Before we get into this chapter, I have something to say. I’ve realized that I am, in fact, an idiot. I’ve mentioned, apparently several times, that Chloe‘s LTW is Monster Maker. This was a delusional lie. Her LTW is More Than a Machine. I confused myself with letting her learn Inventing. Those wishes just kept coming up, probably because she’s Eccentric. But just to set the record straight, she will be Bot-Building later…at some point…meh. >.>
That was all!
“And then the whole boat shook and…”
I blinked rapidly, resisting the urge to rub my eyes and yawn. Instead I nodded and smiled while Thomas spoke. I couldn’t remember the topic. Something about fishing.
“…and then this monster of a…”
I need coffee…I’d spent the last few weeks staying up late. As far as my family knew, I was just getting up early. To look for rare metals and gems, a hobby I’d picked up soon after we moved to Egypt. I’d grab a bowl of cereal at 7am, chat with Thomas over breakfast, then head out to this little oasis I’d found and nap.
“Chloe? Are you even listening to me?”
“That sounds exciting!” I blinked rapidly, trying desperately to regain my focus and not yawn. In front of me, Thomas sighed.
“So, what’re you working on that’s got you up so late?”
I blinked. Of course… If anyone would notice, it had to be Thomas. “Nothing really,” I waved a hand vaguely while using the other to stifle a yawn. “Just a minor project left over from China. I hate to leave it unfinished.” I avoided Thomas’s brown gaze and looked up at the sun. “I have to get going. I’ll be late, so don’t wait up!” And I ran out of camp. I had a sleeping bag to find.
I didn’t trust those rickety scooters the locals rented to tourists. So after taking the slightly less rickety bus out of Al Simhara and across the river, I walked. It wasn’t that bad, it still being too early to really get hot, and my tiny camp site wasn’t too far. An hour’s walk, maybe two. I could deal.
Egypt really was beautiful. Not as green and vibrant as China, but beautiful, in its own way. A dangerous kind of way. I liked it.
Cacti are remarkable, I marveled. They protected themselves with spines, some laced with poisons, while beckoning with large, brightly colored flowers, the only color for miles of blank, beige canvas. They were also an ingenious storage for water, holding liters at a time, in order to last between sparse rains. I bent over to admire a particularly bright flower.
As I ran my fingers over the petals, I wondered if this was one of the poisonous kind. Probably not. The spines were long and large enough to deter most animals. No doubt, poisonous ones had much shorter spines, more delicate to break off and stick in the animal. At least, that’s what I presumed.
I broke off a pad and resumed my walk, meticulously pulling the needles out. A cactus pad was a good source of water when chewed, particularly when one had forgotten one’s canteen back at camp.
I walked for a while, sliding down dunes to conserve energy. Periodically, I would pluck another cactus pad and de-spine it as I walked. Not only was it good for water, but Donovan could make fantastic dinners with cactus pad. Delicious.
I don’t recall exactly how far I walked, or in what direction. But the sun was high in the sky when I stopped walking and actually took a look around. I didn’t recognize this area. The dunes were craggily, more solid and there were boulders in the distance. Perhaps a higher elevation…? And is the temperature increasing? I rubbed my eyes. I was so tired.
Perhaps if I had been more rested, I would have done things differently, or, at least, more sensibly. As it was, I simply plopped down onto the ground and passed out.
Something’s up. I watched Chloe run out of camp, wobbling slightly, she was so sleep-deprived. I took a sip of my chilled tea and nodded to Lucy, the other early riser.
Normally, whenever asked about her latest project, you had to use duck tape to get Chloe to shut up again. Not even a code name this time…That just wasn’t right.
It could be nothing…it could be something… I shook my head. No, I knew Chloe. I knew her. Something was definitely wrong and I had to find out what.
“Hey, Donovan,” I called, rummaging in my tent for my satchel and canteen. “I’m heading out for a bit. Stay at camp.” I thought for a moment. “And Shaye’s in charge.”
Aren’t deserts interesting?! I know, I know. “Fluffy! We didn’t come here to read about stupid cactuses!” And to that, I will say, “It’s cacti! Not cactuses! Bwhahahahaha! XD”
Thanks for reading! ^_^