Annie and the End of the World pt 8
They had walked to the point of exhaustion every day and still it took Annie and Arthur three days to get through the fire ravaged forest. They had made camp just outside of the trees in a meadow that somehow had been spared from the raging fire. Her bones ached and her throat felt as if too had been scorched by fire. A good long drink of clean water would be heavenly. They were down to sips in the canteens. She heard her name and looked up. Arthur was coming towards her looking rather excited.
“There’s a pond and a stream in the middle of this meadow” he was breathless as he reached her come on we can get water and clean some of this ash off of us.”
Arthur grabbed her hand and pulled her up. She groaned. With jelly legs she followed Arthur who had already gone ahead of her. She wondered how he could have so much energy. She hadn’t felt like this since boot camp and that was a long time ago. She was halfway there when she smelled the water. Forgetting her soreness, Annie ran until she reached the little stream. She dropped to her stomach and plunged her head into the water, drinking deeply, only taking her lifting her head take a breath. When she could drink no more, she stood up, her throat no longer desert dry. Annie walked to where she last saw Arthur. Arthur was the middle of the pond.
“Come on in the water is fine.” he spit a stream of water at her.
She looked at him, he was naked, again.
“I’ll wait until you are done. “
“Cause I’m naked? Oh come on we slept together. I made you a promise and I meant it”
“We did not sleep together. We slept. That is all”
“Yes ma’am” Arthur spit more water at her. “Your choice.”
She must have fallen asleep because she suddenly heard her name. There was Arthur in his birthday suit talking to her. It took a minute to actually hear the words. He was telling her it was her turn. It also took a minute for her to realize her turn meant bathing in the pond. She stood up with a groan. She felt tired, dirty and hungry.
“You going to rustle up some grub?” She asked Arthur.
“Yea I saw some watercress by the stream and some berries. I laid a trap a bit ago so hopefully we will have some rabbit to go with our salad.”
That was awesome. She hadn’t had meat in while; unless you counted jerky and that wasn’t real, it was leather. She told Arthur how much she would like fresh meat.
“And put some clothes on you savage” she added.
She walked to the pond with Arthur’s “Indians aren’t savages” remark in her ear. She smiled again as she entered the pond fully clothed. Arthur had left a bar of soap and a rag on a little flat rock. When the filth was off, she removed her clothes and threw them on the bank. Annie wished she had a dryer. She floated in the water thinking of the days before the end of the world, when she had a washing machine and a dryer. Oh microwaves. How she missed those yucky, quick meals that she ate most every day. Pocket meals! Pizza! Those Diet Meals that had 400 calories and yucky mushrooms she had to pick out. Her mom who was, maybe, 10 pounds overweight stock the freezer with those things. Oh! How Annie would love to pick out mushrooms today.
“You are going to turn into a prune” Arthur’s voice startled her again.” Come on out. I have a delicious rabbit roasting on the fire.”
Annie went to where her clothes were. They were gone. She remembered that she was naked as well and tried to cover herself up.
“Where are my clothes” she said. “What are you trying to pull?”
“Geez Annie.” Arthur was annoyed. “I have seen women before. Many times. While you are beautiful, I made a promise. I keep my promises. Your clothes are by the fire drying. Here wear this”.
Arthur took off his shirt and threw it on the ground. He turned and walked back to camp. Annie now felt like an idiot. He had told her he wouldn’t touch. She got out of the pond. The air had turned cooler and she shivered just a bit. Annie reached down and picked up Arthur’s shirt. She slipped it over her head. It smelled of soap and Arthur. Annie walked to the camp and sat down on her pack. Her pants and shirt were indeed drying close to the fire. Arthur was tending to the rabbit on the spit he had made. She watched. She wondered how long he stayed mad. Her first boyfriend, when she was 13, was like her dad. He would punish her for days with the silent treatment and nasty looks when they were mad. She had known one guy who was in her troop who was never mad. He smiled all the time, cracking jokes and laughing. Even in the middle of battle he was telling jokes. He laughed all the time up until the day he was blown apart by IED. He had never met anyone like him and still remembered his corny jokes. She gave a half smile. She had seen a lot of good people leave this earth in short time. The sickness killed every that war forget. It killed every one that deserved to live. She supposed if she was religious she could consider it the apocalypse. Maybe it was. She sighed.
“You sigh a lot” Arthur noted. “Here”
He handed her camp dish full of rabbit with the watercress and berries. It was the most delicious thing she had ever eaten and it was gone too fast. She looked over at Arthur, who still had a half full plate. He was looking at her with amusement.
“Hungry?” Arthur smiled, raising one eyebrow.
Annie laughed “Not anymore. That was delicious. Hey about back at the pond…. I’m sorry. “
“No worries. You just don’t trust too much though do you? “
Annie shook her head. She wasn’t in the mood to be psychoanalyzed so she cleaned her plate and grabbed her blanket. With a good night to Arthur she lay down by the fire. She awoke the next morning to bright sunlight and a deer nibbling grass not 3 yards away. She watched the doe for a while before something scared it off. Bounding over the meadow and leaping over her was that damn cat of Arthur’s. It landed on Arthur and started to head bump him. purring. She didn’t know pumas purred. She had forgotten about the big cat. Arthur was obviously delighted to see his pet. He hugged the creature than the two started to play. Annie thought Arthur’s laugh sounded nice, it was deep and rich.
It had not taken long to clean up and obliterate their campsite. That cat of Arthur’s walked damn near glued to his side.
The trio walked through the meadow avoiding the stream area which was rather muddy at places. It was towards the other side of the meadow tucked into the trees they found the cabin. Annie had almost missed it, it was well hidden. Annie crept up to look in the window. It seemed no one was home and hadn’t been in a long time. Annie tried the door. It was opened. Slowly she opened it and looked into the cabin. Cobwebs hung from the open beams and it looked as if animals had wintered here. Annie stepped in, she felt her foot hit the wire and she fell back at the same time. The bullet whizzed by her so closed she could feel it as it passed her nose.
“Shit” she exclaimed.
Arthur helped her up “are you ok?”
“Yea. This place is booby trapped. Damn near blew my head off. ”
She took a breath then reached down and grabbed a stick. Slowly with the stick in front of her sweeping from head to toe she moved forward. She stood in the door and looked. The windows were dirty and there wasn’t much light but she could see several other booby traps. She looked over at Arthur and shrugged her shoulders.
“It ain’t worth it. Let’s move on.”
Arthur shook his head. “There might be stores in there we can use.”
“And it might take all day to clear this place. Then we might even find more, later, the hard way”
“What else we got to do? I say Yes let’s do it”
Annie looked at the puma sharpening his claws on a nearby tree. “And I say no.”
Chapter 3: http://theblogofteresa.com/annie3/
Chapter 4: http://theblogofteresa.com/annie4/
Chapter 5: http://theblogofteresa.com/annie5/
Chapter 6: http//theblogofteresa.com /annie6/
Chapter 7: http//theblogofteresa.com/annie7/
Chapter 9: http//theblogteresa.com/annie9/
Chapter 10: http://theblogofteresa.com/annie10/