My first entry:
It’s been a month since the lightning storms and equally as long since we’ve seen another person. Fatboy has been quiet since yesterday – I think he’s mad at me. I don’t know what I did, but I can tell when he’s angry… He pokes his lip out and trips on stuff when he walks through the puddles.
I was the first one awake this morning in the Food Mart. Normally I fall off the shelves when we sleep on top of them, but this morning I woke up from my wet-bag-of-charcoal pillow and I was still on the shelf with Fatboy. He didn’t say anything, but I know he noticed. Ha!!!
We started out early because he said that the storm was going to pick up later. He showed me the black clouds in the distance they were bordering the gray ones blowing the rain against the store windows. They looked like demons crawling across the sky. The thunder was their roar.
I still didn’t see anyone else outside. It’s so spooky.
We split a can of corn-beef hash that he found behind the counter in the water for breakfast and collected all the plastic that we could find. Fatboy is so smart. He showed me how to keep one set of my clothes wrapped in plastic to keep them dry during our travels each day. He got me some water proof shoes from a department store we found and he gave me his poncho when I lost mine escaping some snakes down by the courthouse building last week.
He’s like a big brother to me.
He reminds me of my brother a lot.
I miss you, David.
I miss you, Mommy. I miss you Daddy.
Today is my eleventh birthday and I’m almost a full-grown woman, Fatboy says… so I gotta start acting like it. I carry my own things now and he gave me pocket knife with a can-opener on it. I’m not going to let him down. I told him that I want to be as strong as him when I become his age but four years seem so far away now. The rain won’t stop and animals keep attacking us when we travel. We rarely see other people and not all of them are good. Maybe I should just be happy making it until my next birthday.
“Hunh? What are you doing Fatboy?”
“It’s a backpack. I found it last night in the back when you were sleep.”
“WOW!! A tablet with dry paper… and PENS!!”
“Open the front pocket, Rayn!”
“A – A toy pony. It’s yellow like the way the sun used to look, Fatboy.”
“I know, Rayn… because you’re my best friend and my sunshine. You don’t have to be in a rush to grow up. Happy Birthday.”
“Thank you, Fatboy.”
Birthday +2: School Lunch
Yesterday wasn’t so bad. The rain eased up into a light storm by afternoon and we could walk through the flood water. Although it was pretty dirty, there were a lot of cool things floating around that kept things exciting as we moved through town. I saw a baby doll arm that kept bobbling up and down as it went down the street looking for someone to give it a ‘high-five’ hand slap. There seemed to be entire wardrobes of clothing caught in every corner that slowed the flow of water down. I found a pretty pair of red shorts that would look good when we find the place that the sun is hidden and the rain stops.
I didn’t let Fatboy see me grab them. They’ll be my secret.
Over on some high mounds near the parking lot I saw a bunch of dead rats. Even through the pouring rain, the stench was overwhelming. They were crowded up with the rotten food from a tipped-over trash can and broken car parts. Fatboy kept tugging on me and telling me not to look… I couldn’t help it.
We passed a small school and sat in the cafeteria to eat lunch, now THAT was cool! Fatboy sang me an ‘old-world’ song that he knew while we ate some canned sardines and ravioli. His voice echoed off the walls as he told me how school was before the lightning storms. I was just turning six years old when everything went crazy so I didn’t remember school very well.
He said that they got to go on the playground on sunny days. They had art classes and music classes in which they all sung together. They learned about lands and people all around the world as well as studied the stars up above.
Fatboy must’ve been the most awesome kid ever! He said that he could skip a bar when swinging on the monkey bars and jump the furthest from his swing when swinging against his friends on the swing-sets. I could barely contain myself when he started dancing from puddle to puddle on the stage at the front of the cafeteria acting out the way things were. He made me laugh all afternoon!
When we left the school we saw a church in the distance that had people standing around outside with their hands up in the rain shouting. Fatboy said they were praying… they look like they were shouting to me. We don’t go around church people, they tend to be trouble. They don’t like people that don’t believe things the way that they do and they look for reasons to call you bad and say that you don’t fit in. The last time we crossed church people, they tried to split me and Fatboy up.
They didn’t know that Fatboy would never leave me and I would always go where he goes. He is my very best friend and he needs me to take care of him. I will never turn on him… he said that I was his sunshine!
It sucked though, because they were the first people we’ve seen in the last month. Oh well…
I can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings!!
P.S. I’m so glad that Fatboy got me this tablet. I keep it dry and write at night when we camp. He lets me use one glowstick an evening to write so I’m going to write until each page is full!!
Chapter 3 – Follow the Worms
The storm blew a little less angry than normal making travel just a few more steps easier and vision just clear enough to see the edge of town. Fatboy and Rayn made it a point never to stay in one location longer than three days and traversing this town had been a test as each night camping made it increasingly difficult to journey forward the proceeding day. It’s been so long since the duo had seen a friendly face.
“Step on a crack and break your mama’s back!” yelped Rayn as she hopped along the lightly flooded sidewalk gleaming with a smile. The water jumped from each of her landings and splashed against Fatboy’s legs which were already soaked from the constant downpour. He strived to maintain his seriousness and awareness, but made it a subtle point to miss the cracks in the sidewalk.
“The rains shifting,” he said while pausing beside a bent stop sign.
“Fatboy, look… on the back of the sign!” shouted Rayn while moving her gloved fingers along some letters etched onto the back of it. “It’s like the other one we found.”
“Yep,” responded Fatboy, “Read it. What does it say?”
“Uhm… ‘Headed to Under-Mall.’ It has an arrow scratched beside it.” Said Rayn.
“It’s the same person that left the sign last week. He’s headed to the same place as us, Rayn.”
Rayn jumped up and down splashing harder while laughing, “YEA!!! There are others!! There are others!!!” Fatboy allowed his youth to rival his maturity for a moment and joined in the happiness with Rayn, “This is SO cool!!! I hope this guy is friendly!! I know he’ll be friendly!! I hope he’s with a group!!!”
Suddenly, the storm increased strength and the thunder grumbled in the distance.
“Crap! Side-rain is blowing in!! We gotta find shelter, Rayn!” cried out Fatboy while holding his hand up against the onslaught of wind and hard droplets.
The duo cuts through a small side street that led to a series of back roads. They were no longer in the heart of downtown, they were lost within the flooded sections of the neighborhoods. The surges of knee-deep water tugged at their weary legs in hopes to engulf them. Fatboy wouldn’t allow it.
“Rayn, come here!!” He commanded as he grabbed her tightly and hugged her in his jacket while looking further down the road. “Relax and pull your legs up!!”
The little girl grasped onto her guardian with all her might and relaxed her legs as he did the same. The water surged over both of their heads as it pulled them across the street and into the side top of a large sports utility vehicle turned on its side. The duo slammed into it with a ‘THUD’ leaving Fatboy breathless from absorbing the impact; his grip on her weakened instantly.
“Fatboy!!” She shouted while grabbing the vehicle and locking her legs around his. The water gushed over each of their faces as the winds acted as an introduction for the lightning starting to strike in the heart of downtown where they just exited.
Coming to his senses, Fatboy recovered from the splashes of water to his face, and instinctively called out to Rayn while trying to reorient himself, “We need high ground, Rayn!! We need high ground!” Desperate to save Fatboy, she pulled herself up to the top-side of the SUV and braved the oncoming lightning to search the driveways in the neighborhoods during the bright flashes provided by each striking bolt.
“WORMS!! Fatboy, I see worms!! That house right there!! They’ve got worms on the driveway!!” She yelled out while pointing to the house next to them.
“Good, let’s move!!” replied Fatboy while pushing against the water to the backend of the vehicle. “Gimmie, your hand, Rayn! Don’t let go!!”
The eleven year old clutched her fifteen year old best friend and peered into the evening gloom only to discover his determined eyes. Dark and without doubt he stared at her, “I’ll die before I let you go, Rayn.” She knew that he was telling the truth.
“I know, Fatboy.” She replied.
The storm’s outcry forced another surge of flooding water just as the duo pushed from the vehicle into its wake. They held their breaths and grabbed onto anything they could in the street as they powered their way from the tremendous strength and yet shallow depths of their nemesis.
Minutes seemed like a lifetime un-promised as the Rayn burst onto the rising slope of the driveway first gasping for air. Fatboy pulled himself up next welcoming the sight of the dead worms gathered in the corners of the driveway. The two eased further up the driveway then sat to collect themselves in the foyer of the home while watching the flooding water stream by filled with debris.
“I don’t know how you did it, Rayn, but I’m glad you saw the worms.” Said Fatboy.
“I remember what you said… worms always find the highest ground during a storm.” Replied Rayn while pulling off her backpack. “What now, Fatboy?”
While peeking out from the foyer to gauge the coming lightning, the youth also studied the home they were at. He normally tried to stay away from homes and keep to city-centers and stores. He hated to see personal pictures and items which reminded him of his home. He hated to see bedrooms and toys that reminded him of his family. He hated to see the bodies of those that lived there, it reminded him of his reality.
In this situation, Fatboy didn’t have a choice. He picked the lock on the door with his pocket knife and paused in the doorway.
We’re going to stay here tonight, Rayn.