The land was changing from trees-hills to scrub-sand.  We were leaving the valley, on our feet.

Bobby-Loud-One got burned when a sliver of rocket metal fell from a cloud and burned his shirt on the front. His skin made a blister.  He said he wouldn’t cry but he did cry a little and none of us laughed, which I think he liked.  I can tell you I would have liked that.

Only seven of us left.

We feel alone so we keep walking in one way.  If an eye comes overhead, we stand near a tree or inside a pipe (which is the best, by the way, if you are ever caught) and then the eye goes away or takes one of us.  I used to like to blink back at the eye.  I do that no longer because survival is the name of this game.  We have become quite serious, in fact.

We’ve had rain, which is good because our clothes smell bad and we’ve been thirsty and Knees yelled at Bobby-Loud-One because  she thought he was having more of the old water (I don’t think he was).  We all had to stop in the sun when Knees yelled, which took a long time so I set my things down on the ground.  Ants were on my shoes and got inside.

“See here, ” Knees shouted, “You drink more water!”

Bobby-Loud-One looked at me perhaps thinking I would yell something to Knees such as, “No he does not!” or “Please be quiet, Knees!”  He looked at Tumbler (the big one) and Low-Speaker-Mouth for the same reasons, I assume.  Tumbler (the big one) set his things on the ground as well because he saw me do it, I’ll just bet.  It’s getting to where I can not stand him.

The walking helps us not feel alone and I’m going to tell you why:  even though we don’t know where we’re going or who we will see when we are done walking, we are connected in some way to these people and to the place where these people are.  The connection is in our heads for now – as part of our imagination.  We will kill everyone.

With the rain we have water and Knees doesn’t care how much any of us drink but I’m sure she’ll start up when the water runs out!  You can count on that!

Text and Images © Andrew Auten – All Rights Reserved