March 27, 2015

The Last Ones: Chapter 7

not mine


Chapter 7

Charlie had just woken up when they returned.

His hair was ruffled, and the edges of his eyes were soft. 

But both of these gentle facts made the scars on his bare arms seem sharper and more terrible than ever. 

“Where were you two losers?” He muttered.

He must’ve seen the looks. The clenched jaw on Nate, and the wide eyes on Iris. He had seen those looks before. He had known them on his own face.

“Where was he?”

“Down one of the halls. We only saw him for a moment.” Iris said quietly, sitting down beside Jet. He was awake now, and was trying to convince Tubes to eat some bread.

“What I want to know is why didn’t he kill us? I know he had to see me, even before I saw him. He knew I was with you in Windlyn.” Nate said, trying to even his breathing.

Charlie smiled so bitterly that it made him sick.

“He probably wanted all of us together, or he wanted an audience. That’s the thing about the Watcher. He likes to make people suffer. He doesn’t kill them unless it’s going to cost them everything.”

“You’ve seen him kill someone then?”

Iris nodded, tilting her head tiredly. For the first time, Nate could see how exhausted she was. Exhausted of running. Of life. Living had taken its toll on her... was slowing draining her of everything.

But he couldn’t tell her that.

“One of the gang strayed out too far one night. We think he must’ve been looking for food. By the time some of us caught up with him, the Watcher had found him.”

She swallowed hard. 

Too hard.

“Before we could do anything, he was burning and then he was gone.” 

“But what about your dreams? Why didn’t you know it was going to happen?” Jet mumbled through a mouthful of the bread. He couldn’t convince Tubes to eat it, but boys never let food go to waste.

“I’ve asked myself that so many times. Wondering why I didn’t see it. But I don’t control my dreams any more than Charlie could control the test he gave you.”

“Whatever these gifts are made of, it’s beyond our control.” She whispered, crossing her arms tightly over her chest.

The pale greyness of the sunrise was coming up over the water, seeping into the waves. 

How had they all come there?

Four lonely children, adrift in a world they didn’t understand. Adrift on an ocean that is always too big for people like them.

But the pale greyness of the morning was seeping into them too. Making them gentle. Making them brave.

“Your city is named Windlyn?” Iris asked, a silver smile spreading over her face.

“Yeah, you have a problem with that?” Nate grinned, raising an eyebrow.

“No. Not at all.” 

She leaned back, face towards the waves.

“Such a beautiful name.” She whispered. 

Such a beautiful name. 

Charlie cleared his throat, shading his eyes as the sun flamed over the wet horizon with a flash. Could it be that this was just another day? Perhaps. There was the sun, after all. 

“What are we going to do?” Jet asked. He looked thinner in the light, thinner than Nate had ever seen him. 

But his eyes were wild. Dangerously bright, yeah, but the danger made sense. 

Lightening in a boy is a dangerous thing.

“Sit here. We can’t really do anything until we get to the mainland anyways, so it’s sleeping and waiting for you, pal.” Charlie replied, the usual grin on his face. 

“Fine. Then you can tell us a story. What happened to your arms?” 

The grin faded a little bit, but he looked down at his strong, scarred arms and laughed like summer. 

“I got these working with machines.” 

Jet snorted, clearly unimpressed. 

“Machines are worthless hunks of junk.”

Charlie laughed again, raising his eyebrows at the skulking little boy. 

“That’s only because you know nothing about them. If only I could show you what I have seen.” His voice suddenly got husky, and he sat down next to Iris. 

“What have you seen?” Jet asked quietly.

“Beautiful things, kid. Things that’d make you cry to see them.” He whispered. 

Nate stared at him, wondering at the change. The strong, brave warrior boy who cried about machines? Something too good to be true. 

Like a boy with holes in his boots and the sky in his face. 

Charlie turned his smile on him.

“Hard to believe, eh mush brain? You thought I was asleep, standing here drowning in my own misery and self-loathing.” 

“No. I just…didn’t think you’d care about stuff like that.” 

“Most people don’t. But it keeps me mysterious, huh? No one really knows me, I don’t have to get hurt. It works out fine.” 

Nate shrugged.

“That’s a hard way to live.” 

The smile got soft around the edges, like the sea, and the eyes grew sad.

“You would know, wouldn’t you?”

That was enough. Nate stood up, turning his burning face to the salted wind. It hurt more, the sting of the air. But it was easier that way. He didn’t hate Charlie, not anymore. You can’t hate someone like that. 

But he didn’t want to know anymore.

He didn’t want the sunrise smile and the dreamer. 

He wanted the hard man-boy, who hated him back.

It was easier that way. 

Tubes let out a hungry yowl, trying to stand on his cased legs. He walked a few steps like a pirate, and then promptly tipped over. 

Jet fell over laughing, Charlie snorted so hard tears came to his eyes, Nate had to lean over the railing to gasp for air, and Iris smiled so wide she thought her cheeks would break. 

What a morning.

The four huddled on the deck until the sun had fully risen, waiting for the meal bell to ring. When it did, Jet sprang up and tried to make a run for it. 

“Woah there, pal. We go in pairs, or not at all.” Charlie’s iron grip kept the boy rooted to the floor. “But since we’re all ready, last one there eats rocks for breakfast!” 

He took off, sliding down the railing to the second level, Jet close behind yelling. 

Nate couldn’t help but groan, a smile on his face. He waited, watching Iris tuck Tubes closer to the smoke-stack. 

“He was joking about pairs, you know. Having someone next to you isn’t going to save your life.” She said, walking briskly past him.

“Well, somebody has to go home and deliver your last words.” He replied, following her down the stairs. She walked softly, barely making a noise as her boots moved across the sheet metal. 

“Not me. No one back home would want to hear mine.” 

“That’s what all the bravest girls say.” Nate wiggled his eyebrows and stuck his hands in his pockets. 

Iris turned to look at him, something like disbelief on her face. 

“I said I was unafraid. I didn’t say I was brave.”

“Seems like those are the same thing to me.” He stopped too.

She shook her head. 

“They aren’t. Being unafraid just makes you hard, and bitter.” Suddenly, a smile split her face. “You, Nate, are brave. Not fearless, but that would only make you horrible. You’re more like the sunrise than the evening. It’s a nice change.” 

Sky-lit breeze tangled it’s fingers in her hair, and she watched him patiently. 

“Did…did you just compliment me?” Nate jerked a thumb towards himself, a stupid grin etched across his mouth.

Another silver smile.

“Not in your wildest dreams, city boy.” 

Victory seared his lungs.


xoxo

8 comments:

  1. Ahaaaa Nate. The more I read (and reread) the more I love that boy.

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  2. Rereading this makes me sosososososo sad but happy and wonderful and teary. *hugs it so tight*

    I still have that one part when Charlie talks about machines. You sent it to me and I reread it a lot. It's on my desktop. *screams of love* And every time I read it? Chills. It is too precious for me.

    XD

    I LOVE YOUR STORY MORE THAN WORDS.

    IT DOESN'T REALLY MAKE SENSE.

    UNTIL YOU FIGURE OUT THAT THESE AREN'T JUST WORDS

    they're totes awesome and cool and alive.

    ;-D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I just love Charlie man. He's my soul boy, if that makes sense. XD

      But yesssss. A million times yes. ♥

      xoxo

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  3. “You, Nate, are brave. Not fearless, but that would only make you horrible. You’re more like the sunrise than the evening. It’s a nice change.” Gosh, can I kidnap and marry him? :P

    xoxo Morning

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. UGH I JUST LOVE HIM. He is just...everything I needed him to be. ♥

      xoxo

      Delete
  4. gahhhh you are making me fall in love with each of your characters sob
    you should write a book sometime, it'll definitely be a bestseller ;) xxxx.
    (I LOVE NATE TOO. HE'S PERFECT)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There are no words for the wonderfulness of Nate man. ♥

      AGH THANK YOU. So much. Just wow.

      xoxo

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be kind.

xx