by Jay O'Toole
This is chapter #3 of The Quest for Home, my NaNoWriMo novel for November, 2017.
Piece together life anew
Quest and Casa start,
Home is changing, What to do?
join themselves at heart.
"Dad, is that really you?"
"Quest, is that really you?"
"YES!!!!" They roared in unison, finally able to hear something.
They embraced in one all-encompassing, nearly brutal bear-hug, but neither of them seemed to mind. "I love you! I love you! I love you!..." The words seemed to embrace just as ferociously as the Bears, who shot the words as quickly as their tongues could speak them.
They hugged and they rolled and they rolled and they hugged, becoming muddier and wetter by the minute. They still had no idea where they were, but at least they were together. They had no intention of losing each other, again, any time soon.
The splashy, messy, wonderful, bear-sized wrestling match and family-sized expressions of love lasted only for a few minutes, but it seemed to last a lifetime. Physically, their whole experience of the day had lasted mere hours, but in real time The Mist of an unnatural Black Hole spat them out onto the land approximately six years after they entered The Nothing.
"What was that, Dad? I've never experienced anything like that in my life!"
"Neither have I, Quest, and I'm a lot older than you are!"
"WOW, Dad! You really are! I don't remember you having that many gray hairs in your coat before now!"
"Come to think of it. You look older, too, Quest! I guess the question is not 'where are we?' but 'WHEN are we?'"
Dad's voice dropped, which made his face look rather sad.
"What is it, Dad?" Quest wondered.
"I don't know how to tell you this, Son,...but...your Mom is dead."
Shocked, Quest fell on his back in the muck and mire. He filled his lungs and let out the loudest bellowing roar their world had ever heard. Tears, not of fear, but of terrible grief, coursed down his already wet, muddy face, making little difference to observation, but great difference to his heart.
Minutes passed and the roars subsided, then a small raspy voice asked, "How?"
"The same Earthquake that snatched you from me, turned our home into her mausoleum. She didn't survive the rock slide. We're on our own now, Buddy. I am so sorry."
"Well, Son, we could stay here and cry for days, but we don't have shelter, nor do we have food. I think we would do a better job of honoring the lady in our lives by taking care of her two boys. Don't you think she would like that?"
"Yeah, Dad! I really do,...but now what?"
"Hmmm, now that The terrible Mist is moving off to the West, I can see that the wonderful azur sky is coming into view. What do you see?"
"Dad, I think we're back in Peaceful Valley, but it's much later than it was, when I landed here the last time."
"What makes you say that, Quest?"
"Well, the bottom of the valley is that luscious grass, where we used to roll and play and sleep for hours, when I was very small."
"Okay, I can see that, but maybe other valleys have thick green grass, too. What else tells you it's Peaceful Valley?"
"The sides of the valley are full of pine trees, which helped us to climb the steepest parts of the incline."
"Very good. Now, what else?"
"O,...Right! There are three concrete picnic tables and benches at one end of the narrow valley. The humans love that place. They bring their families and have a wonderful time. I used to get an easy meal, when they went exploring and left some sandwiches on one of the tables."
"Quest Bear, that is so wrong! You know that's stealing!" Dad scolded.
"I've never been caught."
"That changes nothing! It's wrong and you know it! How would you like it, if someone stole your food?"
"They couldn't. I'd bite them."
"I can see I still have a few things to teach you."
"What, Dad? I don't get it."
"That's just what I mean."