Can't Sleep

The night was thick. Too warm, too muggy, too loud with the buzzing of a thousand insects and the song of hundred crickets. She felt almost like she might cut the air with a literal knife. Of course, if she swept her knife through the night air, it would make no difference. No wound she inflicted wouldn't stay long enough for the night to notice she was even there. It was too massive - a weight pressing down on her with a metaphorical presence so heavily she could barely breathe.


Violet lifted a hand to cover her eyes, only to find that the skin of her hand and the skin of her face stuck to each other like damp, clammy glue. She groaned and peeled her hand off her face again, wishing for the sake of all things good, nevermind her own sanity, that a breeze might come to end this misery. 


"You can't sleep either, huh?" 


The voice in her ear was young and masculine. Tenor, she thought absently. Probably had a decent singing voice, if he tried. Not that she would ever ask him to. Not that she ever could, with no microphone. 


To answer his question, she sat up and glared around, looking for the glint of a camera lens in the darkness. She didn't see one, but it was there. Somewhere. 


"Good. Well, maybe not 'good,' but it's convenient, anyway. I can't sleep either. Why don't we try something new tonight? There's no one else at the lake right now. You might be able to cool off a bit and catch some fish. The food won't do you any harm." 


His jibe at her scrawny appearance didn't bother her. It was an old joke, and honestly, it wasn't even really a joke. She was scrawny. That was the truth. Food wasn't free around here, and if she wanted to eat she had to work - the more she worked, the more she needed to eat. It was a vicious cycle. 


Collecting her bag, she stuffed her blanket inside and slung it carelessly on her shoulder, checking her weapons with her free hand. The sturdy club that had been her first weapon. The long knife her Player had bought for her. The sling and its pouch of stones. She wasn't very good with the sling yet, but it was better than having no ranged weapon at all, and she would get better as she used it more. 


"Another camp, about 500 feet to your left. If you steer toward 2 o'clock, you can get a big thicket between you and them." He was whispering. There was no point, and he'd been speaking normally a moment before, but that was a thing that Players did sometimes. It was all a game to them. She had a good one, though.


Steering obediently to her right, she found the thicket and ducked behind it, eyeing the moonlit leaves to see if any of those berries were ripe yet. No luck.


"Hold."


Violet froze, knowing from experience that her Player could see much more than she could. After a long second with the insects droning in her ears, she tapped her ear with a cautious finger, half to test if her earpiece was still working, and half to signal to her Player that she was waiting for more directions.


"He's behind you. Hasn't spotted you yet." #Story #Original #Fiction #Violet

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©2020 by Eleanor Taylor.

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