Today I updated my Nano profile with an excerpt. I like this piece. it references the Coffee Companion piece that will be slid into the story once Nano is over and I can use words I've written before without so-called punishment.
I wake up from a strange dream trying to capture the essence of it. It hadn’t been frightening or even plain old hauntingly spooky. It had been so mundane. What had it been about? I roll out of my bunk and leave the room of sleeping boys as quietly as I can. When I step outside the border guards are whistling messages to one another. I pause to listen. All clear, all around. Something else non-regulation that I haven’t quite picked up yet.
There is a place one of the other boys showed me, Dordin. It’s a secure location, though it gives a good view of the outside world without having to climb up the wall barriers or any of the border buildings and get shooed away by the guards. It’s not a long walk from the bunk house. There is no one else in the streets and I don’t have to hurry. I’m hardly watching where my feet are taking me as I think over the dream I’m still waking from. I have feeling that I’d recognized something about it. It had been a familiar person, or place. Had I been dreaming about home again?
There is just a wire fence stretched along the edge of the black crater that extends outward to the north at the edge of town. Something to keep people from falling, the infected can’t climb up the steep incline. It’s no longer a new wound in the land, but very little has taken root in the recent past to transform the dirty hole into anything but an empty place where water pools sometimes during the rainy season. I remember the sound of rain on the roof of my home drifts through my mind, and then something clicks. No, not the sound of rain, the sound of the sprayers in the greenhouse room at Messenger station whatever. That’s the dream. I had been back there…and then what?
I hear a scuffle behind me, and glance back over my shoulder. Another form comes around the corner of this pathway to such a wonderful view, but he pauses when he sees me here against the fence.
“You stay,” I call out in a low voice. “I’ll go.”
“Yeah,” I answer and try to match that voice, hard and a little gravelly, but I come up with nothing.
He comes down the path toward me. It isn’t until he is standing at the fence beside me that I can recognize him. It’s Kath, the boy who had been with Aniste the day she found me. I think I’ve talked to him once since. He is quiet, but that does not mean he is shy. He is always watching and listening.
He reminds me of my father a little bit. Mom has always hassled dad about his vigilance. “You don’t always have to be on duty,” she has said to him over and over. The image of my father that lives in my head is him standing against a wall feet apart, arms crossed, his head swivling back and forth. I know that this memory comes from the night the parents of the village had gotten together at my small schoolhouse for the play we children had written. And still my father had seemed to be on guard, ready for any attack.
“Din’ realize you knew this hole,” he says. He puts his fingers in the wire and leans forward, looking left and right across the expanse of the crater as if he is expecting to find something new.
“Dordin showed me.”
“Can’t leave the bunks at night.” He says without turning to look at me. The scarred side of his face is away from me, likely so he can see me from his clear eye. But I don’t get the sense he is hiding it from me. When I speak next he tips his head toward and I catch a glimpse of the black shadow of his ragged nostril.
“I’m sorry, I just needed some fresh air.”
“Fresh air?” he asks, “This stink?”
I chuckle and look out toward the crater again. “I had a dream. I had to figure out what it means.”
“Was a dream. Meant nuthin’.”
“That depends on who you’re talking to,” I tell him. I hook my fingers into the fence too, but I lean backwards, stretching away from the crater and just hanging on. “For me and people in my family, dreams mean something. I had a dream about this place before—,”
He turns to look at me when I trail off, staring off past the fence, past the crater, to my memories, “’Afore what?”
“That coffee pot was alive,” I say to him.
The sneer on his face faces to a look of bewilderment as I chuckle. I’m not actually aware of him, the dream is replaying itself in my head. Something has unlocked the door to this specific dream and I shut down in order to relive it.
“Spencer?” Kath snaps the name causing me to jump, come out of it and stare at him in surprise. He does not look amused.
“You sound like my father when you snap like that,” I tell him.
“You trail off inna daydreams wif ‘im too?” he grates.
This makes me laugh even more, though I keep it silent. Nighttime is silent time. I’ve learned that well already. “That I do.”
“What’s your dad like?” he asks me after a moment.
“Observant,” I answer. “A little bit distant. He doesn’t really know how to deal with me, how to feel about me.” I pause a moment and then suddenly I spew the short version of my family history, which is heavier than you’d think it was. “He met my mother when they worked together. She was, what she callS, a specialized archeologist. He was in charge of security. His failure to protect her resulted in… well, me.”
“Though. I probably shouldn’t be complaining about my parent to someone who lost theirs in a terrible epidemic.”
“Din’ have none,” Kath shakes his head. “I was five when the sick hit, but I ‘us in an orphanage already.”
He nods his head once, “I’m sure they’s dead now, but I ain’t ever known 'em.”
“How long have you been with Aniste?”
“Three years,” he answers, the words clipped.
“Three?” I am surprised by this. “Where were you during the hot years?”
His face stiffens and he fixes his eyes once more on the crater beyond town. “You should get back inside,” he says to me finally.
“Okay,” I agree to it easily. He has given me more than I expected from him tonight, and I will not push against this barrier he has thrown up at me. “Goodnight Kath,” I say and turn away from the fence and the crater, heading back toward the bunk. I will lay in the dark cot and think about the strange dream that brought me out here. I’m still feeling bemused over what I think I’ve learned about the events played out for my unconscious mind.
“Spencer,” he calls out and I pause at the end of the alleyway and turn back. He is a black shadow on a black landscape. “What’s your world like?” He has to throw his voice low and carefully so I can hear it from so far away.
“It is full of sound,” I whisper-shout back to him. “Music in the wind and in the trees.”
“Fancy words, pretty boy.” I think that’s what he says.