A two days journey south from Hidden River and a day’s journey east from the mountains known as The Rocks, the traveler sat.
Her back was leaned up against the dark skinned man’s jeep as she rested her eyes. He was setting a fire, and setting up folding chairs that he had kept in the back of his vehicle. Underneath where the folding chairs lied, there was gas container upon gas container. The traveler could understand why he had so many, since gasoline was scarce in the desert of which the man drove.
He was a nicely built man from what the traveler could tell. He looked like he was maybe in his late 30’s, and had brown eyes, a wide nose and thick lips. His skin looked almost black now that the sun was disappearing behind the horizon.
The traveler watched the sun as she took off her satchel that was slung over her shoulder. She opened it and took out a container which held the freshest water that was manageable in this wasteland.
She felt her tongue begin to bloat as she opened it and took a few little sips. She wiped the remaining water droplets that hung around her mouth with the sleeve of her coat. She noticed the man walk past her carrying a brown knapsack. He unzipped it, and took out pieces of rabbit meat. He skewered the pieces of meat on sticks that were sharpened into spears that he had previously set in the loose sand beside the blazing flame.
He caught her stare and said, “Hungry?”
She nodded in response and stood up. She sat on one of the fold up chairs that was blue. She remembered sitting on one of these back in her home town. They would all go camping, and roast marshmallows over a fire just like this one. The memory brought a smile to the traveler’s face as she grabbed one of the skewers.
He watched her as she stuck out her meat over the red coals. She could almost hear it sizzle as it roasted. It made her mouth water. She hadn’t eaten since she ran out of provisions, which was three days before this. They sat in silence as their mouths salivated quietly thinking about the meal to come.
The traveler waited a few moments, but then she didn’t care that the meat wasn’t cooked enough yet; she took a greedy bite out of it. The dark skinned man disregarded this while he cooked his meat properly for he was well fed compared to her.
“I have a question,” he said breaking the silence that was hung between them. She looked up at him from her skewered meat which was basically almost all devoured. She stared at him waiting for him to continue.
“How’d you know about me?” he asked. He awaited an answer while the traveler ate the remains off of her skewer. She then threw it in the fire, being almost completely stuffed from just the small piece of meat.
“From a friend,” She started, leaning her back against her chair, and resting one leg on the knee of the other. The man was slouched over so that he could hold his skewer just the right distance away from the coals, “Of a man who wanders in the desert between The Rocks and the city or Porter.” He smiled a little at this, knowing that this was the truth, but then she said something that made his eyes go wide.
“He’s in search of a traveler, who is said to save the world,”
There was then a silence as the dark skinned man took this all in. He hand went to his mouth trying to stop a laugh that was going to burst through his lips. After a few moments he could not hold it in and bellowed a deep laugh. She stared at him wide eyed.
“That’s the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard,” He said wiping the tears that were forming in his eyes from laughing, “I like you, you’re a funny one,” He said with a finishing chuckle. She stared at him seriously, and he caught this gaze. His smile slowly disappeared from his face.
“Wait, don’t tell me you’re being serious,” He said.
She didn’t answer, looking down at the sand.
“Look around you,” He said. She looked at him as he motioned his hand out at the desert, “There’s nothing out here but sand, rocks, trash, and bandits. This world has gone to hell and no one can save us,”
She didn’t answer this. She was listening but was also deep in thought. She looked up at him and a smirk started to grow on her face.
“Well it’s obviously true, because here you are,” she said. He was caught off guard by this because it was true, “so if that is just a rumour, then why are you wandering around the desert?”
His hand went back to his mouth as he rested his elbow on the arm chair. A howl of a coyote filled the air, followed by the howls of the rest of his pack as he thought of how to answer.
“I’m searching for someone, that part is true,” He started stretching out his arms in front of him, “But it’s not someone who will save the world,” he said with a laugh.
“Then who,” She asked. Her green eyes were set on him awaiting a reply. He took in a deep breath and looked at the sky.
“My Roséa,” He answered. The traveler nodded not pushing any further. She knew what it was like to be away from someone who was important to you. The fire gave out a loud crackle as a spark flew up into the air and landed next to the traveler’s black boot. They sat there not saying a word, listening to coyotes howl and the cockroaches scurry on the desert floor.
“Well I don’t know about you,” The man said getting up from his chair, “but I’m exhausted,” He folded up the chair and threw it in the back of his jeep. He then brought out a large tarp like material along with some poles. The traveler watched as he set up his tent as if he had done it a million times.
“There, the tent’s all set for you,” This raised the traveler’s eyebrows.
“For me,” She was dumbfounded.
“Yeah, I’ll just sleep in my jeep. I like sleeping in there more anyways,” He said with a laugh.
“How do I know you won’t take off on me?” The traveler asked seriously. The man looked at her with a humoured expression.
“How do I know you won’t rob me blind?” the man said with a loud laugh, “Or slit my throat in my sleep!” The traveler smiled a little at this.
“I guess you’re right,” the traveler responded. He then climbed in the back of his jeep. She leaned her head back and closed her eyes. The fire continued to crackle, the sharp sounds happening less and less often as the blaze slowly went out. The traveler sat there, her mind wandering. A memory ran through her mind of a summer many years ago. She sat at the edge of her dock, and the ocean lay out in front of her. It was high tide, and every wave brushed over her legs. The sun was setting, and the salty air filled her lungs as she inhaled it. Someone came and sat beside her.
Don’t be sad, a voice from the person said, as their arms came around the traveler, I’ll be back.
Tears tempted to well up in her eyes, but she held them back and let sleep consume her.
Like clockwork the traveler woke as soon as the sun shined its littlest bit of light over the earth. She stretched her arms above her head as stood up from the camping chair. She arched her back trying to crack it but it was a failed attempt.
She took a breath of the morning desert air, and could still taste the smoulder from the fire that was still lightly smoking. She looked over at the jeep where she could hear the man softly snoring. She rolled her eyes, and started cleaning up the tent, which she didn’t end up sleeping in. She threw all of the poles and other accessories into the back of the jeep, which made the man jump awake.
He pulled out his gun and aimed it at the traveler. Once he realized who it was, he laughed to himself, and then put it away.
“Can’t be too careful,” he said. She smiled a little at this, walking back over to the fire, and then folded up the camping chairs. She also put those in the back of the jeep. She then walked over to the passenger door and opened it.
“We need to hurry,” she said sitting in the seat, and doing up the seat belt.
“It’s a 3 day trip to Porter,” He said, climbing into the driver’s seat from the back seats where he was sleeping. The traveler could see a pillow and a scrunched up blanket on the seats. “And then a day’s trip on foot from there to old town,” He continued, looking over at the traveler who was looking at him intently.
“I know,” she responded.
“And before we can continue,” He said, reaching in the back for his mickey, “I need to at least know your name,” She looked ahead and thought about this for a moment. She bit her bottom lip, and looked back over to the man.
“You first,” she said. He rolled his eyes.
“Mitch. Mitch Rivers.” He said.
“Olivia,” she replied with a little smile. “Olivia Stone.”
“Pretty name,” Mitch said.
“As is yours,” He laughed at this. His laugh echoed across the empty and open desert plain.
“I like you; you’re a funny one,” he finished laughing, and started up the engine.
“You’ve said that,” Olivia pointed out. He nodded and continued to smile.