Changes, Part 3

After following Jay and Elsa for a while we open this part with Ed. Through the security system he follows the progress of the young woman, and still wonders what led to the fear that is obvious in what he is witnessing. It is this “fear” that prompted his actions, bringing the girl down to the lower levels of “The Deeps”. Language is still the issue, as body language can only go so far before understanding breaks down. And so we follow Elsa’s progress through the eyes of Ed.

Meanwhile Jay is facing issues of his own. He has tentatively located the second cache, buried under the debris of a burned out building. He has no way of knowing whether there’s anything salvageable or not – let alone whether it has been raided. And every second he delays puts him in danger. Yet, for the two of them he cannot afford to fail. So the pressure is on. (And if this is the first time here parts 1 and 2 are in the right side bar under June 2015) And for your reading pleasure is part 3:

Ed watched through the monitors at the progress of the female as she tentatively worked her way through the tunnels. He could see in her body language that she had a lot of fear and seemed almost afraid of her own shadow. What had happened to her? From watching her explorations he knew there was a great chance that soon she would come through those double doors into the pre-area of The Deeps. Yeah, he thought, the shortened common name for what was originally named Helms Deep. This park like area that was just beyond where she was presently was the final assembly area before one entered into The Deeps properly. This area provided a brief respite for those on their way to their permanent residence here, but, of course it never happened. Still the area had been designed to be relaxing and to ease the fears of those who were leaving everything behind.

He figured that she would probably remain in this area for a while since there were restrooms, and he had resupplied the food carts anticipating her arrival. With the drinking fountains, food, and restrooms it would provide most of what she needed since being locked out of the “Welcome and Processing center”. Going back to the recording of the conversations between the male and female he was still working on trying to understand their language. He was close and it was like he could almost understand. Once he did he figured it would make the initial contact between him and this young one easier. Anyway he looked at it he found he was nervous. And if he was, how would it be for someone like her who had never seen anything like this place? From the reactions he had seen, it was the only conclusion he could make.

He found he had been making some progress in recognizing a word or two here and there. It appeared they spoke the same language he did, although it had changed somewhat, had been bastardized over time. It seemed to have words that probably had come from other languages. Here he laughed because in school it had been pointed out that English, the language he spoke, was loaded with words from other languages. So it should be of no surprise that others had been added over time. For example he found both the word “casa”, Spanish for house, and home being used. He didn’t know if it referred to different aspects or whether the words were interchangeable.

It seemed they slurred their words a lot and spoke in a fast tempo that almost blended the words together. It could be that it was only the situation the two had found themselves in that had caused this, but he had no others to compare to. With this one close he had to put as much time in as he could to understand, and he hoped that once they saw each other there would be no confrontations that could lead to violence. He wanted nothing to happen. This person, and he suspected later, if the other one returned, between the two he should be able to find out what had been going on above with all these passing centuries, and possibly why none of the teams that had gone to the surface looking for survivors had ever found any, when it was obvious that somewhere there had been.

So he continued to study and become accustomed to their speech as he continued to monitor the girl’s progress. She sure seems curious. Here he laughed as his thoughts continued. Well stupid don’t you think you’d be curious if this was the first time you had ever been in such a place? Of course you’d be. She seemed to be staring through those small windows as she sat at one of the desks. Yet, at the moment it seemed she had no interest in going through those double doors that sat at both ends of the counter. Still her needs would eventually push her on. There was no way back, and there was only going forward into this new world. Eventually hunger, thirst, or a nature call would force her on through those doors.

Again how long she’d remain in this next area he wasn’t sure, but the additional time one way or the other wouldn’t matter. In a sense he needed it. Until the two of them met everything here inside would have to wait. This was critical, this up and coming meeting, possibly the most important thing, other than the passing of his parents that had happened to him in his life. Why couldn’t this have happened oh twenty to thirty years ago? If he had learned any lessons about life it was the fact that life rarely accommodated one exactly when it would have been convenient, and here was a prime example.

Look, she’s at the double doors! He watched fascinated, but it was obvious to him that all she was doing was looking. Again her body language said she wasn’t ready. And as he continued to monitor the situation he saw her retreat back to the counter and lean on it obviously thinking. Soon, little one, you’ll come through those doors and sometime in the near future we will see each other in person for the first time. Yes, soon.

* * *

Jay looked at the burned debris that had been the storage and supply building and wasn’t sure he wanted to tackle the job that was before him. Maybe he could find a shovel or something similar to make the job easier. When he realized the job that was ahead of him he had made a quick trip back to the other location to be sure it had been completely stripped. He hoped it hadn’t been and there would be enough left that he wouldn’t need to dig out this other to find out if all the work he would be doing would be for naught. After all the raiders could have found it, emptied it, and then torched the building. There was no way to know. But when he had gone into the other hidden cellar, he confirmed it had been stripped bare.

Taking a deep slow breath he shook his head, the one thing he didn’t want to do was spend a lot of time here. Every extra second meant a greater possibility of being discovered, to possibly have the raiders come back again, or just the scavengers that always seemed to know when something like this happened, and would show up to finish picking over the bones. And if they found anybody alive would make sure when they left that there would be no witnesses. Any and all of these could be here or back to finish what they had started. And one thing for sure he had no desire to become another victim of either.

As he made his way across the deserted and destroyed village it seemed to be much hotter than he remembered. But then again what he remembered was a living town, with all the homes and shops, the neighbors and friends, and the feel of life. Now it was all gone, leaving only the dust, burned and destroyed homes, shops, and a deep silence that spoke of the death that had been here. Eventually he reached the minor gate out through the wall and headed to the one building that seemed to be still standing. But even this was an illusion since it had been constructed of rock, the walls remained but the interior was gutted and roof collapsed in. Everything smelled of smoke.

He went by the building knowing he would find nothing of use there and headed up towards the mines hoping to locate a shovel there, but once again failed to find anything. One thing for sure he didn’t want to use his hands. Too many things could easily be hidden in all that debris leading to injury. With his sister depending on him, he couldn’t afford to weaken himself or return empty-handed. It was then he remembered the dump area. There was a good chance he could at least find a broken but usable tool there. He quickly but carefully worked his way down to the dump area and found it was the one area the raiders hadn’t stripped. Not that there was anything of real value here anyway. But as thorough as they had been it wouldn’t have surprised him if they had.

It took a while but eventually he located an almost whole shovel. The handle had broken in such a way that for the work it was generally used for, it had become worthless, and thusly tossed. It would serve his needs, and maybe if the cache was undisturbed he could cover it and come back in the future if he needed. And at this moment, even though their present location was well hidden, there was nothing but water, so the likelihood of him returning for additional food was pretty good.

* * *

He was filthy, covered in ash and charcoal, but the cache had still been there. And somehow, and he was quite happy about this, the door into the cache hadn’t burned. He didn’t understand it since it was constructed of wood, but he praised whatever providence had kept it hidden and safe. He was now loaded down with as much as he could carry. He had two full packs, wearing one on his back and had the other mounted awkwardly on his front. It was uncomfortable as hell, and it made it difficult to move, but every one of these things he had was important, critical to their survival. He had found clothing for Elsa, and a couple of sleep sacks that he had rolled together as one. Now he needed to get back to her as quickly as he could, and do it without being seen. He felt good, now he only have that little section of desert to cross, avoid the dangers it presented, find his markers, and not be seen by any of the baddies out here. Simple – right?

* * *

After all the hard work, the worry, Jay is successful in uncovering the hidden cache and looks forward to his return to that underground building where he and his sister now will have more time to decide what they will do. And in his mind it also gives Elsa more time to heal after her ordeal. Still unknown to him, and at this moment, is the fact his sister isn’t where he expects her. And Ed hopes to see a successful outcome in the near future, but even this is just that, a future event. Will any of what the expectations are, come to fruition? Come back in two weeks for part 4, as the story continues to unfold. Next Saturday is the celebration of the birth of this nation, the 4th of July. So next week I will have an appropriate post. Have a great week and God Bless! (fdbrant.com)

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Changes, Part 2

Before I begin this week’s post, this week’s episode, I’d like to comment as to where this blog is, where it was, and what may be transpiring in the future. First off back in 2011 when I began Words in the Wind, I really had no desire to put my thoughts and such out here on the internet. But with the choice of becoming a writer, or novelist, I found it a requirement. To be honest I didn’t read blogs – had no personal interest in them. So by not following any or browsing any number of them, I truly had no idea what it should look like or what the content should be. And to know what tags  or categories were or how to use them, well, to be honest, not a clue. With this post, which is the 250th post, the subjects have overall been eclectic.

I suspect that it might remain this way as this site continues to evolve in whatever direction it will go. There’s a lot of personal opinion, thoughts about many subjects, many short stories, lessons on writing from my point of view, and even though I tried to stay away from it, some political opinions now and then. Presently, I’ve been trying an experiment of writing a book through the blog. (In truth the draft is finished, and presently in the hands of a publisher. No, even at this stage in the process, there are no guarantees that it will be accepted for publication. Yet, to get this far is encouraging.) And once I’ve run through the complete manuscript here, I need to come up with ideas as to what will follow.

I give it to those writers who must meet a daily deadline. It is tough enough to come up with something fresh for a weekly blog such as this. So far I’ve been lucky or feel I have. Although I suspect if I went back over all 250 posts I would find that I have repeated myself. And to be honest that would be no surprise. For any of us our knowledge and experience is finite. And those experiences, learnings, contemplations, and personal views of the world has a tendency to settle in in such a way that it makes us the unique individuals we are.

How much longer “Words in the Wind” will be around, I cannot honestly say. I hit the ripe old age of 66 this year, and as Ed in this story my years left to me is much shorter than the ones that trail deeply into my past. As long as my creativity is there, this, as well as new works, will still be here. Yet, sometime in the unknown future the well will go dry. It is part of life as much as birth and death. And all things die. All things exist for a short time, and it is only memories that will bring any back, even if those memories are inaccurate. So with this, the 250th post, with hope for a continuation for many years in the future, I return you to this week’s subject, this week’s post. God Bless!

* * *

Since Jay has never been to the second hidden cache he must first locate it to determine whether it’s been raided like the other. Yet he worries. Since doing any of this is wasting time, making him stay in the ruins, leaving him with the feeling he should be gone. There’s always a chance either the scavengers or the raiders will return to work over the ruins, and if they do he has no desire to be here. And every day he’s away from Elsa means there’s a chance, without him there, she will break and run off only to die in the desert.

Elsa, once she gets her emotions in control, realizes she cannot go back. So there is only forward. So with a lot of trepidation she explores this new place. With that fear always riding in the background she is careful with everything she does. Is she alone? Why did the wall first open, and then close? Were there others besides herself here? All questions for which she has no answers. Yet, this new world has mysteries of its own, leaving her with other questions. (And if this is the first time here part 1 is in the sidebar under June 2015.) And for your reading pleasure is part 2:

Jay worked his way down the wall on the north side towards the single small entrance that led out to the fields – small that they were, and the trails that led up to the hidden mines where they mined the semi-precious stones they sold in the markets and trading centers. Outside of this gate was a storage shed where the tools of the trade were stored, as well as the carts they used to haul the raw materials down from the mines to be worked. He knew the finished stones were stored inside the walls of their village, but were worked outside by the storage shed. Now if he could only remember what he had been told. Standing by this small gate he looked in both directions along the walls and couldn’t see anything that would identify the hidden cache. Maybe this was a good sign. If he who knew it was here and couldn’t immediately locate it, maybe the raiders hadn’t either.

“Okay, so is it here inside the wall, or is it close to the storage shed and work area?” He had to admit he didn’t know. So with care he worked his way up and down the walls on the inside and came away with nothing. This was followed by another search outside of the walls, in and around the storage area, followed by the work area. All, leaving him with nothing for all his effort, and still not a clue as to the location of the hidden cache located somewhere on this side of the village. Frustrated, he leaned against the wall, time was getting away from him and he wanted to be away and heading back into the desert by nightfall. If he didn’t locate it soon he might be spending another night in the area and this was the last thing he wanted to do.

Could this one be up by the mines? He thought. No, what’s up there is emergency gear if something was to happen in the mines. Not the emergency cache for the town. It had to be here and he had to be close. It was then he remembered that there was another building just inside the gate, a place where leather goods and such were stored – stuff used for the animals. And it was here in one of the corners lay the entrance to the hidden cellar. He came back inside of the wall and saw the building, and like all of the others, it was destroyed with most of what had been the building collapsed and filling the center. He’d have to dig it out to find out if the cache was untouched. But from what he could see it appeared that all the debris from the building was untouched. So the chances were good it was still there.

Now if what is there wasn’t destroyed because of the heat from the fire when the building burned down, then maybe I can get out of here soon, and have what we need for now. One could only hope.

* * *

Elsa stood staring not sure if she wanted to continue on or not. But what choice did she have? Her way back to what she knew was blocked and all she could do was continue forward. After her eyes had adjusted to the bright lights that now lit the tunnel she judged the downhill slope of the tunnel had increased. In fact she was only guessing at what she was seeing. It appeared to be a counter similar to the one above. All she could see of it was the top and a little way down from her location. So far she had been it. No one had put in an appearance. She realized she could hear herself breathing and it was still a bit rapid – speaking to her that she was still quite nervous over the whole thing. And why not? She thought. Anybody in this same situation should be.

Where are you bro? Where are you when I need you here? In her heart she knew the answer, but that didn’t ease the situation she found herself in. Finally after all this indecision she slowly went forward and down the tunnel towards what she suspected was a counter. It appeared to be crossway in the tunnel disappearing from sight to both sides speaking of the tunnel “T”ing at this point. “Why would it do that?” She asked herself quietly. As she approached the counter, which was farther away than she thought, she was able to finally see the base. And it was exactly like the other, except much longer. She noticed that where the counter ended on both ends, behind and on the wall that ran behind the counter, were double doors. At least that’s what they appeared to be.

Leaning on the counter she saw that again like the one above there appeared to be desks behind and at eye level, if one was sitting, it appeared to have narrow slit like windows in the wall allowing the ones working at these desks to look beyond. Beyond to what she truly didn’t know. And speaking of not knowing it appeared that the counter curved at both ends sealing off the workers from whoever was standing at the counter. At least she knew, from jumping over the one counter that was in the space that led to the windows that saw in the distance, that this wouldn’t pose any problem for her either. Then she thought. Why not? She looked both ways and back up the tunnel from where she had just come from, turned around, and with the help of her arms boosted herself on top of the counter, swung around, and dropped to the floor on the other side of the counter.

She worked her way down in both directions and realized once she got to the end where it curved around that there was a portion that swung up with a release that allowed the ones who were on this side of the counter a way in and out. It was a simple arrangement, but one she would never have considered if she hadn’t seen it herself. She swung up the countertop released the latch and opened the bottom portion. And as she did she felt a little resistance, and as she let go it began to swing back. Wow, what have they done to it to allow it to return like this? Thinking about it she thought it would be something nice to have. Still she knew that the doors into the privies had something similar. But there one could see what was responsible. Here there was nothing. Like her brother she kept asking, who were the ones responsible for this place? So many things existed here that in her wildest imagination she’d never thought about and yet so many seemed simple.

Simple maybe, but at the same time she had to admit she didn’t have a clue to how or what made them work. She had gotten pretty much the same answer from Jay. Even though both of them had gotten used to what was around them, both of them admitted they knew absolutely nothing. She carefully let the swinging portion return and re-latch itself. She noticed with the top portion out of the way it would be easy if one was outside to reach in and release the latch and enter. Turning around she now studied the desks for which there were at least twelve of them. All of them seemed to have those swinging, rolling chairs that were in the room with the windows, making it easy for whoever was working to move from the desk to the counter.

As she turned back to the counter, when sitting in one of the chairs, she realized that the counter had a number of shelves which had nothing on them at this time. She wondered what might have been stored there, but like so much of what both of them had seen, she didn’t even venture a guess. Then, as she turned around back to the desks (she was pushing herself around in one of those chairs) she noticed sitting between some of the desks what seemed to be sealed containers, but again unlike anything she had ever seen. Most of the containers she had ever been around had been constructed of wood. These looked far different. She reached out and touched one of them feeling the texture. It was cool to the touch and smooth – nothing like the ones made of wood. It felt, well she wasn’t sure if it was accurate, but it felt sort of like heavy paper.

Paper, yeah right. Paper was expensive, and was a rare commodity in their town. Only the rich had it. So immediately she discounted her conclusion. But if it wasn’t paper what was it? She looked closer and it appeared that these containers, where they closed, had some sort of shiny strips of something that kept them from opening. What could those strips be? Whatever they were, when she tried to open one to see what might be on the inside it wouldn’t release. It was then she looked up and for the first time looked through the small window that was in front of her. It caused her to immediately stop and stare. How can this be? No, this can’t be real, there’s no way, she thought. But it seemed to be real. She slid down the open space between the desks and counter remaining on the chair and looking out the other small windows, and other than perspective what she saw remained.  What she saw made her want to go through those doors and confirm it, but did she dare?

* * *

Time is weighing heavily on Jay as he continues his search for that elusive cache and the fear when he finally does open it that it will be empty as the other one had been. While Elsa is making discoveries of her own, finding common items, which are uncommon in her world. And for both of them they are still unaware that there is a third player in the mix. One who is trying to come to terms with his own problems, and the shock of finding he isn’t the last of his kind. Have a great week, and return next week for part 3. God Bless! (fdbrant.com)

Changes, Part 1

With the end of, The Past in the Present Seeing the Future, we move on to a new episode which has nine parts. As we followed our three people and after so much happening over a broad period of time, suddenly things, at the end, began to speed up. Elsa finds she is now locked out of where She and Jay had been spending their time safe and away from the rest of the world. Slowly she is trying to overcome her trauma from the past only to find herself in a new a frightening situation. Will she be able to cope, or will this be the point where she finally breaks?

Meanwhile Jay her brother, never wanted to leave her alone, but both knew he had no choice. For him, with no knowledge of what’s happening back in their temporary shelter, he is working hard trying to be the responsible brother and provide. Ed, still fighting the language barrier, can only make conclusions from what he is witnessing. He wants to help and as he sees the young woman losing it he puts into action what he hopes will the solution, and thusly we end the previous episode. It is here where we pick up the story in, Changes, the next episode with part 1. (If this is the first time here the complete story begins in the sidebar under April 2015 and continues through June 2015.)

Fearing the worst, Elsa sat on the floor with her back to the wall. A wall that only a short time in the past had been open and she had come through to this new place only to have it slide shut leaving her isolated. She was literally shaking from both fear and the sobs that were escaping her. Why? Hasn’t what I’ve been through been enough? Oh Jay, if you come back I won’t be there. But, I’m here even though there’s no way you can know. At this point she fell silent, too miserable to think anything at all. Somehow, and she didn’t understand why, she fell asleep leaning against that wall. The only thing she could figure was in her misery she cried herself to sleep.

Other than the way out of here being taken away nothing had happened. She breathed slowly in and out and realized that she couldn’t remain here. It was obvious whatever it was that had opened the pathway to where she was, had also closed it and she didn’t have any idea how to change her situation. Standing up and taking a number of deep slow breaths she stood still for the longest time. She could feel the fear and panic trying to rise again. Using all the will power she still had she forced it away. So far it was quiet, no monsters or raiders had come to capture or recapture her, or do unspeakable things to her.

If she wanted to admit it, and she wasn’t sure if she did and as far as she knew, only she and Jay were here. And at this moment, again as far as she knew, she was now the only one, unless Jay was responsible for this. It was a thought, but one she immediately put out of her mind. This wasn’t something Jay would do. Besides she knew he was gone trying to get more food and clothing for the two of them. She had watched him as he disappeared into the desert, and she had checked back on those windows, as Jay stated she should – often. And there had been no one, nothing, just dust now and then, and little else. Besides she didn’t expect Jay back for a few more days. He said that he expected to be gone at least 5 days at the minimum, and it could be up to 10 depending on what he found once he got back to the ruins. And as far as she could figure it had only been 3 to 4 days.

She found she was leaning again the wall, and it was cool, chilling her somewhat. She pushed off with her hands and tentatively walked towards that turn she had been at previously when the wall slammed shut. The whole area was bathed in shadows. Again such things allowed the imagination to run wild. Although there seemed to be enough light so she wasn’t fumbling in the dark. The lights in this case were running along the walls right on the floor allowing one to see where one put their feet. While on the roof down the center ran another set of lights. None of them were bright and overpowering. Still they weren’t very inviting to her either.

She really wasn’t sure if she wanted to go down that twisting tunnel or not, but had to admit she really didn’t have much of a choice. So with a large amount of trepidation she inched forward and with as much caution and courage as she could muster she worked her way down the tunnel. As she got fully inside the tunnel she felt a breeze. Did this mean, she thought, there was another opening somewhere? Yet, to her mind that made no sense. It felt like she was going deeper underground. There definitely was a gentle downslope to the tunnel. The first twist which was to the right had led her into a straight section, but now she could see somewhat in the distance another turn. And even though it wasn’t obvious, she felt it turned to the left leading back into the original direction.

She could feel her heart pounding in her chest and again her breathing was becoming rapid. She had to stop once again and get everything under control. Still there had been no sign of danger. Just the gloom of the tunnel, the downslope, the movement of air, and that was it. Still, it didn’t matter. All of this was unknown, and thusly had to be considered dangerous. She could feel a pressure pressing down on her and she almost turned around and ran back to that wall, but stopped. And what are you going to do if you do Elsa? It’s not like there’s anything there. And you can hope and wish the wall will open, letting you back, but is that even realistic? She could ask herself these questions all day, and know the answers, but intellectually knowing and being able to act were two different things.

Carefully she worked her way up to the turn which turned out to be to the left as she thought, and stopped once again. She leaned against the left wall of the tunnel and tried to peer around the corner to see if there might be any danger, but was both relieved and disappointed at the same time. There was nothing but more tunnel. She pulled away from the wall and started to go down in this new direction when she froze, because, suddenly the sections ahead of her began to light up with a bright light. It scared her enough that she let out a small scream, the bright lights had begun furthest away from her that she could see and advanced towards her in rapid succession until the area above her head lit up. She was momentarily blinded, and had to wait for her vision to clear.

Looking ahead she saw what she believed was another counter, just like the one that existed in the other building. With no problem with her vision she slowly headed towards this counter.

* * *

Dawn was upon him and after an uncomfortable night Jay started to leave his hiding place. He stopped because he heard voices and the crunch of footsteps on the gravel pathway. The voices were too soft to be understood, but it sounded like either two or three individuals. Listening, it appeared to be a normal conversation anybody could be having, making him feel like everything was okay, and when he entered through the gate back into where he had grown up all would be as it was. If only. Yes, if only all of this could be a dream, a nightmare, and everybody I’ve ever known is still alive, still going through their everyday lives unaware of the dangers. But he knew better.

The sounds of the voices faded into the distance and he carefully came out and briefly followed behind at a safe distance. Before returning and heading back inside those broken walls he wanted to be sure those he was following wouldn’t come back and catch him alone. He was hoping that whoever this was had been the ones who had been camping inside the walls. And if not, he didn’t want to be caught between two different groups trapping him. So with care he followed until they joined the main trail through the area and headed south, the direction he had come from. He remained hidden as he watched them disappear down the trail, and waited longer to insure they weren’t returning.

He waited until the sun rose plus a little longer, but they never returned. He didn’t have a clue as to who these individuals were. They could have been part of the raiding party, or just some travelers passing through. With the passing time he figured he was safe from whoever they were and headed back to gate where he would be more than careful. He wasn’t sure if the ones he followed were the campers or not. As he approached the gate he first looked for any smoke that might be rising from a campfire, and saw nothing. Holding his breath a moment and letting it out slowly he could feel the nervousness grow. If there were still people inside, he could give himself away. And if they were the raiders he could forfeit his life, leaving his sister to die because of his carelessness.

Unsure, he peeked around the broken gate and saw nothing. Crouching down he worked his way inside, and again saw nothing moving – hearing only the winds that were beginning to blow off the desert. With the amount of debris laying everywhere, and the remains of the buildings, visibility was poor. Plus it would be easy to step on something that would make noise giving away his position and alert anyone who was here. This also gave any who could be here plenty of places to hide making it doubly difficult to confirm the ruins were empty or if there were raiders here. Still, as with the ones he had followed, all seemed normal, well as normal as it could under the circumstances.

Taking another deep breath he stood up, taking a chance, and began to sneak around the ruins. Even though all had changed because of the destruction, he still knew the general layout of the town. Slowly and with care he searched out the site and with the sun reaching its zenith he was satisfied the place was empty. As far as he was concerned he had already spent too much time here, but felt he had no choice. Now it was time to find out if the caches had been found. So he headed for the one he knew finding that it had been ransacked. He had hoped it would still be safe, but he wasn’t surprised as it was the more visible of the two. Now if he could only locate the other one. The one by the minor gate, the cache he had never been shown.

* * *

Both siblings are in precarious situations. Neither know what any of the next moments will bring. Jay, worries that there are still scavengers around and has to be oh so very careful. While Elsa is trying to come to terms with her fragile condition, and this new place she finds herself in. Yet, they are unaware of Ed’s existence, and we, as the readers of this story, are unaware of what Ed has in store for Elsa. With the worlds of all three, in a sense, falling apart none of them really have a handle on their future. Next week we continue with part 2. Have a great week and be here for the continuing story from Unexpected, Unplanned, and into the Unknown. God Bless! (fdbrant.com)

The Past in the Present Seeing the Future, Part 8

As we follow the three characters to the conclusion of this episode, what is going to happen to them? Elsa is still fighting her personal demons, which is no surprise. While Ed has possibly, in his own mind, come up with a solution to the problems he’s a witness to. Still that language barrier is one that must come down if he’s to really understand all that is transpiring.

Jay is coming to the end of the desert and now must face what may be waiting for him back at the ruins. Since he has more than himself on his mind he must be careful. If it had only been him, then he possibly could take some chances. Yet, with Elsa depending on him those options are no longer on the table. (If this is your first time here, the story begins in the sidebar under April 2015, moves into May 2015, and finishes here.) And for your reading pleasure is part 8:

Elsa had been asleep, and while it was a troubled sleep with nightmares and demons attacking her, at least she felt she might be getting some rest. Although how she felt once she awoke seemed to contradict those thoughts. She felt tired, drug out, and always those dreams would stay through the twilight of waking up. Yet, as she slowly came back to reality something was different, something was wrong. With her sleep drugged mind she couldn’t seem to figure it out. It was dark with a soft glow of light, just enough for one to be able to see. Must still be night, she thought. She rolled over and drifted off once again.

It must have been hours later when she awoke with a start. Dark? But it’s never dark in here. She sat up with a start and looked around her. What happened to the light? There seemed to be light – soft light – coming from a couple of areas – just enough so that one could still move around the room and not trip over anything. She noticed that the room where those windows were located seemed to still have all its lights on, with the light shining brightly through the doorway.

She remained sitting up, still in the sleep sack and propped up by her arms. Carefully she slipped out, stood up and quickly looked around. She felt a foreboding rising inside of her. Why had the lights gone out, and was there someone here? That last thought scared her. She wasn’t close to being over what had happened to her in the recent past, and without her brother here to help her, she almost panicked. Her breathing became heavy, rapid, and she felt light-headed knowing she was hyperventilating, but couldn’t control her breathing at the moment. With the light-headedness she felt dizzy and leaned against one of the chairs, and quickly sat down. She didn’t need to fall down and possibly hurt herself.

Slowly through some effort she finally got her breathing under control. So far, as she continued to search the area, with her eyes, there seemed to be no other change. It was then she realized she needed to take a trip to the privy, but waited a little longer anyway. She wanted to be sure there was only she here. After a few additional minutes had passed and she had herself back in control she got up and headed into the privy only to be blinded by the bright light when it came on. Again, like her brother, this was like magic. Neither of them could figure why the lights came on and turned off when someone moved or stopped moving.

While there she thought about her brief trip out, well not out in the desert since she only went as far as the natural tank. It was just as Jay had described, and he had explained it was the reason he was still alive. Still he had mentioned hearing running water, but try as she may all she could hear were the winds blowing through the holes in the walls. So whatever it was he had heard either quit, or he had mistaken the sound. She could feel the heat from the desert when she headed towards one of the many cracks. She also remembered Jay warning her about a danger ahead so she decided to leave her explorations to just this tank, and headed back inside the building. She would let Jay show her the danger instead of blundering into it and it possibly leading to her death.

There were so many things about this place, this building under the ground that was beyond her understanding. And it wasn’t just the way the lights here in the privy turned on and off by her moving. It was the magic way the water appeared in those basins, and a privy with water in it was a surprise. But what was even more shocking was the fact that when one was finished, and got up to pull one’s pants up the thing automatically removed the waste and new water was replaced. Again how it was accomplished was something she might never understand, but appreciated. Those privies back home could get quite ripe in the summer heat.

She went over to the basins and washed her hands, leaned on the basin and stared into the mirror. Even this was better than anything they had back home. The richest of the members of the community didn’t have ones this good. And the room had a large number of them as if they were common. And since she had been allowed in the other side she knew they were there also. Who were the people who had built this place? While she, being female, really never involved herself with this kind of stuff, she did like looking at the way things were put together. And as such she paid attention to the little details and things that were pleasing to her eyes. And while this place had an impersonal feel to it, there were so many mysteries, and so much that spoke of the fact that whoever built this place hadn’t any problems or issues. In other words it was a common everyday building, with nothing special or extraordinary about it. And everywhere she looked what she saw stated that this was so far beyond what they could do, making in her mind, her feel like some god or super being had come down and with little or no effort created this place.

* * *

It was almost dark on the second day, and Jay had been pushing and making good time. Every time he would stop and take a break it he would build a marker. He had no idea if he would be able to locate them on his way back, but he hoped so. With his plan developing since he left Helms Deep he knew he was going to come out of the desert south of the town, and then work his way from the backside, kind of picking up the same trail he had used when he left to climb the peaks. For now that part of his life, that time seemed to be in the distant past, and had no real meaning, being trivial with what had transpired since. Had it been his life desire to do such a thing? Now it felt like it was shallow or something that had no meaning at all.

No full moon tonight. Yet, even without it the desert seems to almost have its own light. So if I’m careful I should be able to make a few more miles before I have to call it. I think by doing that then tomorrow I should be in the foothills. I really hope so because this means I’m going to be away at least 5 days if not more and I don’t want to leave Elsa alone any longer than necessary. Still there was nothing he could do about it, nothing at all. He grabbed a piece of jerky and continued to push. Soon, very soon, he would have to be careful, but now he wasn’t worried about being seen – tomorrow yes, tonight no.

 

It was now late on the third day and he was overlooking the village. From his vantage point he really couldn’t tell if anybody was still there or not. The fires had died out a long time ago and if one didn’t know better this could be just another ordinary day. He couldn’t see the gate into the town from here so it wouldn’t be obvious. If one saw what was left of the gate then immediately it would scream danger. He thought he could hear some rattling going on like someone had kicked a broken pot or pan. But this could as easily be some animal scrounging for some tidbit, or some scavenger picking over the corpses that lie inside of those walls.

He decided he would wait until dusk before moving closer. So he pulled back. The trail he used to get to where he was presently was one of the minor trails that took one to many of the towns and villages that hugged the desert. Most like his used the desert for protection, but sometimes it didn’t matter. The bad ones found these hidden places and the results were usually the same – total destruction and loss of life. There was a place he had found where he could pull back and be unseen by any that might travel this pathway, and as he was just heading into his hiding spot he heard the jangling of small bells, and voices. So he moved a bit faster and disappeared as a large caravan came into sight.

From what he could see, as they passed, it wasn’t one that would stop at their village, but head further north where it was rumored larger villages, towns, and things called cities existed. He could hear pieces of conversations, and saw the number of guards and outriders that protected what was being carried. He heard one saying that they might stop at his village for the night, but heard another say that they had a different stopping place in mind further to the north, with the other agreeing. Soon they were out of sight, and eventually even the sounds of their passing faded and were gone. They were never even aware he was there, which was fine with him. His problems were his own and he figured he wouldn’t get any help from them anyway.

It was getting close to dark, it was time to move closer and find out if the raiders were still here. So carefully he headed down the side trail off this main one and worked his way towards his hiding place in those caves he had adventures in when he was young. He figured that there was a good chance he would find a few diehards who wanted to strip anything of value that would be left, but didn’t expect to find most of the raiders. He suspected they had already moved on. Still a few would be more than he could handle. And with these thoughts he slipped into those caves and listened, but all he heard was the returning of the natural night sounds.

Once it was full on dark he snuck out of his hiding place and carefully moved to the trail heading into the village. It was easy to discern as it presented a lighter track to the darker edges where no one traveled. He quietly approached the broken gate and looked inside seeing a single fire glowing somewhere in the ruins. It did appear someone was still here. So quietly he withdrew and returned to his hiding place and waited out the night. In the growing light of dawn he would come back.

* * *

Taking a deep breath and holding it she slowly opened the door from the privy and stared out into a darkened room. She was night blind for the moment since the privy’s lights were bright. As she waited holding open the door the lights inside of the privy turned off making it even darker. It seemed like forever before her eyes adjusted to the gloom that now enveloped this place. If she were younger she knew her imagination would be running wild now. She’d be imagining all sorts of monsters and evil things hiding in the shadows. With those thoughts a chill ran through her body causing her to shrug, and shake it off. As she turned towards the light coming out of the doorway that led into the room that had the sign above the door stating, SECURITY, she began to breathe again.

She decided, since there was still light there that she would go ahead and go inside. If she went over the counter and back to those windows that allowed one to see other places maybe she could determine the time of day, and maybe figure out why there was no light here in the main space. So carefully, since she really couldn’t see very well, she made her way through the doorway, over the counter, and headed back to that room. As it had been every time she watched, nothing moved. Although, from the light she was seeing it had to be either early morning just before the sun rose, or just after sunset. From what little information they received neither she or her brother had been able to figure it out.

Shaking her head she thought. Now what? I can’t necessarily move in here. There’s no way out of here other than that one door. At least in the main area I can run back out into the desert if I have to, but here it’s a trap. She stood back up worked her way back down the hallway and leaned on the counter she and Jay were climbing over. What to do . . . what to do? It wasn’t that the dark frightened her, well, maybe a little. With what had happened to her in the recent past this darkness did send a little fear, a bit of anxiety her way. If one or a group of those raiders found this place it would too easy to sneak in unseen and do to her what they already have.

She remained frozen and deep in thought. Why had the light quit? After all it’s been with us day and night since we’ve been here. Why now? Why now that I’m alone? I’d feel much better if Jay was here to help figure this out. But he isn’t. Making a decision, she boosted herself over the counter and went back out into the darkness and waited for her eyes to adjust once again. It was then she noticed a new subtle light coming from an area where there shouldn’t be light. If she remembered right over there by that other counter, the one that had those signs that stated, NEXT WINDOW PLEASE, towards the end was nothing but a solid wall. So, were her eyes deceiving her, and the light was coming from behind that counter, or was it actually coming from the wall?

From where she was standing there was a wall between her and that location – more or less. From her present location the doors to the privies were on her left as well as that third door neither of them could open. Then there was the counter that paralleled the back or side wall. Between the two walls there was a slight additional depth added. A space if a door had been added to cover it would have made an excellent storage area. Both of them had been there a number of times and there was nothing on that wall at all. It was just a wall and nothing more.

She carefully worked her way past the privies and that locked door ending up at the counter and caught her breath. At this very moment her hands involuntarily came to her mouth as she stared. The wall was no longer there! How is this possible? She thought. There was a soft almost ethereal light coming through. So soft that it was almost invisible. Yet, at the same time bright enough to be able to see a pathway that went down. Not sure she stared. She was frozen and could feel her heart beating rapidly as well as her breathing becoming faster. What is this place? Where does this lead, and what happened to the wall that was here? All questions she had no answers to.

For the longest time she stood there undecided. Yet the longer she was there with nothing presenting any danger she slowly felt herself relax. As she did she felt some curiosity building. If this new space will stay open, maybe I can at least look a little way down that path and see if it is like the one into this place. Maybe I can learn something that will help us. After all neither of us knew this place existed, and now there appears to be more. With her mind made up, being quite nervous, and with trepidation, she slowly approached this open doorway, stopped and leaned on the framework and tried hard to see what lay ahead. Unfortunately, like the tunnel into the building where she was this one seemed to twist out of sight. The only way to find out was to continue.

So with care and trying to be as quiet as she could she crept down the tunnel to that first bend, briefly went around it, and heard the wall close behind her. Now panicked, she ran back shaking with fear, and she screamed when the way back to where she had been was now blocked.

* * *

From the security office Ed watched her reaction once he had closed the portal to The Deeps. It bothered him when he saw her reaction and fear. It wasn’t that he was interested in her as a female. He was far too old for such thoughts. It was more to do with wanting to help. Although it was obvious she didn’t know that. What to do . . . what to do?

* * *

And there you have it, the conclusion to, The Past in the Present, Seeing the Future. And since this is actually part of a forthcoming book, from the way this ends, you, as the reader know there’s more coming. We have Jay unaware of what’s happening back where he and his sister have been staying. We see that Ed has put his plan into action, and we find Elsa scared to death because she has no control over what’s happening to her once again. Next week we begin, Changes. Have a great week, and be here next Saturday for the beginning of the next episode. God Bless! (fdbrant.com)

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