Green foliage was all I saw, but slicing through it was a sliver of asphalt, where bustling traffic zipped by me in both directions. It calmed my nerves a bit, but I still felt regret looming behind me. Mrs. Sands was probably worried sick by now, and Wyatt was probably frantically eating a bowl of cereal, preparing himself to scour Old Tenebris for me. Maybe I should have left a note at least.
Still, I moved forward, staring down at my map time and time again, even though the road was a straight path to the next city. I had an entire plan figured out: reach the next city, find myself a job for a few days to get some more money, and travel to the next one. It might be the worst plan ever, but just knowing where I would go next eased a part of me that needed to remain calm.
I folded the map into several quarters of the country, so I did not distract myself by how extensively the land reached. The country—Creput—was so large. Finding my parents would be banking on the fact that they were even still in the country, and if they were not traveling. For all I knew I could be walking in their shadow and I would never catch up.
My heart pounded the thought out of me, like it was angry at me for even thinking of such a thing. Clearly I had the heart for this journey, but my head still ran in circles of possibility and failure.
Staring at the map was comforting me. I at least knew where I was going, and worst case scenario is that they are not at the next city. But Creput was so large and daunting, I had to toss the map into my backpack once more. Instead, I opened up the tour guide I brought along, so I could find a place to sleep for the next Duscan.
Timorba City, named after the Latin word timoribus, meaning ‘City of Fears.’ I recalled hearing about the names of some of these cities. Many of them were named after the Solar Convergence, in the Decade of Panic, where no one understood the nature of the Twilight. Timorba must have been named during that time, along with Old Tenebris, which is roughly translated to Old Darkness.
Even the name of the next city is disheartening, but I instantly brushed it aside. If I lived in a place called Old Darkness for eighteen years, I could handle this. Now, it was time to actually find a hotel, rather than digress over the etymology of the city I was approaching.
In terms of lodging, there was only one place I could afford. The Dianoche Motel, which sold for twenty dollars per Duscan. I had enough for me to sleep there for a night, but that left me with only ten. That could buy me a cheap breakfast somewhere, but that was it. In the first day, I would have expended all of my money. Maybe I could find a casino…
“Don’t think you can get away so easily!” someone panted behind me. A Dweller? I tried to ignore him, because there was no way I would even think of sparing some cash now.
“Hey! I’m talking to you, Elijah!” The voice narrowed its distance, and became more familiar. Don’t tell me…
I turned around, prepared to call back to him as soon as I figured out who it was. How could I forget the indigo shirt that watched over me in the hospital yesterday?
“Wyatt! What the hell are you doing here!?” I yelled, furiously wondering if he had come to bring me back home.