Sorry for not posting earlier in the day. Man, it has been a looooong Sunday! I have been a vehicle since noon and just now got to the hotel in Detroit. I'm tired. Hungry... and about ready to chuck something at this cah-razy girl that won't stop talking or being a complete moron. There is no off switch. I've already asked.
You know those people that can obviously see you're in deep concentration, on the phone, or reading something? Yet they continue to pull up a chair and chat or tap you on the shoulder or close your laptop from the other side with a smile and a wave? Yeah, that last one happened and she almost got a straight punch to the nose. Close my laptop while I am writing? UH NO.
Yep. Been a car with this obnoxious indiviual all day long. Yay me! She even brought her iPod to listen to in MY vehicle. Which included Kesha, Christina Milian (Was anyone else unaware she made music past 1998?), and last but not least... Aqua. I was about ready to get out of the car and give her to the dangerous looking people at the gas station on 8 mile.
Oh yes. I said 8 mile. Why were we there? Just guess. Awesome Sauce in the back seat thinks that she can press buttons on my dash screen to pull up her playlist and instead relogs my gps while we're getting a snack about an hour outside of D-town. So instead of hitting up downtown metro where the hotel is, we go around to the... bad part of town. You have never seen something more terrifying than a skinny asian boy with demon eyes in your passenger seat sending thoughts of death to this...excuse me but bitch in the backseat. Yep. My assitant was ready to have it out. The words "I will feed you the crackheads" were used more than once.
This is going to be the longest two days of my entire life. Going to get a drink and lock Awesome Sauce in a closet somewhere. Hope you are all staying sane. Grrrrr....
P.S. I promise not to do anything bad to the girl. I just pray for her to magically have some common sense and proper usage of personal space.
End of rant.
XOXO NIGHT TEMPEST
Luke Grimes as Jarum
Heart for Trade: Week 6
“Would you like to shower first or uh, eat?” Samuel cleared his throat, unable to look Ryan in the face. He’d shut both the boys down about any further discussion on the military. It wasn’t the right time. They were dirty, hungry and wouldn’t have the mindset for it. Now they just glared at him. Great, he thought.
Jarum rolled his eyes. “Shower? What is that, some military term? Are you trying to make us feel like idiots? Because if so, you’re doing a wonderful job.”
Benny passed by, chuckled under his breath. “No. You’re being an idiot all on your own.”
“You fucking—” Jarum reached for Benny, but the redhead took him down to the floor. Back on the tile, Jarum stared up into hazel eyes.
“One. Don’t you ever try to hurt me. I’m your friend not your enemy. This is a civil zone. Act your age. Two. I play around, I joke and tease, but I’ve never and will never tolerate someone calling me a mother fucker, a fuck, a fuck head or any sort of combination. Am I clear?”
Hands pinned above his head, Jarum shook from head to toe. His eyes drifted away, scared and embarrassed. His lip trembled.
“Let him go, Benny,” Ryan pleaded softly. He didn’t understand the look in the man’s eyes or the way he was acting.
“He needs to learn, Ryan,” Samuel whispered in his ear. The boy stiffened. His mouth formed a little circle. He was scared to move. “He can’t let his anger become physical. He needs to learn to talk it out like an adult. Benny isn’t going to hurt him. I promise.”
Samuel pulled Ryan back gently, careful not to squeeze his arms. “Jarum, do you understand what Benny is saying?”
“Yes,” Jarum choked.
Benny frowned. He didn’t like reprimanding anyone, especially someone so fragile on the inside, but he wanted to the kid to learn right off the bat. “I didn’t mean to scare you. I was just—”
“Get off me,” Jarum whispered. “Please, get off me.”
Face fallen, Benny got to his feet and offered the kid a hand, but Jarum shied away. His extended hand left empty, Benny ran it through his hair and walked off. “I’ll make sure the rooms are ready,” he called over his shoulder.
“Benny,” Samuel called out, but only got a wave of his friend’s hand in response. Shit.
“Okay.” Sam pulled Ryan under his arm without a thought. “How about we take a little walk, the long way around? I’ll call Avery and make sure you guys get some tacos before everyone eats them all.”
Ryan fought the urge to huddle closer to Sam. He was big, warm and smelled clean, but more importantly he felt safe from this new world that threatened to overwhelm him. At the same time, he wanted to go to Jarum, who slid up the wall and folded his arms across his chest. Jarum didn’t say a thing this time. He was definitely shook up.
“Jarum?” Ryan asked. His friend nodded.
“Good. Come on.” The leader held out his other arm. Surprisingly, Jarum went to him. Head down and shoulders slumped. He accepted the spot under Samuel’s hand.
“Avery?” Samuel called out.
A speaker crackled in the ceiling. “Yes, Commander?”
“Have the mess hall send trays down to the B wing. Make them heavy.”
“Sir?” She asked in confusion.
“Just do it. Please, Avery.”
The boys stared at the ceiling as they walked. Listening to her sigh follow them through the tiny speakers that lined the bright white hall.
“Yes, Sir. Will there be anything else?”
“Call Benny and make sure the rooms are fully stocked. He’s on his way to the B wing now. They should be, but just make sure he doesn’t need anything.”
“Yes, Sir,” Avery clipped.
Samuel fought the urge to argue her attitude. She and Benny had been going at it for weeks. Petty stuff that had no place in his community. One chip on someone’s shoulder could spread like wildfire in such a compact community. Samuel was not up for the drama. “That will be all, Avery.”
A loud crackle of the speakers and Avery was gone—still listening but acting liking she wasn’t. Ryan wondered who this mysterious woman was and why she seemed to know exactly where they were at all times. It was as if she was God or Big Brother, this all knowing network that spied on the human race’s every move. He’d read that book. He didn’t like it. It made him anxious, more skittish than he already was.
Catching on quickly, Samuel looked between the boys. “Don’t be afraid of Avery. She’s essential to our everyday routine and security. She’s not a bad person, only having a bad day and Benny sets her off when he’s in one of his teasing moods.”
“How does she know where we are?” Jarum looked up again.
“The speakers.” Samuel pointed. “They’re two way. She can hear us and we can hear her when she responds. We also have cameras stationed in every hallway and main room for security purposes. None of the private rooms have them, of course. Don’t worry,” he added. “The cameras allow her to see what we see and record everything onto a screen for later viewing. She runs the control desk in the floor below us. Operates the entrances, the secure rooms, the solar panels, the water filtration settings, the lights, air temperature, all the cameras leading out to the main road and much, much more. Avery does it all, and she’s really good at it.”
Jarum shook his head. “I didn’t understand half of what you just said, but basically she runs the place, right?”
“Correction, I run this place.” Sam grinned. “Avery, she just thinks she does.”
“You shouldn’t talk about her like that.” Ryan looked around. “She can probably here us.”
“Which is exactly why I said it.” Sam chuckled at a speaker that crackled along the wall. “Don’t worry about her. Come on. I have plenty to show you both.”
Ryan screamed as a small animal with sharp horns butted the safety glass after Jarum drummed his fingers to get its attention. Samuel snatched Jarum’s hand away and pointed at the sign.
Please refrain from tapping on the glass or provoking the animals.
“Oh.” Jarum backed up.
“What is that thing!” Ryan sucked in a sharp breath as the animal looked at them, paced back in forth in front of a smaller, brown and white animal of the same species or maybe they weren’t. He couldn’t be sure.
“It’s a goat.” Samuel snorted. “And he’s an ornery son-of-a-bitch. That’s Samson and that there—” He pointed to the female curled up on her legs in a small patch of grass. “Is his pregnant counterpart, Delilah. He’s pretty territorial for a goat, so watch out if you ever get in the pen. She’s due any day now and he’s likely to be hostile.”
“I’ve never seen such.” Ryan crouched to the ground, looking through the glass at the strange animal. White shaggy hair and dark brown hooves made him put a hand on the glass. “How could it hurt us? It’s not very big. It’s kind of cute actually.”
“Cute?” Sam scoffed. “Nah, Delilah is cute. She’s the sweetheart of the two. Samson is a mean little thing. He bites and those horns can be deadly. We have to tie him up when we milk, Delilah.”
“Milk?” The two boys asked at the same time.
“Yep. She has to be milked every day. Otherwise it gets painful for her. I mean really painful and that’s abuse in my book. She’s the sweetest one we’ve ever had. A rare breed too. We bought her off a traveler outside of Surik who couldn’t afford to feed her anymore. To be honest, we were desperate to find a companion for Samson after his last mate died. We didn’t know Cookie was sick, and she never had any babies. It was really sad.
But, when we brought Delilah home, Samson took to her quickly, even though they were very different breeds. He’s a mountain goat, usually wild. Hence the reason he’s territorial. Small room, nowhere to roam and a female to protect—you do the math. But he was a hard to come by male and he’s a good breeder. This will be their first young.”
“Cool,” Jarum breathed, fogging up the glass. “Goats.”
Ryan nodded. He glanced up. “Are there more animals here?”
“Oh yeah. We have a few more.” Samuel winked. “But I think the fields would interest you more.”
“Fields? Here? Underground?” Jarum rolled his eyes. “Sure.”
“I think you’ve seen enough to know that Rineway is unlike any place you’ve ever seen, Jarum.” Samuel walked by, nudging his head for them to follow. “Come on boys.”
They left Samson and Delilah’s glassed in pen and journeyed down the hall. The hum of something powerful sounded from the other side of the door in front of them. Samuel threw a pleased glance over his shoulder before he pressed his hand to the entrance pad.
“Welcome to the fields boys.” The doors whooshed open.
Jarum and Ryan gasped. Their eyes were huge as they took in the vast space on the other side of the open doors.
As far as the eye could see, crops, plants, trees and everything in between grew in neat rows and sections. The hum was from bright lights that blazed a warm heat across the grounds, hung from the carved out stone above them. This place was huge. At least a dozen villages could fit here and still have room to grow.
“This is…” Ryan shook his head. “This is amazing!”
“I thought you might like it. I got the impression that you liked to get your hands dirty. You know about fruit farming, right?”
“Yeah.” Ryan took a few steps into the soft dirt. “I used to help with the fruit before the last freeze. I lost an entire crop of blueberries in one night. Couldn’t save them.”
“It wasn’t your fault, Ry.” Jarum walked up to him, bumped his shoulder. “None of this is your fault.”
Ryan had a moment to grieve the loss of their fields back home. He shook his head, took a deep breath as he looked over the majestic wonder before him.
“I just hate this. I hate that this exists.” Ryan put his hands out, gestured at the entirety of it all. “It’s beautiful. It’s amazing. But it’s not out there feeding the others while they starve. I hate knowing that we will be able to eat all night long and still not run out when they have nothing.”
“It’s not like that, Ryan,” Samuel assured. “I promise you.”
“Then what is this? You say your village is small, efficient? Then why do you have all of this? What do you need it all for—these lights, this food, all of those animals! You have heat and vehicles, clothes and weapons. Yet people out there die every day when you store a surplus of this. What does that mean, why, Samuel? Why are you so selfish?”
Samuel’s jaw set tight. He stomped through the dirt until his hands were able to grip Ryan by the shoulders. “I am trying to save them just like my father did and his father before him. Since the war that put us in this mess in the first place, we have dedicated our lives to keeping the world’s lost half alive. We are only a few people, Ryan! You have no idea the chaos it would create for the topside world to discover what and who we are, what we have here. They would kill us with their greed, run us out and all would be lost!
When the others lost contact, we had no way to open the… never mind. You wouldn’t understand.
I don’t want to be angry with you. I want you to learn before you judge me, all of us. I want to teach you what you can do to save those people that you love and the ones out there who are suffering. Both of you! I want you to both be better people, believe in yourselves, so you can help others believe in the world again. Here, in this place, we have the ability to save the world.
And I have spent my entire life trying. So, don’t ever call me selfish. For you, Ryan, are only the thing I have ever done for myself.” Samuel shook as he pulled away. “I’m sorry. I can’t… Avery will guide you to your rooms.” He began to walk away.
“Samuel!” Jarum called. “Wait!”
Ryan stood there unable to move. His heart raced. He felt terrible and he didn’t even know what Samuel had meant, but the conviction in his voice told a story of heartache and true passion. His limited knowledge, his fear of this place had severed any connection he and Samuel had built in the last few hours. The way the leader had looked at him with such longing made him shudder.
“Samuel?” Ryan croaked. “Samuel!” He started to run to catch the leader. “Wait! Please.”
Samuel kept walking. Thoughts of their impossible mission ran through his head. What had he been thinking? How could he have possibly thought the boys would understand? They grew up topside. They were biased, unwilling to see past the bleak life they had led. They wouldn’t believe him even if he told them the rest. Sometimes, he wondered if it was true at all. All his life he’d been led to believe that the mission was real, that the other facilities did exist. But in times like these, after many failed years and his father’s death, he failed to see the light.
A hand slapped onto his shoulder and he whirled. Ryan looked him in the eye, a little scared but very guilty.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to upset you, but we just don’t understand.”
Samuel turned away. He started walking again. “And you never gave me the chance to tell you properly. Did you?”
Ryan gestured for Jarum to follow. “No, but this is a lot to take in, Samuel. It’s one thing after the other. Things we’ve never seen before. We’re on overload here, being thrust into this world, leaving our family, knowing what you want from me—it’s so much.”
Samuel stopped, closed his eyes and counted to ten. There it was. He’d ripped the boys in two, away from the only life they’d ever known and thought he could change them. He was a complete asshole. Ryan didn’t and would probably never forgive him, want him. He should have just left well enough alone.
“Don’t worry about what I want. It doesn’t matter anymore. You’re here and we’ll just have to make the best of it. I’m sorry for ruining your life, for bringing you here. I should have never brought you here, either of you.” He picked up the pace. “Avery!”
“Yes, Commander,” she blurted. He knew she had heard the entire conversation.
“Take them to the B wing. Benny can take over. I’m going to bed.”
“That is an order, Avery!”
“So that’s it? You drag me away from my world, give me false hope that you want me and then don’t want to deal with my peasant stupidity? Leave me!” Ryan yelled. “Some leader you are!”
Samuel kept on walking. What the boy hadn’t experienced between them, he wouldn’t miss. The leader knew he was no good for Ryan. He wasn’t patient. He didn’t have the right words, the ability to coddle. Ryan was so different from him, that Sam wasn’t even sure they would ever be on the same playing field. None of it made any sense. He wouldn’t pursue Ryan anymore. Obviously the boy didn’t want him. He hated him, thought he was selfish and a complete bastard.
His feet carried him to a narrow hallway two wings over. Checking from side to side, he opened the door with his password and let the door lock shut behind him. Five doors down, a small room awaited. One chair, a bottle of Andrew’s homemade red wine and a box of smokes were all it held. He sat down, a scrape of metal as he adjusted his legs. A window made up the entire wall in front of him—a two way mirror that looked into a large room.
Two beds fit for royalty were placed against a wall. Two stacks of clothes and a little bookshelf stuffed full of novels were across the way. Ten minutes later, a cigarette and an open bottle of wine, Samuel watched Benny lead the boys into the room with trays of food. They looked around. More looks of awe.
The leader watched Benny explain the bathroom. The boys still didn’t get it. They argued. They made wild gestures. They sat on their beds as Benny left. His best friend looking equally displaced. Ryan didn’t touch his food like Jarum did—the darker haired boy stuffing his face full of flour tortilla and all the fixings like a dying man with his last dinner. Ryan hung his head with sad eyes. His tray untouched on his bed.
Yep. Samuel took a giant swig of wine. He was not only the person that was supposed to save the world. He was also the world’s biggest asshole. He chugged the wine until only half remained, placed it on the floor and wiped his lips. Lighting a cigarette, he watched Ryan curl up on the bed and turn away from the mirror.
“Fuck my life,” Samuel muttered and took heavy drag.
To Be Continued…