The Shasta Caper
by John Pirillo
It started with a kind of ticklish feeling on his eyelashs, then moved to his cheek, then to his sideburns, then his hair. Very ethereal. Light. Like an angel's touch.
He opened his eyes.
Marily was looking into his eyes from only inches away. She held a finger to her lips and he said nothing. She drew back and he could see Al's glowing body near the back wall. He gestured at the wall.
Samuel felt like a truck had landed on him. It was so hard to get up, but finally he managed. Jimbo and Nanny were sleeping back to back, both unware of the other's closeness. He smiled. It reminded him of how children slept. Then he turned back to Al, who brushes his long mustache briskly, then pointed to the wall again.
Samuel stepped over his friends and to the back wall. He looked at Al who touched a point on the wall. Samuel couldn't see anything, or feel anything. Usually he could sense when something was hidden, but this was different.
He put his palm to the wall where Al had his finger and the wall rose silently, like a curtain being drawn. As it did, it revealed a kind of cockpit. There were advanced monitors of some kind of soft plastic that stripped across the walls of the revealed room. Each monitor showed a different perspective of the land about them.
One monitor, which Al went to straight off, showed the floating city. It was hovering over a very rugged area. As he watched he saw the flying ships that had attacked them before, drift into view and land in the rugged area. Ornately dressed soldiers climbed out and began marching into openings that were not visible to Samuel through the monitor. It was the only explanation why they disappeared completely from view.
A monitor to his right caught his attention and he almost gasped. Lady Marantha was seated on a bench carved from highly polished rock. Her room was barren and cold looking, except for the warm colors of the bench. She had a bed of sorts against one wall. Compiled of cushions and thick covers. A pillow of some kind of reflective purple material.
She was crying.
Samuel felt his heart go out to her. The moment he felt that emotion she looked up and began looking around the room. Finally, her eyes fixed on his own.
She tried to touch him, but she couldn't.
She mouthed three words, he didn't need to know. "Please help me!"
"Mother!" Nanny's voice cried out from behind Samuel.
Then Nanny threw herself into the room and went to the screen. She began crying. Lady Marantha on the other side became horrified, then she also began crying.
Jimbo staggered into the room. "A little hidey hole control room hidden behind us, hey?"
"Evidently some kind of lookout. But for who?" Samuel pondered, unsure of whether to be afraid, worried or none of the above.
A door slid open in the cave like room and a horribly twisted giant stalked into the room, his knuckles almost brushing the floor. He had none of the elegance of the Ancients. This giant was something different, a throwback, stunted in more ways than were visible.
Samuel could tell that by the eyes in the creature. They were devoid of intelligence.
Lady Marantha tried to evade the giant, but it deftly captured her and slung her over its shoulder. It stopped for a moment, surveying the room, as if sensing it were being watched, but then it shook its ugly head and exited.
They sat in the room for a time longer, hoping for another glimpse of her, but it didn't happen. And mysteriously, all the monitors flickered brightly once, then went black.
"This smells wrong, Sammie."
Samuel looked over at Jimbo. "Someone knows we're here."
In a matter of moments they were reassembling their backpacks, then fled the shelter into a bright lit day, that was still filled with a blustery wind, but this time there were snowflakes falling. Gigantic ones. The size of small cars. They had to dodge through them.
One struck Jimbo on his right arm and he screeched in pain.
From that moment, they became even more careful. Whatever made the snowflakes, it wasn't user friendly. And they were sharp as knives.
All of them had cuts and scrapes by the time they found more shelter. This time they used giant leaves again as before, but they just scooted them closer together, so that it wouldn't look like a tent and give them away. Once they had done that Samuel and Jimbo planted some brush in front of the closest in view from any outsiders passing by, then they all crawled under the leaves.
Nanny was shivering violently. "None of this makes any sense. It shouldn't be snowing without clouds in the sky. And where does the wind come from?"
"Little angel." Jimbo told her gently. "Some questions just don't have any easy anwers."
They huddled close together, using their bodies to add warmth to their sleeping bags. It helped. In a matter of minutes they were all sound asleep again, but this time it wasn't peaceful.
Nanny dreamt of a mother she had never known running away from her, and the closer she got, the faster her mother ran.
Jimbo dreamed about a huge steak and potato dinner that he just couldn't get his fork into.
Samuel dreamed about a being so tall that it could have been a god. It looked at him and smiled. It needed his help, but he didn't know how to start doing that. It smiled and faded away.
What was the equivalent of the next morning, Jimbo and Samuel awoke to the smell of beans and rice. They rolled over and found Nanny warming them over a carefully managed fire that threw off no smoke.
"I managed to bag some of this from the fridge we found in that shelter."
Samuel didn't care where she bagged them from. His stomach was roaring like Godzilla and Jimbo, well, his never stopped roaring.
They dug into the warm breakfast food and talked about little things they all liked, mostly about food. Because as filling as the rice and beans were, they were beginning to miss regular meals and tables to eat them on.
Then an explosion sounded from the direction they had come from. They looked up and a small mushroom cloud was rising into the air.