This serial story is presented in draft (unedited) form. New installments will be posted every Friday, and each installment is available for one week. Miss one? Joining late? Email me for the previous installments. Creepy reading…
The Dry Rain
Micah nodded, glancing at his sister to make sure she was sipping her milk before he answered the question.
“We were just going to sleep around dawn — we go out at night for food and stuff, and sleep during the day. I heard someone coming and we hid behind some big wooden boxes. Two men were talking about insurance money and throwing gasoline around. They lit a match and dropped it and the whole place started on fire. I barely had time to get Bailey out a window before stuff started exploding inside.”
“Wow.” Angie looked at him carefully, and then at Bailey. “Are either of you hurt? Burned? Cut?”
He shook his head. “No ma’am. We ran to the park and found Susan, but it isn’t safe for us there. She told us to come to this address. Said the people here would be nice.”
“Did she say how she knew me? Or my husband?”
Micah shook his head again. “No ma’am. Just that you’d be nice.” He was tired, and he rubbed his eyes, the milk in his stomach making him sleepy. He looked over at Bailey, who had laid her head on the table and looked like she was sleeping.
“I think you two need to get some sleep,” their hostess said. “I’ll carry your sister, and you follow me.”
She stood and picked Bailey up, leading the way down a hall to a room that had little in it other than a bed, a nightstand and a bookshelf. She laid Bailey on one side of the bed, and pointed to the other.
“You’ll be okay here together, right?”
He nodded as he climbed up onto the lacey white bedspread, a wide yawn escaping as he laid down next to his sister.
“Thank you, ma’am,” he murmured as he closed his eyes and let the world drift away.
When he woke up again, everything was dark, and he couldn’t figure out why he was laying on such a soft surface. It reminded him of home, and he sat up in a panic, feeling the other side of the bed where Bailey slept when she snuck out of her room at night, so he could protect her.
She wasn’t there.
Sliding off the bed he ran for the door and out into the hall, disoriented again when everything looked different. This wasn’t their hall, their house.
The moths. The larvae. Angie.
He moved down the hall, his heart slowing as the fear subsided a little, and found Bailey in the living room, curled up on the couch beside their hostess.
They were reading a book.
Angie looked up and smiled when he came into the room.
He nodded, taking a seat beside his sister. “How’s the stomach, sis?”
She grinned. “Angie gave me some tomatoes from a jar. We’re reading a story. Want to read with us?”
Angie looked over Bailey’s head. “There are some left on the table if you want them — I don’t have much food left, but I’ll go see if I can find some more later today. You’re welcome to bring them out here and join us while you eat, if you want.”
His stomach growled at that exact instant, and Bailey giggled.
“Thanks.” He went to the kitchen and got the bowl and spoon Angie had left for him, joining them on the couch with his breakfast.
“What are you reading?”
“The Sly Little Fox,” Bailey said, happier than he’d heard her sound in a long while. “Read, Angie!”
Angie laughed and pointed to a word in the book. “You learned that word — what is it?”
“Fox!” Bailey clapped her hands, and Angie smiled.
Micah ate his tomatoes as Angie and Bailey worked their way through the thin book, Angie teaching Bailey a word here and there, and what letters sounded like, and how to sound out words. His sister was learning to read, and he hadn’t ever even given a thought to what she did and didn’t know since they’d left home.
Maybe Angie could keep Bailey, and teach her things. Just until the moths were gone, and things were back to normal.