The first town

The first few hours of their journey were euphoric as they paced down the road.  Their stride was long and energetic as they travelled.  They were eager for each new sight they saw and for each breath of fresh new air that entered their lungs.

Trees line both side of the road, younger smaller trees grew close to the pavement, while older larger ones were further back behind what had been the ditch.  Beyond the trees they couldn't see much.  The land was hilly which made the road they followed have many twists and turns as they moved along.  

Each of them had studied maps extensively and a long waterproof tube attached to Hope's pack held some of the better ones for reference if they needed it.  They knew that the road was the quickest way to the next town and from there they could go a few different directions, but they would make the decision once they got to that first town.

On the map it seemed such a short distance, but as each new bend in the road revealed nothing more than road and trees.  Purpose had read how far a kilometer was and how long the average person took to walk it, so he knew that the town was a fews days away yet, but he had thought that the outside world would be more interesting than this.  After he got used to the magnificence of the trees and all the green there wasn't much else to see.

They had been walking a for a long time in silence when Faith spoke up.  "I think it time we started looking for a likely spot to make camp for the night"

Purpose was about to argue that they should keep on until it started growing dark, but everyone else agreed with Faith so quickly that he thought better of it.  He couldn't believe they wanted to stop already.  He didn't feel like he ever wanted to stop moving.  He had been cooped up for so long that at times he had thought that he might go mad if that door to their little prison hadn't opened soon.

Instead, he said "Yes let's stop early today.  It's already been a big day."  He wanted to clearly express that this should be an exception to the rule and the next day they should expect to travel farther.

Peace said "What constitutes a likely spot around here?  All I have seen are trees and more trees.  There doesn't seem to be anywhere to spread out"

"There should be a better spot under the larger trees further off the road."  said Hope.

"I don't know if we should really go off the road."  Peace grimaced as he spoke.

"Don't be silly, we won't go far."  Chance added


"And each of knows how to follow the sun if we lose the road anyway.  We are going to have to fend for ourselves whether we are on the road or not."  Faith said.

"OK, let's go find a spot."  Purpose said as he turned off the road and headed into the ditch, pushing past the trees that lined the way.  He was happy to hear the others following him as he made his way.  He figured if he hadn't moved they would have stood on that road all day debating.

After a few steps they were underneath the canopy of much larger trees.  Purpose was glad to see that Hope had been partially right.  While he didn't see any places right off the bat, it did seem that the underbrush was a lot less dense where there wasn't as much sunlight.   

They walked only a short while before a call came from behind him "Over here!"  Sighing, Purpose turned around and looked back toward where the others were all now going.  He made his way back to where Hope was pointing.  She was pointing to where a large branch had broken off of a tree in what must have been a big storm a few years ago.  It was still attached to the tree somewhat, but the end of the large brach rested on the ground where it had fallen years ago.

"Why are we looking at this?"  Purpose asked.  It was interesting to see how the branch had fallen down and the way the wood was twisted where it was still connected to the tree, but he couldn't see why it was something that they should be stopping for.

"If we pull that branch away, then underneath should be a fairly level spot that is currently fairly clear."  Hope said

"Surely we can find a place where we don't have to work so hard to clear a space."  Purpose said.

"I can climb up with our hand axe and and cut away where it is attached to the tree.  After that the seven of us should be able to drag it to the side without too much trouble."  Hope replied

"I don't know..."

"Oh stop it Purpose, you just wish you would have found this spot yourself."  Desire said.  Everyone laughed, but Purpose didn't really think that it was that great a joke.

Hope eased her axe out of her pack and Peace gave her a leg up so she could get good leverage to chop at the tortured bit of wood that still kept attached to the trunk.  It only took a couple of chops before the tree released it's grip and the branch fell fully.

After that they all grabbed on to a part of the branch and pulled it away.  Purpose had to admit that the space underneath was a good spot to fit their tents.  

It took them a long while to set up their camp, since it was the first time they had ever done so.  They consumed some of their rations and rubbed at their feet.  He had to admit that it felt pretty good to sit down after as far as they had walked.

"We should have a fire!"  Chance said.

"Why?"  Peace asked.  "It's not ike it's really cold or anything and we don't have to cook anything."

"Because I want to try it."  There was a sparkle in Chances eye as she said this.  "Because we haven't done it before."  

"From what I have read, it also keeps the animals away."  Faith added.

"Animals?"  Desire's eyes widened.  "Do you really think we could run into trouble from them?"  

"I don't know, but I do know that Bear live in the area."

"Bears!."  Chance exclaimed.  "Can you imagine seeing one of those."

"From a distance I would be very happy to see one."  Peace said.  "They are supposed to be able to climb trees and run faster than humans, so it would have to be very far away."

They all laughed at this, but Chance was up and scrambling around getting items for making a fire.  'Come on guys." she said.  "I mean it.  Let's build a real fire.  We all know how to do it in theory, but we should get better at it now in case we need one sometime and it is raining or something.  We have to get better at our skills."

An unspoken agreement seemed to happen, since everyone got up on their weary legs and gathered fuel to start a fire.  Purpose grabbed the axe where it leaned on Hope's pack and went to work on the fallen tree branch.  It felt good to chop at it with all of his might.  It wasn't long before he a had made a fair pile of smaller branches that he had hacked off the large main branch.  

The others had made a much larger pile of debris from around them that they had stacked into a pile.

Serenity had pulled a little shovel out of their supplies and was digging a hole in the ground.  When Purpose had asked her about it she had mumbled something about keeping the fire from spreading and so he carried on with what he had been doing.  Most times if Serenity was doing something there was a good reason for it.

Once she was finished, Chance put a bunch of dry leaves and twigs in the middle of the hole she had made and then some larger ones on top before pulling out one of their matches and striking it.  When the flame had grown everyone had let out a little cheer.  After some time they were feeding larger and larger pieces to the fire and watching in fascination as the fire consumed them.

"It's amazing..." Peace said.

"Each day a different one of us should get a fire started so we all have practice."  Faith said.  They all nodded agreement.  

"Fire separated men from beasts, they say."  Purpose said.

"Not a lot of good it them, though." said Desire.

Hope stirred at that, saying "Well, we are still around aren't we.  Purpose keeps on talking about getting to this first town, though we all know it will be abandoned.  I have read that the people make a town.  Since that is the case then, our little campsite here is the first town that this world has seen in over a decade."

She sounded bright when she said this, but everyone else became very quiet then and introspective.  Eventually they kicked dirt over the coals of the fire and went to their bedrolls.  

Purpose lay there listening to the others rustling around and trying to get comfortable on the uneven ground, and he kept thinking about what Hope had said.  They had such a huge task ahead of them, and his brain was going a mile a minute as he thought of all that their small number had to do.  

He wondered if he would be able to fall asleep.  It was the last coherent thought he had that night as sleep took him.

The End

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