Thursday, February 28, 2013

FSF: Emptiness

Five Sentence Fiction, made possible by Lillie McFerrin, challenges you to pack a big narrative punch into a few sentences.  Are you up to the challenge?  This week's prompt is EMPTY.

If you haven't read previous installments in the "Unchained" story, you can read it from the beginning on this PAGE.

Chapter 21: Emptiness

Image courtesy of Victor Habbick
Ylana’s stomach twisted as she sat beside Nara on the beach, the moonless night bathing them in utter darkness.  Having cast the purple stone into the turbulent ocean, Ylana knew she’d never see it again, but the action satisfied Myrandia, the woman who might have otherwise killed them.

Unfortunately, casting the stone into the water also meant casting away her best hope for helping her people, leaving her with a nagging feeling of emptiness at her core.

“We’ll figure out another way,” Nara said softly, her voice carrying ever so slightly on the gentle breeze.  “If there’s anything life has taught me, you can get through any setback life throws at you if you don’t give up, and once we fulfill our promise to Myrandia, we’ll get back to fulfilling my promise to you.”

Go to Whispers in the Night

Wednesday, February 27, 2013


Today I gave myself the word REPLICATION.  Why?  I don't know.  The word just spoke to me this week.  Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I've been delving into the philosophy of identity this week, in part in preparation for my first post as the Weekend Philosopher.  I won't say more about that here, because I don't want to spoil anything for you!

The word led me to write this poem.  I could talk forever about why I wrote this, but Ill let the poetry speak for itself.


All the forms were signed,
informed consent obtained.
Not till the deed was done did I
wish that we’d refrained.

Unsettled by the sight,
unnerved by the implication,
of standing there before
such a perfect duplication.

I looked into my own eyes,
so much more than a mirror.
Never had I planned
to see things so clear.

She was me, yet not.
A different path before her lay.
Yet DNA and memories copied.
I yearned to cast her away.

I turned my gaze to steel,
though my heart still did leap.
Was I threatened by this duplicate?
Was my nature mine to keep?

Forever bound will I be
to this moment in time.
This reflection of myself resonates
with my features like a rhyme.

My reaction was revealing,
far more than I can defend.
So rooted in me was my identity,
my new lack of uniqueness did offend.

Curiosity led me here.
I didn’t foresee the complication
of standing toe to toe with her:
a person whole and real, yet a replication.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Express Yourself: Book Quotes

It's time once again for me to partake in the Express Yourself Weekly Meme. Jackie at Bouquet of Books and Dani at Entertaining Interests always have a good prompt for us, and this week is no exception.

Share a memorable book quote.

There are too many for me to even begin to compile a comprehensive list here, so I just grabbed a couple of books off my shelf.  These are books that I would highly recommend to anyone who loves a great story.

From the short story Teen Sniper, from the short story collection Emporium by Adam Johnson
"I don't puff up my shoulders or anything.  I want her to see the real me.  If she trains her lens on me, she'll know me, and she'll call.  If she calls, that means the LAPD is wrong, that empathy is real.  Even if Seema uses thermal, she'll see a kid who looks pretty skinny, but is glowing red as he walks into the blue-green of a relatively cold world."

From Stardust by Neil Gaiman
"'If you will not kiss me," asked Tristran, "will you marry me?'"

From American Gods by Neil Gaiman
'"Roadside attractions: people feel themselves being pulled to places where, in other parts of the world, they would recognize that part of themselves that is truly transcendent, and buy a hotdog and walk around, feeling satisfied on a level they cannot truly describe, and profoundly dissatisfied on a level beneath that.'"

From American Gods by Neil Gaiman
"If he did die, he thought, if he died right now, here on the tree, it would be worth it to have had this one, perfect, mad moment.
'Hey!' he shouted at the storm. 'Hey!  It's me!  I'm here!'"

Monday, February 25, 2013

Meeting With Illness Again

Whew!  I'm exhausted.  After overcoming a week of illness not long ago, another wave of sickness has hit our house, and this one was worse than the first.  My boys and I both have a killer cough, which is making it difficult for us to get a good night of sleep.

This is why I'm not sure what my other goals for the week are going to be.  I'll read and write when I can, but the family has to come first for now.

I can't wait for spring!  When spring comes, I want to go for long walks and take my kids to the park.  For now, I simply have to focus on getting myself and my family healthy again.  I hope you all have a good and productive week ahead of you!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Welcome to the Weekend Philosopher

I love philosophy, because I love thinking about problems that most people skim over to deal with more practical matters.  In addition to my B.A. in writing, I also have a B.A. in philosophy.  While I can't say I'm a philosopher, I can follow what a philosopher says (at least most of the time).  In college, I wrote some fine philosophical papers.  I love to argue a point, and that love of arguing served me well.

Blogspiration is over, and I felt like I should try something that would still allow me to contemplate deep questions about life.  They may not all be uplifting, but I hope to at least inspire  serious thought.

Now, like my badge says, I'm attempting to adopt the title of The Weekend Philosopher.  The rest of the time I'll be a writer, a mother, a wife, and a full time lunatic.  Still, once per weekend (the day itself depending on when I can spare the time to wax philosophical) I'll put on my philosopher's cap and ponder something.  It may be a quote, an issue in the real world, or anything else that gets the wheels in my head spinning in an interesting way.

I'll start next weekend with my philosophical meanderings.  I hope you'll stop by to hear what I have to say!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Celebrate the Small Things-Week 6

It's time to once again join VikLit once again in her mission to Celebrate the Small Things.  Not matter what's happened in your life in the last week, nothing is too small to celebrate.

The most exciting thing to happen this week in fact happened to my husband. He learned that he's getting a promotion, and as a result, he'll also be getting a raise. No, we're not going to be rich yet, but that's okay.  I'm so happy for him, and I know he deserves it.  Yay!

Also, we got to take a break from our parenting duties for six hours this week. We got to go to see the movie Warm Bodies, and we went out to eat.  It was nice to just get out and have a date night.  I love going out with the kids in tow, but no matter how much you love them, you still need a little alone time to maintain your sanity.

I also got to spend part of this week reading about the philosophy of Doctor Who.  As a science fiction geek who also holds a B.A. in philosophy, this is an amazing thing to have!

What do you want to celebrate?

Memoirs From the End of the World: Entry #25

It's time for another Friday installment of RC's story.  For those who've missed prior entries, you can find the entire story on this PAGE.

Memoirs From the End of the World
Entry #25

RC sat alone on the chilled porch of their current home.  Not that she thought of it as home in any traditional sense.  The fact that she shared this dwelling space with her fellow strays was about the closest to home she could manage.

This porch was a sorry sight to behold.  Fully enclosed, it provided some shelter from the elements, as well as some kind of shield from the prying eyes of anyone who might happen by.  The storm windows, cracked and filthy, drew attention to the structure’s disuse.  Yet it also allowed enough light to spill through and onto Romero’s exposed pages.  She balanced him in her lap, trying to drudge up the right words to express all that she was feeling.

Dear Romero,

The pen hovered over the page, motionless for many moments while RC tried to move beyond those perfunctory first words.

I won’t lie to you.  I don’t want to go back there, though I understand why we have to do this.  We go to bed a little hungrier each night.  Maybe we are just in a bad patch of town, and maybe if we moved just a little in one direction, we’d stumble across a huge stockpile of food.

Unfortunately, with so many mouths to feed, we can’t take the chance of waiting and hoping.

She paused again, filled with shame about what she felt at that moment.  Should she confess this unpleasant, spiteful thought as well?  She did intend to be honest when she started writing in this diary, but putting words to paper meant someone could eventually see it.

Don’t be a coward, RC scolded herself.  If you can’t be honest here, what’s the point of even writing in here in the first place?

If I were on my own right now, I’d be doing just fine in terms of food.  I wouldn’t need to risk my life like this.  It might be wrong, but there are times when these thoughts make me angry at the people around me.  I almost resent them.


When I start to feel bitter, I remember that I was once so desperate for human contact that I named my diary.  (Sorry Romero, you’ve been great, but you are, at the end of the day, incapable of responding to me.)  I remember that I didn’t have anyone to watch my back.  I didn’t have anyone to give me a much needed hug at the end of a long day.

Even with all the drawbacks to being part of a larger group, I know I can’t leave them.  Isabel is living proof of how bad things could be, and yet she still managed to make a place for herself here.  After a few weeks with us, she’s even started to smile and crack jokes.  Her strength reminds me that I can also stay sane if I work at it.

Ollie’s been more pleasant too.  Since recovering from his illness, he’s ceased making any kind of play for me.  He even apologized for his bad behavior.  I do wonder how much that apology has to do with Isabel’s arrival, though she certainly hasn’t expressed any romantic interest in him.  Not that I know of, at least.

As for Alyx,

RC stopped abruptly.  She nervously bit the end of the pen as she considered what the truth here might be.  So much of their time together consisted of struggling to survive.  They gathered, they cooked meals, they took the time to tend to the needs of the others.  And yet, late at night after everyone else went to sleep, he was her greatest source of comfort.  He’d put his arms around her and together they would fill the hours with personal stories and aspirations.  RC didn’t feel comfortable talking about the future she feared she wouldn’t have with anyone else, but while alone with Alyx, it felt okay.

She pressed her pen to paper once more.

. . . I think I might love him.  I’m not sure, because I’ve never felt anything like this before.

That’s part of why this mission is so scary for me.  It’ll just be me, Alyx, and Ollie.  (Isabel’s staying behind to look after the kids.  She said right up front that she wouldn’t, under any circumstances, go back to that house.  I honestly can’t blame her for that.)  I know Alyx.  He’ll do anything he can to protect both of us.  If anything happens to him

No, I won’t think about that.  I can’t think about that.  If we’re going to do what we need to do to survive, I can’t worry about what might happen until it actually does happen.

“It’s almost time to go.”

RC looked up to see Alyx standing in the doorway.  She admired his long dark hair, which he’d tied back in a ponytail.  Everyone had long hair at this point, but she thought his hair, being so smooth and soft, was perfect the way it was.

“I know.”  She quickly signed a quick farewell to Romero and shoved him into her backpack.  Then she stood and looked at him for a long moment.  The emotions she’d worked up with her fruitless worries tugged at her.

If anything happens to him . . .  That infernal thought wouldn’t leave her mind.  Before she could stop herself, she’d closed the distance between them and firmly pushed him against the frosty wall.  She had to stand on her tiptoes to kiss him properly, because this wasn’t going to be any normal kiss.  This kiss was fueled by all of her fears, desires, and doubts about the world, all rolled up into one feverish emotion she couldn’t quite identify.  And soon he was returning the kiss with the same fervor, his arms pulling her tight against his body, a welcome warmth flooding through her.

When she pulled away, she felt slightly unsteady.  Looking into his eyes, she whispered, “Just in case.”

Go to Entry #26

Thursday, February 21, 2013

FSF: An Abandoned House

Five Sentence Fiction, made possible by Lillie McFerrin, challenges you to pack a fictional punch in a mere five sentences.  Weekly prompts are given as inspiration.

This week's prompt: ABANDONED

For those who've missed any chapters in the "Unchained" saga, you can find the entire story HERE.

Chapter 20: An Abandoned House

Ylana looked back at the woman in open-mouthed awe, frozen in place by the implications of all she’d learned.

Image courtesy of Pixomar
Nara stood and gestured to the rest of the woman’s house, which was nothing more than sagging beams, rotting wood, and disintegrating brick, and therefore scarcely suitable for human habitation.  “Is this so much better,” she began, meeting the woman’s cold gaze head-on, “living in an abandoned house to escape detection, living in constant fear of your ex-husband finding you or of authorities tracing all those dead bodies back to you?”

Seeing what her friend was trying to do, Ylana sat up straight as a faint spark of hope came to life inside her.

“And what would you propose I do differently?” the woman inquired, a hint of intrigue coloring her words.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Level Up! Blogfest

Jamie Gibbs at Mithril Wisdom and Allison at Geek Banter are hosting the Level Up! Blogfest.  The object of this blogfest is simple.  In Allison's words: 
Share your favourite game with us! It can be a video game, a board game, a party game, a card game, a childhood playground game--you name it. Let us know how it works and why you love it. 
So, I know I'm only technically supposed to talk about one game, but I love so many board games that it's ridiculous!  I'll briefly mention three of them that have been important to me over the years.
Three of my favorite games.
The first game is Parcheesi (or Pachisi).  I've seen the name spelled both ways. This board game is simple but fun.  You roll to get your pieces out of start, and the goal is to get all four men around the board and to the home space first. You can kill your opponents and take bonus spaces as a result.  It can be a cutthroat game, especially when people set up blockades to prevent you from moving. Believe me, it gets frustrating after you spend ten immobilized because of your fellow players.  Still, that's half the fun.

This game is important to me because I grew up playing this game with my parents, especially on New Years Eve.  Some families party on New Years Eve. We played board games and ate a ton of snacks.

The Pachisi board my dad bought me
for my 22nd birthday.
Another staple of New Years Eve fun was dominoes.  I love the versatility of dominoes.  You can build with them.  You can line them up and demonstrate the Domino Effect to your drunk friends.  My family usually played Matador or Mexican Train.  You can go HERE to find the rules to those games as well as many other games you can play with dominoes.

One of a few sets of dominoes I own.
You can only play Matador with double six
This last game I play more nowadays than I did as a kid.  My husband and I have really gotten into playing Trivial Pursuit lately.  The object of the game is simple. Most versions of the game have six categories: Arts & Literature, Science & Nature, Geography, History, Sports & Leisure, and Entertainment.  In order to win, you need to correctly answer a question from each of these categories and collect the corresponding wedge. I'll admit it's cool (at least for me) that the pieces of this game look like miniature pies.  Colorful miniature pies!  I also love trivia.  I love knowledge-based games.  They make me think.

Though, most importantly, I love this game because it's a good way for me to spend quality time with my husband.

One of our Trivial Pursuit Games,
along with our Trivial Pursuit book containing
thousands of extra questions.
What games do you love to play?

A Moment of Introspection

I decided to once again use a random word generator to provide me with a few words to use for inspiration. I created a Wordle with those words, then used the words to write a little something.

I hope you enjoy!

A Moment of Introspection

If you have a moment to spare, I have some things to say.  If you’ll give me a moment to speak my mind, I’ll soon send you on your way.

Today this correspondence will reflect
 the battle waged inside my head.
The confusion of it all has left my vision fuzzy,
and my heart filled with dread.
I often wish I could feel the certainty
so many others seem to grasp.
Yet my instinct compels me to question all,
leaving me nothing solid to grasp.

Open-mindedness and inquisitiveness are good qualities, I’m told.  I believe that too.  Then again, there are times when it might be easier to tune out . . .

I say:
Bed me down in green pastures,
and let me slumber long.
When I wake, let me filter all I see
and keep only what makes me strong.
Tending to my wounds, let me learn
how to avoid them evermore.
By shutting out the poisonous and the vile,
may my sense of peace be restored.”

Unfortunately, ignoring the bad only allows it to flourish.

Life doesn’t work that way, I know.
Good and bad go hand in hand.
Destructive people raze the world
for reasons I’ll never understand.
The way my pleas go unanswered
is telling, to be quite blunt.
If I want answers, I must seek them,
and injustices, I must confront.

I’m struck by the beauty of quiet moments when a human being reaches out to another who is suffering.  Something wonderful is added to the world, and seeing this, I know who I must be.

There may be a lot that I don’t know,
but this much I hold to be true.
We are all children of the same world,
a tiny marble of green and blue.
Our atoms forged in the hearts of stars,
we have within us a brilliant light.
Let us band together and banish horrors
that keep us awake at night.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

She Said What?!

It's time for the She Said What Blog-O-Versary Bloghop!  This fun exercise in creativity is brought to us by Elise Fallson and Michelle at Writer-in-Transit. We've been challenged to caption a cartoon provided by our hosts.  There is even a list of bonus words you can incorporate into your cartoon as an additional challenge.

Bonus words: twist, cheek, buzz, honour, grey, champagne, tango, vomit

I can't refuse a challenge, so I incorporated all of the bonus words.  They're written in red so you can easily see how I chose to use them.  I think my cartoon is rather silly, but that's the whole point, right?


Panel 1

M(in balloon): Come on, it takes two to tango!  We can't dance if we don't get to the contest on time!

E: Hey, don't get your knickers in a twist!  I'm hurrying!

Panel 2

E: Oh, I think I'm going to vomit! Everything in my body is going into reverse!

M: Speaking of knickers, I can see yours from here!  Were they always grey, or do they need to be washed? People might see those while you're twirling around on the dance floor.

Panel 3

V: There's a dragon, ladies!
     Never fear, V is on the way,
     ready to save the day!
  Handsome, honest, strong as a steed,
    I am honour-bound to help those in need!
Panel 4

V: Egads!  The sun has gone out!

Panel 5 

M: That figures.  I spent an hour making sure my hair looked just right, and I'm about to plunge into a lake!

Panel 6

E: Wow!  That gave me a buzz!  I have a leech on my cheek, but  at least the blood will match my outfit!

M: That was more fun than the last dance contest when they replaced the water in the cooler with champagne!

Panel 7

Dragon: V, you need to stop using me as your wingman.  This is the ninth time your scheme has failed.

M: Come on E!  The dance is this way!

Express Yourself: Favorite Love Scene

Jackie at Bouquet of Books and Dani at Entertaining Interests would like to know more about their favorite bloggers.  This week they want to know about your favorite love scene from a book or movie.

I enjoy love scenes of all kinds.  Yet, one scene from one film best exemplifies love of all kinds, at least for me.  That movie is Deep Impact.  It's an all around great movie, and it will probably always be one of my favorites.

However, the entire final act is full of love and touching moments in addition to the action.  An astronaut who was blinded in the course of trying to save the world says good-bye to the newborn son he'll never get to meet.

Leo goes back for his young wife Sarah, who was stuck with her family on a jam-packed freeway in a hopeless attempt to get away from the tsunami they know will come just after impact.  She says a tearful good-bye to her parents, and with her infant sibling in tow, the three of them ride off on a motorbike in search of high ground.

Remaining behind, Sarah's parents stay together until the end.  They know they will die, but they're together and they know their children have a chance at survival.  This knowledge brings them a sense of peace as they wait for the end to come.

Jenny Lerner, who gave up her chance at survival for a mother and her young daughter, goes instead to find her father.  They reconcile before the wave hits.  They die, but not before dealing with the things that are really important.

After finding safety on higher ground, we see Leo, Sarah, and the baby.  They are young, scared, and facing a world of uncertainty, but you can see plenty of love and hope in this moment.  Everyone has suffered losses, but those losses also bind the survivors together.

Now, let me end this post with speech that brings the film to a satisfactory close. Yes, I know this part isn't a love scene, but it's Morgan Freeman and it's awesome! That's good enough reason for me to use it.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Some Geekdom to Start Out My Week

My husband and I got to go to the movies and out to dinner this weekend.  It was a lot of fun.  We saw Warm Bodies.  Whoever would have thought you could have a movie about romance between a human and a zombie?  Vampires may be dead in a technical sense, but they don't rot.  Zombies rot.  Even so, I quite enjoyed the movie and I'm glad I got a chance to see it.  This story is obviously a twist of Romeo and Juliet, complete with similar names and a balcony scene.  Yet, it's also quite unique in many ways, and well done (at least in my opinion).  I also know it's based on a book, which I may have to add to my TBR pile.

After the movie, we stopped by a bookstore and picked up a couple of gems. This first one is something that my husband and I both knew we needed to get.

We play Trivial Pursuit all the time, and we've memorized so many of the questions from all the versions of the game we own that we had to turn to a new source of trivia.  So here it is.  We played last night, and it was nice to have a whole new batch of questions we'd never seen before.  How long this book will last us, it's hard to say.

This second one is for me.  I love debating philosophy, and I love watching Doctor Who!  How could I pass this one up?  I've already read a couple of the essays in this book, and I'm loving it!

Wherever my muse takes me this week, I have no doubt it will be inspired by the geekdom mentioned in this post!  I could scream so loud with excitement that I might bring down the house.  So I'll put this here instead.

funny gifs
From GifBin

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Blogspiration 39: Exploration

Blogspiration is a weekly meme hosted by GrowingUp YA & Saz101. The meme was created to help spark inspiration among bloggers, readers & writers alike. An inspirational quote/picture/video is posted weekly, on the day of the author’s choosing, so that it may inspire creativity, conversation & just a little SOMETHING.

This is the last week for Blogspiration.  Thanks to the awesome hosts who made this possible!  I'd also like to thank everyone who got involved with this meme, because you all contributed something special.

Though this is the end of Blogspiration, I think I'll still try to post something inspiring each week, simply because it helps me to boost my own spirits when I begin to feel frustrated.

For this post, I wanted to address the topic of exploration.  Humans are explorers by nature.  The urge to explore and understand motivates scientists to do what they do. There's a sense of wonder in this process.  I enjoy seeing the wonder of discovery in the eyes of my children when they see something for the first time.  Even as adults, we need not lose that sense of wonder.

From Quasars to Quarks
Facebook page.

Scientists push toward new frontiers of understanding, but this is not the only way to gain new insights.  As a writer, I feel I go through a similar process. Writing emboldens me to see things that I may never get the chance to see in real life.  It allows me to experience things I'll never know.  Through my writing, I get to ask questions and seek out the answer through word play.

From Fantasy and Sci-Fi Rocks My World
Facebook Page

I hope I never lose my thirst for exploration.  Without that thirst to know and be more, we could never grow.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Celebrate the Small Things-Week 5

VikLit over at Scribblings of an Aspiring Author calls us to Celebrate the Small Things every Friday.  So here I am!  Let's celebrate!

Yesterday, I got a lot of great comments about my short piece "A Drink in the Sun."  It's the first story I've ever written about vampires, and I tried to give it a twist that makes it fit in with the stories I love to write.  Your supportive and encouraging comments made me feel really good about myself.  Blogging buddies are some of the best friends an aspiring author can have!

My 3 year old son got sick this week, but now he's back to his normal, overly-energetic self.  That too is something worth celebrating!  Having a sick child in the house is never a good thing.  I got sick this week too, but I think I'm starting to get over it as well.  The worst I had was a sore throat, and it's not as bad as it was.  My youngest child didn't get anything worse than a little cold as a result of all the illness that's been circulating around our house, so I'm glad about that.

I'm looking forward to finding a little way to celebrate Valentine's Day with my husband this weekend.  He may have to work tomorrow.  Still not sure about that.  Either way, we'll find some little way to celebrate, even if it's something small.  Hey, as this meme shows us, the small things are worth celebrating!  By extension, little celebrations can be just as nice as big ones!

What small things do you want to celebrate?

Memoirs From the End of the World: Entry #24

It's Friday and time for the next chapter in the story of RC and Alyx.  For those who have missed any prior installments, you can find the entire story as it is thus far on this PAGE.

Memoirs From the End of the World
Entry #24

The winter passed agonizingly slowly in some respects.  Trudging through the snow banks with an entire group of people in tow made avoiding detection that much more difficult.  An ignored set of footprints could easily draw unwanted attention from the wrong people.  They would also be that much easier to spot from a distance.  They did what they could to alleviate this problem by traveling on windy days when they could count on the shifting snow to somewhat obscure the traces of their presence.  A light snow also worked well for this purpose.  Upon getting the group settled in their next temporary home, RC and Alyx would venture out to sweep over whatever else they needed to cover in order to feel safe for the night.

All in all, they spent those months freezing cold.  There was no way to get warm, except during trips spent hunting for new sources of food, when the laborious nature of tromping through the snow drew out a sweat regardless of air temperature.  This was actually one of the reasons why RC preferred to go on those little expeditions.  Remaining sheltered only guaranteed a chilled existence.

At night, they sat together and discussed a variety of topics.  Sometimes they told stories from their pasts.  Sometimes they discussed survival strategies.  And quite often, they talked of what it might be like when they finally escaped the city and didn’t have to worry about the constant threat of patrols, both robotic and human.  RC often felt distinctly uncomfortable when this particular conversation would arise, because she didn’t like getting her hopes up.  Not when the possibility of failure was so real.  Not when they couldn’t even think of attempting such an escape until the weather improved in early spring.  Isabel, on the other hand, glowed when this topic arose, and she was frequently the one to broach it.  She clung to the hope of better things like a starving man might cleave to a loaf of bread.

Though Ollie’s progress was slow, he steadily recovered from the illness that took him down.  The children also exhibited some signs of sickness as well, but they bounced back much more quickly.  RC silently decided the old saying “the bigger they are, the harder they fall” might indeed be appropriate in this case.  Either way, his recovery brought a sense of relief.  At least, for the time being, no lives were in imminent danger.

Except, of course, for the constant fear that they would be spotted.  One time, while RC and Alyx were out gathering, hoping with everything they had that they could gather enough supplies to last them for a couple days, they actually crossed paths with Gas Can and a couple of other guys from the group.  RC’s heart almost leapt from her body when she saw them standing in the street.  Fortunately, RC and Alyx saw them through a dirty window before exiting the building they’d just finished searching.  Well hidden and reasonably safe, they huddled there until the boys moved on.

“That was too close,” RC breathed as she watched them disappear around a distant corner.

“Not nearly as close as last time, though,” Alyx replied.

RC laughed.  “That’s true.”

Each month that passed also brought with it also brought a whisper of truth they all wanted to ignore.  There was less food to find.  The routine scavenging trips confirmed this fact.  There weren’t that many strays left on the streets, at least not as far as RC knew, yet the need to eat daily guaranteed that the day would eventually come when they would find nothing.    They had to carefully ration each meal, and they often tried to err on the side of caution in eating less than they thought they could get away with.  After all, who knew when the weather might turn on them, making the next trip outdoors impossible?  Or maybe Alyx and RC wouldn’t come back one day.  No sense in the others starving while they waited.

If anything, this diminishing supply of food solidified the already rather solid conviction that they needed to eventually make it completely out of the city.  If they didn’t, they would die.

Yet, that conviction wouldn’t feed them for the remainder of the winter.  It might warm some of them with a spark of hope, yes, but that spark would surely die if they stopped gathering for mealtime.

One night, as they sat together by a window, basking in the light of a brilliant full moon, Alyx broke through a peaceful lull in the banter with an annoyingly obvious observation.  “We can’t go on much longer like this.  None of us has had enough to eat in weeks.”

RC gaped at him.  Of course she knew this was true, but pointing it out would only make the hunger pangs more difficult to ignore.

“Do you have any bright ideas?” Ollie demanded.  “Because I think we’d all like to have a full meal for a change.”

“I actually do,” Alyx replied, “though it might be a bit dangerous.”

This did nothing to reassure RC, who knew Alyx would insist on being at the forefront of whatever dangerous mission he had in mind.  “What’s your plan?”

Alyx shifted his gaze to indicate both RC and Isabel.  “Remember the safe house we were taken to?”

RC nodded.  It was a safe house for their captors to go to, but it had been anything but safe for them.

“They were well-stocked with all kinds of things, and I’m sure that included plenty of food,” he continued.

Isabel shrank back.  “Yes, of course, but it would be suicide to go back there.”

“Maybe, but we need more to eat,” Alyx insisted.  “There are several safe houses, right?  We’ll just go back to the one we all know and hope no one else is there that night.”  He sighed.  “I know it’s risky, but it’s better than starving.” 

Go to Entry #25