Saturday, April 7, 2018

Page 1677

((Triple Saturday -- Page 2 of 3))
The sky was as clear and blue as it ever was. It made Parson angry, somehow. Like it didn’t know or didn’t care. The sun, too, was bright and obnoxious.

Maybe it would’ve been better to go out at night, after all, Parson thought.

It wasn’t long before Damian tracked down a nice, plump jackrabbit, but even though all three of them chased it down, the quick little bastard still managed to escape into a burrow. The Trio was discouraged for a while, until Parson finally plopped down on a wide boulder and heard a high-pitched and familiarly terrifying shhk sound.

A rattlesnake, he noticed. Barely a foot away from him.

A hefty rock sailed in from outside Parson’s vision and smashed into the coiled body of the snake.

“Get it!” yelled Damian. “Go for the neck!”

Parson watched it flail there in the dirt and grass for a second before he remembered the knife. Then he pounced on it, somehow managing to grab its neck and slice its head off. He was surprised to find that the rattling did not immediately cease.

They wasted no time building a campfire. Parson and Damian did most of the work, while Germal just watched and hopefully learned something, what with all the questions he was asking.

They peeled its skin off and roasted its meat. It wasn’t going to be enough to feed three hungry boys, but it was something, at least. And for the first time in a while, Parson actually felt marginally happy about something. A successful hunt. Being alive.

“I didn’t know snake tasted this good,” said Germal with a mouthful.

“It doesn’t,” said Damian. “That’s just because you’re so hungry. Everything tastes better when you’re hungry.”

“Huh, really?”

“We need to talk about what we’re gonna do next,” said Parson. “We can’t just stick around here and hunt snakes forever.”

“What, you want to go back to the village?” said Damian. “There’s nothing there for us.”

“No,” said Parson. “The soldiers came from the south, so I think we should head north.”

“Hmm.” Damian scratched his face while he chewed. “Yeah, okay. Sounds good to me.”

Germal bobbed from side to side as he listened to the two older boys. “There’s another village up that way, isn’t there?” he said.

“Yeah,” said Parson. “The soldiers are probably headed there, too. If we get there first, maybe we warn everybody.”

“We won’t get there first,” said Damian. “They’ve got horses.”

That was true, Parson supposed. Damn. “But maybe they’ll stay here for a few more days. And then we can--”

There was a noise from behind. The boys all went deadly silent, listening.

More noises. Rustling in the bushes. Scraping metal? A sword being pulled from its sheath, Parson knew at once.

No words were needed. Parson ran away from the noise, and the other two boys followed. He glimpsed back in time to see a pair of uniformed soldiers convening on their campfire.

The boys kept running and didn’t look back again.

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