The Time Traveler (Chapter Eight)
July 24, 2017, Monday [#266]
The Time Traveler (Chapter 08)
Chapter Eight summary: While gathering firewood in the forest, Sean gains more knowledge about insects, and questions about people, than actual kindling for a bonfire.
Story summary: Using a time travel gun prototype, Jake McKenzie travels back to the past. By encouraging friendships between everybody to build up trust and teach each other skills, he hopes to stop a terrible future from happening.
Chapter Eight: Arboreal Treachery
To Sean’s relief, Jake, despite being kicking, stabbing one-man whirlwind only moments ago, seemed to calm down immediately after the deed was done and the gigantic crab was lying on pieces on the floor. Even if they were provided all the superglue in the world, Sean was sure that nothing would put their crustacean Humpty Dumpty together again. And while he had felt some sympathy for it while it had been alive – honestly, with the way Jake had poked it there, and then afterwards twisted that off, one would need to have a heart of stone to not want to spare it the pain Jake had inflicted.
But those thoughts didn’t last very long, because between a powerful, hostile creature and a person that was surprised and defenseless, Sean would choose the latter anytime.
After that, Jake had assigned them different tasks for setting up camp, and of their party, Craig, Zahra, and Michelle would be in charge of guarding the supplies they had brought while keeping a lookout, while Sean, Grace, MC, and Jake would go and gather firewood to make a bonfire.
Sean had offered to pair up with Grace. It was an unusual occurrence, because he couldn’t recall having a significant conversation with her before, but he didn’t know how many more of those unnaturally large crabs were out there, and having heard earlier that day that Grace had a specific fear of crustaceans, he wanted to be there in case something showed up without warning.
Grace was soft-spoken, but definitely not stupid. From the beaming smile she gave Sean when he had made his offer, he had a feeling that she knew exactly why the two of them were gathering firewood together, and that she was grateful.
As he and Grace talked, they trailed behind Jake and MC, who were both speaking to each other in hushed tones.
His perception of others was something he would need to consider, because before tonight, Sean would have assumed that he and Grace would have spent their firewood-gathering time in silence. But after after gathering a few light branches, a stray night insect landed on Grace’s nose and she grinned and said that the last time she had seen one had been when she was young. She launched into a endearing story of pretending to be an explorer in their backyard, holding her kid’s magnifying glass as close as she could to anything that moved; taking note of the movement and habits of the miniature ant, termite, ladybug, and beetle colonies in her backyard.
Sean’s siblings didn’t have nearly as romantic a view of the tiny inhabitants of the wild outdoors. Upon meeting a tiny creature that would have been a respected member of the insect society occupying the Hall backyard, the unfortunate insect who instead found itself in the Gayle household would be greeted with panicked shrieks, and high-pitched calls for its untimely death. As the eldest sibling, Sean had been designated executioner, and he had never felt anything but indifference towards that role until Grace had vividly described to him the fantastical entomological metropolis that inhabited her own backyard.
Suddenly, there was a rush of movement in front of Sean that made him start of half a second, before he registered it as Jake, who was quickly scaling a tree without any trouble, grabbing one branch and then the other, seemingly knowing where to grasp and where to step.
As he and Grace crossed the few feet required to come up to MC at the base of the tree, they both heard her laugh merrily and call out…
“Hey! I can’t climb trees! This is
betrayal! Don’t go where I can’t follow!”
Sean wanted to tell Jake that MC was just joking. But Jake already knew that. He wasn’t an idiot.
He wanted to tell MC that she shouldn’t have said that. But MC wasn’t a close friend of his. He hoped that would change in time, but for now, the fact of the matter was that lecturing her, about anything, simply wasn’t his place.
It wasn’t her fault that her playful statement had bought back memories for Jake. Sean didn’t have to ask him for him to know that. He knew that that from the way Jake’s figure had shaken for just a second, the motion almost making him lose footing on a tree he had climbed with careless confidence only moments ago, as if he had climbed many similar trees in the past.
The muffled gasp that Sean could have imagined he heard but knew he didn’t, that should have been drowned out by the sounds of birds and insects and wind in the tress, but Sean heard it with perfect clarity because he was used to covering his sister’s mouths, muffling their gasps in case their father heard and took his anger out on them for the night, with his fist, with his belt.
Most of all, he wanted to tell himself to forget the look that he had seen in Jake’s eyes.
Too many night football drills to make himself the best at what he did, too many nights he looked around the living room, trying to hide everything that was in easy reach that could hurt – he was used to seeing in the dark.
Jake used to be in the military, and he had just single-handedly taken out the gigantic crab that had threatened Grace’s life – because Jake was strong, probably the strongest of all of them. And yet he knew that Jake had been hurt, too, somehow, by MC’s comment…
…and Sean wanted to forget that
haunted expression that he had seen in his new friend’s eyes; that
anguished look that made him wonder just who it was
that Jake had left behind.
The look itself had lasted for just a few seconds. For anybody else, it would be easy to forget.
But Sean had a photographic memory.
Sean could never forget.
of Chapter Eight.) (Word count: 999 words.)
Chapter Eight notes:
takes place during Book One, Chapters Eight and Nine. I think it would be in keeping with Sean’s character to want to look out for Grace so soon after the crustacean debacle. As for the MC, there are significant reasons for why the particular words she said would have an effect on a time traveler like Jake. While Sean and the others don’t know those reasons, they do see their effects in Jake’s demeanor. I also used the knowledge of Sean’s photographic memory that we got in Book Two.
Prompt: The main prompt for this chapter was this week’s #ChoicesCreates (Round Nineteen) image prompt (@pb-boeboe
‘s photo of a cloudy day at the beach), which was posted by @hollyashton and hosted by @pb-boeboe
😃 “Don’t go where I can’t follow,” is one of the first things I think of when I see the clouds being left behind in the beach photo 😢
(Waiting for H.W.U. to come back, forever and always; 24/07/17.)