| Rising Sun - originally entered in "The Writer's Cramp" contest
“Give me that water bottle!” My mouth was parched and my heels had blisters the size of giant bagels. “Can we please take a break?” I doubled over and wheezed.
George turned around and gave me the look. Even though I couldn’t see it, I could feel it. It was that intense and I had seen it so many times that past week. We had been walking, four evenings in a row now, and I was in need of water in the worst way.
“Keep up, Marie. You are slowing us down.” He threw the Nalgene at me and kept on slogging ahead, not missing a step. Thanks for nothing, I thought as I drained the few drops remaining. “You know we have to keep moving before daylight. And that threshold is coming up fast! Move it or lose it!” George’s last few words faded as he turned the corner near the old pizza joint. Screw it, I thought. I knew where he was headed. I’ll stop for just a minute or so.
“Keep up! Marie! What are you doing!” Janeen grabbed the bottle from my hands and kept on going. Janeen was a royal pain in the rear, and I rushed to catch up.
“Hey,” I huffed and puffed. “I know our town is big and as a result, you folks need to give me some slack!”
“On deaf ears, Marie. On deaf ears!” She threw the bottle at me then rushed around the same corner that George had a few moments earlier.
Now I was behind by two people. Two more to go and here they came. The slowest in the group. Sally and Mike trudged along, barely lifting their feet. “Are we late?”
“Naah, just in time to see me come in last.” I could barely stand. And here were these two. Fine, let them go ahead. I slumped to the ground.
“Sure you want us to go ahead of you? Want us to get you anything?” Sally glanced my way but kept on walking down the street toward that corner.
“Nope, well, then again. A big old bolus of caffeine would work fine about now.”
Mike looked back. “Sorry, no can do. No money honey.”
They hurried around the corner. Not even one look back in my direction.
“Wonderful! Don’t worry about me! I’ll be just fine here, by myself, no water, sun just starting to rise!” Bums. “I”ll be fine. Just sitting here. BY MYSELF! THANKS!” My butt was beginning to hurt, so I got up and grabbed the precious water bottle.
KA-BOOM!!!! The entire corner disappeared! I was knocked to the pavement. All that was left was the little bit of ground I was on. And the sun was rising. I was in serious trouble. If the rays of the sun hit me, I would disappear. Or that is what I had been told by George. And Janeen. Oh and Sally and Mike. They had been telling me that since I joined their group last year. That is why we had been trudging ‘round the city all these nights.
So the pizza corner disappeared. And why was that? Was there a gas leak? A bomb? I guess no one will know. I had to decide what to do now. If I went north, I went to a park and no shade there from the sun. But what if the sun theory was false? Was I willing to test that? Maybe not yet.
I could always go south to the warehouses but that was a rough area. Those places had roving gangs that would not hesitate to beat up or kill me, and I had no weapon but an empty Nalgene water bottle. But they were shelter for those who wanted to be out of the sun during the daylight hours. A good option I would consider.
So the other directions were east or west but they were wide open spaces with only 8 lane highways and convenience stores. Not good places to hide at this late hour. So south I headed.
I limped along the side of the street on the way to the warehouses. The sunrise was imminent with the reds and golds changing to all yellow as the sun continued to rise higher in the sky. The temperature was beginning to rise as well. There were about 10 minutes before the theory would be tested. Finally, I ducked into the first building along warehouse row. Too many moments went by before I could see clearly again. Silence and a dank interior. But in the shadows sat dozens of people. Seems like I wasn’t the only one given the no sunshine instruction. Interesting. The undercurrent of conversation was all about the explosion at the pizza corner. It was still a mystery it seemed.
“Want to be a part of our group? You seem lost.” A dirty man came up to me and acted just a bit too friendly for my taste. His smile revealed lots of spaces.
“Gee, tempting, but no thanks. I’m waiting for my group.” I was holding out for a better option. And I think I just saw it walk up.
George, Janeen, Sally and Mike came up to me. “There you are! Are you alright? We thought you got blown up last night! Thank God you’re okay!” Mike said.
“You guys left me! And I thought all of you got blown up. So thanks, I’m okay.” I struggled to my feet. I took a deep breath, grabbed my trusty Nalgene bottle and stepped into the doorway of the warehouse. The bright sunshine made me sneeze but did not make me disappear.