Del and Huck — On the Wings of Grace (Chapter 2)



A speculative/fantasy "swords and sorcery" tale taking place in 1920s Oklahoma. Follow teenager Delilah and her Uncle Huck as they navigate a world gone to Hell.



Chapter Two:

At Home with the Strites


Del quickly started the process for the film and then headed back upstairs out of her dark room and found Huck cooking lunch.

 "Just beans and a little bit of gravy, Del," he said.

"That's okay, Uncle Huck. Boy, I'm starved."

She flopped down on the couch and turned on the radio, welcoming the Central Oklahoma Broadcasting Network into their home. They catch the tail end of some kind of public service advertisement before the news came on:

"A cloudy day in Oklahoma City today, with temperatures in the upper 50s. Problems with the water supply seem to have been sorted with the help of a local wizard who found the problem was magical, not systemic. Steps were quickly taken to protect the supply from further tampering. Whether it was elves involved or not, no one can say.

"In other news, the population of the city seems to be swelling, with fighting men and refugees coming in from both the East and the South. Stories are still coming in of chaos on the East coast, though things seem to have stabilized in the Southern states somewhat. Mayor Reverend Parsons was quoted saying he was pleased with the fighting men and war mages coming into the city, as they could be employed against the elves, but admitted the rest of the refugees would put a strain on the city. But Parsons promised all would be accounted for and taken care of as that was the way of Christ's teachings."

Del turned the volume down on the radio so it was just a whisper. "Uncle Huck?" she asked.

"Yeah Del?"

"What do you think of all that?"

"All what, Del?"

"Fighting men and war wizards and stuff?"

"I'm not sure."

"I heard a lot of them warriors is orcs."

"Yeah I heard that too."

"Parsons is running a tricky business," Del said.

"And we're part of it," said Huck.

"Yeah..." Del admitted.  She wondered what the Reverend would ask of them next. They had spent the last couple months doing a lot of nothing until the Reverend heard of the tower, and now he seemed to want to talk to Huck all the time.

"When are those pictures going to be ready?"

"Not long. After we eat I'll finish them up and you can go."

"Don't let anybody in when I'm gone, Del."

"I know that."

"Not even if they're a friend."

"We don't have any friends."

"That's right," said Huck. "Nobody does these days."

After lunch, Del went back downstairs to her dark room, and, once bathed in the red light, felt safe and calm. It was her place, and no one else's -- all the rest of the world was millions of miles away. She slowly dipped and pushed the photos through their chemical bathes, and the dark blacks, grays, and stark whites came into view. Blank pages became detailed replications of reality you could touch and see.

Her parents had introduced her to photography, and since they had died, it was doubly important to her. The camera had been a gift, and it was her absolute treasure. She couldn't imagine life without it, and she cared for it with utter abandon.

It pleased her that she could help Uncle Huck, and through him, Reverend Parsons and the city by using it. It made her feel useful, almost powerful. She wondered what she would be asked to photograph next.

Finally the photos were done to her satisfaction and she pulled them out to rinse and dry.

"These them?" Uncle Huck asked when she brought them up stairs.

"Yeah. You can give them to him and I can make more copies, whatever he wants."

"Okay, Del." He sighed, put out his cigarette, and stood.  "I'm leaving.  Keep the doors locked."

"I will."

"My gun is in the living room. You know what I taught you.  Don't be afraid to use it if strangers come by. A gunshot will scare off near anybody. And keep your pistol on you while I'm gone, someone could get in and you'd never guess it. If something happens, lock yourself in the dark room, and I'll find you."

"I won't be afraid."

"Good.  I'll be back soon."

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