So, two days with no progress and then I find the time and energy to produce almost as much as I produced the first two days of NaNoWriMo combined. It was still hard though. I was able to leave my day job a little early today and stopped at home to pick up my computer to go write and my son saw me. Hearing him plead, “Mommy, don’t leave me” broke my heart. But I also know that one of the best things I can give my son is a happy and healthy mother who shows him you don’t have to give up yourself or your dreams just because you decide to become a parent. Writing creatively is my dream and it keeps me mentally healthy. And now without further ado – here’s what’s happening to Clara and Sophie.
“What do you mean evacuate? By what authority?” Clara narrowed her eyes.
“I mean evacuate to keep you and your daughter safe, no authority just concern.” The man pulled off his hat and wiped his forehead with the back of his sleeve. “Can I come in?”
“Let me see your teeth.” Clara worked hard to keep the tremble out of her voice.
The man grinned wide and even pulled back each cheek so she could see the back teeth too. Still no obvious fangs or other signs of Nightkind.
“I don’t know,” Clara said as she started to pull back from the door and shut it.
“Ms. Miller, please! We’ve got to go!” the man barked and Clara slammed the door the rest of the way shut and took a step back and put her hands over her mouth.
“Mommy? What is it?” Sophie’s voice trembled on the edge of hysteria.
“I don’t know, baby,” Clara said as she reached for her machete leaning against the wall next to the door. “But go to your room. You know where your holy water is?”
“Yes, Mommy,” Sophie’s breath hitched with a sob and and Clara could hear her bare feet slap against the floor and she took up a defensive stance with her blade and never took her eyes off the door. Clara jumped and Sophie yelped when there came another softer rapid knock.
“Clara? Sophie?” came Stacey’s muffled voice behind the metal door. “It’s me. It’s OK, it’s really me.”
Clara lowered her weapon and stepped closer to the door, leaning her forehead against it and letting her shoulders drop.
“How do I know it’s you? The human you?” She couldn’t hide the tremble in her voice this time.
“I’ll take whatever test you need me to take, Clara,” Stacey said. “I’ll drink holy water, cut myself with silver, cross a line of salt, whatever you need. I’m sorry, I should have come myself first. Joe came home last night, and there’s bad things happening, Clara. It’s getting worse and we have to go before we get killed.”
“Worse? Worse!” Clara’s voice rose to a hysterical edge and she pounded her palm against the door. “How can it get worse? We’re prey, eking out our lives in disgusting corners. How does it get worse?” She screamed and pounded her fist against the door.
“Mommy?” Sophie whispered behind her. “Mommy, you’re scaring me.”
Clara dropped her machete and groaned as she put her fists to her eyes and knuckled out the mixed tears of fear, frustration and rage. She took a deep breath and sighed before she turned and held her arms out to her daughter. “I’m sorry, baby, I didn’t mean to scare you.” Sophie nearly leaped into her mother’s arms and buried her face in Clara’s shoulder and let out her own tears.
“Clara? Clara?” Stacey’s voice came from behind the door again, rising with more fear herself. “Clara, please, we need to go and we need to go now.”
Clara looked up from her sobbing daughter’s shoulders and asked, “How? How does it get worse?”
“They’ve decided to take over the cities and subdue all of us once and for all. Nightkind is coming, and they’re almost here.”
“We’re not that far ahead of them, Clara,” came another deep but familiar voice on the other side of the door, Joe Turner. “I’ve finished packing up everything for me and Stacey, but we need to get you and Sophie out of here now. We might only have a few hours at this point.”
Clara suppressed a shudder and reached to open the door. She hoped if it was some breed of Nightkind on the other side of the door that they would make their deaths swift and clean.
Less than an hour later, Clara and Sophie had packed all they could into one backpack a piece. Joe wouldn’t allow more than that. He said they needed to move fast and couldn’t afford the extra weight. The young man who’d originally come to fetch them, Jimmy, shouldered a pack with every meager scrap of food they had. It would be added to the rest of the group’s stores and shared out evenly between them all, to offset the new additional burden of Clara and Sophie. Clara was the last to leave and she paused in the doorway. The light of all the lanterns and candles were gone now and even the moonlight was gone, shining on the other side of the world since it was technically daytime. She couldn’t see the curve of her couch or Sophie’s artwork stuck to the fridge with magnets from places she had never been, but she knew it was there. It wasn’t much of a life, but it was her life. She drew the door closed with a sigh, locked it, and pocketed the key.
“Why bother?” asked Jimmy.
Clara frowned at him. “Just let me have my hope, OK?”
Jimmy shrugged and shook his head and headed for the stairs.
The rest of Joe’s people were waiting in the Metro station, six hardened warriors who looked at the three new burdens with grim and weary eyes. Stacey dropped her head and looked to the side as her face reddened. She was the slowest, the weakest. She knew she was the biggest burden. Clara lifted her chin a notch, as if daring them to say something out loud, while Sophie looked around with wide, red-rimmed eyes as she clutched her precious lavender stuffed bunny to her chest. It was extremely rare that she left the apartment building, there was just no reason to.
It was the skinny black woman, with skin like midnight dark itself and complex braids swirling around her scalp, that broke the silence. “What’s the plan, Captain?”
Joe nodded to his second in command. “We stay underground as long as we can. Then we head north for Baltimore and see if we can do any restocking there. We’re supposed to meet up with Carter’s group in Philadelphia as soon as we can.”
Everyone nodded and started to shoulder packs except for one stocky blond man who looked like he should be in boots and twirling a lasso. “And then what?”
“What do you mean, Boyle?” said Joe.
“Just what I said, and then what?” Boyle thrust out his jaw. “Do we hide like roaches? Or do we decide on the next place to run like a bunch of scared rabbits?”
Joe frowned. “I don’t know, Boyle. Let’s move out.”
“You didn’t answer me,” Boyle said, crossing his arms over his chest.
Joe ignored him and checked his pack straps and rifle to make sure they were settled properly.
Boyle raised his voice louder, echoing against the high roof, “You didn’t…”
“I don’t know!” Joe roared and whipped around. He towered over Boyle by a good eight inches. “What do you want me to say?” he growled. “That we’re going to attack the Nightkind and hit them where it hurts? That we’re going to take back the planet and live happily ever after? You don’t think that’s been tried, Boyle?” Joe’s booming voice filled the Metro tunnel and riveted every pair of eyes there to him.
Joe dropped his voice to a whisper, but everyone in the tunnel heard every word. “We’ve already tried to kill the Nightkind and we’ve died for it. Do you think there’s a central stronghold or something? That all the wolves and ghouls and hags have some sort of agreement and follow a single leader?” He advanced on Boyle and loomed over him, going nose to nose. “And even if we did manage to beat back Nightkind, then what? What do we do about the sun? We’d still have to deal with the endless night.”
Joe pulled back and closed his eyes and took a deep breath. “So, here’s what we do, Boyle. We do our best to survive, and we keep doing it. Until something changes, we do our best to survive.”
With that, Joe turned and picked up his wife and headed toward the Metro tunnel. The rest of the crew shouldered their packs while shooting dark looks at Boyle and fell in behind their leader. Clara and Sophie found a place in the middle of them, while Boyle finally shouldered his pack and trailed along behind, his face dark with frustration.
That’s 1,400 words today, and I have a good idea of where I need to go tomorrow. It feels good to write and be in the thick of it again.