I’ve written a reasonable amount on my novella today, and I should be able to do a bit more of a catch up tonight. I’m starting to feel like the novella is taking more of a form, more of a direction, and I’m liking the direction. At this stage, I don’t want to reveal much, but I thought I’d post a short sample of the story.
Ice Popsicle Apocalypse
Chapter Three: The Heat
Her breasts had started growing.
They jiggled a bit as I wrapped a towel around her torso and put yesterday’s shirt with all our dirty clothes in a pile by the stream. She should have been old enough to change herself, but she didn’t seem to be able to do much without my help. What would happen to her if I were not around? I didn’t want to think about it. I was the only one she could trust.
She followed me down to the stream, her limbs dangling about like orchards in the breeze. As she grew, I noticed her start to transition from girl to woman. It had been so long since I’d seen a woman and I knew men would see her thin figure slowly filling out and get ideas. It was my job to think of these ideas and prevent them from ever happening.
I took my own clothes off and added them to the pile and slipped into the stream. I picked up a handful of water and rubbed it through my face, the dirt and grime washing away. All around me, the water turned a brown-yellow colour. Rose was dirtier than me, but we had our reasons for it. We met a man a few towns back who looked like your bog-standard swamp monster. Aside from the stench and the mud hanging off his face and body, he was perfectly normal. No sweat. He said the secret was to coat yourself in mud. Once it dries it acts as insulation. The problem is that if you’re moving around too much it’ll get cracked and let the heat in. And the extra weight makes the going slower too. Once the Heat kicked in he moved near a river and hadn’t moved much since. He said sometimes he doesn’t move for days. This stream was probably connected to that same river.
Rose let her towel drop by her feet and she joined me in the stream.
“Close your eyes,” I said.
I scooped up another handful of water and poured it over her head.
She laughed and smiled and wiped the dirt and water from her eyes and splashed water at my face. I laughed and we splashed water back and forth and the dirty water dissipated between us. There was never much point for us to get absolutely clean because we ended up covered head to toe in mud anyway.
I swam over to her and lifted her onto my shoulders and then threw her into the air. She screamed and splashed back into the stream. She was underwater for quite a while, her bright red body rippled through the (mostly cleared) water, popping up right in front of me. She was a natural swimmer. If only we found a stream that ran forever. I dunked her down then swam around to our pile of clothes. She kept swimming about while I ran our clothes through the water, soaking them nice and good, and scrubbing with the brush I took from the farm all those years ago and the soap we stole from a house in the last town we came through. I laid out the clean clothes on some rocks to dry.
When I was done with the washing and Rose was done playing in the water (now a sudsy white/murky brown colour) I got out of the stream, dried myself off and grabbed a few things from the shopping cart.
I had the mixing bowl, sifter, cups, and frayed, old brushes. I filled the cups with dirt from a little way up the bank, the stuff that’s not too damp and pebble-y, but doesn’t have too much grass and weeds and junk in it either. I sifted it into the bowl and repeated it until the bowl was a bit over half full, then I mixed in a few cupfuls of water. We didn’t want it too thick or too runny so we’d figured out a consistency that was like putting glue onto skin with a paintbrush.
Once I had mixed it up right I called Rose to hop out of the water and dry off, otherwise the mud would just slide off. I picked the brush up, dripping with mud, and started on her back.
Rose giggled and squirmed and said, “that tickles.”
“Shh. Remember, nice and quick, before the mud dries.”
She was getting pretty good at standing still while I ran the brush over her, but she was a kid, and there were spots where she always, always lost it. I lifted her hair and ran the brush over the back of her neck and thought she was getting close to needing a hair cut. I brushed down her legs, up her arms, and all over her torso. I brushed up her neck right to her chin and popped a dot of mud on her nose. She tilted back in surprise then laughed. I left her face free because it was too uncomfortable. Mud on the face never stuck for long, and she always ended up picking at it anyway.
While she dried in the sun I went about mixing up another batch of mud for myself. I sat by the stream and started slapping the mixture on my arms, legs and chest, spreading it around, working the brush around everywhere I could reach. By the time I’d covered everything but my back, Rose was dried and breaking in her new joints and ready to come fill in the gaps. She got dressed while I dried out. In our new mud suits we felt invincible. We looked like goddamn lunatics, but we felt like we could live forever.