Sunday, January 16, 2011

Land of Shadows: Chapter XX - Someone to Watch Over Her

They had been inside the Uni for a couple of minutes when Allison asked why it wasn't freezing in the camper. Dee opened up her jacket for a moment letting the warmer interior air get to her. It was indeed warmer in the Uni than it was outside, far warmer than could be accounted for by simple lack of wind. If memory served there was a thermostat towards the cab of the truck. It had a simple bi metal thermometer reading a balmy thirty six degrees. She realised that a warm breeze was drifting across her ankles and bent down to investigate the vent. Warm air was blowing gently forth. It stopped after a moment. She opened a panel next to the bathroom door and checked out the battery stack. Each battery had its own charging circuit and indicator. Six of the twenty four batteries were completely dead and another eight were only registering about five percent or less. But ten of them were showing at least half a charge. It was enough that the heaters were working, keeping the interior just warm enough to keep the batteries from freezing. There were solar panels on the roof charging them during the day. It was a testament to the engineering of the camper's electrical system and its controllers that they were working at all. Probably if someone were to go up on the roof and sweep the solar panels off they could get a little more heat inside. And the way the storm was picking up, they would not be going anywhere today.

She opened the door into the cab and found that the cab had fared far worse. The seats were a moldy mess and the dash was covered with snow from the holes in the windshield. She could see Olly approaching the camper. She imagined that they were getting concerned because she and Ally were taking so long. She pulled out her walkie talkie and called to Dotty, telling her to pull the Hummer up to the door of the camper. They would be spending the night. A few minutes later they were all inside.

The overnight stay in the Unimog turned out to be three days. Despite frequent sweepings of the solar panels they were only able to keep the remaining batteries charged up to fifteen percent by the end of the second day so they spent a lot of time huddled under blankets. But the storm ended the second night and the day broke with the crystal clarity you only get on cold winter days. The sky was clear and the sun was bright and the solar panels began to charge the depleted batteries. But the strain of the previous days use had been too much for two of the batteries and their indicators never rose past the red line. But the remaining eight had an eighty five percent charge by sundown. It was a good thing too. The snow had covered much of the Hummer and it would have be be dug out before they could proceed. By the time that was done nobody felt much like driving, so they spent yet another night in the Uni. The only consolation was that their opponent in this race would surely not be having any better luck in this weather than they.

* * *

He was losing himself. He had never experienced anything like this before. He had experienced sex before, but that was just mechanical function and instinctive animal experience. Mostly he just allowed the animal portion of the host's brain take over and perform the tasks necessary to get the job done. Over the years it had seduced and used quite a few women and men to get what he wanted.

But this time he had found himself not wanting to draw away and let the body take over. He was suddenly reluctant to hurt her. He held her naked body close to him as he kissed her lips, neck, and breasts. He knew she had never done this before and that just excited him more. He fought for control and distance, but found that difficult so for the first time ever he found himself losing control.

It was a glorious and disturbing experience that left him exhausted and rattled.

The weather had stranded them at restaurant in Independence. It was a large building, remarkably intact with the bonus of having a rather large fireplace in the dining room. They camped in the dining room in front of that fireplace. The restaurant had been part of a large chain that had prided itself on its home style cooking in an old country store setting. This had been lucky for them as many of the antiques on display had come in quite handy. An old oil lamp, some frying pans and some kitchen utensils had been put to use that first evening. In a store room they found a few dozen bundles of wood for the fireplace so they were quite comfortable.

It was after they had made love that first time that she had rolled over to look into his eyes and asked him a question that left him mentally scrambling.

"Don't you think it's about time you told me your name?"

It was only then that he realized how many holes there still were in his persona this time around. Desperately he searched but could not find it. What the Hell was it with these creatures and their incessant need to name things. Was it not enough that something just was? Must everything have a label? A name floated to the surface of his mind and he blurted it out without even thinking.


She giggled and for some reason he did not kill her.

That night he left the inflatable bed they had set up near the fireplace, relieved himself out back and returned to the dining room. He did not return immediately to bed though. He quietly pulled up a chair and sat backwards on it with his arms crossed over the back and chin resting on his arms. He stared at her for hours wondering what the fuck was wrong with him.

© 2010 R. Keith McBride

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