W.I.D., part 16: Into the Wastelands

Hey guys! Part 16….. Tell me what you think!

Whatever I Draw

by Eliza May

Slowly, almost reluctantly, the sun lightened the sky of the Dying City. Jason and Tullier were still sitting facing each other, while the others slumbered heavily, recharging after their long day.

“Where are you taking us today, Jason? We’ll be leaving the city if we continue in the direction we were traveling in yesterday. Where after that?”

“Just trust me,” Jason grunted.

Before Tullier could reply, Jason stood, stretched his stiff limbs, and walked over to Kirk, Luger, and Stefania. “C’mon guys, morning. Wake up.” The three sleepers didn’t stir. Sighing, Jason nudged Luger in the side with his shoe. “Lago! Up. Now!”

At the sound of his name–his real name–Luger started, and opened his eyes. He relaxed as he saw Jason standing above him. “Ugh…. Morning already?”

Jason grunted acquiescence and woke up Kirk and Stefania. When everyone was sufficiently awake, Jason said, “Come on, we can’t wait around all day. They’ll be after us again soon, you know.”

“You mean now? What about breakfast?” Kirk asked this question with worry in his face.

Jason rolled his eyes. He muttered something under his breath about pampered city kids and dug around in a small pack he was carrying with him. From it, he drew out some plain-looking biscuits and handed one each to Kirk, Luger, and Stefania. He glanced at Tullier.

Feeling that this was some sort of challenge, Tullier shook his head, despite the fact that he was starving, not having eaten for more than a day.

Meanwhile, Kirk was cautiously nibbling the corner of one of the biscuits. He made a face. “What is this? It’s so… plain.”

“But it’s nutritious and it will provide you with energy for ten hours. Now come on, we’ve got to keep moving.”

Sighing, Kirk swallowed the biscuit, repressing his urge to ask for something to drink along with it. The siblings followed his example. While they ate, Jason took another biscuit from his sack. With a betrayed feeling, Tullier wondered if the boy was going to eat it. Instead, to Tullier’s shock, Jason drew something else from his pack as well–a snake. Although Tullier had no particular aversion to snakes, it was still rather disconcerting for him to see this. It was on the smaller side, about the size of a garden snake, and was a shiny black. If possible, it affectionately wound about Jason’s wrist and slithered up his arm until it rested on his shoulder, hissing softly. “Good girl, Slang,” whispered Jason. He broke off a corner of the biscuit and held it up to his snake’s mouth. She swallowed it, and he gave her another.

“Is… Slang… your pet?” Tullier asked hesitantly.

Jason flashed him a feral grin, pleased with Tullier’s reaction. “Yes. She is. And she’s well-trained, too.” Speaking to the snake, he whispered something.  Obediently, Slang slithered down Jason’s body and onto the ground with surprising speed. Then, to Tullier’s horror, she wound about his leg and ascended his body. Frozen, Tullier stared at the snake, afraid to move. Slang continued up until she rested on his shoulder, then hovered her face before Tullier’s flicking her tongue in and out.

Through gritted teeth, Tullier muttered, “Get her off of me, Jason.”

Jason was grinning widely, almost laughing, while the others watched the scene with confusion and a bit of anxiety. Finally, though, Jason whistled, and with the swiftness of an arrow, Slang went back to her master.

Seething, Tullier grunted, “Come on Kirk, Stef, Luger. Time to go.”

They shouldered their packs and stood, ready to follow where Jason would lead. Tullier narrowed his eyes. He didn’t like how easily his companions trusted this Jason. However, as there were no other options that he could see, he had little choice but to follow Jason, as well.

They trekked through the quiet, nearly empty city, meeting few people. Soon, they passed from the sparsely populated part of the city to the completely abandoned areas. Crumbling buildings reared their unkempt heads against the sky, and weeds grew profusely through cracks in the asphalt and concrete. Already, nature was beginning to take back its own. Then they left the city altogether, passing into the dry, rocky hills behind it. Once, it had been a lush and fertile place, but now it was utterly barren, and the only living things they saw were hardy grasses and a few stunted trees.

After several hours of hiking through this dry wasteland, Tullier caught up to Jason, who was in the lead, and demanded, “Where are you taking us? We’ve been walking all day, and the only thing that lies ahead of us is more of this!” He spread his arms, indicating the whole scene.

Jason regarded him out of the corner of his eye. The snake was still resting on her master’s shoulder. “Well, I could leave you here, in the middle of nowhere, with no options ahead of you.”

Tullier growled under his breath. “Seeing as you’ve already taken us this far, we’ll follow you for a little longer. But if we don’t reach somewhere soon, I’ll go my own way.”

With a superior smile, Jason replied, “Technically, we are somewhere, even if that somewhere is in the Wastelands.”

Gritting his teeth, Tullier didn’t reply, and slowed sufficiently to allow a space of several feet come between himself and Jason. They continued walking, and the hills began to grow taller and steeper, until they were almost cliffs. This change was so dramatic that they found themselves traveling through a rocky gorge that stretched on until it disappeared into the horizon.

At about five o’clock in the afternoon, when the gorge was darkened with shadow, Jason stopped. Slang raised her head and flicked her tongue in and out rapidly. Looking up towards the sky, Jason scanned the top of the gorge and the rocky crevices within it. Then, without warning, he shot out his arm and hit Tullier straight in the throat with the side of his hand.

Did any of you see that coming???

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