Racing the Storm
September 17, 2012
The last thing in the world Jack would have expected was to get a message from his mother. He hadn’t seen her much since his father passed and she had moved in with her sister in Saint Paul . Jack hadn’t owned a cell phone in his life, but he did have an old email mail account. Mostly he avoided checking it because he didn’t want to have to explain himself to a few lingering people that might care.
But his mother’s message sounded urgent. She wasn’t just worried over where he was or what might be happening to him. She sounded like she needed help. “I need you to come here as quickly as you can,” the note had stated. It had been written a full week ago. When he tried the last number he had for his mother, the call wouldn’t go through.
He dropped the receiver back onto the cradle of the pay phone and walked into the hotel lobby. Fingers massaged his worried brow for a moment. I shouldn’t be too worried. She might just be short on money of suffering from normal health problems. She is growing older after all.
Still, he couldn’t help feeling concerned. Everywhere he turned, Xemmoni plagued him. It could be quite possible that she might be targeted simply because of her relationship to him. Another issue was the city itself. Xemmoni breed thick in the cities and the overpopulated regions became death traps for Stalwarts, especially Stalwarts like him that were on their own. Things have been tough enough for me in the sticks, I’m not sure what going back into a city will be like.
But it was his mother, so what real choice did he have? With her phone down as well, he would have no choice but to head there himself. Minutes later, he had stuffed his meager belongings into his duffel and headed to his new ride.
The cold hit him like a giant’s fist. He rushed to poor Hank’s truck, feeling extremely thankful that he had more than just his motorcycle. The old Ford’s heater did little more than keep frostbite away as he headed off onto the snow swept highway.
He tried to tell himself that this was just another annoyance, just another distraction keeping him from returning to Vile Darken and completing what he had failed to do. Part of him felt secretly thankful that he had an excuse not to face that evil yet, but what really burned in his gut was concern for his mother.
The letter was a week old. What might have happened to her since then? Was she still okay? Such thoughts clawed at him as the truck picked up speed and headed east.
Looking at his reflection in the mirror, a scarred taciturn man stared back at him. Would his mother even know him now? “Three bloody years,” he mumbled. He held off from swearing at himself, if only just barely. Behind him, he was dark clouds building in the west. “Storm coming. I better try to beat it.” His foot grew heavy and his speed increased as the arcs of snows danced on the pavement before him.