Day 18 – Chapter 11 – 06

            “Jay sent me back,” Carolyn said a few moments later as she approached the fire, arms full of wood from the pile at the other end of the tent.  Thom looked away from the flames and toward the slender woman, arching a brow.
            Sent her back?  He’s been protective as all hell of her lately.  Hell.  We’ve all been a little more protective lately, of everyone except ourselves.  “Did he say why?”
            She dumped the wood near the fire and crouched to feed a few smaller sticks into the flames.  “Just that he wanted you two to get the fire burning big and hot.  He thinks we’re going to need it.”
            “Because the Shadow Man is coming,” Angie whispered, pressed into the crook between Matt’s chest and arm.  “It won’t stop him, Miss Carolyn.  He’ll still come.”
            Carolyn stared at the girl for a long moment before her expression softened slightly.  “I didn’t think it would, Angie, but it’ll help the rest of us feel safe.”
            Angie hesitated before nodding.  Matt squeezed her gently.  Thom set aside his mug and struggled to his feet, limping over to start giving Carolyn a hand with the fire.  He watched Angie out of the corner of his eye, watching the little girl as her gaze flicked to something he couldn’t see before returning to Carolyn.
            “Miss Carolyn?”  A tremor went through her voice.  “When’s Paul coming back?”
            Thom winced, turning away to heft a log so Angie wouldn’t see his expression.  Maybe we shouldn’t have let him volunteer to go look for Leah.  For a brief moment, he thought that maybe they shouldn’t have sent anyone looking at all.  He glanced toward the sky as he settled a log into the flames.  Lightning licked through the sky in the distance, somewhere over the lake.  The sound of thunder reached them as Carolyn shook her head slightly.
            “I don’t know, Angie, but probably really soon.  I don’t think he wants to be out in the woods when that storm hits.”  Carolyn pointed west, toward the gathering darkness there.
            Angie smiled weakly.  “You don’t know my brother.  He likes storms.”
            But from indoors or outdoors?  Thom shook his head grimly, acutely aware of how much his healing ankle and ribs were aching, and not because he was abusing them, either.  “This looks like it might get bad.  I think he’ll be back soon, Angie.”
            He hoped they’d all be back soon.  After feeding another log into the fire, he looked at Carolyn.  “Where’s Jay?”
            “He stayed out by the well to wait for the others.  I think he’ll come back when the rain starts.”  The way she didn’t look at him when she said it spoke volumes.
            Thom suppressed a sigh.  Well, if that’s the way they want it, that’s the way they want it.
            Talk to J.T., his cousin’s letter said.  That wouldn’t do him much good if J.T. didn’t want to talk to him.
            Of course, Kira was also fighting a fight that she and Marin had both all but lost a few months back.  He glanced at Matt, the only one who knew why.
            Matt’s brows knit, but he kept his mouth shut.
            Thom limped over to retrieve his crutches.  “Maybe I’ll go out there, then.  You guys stay here with Angie and the rest.”  There were others, of course, some of them out in the storage and barn tent not too far away, and Greg Doyle had taken a dozen people with him earlier that morning to harvest whatever was ripe in the greenhouses across 45.
            A shudder went through him as he picked up the crutches, a chill.
            “Someone just walk across your grave, Thom?”  Matt asked.
            Maybe I’d have called it that before, yeah.  Thom nodded, numbness nibbling at his fingers and toes.  “Something like that.”  He glanced toward Carolyn.  I can’t believe I’m about to ask this question.  “Do you know if Kellin walked those wards of hers before she left?”
            She blinked at him, as surprised as he was that he’d asked.  “I…I don’t know, Thom.  It might’ve slipped her mind after you guys told her about Leah.”
            What if they really do work?  What if they really do something and they’ve been…broken or something somehow?  He maintained the deep urge to deny it was all real, but the crawling sensation along the back of his neck and down his spine was making that hard.
            Never going to understand any of this.  He got his crutches beneath him, shaking his head.
            Lightning flashed, still distant, but the thunder was loud enough and near enough that it rattled everything around them and shook the ground beneath their feet.  The mist still pressed inward, toward the edge of the tent, feeling less natural than the coming storm.
            Thom shivered again.  “I hope it didn’t.”  Placebo or not, I hope she didn’t forget them.
            “Yeah,” Carolyn said softly.  “Me, too.”

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3 Responses to Day 18 – Chapter 11 – 06

  1. Happy Weekend, folks! Wish me writing luck, because next week’s entries are trying to kill me.

  2. samaelninetails says:

    good luck, good luck, good luck – and keep it up, its hellah awesome!

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