Time of Isolation, Chapter 9, Part 1

Two weeks ago we left the team with additional problems coming to light. They are running out of food. With this knowledge it changes the direction of the team as the leaders now must focus on finding additional sources of food. During this period we find Saige standing at the entrance contemplating all that’s happening when he hears someone approach. Believing it to be his sister he begins to make a comment and realizes that the person approaching is Seirra and not Shellian.

There is a brief conversation between the two, followed with the first real physical contact. This leads to a revelation, and before either can respond a rather loud argument is heard between some of the women. Saige breaks contact with Seirra and heads to the source and with help from Shellian breaks it up. But there are accusations flung about, and conclusions made that have no basis in fact. And with the argument over we end chapter 8. (The Survival Trilogy: Time of Isolation, Desperate to Survive, A Taste of History Past, and soon to be released, the novel The Harsh Lands, are/will be available from your favorite EBook retailer) And with this introduction and refresher we move on to the beginning of chapter 9:

Seirra sighed as she looked across the cave to where Saige, Shellian, Stone, and Saar were in deep conversation. It was at least seven days ago when the two of them had finally made the first physical contact, and Saige had briefly let down his guard. Then came that fight and since then he had avoided her. When he had held her it just felt natural and good and when he had the physical reaction to her closeness it had surprised her. And when she looked up she could see the surprise in his face also. But even that felt right. Now he was cold and distant. She remembered what he had said and realized that it was something she hadn’t considered – that any leader was under the watchful eye of the group more than any other individual. So somehow she needed to find a way to move this relationship further along. The one thing she knew for sure, that after her first real physical touching of him, and then the way he and Shellian handled the situation afterwards, made her more determined that he and she should be a couple. But now with what had been revealed could it ever happen? She took a deep breath and continued to work the skin into clothing and was at a loss as to what to do next. She had to find a way . . . she just had to.

But she now also knew that it was obvious what her feelings for him were. Shaking her head she thought. If I could only have controlled my emotions and not have blushed like I did. And I know it had to be really bad since my face was hot both times. Now not only does he know but so does everybody. And while it was true they were not a couple and they had not slept together, from her reaction, the rest, even with the denial, could easily assume that she had. Again what could she do?

Glancing over briefly from their meeting Saige knew that he wasn’t being fair to Seirra, but he felt that right now he had to keep his distance to reinforce to the rest that there had been nothing going on between them. But the rumors of their relationship kept coming back. If only she hadn’t turned so red when the accusations were thrown out, he thought. But at least he now knew what Shellian had told him was quite true. No doubt that Seirra wanted to be with him. But for now it just couldn’t be. Turning back to the other three in the group he said. “Sorry, a little distracted, what was it that you asked?”

Shellian smiling back at him said, “Never mind dear brother. We can see that you are distracted, and you have been through much of what we have been discussing. So why don’t you just go over there and talk with her. It’s out in the open anyway. Not that anything has really happened between the two of you. But with the rumors and stories flying around here, the two of you have been coupling for quite a while. So why not just make those rumors come true? It was obvious to all that she really does have feelings for you. And your denial, while I know it is true, didn’t fly with the rest. No, I’m not talking about Stone or Saar who are our seconds here, but the remaining ten, well I don’t know if all of them do, but the majority appears to believe it. And Storme, with the encouragement of Schylar, is pushing it for all it’s worth.

“It’s obvious that Schylar is trying to drive a wedge between you and the rest. And while we all knew it, this is the first time he has come out in the open to push like this. If you think back to when the attack first came back at the city he was the one who was questioning Shayne. Of course Shayne had confronted him and made him go up and view that attack. But he has always been a pain, and he has always wanted to be the leader. Although I know that it would be a disaster if he led anyone.”

“Yeah”, Stone said, “he is the greatest of leaders in his own mind, that’s for sure. But it would scare me to death to have him in charge of anything. Incompetent really is too weak of a word, but it’s the one that comes to mind right now.”

“Anyway this is off the subject. We need to get our teams back out and locate that possible geyser area. It quit snowing about two days ago and so far the suns have been shining. But there has been no heat in them up here. So I am hoping that shortly it will warm enough to allow the next team out. Hmmm . . .” She said as she was looking at her notes. “It appears that Sojar and Steen are due to be the next exploration team out. So where do we need to send them? I know the information that we got from . . . ahhh . . . you know who, was pretty vague. But at least we know the general direction they had traveled since it is written in our logs. Of course this trip out is to try and locate those possible hot springs. If found and the grazers are there, then we can send in a hunting team. Any that we have sent out so far have come back empty.”

“I think we probably should have them go out in the morning. We can’t wait very much longer. Food isn’t an issue yet, but from what we have discovered it will be soon and I don’t want us to reach that point. Do any of you have any better ideas?” Saige asked

Pausing a moment, Saar asked, “So how long should they be out before reporting back in?”

“Good question. It seems to me that we were running one-day explorations at the time, so I would guess two days only.” Looking around at the others Saige asked, “Does that sound good?” He looked around at the other three once again and they nodded their heads in agreement. “Okay with that solved what do we do with this deteriorating situation here in the cave?”

* * *

With it announced at the supper meal, Sojar and Steen prepared their supplies to leave at first light. Looking around at the rest of the group Saige could see suspicion on many of the faces. Shaking his head, he really had no idea how to defuse the growing animosity against both he and Shellian. Yet somehow it had to be done if they were to stay together. Again shaking his head he wondered if maybe it would be easier to just let the team fall apart. But he immediately put that thought out of his mind. Shayne had trusted the two of them to keep them together, and no one said it would be easy. He knew that there was only so much one could do when trapped within a cave for this long winter. So it gave time for such rumors to fly, to build, and to be believed. It did not matter that there was no truth, if repeated often enough, they took on a life of their own and became the truth. So he knew that for the present that he could not, would not, make any move to reinforce these rumors. That left Seirra out in the cold so to speak, and he hoped that she understood why he had to do this for now. With the coming of spring and the work that spring would entail he felt that much of this would just flow away as the ice did when the spring rains hit – something about busy hands, if he remembered correctly. Tired he decided to go to sleep. While there may have been idle time for many there had been none for him and he had to admit he was tired. Tomorrow would bring a whole new set of problems, and they hadn’t cleared the ones from today. Oh well, he thought, tomorrow is another day.

 

He was up before dawn to give last minute instructions to the outgoing two. Pointing out on their rough map he made sure that they knew to cover some of the earlier explored areas. They had to find where the grazers spent the winter. Standing outside the cave in the cold morning air with their breaths coming out like smoke, created by the crisp clear air, he watched them until they were out of sight. It would be two days before they returned. Then it would be time to put out the next team. So far they had been lucky. Other than the incident of falling into that old lava tube there had been no serious injuries. All he could do was hope that with winter nearing its end that it would remain that way. This first winter here in the mountains had been rough. They barely had time to prepare for it, and now with winter still upon them, they were beginning to pay the price of insufficient preparation. Even though it was very cold out, for the moment, it really felt great to be out and in the fresh air. It helped clear his mind, and since the cave had been closed up it had begun to take on an odor all its own. And it was not the best of smells, but he found that one got used to it. It was only when one came out into the fresh air did one really realize how bad it had gotten inside the cave. One thing for sure when spring came, there would have to be a major cleaning and airing out. Right now it stank of bodies not bathing enough, urine, dirty clothing, smoke, and who knew how many other things. So lingering outside to watch the suns rise over the horizon, he finally chilled enough that he needed to go back in to get warm.

* * *

For Seirra that brief physical contact only confirmed her desire to be with Saige. Still with the situation as it is, he has since kept his distance. With the confrontation over, and the resulting conversation with the verbal combatants and the leaders she’s learned things she hadn’t been aware of and now has a better understanding as to the whys. It doesn’t make it any easier.

For the  leaders they have to make decisions that affects everybody, and with a decision made, they decide to extend the time away for the ones out exploring, and searching for that elusive food source.  Being responsible Saige is at the entrance as the two prepare to leave. With last minute instructions he watches them until they are out of sight. He finds the cold crisp air refreshing, before the chill drives him back inside. And with this we close out part one. Have a great week, and God  Bless! (www.fdbrant.com)

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