Time of Isolation, Chapter 4 Part 4

Will the ruse work? That’s the question on the mind of every surviving member of the scouting team. Their numbers have been whittled down to just a few. And even with what they have to work with there is no way an attack on these camped primitives can succeed. And time once again is a factor. Yes, for now they’ve evaded the patrols but they cannot count on their luck continuing. So with this plan of action they are putting all on the line in the hope that it works. If it doesn’t then it will all end here tragically with them being within sight of their present goal. (I guess as a writer I could have thrown a major twist and a plot change of direction here with a surprise failure of the scouting team and wipe them out. Then shift the whole storyline to the primitives, their satisfaction at stopping the ones who could reveal all, and begin to follow them as they continue their destruction of the cities. And in the process anger every reader out there.)

Each moment they remain stationary is one moment closer to discovery. Yet, at the same time, by remaining they are leaving no tracks or sign to their present location. So they listen for any changes, any sign that their misdirection will succeed. And it is here where we open the final part of chapter 4, (The trilogy is available from your favorite EBook retailer. They are titled: A Time of Isolation, Desperate to Survive, and A Taste of History Past.) And now the conclusion to chapter 4:

They continued to monitor the primitives’ camp and could now hear boisterous voices, laughter, and see general horseplay emanating from the camp. Then somewhere half way through the night it grew strangely quiet. Even the fires that burned within the camp boundaries seemed to be dying down, as if no one was attending them. Saige then sent down a scouting team to see what had transpired. In too short of time the scouts returned and the leader of the 3-man team reported back. “Saige, they are all dead.”

Turning around to their physician Saige asked. “How much stuff did you put in the alcohol anyway? Our goal was to knock them out not kill them, what happened?”

Saar, shrugging, had a perplexed look on his face said. “I really don’t know. While I made it a little stronger since they usually are a bit larger than us, I did not put enough in there to kill anybody. Other than that, I cannot explain what happened.”

“Nothing we can do about it now. Let’s move and I want two of you to take up the rear and wipe out our tracks approaching and leaving the camp so that there will be no evidence that we were even here. Let’s move! We’ve lost enough time and I for one am happy that the pursuers behind us have yet to catch up. Now be very quiet. If we are lucky it may be a few days before the bodies are discovered. Giving time for the wild animals to work over the camp, further confusing what happened here. If things go in our favor it may be that the deaths will be attributed to one of the tribes or clans that have not joined this leader, who, we do not even know anything about as of yet.”

Shortly they were working their way through the camp as it had been set up right across the trail leading out of the foothills into the mountains. There was a temptation to search the very silent camp, but moving on was much more important at this moment. Then once through and across the small stream they hid while the final two wiped out their tracks as best they could. In what seemed like an eternity they finally joined them. The plan was a simple one. Now that they were past one of the final obstacles, to push through the remaining portion of the night, then continue through the next day and finally rest the following night. It would be rough but they needed to be at the base or in the mountains by then. Saige looking around in the rising moonlight and then at his small band realized that they all looked like hell. They were dirty –

filthy really, and while so far they had gotten this far, there was a weariness that one could see in everyone’s eyes. There appeared to be gauntness in all of them also. They had prided themselves on being self-sufficient and were proud of the fact that they could do this better than any in the city. But now he was beginning to wonder if they had been fooling themselves. Now without the city to at least allow some support they were finding it much more difficult.

Of course they had been on the run since they had to abandon the city. So finding the time to actually gather anything had been impossible. Once they had to abandon their machines then the ability to manufacture any food or medicines were lost. So, as they got closer to the mountains, their present goal – and this had become their goal when their way had been cut off from reaching any of the remaining cities – their supplies were almost gone. Now they moved as quickly as the darkness would allow them, with scouts out in front, runners to each side and a trailer to confuse their back trail as best that could be done in the darkness. Tonight it would only be the small moon that would give them light. But it would not be much as he would have liked. But better than the darkness they were now working their way through. He was snapped back from what he was thinking about when one of the scouts had stopped the group. “What’s happening?” Saige asked.

“We are going through an area we know very little about – kind of blind here. There’s either a camp up ahead of us or maybe a village. We need a couple more to come with us so we can scout out what we are dealing with here, and if there is a way to go around without arousing suspicions.”

Signaling the rest to stop and rest for a moment and then looking down in thought before speaking Saige asked, “Tell me what you have seen? Was it a single fire or shelters or what? I’m just trying to get a size here. You know we are not in shape at all to fight. We have to run. But our food is all but gone and if there is an opportunity to add to our stores we may have to chance discovery.”

“I don’t think that’s a good idea. From what we saw they seemed to be on alert. I don’t know again if it is another patrol, part of this new alliance, or a clan that has not joined and is being harassed by the others. There is just no way to know.”

Shaking his head and sighing Saige said. “We have to know one way or the other.” Then pausing for a moment and thinking before speaking again he continued, “Okay, you’re probably right. Let’s scout it out and see what we face. But make it quick. We don’t know how long it will be before the bodies of that main patrol are discovered. I am hoping that it is long enough to hide any evidence of our passing.” Then signaling a couple of the other members of their group over to him he then said to them, “Join Staven and go scout out this camp and a safe way around. I need you all back in no more than 2 hours. That will put our time somewhere close to midnight. Again we need as much distance between them and us before sunrise. Now go and as always be very careful. Your discovery by this group could be the end of us all.” He watched them leave until they disappeared into the darkness. Now came the waiting, which seemed to be the most difficult. He signaled to the remainder to join him for a moment. And waiting until he was sure they all were there, he brought them up to date as what had been passed on to him by the scout. “Okay, we need to spread out, but keep close enough so that each can see another, and try and get a few moments of rest. We may be here up to two hours, but right now it seems unavoidable.” He watched them spread out among the underbrush, followed by small sounds of shuffling about, and then silence.

He must have fallen asleep – not a good thing, but the rest would help. It scared him that it had happened. It meant that he could have been taken and he would never have been the wiser. Yet something had awakened him. So carefully he looked around and shortly saw one of the scouts signaling him to come join him. Curious as to why the scout hadn’t joined him he carefully worked his way over to him. He saw it was Staven, “What is it that you have found, and why not come directly to me?”

“No time, will explain it all later. But need a couple of others right now to assist. We’ve kind of found a windfall but will need help.”

With a questioning look on his face Saige asked, “Windfall? What do you mean windfall?”

Quickly, Staven explained. “We’ve found a place where they have stashed some of their grains, and we need help to move a bit of it for our use. And don’t worry we are being very careful and covering up what we take so that it will not be obvious that we are taking anything.”

“Okay, but I think I am going to bring the whole group forward so that once we have what can be safely taken that we can immediately move on – just in case.” Turning around he signaled the closest to him to round up everyone and meet with him. He waited and then took a head count. In the dark it would so easy to miss someone and leave them behind. “We are going to follow Staven and he will lead us to a place where we will refill our depleted food stores. Once that is accomplished we must immediately move on.” Then turning back to Staven he said. “I guess this is some type of permanent settlement then.”

“Yup, it appears to be so. In fact there appears to be only one night watchman out and about if you want to call it that. We spotted him right off, and he’s staying pretty much in the light and actually looking into the fire that he is using to keep himself warm. It could be they aren’t bothered too much as of yet, which is different than we first thought.”

“Let’s hope he stays that way, or that we are gone before he is replaced with someone who is more alert. We really do need something to break our way for once.”

* * *

Shock and surprise. What actually transpired is completely unexpected, and their medical person has no explanation as to why. Still they cannot stay, and carefully move through the silent dead camp, and what they consider their final obstacle preventing their entry into the Sacred Mountains. This goal as the only solution for now, since they originally needed to get the information out to the surviving cities, but were unsuccessful. Yet we end on a high note with the possibility for the scouts to refill their depleted stocks. Next week we take a break from the novel as I present a post titled, Fiction verses Reality. Have a great week and God Bless! (www.fdbrant.com)

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