soon,” Amy said, turning to go back into the house.

“Remember, keep this to yourself for now.”

“I don’t like that, but if you think it’s for the best.”

“Let them have this day, it’s Christmas, lets not ruin it for them,” Peter justified to her, but the words rang hollow in his own head. He followed Amy into the house, and as he crossed the door’s threshold, he closed his eyes and took a deep breath. And shuddered. With his eyes closed, the images he had seen in the strangers eyes flashed back to him, and he had to thrust out his hand, searching for the nearby doorframe, to steady himself. Forcing his eyes open, he took another deep breath, and walked in to the kitchen, where Aubrey was bringing in the golden skinned bird from the outdoor fire pit.

“That looks good Aubrey,” he told her.

“Yeah, I’m just wishin’ we had more food to go with it.” She replied with a smile.

“But we have all of this,” Sarah said from the doorway, carrying a pair of pots, one carrying corn and the other carrying green beans.

“But it’s not fresh. Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful for the canned stuff, but it’s so much better right out of the garden.”

Sarah smiled, “I’m not sure I ever have had food that was that fresh, at least until recently.” A wisp of sadness passed over her features, but Aubrey brought her out of it.

“Well see, then at least something come out of you showing up here.” The oler woman smiled for a moment, and then yelled, “Supper’s on the table…” and then after a brief pause, “or will be soon, if you want to eat, come on in now.”

All nine of them, ten if you included Rocky, who seemed to only be around for meals now, gathered around the table in the dining room and began to heap food onto their plates. Once the last spoonful of mashed potatoes was scooped onto plates, Jud grasped the hand of his wife, who sat to his right, and the hand of Zach, to his left. Both took the meaning and continued the chain, until all were linked.

“Lord, I know we have not been the best shepherds, nor the best flock as of late, but we want to thank you for this bounty that is before us, and the family and friends we have to share it with. We know that you are testing us, and we hope that you will find us worthy when the time comes. Amen,” Jud finished, squeezing his wife’s hand.

The bird was tough and gamy, but after the meal, everyone admitted it was the best one they had had since before the explosions began.

“Thank you everyone,” Peter said, pushing himself away from the table. “I’m going to go take a nap, I’m stuffed.”

“Sounds like a good idea, I think I’m gonna turn in to,” Zach said, standing up.

“Oh no you two don’t. There is still one thing left.” Aubrey got up from the table and left the room, returning a few moments later, carrying a metal pan. “I made us a pumpkin pie, it’s not from scratch like I used to, so I hope it’s ok.”

“Ahh, you’ve gone and outdone yourself this time dear,” Jud told his wife.

Politely, Peter had a piece of pumpkin pie before excusing himself from the table again.

“Ok, this time, I’m turning in, and probably won’t be out again, I’m exhausted. Night all.”

A round of ‘good nights’ followed by a ‘party pooper’ sounded as he left the room, heading down the hallway to the room he was sharing with Brian and Zach.

Pulling the covers back off of the air mattress he called his bed, he slipped in, fully clothed, and closed his eyes, hoping that his full stomach would help block out the images still floating around in his head.

When he had looked into the man’s eyes, he had expected to see the vacant expression of one of the Others, but he had not, he had not even seen flames like when he had peered into the eyes of the man known now as Graham. What he had seen now lent itself to the nightmare he was having.

Peter ran. To his left was a wall of upturned cars, to his right, nothing but the burned remains of a town, the blackened skeletal remains of houses standing in stark contrast to the blue sky that could be seen for miles. He could feel the pistol in his pants, in the spot against the small of his back where he had gotten used to carrying it, but he knew it would do him no good. In his arms was a small child, about Kyle’s size, but he could not be sure, the face was not clear, but the blood was. He could not tell if it was his blood or the child’s, he did not feel any pain, but he knew that could be the adrenaline. He stumbled, the small form in his arms slipping, but not completely. He took a moment to shift the figure, a boy, he thought, in his arms and looked over his shoulder, and wished he hadn’t.

Graham was their, leading his charging army. The war was coming.


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