Thursday, September 02, 2010

Seven Cities: Chapter One

Jillian Baker was sitting at her window when the world ended. She had no way of knowing that the apocalypse had begun that morning, little over eight hundred miles away. All she knew was that the squirrel on her bird feeder was staring back at her.
She had been watching it stuff its cheeks with the seed she bought for birds she didn't really care for. If she had guests that evening, she would have made a fuss over the waste. As it was, though, she got a guilty thrill from seeing the rodents scamper around her yard.
The squirrel was still staring. Jillian wondered briefly if it had rabies, but dismissed the idea. Squirrels can't become rabid; they get killed too easily. Besides, how could it see her with the sun shining directly into her yard? She should be shadowed.
Maybe the squirrel saw something on the window itself. Which would be odd, considering Jillian cleaned it only last Thursday, but strange things do happen.
Strange like a squirrel staring at you?
Jillian shook her head. She was imagining it, somehow. Maybe she had taken too much of he medication earlier. That could be it, right? Medication made people crazy sometimes.
She stifled a scream as the timer indicated that her cookies were done. Chuckling nervously, she went to her kitchen and drew them out. They were undercooked she knew, still gooey. Squirrels weren't her only guilty pleasure. As a girl, she had loved cookie dough, but now her fear of disease made her cook the salmonella to death.
She set the pan on the stove top, and set her kitchen timer for five minutes. She knew it would still be burning hot in that short time, but she couldn't wait longer. The flavor was worth a numb tongue. She went back to her living room window.
The squirrel was still there. Jillian considered chasing it off, but what if it was rabid? It would be much safer, she decided, to stay inside.
When the timer beeped again, she went for her snack, pretending to herself that it wasn't relief she felt when leaving the window seat.
The cookie was tasteless, and she found milled around the kitchen for a while before deciding to go to bed. It was nearly six after all.
Yep. After a long day of yard-watching, nothing feels better than a long rest. Six isn't too early. Early to bed and early to rise.
She made sure to spend extra time brushing her teeth, letting it grow a little later. Then, in her favorite nightgown, she crawled into her bed, trying not to think of the squirrel.
It was midnight when she finally fell asleep.

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