Sarah's Phoenix

Unwittingly brought into, what she had thought was her own fantasy world, Sarah finds love and a destiny no one had fortold.

Scouting (Part 1)

Sarah wandered away from the camp. She tried to focus on finding herbs and berries, but every now and then a burst of the conversation floated to her.

“She’s a woman!” one man exclaimed.

“A woman doesn’t even belong in an army camp, let alone with the scouts,” said another.

Sarah felt her hand clench and slowly relaxed it. This was Jason’s world and these were Jason’s men, she reminded herself. Now was not the time to start an argument about women’s liberation. Sarah was close enough to hear Jason’s final argument.

“I have known her since I was 10. She is not like any woman you know.” Jason paused. “All I ask is that you give her a chance. We’ll be nearing Shelby in two weeks. If necessary I’ll make other arrangements for her then.” Other arrangements, Sarah sighed. If only she could get a chance to talk with Jason alone.

One of the men said “Only until Shelby,” with a sigh of resignation.

Seeing the men get up from their seats, Sarah collected some wood before stepping into the clearing. Well aware of their disapproving glances she began setting up the fire. She was thankful to have been a girl scout, and for the many camping trips her family had taken. She might not know much about this society, but at least she had some survival skills.

She had no idea how long she had actually been here. Jason was the only one who talked to her, but he didn’t talk much. The morning after they had decided to let her stay until Shelby, they began to move. Jason’s men did their best to not notice her, as she struggled to keep up. They had been moving almost non-stop, not even bothering to set up the tent. Sarah ate as little as she could, knowing they hadn’t brought enough for eight.

Around the evening of the fifth day of movement they stopped to set up camp. As soon as Sarah saw the tent unpacked, she started a fire pit. Jason sent Jess and Mike hunting. As she went looking for the cooking utensils, Mathew started to help her. She smiled at him, grateful some one was helping. Once the stew pot was set, Sarah headed into the woods to forage. It seemed strange to find a lot of what her mother grew in a garden growing wild here. At some point in time it must have been that way in her world too. Her world; the thought brought a lump to her throat, that Sarah swallowed. She put her focus into making the stew taste good, to avoid thinking of why she was here.

That evening, during dinner, Jason gave out the assignments. Sarah felt it was more a formality than necessity, given everyone’s reaction. Apparently she’d be staying at camp with Mathew as the rest headed out in pairs. When dinner was done, one of the men complemented Mathew on the stew, since he’d helped her with it. He merely deferred the compliment to Sarah. All of the men looked up at her. It was the first time some of them had. Jason was the only one who smiled. Sarah’s mother had always sworn the way to a man’s heart was through his stomach. Not that she wanted any of these guy’s hearts, just their respect, or at least tolerance.

The next day the men headed out. Sarah was sad to see Jason go. She could really use a good talk with him. Not only that, but she was now alone in camp with Mathew. Although he had been nicest to her, Sarah wasn’t sure she wanted to be alone with him. She also knew Jason was in charge of the group, and that he’d stretched a few rules for her already. So Sarah made sure the fire was banked and the campsite tidy, all the while Mathew watched her. His stare made her uneasy. She bided her time until she could slip into the woods while he wasn’t watching.

Mathew found her a little while later, leaning against a giant tree. He’d come upon her quietly, startling her from her reverie. Before Sarah could move, he had his arms on either side of her, hands against the tree.

"Tell me, do you prefer the comfort of the tent, or the excitement of the woods?" He smiled charmingly. Sarah looked at him and then away, trying to stay relaxed. "Come now," he said, one hand going to her chin, "I promise I’ll be gentle." He turned her head and leaned in to kiss her.

"No," Sarah said, taking that opportunity to move away from him, breaking his grip on her chin.

"So you like it rough?" he asked, with a slightly wicked grin. He reached out and grappled her. With a swift move she’d practiced more often than she liked, she threw Mathew to the ground and pinned him.

"I said no, and I mean no." He seemed to think it was still a game, so she kept him pinned a while. "If you try anything," she emphasized the word, "again, you’ll be suffering from more than a bruised ego." She twisted the arm she held slightly to emphasize her point. Letting him up she stalked back to camp, breaking apart a few branches in the process.  She took a seat by the fire and took some deep breaths. So men here were like men at home; it had been foolish to think they might all be like Jason. She sighed and wondered what exactly the culture was like.

The End

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