Chapter 3 – Follow the Worms

The storm blew a little less angry than normal making travel just a few more steps easier and vision just clear enough to see the edge of town. Fatboy and Rayn made it a point never to stay in one location longer than three days and traversing this town had been a test as each night camping made it increasingly difficult to journey forward the proceeding day. It’s been so long since the duo had seen a friendly face.

“Step on a crack and break your mama’s back!” yelped Rayn as she hopped along the lightly flooded sidewalk gleaming with a smile. The water jumped from each of her landings and splashed against Fatboy’s legs which were already soaked from the constant downpour. He strived to maintain his seriousness and awareness, but made it a subtle point to miss the cracks in the sidewalk.

“The rains shifting,” he said while pausing beside a bent stop sign.

“Fatboy, look… on the back of the sign!” shouted Rayn while moving her gloved fingers along some letters etched onto the back of it. “It’s like the other one we found.”

“Yep,” responded Fatboy, “Read it. What does it say?”

“Uhm… ‘Headed to Under-Mall.’ It has an arrow scratched beside it.” Said Rayn.

“It’s the same person that left the sign last week. He’s headed to the same place as us, Rayn.”

Rayn jumped up and down splashing harder while laughing, “YEA!!! There are others!! There are others!!!” Fatboy allowed his youth to rival his maturity for a moment and joined in the happiness with Rayn, “This is SO cool!!! I hope this guy is friendly!! I know he’ll be friendly!! I hope he’s with a group!!!”
Suddenly, the storm increased strength and the thunder grumbled in the distance.

“Crap! Side-rain is blowing in!! We gotta find shelter, Rayn!” cried out Fatboy while holding his hand up against the onslaught of wind and hard droplets.

The duo cuts through a small side street that led to a series of back roads. They were no longer in the heart of downtown, they were lost within the flooded sections of the neighborhoods. The surges of knee-deep water tugged at their weary legs in hopes to engulf them. Fatboy wouldn’t allow it.

“Rayn, come here!!” He commanded as he grabbed her tightly and hugged her in his jacket while looking further down the road. “Relax and pull your legs up!!”

The little girl grasped onto her guardian with all her might and relaxed her legs as he did the same. The water surged over both of their heads as it pulled them across the street and into the side top of a large sports utility vehicle turned on its side. The duo slammed into it with a ‘THUD’ leaving Fatboy breathless from absorbing the impact; his grip on her weakened instantly.

“Fatboy!!” She shouted while grabbing the vehicle and locking her legs around his. The water gushed over each of their faces as the winds acted as an introduction for the lightning starting to strike in the heart of downtown where they just exited.

Coming to his senses, Fatboy recovered from the splashes of water to his face, and instinctively called out to Rayn while trying to reorient himself, “We need high ground, Rayn!! We need high ground!” Desperate to save Fatboy, she pulled herself up to the top-side of the SUV and braved the oncoming lightning to search the driveways in the neighborhoods during the bright flashes provided by each striking bolt.

“WORMS!! Fatboy, I see worms!! That house right there!! They’ve got worms on the driveway!!” She yelled out while pointing to the house next to them.

“Good, let’s move!!” replied Fatboy while pushing against the water to the backend of the vehicle. “Gimmie, your hand, Rayn! Don’t let go!!”

The eleven year old clutched her fifteen year old best friend and peered into the evening gloom only to discover his determined eyes. Dark and without doubt he stared at her, “I’ll die before I let you go, Rayn.” She knew that he was telling the truth.

“I know, Fatboy.” She replied.

The storm’s outcry forced another surge of flooding water just as the duo pushed from the vehicle into its wake. They held their breaths and grabbed onto anything they could in the street as they powered their way from the tremendous strength and yet shallow depths of their nemesis.

Minutes seemed like a lifetime un-promised as the Rayn burst onto the rising slope of the driveway first gasping for air. Fatboy pulled himself up next welcoming the sight of the dead worms gathered in the corners of the driveway. The two eased further up the driveway then sat to collect themselves in the foyer of the home while watching the flooding water stream by filled with debris.

“I don’t know how you did it, Rayn, but I’m glad you saw the worms.” Said Fatboy.

“I remember what you said… worms always find the highest ground during a storm.” Replied Rayn while pulling off her backpack. “What now, Fatboy?”

While peeking out from the foyer to gauge the coming lightning, the youth also studied the home they were at. He normally tried to stay away from homes and keep to city-centers and stores. He hated to see personal pictures and items which reminded him of his home. He hated to see bedrooms and toys that reminded him of his family. He hated to see the bodies of those that lived there, it reminded him of his reality.

In this situation, Fatboy didn’t have a choice. He picked the lock on the door with his pocket knife and paused in the doorway.

We’re going to stay here tonight, Rayn.