Journey’s End Chapter 6: On A Dirt Road

a/n:  This is probably one of the riskiest chapters I’ve written so far.

I say this because I worry about the speed at which I cultivate the relationship between Lindsey and Trevor.  With the plans I have for them over the course of this story and whatever stories may follow, it is vitally important that I move neither too fast nor too slow.  And yet this entire chapter is about them.

So that does set me up for poorly pacing.  On that score, we’ll have to just wait and see.

It’s also important to note that every time I go back to read through this story, I catch myself making changes.  Some are good, some I wonder as to their wisdom, and when I go back to revise the story in toto, I am almost certain that this will likely have to be the most heavily edited.

That being said, I’m still not fully disappointed with this chapter, and still actually kind of like it.  And as for you, if you’ve liked the last two chapters, this one should be right up your alley.  I have a little more excitement planned for the next, but we’re not really going to be changing tempo for a couple more chapters yet.

In any case, for those of you just joining us, please don’t forget to head over to the Table of Contents to catch up on the chapters you have missed, and for everyone else, we’ll get this chapter underway right after The Story So Far.

The Story So Far:  After a good night’s sleep at Trevor’s house, Lindsey awoke to find her host gone.  Thankfully he was thoughtful enough to prepare for her a breakfast of bacon and eggs.

As she ate, Lindsey read the note Trevor left for her; one that insisted she spend some of his money and meet him for lunch.

She did spend some of his money, visiting several shops in Everywhere Town to prepare herself for her Journey to Dark Iron Castle.  She bought boots and a backpack at Leo’s Leather, and she watched a Ms. Stitch make for her a beautiful dress made entirely out of crystal spider’s silk.

The most interesting of the shops, however, had to have been the hunter’s shop.  It was there that she was warned of the dangers of the Golden Woods, and where one particularly seasoned hunter told her of the horror that is the creep; a black fog that hunts down wayward travelers and sucks them up such that they are never seen again.

She was so unsettled by the encounter that she forgot to stock up on food for her trip.

When she met Trevor at the Gut Rot, though, the thoughts of the hunters’ stories were completely pushed aside by his proposal–he wanted to join her.

After some back and forth, Lindsey tentatively agrees to Trevor’s offer with the both of them agreeing to leave Everywhere Town as soon as Lindsey finished her sandwich.

And now Chapter 6: On a Dirt Road.

Enjoy!

Chapter 6: On A Dirt Road

 

The two of them stood at the northern edge of Everywhere Town.

 

Contrary to Trevor’s promise to leave as soon as Lindsey finished eating, they did have to go back to the house for a few last minute items as well as to ditch the pajamas and boots that Lindsey borrowed.  But even this was hardly more than a ten-minute delay.

 

And so here they were on the precipice of their journey, the path at their feet beckoning them.  But instead of taking those first steps, Trevor turned away from the dirt road that led north to the Golden Woods and eventually to Port Town.

 

“Just give me a second, okay?” he asked.

 

“Sure,” Lindsey nodded and slid the backpack off her shoulder and let it come to rest on the ground.

 

“Ten years,” he said quietly.  “Never really felt like a long time until now.”

 

“Are you sure you want to do this?” Lindsey asked him.

 

He turned his neck and cocked an eyebrow at her.  “Trying to get rid of me already?  Come on, you at least have to hear my singing voice—everyone holds on until I try to sing.”

 

This made Lindsey laugh and she loved it—she loved how easily he could turn seemingly any moment on its head and make her laugh.  But then, as quickly as the mirth had come, he had looked away from her again and it was gone.

 

“Yeah, I’m sure.  Just wanted to say goodbye.”  There were a few moments of silence and then he whispered something unintelligible, turned and said, “Okay, I’m done.  Hey, let me get your bag, too…”

 

“No, Trevor.  Honestly I can…”

 

With cat-like grace Trevor reached out and snagged one of the straps to her sack before Lindsey had even made her first move.  “Don’t worry about it.  After all the other stuff I’m carrying this will be no…  Hey!  What do you got in here?”

 

No matter how hard Trevor jerked up on the bag’s straps, it refused to budge an inch.

 

“Very funny,” Lindsey sniped at him.

 

“I’m not trying to be funny.  What, are you trying to smuggle my bathtub in this thing?”

 

Lindsey was on the verge of insisting Trevor quit with the joking about until the look he gave her settled it.  He wasn’t joking; he was confused.

 

She reached down and quite easily lifted the bag.  “It’s not hard for me.”

 

“Okay, something is very wrong here.”

 

“Why?  Because I’m a girl?”

 

“No, not because you’re a girl.  Because I’m a builder…  I spend most of my days hauling heavy stuff around.  I’m not saying you can’t be stronger than me, just not that much stronger than me.  I’m not kidding, Lindsey.  I couldn’t even move it.”

 

“But there’s nothing in here but my clothes and my…” she drifted off. 

 

“You’re what?”

 

“My book,” she finished as she slipped it out of the backpack.  Yet another puzzle about this strange book had formulated.  She remembered when she first got it in the Someone Else Room that it felt much lighter than it looked, but she forgot about that since then having grown somewhat accustomed to carrying it around with her. 

 

Without even asking, Trevor snatched at it and the moment the book left Lindsey’s fingers it rocketed to the ground, almost bringing Trevor along with it.

 

“I’m going to guess that was the problem,” he panted as he straightened himself up.

 

Lindsey frowned.  “What do you think it means?”

 

“It means that I’m not supposed to hold that book.  Probably no one but you is.  I can still take your bag, if you want, but the book’s all you.”

 

“I can handle my bag very well, thank you very much.”

 

Trevor shrugged.  “Suit yourself.”

 

She picked the book up and studied it and out of the corner of her eye she caught Trevor eyeing it warily.  Just another question in a long line of questions, she thought, and stuffed it back in her backpack.

 

They stood and stared at each other in silence.  Trevor was clearly bemused and Lindsey got the impression that he was having a difficult time moving on.  Or maybe, she wondered, he was finding it difficult to leave his home of ten years.

 

Finally she decided to break the silence.  “Trevor?”

 

“Yeah?”

 

“We were planning on doing some traveling at some point, right?”

 

He gave her a wan look before nodding and starting up the path that led to Port Town.

 

**

 

She had hoped they would have been able to get some horses.  That would have made the going much faster but apparently horses in Everywhere Town were rare.  While Lindsey was out shopping earlier that morning, Trevor had attempted to at least rent a couple, but the only person who currently owned any refused to let go of them when he learned they wouldn’t be back within a day.

 

So they were forced to walk which wasn’t all that unpleasant Lindsey mused.  Trevor continued to be easy to talk to, and not difficult to look at for that matter.

 

He began their trek across the lush plains between Everywhere Town and the Golden Woods with odd stories about Journey’s End.  These old tales had been passed down from one to the next and it was difficult to tell which were true and which were pure fantasy.

 

The bit about the crystal spiders Lindsey at least half believed considering her dress was supposedly made from their silk.  These spiders, according to Trevor, were huge, about the size of a basketball not including the legs and they were, as the name suggests, clear as crystal.

 

The bit that Lindsey didn’t buy was that they talked.  No, they didn’t just talk; they were super intelligent.  That’s what Trevor said.

 

He told her about the eighty some odd gods that people prayed to, and about the stranger animals he had heard about, and when he had finished talking about that he kept going on about other topics until they came to something of a lull in the conversation.

 

Silence.  But it was a comfortable silence made almost magical by the occasional rainbow bird flying overhead like the one that Lindsey saw on her first day in Journey’s End and the gentle breeze that whipped about them and managed to easily stave off the afternoon sun.

 

In that silence Lindsey replayed much of what Trevor had said, and realized that he had tried to ask questions about her, tried to get her more involved, but she really was happy enough to listen to him talk about the lore of this strange new land she had stumbled upon.  She also realized that while the silence remained comfortable for now, if she let it persist for too long it wouldn’t be.

 

“So, do you miss it?  Home, I mean.  Do you miss home?”

 

Trevor laughed.  “We’ve been gone for only a couple of hours.  It’s a bit early to start getting homesick, isn’t it?”

 

“No, not Everywhere Town.  Home.  The place you lived before you came to Journey’s End.”

 

“Oh.  That home.”  He seemed to contemplate the question for a good while before finally answering in an unsure voice, “Not really.”

 

“Would you go back?”

 

Trevor shook his head.  “I prefer it here.”

 

Frowning, Lindsey asked, “Were things really that bad?”

 

“No…”  He looked uncomfortable as he spoke; unsure of his words, possibly even unsure if he even really wanted to talk about it.

 

“You don’t have to talk about it if you don’t want to.”

 

“See, that’s kind of the point, though.  I don’t like talking about it…”

 

“Then don’t.”

 

“But it wasn’t that bad.”

 

“Trevor, you…”

 

He held up a hand to silence her.  “Just…  It’s okay, really.  One of the things that bothered me the most about what I left behind is that it shouldn’t have bothered me…  I didn’t have room to complain.  Worse, I always felt that if I did complain or say something, I would turn into, you know, the jock with a soul.”

 

Lindsey fought down the corners of her lips when they twitched at the prospect of impending laughter.  “Um…  Jock with a soul?”

 

“Yeah.  You know, like in the movies.  You get some high school jock who’s mean or popular, or has the hottest girlfriend or whatever, and you think he’s the bad guy up until the very end when you learn that he’s really a decent person but he just acts like a jerk because he’s afraid of being cast out from his social circle and losing all his friends but it’s all stupid because his friends weren’t really his friends to begin with.”

 

“And you’re the jock with a soul?”

 

With a somewhat defeated look on his face, Trevor looked over at Lindsey and muttered, “You want to laugh don’t you?  Go on, get it over with.”

 

She wanted to laugh but wasn’t quite sure why.  Perhaps it was how ludicrous the whole thing sounded, or maybe it was how embarrassed Trevor looked.  But she controlled herself at least long enough to say, “No.  I won’t laugh.  Tell me how you became the jock with a soul.”

 

“I didn’t,” he admitted.  “At least I don’t think I did.  Okay, look.  Yes, I played sports…”

 

“Which ones?”

 

“Football mostly.”

 

“Okay.”

 

“And yes, I was popular.”

 

“What was that like?”

 

“I think you’re having too much fun with this.”

 

Lindsey smiled at him.  “I think I’m trying to make it easier on you.”

 

“Easier?”

 

“So I’m not doing a very good job.  Go on.”

 

“But it wasn’t like I was a jerk or anything.  I didn’t have some alcoholic father who insisted on trying to relive his glory days through me neither, and I wasn’t that guy who had a ton of girlfriends.”

 

This last bit stirred inside Lindsey an irreconcilable emotion she didn’t quite understand.  But she ignored it, or at the very least tried to hide it when she interrupted.  “Okay, so you don’t fit the cliché.”

 

“Exactly.”

 

“So I’m still not getting what the problem is.”

 

“I was still unhappy, and I think one of my big problems was that I wasn’t happy, but I didn’t feel like I had a right to complain about it.  Here I am, football guy, popular guy, my life in high school was what you want your life in high school to be like, but because I had that, I didn’t have the right to say, ‘hey, this isn’t so great.’  There were other kids out there who really did have a miserable time in high school, and what were my problems compared to theirs?”

 

Trevor paused for a moment, took a breath, and stuffed his hands in his pockets.  “So I kept doing it.  I would find myself steering away from certain things I would want to do because after a while it felt like I was just another character in a movie, and if I broke from the script, the part I had worked so hard for would be taken from me.  Like, I like chess.  My dad taught me how to play when I was a kid.  But join the chess club?  No way.”

 

“Aw,” Lindsey sighed.  “You’re inner nerd was just begging to get out, wasn’t it?”

 

“That’s exactly the kind of thing I’m talking about,” Trevor spat in frustration.

 

And all of a sudden Lindsey really did feel bad, and she was beginning to understand what bothered him so.  “I know,” she said, “I’m sorry.”

 

“It’s not a big deal,” he replied.  He kicked a rock and they both watched as it bounced up the path ahead of them.  “Like I said, I realize I didn’t have it hard.  I didn’t like it, but I really didn’t have a whole lot to complain about.  I don’t know…  I didn’t like that part of it, but that’s not what really got to me anyway.”

 

“What really bothered you, then?”

 

“After a while I began to realize how pointless it all was.  Here I was, desperate to maintain my image or whatever, and I looked around me and the whole cast was there.  I had friends, but it’s not like any of them were really good friends.  We would talk about football or girls or how this teacher hated us or that teacher was cool because he would let you get away with stuff.  And in the end it just felt so fake because none of it ever really mattered.  The world wasn’t going to change tomorrow because I decided I didn’t want to go to Chaz’s party on Friday night, or because the kid from the chess club and the prom queen decided to get together.  None of it really matters but we all act like society itself will fall apart if anyone fails to play their part.”

 

“And this is why you don’t want to go back?”

 

He nodded.  “It’s different here.  I mean, look at me; I build houses.  I serve a real purpose, people appreciate that purpose, and they pay me for that purpose.  It’s not the kind of stuff people make movies about, but it’s important.  And people don’t try and play parts here.  Look at Bill; you know back home he didn’t have a lot of friends.”

 

“Because he’s… big.”

 

“Because he’s big,” Trevor nodded.  “But here everyone likes him because he’s a nice guy and likes to help other people out.”

 

That’s about when something clicked in Lindsey’s mind, and her face split into a broad smile.

 

“What is it?”

 

“Oh, it’s something Custy said…”

 

“Who’s Custy?”

 

“The old man in the Someone Else Room.”

 

“I didn’t know he had a name.”

 

“He doesn’t.  It doesn’t matter.  What matters is what he said.  Something about how you go to the Someone Else Room to get a purpose; about how boys and girls were useless but once we had a purpose we were…”

 

“We were what?”

 

With a shrug Lindsey answered, “I don’t know.  At least I didn’t know until you said what you did.  It’s better here because people have real purposes instead of just making up stuff that usually isn’t very good.”

 

Trevor mulled this over.  “I think I get it.”

 

“You know, I didn’t like high school very much either.”

 

“I don’t believe it,” Trevor scoffed.  “I mean look at you; half the school was probably your friend and the other half wanted to be.”

 

This set Lindsey into a fit of bitter laughter.  When she finally recovered she said, “That would be Sara, not me.”  And then something strange happened; she told Trevor everything.  She told him about what high school was like for her, and how she didn’t make friends, and wasn’t even sure if she knew how.  She told him about all of her fears and insecurities, and when she was finished, she couldn’t believe what she had done.

 

She hadn’t even been that open with Sara lately.

 

Trevor looked at her for a long while.  The sun was getting low in the sky, and his features adopted a reddish orange glow and the flecks in his green eyes seemed to almost dance.  And then he laughed very hard.

 

“Okay,” Lindsey pouted.  “What’s with the laughing?  Really!”

 

“I’m not… laughing… at you,” he forced out between guffaws.

 

“Care to let me in on the joke, then?”

 

“I… just realized.”  He was still laughing, and had to give himself a minute or two to calm down.  “I’m sorry, I just realized that if this were a movie, you and I would have to wind up together in the end.  I think it’s a rule in cheesy teen movies.  The jock with a soul and the pretty girl no one pays attention to.  It might actually be a law.”

 

Lindsey forced herself to laugh along with him even if she wasn’t all that amused.  As she chuckled as convincingly as she could, she wondered if the idea of them getting together specifically was what Trevor thought was funny, or if it really was just the cliche.  Not that she had any grand plans, of course, but she found herself a little more bothered than perhaps she should have been at the possibility that Trevor thought that the idea of dating her was something to laugh at.

 

On the other hand, he did say she was pretty.  If you wanted to get real technical, and Lindsey was in just that frame of mind, he had appeared to think she was pretty two or three times.

 

So which was it?  Was she pretty, or a joke?

 

You’re thinking way too much into it, she told herself.  He’s just making fun of a stupid thing they do in movies all the time and nothing else so relax, and why do you care so much anyway?

 

She thought she knew the answer to this but decided not to think about it any longer because those thoughts were a little scary.  Deciding to play along with Trevor’s little joke, she said, “Well, at least you know this isn’t a movie.”

 

“How’s that?”

 

“The discussion we just had comes at the end of the movie, right?  Not the beginning.”

 

“Very true.  Excellent!  We are definitely not a couple of cheap movie clichés.”

 

“That’s a relief.”

 

**

 

Not long after, Trevor and Lindsey decided it would be as good a time as any to stop for the day.  The sun was now flirting with the horizon and the few clouds that lingered in the sky above were emblazoned with brilliant pink and orange highlights.

 

“We better find a good spot off the path,” Trevor said as he stepped into the knee high grass to search for just such a spot.

 

Lindsey asked, “Why’s that?”

 

“Do you want to get ran over by someone not paying attention to where they’re going in the middle of the night?  There are much nicer ways to be woken up, you know.”

 

“Good point.”

 

 It didn’t take long for the two of them to happen upon the perfect spot.  Only ten feet from the path a natural depression in the ground made for an ideal campsite.  “I don’t even think you can see us from the path if we stay down here,” Trevor remarked.

 

“Are we worried we’re going to get robbed?”

 

“No.  I don’t think so, but you can’t be too careful, right?”

 

With a shrug, Lindsey set about stomping down some of the grass in the depression and laying out the bedrolls that were lashed to Trevor’s backpack while Trevor pulled up enough grass to make a decent place for a campfire.

 

Just as Trevor was pulling a few small campfire logs out of his backpack to start the fire, Lindsey sat on her bedroll and began studying her book to pass the time.  There wasn’t much to study, though; just the one inscription that magically appeared of its own accord when she came across Lignus, and Lindsey was soon bored with the book.

 

Staring at Trevor was a different story.

 

The sun was now nowhere to be seen even if the western sky still glowed a dark grayish blue with faint streaks of orange beating a hasty retreat from the encroaching night sky.  Up above, bright pinpoints of light began to appear one by one, and just a few feet from her Trevor was attempting to catch the three little logs aflame by striking two stones together.

 

In the dying light Lindsey could still make out the details of his face.  His brows were knitted together and the corners of his mouth were pulled down in concentration.  With each strike there was a brief flash of light that etched his features in stark shadows and again she could feel a faint rumbling deep inside her that was just beyond her comprehension.

 

With each failed attempt the frustration on Trevor’s face grew, and as his features hardened, Lindsey felt her heart beat increasingly faster.  There were things she didn’t know so much about, like how she felt about Trevor as a person, and then there were things that were being made abundantly clear.

 

Like him or not, she was most definitely attracted to him.

 

In an attempt to stifle the turmoil broiling up inside of her, or at least to hide it from her companion, Lindsey quickly stared down at her book only to find that a new inscription had just appeared there:

 

Enflame-Passion is the inferno of the heart.

 

She frowned as her curiosity led her to scan the words over and over again in the brief glimpses of light afforded her by Trevor’s attempts to start a fire.  This stuff sounds like it belongs on a greeting card, she thought when she was sure she had the words right.  And then, taking care this time to hold the book away from her a little bit, she whispered, “Enflame.”

 

A shower of sparks leapt from the pages, arced through the air, and landed on the pile of logs Trevor was attempting to ignite.

 

“Whoa!” he yelped as he jumped back, his arms and legs flying akimbo and almost sending the newly lit logs scattering into the tall grass.  “What are you trying to do?  Kill me?”

 

“No!” Lindsey said, rushing over to Trevor to make sure he was okay.  “No, I just…  A new spell appeared in my book and I thought I’d give it a try.”

 

Grunting as he hauled himself up onto his elbows, Trevor retorted, “What’s the spell?  Burn Trevor to a crisp?”

 

Lindsey helped him back up onto his feet, and was relieved to see he hadn’t been harmed in the slightest by her spell.  “No.  I think it was just a simple fire spell.  One second it wasn’t there, and then the next it was.”

 

“Yeah?  What’s it say?”

 

She almost repeated the newly inscribed words automatically, but then everything in her head connected together instantaneously, creating a new thought that appeared as though a light switch had simply flicked it into existence.  Lindsey had been thinking about Trevor…  No, she was practically drooling over him if she was going to be honest about it, and then the words about passion appeared and…

 

“Nothing,” she hastily answered.  “Nothing.  It’s all just gibberish.  Really.  I’m starved, let’s eat.”

 

“Alright,” he sighed, flashing Lindsey one last cautious look before crouching down and rifling through his bag.  “Just warn me next time, okay?”

 

“Yes sir!”

 

“Here hold this,” he muttered over his shoulder as he thrust an iron pan and a wooden spoon in her hands.  He then went to a different section of his bag and pulled out a few other things and took the pan and spoon back from her.  “Here,” he added, almost as an afterthought.  “Try one of these.”

 

“It looks kind of like a cherry,” Lindsey commented as she accepted the small red fruit.

 

“It’s not.  It’s called a harvest berry.  Taste it, you’ll like it.”

 

Trevor erected a strange sort of apparatus over the little campfire and set the pan on top of it.  He waited, and after a few moments he tossed a few chunks of meat onto the pan and they immediately began to sizzle.  As the aroma reached Lindsey’s nose, she popped the berry into her mouth and chewed.  The taste was brilliant; not unlike a blueberry, but with more of a bite to it.  “Hmm,” she mumbled as she chewed.  “That’s pretty good.”

 

“Now watch this,” Trevor said with a knowing grin on his face.  He pulled a handful of the red berries out of his pack, crushed them in his hand, and threw them in the pan with the sizzling meat.  It hissed angrily as a surge of tiny droplets danced above the pan.

 

“What are you doing?”

 

“Making Hunter’s Stew,” he explained as he added a little water and gave the concoction a stir with the wooden spoon.  “One of the hunters taught me how to make it.  As he explained it to me, when the hunters go out, sometimes they don’t have the luxury of washing their pots and pans so whatever they cooked the night before becomes part of what they’re cooking now.  According to him, they just got used to the taste of harvest berries and golden deer being cooked together.  It wasn’t until one of them brought the recipe back to Everywhere Town that it became a big hit.”

 

“Hunter’s stew?  Meat and harvest berries?”

 

Trevor nodded.  “Something of a special recipe for us.  It’s been around for ages.”

 

“It smells wonderful.”

 

“Wait until you try it,” he said as he splashed a little more water into the pan and kept stirring.  By now the smell was simply overpowering and whatever thoughts about Trevor still floating around in Lindsey head were easily pushed away by the growling of her stomach.

 

It felt as though the cooking was taking forever though, and when Trevor finally handed her a bowl filled with the stew, Lindsey was positive that even if it tasted foul she would still devour it completely.

 

Thankfully it tasted far from foul.  “Wow, this is…  Trevor, this is amazing.”

 

“Thank you, I do aim to please,” he replied with a self-satisfied expression on his face.

 

While conversation passed easily between the two for most of the day, neither talked now.  Lindsey hungrily attacked her first bowl and her second.  She even went back for a third which was rather unlike her, and she would have asked for a fourth but by then her stomach had felt as though it had reached its maximum capacity, and was warning her that the consequences of forcing anything else down would be both dire and embarrassing.

 

With a groan, Lindsey rested her bowl and spoon by the fire and stretched out on her side along the length of her bedroll.  Had Trevor not been there she would have flopped over onto her back and patted her stomach comfortably, but while the food had done much to put her at ease, she still found herself a little self-conscious around him.

 

Now that was a thing, wasn’t it?  She felt completely comfortable around him, and at the same time she felt very aware of herself.  She was still self-conscious, but it was a different kind of self-consciousness than what she was used to.  She didn’t worry if he was going to all of a sudden not like her or think badly about her if she did something wrong, and in fact she didn’t worry much at all around him.

 

It was that she wanted to impress as opposed to avoid embarrassment.  As subtle a difference as it was, it was a difference, and one that she found herself comfortable with.

 

“I’m glad you liked it,” he said as he set his own bowl and spoon by the fire.  “Two bowls I would have thought you were just trying to be nice, but three…”

 

She rolled over onto her stomach so she could look at him.  “It was almost perfect.”

 

“Almost?”

 

She grinned.  “Now if you know any good ghost stories; that would make everything perfect.”

 

He chuckled.  “Sorry.  I’m kind of a wimp when it comes to ghost stories.”

 

“You?”

 

With a nod he lowered himself down onto his own stomach so they were looking each other eye to eye.  “My dad would take us camping and tell some pretty mean ghost stories.  Once I had a nightmare so bad I refused to sleep out in the woods and we had to cancel the whole trip.”

 

“You really are a wimp, aren’t you?”

 

“Very funny.”

 

“I used to love to go camping.  We didn’t have hunter’s stew, of course, but we would toast hot dogs and marshmallows and when everyone was full my dad would tell us ghost stories, and I never was afraid.”

 

“Ah, now you’re rubbing it in.”

 

Lindsey chuckled as she shook her head.  “He wasn’t very good at it.  Telling ghost stories I mean.  He’d usually forget a part and have to retell it or something stupid like that.  There were a couple of times where he would end the story and all we could do was laugh because he screwed up so badly.”

 

“Jeez, you guys couldn’t cut him a break?  Your family must be vicious.”

 

“No, not at all.”  A smile that told the tale of hundreds of happy memories rested on Lindsey’s lips.  She loved her father’s stories, even if he was incredibly bad at telling them, and then a thought occurred to her.  “You know, he might have messed up on purpose just so Sara and I wouldn’t have nightmares.”

 

Trevor yawned.  “Maybe.”

 

“He’d definitely have to for you,” she grinned.

 

“Okay, that’s it, I’m never telling you anything ever again.”  His voice was stern, but the smile fighting to force its way to his mouth said otherwise.  Then, with another yawn, he said, “We better get this fire out and get some sleep.  We got a lot of walking to do tomorrow.  If we don’t drag our feet we might get pretty far into the Golden Woods.”

 

“Ooh, let me try,” Lindsey said as she snapped up and reached for her book.

 

Trevor’s eyes darkened and he pushed himself far away from the fire before saying in a very apprehensive voice, “Be my guest.”

 

She rested the book in her lap and flipped open to the first page.  Trevor watched her intently as she pivoted the book around, pointed it at the fire, and said in a commanding voice, “LIGNUS!”

 

Nothing happened.

 

She tried again and again nothing happened.

 

“It’s okay,” Trevor said as he pulled out a water skein from his pack.  “I brought more than enough water to take care of it.”

 

“But it worked with Lignus,” Lindsey complained.

 

Trevor poured the water over the glowing embers and the dim red light was instantly replaced with a black cloud of steam and smoke that curled into a thick column that twisted into the air.  “Maybe it’s a different kind of spell.”

 

“Maybe,” Lindsey agreed.  She was disappointed.  She thought she was beginning to understand the book but her failure to put out the fire landed her right back on square one.  And now, with the light from the fire gone, she was having a hard time fumbling with her own pack to put the book away.

 

Frustrated, she just threw the book on top of the backpack, and flopped onto her back.  That’s when all thoughts of spells and books were driven from her head.

 

“Wow,” she said in an awed whisper.

 

“What is it?”

 

“The stars…”  It didn’t take long for the smoke from the campfire to clear, and when it did it gave way to a night sky that was filled with seemingly millions of stars.  Lindsey knew that you didn’t get to see a lot of stars in the city, and as a result one of her favorite parts about camping was the night sky.

 

But even when she and her family did go camping, she had never seen a sky like this before.  It was amazing, like a still frame of a thousand fireworks going off all at once and even that couldn’t do this view justice.

 

“Yeah,” she could hear Trevor say a few feet away from her.  “You never quite get used to that sight.”

 

And for this, Lindsey was grateful.  In that moment she felt sorry for anyone that could get used to the night sky above her.

 

**

 

They slept.  Lindsey could tell that it didn’t take Trevor long to fall asleep; he didn’t snore exactly but she could pick out almost to the second when his breathing slowed and grew heavier with dreams.

 

She could have gone to sleep nearly as fast.  Her body didn’t ache like it did the night of her arrival in Journey’s End, but it was satisfyingly fatigued.  Indeed, the only things that kept Lindsey up at all were those stars and the strange constellations she had never seen before.

 

Orion, and the Big Dipper were nowhere to be seen, but new constellations, constellations that for her had little meaning, looked down over her, and she found herself trying to twist them into familiar shapes.  That one off in the northern sky looked sort of like a dog, while the one directly over her looked something like a boat.  She thought she could make out a tree and a fish and a book, and when she did fall asleep, she did so trying to make out what one constellation in the southern sky looked like.

 

And there they both laid; the depression where they slept disturbed only by the soft night breeze.  Their bellies were full and their dreams free from the clutches of nightmares.

 

And neither of them stirred in the slightest when the tall figure clad in black walked past them down the road towards Everywhere Town, searching for something with its lantern held aloft.

 

4 Responses to Journey’s End Chapter 6: On A Dirt Road

  1. Ginzig says:

    It seems all I ever say is ‘wow’, but it was fabulous! I love all the Lindsay and Trevor time, but then again, I’m a romantic and thrive off this.

    I laughed so hard about the singing. I have that kind of voice. Even my kids tell me not to sing. They cried as babies when I’d try to sing them lullabies. Why do I tell you these things? I’m sure you’re laughing at me now.

    I suspected that about the book. I didn’t think anyone else would be able to touch it except Lindsey. Makes sense. It is always hard to leave home. The moment of leaving, but embarking on a new adventure, I think you captured those mixed feeling quite well. Like Lindsey, I would not have been amused by Trevor’s laughter and his comparison to a cheesy movie. I would have taken that poorly and read into just like Lindsey. But I also do believe Trevor meant no ill or harm. And I’m sure he had no clue how it affected her. Guys never do. Again, your descriptions are amazing. The part where Lindsay studied Trevor’s face in the dying light. Incredible visual there. Loved he new spell! hehehe Yep, add a little passion and you’ll need to put out the flames!

    But I have to say my favorite was the lightswitch. Most people would just say something about it being flipped like a light switch, but your way was so unique and fresh. I admit, I am in awe sometimes.

    And of course, now I’m wondering who the tall figure dressed in black could be and what role he/she/it will play. I really did like the Trevor/Lindsey interaction. Just the nice easy flow that sometimes two people find as they get to know each other. Sometimes it’s a little lopsided, but that’s ok because it’s still relaxed and easy. Very well done with that. Didn’t seem forced at all.

    Great chapter, Kyle. Very much looking forward to what their traveling adventures will be and who they will meet. And thanks for getting it out so soon. I never expected it. It really did perk up my night. I’m so tired of my plans falling through.

    I have three people looking at my spare room over the next two days, keep your fingers crossed that I have a safe, normal renter soon! It sure would ease some of my worries.

    Take care, Kyle.

  2. Heh, well, thank you again. Let’s see, what do we have here.

    The Lindsey and Trevor time, like I said, I think I may need to wait until I have a finished product before I can say, okay, let’s run with this. But it’s interesting because when I first started telling this story, I had absolutely no plans for it to go in the direction it eventually did, but it kind of homed in on that one thing so quickly it couldn’t be ignored, so we’ll just have to see how it plays out.

    As for the singing, worry not, I am a terrible singer, which kind of sucks because I’m only a mediocre guitar player which means I have absolutely no future in music. Oh well.

    Regarding the book, things may be more complicated than you imagine, but that is to be discovered later I suppose.

    Also, I would be rather careful about the “guys never do,” but again, that’s for later. In fact, I think a lot of this stuff is for later.

    So I’ll talk about the lightswitch thing. One thing I noticed, and this I think was a bad habit I picked up from my political writing, is that I’ll often repeat certain structures and phrases and that kind of thing. I really don’t know how it reads to the reader, but for me, knowing about it,and knowing it is there, it annoys the ever living crap out of me.

    So I think I compensate elsewhere and one example would most definitely be the lightswitch. Just these little concepts that I come up with and I try and find some sort of way to twist them around until they are unique. I think one of the other people who used to review picked up on another one in an earlier chapter, and the puzzle pieces…

    It’s part compensation and part trying to find a way to convey this specific idea such that it has significance in interpretation. For instance, red as a firetruck, okay, everyone knows that firetrucks are red, and it’s a common comparison, but it caries with it no kind of emotional or logical detachment. It’s a passive simile.

    However, and this is right of the top of my head so it’s a poor example, “red as anger flushing in one’s cheeks.” There’s emotion and subjectivity there–it’s active and even aggressive in description because it not only forces you to think about the color, but the emotions suggested by that color, and it challenges you to create the color on your own because everyone flushes anger differently, and it forces you to decide how you feel about it.

    So you get a little bit more abstract, and yet universal at the same time. Kind of like the puzzle pieces analogy from the first chapter.

    Anyways, good luck with finding a roommate… Not sure if I would go with that, but you never ever know. And thanks for dropping another review!

  3. jediprankster says:

    Ah yes! The teen movie cliche. I think we have Shakespeare to thank for my personal favorite. You know, when two people start dating, one or both with an ulterior motive, and by the end of the story they have fallen for each other. “10 Things I Hate About You” is just a modern retelling of “The Taming Of The Shrew”, and it’s definitely in my top five movies of all time list. Along with “The Pricess Bride”, “The Dark Knight”, “Serenity”, and “The Empire Strikes Back”. Can’t decide which order they go in, only that they’re my top five.

    While it is true that Lindsey and Trevor have only known each other for a grand total of one day, I think their growing relationship is perfectly paced. They have fallen into an easy friendship, and it just seems to be developing at a believable pace, in spite of the short time period. It’s not like they have already started kissing in that one day. Lindsey has just barely acknowledged the possibility that she may like him.

    And as for the book: The inscription by the Lignus spell was about life. The spell produced life giving water. No wonder she couldn’t use it to ‘kill’ the fire. Am I even close?

  4. First off, I will second your picks on The Princess Bride, The Dark Knight, and Serenity. Love all of them, and I think it’s interesting that you brought up Serenity specifically.

    I’ve made no attempts to hide that Joss Whedon to this day remains a major influence on my writing, and I think that if it wasn’t for him, I probably would have never began taking my writing seriously.

    While there is much I have to thank him for, what I think really tops the list, is that he sticks with niche genre storytelling, but he doesn’t write like he is in a niche. That’s the important thing about him; he may write about vampires, or spaceships, or comic book heroes, but he tells real stories, human stories about every day experiences, he just uses different settings and characters.

    It is that aspect of his writing that inspired me and showed me that you don’t have to set your story in the real world to broach real issues, and to be honest, I’ve always been afraid of writing about the real world. I always worry that it won’t be real enough, or that I’ll get something wrong, or that someone who does what one of my characters does will say, “That’s not how it works.” Like cops, I would love to write a crime drama or a mystery or something like that, but for me, I wouldn’t be able to get past the hump of not really knowing how the police conduct their business. Sure, I could probably float something that would be good enough for non-police readers, but that first cop to pick up my story and say, “hey, this isn’t right,” would be enough to paralyze me.

    And that’s the beauty of what Joss does, and what I have adopted from him. Journey’s End is my world, you can’t tell me something in my world is or is not possible or realistic because I made it. This gives me the freedom to explore the emotions and the conflicts that I want to explore without having to fret over whether or not this specific thing is really in keeping with reality or not.

    Back to cliches, I’m really glad you brought that up too because I really wanted to strike the right note here. I wanted Trevor to be kind of clichetic, but I wanted to also in the book mock this a bit because the fact that Trevor is a cliche itself isn’t the point. His reflections were meant to ultimately further define him as a character, but to also define Journey’s End as a setting and its own kind of character as well. I wanted to show how someone like Trevor or Lindsey could feel at home in this strange place, or how anyone does, really, and I also wanted to engage in a kind of social commentary that first began with Custy.

    Remember that this is a story that is essentially being written for my daughters, and in a way it’s kind of a letter to them, one that I’m hoping they understand when they go to high school, and I guess I’m trying to say that it’s not important, that getting the right guy to ask you out to the date is not that important so much as how you feel about yourself as a person, and if you’re comfortable, and of course purpose.

    That’s going to be a recurring theme that I plan to get away from for a while, but eventually return to much later on.

    I’m also glad to have the confirmation that the pacing isn’t too fast at this point. I shouldn’t really talk much about this portion of the story because it probably gives stuff away…

    And you are very very close to being right regarding the book. I’m not going to talk about that much at all, other than to say that you should probably tuck that bit of knowledge away and remember it later on…

    ahem…

    thanks for stopping by and reviewing, and I’ll try and have chapter 7 up as soon as I can.

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