Wednesday, October 24, 2012
New Beginning 975
“I should let you starve.”
Old Tom grinned at me from his pallet on the floor. “The Guild wouldn’t much approve of that. You’re still my apprentice.” He raised the bandaged stump of his right leg and pushed himself to a sitting position. A sheen of sweat covered his face and torso.
“And if you die while I’m out foraging?” I asked.
“Then you won’t have to starve me. And don’t be an ass. I’m trapped in the city now, but I’m a Master Forager. I can survive for weeks with just water, even in this miserable place.”
I doubted he’d survive another month, with or without water. Tom had melanoma. The forager’s curse. The result of a lifetime spent outside Atlanta’s walls, away from the shade of buildings and towering solar panels. Black growths mottled his chest and arms.
“I saved the best for last,” he said, holding out a small wooden box bound with rawhide. “It’s for the Marsh Clan. Worth at least thirty pounds of salt meat.” The box rattled like pebbles in a dried gourd.
“When you return, we’ll talk more,” Tom said.
“So you haven’t told me everything.”
“So sue me.”
Once outside the door, I opened the box.
It was filled with acorns, just like I'd expected. Just like those black growths on Tom's chest were probably ticks and leeches, not melanoma. I was used to, and tired of, the exaggerations of my elders.
I got it. They had to feel important. There wasn't enough to feel important about these days. But come on. "Master Forager"? Capitalized? Christ.
Opening: Anon......Continuation: Lisa Hurley