Time of Isolation, Chapter 9, Part 2

Here is the USA we are celebrating Thanksgiving, and entering into the Christmas season. Every year since beginning this blog I’ve written a short story for the season, and have been posting links to these past stories in the weeks leading up to the celebration of Christmas. And this year will be no different. First off let me state that there are plenty of “feel good” stories out there. I know that for many that their stories are anything but pleasant or good. So my thoughts were to write the short stories from this other perspective. So don’t be surprised if they bring a tear to your eye. Still they are good stories, at least I think so, but I am after all the writer, and conclude on a high note. Recently I saw an animated adaption of The Match Girl, and it reflected much of the same atmosphere as these short stories. This one written for Thanksgiving is titled, Returning Home.

While I’ve written more for Christmas, I did write two, one for Thanksgiving, and one for Halloween. And this week I’ll be providing  a link back to this short story written in 2013. And yes, I’m presently writing a new short story for Christmas which will be presented Christmas day since it falls on Saturday, the day I normally post. So before reading this week’s post as we continue our tour through Time of Isolation, look back if  reading such a story appeals to you:  https://windmillsmetaphor4writing.wordpress.com/2013/11/30/returning-home/

And with November coming down to the wire, and I continue to have issues with The Harsh Lands. I’m close to final submission, but still are dealing with issues that might push the release back to early December. At this point I have everything together for the paperback release, but am dealing with issues for the EBook release. So once these issues are resolved then I can complete the submission process and have the novel available. Again when I have a firm date I will announce it here, as well as on Facebook, Twitter, and my webpage. Now on to this week’s post:

It is before dawn when the next two, who are up and heading out to explore and search for those elusive hot springs, leave. Saige is there to see them off, and wishes them luck. Their food supply is critically low and any of the teams heading out need to be successful in either locating these suspected hot springs, or find the  location where the herds have gone once winter arrived.

He watches until the two are out of sight, and remains outside watching the suns rise above the horizon. Eventually, chilled, since it is really  cold, he heads back inside. The team that has just left will be out two days, and it is here, after those two days, where we pick up part 2. (The Survival Trilogy: Time of Isolation, Desperate to Survive, and A Taste of History Past, plus soon to be released, The Harsh Lands, are/will be available from your favorite EBook retailer.):

The next two days flew by, and that truly was a surprise. But it had remained clear and cold, and from what they could see it might remain that way for at least a few more days allowing a couple of additional teams out. While not desperate he had the short supplies on his mind constantly trying to come up with some solution, and he knew that he was not the only one. It was to main topic of conversation anytime people got together to talk. They all realized their plight. He heard one of the women who was outside scream, and then heard her yell for Saar. The whole camp spilled outside to find out what had happened. Once outside they found Steen bloodied and broken, without Sojar. It was obvious from his condition that he barely made it back. Saar arrived and immediately took over the care and signaled for a few of the men to carry him in and place him by the fire. Steen’s breathing was ragged, and there was a slight froth on his lips. He was immediately placed by the fire, and then Saar did a quick examination while he ordered some items, and then he shooed everybody away saying that until he had a chance to really check the injuries that it would do none of them and especially Steen, any good to hang around. Turning around to leave Saige spied Sorrel and she was white as a ghost. Looking over at Shellian he saw that she was looking with concern at Steen and was about to leave. Going over to her he said. “I think you need to go talk with Sorrel. She looks really bad right now and I think she’s going to need some support.”

“What do you mean? She’s been really strong throughout this . . .” Turning and looking at Sorrel she said. “Oh . . . I see what you mean. Of course I’ll go comfort her.” She then left immediately and was at Sorrel’s side with her arm around her shoulders. She led her away and then out of sight. He knew that when she found out what was going on with Sorrel she would pass it on to him. Right now he needed to know what had happened out there, but knew that it would be some time before any answers would be forthcoming. He glanced over where Saar was working on Steen and then at Steen and realized that he was out cold. Shaking his head, he needed answers and he needed to know where Sojar was.

* * *

It was hours later when Saar came to see Saige. Shaking his head Saar said. “I tried to save him, but without my equipment that I had available in the city there just was no way. He had internal bleeding, and I think a broken rib had punctured one of his lungs. All I really could do was comfort him while he slipped away from me. It’s a miracle that he got back here at all.”

“Did he tell you anything at all? I’d really like to know what happened.”

“It was pretty garbled, but I think I got the jest of what he was trying to tell me. First off he said that it was their fault that it happened. Both of them got careless since they were getting close to the camp. I think that’s why he made it back. They were only less than a half-day’s hike and were eager to get back. He said that they didn’t find what they were sent to locate, but that there had been a great number of tracks from the grazers, which in his mind meant that they were on the move. Plus while he had to admit that he had coupled with Sorrel it had become plain as time had continued that she was favoring Sojar, and he her. So he thought that soon Sorrel would not be offering her body to anyone but Sojar. He said that they had stopped and had not considered where they had stopped since they had felt safe. Then like down below when that predator attacked us and missed, another one or maybe the same one attacked them and had grabbed Sojar, and at the same time it’s shoulder had hit him hard in the chest. He said all he got was a glimpse at the creature and it was huge. He said that it was gone and he heard Sojar screaming as the predator disappeared and suddenly the screams just stopped, and he knew that Sojar was dead. When he tried to get up he hurt everywhere, and he felt broken up inside. He knew that he was severely injured and was trying desperately to get back here to both get help, and to hopefully live. And that’s about it. After that he sort of just went back to sleep, and never woke up.”

Looking down at the small fire he had built, Saige thought. We’ve been so careful. We made it this far without any serious injuries or death, and winter is almost over. Now in one incident we lose two. I wonder if that predator was following the herds and saw the two of them. Heck all of this winter we haven’t even seen any sign of the beast. Other than the large tracks we found lower down we’ve never even seen one. Now what? “Thank you Saar. I know that you did the best you could.” Shaking his head he asked, “Why now? We have almost beaten our first winter here.” Then more softly more to himself than Saar he again asked. “Why now?”

“I know that you really aren’t asking me that, and even if you were I have no answers for you. I’ve been asking that question . . . what’s that?” He asked when there appeared to be a sound of approaching people. Their tone was ugly.

Schylar came over from the far side of the cave with eight others of the group. There was triumph written all over his face, and with a sneer he said. “We’ve put up with you, your sister, and you Saar, and even though Stone isn’t here he is included in this.” He then pointed to Seirra and said. “You, since you have been sweet on him can join them,” which she quietly did. Saige could see the fear in her eyes and realized what was coming down. Schylar had convinced the rest that it was time for a change in leadership and any who had been in the inner circle of the present leadership would have to go. “We’ve not liked the way you have been leading us for a long time. And now your leadership has caused the death of two of us, so we decided it was time for a change. In the morning the five of you will leave and never come back.”

Softly Saige said. “Don’t you mean that you’ve decided Schylar? It has been obvious all the way back when the city was first attacked that you did not like the way Shayne had done things. And he then proved to you that he was right. But even that did not sit right with you. It has been obvious from the beginning that you have wanted to be in charge. Isn’t that it?” He then looked over the rest that stood with him, giving them a hard stare.” He could tell they were uncomfortable with the action, but at the same time were unwilling to go against him. Then to the group he said. “So that’s the way it is.”

Schylar answered. “Yes Saige that’s the way it is. If I had my choice I would have put you out tonight to fend for yourself, but they convinced me to wait until morning. So at first light you will leave, and from that point on you will not return under threat of death. It’s just that simple.”

Saige knew that they were outnumbered even if four of the group were women carrying. But it would do no good to start a fight since it was obvious that sometime earlier that they had taken all of their weapons so that they were now unarmed. It would serve no purpose since Schylar had somehow convinced the rest that he would be a much better leader. So taking him down now would not change the feelings that had grown against them. “To prevent any others from getting hurt we will do as you demand.” Then turning to the rest again he said. “I really hope you know what you are doing. Because I think you are putting yourselves in a very bad situation.” Then turning back to Schylar he asked. “Are at least going to allow us our share of the food, and some of the weapons, or is that going to be denied also?”

Sneering again he said. “Of course, and that has already been done, and as far as I am concerned your getting more than you should. I would have put you out with nothing.”

Looking at him in pity now Saige said softly, “I’m sure you would, I’m sure you would. Anything to cement your power, and it would be easier just to kill us off, wouldn’t it?”

“Enough! Everything that needs to be said has been. We will see all of you out of the cave in the morning. Until then have a good night, your last in this cave.” He with the group who followed him turned to leave when Saige interrupted them once again.

“Sorrel,” He asked gently, “You can join us and leave in the morning. I believe you would do better this way – would you do that?” Looking closely at her he could see that she was still quite white. She didn’t say anything, but the accusations that he was responsible for the deaths were in her eyes. She just turned and left. He knew that Storme had been working on the other women, and there would be no help or mercy there.

Shortly Schylar with the rest turned and left them alone, but they knew not totally alone. They were sure that there would be someone spying on them all night. “I hadn’t realized that it had gone that far.” Saige stated. “Did any of you sense it at all?” They all looked at him and just shook their heads. Taking a deep breath he continued, “I guess we have no choice. So gather your gear and join me back here. I do not think it is a good idea to be apart tonight. Just because we have been promised that no one will be hurt or killed we cannot be sure of it. So from this point on we need to stay together. And that is everywhere including nature calls.”

When he had stated it, they realized that he was probably quite correct. That any one of them could become victims and their injuries or death could be chalked up as an accident. So quickly they went as a group to each of their sleeping areas, collecting Stone and then gathered their equipment and returned to the area where Saige and Shellian were. “This is such a big mistake.” Saar said. “I am the only doctor. Don’t they know what they are doing to themselves?”

“No doc, I don’t think so.” Stone answered. “But when someone like Schylar makes this type of move he believes he is so much better, but we know that they have just doomed themselves.”

“I know . . . it’s just that I took an oath to heal and protect life, and they have knowingly just thrown all that away. I worry about these women, but even more about their unborn children. Yet, they all have thrown in with him.” Then shaking his head he continued, “I just don’t understand . . . not at all.” None of the others had any answers to give him.

* * *

And with winter almost over, their world comes apart. The two sent out to explore is attacked by one of those lone predators who are rarely seen. The predator kills one outright and leaves the second mortally wounded. The second barely makes it back to the cave and before he dies he lets Saar know what happened and that it was their fault as they had gotten careless. Schylar uses this incident to overthrow the leaders, and with the backing of seven others with Sorrel on the sidelines, they allow the disposed leaders one more night before they and the ones who have worked with them will be cast out. And with this we close out part two: Have a great week, and God Bless! (www.fdbrant.com)


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