Chapter 4.14- Theatrics and Absurdity

31 May

Oh hey. Welcome back to Rylo and Briony’s amazing road trip. Let’s first stop off at Joey and Marina’s house, where there’s been a birthday.

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Graham’s grown into a child, and I can’t pinpoint why, but he’s sorta goofy looking. Oh well.

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Rylo falls asleep that night waiting for piercing stomach pains or some other symptom to let him know that Briony has succeeded in poisoning him with their dinner of brown mushrooms. One never comes, and he sleeps through the night as healthy as ever.

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In the morning they continue on their journey to nowhere in particular. The next few days are filled with the same incessant questions (“How did you meet my mom?” “Did you steal that crossbow?” “Do you have a mom?”) all of which Rylo stoically ignores.

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On the third day, Briony seems to catch on, and her questions turn sarcastic (“Why are you such a nice guy?” “Where do the stars go in the daytime?” “Where does your poop go after you bury it?” and on and on and on). Finally Rylo cracks.

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Rylo: Enough!!

Briony: Does it stay in the ground forever? I bet the ground’s full of poop and nobody knows it.

Rylo: Why are you such an attention seeking brat?

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Briony: Because you stink like poop and act like poop and that’s where all the poop goes is into you and that’s what makes you the way you are!

The theatrics and absurdity of this outburst take Rylo aback, and he stands speechless, staring at this tiny exploding person.

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Then, unable to contain it any longer, he doubles over in laughter. Briony manages about two seconds of stony silence before starting to giggle.

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Rylo struggles to catch his breath, and notices some sort of tension, or some sort of weight seems to have been lifted.

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Rylo turns and resumes walking, listening for the reassuring sound of footsteps behind him. Question period seems to have ended, and they carry on peacefully for the next few hours.

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Of course, peace can only last so long in a wilderness populated by zombies, and its interruption is often signaled by a rustling of underbrush.

On high alert, Rylo swings his crossbow off his back, feeling the familiar coursing of adrenaline through his muscles.

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The cause of the sound stares back at them, its orange coat a sharp contrast to the surrounding foliage.

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It turns to run, and Rylo’s stomach growls.

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He takes aim, and a bolt lands squarely between the fox’s shoulders, pinning it to the ground.

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Before he’s even had time to lower his bow Briony bolts out ahead of him. She crashes through the brush and lands heavily next to the dying animal.

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Confused, Rylo approaches Briony, who is running her fingers gently through the fox’s bloodstained coat. She murmurs something quiet and song-like as the fox strains, its front legs struggling against the ground. It’s back legs are disturbingly still.

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Rylo: Briony, we have to eat.

Briony: I know. It’s okay. I just don’t want him to be scared and hurting when he goes.

Rylo: Okay.

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Rylo pulls out his knife, and Briony lets a few quiet sobs escape. Once it’s done, she releases a long, slow breath, and stands up.

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Rylo had been expecting some protest about today’s lunch, but Briony seems to have no qualms about eating the fox. Then again, it’s the first thing they’ve both had to eat today.

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Once they’ve had their fill, Rylo stamps out the fire and randomly chooses a direction. As they walk, Rylo wonders if Briony knows they have no idea where they’re going and essentially no chance of finding what they’re looking for. Rylo knows that this faint hope might be all that’s keeping her content right now, and decides to say nothing about it for the time being.

They carry on, stepping over logs and winding their way around the thicker brush. Rylo lifts a low-hanging branch to pass underneath, and then stops.

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Up ahead, the peaceful little dwelling that Rylo thought they’d never find stands sheltered in a meadow.

He knows it’s more likely to be inhabited by zombies or bad people than good people, and he creeps slowly towards it. Briony seems to understand, and her steps are soundless behind his.

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As they crouch behind the stone fence, they hear the noises of life. The rhythmic crack of an axe splitting firewood, the reluctant sound of weeds being pulled from the ground.

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Rylo: I’m going to take a look.

Briony: If they see you first they’ll be terrified. I’ll look.

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Slowly Briony moves up along the stone wall, surveying the scene of the little home.

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Closest to them, a woman tends her meager garden. Further back, a wiry teenager chops wood while a dirty little child huddles on the porch.

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His curiosity gets the better of him, and Rylo joins Briony in scrutinizing the little family.

Rylo: Looks normal enough. The wall isn’t great but the house has no windows so that probably helps with safety.

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Rylo: The only weapon I’m seeing is the kid with the axe, and he’s  pretty far off. Not much to worry about if they decide to attack us.

Briony: Uh oh.

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The gardening woman rises to her feet, looking back at them in alarm.

Woman: What do you want?

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Rylo and Briony stand speechless. The sound of logs being chopped stops, and they become acutely aware of the many pairs of eyes now fixated on them.

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Rylo: ….

Briony: Sorry to scare you, ma’am. I’m an orphan, looking for a home.

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Woman: Who’s that man, then?

Rylo: Uhh… nobody. I was just helping her find somewhere safe is all. Once she’s safe I’m leaving.

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The woman’s voice comes out flat and indifferent.

Woman: Well you won’t find a home here. I’ve got too many mouths to feed as it is.

Briony: Please! I can work!

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Woman: Aaron!

Rylo and Briony both stand feeling as though their hearts are trying to escape their chests.

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The door creaks open and a sleepy looking man lumbers out. Rylo and Briony take a step back, preparing to run, but the man stops on the porch and blinks his small bleary eyes. Briony tries again.

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Briony: I can take care of your garden, and clean, and cook, and mend torn clothes! I’ll work all day if I have to.

Rylo: She’s a good girl, and stronger than she looks.

Briony: Please!

Woman: Aaron?

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Aaron peers down at the scene disinterestedly. The woman turns, and joins him on the porch.

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She whispers hurriedly into his ear, and he seems to tolerate the conversation as an annoyance, offering no reply of his own. The woman stops whispering and looks expectantly at him. He offers a grunt and a non-committal wave of his hand, and then disappears back inside the house.

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Rylo and Briony, who have been straining to hear what is being said, watch nervously as the woman turns to face them.

Woman: Come. We have floors to be washed.

Rylo hears Briony breathe a sigh of relief.

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Wordlessly they turn to each other, and Rylo realizes he has no idea what to do next. Briony seems equally dazed.

Rylo: …okay.

Briony: Okay.

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And then she turns and walks towards the gate. She pushes it open and steps through. Rylo takes a few unsure steps backwards, and then turns and trudges off into the forest.

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Briony steps apprehensively towards the house, slows, and looks back. She watches wide-eyed as Rylo melts back into the trees, and then the strike of an axe against wood rouses her.

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Briony climbs the four creaking stairs to the porch, and the woman hands her a broom.

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5 Responses to “Chapter 4.14- Theatrics and Absurdity”

  1. Jobug1015 May 31, 2015 at 2:03 pm #

    Aww, is he really going to just leave her? I’m not sure I would trust them. Great update!

    • Tenshi Prime June 1, 2015 at 10:14 am #

      Yeah this seems a bit fishy to me as well, but I don’t think they are cannibals, maybe they are keeping her around so the two boys can have a wife of sorts? I’m pretty sure Rylo isn’t stupid enough to trust these people he just met with Briony, so if they try anything stupid he CAN kill them or die trying.

    • thronepie June 1, 2015 at 1:05 pm #

      Thanks! He definitely wasn’t sure what to do there, but he’s completely socially delayed so… you know.

  2. logogrryph June 2, 2015 at 8:21 pm #

    Aww! Surely he won’t leave for good. I mean, he’s gotta stick around to make sure he didn’t jsut leave her with a bunch of cannibals, right? He did say he would leave once she was “safe” sooo…

    But yeah. Briony is endlessly adorable!

    • thronepie June 2, 2015 at 9:25 pm #

      I think Rylo as a father is one big derp, and even he doesn’t know if he means well or not. And yeah, she’s sooo fun to take pictures of as a child, it always turns out cute!

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