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Sci-Fi Thursday! In an effort to not torture my writing group with only Sci Fi, I’ve decided to take one of the prompts a week and continue with the Sci-Fi story on Thursdays.  They can also be read as one longer piece under the Sci Fi Land page. This weeks prompt was forgiveness.

This picks up after Wrong Way.

Tyler

Gathering water I can tell that Sci is worried about the time. She keeps glancing at the sky tracking the sun and estimating how long we have before nightfall. Being caught out here after dark is a death sentence.

“Come on, people pick up the pace, we need to get moving,” I shout out trying to keep us focused. Billy is still dazed and I’ll need to talk to him about what happened today.

“Ulysses, you’re confident that we’re clear, no scouts?” Sci asks.

“As confident as I can be.”

“Then we go back the same way we came, at least we know that way is clear.”

Toby double checks the bindings making sure the water is secure. We are going to have to hustle, jog if we can. I laugh thinking we’re like the secret service surrounding the president.

Once we get to the roads the going is easier, but I can see both Sci and Billy staggering as the adrenaline completely abandons their systems. We lose the last of the light two blocks from the compound, but the quiet of the night remains disturbed only by our steady footfalls and ragged breath. Reaching the gate we pound out the code, as it swings open Jessica’s face floods with both relief and irritation.

“Oh, thank god! What the hell happened? The other group has been back for hours!”  She runs to Sci and hugs her.

“I’m fine, Jess, I’m fine.”

“Everyone OK?” I hear Shiva ask.

“Yea. We just had some trouble, “ I tell him.

We put our weapons away and bring the water to the fires that are already working boiling the other groups haul.

“Any of that blood yours?”

“I don’t think so, I’ll let you know.” I tell Jess as I go up to my room to change.

I leave my room to go find Billy, but I see that Sci’s door is partly open and through it her reflection in a mirror. Her large hazel eyes are reflected back to herself, but her focus is someplace else. She has a small bowl of water, scissors and a razor on the table in front of her. She runs her hands through her jet back waves and lets the loosened strands fall.  She picks up a hank of hair and cuts if off close to her scalp. The glow from the candles caress the supple muscles of her upper arms and shoulders.  As her hair gets shorter the height of her check bone and plain of her check become exposed and I’m aching to trace the line, feel her warm skin beneath my calloused fingers.

“You going to stand in the doorway and stalk me or come in?”

Walking into the room I lean against the wall behind her. She doesn’t speak, she’s comfortable with silence. I’m not so good with words, so I join her not wanting to ruin this moment.

Once her hair is as short as she can get it, she wets what is left and squeezes something from a bottle and rubs it all over her scalp.

“Absurdly, we have two cases of conditioner. Thanks to that Costco hoarder who lived a couple of buildings over.”

She sharpens the same razor that she has used for the last two years against her forearm, a trick she learned from a website from before, and drags it slowly along her scalp.

“Can I ask, why?”

“My hair is starting to fall out.” She notices the look of alarm on my face, “No, not from that, from stress.”

She’s afraid of looking weak in front of the others.

“That the only reason?”

She doesn’t answer. She’s getting to the hard to reach places on the back of her scalp. Moving in behind her, I take the razor from her hand and gently tilt her head forward. I move the razor down the back of her neck visiting the peaks and valleys struggling against the urge to place my mouth against the first bump of her vertebrae.

“Maybe a little atonement,” she says quietly.

“You did it for us. You have to forgive yourself.”

With eyes full of liquid fire she says, “I wonder Tyler, what forgiveness means when God is gone and there is no one left to grant it?”

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