Dawn or Dusk?
Where the heck am I?
I raised up on my elbows. I was lying in a patch of dry grass that was about thirty feet wide. Growing in the middle of the grass was a tree of the type I had seen in the deserts of the West, with leaves that looked more like needles than leaves.
Was it beginning to get daylight or was it almost dark, just before sunrise or just after dusk? Since the temperature had to be in the nineties, apparently the day had ended and night must be upon me.
Looking past my patch of grass and tree, I could barely see the outlines of a small building a few hundred feet away. As I strained to focus on the building, I became aware of something moving in the grass behind me and slightly to my right.
Looking over my shoulder, I saw a person rolling over in the grass. The person started to get up, then spotted me and stopped moving.
“Hey,” said a male voice.
“Who are you and what are you doing here? I don’t think I’ve ever seen you before.”
“I have no idea what I’m doing here or how I got here,” I replied. “Where are we?”
“We’re in the park where I sleep every night.”
“You sleep here every night?” I asked.
“Yeah. I think the ground is a little cooler here. But hey, it’s getting daylight. We’ve gotta get up and get headed out to the fields if we want to stay out of trouble and be alive to come back here tonight.”
“The day is just beginning? As hot as it is I thought it was just getting dark.”
“You’re really out of it. Wha’d you do? Find uh old bottle of liquor in some ruin and enjoy it all yourself?”
“No, no, nothing like that. The last thing I remember I was falling, and then I woke up here.”
“Do you have a name, woke up here?”
“Tammy. And you?”
“Just call me Arn.”
“O.k., Arn. Now tell me where I am and why we need to get headed out to the fields.”
“You’re either a good liar or you hit your head really hard. We go to the fields to stay alive another day. In a little bit the goons will be coming through here. If we’re not on our way to the fields by then, we’ll be part of tonight’s stew.”
“You’re saying they’ll kill us if we don’t get out of here?”
You Sure Are Stupid
“For someone so pretty you sure are stupid.”
“That’s a compliment I’ll always treasure.”
“Now that it’s getting a little more light out, I can see your face better” Arn said as he moved closer. “How do you keep skin like that working in the fields all day in the sun?”
“Heredity, I guess.”
“Maybe you don’t know nuthin’ about the fields and have pretty skin because you don’t work in the fields. You’re with the goons. You’re here to spy.”
“I may have hit my head and can’t remember a few things, but trust me. I know I’m not with the goons and I’m not here to spy on anyone. I’m going to the fields with you. I’ll stay where you can keep an eye on me all day.”
“You can bet I’ll keep an eye on you all day.”
I wasn’t sure exactly how he meant that.
I had no idea where I was or how I was going to survive in this strange place. I knew I needed help to figure out how to survive here, and I sensed I trusted Arn, even though I knew he didn’t trust me.
Where’s Your Shirt?
“If you’re going to the fields, where’s your long shirt and hat? You’ll be burned to a crisp by the end of the day.”
“Uh, I don’t know. I must have dropped them wherever it was that I fell. Where do I find another shirt and hat?”
“Hmmm! Alright, I have a spare set, but if I loan ‘em to you today, you can be sure I’ll stay by you. Don’t want no thief stealing my spare shirt and hat.”
At that, Arn stood up, reached into a tangle of branches in the tree, and pulled out a rolled up shirt and hat.
“Here ya go honey. And don’t you go telling nobody where I keep ‘em stashed. I guess I shouldn’t have let you see.”
“The name’s Tammy, and don’t you go gettin’ any ideas.”
“Oooh! Touchy I see. Look, I ain’t got no ideas, and it looks like you need me and my hat and shirt if you’re gonna survive ‘till the end of the day, unless your goon friends are gonna come rescue you.”
Will I Be Part of Your Supper?
“I don’t have any goon friends, and if my head doesn’t clear soon it sounds like I’ll be part of your supper.”
“Part of what?” Arn asked.
“Your supper. You said I’d be part of the stew.”
“I ain’t heard nobody use that word since I was a kid. There’s somethin’ strange about you.”
Just then a piercing siren sounded three times.
“Lets get going. Put on the shirt and hat and let’s get movin’ or we’ll both be part of the stew,” Arn said.
I followed Arn as he moved toward the small building.
“You never told me the name of this place, Arn”
“We call it Hoth.”
“Hoth? What’s that mean?”
“You’ll figure it out by the end of the day.”
“Come on Arn, what’s it mean?”