2.10 – Welcome to Al Simhara, Land of Sand and Crocodiles!
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2.10 – Welcome to Al Simhara, Land of Sand and Crocodiles!

It's technically still Monday! >.>


Chloe’s PoV

“Another year, another country,” Thomas muttered in the passenger seat.

“Please don’t,” I murmured.

“I’m sorry.” He ran a hand over his face. “I know why, but…”

“I know.” I stared fixedly at the road. “Trust me, it wasn’t an easy thing to do. I was just as comfortable as you guys. Probably even more.”

We fell into silence as I drove through the night. Memories of the last moonlight run flitted across my mind. They weren’t happy memories.

“Medea won’t be happy,” Thomas muttered finally.

I winced. No, I imagine not. The first time, when we’d left the Valley, I’d told her we were going camping. After the first week on the road she’d gotten suspicious. When she’d found out we were never coming back…there had been rage. Now…well, she hadn’t said a word for four days.

Donovan had been sad, and scared, though he’d tried not to show it. He’d packed his bags dutifully and knocked Shaye out for me. Lucy had cried.

We made it into Egypt with little fanfare. The town we found ourselves in was one suggested to me by one of Donovan’s explorer friends. It was called Al Simhara, and it was hot as hell.

There was no boarding house, no inn, no motel, nothing like that at all. There was a large, community camp site. And it was bring-your-own-tent.

“Oh, yes,” Medea began, staring at the barren earth. “Let’s leave China to come to some barren wasteland in the innermost circle of Hell!” She stomped away.

Deep breath, in…and out. Thomas made to put his hand on my shoulder, but I shrugged him off. A week in the car with the same people was too much, and I suddenly felt a desperate need to be alone. Nothing I do is ever right…


Thomas’s PoV

I watched the two sisters stomp away in opposite directions and knew it was going to be a long stay. I sighed.

Donovan might have left some adventures behind in Shang Simla. And the girls had left their hobbies. But Chloe’d left her peace of mind. She was on edge again. And I wasn’t quite sure what she would do next.

I shook my head and asked a local where the market was. After a good fifteen minutes of miscommunication, I flagged a passing explorer and got my directions.

“Hey, kids!” I called. Four tired faces turned towards me from different sides of the camp site. “I’m heading to the market for a change of clothes. Anyone wanna come with?”

Lucy brightened up. Her favorite part of Shang Simla, besides the watercolor paintings, had been the clothing. Medea scowled and stomped away, probably to terrorize some poor explorer.

“I’ll stay here with Mead,” Shaye volunteered. Donovan suddenly looked a lot happier…and a bit relieved.

“Great!” he grinned. “Then I’m off for–”

“The Buddy Rule’s back,” I interrupted. Donovan opened his mouth, probably to argue. “Especially for you!” He deflated.

“I guess I’ll go to the market,” he muttered.

“Then get a move on!”

A few hours of frustrating haggling and miscommunication (where’s Chloe when I need her?!) later, we had a change of clothes for the girls. Donovan and I were keeping our explorer duds and Chloe…well, when a girl’s a double D, she’s got no alternative.

“Hey, Luce–” I stopped and looked around. I could see Donovan having a suspicious conversation in the corner. And Shaye and Medea had shown up, Shaye talking to a farmer while Medea scowled into a basket.

But I couldn’t see Lucy. It’s okay, I thought, trying to calm myself. She’s probably checking out those colorful tiles outside the bazaar again. I paid the book merchant and headed for the gate.

“Oh my gosh! Thank you so much!”

I turned and saw Chloe and Lucy in one of the bazaar’s open shops. Thank god! I jogged towards them.

Chloe shrugged. “You’ve always been interested in photography, so I thought an actual camera might give you something…to focus on.” She looked at the ground and scuffed her worn shoe.

Lucy beamed up at Chloe and hugged her. Then she ran past me, out of the shop, waving ecstatically as she did.

“Stay with Donovan,” I called after her. That’ll keep Donovan out of trouble.

With Shaye keeping Medea in line, and Donovan keeping Lucy, and by extension himself, safe, I turned to my last sibling, and the one I worried the most about. “What’s up?” I asked casually.

Chloe shrugged and looked away, but I could see that some of the tenseness was gone from her shoulders. And her freckles didn’t stand out so much.

I reached over and pulled a curl.

“Hey!” came to indignant squeak. But she was smiling.

I laughed and pulled her into a bear hug. She squealed and struggled, but half-heartedly. I gave a big squeeze and let her go. Her smile was exasperated, but her eyes were bright.

“So, what’s on the agenda?”

I leaned against the adobe wall and thought about it. “Well,” I began, glancing around. “Don’t expect to see Donovan or Lucy for a while. Lucy’s probably dragging him to those pyramids right now.”

Chloe grinned. “I thought she would. And together they’ll stay out of serious trouble.”

“And Shaye wanted to get a closer look at the farming methods here. And,” I scratched my head. “I know Medea left with her. They had a basket with them. Maybe to collect plants?” I shrugged. “You?”

“There’s a project from China I still need to finish.” She cocked her head to the side. “What about you?”

“Me?” I grinned. “I’m going crocodile hunting!”


Thanks for reading! ^_^

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