Darkness #3

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Third chapter in the weekly Darkness posts. If you have an idea for a name for who you would like to see next, I would be happy to hear from you. Candis Corey recommended Shannon the gas attendant for this week. Thank you!

Chapter 3 — Shannon

“Shannon? Shannon? Where are you?” Shelly called out to her friend as she entered her friend’s convenience store. She was worried. Keith and Toby were always standing guard by the door as they watched over the gas stalls but they were missing as well.  Walking passed the empty shelves and coolers, she called out to her friend again. “Shannon?”

“Shelly! Hi…I didn’t hear you from the back room. Would you like some coffee?” Shannon’s eyes tinkled. Living in a suburb of Seattle, coffee was second only to breathing and it had become a rare commodity of late.

Her fear forgotten for the moment, Shelly’s perked up. “Coffee? You have coffee?”

“Would I have offered if I didn’t? What kind of friend do you take me for?” Shannon’s pout turned into a grin as she motioned Shelly to the back room.

“Where did you find it? I haven’t had a supply shipment in a month. Coffee is the only item that I keep a two week supply for myself and this last batch I stretched out for a month. Tasted like watered-down brown water but it was better than nothing. I just ran out yesterday,” Shelly exclaimed. 

“So is that a yes?” Shannon bated turning back to face her friend, her eyes twinkling. 

“Yes…hell yes!”

Shannon opened the door to the back room. On a little table sat a Kurig machine with a box of little inserts next to it. “What is your poison? Hazelnut, French Roast or Columbian?”  she asked taking a French Roast from the box and turned to face Shelly. “French Roast, if I remember correctly.”

Mouth open, Shelly couldn’t speak, just nodded. Shelly laughed as she turned back to the Kurig machine.

“Toby and Keith found it yesterday when they were foraging for more fuel.  There is a gas station about 50 miles out of town that looks like it closed right before the black-out. They never had a chance to clean it out. It is off the beaten path is the only reason I can think of that they haven’t pilfered it before now.” Shannon explained.

“50 miles?” Shelly asked, her mouth watering in anticipation as she watched Shannon place a cup under the downspout and hit the button. The sound of the machine pulling the water through was heavenly to her ears.

“Yea…it is getting harder to find fuel and with the blackout, there is no drilling to get more.  I don’t think there will be any left after the spring. None close enough to make it worthwhile any way.” Shannon replied as she watched the brown liquid pour in to the cup.

“I was wondering why the boys were gone. What about the emergency stores? You still have that don’t you?” Shannon asked. Not many knew that they kept back enough for EMT and fire response teams. There was always a chance someone wanting to get out of town would steal it for themselves.

“Nope. Gave the last of it to them three days ago. The boys were on their last tank of gas when they found this spot. There won’t be any more gas for the general public until we find another source.” Shannon said handing the coffee to her friend.

Shelly breathed in deeply, enjoying the aroma of the freshly brewed coffee before taking a sip. “You are trying to butter me up for the bad news, weren’t you?” she teased.  “Ahhh… It is working.”

Shannon laughed, “Maybe…”

They talked for a few more minutes as they enjoyed the first good cup of coffee they have had in months. Bantering back and forth and talking about what they would be doing right now if the blackout had never happened.

“So…pre-blackout, who were you pining over? You never did tell me.” Shannon asked thinking back to an earlier time.

“Pining? I wouldn’t have called it pining.” Shelly replied smiling.

“Pining, eyeing, lusting…desiring? You pick. All I know is the twinkle in your eye gives you away. You still want him.” Shannon teased as she took another sip of coffee.

Shelly grinned whispering, “Toby…”

Shannon chocked on her coffee trying to catch her breath. “My brother?”

“Now you know why I never told you. It will never happen anyway. He has always been out of my league and I have always been his baby sister’s little rug rat. And now….” Shelly sighed. “Things are just too complicated.”

Shannon laughed until she snorted making her laugh all the more.

“I know you would be shocked but now you are just being hurtful.” Shelly crossed her arms with a look of dismay on her face.

Shannon tried to get her laughter under control as she wiped the tear from her eye. “No…it isn’t you. Well it is you but it is him as well. You two have been going in circles for years thinking that no one else could see it. I just never thought you would admit it to anyone, least of all to me.”

“What?”

Shannon smiled, “Toby has been wanting you since we were all in high school but has that strange honor code of his that he won’t date any of my friends. He didn’t want to come between us no matter how many times I told him he should ask you out.”

“High school…really?” Shelly asked bewildered. “High school?”

“Cat got your tongue? Yes…high school.” Shannon laughed again.

Shelly sat there for a moment thinking back to an earlier time. Toby had tried to kiss her once on a dare when she was a freshman. She had never kissed a boy before and thought she was going to mess it up. She had pulled away at the last minute and had regretted it ever since. Toby made light of it saying that a first kiss should be with someone you really liked and never spoke of it again. If he had only known. After that he just treated her like any other of his sister’s friends or so she thought. As the years passed and they graduated and moved on with their lives, they all grew close but…

“Really?” she asked in disbelief.

Shannon never had a chance to reply as they heard a commotion from the store. Standing up from the floor, they both rushed back into the other room. There was a trail of blood from the door leading to behind the counter as if someone had dragged a body there. As their eyes followed the trail they saw Keith covered in blood hovering over a body. Its leg torn as if by a wild animal.

“Keith?” Shannon left the rest of the question unspoken.

Keith lifted his head and turned around to face his sister, tears running down his face. Terror was etched on his brow.

Shelly looked on in disbelief as she saw the body for the first time. “Toby?”

 

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