Fire and Apples

Fire and Apples

A Chapter by DeathbyGarlic
"

Our campsite destroyed and our group split up, Matt and I try to find the others before someone else does...

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                My eyes jerked open, Matt’s voice hissing in my ear, beckoning me to wake. “They’re coming!”

                I bolted upright, looking at him.

                “Get dressed; I’ll wake up everyone else!” With that said, he left me in my tent to pull on my pants, shirt and shoes. I stopped for a second, looked at my pack and then grabbed the two pistols, holsters and extra magazines from within.


                Outside, Matt and Skiff were rushing into the other two tents to wake the husband and wife. I focused my hearing on any noises that could be coming from the woods but heard nothing. As Matt emerged from Shannon’s tent I hustled over to meet him.

                “Who’s coming?” I asked; my voice a little louder than I intended.

                “The guys who got Max,” he hissed, looking to the west, “I was patrolling the perimeter and I could hear them moving through the underbrush. I knew we should have moved faster!”


                He was angry about what Skiff and Shawn insisted we do with Paul’s body the day before. While Matt had advised we leave him be, the other two men demanded we move him into a more respectable position. The process only took five minutes, but when we came to a small brook later in the evening, Shawn demanded we wait while he washed himself off. We lost thirty minutes waiting for him to clean his shirt.

                It was an hour after dark when we finally reached our campsite, and after another hour we finally had everything set up, eaten dinner and decided who would patrol when. Matt was given the last patrol before dawn and the thin wisps of morning fog told me dawn wasn’t too far off.


                “We have to go, now!” Matt told everyone, waving for them to travel northeast along the valley. “Jaco and I will catch up with the supplies later. Skiff, you have a map?” Skiff nodded. “Good, go to our next campsite, we’ll meet you there.”

                As they turned away, I felt a pang of guilt in sending them away with only one pistol. I jogged to catch up with Skiff and quietly handed him my second, which would be practically useless in my left hand anyway. He smiled, mouthing the words “thank you” before subtly tucking the holster underneath his overshirt.


                I returned to Matt’s side, crossing my arms over my chest and turning back to the west. “How many?” I asked, wondering if it even made a difference.

                “I have no idea,” he shook his head, “probably not a good idea to be right here, though.”

                With a look of agreement, I followed him southeast of camp, to a cluster of large rocks suitable enough for us to hide behind. We could see the came from there, but only the ground �" tree branches abloom with thick, green leaves would prevent us from seeing any higher than someone’s knees.


                There we waited; five minutes; ten minutes; twenty minutes went by as we dutifully watched our campsite, waiting for a group of men to arrive, looking for us. Matt began to get paranoid and started scanning the landscape to our backs for any signs they may be circling our position. He was apparently satisfied that our hiding spot was safe after a moment and turned his attention back to the camp.


                And then it happened, a voice floated through the trees before we could see his boots, the first glow of lighter blue sky helping to improve our vision through the wafting layers of fog.

                “Found it!” The voice cried out, followed by a couple other voices, their words indistinguishable.


                The crackling of underbrush, the thud of heavy boots on rocky ground, the metallic clink of 22nd century firearms chambering their rounds; these sounds crept from the camp and into our ears, making our hearts race, our breath short and our vision narrow. Matt and I wrapped our fingers around the grips of our pistols, holding them with both hands, arms straight toward the ground, ready to charge in if need be.

                We could see the feet of two individuals, moving from tent to tent - checking to see if anyone was sleeping inside. After a moment of obviously not finding anyone, a third pair of legs came into view.

                “No one is here!” A different voice shouted, kicking what sounded like a tin food tray.

                “Burn it,” came a third voice, deeper than the other two, the most recent legs turning back to the west and moving away. As the other two followed another pair of boots came into view, moving from tent to tent, a splashing sound following his movements.


                We watched in silent horror as the legs moved out of sight, followed by the roaring rip of a fire igniting. The fog glowed orange all around us as the light of the fire was carried outward, trees creating columns of colorless fog.

                “It’s almost dawn,” the third voice said, “time to get back to-“ We couldn’t make out the rest of his words over the rumbling of the flames.


                I slumped down onto the ground, my back against the rock. How could this happen? I asked myself, distressed. I let the pistol fall from my hands and buried my face in my palms. All of our supplies, save the pistols, were still in our tents. Our food; our clothes; our transceivers; the flashlights; four of our five maps; not to mention any personally valuable items anyone may have had. We were now left with no shelter and no food.

                Matt sighed and plopped down next to me, an elbow resting on his knee, hand cradling his forehead. “What now?” I asked him bleakly.

                He didn’t answer; and I didn’t care. I didn’t need an answer. I knew what came next. I knew what we had to do, even if it seemed worthless. We had to pick ourselves up, walk our asses off to meet the others and tell them our chances of survival just dropped by eighty percent.


                I stood up; the air was filled with the smell of burnt synthetics. I pushed my repulsion aside and looked upward, through the trees and into the light blue sky. It was clear for the first time since our arrival though the air was as dead as ever. The fog had lifted an hour before and the sun was clearly putting rays through gaps in the canopy.

                While my eyes took in the seemingly merry scene, my heart thumped heavily, dreading the day ahead.


We walked at a difficult pace; the terrain was hard underneath our feet but mostly level. It was not difficult to decipher where to go, the further northeast we traveled, the more distinct the valley became until eventually it would take someone with sufficient rock-climbing abilities to get out. We stopped to rest after hiking nearly seven hours. We shed our outer shirts, tying the long sleeves around our waists.


“How much longer until we catch up to them?” Matt asked, leaning against a tree and using his overshirt to wipe the sweat off his neck.

I did some quick math in my head, trying to give them a generous average speed, “I think by about sixteen-thirty,” I paused, rethinking my answer, “maybe a little longer?”

“What time is it now?”

“Fourteen-hundred.”

He nodded, “we should move soon, then.”


It wasn’t long after we started hiking again that my stomach began to rumble; an entire day of laborious walking and distress sapped my energy reserves. As we continued to walk, my legs felt heavy, my senses dulled and my head began to swirl. My stomach cramped and each step was an increasingly difficult battle. I pressed on; unaware Matt was no longer in front of me.


Every muscle in my body cried out in distress; my joints groaned as though they were being tortured; my brain felt like it was turning into muck; my vision blurred; my fingers lost any sense of touch; my skin felt cold. I wanted to stop.


So I did.


I dropped to my knees, lowering myself onto my back. It hurt to stretch my torso, it hurt to move and it hurt to lie still. With no water and no food, my body was shutting down; my muscles cramped but my mind was so dulled I could barely tell.


Matt’s voice called to me from the distance but I didn’t pay attention. Instead, I wondered if it were possible to pass out from a lack of nutrition in less than twenty-four hours. I began to wonder if our three companions were suffering the same fate.

I could feel Matt put something in my hands �" something smooth and round. He was telling me to eat it but I lacked both the strength and motivation to make any effort of obedience.

Whatever was in my hand was removed and quickly thereafter I was pulled into a sitting position. My back was supported by his lap and my head leaned against his chest. How he wasn’t in the same condition was not something I would have been able to figure out even if it had occurred to me.


He forced my mouth open and slid something into it. “Chew,” he demanded, keeping my neck straight. “Chew,” he reiterated after I failed to follow his instruction. After feeding me several slices, I began to regain my senses enough to realize that he was feeding me an apple. It was bitter, not quite ripe, but I didn’t care. He fed me an entire apple, piece by piece, before trusting me to sit on my own and eat a second.


“Where did you find these?” I asked with my mouth full of half-chewed skin and flesh.

“After we started walking again, I got really hungry. I saw a tree with some underripe apples on it, so I decided to see if I could find any better ones. I didn’t realize how out of it you were until a few minutes later, when you weren’t behind me.” He looked down at the half eaten apple in his hand. “About half a mile north of here there are a lot of apple trees; I think this place used to be an orchard or something.”

“Makes sense,” I said before interrupting my sentence with another big bite, “Stadt used to be known for canned apples.”

“Do you think the others found some, too?”

I nodded, swallowing, “Shannon seems to know enough about the wildlife here, I would imagine she’d be able to find them something to eat. If not, Skiff could track down a deer or something.”


We’d seen a couple deer and even a wolf since our first hike on day one. The wolf immediately fled, probably knowing humans to be the enemy. The deer, on the other hand, kept their distance, all the while watching us. The memory of those deer made me wonder if Skiff could kill one from such a distance.


“Let me know when you feel okay to move again,” Matt held up his long sleeve shirt, the cuffs tied closed and the sleeves filled with apples, “I’ve got enough to last us until morning and we still need to find the others.”



© 2010 DeathbyGarlic


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Featured Review

Well now this is more like it. Back to just the main characters (not something you always want to do, but a nice little aside) and you're moving along with your story just fine. You missed fixing one time WC changed something to a " by the way, but I ignored that.

I'm noticing something odd about the main character though (since you love to comment on Scott, consider this my turn XD). You do a fantastic job of putting us in his shoes, but he almost seems like a shell. He has a bit of a personality, but it feels like you're asking the reader to fill in the blanks. It's an interesting strategy but when we're expecting you to make the character for us, it's a bit of a flop. If that's not what you were trying to do, then I think maybe you should spend a bit more time on his introspection.

Looking forward to the next one.

Posted 11 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.




Reviews

Well now this is more like it. Back to just the main characters (not something you always want to do, but a nice little aside) and you're moving along with your story just fine. You missed fixing one time WC changed something to a " by the way, but I ignored that.

I'm noticing something odd about the main character though (since you love to comment on Scott, consider this my turn XD). You do a fantastic job of putting us in his shoes, but he almost seems like a shell. He has a bit of a personality, but it feels like you're asking the reader to fill in the blanks. It's an interesting strategy but when we're expecting you to make the character for us, it's a bit of a flop. If that's not what you were trying to do, then I think maybe you should spend a bit more time on his introspection.

Looking forward to the next one.

Posted 11 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.


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Added on January 14, 2010
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Author

DeathbyGarlic
DeathbyGarlic

FL



About
I'm Adam, I live in north Florida and I've been writing fairly often for a few years. I'm turning my focus to other things, now, but still want to keep up with my writing since I enjoy it. I figured .. more..

Writing