General Fiction posted March 8, 2014 Chapters:  ...11 12 -13- 14... 


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Christine and Johnny follow two strangers.

A chapter in the book Yosemite

Stalking Lester & Romance?

by michaelcahill




Background
Campers are stranded in Yosemite by an unknown catastrophe. They must learn to work together if they are to survive.
In the last insatallment the girls rescued Johnny from a dangerous situation. It was decided that Christine and Johnny would do some exploring outside of the normal boundaries that they had normally traveled. They came upon a couple of men trying to shoot a deer with a bow and arrow. They decided to follow them and find out where they were camped out and what their situation might be. We continue the story with Christine and Johnny decideding to track them. 



Fortunately, for them, we were not in their line of sight. We were in a stand of trees. Christine had her arrow aimed right at them the moment one of them spoke. Without making a sound, we caught each other's eyes and decided to follow them. They weren't worried about noise and easy to track. They left the river and were heading towards Half-Dome, a prominent feature at Yosemite. It was a mountain shaped like a dome that had been cut in half. We guessed they had a camp there or maybe there were cave in the mountain.
 
"What are we going to do when we find out where they live?" Christine looked pensive. "Maybe they're in better shape than we are."
 
"Yeah. Maybe they're in worse. But, those two yokels looked like they were out on a turkey shoot in the Ozarks." I realized that I was unnerved by their casual attitude. "Did you notice that they seemed like there wasn't a care in the world?"
 
"Yes. Yes. That bugged the hell out of me. We're up here at recon five and they're down there practically filming a sitcom episode. They don't act like they're in any particular dire straits. Maybe it's time to move." She looked at me without the little spark of humor that usually adorned her visage. "I realize that those are your friends, Johnny. They're not mine, you are. I'm pretty sure that whatever life I used to have is gone. As it stands right now, you are my life. I don't need to go back. But, that is your decision. If you go back, I'm going with you. I just think that if this is a better option that we should consider it."
 
"I hadn't thought that far ahead, Christine. I imagine my feelings for you are obvious. I am with you wherever that is and whatever role that is. You didn't kill David, I know that. Do you have any idea who did? It's been on my mind. It's one thing to talk about it; it's another to do it. That's hypocritical as hell of me, I know. But, it doesn't sit right with me."
 
"I was shocked to be honest with you. I knew I had to get us off the hook. That's why I said what I did. I knew you weren't down for it, so I made it a task for the rest of us to do anonymously. Well, that left me out. I'm no murderer. I'd kill to protect myself or someone else. But, I don't kill just to make my life more comfortable. Whatever payback that comes with, I don't want." She sat back against one of the redwoods that shielded our location.
 
She continued. "It wasn't Jen. I know her well enough to know she wouldn't take a life like that. She carries life within her. The two don't go together. Carlos could do it. It isn't his nature, but he's been brainwashed before into that way of thinking. Linda I don't know well enough. I can't say. But, Johnny, what scares me most is that it might not be any of the above. It could be anyone else. It could be someone completely outside the group hiding in the forest, like the guy that pulled a gun on you."
 
"I know all three of them, even Linda, though not as well. We've all tolerated David for a long time. He was a pain; I'm not saying he wasn't. But, it never crossed my mind to kill him or even transfer him out to a different facility. As far as I know, they were of a like mind. I don't see Tonnie or Rhonda having it in them either. Nathan, yes. Lacci, I doubt it, but I don't know her or Gourmet Joe either. Annie I sincerely doubt. Russell, not a chance. Nathan would be my best guess. But, it is just as likely that someone drifted in from the forest and did it. But why? They didn't take anything."
 
That would have to wait for now. An older woman was greeting our boys. I couldn't make out just how old she might be from this distance, but she stood stooped over and appeared quite old. The distance muted the conversation, but it looked animated. I caught Christine's eye and with a glance we began to sneak forward. Within earshot now, we could hear the gist of the discussion.
 
"Dammit Lester. I'm so tired of squirrel stew I could eat a squirrel stew. That deer could have been cured and feed us all here for a long time. Why didn't ya just let your cousin Jonesy take the shot?" She stomped her foot and gave a little kick to the side. It looked angry from my vantage point.
 
The man she called Lester looked like a little boy about to be sent to his room. He just shuffled his feet and stared at the ground. I'd swear any second now he was gonna go and get a switch so his momma could swat him.
 
"I'd a been practicin' real good, momma. That deer just moved is all. The arrow hit right twer he was. Tell her Jonesy."
 
Jonesy hesitated. Then some kind of kindness came over him. "That's the way of it, momma Slavert. He that old deer hadn't a moved, we'd be eatin' venison. That's the truth of it." He looked as scared for lyin' as Lester did for having her find out the truth.
 
Lester looked relieved and gratified, but still terrified that momma Slavert was a little too clever to fall for that. "I'm sorry momma. At least we knows thars some game out there. That’s a good thing, right?"
 
At that point, several others came out from a stand of trees to join them. Including kids, we counted fourteen. There could have been more. We had to get down there and see what their camp looked like. A glance to Christine showed we were of like mind and we began to move quietly towards their position. It was dusk and we had to decide whether to return home and come back another time or continue ahead now.
 
"It's been getting colder, and it looks like rain. Is this the time to do this?" I had fantasies of being huddled together with her braving the weather and that didn't seem half-bad.
 
She smiled coyly, "Is there something to this that I'm not aware of?" She laughed softly. "I think dark is when we want to spy. The more we know about them the better. I don't think we're ready to walk up and say howdy at this point." She looked back at the river now a ways in the distance and then at the sky as though assessing all available data. "I'm thinking staying here at this point is safer in any case. That is if you don't mind the company."
 
I looked back at the river and contemplated the sky, but mostly I imagined being alone with her. "I'm for staying put. I don't relish heading back in the dark, especially if it starts raining. Who knows what the rain will wash out of the forest."

"Johnny, you know those dreams you've had? I had one too. It was just like yours. I mean, just like yours. I don't know anything about any of the people or places in this dream Johnny."

Christine preceeded to relate her dream to me in detail. It was almost identical to mine. Having the same dream was beyond strange to say the least.
 
Unbeknownst to any of us our fate was being discussed in a more formal setting. The President had convened the Security Council to discuss the state of the union. Not the State of the Union that was portrayed in an annual speech to a glazed-eyed populace, but the real state of the actual union of what was left of the United States of America.


Recognized


The campers are starting to question the morality of David's death and it isn't clear who killed him. Moving away from the violence. Continuing to receive great input and I am listening intently. The story has taken on a life of its own now though it is still following a basic outline of what I originally had in mind. Thanks for your help.

Note: Dream sequence is in Italics.
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