The Rain

The Rain by Joseph Turkot

Book: The Rain by Joseph Turkot Read Free Book Online
Authors: Joseph Turkot
they can’t exist. Communities of death. And there are plenty of non-face eaters who hate strange folks coming on what they consider their own piece of the warm and dry. Russell and I know all too well how thin supplies are, especially in the West. There’s only so much to go around. I debate what to do as I row, digging with the last bits of my strength into the rain sea, pushing us along much slower now, but with the last of my energy making sure we don’t drift past the bank I’ve been eyeing for the last half hour. It’s the only spot where the rise looks gradual enough that I won’t lose the canoe if I try to park it there. Everywhere else it’s like the land rises straight up, like on the mountain there had been a sheer face. As we get very near to the bank where I intend to put us in, I lose sight of the blue tarps. They are only visible from a distance because they’re so high up on the land, along the top ridge. I wish Russell was well enough to help me land the canoe, because I’m no good at it. But I’ve seen him do it enough, and I’m happy to hear the sound of his breathing, which is shallow but steady.
                I stroke in, then push the oar into the water and hold it broadside to try to slow the boat down. Rain punishes the muddy rise that I wedge the canoe into. She sticks into the bank on the first try and I collapse. It’s like I don’t even have the energy to get out of the canoe. I slump down in the seat and take it in— we’re off the water . No more swells. No more bailing. At least not for the moment. But the sooner we get onto the land, the sooner we find out if we have to go right back into the sea, and I can’t bring myself to get off yet to find that out. Lying down as best I can I turn to Russell and tell him we made it. He responds by trying to get up. Hold on I tell him, and he obeys. I rest. I need to rest before moving onto the land. I check for my knife, and thankfully, it’s still in my pocket. I have no idea if Russell has his, but it doesn’t matter because he couldn’t use it even if he did. He’s much too weak now. If this is an organized dwelling of cannibals, it’ll be just me to defend us now. And my best defense is pushing out to sea again, as shitty as our boat is. Maybe I can take one face eater, if I sneak up on him. But we can’t take an ambush, and that’s how the face eaters usually operate—surprise attacks from behind rocks, bushes, trees, from anywhere where they have an unfair advantage.
    I finally decide we have to get off. I’m tired again. The boat’s sinking. I need to sleep. Russell needs to get out of the rain. Hypothermia is setting in, I’m sure I feel it in my bones. I thought I saw a lot of green near the blue tarps, like there were trees, or some other kind of vegetation. If that’s the case, the tarpers will have some of it, as much of it as possible, under their tarps, dried out. That means there will be fires. The thought of fire pushes my legs down into the floor of the canoe and makes me stand up. I take the nylon rope out of the food sack. I walk up through the shallow water and find a large root slicing through the mud.  It pokes out at just the right spot for me to tie the nylon around it. A root is never as good as a rock, but I don’t care. The canoe seems stable enough. Come on, I call to Russell, as if he’ll just get up and walk off with me. But he’s much too sick now to do that. I take the tent off of him and bring it with the poles up onto the first flat patch of earth I reach. It’s about twenty feet up the bank, but still way down from the tarps, out of sight. I get to work setting up the tent, realizing that this time Russell will have to get in it himself. I can’t pitch the tent over top of him while he’s lying in the boat. The tent is set up in no time, because the thought of being under a roof surges in me. To rest under all its leaky canvas spread like a haven of the dry and the

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