Day 21 – Chapter 12 – Marin – 24

            Thom and Phelan came late to dinner, but neither of them seemed overly grim when they joined us at the fire.  I hoped that would still be the case by the time Kellin and I were done talking, hopefully with some help from Drew, Rory, Greg, and maybe J.T. and Carolyn, who were slowly settling into their newfound abilities.  The sun was just starting to slip down beyond the horizon, crimson in the sky.  Sunsets had been beautiful since the end, at least the ones when it hadn’t been pouring rain or overcast.
            I smiled at Thom as he settled next to me.  He smiled back, then his brows knit.
            “What’s wrong?” he whispered to me as Tala handed him a bowl of stew to match the one already filling my hands.
            “You’ll see,” I murmured, then kissed his cheek.  You’ll see.  Maybe not be happy about it.  I looked past him to Phelan, who was smiling and thanking Tala.
            I closed my eyes for a moment.  This was either going to go very well, or very poorly.  Kellin and Jacqueline decided that I should do most of the talking.  I wasn’t sure that was a good idea, either.
            Thom squeezed my arm.  Dinner went quietly—seemed like everyone was too tired to talk much, but at least the hopelessness had vanished from most of our gazes.  It was starting to look more and more like we’d survive.
            Maybe we would.
            I picked at my meal, waiting until the rest were at least three quarters of the way through before I cleared my throat and stood up.  All eyes were on me within a few seconds.  I stared into the fire for a moment, coughed, then started to talk, uncertain of what I was going to say or where the words were actually coming from.
            “Three weeks,” I said.  “Feels like longer, right?  Since everything change, and changed forever.  But we’re still here, still together, and if we stick together we’ll be able to take on anything that comes our way.  But that’s what’s starting to get hard, right?  The sticking together part.  There’s things that are getting weird—things that not all of us understand.  Hell.  I think most of us don’t completely understand them, but we try to muddle through anyway.
            “It’s time for me to come clean about some things, though, and hopefully no one’s going to run screaming into the night after I’ve told you about them.  We’ve lost too many already thanks to their fears—fears of never seeing people again, fears of what might happen to them if they stay, fears of what’s happening here, all of that.  I don’t know that we can quite afford to lose anyone else and still function as a community.  Because that’s what we are.  A community.  For what it’s worth, anyway.  We’re all each other’s got right about now, and I’m not keen on letting anyone else go if I don’t have to.
            “But that’s why I’ve got to say what I’ve got to say.  There’s been a lot of scary, weird stuff going on lately.  I won’t lie and say I know what it’s all about.  I don’t.  But this is what I do know.  There’s more out there in the world than what we were always able to see and sense before this all happened.  A lot of the stuff was always there, we just didn’t know it.  Things like the Grays and the monsters that have been attacking have always been out there.  They just never had the chance to step up against anyone or anything before.  They’d have lost against modern technology.
            “But I think we all know that’s failing us.  The generators are dead.  We’re back in an era before electricity, back in an age where we have to rely on our own blood, sweat, and ingenuity to survive.  We can do that—I know we can.  But we’ve got to stick together.”  I glanced at Kellin, biting my lip.  She gave me a little nod and I exhaled, lifting my chin a little as I continued.
            “We have gifts, gifts that would’ve been called delusions in the twentieth century or witchcraft any time before that.  Some of us became painfully, acutely aware of those gifts in the past few weeks.  I know that a lot of you saw me fall over a couple weeks ago, when that storm started, before that big quake.  I saw something then.  That’s part of my gift—to catch glimmers of what could be.”  I glanced over toward Rory, who winced slightly.
            “I can hurt things,” he murmured.  “Things that can’t usually be touched, I can touch them, hurt them.”  He elbowed Drew, who rolled his eyes.
            “I sense emotions, moods,” Drew said.  “So cut the bewilderment, it’s making me tired.”
            “And I can sense life,” Greg Doyle said softly.  “So before you start thinking your former classmates are batshit crazy, remember they’re not the only ones who are realizing their talents.”
            I smiled at Greg and he smiled back, giving me an encouraging little nod.  I took a deep breath, glancing down toward Thom.  He was staring at his hands, head bowed. I couldn’t see his face.
            A hand wrapped around my heart and squeezed.
            “So, wait a second,” Jack said, brows knitting.  “Those little cairns out there that you built, with the plants and shit.  They actually do something?”
            “Yes,” Kellin said, voice firm.  “And I’d be willing to help you learn how to feel what they do, if you’re willing to learn.”
            Jack rocked back slightly, blinking, then smiled a little.  “Why the hell not?” he said quietly.
            I breathed a silent sigh of relief. He’d been one of the ones I was worried about.  I glanced over at Davon, who was chewing the inside of his lip and looking like he was trying to decide whether or not we were crazy.  He finally seemed to make a decision and ladled more stew into his bowl.  I almost laughed in relief.
            “Is that why you guys were all a mess the other day?”  Leah asked.  “Why the radio exploded, why it looked like a bomb went off up here three days ago?”
            “Yes,” I said before I actually realized what she’d said.  The radio?  Does this…  My stomach sank.  What does the radio have to do with—
            Then Thom took my hand and squeezed, and I stopped thinking about the radio altogether.
            “Are we all in this together?” he asked quietly, not of me but of everyone else.
            Nods began in the firelight.  Fear reflected in some of their eyes, some of their nervous or grim smiles, but everyone nodded.  My heart lifted.  Kellin and Carolyn both grinned at me.  Matt winked and mouthed an I-told-you-so.  I exhaled in relief.
            Okay.  So maybe it hadn’t been as bad as I thought it would be.
            I glanced at Phelan. His eyes were shining with withheld tears.  For some reason, my breath caught.  Then he smiled and stood up.
            I yielded him the floor as he announced it was time for him to introduce himself and began to tell the story about how it’d taken him three weeks to get here after the world ended and a new one began struggling to be born.


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One Response to Day 21 – Chapter 12 – Marin – 24

  1. Remember, there’s the closing update this weekend! It’s an epilogue from Thom’s PoV.

    In other news, for those of you who are into webfiction, I’ve got a new serial starting up on January 1. The update schedule is less rigorous (1 update a week, on Sundays), but the updates are longer. Anyone interested can check it out at http://www.embklitzke.com/e557.

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