Day 7 – Chapter 8 – Marin – 09

            I sucked in a breath as I came awake, warmer and with my cheek pressed against Thom’s bare shoulder.  The rain had settled into a soft rhythm, much quieter and less violent than before.  It was almost soothing.  My watch, laying near the corner of the mattress, said it was midafternoon.  I exhaled and pressed my face into Thom’s shoulder, running my hand across his bare chest.  I felt tape.
            Oh, Thom.  I exhaled and smiled against his shoulder.  I lay there for another few minutes, listening to his breathing before I pushed myself up on an elbow and looked around.  Things were quiet.  It looked like a few had headed out from the shelter into the rain.  There were fewer lumps underneath the collapsed tent, some of the furniture trapped beneath possibly moved.  The sky was lighter.  Maybe the worst had passed.
            I got dressed again and wandered toward the fire.  Tala glanced up from gleaning some of the ash away from the edges.  “Warmer?”
            “Yeah.”  My wet clothes were still hanging near the fire, along with J.T.’s.  I sank down next to Tala, wrapping my arms around my knees.  “Ashes?”
            She nodded.  “For soap, since we’ll eventually have to make it.  Figured I should start perfecting the technique before we actually need to use it.”
            “Experimental archaeology finally paying off, huh?”
            “More like the reconstruction stuff, but yeah.”  She grinned and resumed scraping the ashes up into a jar.  “Your brother was making noises about an anvil.”
            “For what?”
            “I dunno.  To have, maybe?  Ask him when he gets back.”  Her shoulders rose and fell in a shrug.  “It’s not a bad idea to find one if we can.  We’re going to eventually need to make our own tools and crap.”
            I have no idea how we’re going to accomplish that.  At the same time, I’m not going to start worrying about that yet, either.  Plenty of time to worry about that later.  If we live long enough to worry about that.  “Where’d everyone go?”
            “Some of them loaded up onto the flatbed to go to the home improvement store and see what they could bring back.  Plants, pots, nails.  Shit like that, I think.  And siphon diesel.”  She shrugged with one shoulder, glancing at me.  “Whatever we can get, right?”
            “Right,” I murmured, then sighed.
            “What’s wrong?”
            I shook my head.  “Everything and nothing.”
            She snorted.  “That’s terribly descriptive, Mar.  Thanks.”
            Something growled and rumbled in the distance.  I frowned, looking westward.  The clouds were lighter there.  “You hear that?”
            “Probably just thunder echoing funny,” Tala said.  “Either that or parts of another building coming down.  Two of the living centers collapsed while you were asleep.  I was kind of surprised you didn’t wake up, but I guess whatever Leah mixed up was pretty potent.”
            “Do you know what it was?”
            “Nah.  Some old folk remedy or something, I think.”  Tala put the lid on the jar, sitting back on her heels.  “Did you know her great aunt was some kind of crazy hedge witch type?”
            That might explain a thing or three.  I shook my head.  “No.  She knows herbs, then, huh?”
            “And plants and home remedies and stuff.  She and I talked about it a couple hundred times.”
            Good to know.  “Who’s still here?”
            “You, me, Thom, a couple staffers.  Rory went for firewood withBrandon.  Stasia’s checking the horses and the chickens.”
            “That’s it?”
            Another shrug.  “If we’re going to get attacked by someone today, I think we’d know they were coming by now.  Either way, not much we can do to stop them right now.”
            I grimaced.  She was right.  Something else to remedy quickly.  “You need help with anything?”
            “I was going to check the smoker if you wanted to help with that.  Dr. Doyle went to the store with the others to help out with the picking, so I could use an extra hand.”
            “I think I have one of those.”  I got up and dusted grass and ashes off the seat of my pants.
            The sound of rolling thunder stopped me in mid-motion.  Then the ground bucked beneath my feet.
            Metal screamed somewhere nearby as one of the dormitories nearest to us began to fold in on itself, then tottered and toppled backward, toward the steep slopes of the ravines behind them.  I spun, almost unbalanced, my heart pounding.
            Take a breath take a breath take a breath—
            It was what I’d seen in my vision, one of the ones that had knocked me flat, the one that had me waking up screaming, barely remembering what I’d seen.  It all flooded back and sent a lance of ice down my spine.
            Oh god.  What just happened?  And where?
            Furniture creaked, but only the most precarious, unoccupied stacks toppled.  Tala grabbed my arm, and that was when I realized I was shaking.  I could hear the horses in the other shelter over the rumbling, which was already beginning to taper off, and winced.
            “I’m fine!  Go help Stasia with those horses before someone or something gets hurt.”
            Tala was off like a shot.  The shaking stopped completely a few seconds later and I took a few deep breaths, counting to ten and trying to calm down.
            Where did the ground just explode?  How far away?  How did we feel it here?  Why?
            “What the hell was that?”  Rory was shouting from somewhere to my left.
            “Another earthquake,” I snapped at him.  “What did you think it was?”
            His hair was plastered to his head, shoulders and arms wet as he tramped toward the fire, glaring at me.  “The hell is wrong with you?”
            I just glared at him as he dumped his armload of wood near the pile.  He glared right back.
            “Just because you’re fighting with Thom again doesn’t mean you can take your shit out on me.”
            “We’re not fighting,” Thom said from behind me, sounding like he’d just woken up.
            I love how everyone just assumes that’s why I’d snap at anyone.  Asking stupid questions doesn’t even rate on anyone’s list.
            Rory barely glanced at Thom before he went back to glaring at me.  “Then what the hell is your problem, Marin?”
            “You, asking stupid questions, Rory!  It was a fucking earthquake.”  Thom found my hand and squeezed.  I swallowed a few choice words and tried to tamp down my ire.
            “Oh, so it didn’t ring familiar?  Like something you woke up screaming about?”
            Fuck you, Rory.  I took a breath and countered to ten, squeezing Thom’s hand so hard my knuckles turned white.  He admitted to me later that it’d hurt.  “If I thought that it was important to mention something like that, Rory, I would.”
            “Then it did?”
            Why do I even bother keeping things to myself if I’m such a goddamn open book?  I sighed, nodding.  “Not as bad as I thought it was going to be.  Not as bad as it looked.”
            Rory was quiet for a moment.  “Then that’s important.”
            I stared at him.  He shrugged.
            “That means nothing’s set in stone.  Just because you see it doesn’t mean it always happens that way.”
            It was Kellin’s little speech coming out of Rory’s mouth.  I sighed and turned toward Thom.
            He was white as a sheet, jaw slack.  My stomach twisted.
            My fingers tightened around his hand.  “Thom?  Are you all right?”
            He blinked, then smiled weakly at me.  “Yeah.  I’m fine.”  He squeezed my fingers back and lied.
            “Everything’s fine.”


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3 Responses to Day 7 – Chapter 8 – Marin – 09

  1. Erin M. Klitzke says:

    The ending to this chapter has to be one of my favorite endings.

    Wednesday brings Chapter 9…and a mystery, inspired by Bits and Tabs from my WoW guild on Sentinels-US.

    I’m also coming to a point where I’ve largely caught up in posting to what I’ve already gotten written. I’m hoping that WebSeWriMo (Web series/serial writing month) will help me climb back on top of things. I’ve goaled myself for 50k words between Awakenings and a couple other projects throughout the month of August.

    A month that begins…now.

    Happy reading! I’ll be closing the poll soon.

  2. Graywolf says:

    Looks good so far, a little heavy on the “OMG, I’M AN ANGSTY TEENAGER IN LOVE” with Marin and Thom… but not to the point where it really detracts from the story.

    Good imagination and well written 🙂

    • Erin M. Klitzke says:

      Mercifully, they really start to behave themselves more like adults than angsty teenagers after this point (both for the reader and for their fairly long-suffering friends). It was really hard to write without falling into some kind of trope trap–Thom’s state of denial is a tricky thing.

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