My Minion is not getting as much of her writing done and posted as she should. They have been busy selling their old house and now getting sued by one of the people who said he wanted to buy it and then did not, fixing cars, trying to replace computers before the old ones die…all that yucky normal stuff that can come between one and their much more fun Moosey activities. She is nearly done with the next story she intends to post, but it needs some rewriting at the beginning because it did not end up going where we thought it would at the start, so here is the beginning of the novel she was working on in November, though we need to find a better title…
Chapter One – Out of Chaos Comes…
Nathan sat on the floor with his back against a pillar and crossed legs propped up on a worn khaki knapsack more than twice his age and several sizes too large for him. A summer storm raged beyond the high, double glazed, hardened glass wall that separated the well lit Concourse C from the darkness beyond. Nathan’s flight had been one of the last to land before the weather blew the rest to safer skies. The newish international Concourse F and Customs had passed in something of a blur after a long, drawn-out, series of naps on the plane.
Gramma thoroughly vetted and interviewed the young man assigned to escort Nathan across the ocean. She declared Barnaby thoughtful, kind, and reliably efficient, so Nathan trusted him with the details of the journey. Barnaby had a bit of trouble when the chemical sensors objected to Nathan’s pack, but with a piece of luggage that had seen use in dozens of countries on every continent in all kinds of environments, the small, stocky twelve-year-old owner was proud of the antique. He would not be surprised if they found traces of nuclear material embedded in the fabric. Nathan’s grandfather, the original owner, had been that kind of adventurer, one you could believe anything of, except for treachery or callous discourtesy.
After Customs, things really started to go wrong, through no fault of Barnaby’s I might add. Gramma’s old bones might break when an inattentive motorist forced her bicycle off the road, but no one could criticize her judgment when it came to people. An early tropical storm, recently demoted from hurricane status, decided to spread its attention to Atlanta after Nathan landed, but before his Aunt Judy could do the same. She was stuck up north in Chicago while he cooled his heels in the heart of the south.
Barnaby bought dinner and made certain Nathan did not mind sitting and waiting before leaving the boy in the care of a friend at one of the terminal counters while the young man stood in lines and made phone calls on his behalf, investigating what could and should be done with the situation. Nathan knew without being told that Barnaby should have gone off duty right after Aunt Judy’s flight was to have landed, and had already worked all night. The fact Barnaby still felt called to take care of a boy he hardly knew rather than pass the burden on to whoever might be available, impressed and reassured Nathan.
As the Arrivals and Departures boards filled up with cancellations, the terminals turned into ghost towns haunted only by staff and other travellers like Nathan, caught between point A and B, with no where else to go. He sat playing some mindless game on his tablet to occupy his hands and reassure the adults, while most of his mind turned to his situation. Up until that moment, things had gone too fast for Nathan to access what the changes meant for him personally.
The summer started as they usually did for Nathan and his family, in early February, rather early for Summer to most people. In his family there were only two seasons that counted, Summer and Winter. In the second month of the year, Nathan’s Mum and Dad packed up all their coldest weather clothes, their books, and survival gear. They sublet their flat and bundled Nathan off to stay with his Mum’s mum before they flew south to take up their Summer positions at South Pole station before the winds, weather, and growing dark made flying on the windiest continent on Earth impossible. Nathan’s mum kept the station’s radio and satellite communications up and running in spite of everything the wind, cold, and weather could do to cut them off, alone and in the dark down at the bottom of the world. At the same time, Nathan’s dad turned his eyes to the stars, far from the light pollution of man’s presence, where the atmosphere was thinnest, and without the interference of the rising sun.
Nathan himself shuffled along much the same with his Gramma as at home, only there was more baking, more home cooked meals, and a lap that had more time for reading and telling stories and never thought Nathan had grown too big. Gramma lived close enough that Nathan could stay in the same school. He had his own room in her cottage, and could play with his friends in her bit of garden as well as the park.
Gramma was always more active than most of the other lads’ grandmothers, and Nathan knew with absolute certainty that she would continue to run around getting into mischief and have adventures until they tied her down, even if she had to use one of those stair climbing scooters to get around. She made a point of going for a bike ride with her grandson every Saturday that the weather allowed, which included light rain or snow, as long as the roads and paths were not very treacherous. Sometimes Mum and Dad came along in the winter. More often Nathan’s friends would come along. Gramma had a biting sense of humor, and there were always snacks at the ride’s end, and sometimes a stop along the way somewhere interesting to a boy and a widely travelled lady who never quite managed to grow up even as she grew old.
Then a vehicle driving too fast down the same single lane tried to pass them and forced both Gramma and Nathan off the road, clipping Gramma’s bicycle. Gramma fell, and no matter her pluck and determination, she could not get up again, even with Nathan’s help. The driver did not even slow down, much less stop to check on them, so Nathan had to call nine nine nine and help Emergency Services figure out where they were.
While waiting for them to show up, Nathan held her hand and read to her about “How the Brigadier Held Himself at Waterloo” off her phone to let her hear and feel that he was both well and present. At the same time, she would make occasional comments or pithy remarks on Sir Doyle’s swashbuckling tale, so that Nathan knew, even with several obviously broken bones and a bloody face, his Gramma might be broken, but never beaten.
After that it had been a jumbled hurry-up-and-wait mix of police and doctors, waiting rooms and hospital rooms, Gramma managed to keep Nathan out of the official hands and in those of friends when her own were busy, but then she got the bad news. Old bones do not heal as well as they used to do and she had broken a hip, a leg, an arm, and three ribs. She would not be able to care for herself much less Nathan for weeks, at the least.
Dozens of people volunteered to step in to the gap. Gramma had a lot of friends, so did Nathan’s parents. Even some of his friend’s parents offered, but then they heard from his Mum’s younger sister, Aunt Judy, and she offered to fold Nathan into her life.
Aunt Judy lived in the United States, but she travelled a lot. She wrote books and articles about the restaurants and places she visited. Term was out so it did not matter where Nathan stayed, and she had the information for an excellent cyber school if the arrangement ran into the next school year. Nathan’s parents could be stuck where they were as late as October, and if Gramma tried to rush her return to activity, it could mean permanent damage.
The adults discussed all the options in a video conference while Nathan drowsed in a chair near Gramma’s hospital bed, but before they made a final decision, they asked his opinion. Few of the adults, certainly not his father’s two sisters and brother, understood why Nathan chose to send Nathan off to live out of a suitcase with an Aunt he barely knew, especially with how it might complicate his schooling, but Gramma and Mum understood right away. Dad probably figured out, as well. He never said, but then, he would not. Nathan was the youngest of a long line of world travellers and adventurers on his mum’s side, but had yet to make it off the one island in the Atlantic upon which he was born. A lot of fun and comfort lay in many of the options he had, but with Aunt Judy lay the promise of adventure, and travel.
So Nathan found himself sitting in the almost abandoned airport with the wind and rain beating against the windows like a hungry beast eager to devour all who sheltered within, and the boy felt well pleased. Even the fear nibbling at him about how long Barnaby had been gone simply added the necessary touch of spice to make the scene perfect; Well, almost perfect. An adventure is never quite complete without someone to share it with.