Day 10 – Chapter 9 – 08

            Jacqueline shook her head, staring down at Thom’s ankle, still black and blue and swollen to the size of a small grapefruit.  “You know, Thom, we gave you those crutches so you’d stay off your ankle.”
            “I am staying off of it.  Mostly.”  He winced as Jacqueline pressed a thumb against a tender spot.  “Ow.  Will you stop poking it, for Christsake?  Where’s J.T.?”
            “Still out with Drew and Care,” Jacqueline said, brow furrowing.  There was starting to be brown and yellow around the edges of the bruising.  Signs of healing.  That’s a good thing.  Thank God for any favor.  “Would you rather Leah be doing this?”
            Thom grimaced and shook his head.  “Not a chance.  We both know doesn’t have enough patience to deal with me.”
            “I’ll take the implication that I do as a compliment,” Jacqueline said, smiling wryly.  She started to adjust the splint on his ankle.
            “Good,” Thom said.  “That’s how I meant it.”  They lapsed into silence as he watched her work.  She was almost done with his ankle when he coughed, then moaned, one hand going to his ribs.  Her head snapped up.
            “Are they still bothering you that much?  Did you take something?”
            After a moment’s hesitation, he answered, “Half a dose.”
            Jacqueline swallowed a groan.  Idiot.  “Thom, you need to take the full dose, maybe more.  You’ve got messed up ribs and the only thing we can do for them is control your pain so you can cough and sneeze and move so your lungs don’t fill with fluid so you don’t get pneumonia and die.  You want to die, Thom?  Huh?  What would that do to Marin?”
            He started to snarl, then his face fell and he sighed.  “Fine.  Fine.  You’re right.  I’ll take more when we’re done here, okay?”
            “Are you patronizing me?”
            “No,” he said, a little too quickly.
            Jacqueline frowned and stood up.  Not playing these games with you right now, Thom.  “I’m tired of this, Thom.  Leah can deal with you.”
            “You agreed that she doesn’t have the patience for me.”
           “Well right now I don’t either,” Jacqueline snapped.  “Jesus Christ himself wouldn’t have patience for you patronizing all of us when we’re trying to take care of you!  We’re trying to make sure you don’t up and die on us.  We’re not telling you to take pills so you’re comfortable.  If it was just your ankle, we wouldn’t care whether or not you took the pills.  But it’s your ribs we’re worried about so could you please stop being a total jerk and take your damn medicine?”
            The activity in their general vicinity ceased completely.  Professor Doyle stopped on his way to where he was working with Marin.  Matt stopped dead in his tracks with an armload of wood.  Leah dropped the basket of clothes she’d washed and hung to dry.  Anyone else nearby momentarily stopped what they were doing—no one even dared to breathe.  Few, if any, had heard her raise her voice to anyone—Rory being the sole exception to that rule—and none of them had ever heard her swear.  She glared at them roundly and most went back to their business.  Leah came a little closer, abandoning the basket and looking between Jacqueline and Thom.
            “What the heck is that all about?  What’s going on?”
            Jacqueline turned toward her and pointed at Thom.  “You deal with him.”
            Leah blinked, opening her mouth to protest, but Jacqueline didn’t give her a chance to refuse, storming off in the general direction of where Marin was working, on the planting beds.  I have not the faintest idea how she deals with him when he gets like this.  I’m glad it’s her and not me.  She paused at the thought, grimacing.  It wasn’t very nice, but it was probably true.
            “You okay, Jac?”
            She spun, ready to take out her annoyance at Thom on whoever had just come up behind her, then went quiet as she saw a grease-spattered Davon standing there, trying to clean his face and hands with an old rag.
            “Yeah,” she said after a moment, feeling most of her annoyance drain away.  “Thom’s just being a pain in the butt and I don’t want to deal with it right now.”  She looked him slowly up and down.  There was even grease in his hairHow did he get all full of…?  “What were you doing?”
            “The generators are starting to go down.  Not sure what’s up with that, since I didn’t see any actual damage, but I got the one working again.  Hopefully it’ll keep chugging along until the building comes all the way down.”
            Jacqueline grimaced.  She wasn’t sure that she liked the idea of any of them risking entry into any of the buildings on campus, considering most of them were in various states of collapse.  “Are you sure that’s safe?”
            Davon shrugged.  “We need those freezers to keep working as long as we can keep them working, right?”
            “I guess,” she said, frowning.  “You’re careful when you go in there, right?”
            “Of course.  Why wouldn’t I be?”  He grinned.  “I don’t have a death wish like some of our friends seem to.”  He paused, looking around for a moment, then stepped closer to her, dropping his voice low.  For a brief moment, she found herself distracted by how good he seemed to smell, even after working on the generators, before she realized he was talking.
            “What did you say?”  She asked, hoping that the blush she felt rising wasn’t evident on her face.
            He frowned a little, then repeated, “Do you know what those funny little piles of rocks all around the camp are all about?”
            “You mean the cross piles with the leaves and circles?”
            Davon nodded.  “Yeah, those.”
            “Apparently, something I’m not supposed to worry about,” she told him.  They’ve got something to do with the stuff that Mar and Kel and Rory and Drew tried not to talk about around me.  Don’t know why.  Maybe they figured I wouldn’t approve.  “Why’re you asking?”
            He shook his head, shrugging.  “I almost tripped over one of them out by where Thom and Rory staked out the perimeter for the walls they want to put up, that’s all.  Looked weird.”  His eye twitched a little.  Jacqueline cocked her head to one side.
            There’s more to the story than that, but God knows he probably won’t tell me.  “You could ask Kel or Marin.”
            “I guess I could.  Is Kellin even back yet?”
            Jacqueline shook her head.  “Not yet, but they said not to expect them back until around dinnertime, maybe, depending on what they found at the farm.  Marin’s here, though.”
            Davon grimaced.  “Yeah, but I’m not sure I want to ask her.”
            “Why not?”
            He shifted uncomfortably, apparently unable to meet her gaze.
            “Davon?”
            The words tumbled over each other as he spoke.  “Because I don’t know if she’s sane, Jac!  Right now I’m really not sure we’re doing a smart thing by hanging onto whatever…hallucinations she has as some kind of prophetic…something.”
            Jacqueline set her jaw, planting one hand on her hip.  “You don’t believe her?”
            He spread his hands.  “Do you?”
            “As a matter of fact…yeah, I do.”
            Davon went quiet, staring at his shoes.  “I…I should go get cleaned up.”
            “Probably,” she agreed, suppressing a wince at the ice in her tone.  She watched him as he turned to go, then she asked as he made his retreat, “Why don’t you believe her?”
            He turned toward her, frowning.  “Because I’m afraid of what it might mean if the world’s actually ended.”
            She nodded and watched him walk away.  “We’re all scared, Davon,” she whispered at his back, even though he couldn’t hear her.  “It’s what we do with that fear that counts.”


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4 Responses to Day 10 – Chapter 9 – 08

  1. Erin M. Klitzke says:

    And once again, Thom annoys Jacqueline–but in something other than a vision this time.

  2. Seraph says:

    And I have caught up with your posting schedule! Woohoo. Good stuff, so far. It’s clear that your writing has improved alot since you wrote those early segments (2008, right?) and I can see signs that it will continue to do so, which is a great thing to see! This chapter has been particularly good so far in terms of storytelling – it’s finding it’s way a bit more clearly, perhaps, than some of the earlier chapters and its a bit easier to see what kind of shape the supernatural element might take. I shall wait eagerly for the next part. 🙂

  3. Seraph says:

    And thanks for the reivew, Erin 🙂 Means a lot!

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