‘Nobody at the Bar’ by Vic TG as ‘CopperSkink’. All rights reserved, except the right to not be heckled.
Derrick’s continuing story takes place this time not in usual Rotterdale, North Carolina, but the forest (that I invented) of Macedonia, which turns out is its own country now. All characters twelve or eleven except for the two fuddy-duddies (who are the ones having all the fun)
This one goes out to apollona for being the first one to come out of nowhere and praise my writing and for consistently saying so throughout my installments.
As always, Derrick lives in the future, like Space Ghost. Time is summer through autumn in the year of 2066. Rated R for romance.
Hey, guys and dolls. Derrick again, fresh from a post-apocalyptic frat party that’s being called the biggest ruckus this town’s seen since Samson Campbell got divorced.
It took me a week to get back to the place I was staying at. I know, I said I was gonna stay away from there, but I couldn’t go without seeing Reo. Part of what took so long to get outdoors was getting the swelling down, the other was not having the balls to see my sister. When I got through the front door, I was spotted at once by Reo, who lept into my arms. I heard a door somewhere upstairs pointedly snap shut a moment later.
‘Where’ve you been?’ she almost screamed. ‘I’ve been so worried about you!’
‘Got a job offer,’ I told her. ‘Had to stay and get ready.’
‘So, you’re back now?’ I have no idea where this concern was coming from, but it was too late now.
‘Actually, I’m going to old Macedonia for a school trip. I’ll be gone for a moth or so.’
She didn’t take the news well, and she didn’t seem comforted that I was going to make a check that I had written in advance for her for my share of the rent so that I’d have a home when I came back, though I honestly didn’t know what I was going to do about Becky. Reo liked both of us, and I didn’t want her to have to choose between us, but I don’t think Becky and I will be getting along any farther from here on out.
I went back to the Garden the day of, and I found a snippy little twelve-year-old whose feet didn’t reach the foot rest of the carriage she was heading up. ‘You’re late,’ she snipped. ‘The other carriage is already on the way to the airport. You coming, or what?’
‘Yeah, yeah,’ I grumbled. ‘Budge over, will you?’ I went through my checklist while the brat got the carriage under way. My twelve heads were in attendance, all with their own packs of stuff. I didn’t know their names, but I had a list. We carriaged on for about half an hour through the forest of the Garden to the south of Rotterdale town and further on to the nearest train station. There we left the carriage behind next to its mate where someone from the Garden would recover them both. We had to wait another ten minutes for the next train to arrive, the first set of kids had already taken off to the airport. The train rushed us off to Charlotte in a quick half hour, being only about three hundred miles away. We all had to hustle to the gate when we arrived, being in mere minutes of our schedule. We loaded onto the jet, but only just in time, and we had exactly eight seconds to pack out bags and find our seatbelts.
In another ten minutes, we were in the air and on our way to our destination. We were turned loose by the flight coordinator, though my packet told me to keep the childrens seated except for potty. I still had to get up and take another head count, though I’m fairly sure I got to twelve when I got them seated in the first place. Well behind me, I could hear the other councilor doing the same.
‘You just keep your traps shut, and I may let you outside a few times a week while we do this trip.’
I knew that voice. Of all the people…
I tried to return to my seat with all haste, but she caught sight of me, and our eyes met. I don’t think she missed the look of distaste in my eyes, nor did I miss her own frown of disgust.
Throughout the flight, she and I were more than able to ignore each other, both of us having plenty of children to entertain, but when it came to corralling them in the airport upon our arrival, we found ourselves side-by-side, discussing things with English-speaking officials that would get us to the tour bus we needed to get us to our final destination.
He was a balding old fart, someone who had been in the business way too long. He was Iranian, and and old crusty one at that. Did I mention he was old yet? He spoke English, but he only seemed to understand every other word. He was to be our driver in an actual gas-powered vehicle.
‘I’m Salamandy Ravenlock,’ Sally said with her Southern sass. ‘We’re from Tranquil Breeze Garden, here to tour Old Macedonia.’ As though he couldn’t tell by the twenty-four noisy little children and the tell-tale blue leaf that marked Garden officials.
Despite, we still loaded up into the bus and headed on our way. I quickly parked myself in the back of the bus with my little pinprick girl that gave me so much trouble on the carriage ride over, the other one could guard the front.
I had managed to nod off on roads longer and boring than that between Seattle and Spokane. The little girl woke me up unfairly early, telling me Sally needed to talk to me.
I rubbed my eyes, still remembering the gross swelling from only a couple weeks earlier. Out the window, there was still plenty of long, boring road left. Actually, it was only the horizon that looked boring, I couldn’t see anything referring to a road in the tracks we left.
I walked somewhat unsteadily to the front. ‘What’s up?’ I asked my mutually distasted partner in children’s education.
‘We’ve been on this road forever. You got a map?’
‘No, did you ask the guy that’s driving?’
‘He’s grumpy. Check your folder.’
‘Yes, your prom princesslyness.’
‘Don’t start with me, just check the f’king…’ Our voices were hushed, but she still nervously glanced around at what eyes may have been watching her lips. ‘Get the map, would you?’
I may have left out certain details having to do with raven-beak, so let me fill you in as I make my way back to my gear to look for a map. Salamandy Campbell (where the fuck she’s getting this ‘Ravenlock’ business, I have no clue) is… she’s many things. First, she’s the most outspoken sister of one of my mates Sampson. Second, she’s strikingly beautiful for a high school girl (recently former) that never became a cheerleader. Third, she’s mean. I met a number of Sam’s brothers and sister now and then, and it seems that if any of them have anything bad to say about anyone, it’s Salamandy.
I’d much rather have directed this little mission with Tiffany, another of Sam’s sisters. Tiffany is a quintessential blond: Short, flat, past-the-shoulders hair, baby-blue eyes, and she’s dumb as a post. Did I mention her tits? Thirty-six double-D is one of the most thrown-around phrases between high school and college, but for people that know how to count, they lust after Tiffany in her size twenty-nine E. Small chest, big bra, and a reputation big enough to fill them even without those bouncy ta-tas.
Salamandy was bigger than Tiffany (everyone’s bigger than Tiffany, I mean, come on. Size twenty-nine chest? That’s tiny), but with her increased size came more brains, more attitude, and more stubbornness. All of her sisters seemed to be packing (except the little red-head), but Sally likes nothing more than to shove her tits (and sweet ass) in your face. Also, in a town like Rotterdale that loves its blonds but worships its red-heads, she and her dark locks tend to stand out, and while she likes standing out, she’d rather it not be because people wish her hair had come out third-favorite. To her credit she never bleached it or nothing, but the whole subject seemed to have turned her permanently sour. Come to think of it, her d
ark hair doesn’t really go with her rich amber eyes.
Being that I was well out of college and she was still in high school, I had managed to get along fine without her nose accidentally slipping into my business for the past while that I’ve known about her. That all changed this summer when she graduated and I began dating her sister. With all the girls in that house, it’s hard not to at least fall hopelessly in love with at least one or two of them, only they’re hard as hell to latch onto. Sure, a few guys can claim to have bedded Sally, but no one, and I mean no one even bothers telling stories on the twins, and here I am, having fit my dick inside one of them and latched my arm around the other written in my resumé.
Sally, she didn’t like it. She doesn’t like Cindy and she doesn’t like Sara and she doesn’t like me. When Cindy and I started dating, it was simple mathematics: Adding negatives just makes it more and more negative. Neither Cindy nor I wanted anything to do with Sally, who seemed to hang around us an awful lot during this summer. Towards the end, she began to get openly snippy. I think I had upset her somehow.
Did I mention I hit that once?
I think I did, anyways. That was the night I tapped on Sara and Sadie, and my sister was there besides… I forget. Anyway, here’s the map.
‘I found it, so where the f… can you even read this thing?’
‘Of course. Can’t you?’
Neither of us could find our position on the map, being that it was mostly lineless expanse covered in dust. The driver wasn’t very helpful, too.
‘Is this Macedonia?’ I asked as loudly as I could to be heard over the roar of the engine, but he waved me off and opened his window yet more. Sally and I grunted equally and made to return to our seats, but she joined me in the back so as to plot with me.
We didn’t get anywhere, seeing as no matter what we thought up, the driver wasn’t going to listen until he got us to wherever it was he thought we were heading. I reckon she just wanted to sit in the back, where it was cooler and quieter. I made the mistake of casting a glance Sally’s way when she sprawled out on more than her fair share of bus bench, her shirt was near soaked through to grasp down on her skinny body. Her impossibly short jean shorts were letting her legs spill out all over the place, and every movement caught my eye. Soon she was asleep, and her head came to rest on my shoulder. Can things get any worse?
We drove on for a good four or five more hours. The sun was running away and taking the blistering heat with it, but I was beginning to fear for the kids. It’d be getting cold, and our crap was stored under the bus. It’d been a while since we’ve had a good toilet, too. Many of them had fallen asleep and woken up, which precipitates a good pee.
Sally had since upgraded from leaning on me to cuddling into me with the advent of the colder weather. Her bare feet were curled up at her side, and she had wormed her way under my arm so that I was holding her waist with her head supported against my chest. She smelled good, too. It’s been a while since I’ve just sat there and smelled woman rather than looked at and touched. Why did she have to smell so good and not evil like I expected?
I rested my head against hers and rested my eyes a bit. Actually, this was a little nice.
At long last, there was civilization. Is that the word? There was a building on the edge of a forest with what looked like a road running through it. But civilization? The driver pulled up to some old long cabin thing and took off on foot at once. Hardly even stopped to stretch, nevermind saying a little something about where we was or where he might be off to. Sally was stirring along with the rest of the bus.
‘Hi,’ she murgled. ‘Do you mind?’
From her perspective, I’d pulled her halfway into my lap and put my arm around her. I removed it quickly, she had that look back in her eye that said she wasn’t terribly pleased to be out in the middle of nowhere with me and me getting fresh with her. We both got out the bus and poked our noses around, first I made sure to tell the scraplings not to dare follow us out.
We were by a long house of sorts on the edge of a path. We had been driven through the arid lands into what was becoming something of a rainforest paradise. The path looked like it would drive off to civilization some many miles onward, but behind us we knew to be nothing but wasteland.
‘Wurzza driver?’ a tired Sally asked.
‘Parked and took off,’ I yawned. Cunnilingus. No, Derrick. Sotp that.
Good question. Both of us looked around, and there was clearly nothing in sight but the house.
‘Which way did he go?’
I thought back to a moment depuis. ‘The direction he was driving. You think he ran outta gas or something?’
‘Without telling us? He spoke English well enough.’
‘He was also an asshole well enough. Or maybe this is where we’re staying?’
‘So why not tell us, and where’s the people come to greet us?’
‘Whatever, just keep watch on the kids here so I can look inside.’ She left like that, turning her back to me with the annoyed ‘huff’. Bitch. The rest of the kids were ready to stretch out their legs, and it took quite a bit of doing on my part to keep them from escaping by the two available doors.
I ended up having to promote the little girl from before to my sidekick so there’d be two people watching the two doors in the time it took Sally to get back. She came out the front door of the house, zipping her shorts up. I scratched my head as to how shorts that small were able to fit a zipper long enough to do any good.
‘Like being in my car again,’ she muttered to herself. ‘There’s no working anything or running anything in there, but I assume there are drains out of there, so go ahead and start filing people out to the toilet.’ In my ear, she whispered, ‘Don’t tell them about the toilet in the back room.’
We alternated taking groups of three to the toilet after Sally delved into the emergency supplies for toilet paper. Twenty-four kids not having peed for some nine hours, the math is all yours. Then we sat down amongst ourselves and figured out what the fuck to do.
‘Time?’ I asked.
She looked up to the sky rather than at her watch. ‘Two hours here, and no driver guy. Thoughts?’
She leaned in to whisper to me again, we were shut outside the bus with everyone else in it, ‘I didn’t want to spook anyone, but my watch was dark when we came in.’
‘Complex electronics won’t work here. Called a ‘dead zone’.’
That was a blow. ‘Phone?’
‘Nothing in the house, and no wires in or out.’
‘We drive down the road, then. Maybe…’
‘That’s out,’ she said as though she was checking the answers in her dungeon master guide. ‘If we don’t know where we can fill up, we can’t use any gas. Wherever we take it may likely be the last place it goes, so we save it until we reach that place on foot and know it has gas or other transportation.’
‘Guy coming back?’
‘He had his chance. It’s still summer here, but this part of the world gets dark soon and cold. We need to get the kids inside.’
Had to be the dumbest fucking… ‘We don’t know who lives here, so we can’t very well pack a busload of children in there without permission, can we?’
It seems she had already decided, however. ‘It’s late, and the kids will need to eat and sleep. This is emergency contingency, which means we seek shelter. That,’ she pointed at the house, ‘is our shelter until we see a hotel, at least tonight it is.’
She opened the door to the bus and told me to hang back and keep a count on the number of heads. She got them inside, and my sidekick was at my side, kicking rocks at stragglers. ‘What now, boss?’
‘Now we sleep.’
‘What about food? Me hungry.’ No, she’s not dumb, she’s being cut
e. Funny, the serious face she had on while she did it.
‘I’ll have to ask our fearless leader,’ I muttered, more to myself than to my sidekick.
The two of us went in last after we agreed on the number that had passed before us. The house was more of a log cabin, and more of a lodge at that. The main door led into a rather large front room with reasonable furniture for one or two people at a time each, but no long couches. There was one long hall that led to everything else.
First to the left, there was a pantry that held assorted cans of things without labels I wouldn’t be able to read in the first place, to the right there was a kitchen of sorts. Not a kitchen as you’re used to one, but a cabin kitchen: A counter made of polished wood, cabinets made of wood, a pot-belly stove for cooking and warmth, and a window for letting air in. No utensils, no refrigerator, no pots, no pans.
There was the bathroom in the next door to the left that we used before, and a certain stink was creeping up from it, though it indeed seemed to drain. Nearly all the toilet paper we brought was used up, and that’s only because Sally and I gave out three sheets maximum to girls and one to boys. The next right door was a long room filled with table and chairs, taking up two lengths’ worth of the opposite side.
The opposite side, next were two rooms, both packed with simple bunks, about thirty in all. It was creepy, seeing nothing but dusty wood in crude shapes making beds, though I wasn’t about to turn down bedding and what would pass for pillows. Sally insisted we send the kids into these rooms before we looked at the final room together, the last room on the right opposite from where we put the girls.
It was a smaller room than the bunk rooms, but it had an adjoining bath that was a bit more cozy than the public one. Again with the weird, there was nothing in the bedroom but one huge bed. It was made-up like the cots with blanket and pillow, but no chair, no desk, no closet, no… nevermind.
‘You and me,’ Sally said with a ‘this isn’t good enough’ sigh and her hands on her waist. ‘Touch me in the night, and you’ll wish you’d stayed with the boys, which you will from then on, got it?’
Great, before I’d even done anything. ‘First, as if. Second, you talk like we’re gonna be here a while.’
She looked pissed from frustration. Not with the situation, but with me being too slow to keep up with her. ‘Oh, grow up, Gains. That guy didn’t leave for nothing, he’s not coming back, and it’ll be a good while before we figure out any way to get that nasty-ass bus back to where my watch will work again.’
‘How, exactly, long ago did it stop?’
She checked it again, but she didn’t seem to like what she saw. ‘I don’t know, I was asleep.’
‘Then this is just perfect,’ I exasperated. ‘We can’t get back in the bus and go the other way?’
‘Will you at least do some math in your own head before bothering me with stupid questions?’ She plunked herself down on the bed and buried her face in her hands.
But she was right. We had driven for over nine hours in a very big bus, it was unlikely we would be able to make a return trip. ‘But that guy, he went somewhere, right? There’s a place to go? A town or something?’
‘I guess,’ Sally sighed. ‘That’s for tomorrow. Right now we feed the kids. No unpacking for tonight, though, I don’t want to clean up a big fucking mess if it’s a matter of finding a phone tomorrow morning.’
I stared her down with quite a handful of contempt. She was willing to stare back at me, but providence came after prudence and diligence. She got up and headed for the door. ‘Would you get a fire going?’ I continued to stare. ‘Would you please start a fire? I will go unpack food and get it ready for twenty-four children and ourselves, and you just carry wood inside and make it burn so we can eat something hot and be less cold tonight.’
The anxious tone in her voice got me moving where her impatient sarcasm would have had me stay my feet. We both knew we had to get busy and that we had to ignore our differences until such time as we had a free moment. And not a moment too soon, it was quite dark halfway into me bringing in large branches that were to be found in thickets below canopy trees. If I hadn’t gotten out that early, I wouldn’t’ve been able to find my way in the dark back and forth. I had the boys in our group kick and yank and bang the branches after I brought them in so there was a huge pile of timber suitable for fitting in the front room fireplace.