Day Zero – Chapter 2 – Marin – 04

            The clouds above us roiled, twisted.  Thunder rumbled in the distance, though I didn’t see any lightning to spark it.  Rain splashed down against the weathered concrete and we huddled together, sharing blankets against the damp and the cold.  Carolyn grimaced as she stretched shaking hands toward a small fire that crackled and popped, barely staying alive.  She seemed to concentrate a moment, and the fire stopped struggling, strengthening a moment.  Kellin nodded slowly, smiling weakly.  I just shivered a little, drawing closer to whoever was next to me and listened to the rain keep coming down…

            I pressed a hand against my temple, groaning quietly as I leaned a little more heavily on Kellin for a moment, letting the vision run its course and dissipate.  Bloody hell.  I say something about not having any visions, and one hits me between the eyes.  There wasn’t much to it and I didn’t try to hang onto the vision, delve any deeper.  I wanted to focus on the present, on finding survivors—especially Thom.  Kellin threw a questioning glance in my direction and I just shook my head.  Don’t need to worry about what I’m seeing right now.  Need to worry about the here and now first.  “We’ll need Drew, at least.  Some of the guys from the camps could be useful, too, in case we need to carry anyone.”
            She grunted, then nodded in agreement.  “At the very least, we’ll need Drew to carry you.”
            “What’s that supposed to mean?  I can walk.”  Maybe.  Slowly.  It’ll hurt like a bitch and I’ll be useless for a couple days, but…  She deadpanned at me and I sighed.  “Fine.  Park me someplace where I can watch, at least.”
            “Can probably do that.  We’ll start with what’s left of Mackinac, I think, and work from there.”  She pulled me across the hill—I could see a few makeshift shelters of furniture taking shape, though mostly it was just a forest of beds, desks, and shelves in various states of assembly scattered across the area.  The buildings looked stable enough, but I was wholly understanding of their logic—I wouldn’t trust them, either, not with everything that was happening, not with the ground heaving erratically.  They were giant brick tombs, especially if things shook just right—or just wrong.  I knew what those floors could shake like on a normal day, let alone a day with earthquakes.
            “Drew!”  Kellin lifted her arm to wave.
            Drew was working on hauling a wardrobe out of Robinson Hall with Jack Schmidt, one of the camp staffers.  He glanced at us for a moment, blinked, then continues to help Jack haul the wardrobe out.  They struggled to get it partway up the hill before they unceremoniously dropped it into the thick grass there.  Drew cocked his head to one side, looking at me.  His tone was half teasing, half chiding.  “Up already, Marin?”
            I made a rude gesture, feeling about as tired as I’m sure I looked.  “Up not soon enough, apparently.  We’re going survivor hunting.  Can’t believe you hadn’t thought of that yet.”
            Drew grimaced.  “Most have found us.  We haven’t had to look.”
            “And the ones who can’t come find us?  They don’t get to live?”  I gave him a dirty look to match his sheepish one.  In hindsight, I shouldn’t have laid into him so hard.  He didn’t deserve that, on top of everything else that he was facing—what all of us were facing.  I was worried, though, more than I was willing to admit at the time.  I wanted Thom to be all right, wanted to find him.  I wanted to find our other friends; I prayed silently that they were still alive, waiting for someone to come rescue them.  It was all I could do, and that hope was all we had except each other.
            Kellin sighed.  “Arguing isn’t going to do anyone any good.  Let’s go.  Grab some of the camp staff, Drew.  We’ll check Mackinac first.”
            “Right.”  Drew looked at Jack, then the two of them headed back into Robinson Hall as Kellin and I slowly made our way over to the wreck of the Mackinac Hall complex.
            The center columns that had towered above the open courtyard had come down, crushing tables and smashing windows.  One corner of the building had already collapsed, and other parts were in a state of partial collapse.  Most of the building’s glass littered the ground and I grimaced, hoping against hope that there hadn’t been too many people inside when it started to come down.  Apparently, the ground wasn’t nearly as stable as the contractors who’d worked on it had thought.
            I sank down on what was left of a bench at the edge of the courtyard while Kellin unwound her pendulum from around her neck, wrapping a good portion of the chain around her hand.  She took a deep breath, watching the finger of stone dangle from her fingertips, then glanced at me.  “Wish me luck.”
            I smiled weakly.  “You’re better at it than I ever was.”  Good luck, Kel.
            She grinned wryly at me, then took another deep breath, as she relaxed her hand and arm, closing her eyes a moment.  She opened them again as the pendulum began to swing lazily toward the wreckage of the buildings.  Moving carefully, she walked the path set out before her, following the pendulum’s direction into the devastated courtyard.  I watched, rubbing gently at my feet and calves, as she picked her way through the debris.  Drew joined me with three of the camp staffers before to long.
            “Has she found anyone yet?”
            I shrugged a little.  “Not sure.  She hasn’t said anything if she has.”  Gods, please.  Please let her find him alive.  Please.  Please just let this work.
            Then her voice called from deeper into the ruin.  “Over here!  I think I’ve found someone!”


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One Response to Day Zero – Chapter 2 – Marin – 04

  1. Seraph says:

    A good second chapter, building on the ideas presented thus far at just the right pace and introducing a bit more character emotion than we’ve seen thus far. There’s probably room for more character development though. I know it’s early days, but you want to capture your readers and character is often more succesful at that than event – not that I’m one to talk – Ellis is about my most characterless protagonist ever. I’m thinking of ways to work with that, though…

    In other news – I’ve discovered that your site works really well on my mobile (or for you Americans – cell phone), so I’m now reading it on the bus home from work. Woohoo!

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