We’ve gorged ourselves and reveled in family time and now late in the night with my son bathed and tucked into bed and my husband sleeping off his turkey, I’ve laid down a few words to move Clara and Sophie forward. Today I give thanks for my neverending urge to write stories and share them, it might be stressful at times but it sure keeps things interesting. I am grateful for the technology that allows me to put down, save, and share my words with relative ease. But I think I am most thankful for my cheering section, the people who believe in me and the stories I tell, it’s all of you that keep me moving forward in spite of timing and scheduling challenges, and sometimes near crippling self-doubt. Thank you.
And all this reflection and giving of thanks does make me think about this little NaNoWriMo experiment I’ve been running, what’s working and what’s not, but those thoughts aren’t really solidified yet so that’s a post for another day.
In any case, here it is, another small installment. It’s not a lot, but it’s still a step forward and that’s better than I’ve been managing.
As they marched up the tunnel, Clara clutched Sophie’s hand in her own and was acutely aware of the shuffling steps behind her in the darkness. The station had quite nearly emptied to follow them as if of one mind that Clara, Joe, Bat, and the rest had some magic solution to surviving the dash out the tunnel. The end of the tunnel came on faster than Clara expected, a field of stars suddenly blooming before them. Clara drew her breath and pulled Sophie in close, wrapping both arms around her, as Joe held up a silent fist to call a halt. He kept his voice to a whisper.
“Is everyone clear on what they need to do?”
Clara and the other non-regular team members nodded and swallowed hard while Bat and the others murmured a barely audible “roger that” as if in one voice.
Boyle helped Alejandro settle his pack on this front and Stacey on his back. Bat drew a dark blue bandana out of her back pocket and turned to Sophie with a gentle smile.
“You understand why we’re doing this, right?” she said in a soft murmur. Sophie just nodded and licked her lips. Bat folded the bandana into a thick strip and tied it on Sophie. She waved an open hand in front on her face. “Can you see that?”
“See what?” whispered Sophie. Bat nodded to Clara and helped her settled her pack and her human burden for the run. At last, all was ready and Bat nodded to Joe.
Joe laid his hand on Delores’ shoulder.
“Are you ready?” he asked. Delores nodded grimly, staring out into the starry night with her mouth held in a tight, grim line. “Thank you.” The words came out of Joe on the barest whisper of breath. Delores flashed him a brief bitter smile and patted his hand with her own. She drew in and blew out a deep breath, and shrugged off Joe’s hand and marched out of the tunnel, keeping to the middle of the tracks.
Based on previous experience and fear, everyone had expected some sort of Nightkind would come screaming out of the darkness to snatch up the choice morsel that was Delores as soon as she showed herself. She was slow. She was alone. She was easy prey. Everyone in the tunnel held their breaths.
Delores kept trudging down the tracks, and still nothing happened. 10 yards. 20 yards, 30. She kept going, but now she looked around her instead of keeping her eyes doggedly ahead. Still nothing happened. 40 yards. 50 yards. Delores stopped in the middle of the tracks, her hands stuffed into the pockets of her old quilted housecoat, and turned in a circle her face turned up to the starry sky. She turned to face the tunnel and held out her arms and shrugged.
Somewhere behind them, Clara heard someone shout “Damn, we got lucky! Let’s go!” and the surge of humanity behind them tried to push Joe and his crew forward out into the open. Sophie’s hands clutched at her mother’s shirt as she turned her blind face around trying to hear better what was going on.
Joe held out both hands as if trying to push them all back, “Not yet, wait!” he hissed.
“Screw you, jarhead.” Growled the man in the lead as he shoved Joe out of the way. Joe waved his hand to back against the wall and let everyone else surge past them.