Cave Man (The First Mountain Man) - Page 10


At that, she groans, falling back on the cot, covering her face.

"I know it’s a lot," I say. "But soon you’ll realize it’s not so bad. At least we have this cave."

She sits up. This girl, she's hot and cold, fire and ice. "I'm not saying it's you that's so bad," she says, "honest. You're nice and I'm not being very nice back, but..."

"But what?"

"But I'm scared, Stone. I'm scared of being out here and getting eaten alive."

"You won't get eaten alive as long as you’ve got me. I promise. I have your back."

"In that case, I'll make you some coffee. That seems like a fair enough trade. A cup of Joe in exchange for my life." She smiles, offering me an olive branch.

"I’ll get the water going," I tell her, walking toward my hut. In the hut I grab the small portable pot I had in my backpack when I wound up here. I use it to boil water, to cook soup. While I'm in the hut, I remember the Snickers bar that was in my backpack when I traveled through time. I saved it.

Now I pick it up, carrying it back to the cave. I fill the pot with water, setting it on my makeshift grill. While the water boils and Skylar fills the pot with the espresso grounds, I show her my stash. Stash might be a bit of an exaggeration, considering it's one chocolate bar.

"What's that for?" she asks.

"I've been saving it," I tell her. "All these years whenever I think I've reached my lowest point, I keep saving it thinking there's going to be a worse day."

She laughs. "I'm your worst day? You're finally going to break out the candy because you met me. Am I really that bad?"

I shake my head. "You're not bad, Skylar." I look her over. "Not by a long fucking shot."

"Then why break out the sugar for little old me?" she asks.

"Because maybe I was saving this chocolate bar for the wrong thing. I was looking for a rainy day and instead, I got a sky that's blue."

"I'm your blue sky?"

I nod. "I think maybe you are. Hell, you brought me coffee. That's the nicest thing anyone's done for me in five years."

She laughs loudly.

“Fuck, that’s the best sound I've ever heard in this cave.”

“If I recall, you haven't talked to anyone for five years, so that’s not exactly a glowing compliment."

"Maybe I haven't talked to anyone in five years, but I feel like you – you were worth waiting for."

6

Skylar

After we feast on our coffee and chocolate, Stone tells me we've got to get to work.

"Work?" I look around. "It's not like there's any bills to pay out here."

He chuckles. "No bills, sure, but it's no easy task collecting water and hunting. I spend my day just trying to get by for myself. Now there are two mouths to feed."

I swallow, my skin prickling, feeling like a burden. He must notice me withdrawing because he sits back down on his stone stool, looking at me curiously. “What’s going on? You seem sad all of a sudden.”

"I grew up always being in the way," I tell him. "I was in foster care and it was always like I was one more mouth to feed." I shake my head. "It's probably stupid. I just don't want to be a burden."

"You're not. Company is all I’ve wanted these past five years." He looks me over. Squeezes my upper arm. "Besides, you're strong. I think you can handle it out here."

I laugh. "I’m not sure. I might get eaten alive before I can forage for food. I remember watching episodes of Survivor years ago where they would have to search the jungle for coconuts and mussels on the beach. Subsisting on a five-pound bag of rice for like a month."

Stone shakes his head. "It's not like that out here. That show was staged to some extent, had to be. We don't have rice. I don't have some fancy ass cooking pot. I was just lucky I had some flint in my backpack when I got here, otherwise I might still be building a fire."

I laugh. "They didn't teach you how to make a fire in the military?"

"I must have missed that training."

I stand, brushing off my shorts and reaching for my boots. "All right, just let me get cleaned up and you can show me how to earn my keep."

A few hours later, he's shown me where his traps are. There’s a local water spring that he uses to collect his water, and I'm thankful to learn we don't have to boil it. Everything out here is all-natural. We're truly in the Stone Age, the flora and fauna I see are majestic, large and beautiful. When I see a fifteen-foot crocodile cross our path, I gasp, but Stone just shakes his head.


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