Excerpt: Getting it Ready

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Adrian stepped inside with a frown, running his eyes over arcades, ball cleaning machines, rows of welded down tables and hard, swivel chairs behind racks of balls and lined up pins at the end of wide, dust covered lanes. The maroon carpet held a fine layer of sand that showed no foot prints, leading to separate bar and food areas, the wooden counters and brick walls covered with glittery signs and unopened party favors. Sick of seeing the heartbreaking reminders of a world gone by, Adrian’s sharp eyes picked out mouse droppings on the bar, tiny footprints in the dust, a ceiling of New Years confetti that would never fall, and he nodded as calls of all clear, echoed.

“It’ll do. Get it ready.”

   Kenn set the mouse trap in the corner and as he stood, hitching up jeans that were no longer too tight, he watched Doug and Neil as they moved toward the steps that led to the basement, about to do a second sweep. The limping redhead in the green Army jacket was shaking long, wild hair in response to the tall, thin Trooper, and Kenn caught Zack’s eye. Reading him easily, (The career truck driver now wearing the clothes of a rookie Eagle trying to make level One status) Zack trotted quickly across the wide, dusty room.

“Hey, Neil, wait up. I got a question about yesterdays lesson.” Satisfied there would be no unauthorized plotting done with the rookie’s nosey green eyes on them, Kenn ran a hand over his neck length black hair, yawning.

“Next.”

   It took the camp of over a hundred nearly an hour to get it all inside and set up, the dozens of lanterns giving the huge room a dim, flickering light and a harsh odor that Adrian knew wouldn’t mix well with the other smells they would create. He hung smoke detectors and air-fresheners, along with signs to keep the bathroom doors closed, and then he headed to the basement as the camp ate lunch,(Spaghetti), and picked out their sleeping areas, women and kids away from the doors and windows. When Adrian waved a hand at Kyle, the stocky, black headed Eagle fell in step without question, and the two men kept their eyes open as they moved down the long, dark hall, flashlights on their belts casting eerie shadows. 

“You been back out since we got here?” Kyle asked, giving his boss a pointed look and the blond’s tone was even.

“A few minutes ago. Looks like snow moving in from the South. Temperature’s dropping.” Kyle nodded. He wasn’t exactly gunning for the Marine but he’d never trust him, never be one of his many supporters, and he liked it that Kenn had been behind the 8 ball, even if only for a few hours.

“Don’t think it’ll hold till dark.”

“Won’t matter if Kenn can get the lights and heat on.” Adrian’s words were still hanging in the chilly air when a huge rumble started under their feet, rattling the whole building. It grew steadily louder, drawing yells as dust began to fly from vents, and then it changed to a long, loud hiss that died out gradually. There was a few seconds of tense silence and Adrian waited in the darkness with his hand on his piece, hearing the unease of his herd above them.

   The rumbling came again, much quieter this time, and the two males got moving, grinning when the dust covered bulbs overhead flicked halfheartedly, then began to glow, bright and beautiful. They now had electric.

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