Book Review – Dark Tempest by Annette Marie

Book review time! Just so you know, I don’t generally give long, complex reviews so don’t expect something with lots of big, literary words. I’m all about keeping it simple.

Dark Tempest (Red Winter Trilogy Book Two) by Annette Marie

dark-tempest

Oh my holy freaking cow!! I am so in love with this series! Some twists that happened weren’t surprising for me because they had been in the back of my mind the whole time in that “Wouldn’t it be cool if…” kind of way. And then BOOM! I was right and it makes me so happy. ^_^ lol

Once again Annette Marie has woven an exciting, fun tale following Emi’s journey. She was given a mission from Amaterasu at the end of book 1 and now journeys to see it through. I giggled and laughed, held my breath, felt excitement and worry and frustration and, of course, sadness. I’m definitely emotionally attached to these characters.

Annette Marie changes relationships so gradually that I hardly know it’s happening until it’s commented on by one of the characters and then I’m right alongside Emi in her realization that it’s true. Just like real life when things change so gradually we don’t realize they’ve changed until it’s pointed out to us and we take a step back and go “Oh!”

Her take on the mythological details and how they might look/act/etc is so creative! Quite ingenuous in my mind. I’m right there along with everyone else waiting with bated breath for the 3rd book.

I’m just going to add in one last thing that has nothing to do with the book content…OMG! Look at that COVER! It is GORGEOUS!!! When I get my covers redone some day, I want mine to look as freaking awesome as hers do. I’m in love with them!

This author is quickly becoming my author idol. Seriously. An indie author who’s doing a fantabulous job. Definitely my idol. I know who I wanna be when I grow up! wink face tongue

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The Path of Moonlight: 18

Last Friday I was all

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so I didn’t get any writing done. I was probably lucky I got anything done that day. I was soooo sleepy. But I’m back today and I’m fresh from Sunday’s rest day so here we go!

======== The Path of Moonlight ========

The old woman climbed back down the stairs.  She didn’t look to see if I followed.  I stayed where I was as I watched her descend the steps and disappear from sight, unsure what to do.  There was no way to escape from the loft I was in and even if I did, I knew I wouldn’t get far with my head screaming in pain the way it was.  In the end I followed her down.

The fire was once again crackling, the short flames attempting to reach the pot hanging out of reach above them.  The old woman was finishing sprinkling herbs into a squat, plain mug.  Whatever was in it was steaming and the warmth of the mug felt good against the palms of my hands as the woman handed it to me.

“Let it steep first for several minutes,” she instructed.

“What is it?” I asked though more out of a dull curiosity than out of suspicion.  I knew I’d drink it even if it was boiled goat urine.  I perched on the edge of one of the worn chairs as I peered into the dark mug.

“Only water and herbs,” she said.  “Nothing fancy like the court healers will give you.  My potions are simple but don’t mistake simplicity for ineffectiveness.  Those court healers get bogged down in their own complexities, trying to appear mysterious and powerful.  When I give you something, it’s simple but you know it will work.  Drink it.”

I did as I was told and wrinkled my nose, not bothering to cover my distaste.  “It’s bitter,” I said.

“I also don’t sweeten things,” she said.  “You want something sweet, go to the marketplace.  Your teeth will rot out of your head, but you’ll get your sweetness.  You want something real and good for you, come to me.  It will taste worse if you let it cool.”

Cringing at the thought, I braced myself against the scalding heat and the tongue-curling taste and forced myself to drink half the cup.  The effects were immediate and the lessening pain encouraged me to continue till the mug was empty, herbs and all.  I frowned as I peered into the cup.

“I thought you said you added herbs.”

“Of course I did,” the old woman responded.  “You didn’t think they’d stay in there, did you?”  She clucked and shook her head when she saw my confused face.  “They’re not plants to sit in the bottoms of ladies’ teacups.  Give them a few minutes and they melt into the water, adding their medicine directly to the drink.  It’s more potent than a mere tea.”

I sat in silence, relieved to be out of pain and able to think again but now plagued by too many questions.  Which one did I ask first?  Perhaps it was because she had taken my pain away or perhaps it was a product of the drink, but I had decided to trust her.

“What did you mean about the storm?” I asked.

She peered at the thatched ceiling of the cabin as a fresh round of thunder surged overhead.

“It’s searching,” she said.

“Searching?” I asked, disbelief plain in my voice.  “How can a storm search?”

“How does an animal search?” she asked me instead.  “With its senses.  This storm has eyes and ears.  Not its own perhaps but they are there just the same.”

My confusion was growing and I wanted to ask how that was possible and what she meant but I didn’t.  Perhaps it would be easier to understand her if I suspended my disbelief and accepted everything she told me.  After all, it wasn’t like anything made sense to me since I escaped from the crawlspace a few days before.

Instead I asked, “What is it searching for?”

“You,” she said.  “What else?  They’re using the storm to search for you, but they won’t find you if you stay in here.  I didn’t think you’d believe me before and it wouldn’t do to have you wandering the hills with them looking for you.”  Her face became grave and she shook her head.  “No, it wouldn’t do at all.”

“Who’s they?” I asked.  I fidgeted as I struggled to accept what I heard.

“The Dosanya,” she replied.

I stopped fidgeting.  This I could understand though I had no idea what or who the Dosanya were.

“I’ve heard that word before,” I told her.  “I was running away from my guardians when they said it.  They said I couldn’t escape from the Dosanya, that no one could.”

The woman nodded.  “Yes, that’s true enough.  No one the Dosanya have aimed for have ever gotten away.  They may find shelter for a time but they’re always caught in the end.”

More questions bubbled up in me.  “Why do they want me?” I asked.  “Who are they?”

The old woman peered at me as if judging my current condition then sighed and sat down.

“You’ll have to be told eventually,” she said.  “I suppose it might as well be now.  We won’t be getting much sleep with all this crashing going on overhead anyway.”

======== End of 18th Installment ========

And now I get to run errands! Yay…

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The Path of Moonlight: 16

In the last installment (The Path of Moonlight: 15), Charlotte was traveling to the town the man had told her about. Yep, he still has no name.  Before reaching her destination, however, she came across an old cottage on the side of the road. The old woman living there had invited her in and they were talking about where Charlotte was going and what she was going to do.

======== The Path of Moonlight ========

“You’d best stay with me, dear,” the old woman continued as she filled a bowl with stew.  She sprinkled something dry in it and held it out, a kind smile on her wrinkled face.  “For added taste,” she said, “and to help stave off hunger.”

I frowned as I took the bowl.  “I don’t understand.  You don’t know me.  Why do you want me to stay here?”

She chuckled as she settled herself into her own sagging chair and blew on her stew.  “I’m old, child, not blind, remember?  I’m not deaf either.  My ears can hear and my eyes can see you are not lately from this world.”

When I continued to stare at her, she explained herself.  “You are not dressed for this place and you don’t speak as if you are from this place.”

I shook my head, refusing to be told what I had been starting to believe.  While walking I had wondered if I was the crazy one, not the man.  What if I hadn’t left the house yet and was asleep in my room, dreaming all of this?

The stew no longer looked so inviting and I didn’t want to eat it despite my gnawing hunger.  My stomach won out though and I forced myself to be slow and chew the chunks of potato, the slices of carrots.  I wouldn’t make myself sick eating too quickly and having my mouth full gave me time to think of arguments against the reality of my situation.

The old woman ate a few hot bites in silence.  In my peripheral vision I could see her watching me.  I pretended not to notice and stifled a yawn.

“Shall I throw down the gauntlet and reveal what I know?” she asked.  It didn’t sound much like a question.  I glanced at her and tried not to show my suspicion.  Was it a trick?  “You’re not from here, this world.  Your clothes and accent say that much.  But you were.  I see it in your face, your features and coloring.”

“What are you talking about?” I asked.  “I look no different from anyone else.”  I had reached the bottom of the bowl and my belly was full.  After spending a day and a half starving and dehydrated, it was pleasant to feel satiated.  The yawn refused to be held back this time and I had to cover my mouth and avert my face.

“Perhaps not to others, but I can see it.”  She tapped the middle of her forehead but all I saw were heavy wrinkles.  As I watched, the wrinkles twitched and an eye opened, blinking at me.

I gasped and jumped to my feet, dropping the bowl and stumbling backward.  The room tilted and spun with my sudden movement.  It should have righted itself after a moment but it didn’t.

“What?” I mumbled.  I swung my arms out, searching for something to grab to hold me up until the dizziness passed.  My hands found the edge of a table and I leaned against it.  Instead of abating, the dizziness grew worse till I thought I might throw up.

“Who are you?” I asked and was surprised at how slurred my voice sounded.  That third eye in her forehead stared at me as the woman sat still in her chair.  Perhaps it was my imagination making the eye look clear and sharp while the rest of the room grew fuzzy and indistinct.  “What did you give me?”

“Herbs to help you sleep,” she said.  “Don’t fight it, Lotteria.  You need to sleep.  You need your energy for the task ahead for it will not be easy.”

My world spun and lurched when I turned and groped for the door.  I saw it there in front of me but my hands waved at empty air when I reached for it.  It was too far and my legs were too weak.  My other arm fought to hold me upright against the table but I sank to the ground and lost consciousness before I had hit the floor.

======== End of 16th Installment ========

Is this old woman good or bad? Find out next time!

No, I didn’t change Charlotte’s name. You’ll find out later.

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The Path of Moonlight: 15

I love it when things come together for me. Times like these I feel like I’m a paleontologist digging up a fossil. I’m brushing away the dirt and sand from around the bones, finding the pattern of the skeleton. The more I brush away, the more I can see of the bigger picture.

It doesn’t always happen like this but so far this story seems to want to be discovered. It feels good.

======== The Path of Moonlight ========

“Excuse me?” I said.  I wondered if I was dealing with yet another crazy person and had to remind myself that the man hadn’t been crazy.

“I expected you sooner but no matter,” the old woman said.  I stared at her long enough for her to wave a hand at me and continue in an exasperated tone.  “Well, come in, child, come in.  No doubt you’re tired after what you’ve been through.”

When she disappeared into the cabin I followed, unsure of what I was doing but having nowhere else to go.  She was right – my body was tired from walking and the water hadn’t kept me full for long.  The inside looked as old as the outside and it was almost as dirty.  There were odd knickknacks everywhere along with plants and books and everything to make a place look lived in.  It was made up of one medium-sized room and a loft that covered half the area.  I noticed three doors, one of which was the front door which the old woman was closing.  She gestured to a sagging chair and, as I sat, my stomach twisted and growled.

“You must be hungry, poor thing,” she said with a tsk.  “I was just going to have some lunch.”

“It’s all right,” I said.  “I’m fine.”  I tried to ignore my shabby surroundings and act like I wasn’t ready to eat my own tongue.

“Lies lies lies,” she said, fussing with a pot – was that a cauldron? – hanging over the fire in an old-fashioned stone fireplace.  “Your belly’s louder than a howling baby.”

As if in agreement, my stomach growled again.  Guilt seeped into me for not being able to control my body better.

“I don’t want to be a bother,” I said.

“It’s no bother.  I’ll just add a little more to the pot and we’ll be able to squeeze out enough for two.  It won’t be my best stew, mind you, but it’ll do.”  She busied herself as she spoke, cutting a few vegetables and dumping them into the pot before adding more water and stirring the contents.

“I was just headed into town,” I said with false confidence and knowledge.  “I was going to stop for lunch there.”

The old woman chuckled and cast her a sly look.  “Of course you were,” she said.  “And where is town?”

“Just down the road,” I said.  “Another hour or so.”  The old woman’s gaze was unnerving but I tried to act like I knew where I was and what I was doing.

“It’s fine to admit ignorance, child.  There is only me here and I may be old but I’m not blind.  You are not from here.”

“No, I’m not,” I admitted but continued to avoid the whole truth.  “I’ve been traveling and was told there was a town in this direction.  I misjudged the distance and ran out of supplies.”

“You must have been carrying a scant load to begin with to have nothing but your clothing now,” the old woman said.

“I wasn’t well prepared,” I agreed.  “I’ve never traveled anywhere before so I wasn’t sure what I needed to take.”

“More like you didn’t have the time or the ability to get supplies.  I understand.”

I kept my face polite and tried to ignore the growing wetness in my mouth as the scent of cooking food drifted over to me.

“Is there a town close by?” I asked.

The old woman nodded.  “There is and you were right – it’s about two hours walking distance from here.  But I don’t recommend you go there.”

“Why not?”

“They’re not a welcoming people,” she said.  “They tolerate strangers for the coin they bring but they’re happiest when those people move on.”

“But surely someone needs help,” I said.  I searched my memories for what might be appropriate words.  Hadn’t I learned something in my literature classes that could help me fit in?  “An…inn perhaps?  Or a…tavern?  I could serve food.”

The old woman chuckled again and I wondered if she was laughing at my attempt to fit in or my attempt at insisting I could be accepted in the town.

“You don’t seem like tavern wench quality,” she said.  “But I have little doubt you’d be able to find some kind of work there.  If you’d like to fling your virtue to the winds and abandon yourself, feel free to inquire.”

“Oh.”

My shoulders slumped.  I understood her meaning and she was right; that wasn’t something I wanted to do.  My mind raced as it tried to come up with a solution.  How would I survive if I couldn’t find work?  How was I going to get food and a place to stay?  I hadn’t been thrilled about going to a town called Louse and even less thrilled at the thought of living in it, but it had been my only option before.  What was I going to do now?

======== End of 15th Installment ========

And so the questions continue to emerge. Who is this old woman and how does she know so much? More important for me: how much longer before I know the size of my dinosaur fossil? I have an idea but I’m not sure about it. I’ve never been good at guessing word length.

paleontology

The Path of Moonlight: 14

As I thought, the number 13 is neither unlucky nor lucky. It’s still one of my favorite numbers. I have a thing for prime numbers for some odd reason. HA! No pun intended. It says something that I started laughing when I realized what I had written. I’m so stupid. And I love every second of it!

You know what’s sad is that it took me every day since my last post (including that day) to get this segment written. I wasn’t feeling it and I wasn’t sure what should happen. I knew something had to happen to move things along. You can’t write about walking 5 leagues. Something has to happen.

And, yes, I originally wrote the distance as 10 leagues. She covered half the first day.

======== The Path of Moonlight ========

When my belly was full of the blessed liquid, I noticed a small cave created by the cluster of large rocks.  It was a shallow cave, large enough to give me shelter and the comfort that goes with it but not much bigger than that.  Perhaps I should have worried about other animals seeing the same thing.  Perhaps I should have wondered why I could see inside it at all, but I was too tired and I was grateful to have any kind of shelter.

The next morning I awoke to bright sunshine and the quiet gurgle of water falling on rocks.  There were no birds chirping, no animals scuffling around; just myself peeking out of the cave and listening to the absence of everything but the water.  It came from higher up in the rocks and gurgled down into a little stream that fed the pond.  I was curious but not curious enough to look for the source before I had drunk another belly-full of water.

When I had appeased my body as much as I could, I looked at the spring coming from higher up the rocks.  Try as I might, I couldn’t detect the source of the water because it disappeared into the rocks where I couldn’t follow.  It didn’t make sense to me but I didn’t waste time caring about it.  Water was water and this water tasted clean and fresh.  I wasn’t going to question it.

It felt wrong to spoil the pond by washing myself in it so I left still dirty.  When I had finished squeezing out from the boulders, I looked around and was confronted with a new problem – which way was I headed?  As it did the day before, everything looked the same but now I had veered off course and couldn’t be sure in which direction the town lay.

I had no choice but to pick a direction and start walking.  My feet and legs hurt and I was hungry but at least I was no longer thirsty for the time and the night’s sleep along with the water had renewed my energy.  My pace was faster than the day before and I hoped to reach some sign of civilization that day.

I did, but it wasn’t a town.  It was a road.  A dirt road barely more than a track.  The grass had thinned so the path was easy to spot when I drew near it.  I had perhaps been walking another hour when I saw the house.  It was more like a glorified cabin stuck in the middle of an empty field.  There was what looked like a garden next to it and a goat roamed free.  As I approached, it didn’t run but lifted its head to gaze disinterestedly at me before going back to its grazing.  The cabin had a thatched roof and the wood was unpainted.  It looked old and worn but sturdy, as if it had survived harsh storms before and would continue to do so long after its inhabitants were gone.

The road continued on past it but I could see that there was a foot-worn path leading to the front door.  A few paces from the road were short stone pillars marking either side of the path.  Perhaps the remains of a front gate.

I stopped, wondering if I should knock on the door or continue onward.  I thought finding work was the best option for me, but I didn’t know how much longer it would take to reach the town or if I’d be able to find anything there.  Or if I was indeed heading in the right direction.  My stomach rumbled and twisted and, as I stood there debating, the door opened with a very ordinary creak and a very ordinary old woman stepped out.

She was beginning to hunch forward from an excess of years, many of them most likely spent bent over projects and chores.  Her greasy, ratted hair was grey but it didn’t appear to be thinning.  The majority of it was tied back but more than a few thick tangles had freed themselves and hung in lank groups around her face and neck.   Her clothes were, like the man’s, different from mine.  She appeared to be wearing an old-fashioned sort of dress.  If it had had color when it was new, it had long since faded and was now nondescript and stained with age.

“Welcome,” the old woman said.  I had expected a voice that came from a face full of wrinkles to be rough like sandpaper or creaky like the woman’s door, but it wasn’t.  It wasn’t the light voice of a young woman, but it was strong and full and deep.  It held power and knowledge.

“I’ve been waiting for you,” she said.

======== End of 14th Installment ========

I’m not altogether happy with what I have for today, but I’ve thought and thought and can’t see a way to get around it. It feels like filler but stuff like this always feels like filler to me. I mean, you can’t just bounce around from action to action without saying how you got there. I can argue with myself till kingdom come so I’ve left it as is.

I’m getting an idea that maybe when I’m done with this, I may go back and do a rewrite. Edit and rewrite then self-publish if it’s good enough and there’s a large enough following of those who would want it.

We’ll see.

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The Path of Moonlight: 13

Oo! One of my favorite numbers. 13. Unlucky in most cultures, I love this number for some reason and have never felt it to be unlucky. Or lucky for that matter. I don’t think any number is lucky or unlucky. It’s just superstition.

Of course, if this number were lucky, a literary agent would read this post and be so interested that they’d read the previous posts for PM. Then they’d send me a message about wanting to read my unpublished manuscript and they’d love it so much that they’d offer to represent it. It would be history from there.

If 13 was a lucky number.

If you’re interested in reading from the start, you can find the first post here: The Path of Moonlight: 1. Enjoy!

======== The Path of Moonlight ========

My progress was slow but it was progress.  One foot in front of the other.  I wasn’t sure how far I had walked but, when the sun began to set and there was still no sign of people, I knew a league did not equal a mile.  One thing I could be thankful for was that the clear sky hadn’t changed so there was little chance of rain during the night.  Of course, how I would sleep without a pillow or blanket or heat I didn’t know.

I curled up against a boulder and ate my dried meat in miserable silence while the sun sank behind the horizon and left me in darkness.  My body was too exhausted to cry.  There wasn’t even a prickle of tears to sting my eyes.  Or perhaps there wasn’t enough water left in my body to make tears.  I had heard of that sort of thing happening, but I didn’t know if my slow trek in moderate temperatures was enough to dehydrate me to that extreme even if I had been walking and running the whole day.

My mouth was parched, my lips beginning to crack, and my stomach rumbled.  With my body screaming from exhaustion, I thought I’d pass out the moment I closed my eyes but I didn’t.  Despite the night being free of noise, my mind refused to fall into oblivion.  Perhaps I should have tried to make a fire before the sun went down?  I didn’t know how though.  There hadn’t been survival classes at my high school.  Even if there had been, there would’ve been no reason to take one.

The man hadn’t mentioned animals outside the forest.  Perhaps there were none, or no dangerous ones anyway.  There had to have been rabbits and the like.  How else would people get food?  How else would he get food?  He hadn’t been carrying many things with him.  How far could he travel before needing to replenish his food and water?  Water.  Where could I find water?

My thoughts were wandering along lines of survival when my mind slipped away.  But it wasn’t a dreamless sleep.

I dreamt of moonlight and a shimmering path that led across the waves of grass to a small pond.  The landscape was dotted with large boulders, but around the pond they were clustered so as to hide the body of water and the spring that fed it.   It gleamed in the soft light of the moon and smelled fresh and cold.  Everything was quiet and peaceful as I knelt to drink.

I woke, the night still thick around me, my senses confused as to where I was.  It wasn’t the dark of the crawl space nor of my bedroom.  The air was too fresh and cool, too open around me.  Memory came back but something nagged at me.  What had woken me and why could I see?  It was faint, but I could see.  I looked up and saw that the moon had risen.  It was full and bright but it didn’t resemble the one I was used to seeing.  The craters were wrong.  Yet another indication that I was a stranger in a strange land.  But instead of this depressing my spirits, the soft light soothed me.  I closed my eyes and rested my head back against the boulder while I soaked in the peace it gave me.

When I opened my eyes, I noticed a silvery path off to my right, shimmering the way it had in my dream.  Had I fallen asleep again?  I blinked a few times and rubbed my eyes but the path was still there.  In my dream a path exactly like this had showed me where to find water.  I knew it was silly to follow it and I knew I must have been delirious from dehydration and exhaustion, but I pushed myself onto my protesting feet and stumbled along after it.

It wasn’t in quite the same direction as I had been traveling (or hoped I had been), but it wasn’t too far off either.  I walked about ten or fifteen minutes before I saw the cluster of boulders from my dream.  With a gasp of disbelief, I hurried forward, nearly falling at times but I reached the boulders.  Moonlight snaked through a small opening that was large enough for me to squeeze through sideways if I ducked down and sucked in my breath.

The pond shown in the moonlight just as it had in my dream.  I cried out in relief and dropped to my knees beside it, scooping up the cold water with my hands and sucking it down.

======== End of 13th Installment ========

And here we’re finally seeing a further connection to the title! Moonlight. What’s Charlotte’s connection with moonlight? Wait and see!

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The Path of Moonlight: 12

"First Test" by Tamora Pierce - Book 1 of the Protector of the Small Quartet
“First Test” by Tamora Pierce  (currently reading) through Overdrive app

Well this took me long enough. I’d say I was busy being lazy but actually I was reading a lot. Most days I listen to audiobooks while I play games or do something else that requires little brain power. It appeals to my desire to multi-task. So much so, in fact, that I have found it difficult to stop. I had to force myself not to turn the audiobook on this morning and write instead because it’s ridiculous how long I’ve gone without writing.

Luckily I was able to finish today’s installment before I had to leave for errands. Since I was carpooling, I didn’t have a choice as to when I went. It was all good since it forced me to sit and write rather than stare off into space or turn on the audiobook.

Here’s the 12th installment of PM.

======== The Path of Moonlight ========

“You really have lived a sheltered life,” the man said.

I turned to find him staring at me.  I recognized the look on his face.  It was the same one I had when I first began to wonder about his sanity.

“Who are you?” I asked.

“If names were of any concern, I would have asked yours when we first met,” he said then swept his arms wide as if to encompass our surroundings.  “You are free of the forest.  My part here is done, though why I have helped you I still cannot say.  I congratulate you on your escape from your guardians and hope that you have a plan for your future.”  His look as he spoke said he doubted I had thought that far ahead.  “I must leave you now and so farewell.”

“Wait!” I said as he began to walk away.  “You’re just going to leave me here?”

“Yes.”

“But I don’t know where here is.”

“You should have thought about that before you ran away,” he said, not stopping.  I had to run to catch up to him.  His strides had lengthened since leaving the obstacles of the forest and he was at least a head taller than I was.  I wasn’t considered short in comparison to the other girls my age but neither was I tall.  Standing next to this man, however, and having to crane my neck to look up at him made me feel my lack of height.

“Can you at least tell me where I am and point me in the direction of the nearest city?” I asked.

He pointed ahead across the waves of grass and rocks.

“That way about ten leagues.”

“What’s a league?” I asked.  Desperation welled up in me.  If a league was anything like a mile, I was in for the worst day of my life.

“A league is a league,” he said.  Several steps later, he stopped with a disgruntled sigh.  “You have no food, do you.”  It wasn’t a question.  I shook my head.  He handed me some weathered strips of meat from a pouch I hadn’t previously noticed.  “You won’t get far without food.  Do what you want, go where you want, but don’t forget that the closest town is in that direction.”  He pointed ahead of us again.  “Your best chance of getting more food lay there.  The town is called Louse.  It’s not much, but it’s your best chance of finding food and shelter.”

Despite the despair growing in me, I couldn’t help but wonder at the town’s name.  “Louse?” I asked, raising an eyebrow.

A smile crept over his face as if he too saw the ridiculousness in wanting to name your town after a bug infestation.  “Like I said, it’s not much but, come the first storm or the first winter, you’ll be glad of a roof over your head no matter what your bedding is like.  And if you’re hard working you’ll be able to get food and drink.  I don’t suggest drinking the water though.  Not unless you want a belly ache.”

A dismayed sickness was growing in my stomach as I watched him get smaller and smaller until he was too far for me to see.  I looked around me, not wondering what I should do or where I should go.  I knew there was only one thing I could do and only one place I could go.  Louse.  Who would name their town louse?  I shuddered and scratched my head, imagining it itching from hundreds of bug nesting in my hair.

When I sat down I was careful to face the right direction.  Each way looked the same, except for where the forest loomed.  Tears stung my eyes.  There was no one around so I let them course down my cheeks.  When my nose started running, I didn’t care that I had to wipe it on my clothes.  By the time I got to Louse, I should be dirty enough to fit right in with the people there.  If the stranger’s attire was anything like the rest of the area, my clothes would stick out but perhaps if I was dirty enough they wouldn’t notice.

The sun had moved a fist’s width across the sky by the time I got over my regret and self-pity.  I had no water, only a bit of what looked like beef jerky, and a long way to go before I reached any kind of civilization.  There was no point in bemoaning my predicament and wondering where I was.  It didn’t matter where I was.  If I wanted any chance at all of survival, I needed to get moving again.

======== End of 12th Installment ========

You may ask, “What the heck kind of town name is Louse?” Well, my answer to that is this question, “What the heck kind of town name is Zzyzx? Or Nowhere for that matter?” zzyzx-road-sign-400x300-25k-megan-edwardsBy the way, Zzyzx is a real place in California in the middle of nowhere. But not the town Nowhere. That’s in Oklahoma.

wink face tongue