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LJ Idol Week 3: Brushback Pitch

She stormed off angrily after him. She would not hold back this time. He was so irritating. She found him when he already had a cigarette lit.

"You know what your problem is?" she asked, fuming.

"Can you not bother me when I'm on my smoke break?" he replied.

"You are a SLAVE DRIVER. You show up whenever, you're always behind and then bust my ass trying to catch up. I'm so sick of it!"

"Maybe you're the only one who doesn't get along with me, so instead of blaming me, try taking a look at yourself..." his words cut off as a shrill whistle erupted and suddenly everything was in flames. The explosion was overwhelming and it threw them back about 10 feet into the air. Their office building was aflame, the next door quickie mart was in rubble and somehow they had survived. She sat up to crawl to him.

"Are you ok?" She asked when he sat up himself.

"Yeah... um... I think we need to go." They quickly got up. He hesitated for a second. "Do you need a ride?"

"That would be nice," she replied. They got into his truck and sped off.

"I don't think we should take any of the big roads," he mumbled. All around them people were on the streets, many in hysterics wondering what was happening. Maybe it was the apocalypse. He turned on the radio to find it in silence. Things were still exploding in the distance. Where was it coming from? Everything was on fire. Some houses were being destroyed, but whatever the attack was, it was centering on buildings.

Some streets were blocked with rubble, but he managed to get her home to find her apartment building in ruins. She didn't know where her husband was. He wasn't supposed to be home. "Maybe I should stay here..." she told him when she got out of his truck.

"I don't think that's safe," he replied.

"Ok what should I do then?" she asked.

He was quiet for a few seconds before he replied, "just come with me."

"Where would we go?" she asked.

"Back to my house, to see if it's still there, and then we'd need to leave..." he replied. "This is some kind of attack, we can't stay here."

She wondered why he even wanted her to come with him. She didn't think he even liked her. He fulfilled his responsibility by taking her home, now that her home was destroyed, he could just have left her there. She had no where else to go but with her coworker to wherever it was he would take her. She climbed back into his truck. She had no choice.

They slowly and carefully made it to his house. It was still intact. Less people panicking on his street.

"Come in with me," he said, "you should help me pack."

She followed him through the house, into the garage. He handed her lamps, sleeping bags, ropes, other wilderness equipment she had not seen before. All it went in the back of his truck.

"Wow you're outfitted for the end of the world," she said.

"Sometimes I can be prepared," he replied. They went into the kitchen and piled up as many nonperishables as they could and took that back into the car too.

In 15 minutes they were ready to go. "We need to make like the Seminoles," he said before turning on the engine.

"What?"

"Do you know about the Seminole Wars?" he asked.

"No..."

"Ok well back in the 1800s when they were trying to send all the Indians to Oklahoma or wherever, the Seminoles refused to go. They just went further and further into the Everglades. The US military spent millions of dollars and thousands of soldiers to go in there and root out the Seminoles, but they weren't very successful. The Everglades can hide anyone, that's what they're good for."

"Is that where we're going? Into the Everglades."

"Yes."

She didn't really like the thought of that. Living out in the swamp. She remembered at least that he handed her mosquito repellent. She stared out the window as they headed down Alligator Alley. She turned around to find fire overcoming the city. The Everglades were clear to all sides. She guessed whatever it was, they didn't care to target the jungle.

He turned off on a dirt road. "I used to camp here with my kid a while back," he said. "It's a place to start." The dirt road ended and they stopped. Where he took them to wasn't even a camp site. "Let's go," he said, "We have a lot of walking to do. There are even more remote places out here... this is still too close." They packed the stuff into two large duffel bags. It was heavy and she doubted she could even walk one mile carrying that.

"Let's go?" he repeated, looking at her.

She sighed. "Ok, let's go." She made it for six miles and then asked to stop. "How much further do we have to walk?" she asked.

"A lot further. Do you know how big the Everglades are?"

"No," she looked pleadingly at him. "I don't think I can make it another six miles. It's so heavy."

He got up. "Then we walk until you collapse. It isn't safe here," he extended his arm to help her up.

She felt like crying. She was in the middle of a swamp with a drill sergeant who wanted her to die from exhaustion. She didn't complain anymore. It was useless. He didn't care. She took his hand, took the bag and continued to follow him, deeper and deeper into the jungle.

It was nightfall when they finally stopped. "We can stop here for the night," he announced. Strangler figs were on all sides of them as mosquitoes buzzed around. There were no Australian Pines out here to soak up the waters. "But tomorrow I think we have to go further..." He brought her the tent. "Do you know how to set this up?"

"I think so," she replied. Figures that when he stopped their exhausting trek he wanted to continue to work her.

"I'll start a fire," he said and began to look for kindling.

She went camping once... when she was a kid. She fiddled with the tent poles and began putting it up. She was actually rather proud of her work. She hoped that he wouldn't have more for her to do. She wanted to sleep and wake up and not find the world in ruins. Maybe that would happen. She found the fire burning when she stopped daydreaming. She was filled with mosquito bites... why had she not put on that repellent?

"Um... I have some Chef Boyardee" he said, handing her a can.

"Who over the age of 12 still eats this?" she asked.

He frowned. "It's better than starving."

They put the cans into a pot of boiling water over the fire. He'd managed to find some swamp water nearby. It was murky and brown. At least they wouldn't have to drink from it.

She found herself missing her husband. Maybe he was alive and he didn't know that she was. She didn't know what she was doing out in the middle of the Everglades with Kit Carson, eating gross raviolis. She began to sniffle as tears came down her face.

"Look, I'm doing my best..." he started.

"How about you stop thinking about yourself for just a second," she replied angrily. "I'm not upset at you, just the situation. I'm in the bug-infested swamp. I'm so exhausted and I don't know if any of my family is alive." She wiped her tears.

"But you're alive," he said quietly.

She looked at him. He was at least 10 years older than she was, but he looked older. He smoked and drank a lot and never wanted to take care of his health. He fiddled with a stick and drew shapes in the ground. It was moist and soft.

"I am..." she said reluctantly, "thank you for keeping me alive."

He looked at her for a second before looking back at the ground. "I forgot to pack my cigarettes..." he mumbled.

"I'm sure you'll be pleasant for the next few days," she sighed.

He shrugged. "I've done it before, it's not too bad."

"Listen, I wanna go to bed," she said getting up and taking out one of the sleeping bags. "My legs feel like they're about to fall off.

"Yeah..." he said, "we have a lot more walking to do tomorrow."

She crawled into the tent. It felt nice to lay down. They had brought a radio with them. She hoped out here they could pick up some station somewhere and it would tell them everything was ok. She closed her eyes. A minute later, she heard him come in and lay down.

"What do you think happened?" she asked sleepily.

"Who knows... we didn't see anything, no aircraft from the skies dropping bombs. Who knows where it came from. No country has that kind of technology."

"I think it was aliens."

"Aliens?" he repeated.

"What else could it be? They want to conquer earth to harvest its resources."

"I think you've watched too much sci-fi," he mumbled, but the thought didn't leave his mind. If it were aliens, they probably had advanced technology. They would be able to find them, but they first needed to know where to look. They had to go deeper into the Everglades, that was for certain.

"Alex?" she asked when he said nothing else.

"Yeah?" he replied.

"Do you think they'll find us out here?"

"It's going to be very hard for them to try, but we have to go deeper."

"Seminoles, right," she said.

"Good night," she finally said, stretching out. She couldn't stay awake anymore.

"Good night," he replied. He closed his eyes and drifted off to sleep. He was glad not to be alone, even if his companion was kind of whiny. He would still keep her safe. Tomorrow they had a lot more walking to do.

Comments

( 22 comments — Leave a comment )
ragnarok_08
Dec. 12th, 2016 08:05 pm (UTC)
This was really nicely done!!
majesticarky
Dec. 12th, 2016 08:06 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much! I had so much trouble with the prompt I wasn't sure if I could write anything. I'm still not sure if it fulfills the prompt, but I did my best.
dmousey
Dec. 13th, 2016 01:33 pm (UTC)
I'm so glad you didn't take a bye! This was fast! I like the concept. I wasn't sure where you were 'taking' us, but am pleased to find a) her boss is not a jerk b) that they're both still alive!
Hugs and peace~~~D
rayaso
Dec. 13th, 2016 02:58 pm (UTC)
Very enjoyable! Alligator and mosquito infested swamps or bombings and chaos -- tough choices.
baxaphobia
Dec. 13th, 2016 07:19 pm (UTC)
A good story. Not good choices for these two but at least her boss was not a total jerk and helped! Nicely done.
penpusher
Dec. 14th, 2016 04:31 am (UTC)
Really great beginning. One quick and minor correction: you probably meant, when talking about the Chef Boy-Ar-Dee - "Who OVER the age of 12 still eats this?" I love the fact that because she went out to complain to her boss, her life was saved, and that his life was spared because he was smoker!

Lots of fascinating ways for this to go!
majesticarky
Dec. 14th, 2016 04:38 am (UTC)
Oh no I didn't notice that! Thanks for pointing it out.
halfshellvenus
Dec. 15th, 2016 10:31 pm (UTC)
Aw, I'm wishing she'd left a note for her husband.

A little surprised at the POV switch at the end-- the story was all the female character's POV up to then.

Based on how far they hiked, I'd say her "slavedriver" comment was not at all off-base. Though at least he had good supplies! If he doesn't hike her to death first.


murielle
Dec. 18th, 2016 01:56 am (UTC)
This is full of the unexpected! A very enjoyable read. I'm partial to survivalist stories, so this was right up my alley. Will this be continued?
majesticarky
Dec. 20th, 2016 05:42 pm (UTC)
Hope so! I have most of the story planned in my head. I just usually don't like to extend story arcs in multiple weeks in Idol. I might make an exception for this one.
magazhchi
Dec. 18th, 2016 11:59 am (UTC)

This surely kept me hooked , I hope you get back to this world sometime soon.

tonithegreat
Dec. 18th, 2016 10:24 pm (UTC)
Very interesting concept! There's so much you can do with the Everglades and with the mystery. I enjoyed this.
uselesstinrelic
Dec. 18th, 2016 10:52 pm (UTC)
Well that was an unexpected twist early on!
sinnamongirl
Dec. 19th, 2016 12:11 am (UTC)
Nice! I hope you continue this story, I want to find out if it was aliens or not :)
mamas_minion
Dec. 20th, 2016 01:36 am (UTC)
I love the story, are we going to find out what it is that attacked?
marlawentmad
Dec. 20th, 2016 03:15 am (UTC)

I agree with everyone, what a twist early on; neatly done.

devilz_workshop
Dec. 20th, 2016 02:56 pm (UTC)
Well done. Waiting for the next installment of this.
eternal_ot
Dec. 20th, 2016 03:32 pm (UTC)
Cool take on the prompt. I liked your characters, there's a conflict between them which kept it interesting for me :) Looking forward to more from this world.
flipflop_diva
Dec. 20th, 2016 08:00 pm (UTC)
I definitely did not expect any of this when I started reading! Great hook, and I'm curious to see where it goes from here!
xlovebecomesher
Dec. 20th, 2016 08:53 pm (UTC)
I like your take on this prompt!
alycewilson
Dec. 20th, 2016 09:56 pm (UTC)
Nothing like an alien invasion to make folks come together!
aniron_iorhael
Dec. 20th, 2016 10:56 pm (UTC)
This has me quite intrigued for more.
( 22 comments — Leave a comment )