A Deal With Death: Chapter 2
Red On White
Derrick woke up in a cold sweat. Blood pounded in his head. All feeling rushed back into his arms. Such an odd feeling… over so fast; Absurd. He shook his panic off forcefully. On the other hand;
What a peculiar dream.
Well, in terms of the standards of Derrick’s dreams. Unsurprisingly, he’s dreamed about the library an unreasonable quantity of times. He seemed to dream a lot, really. Father never told Derrick about his own, however. Derrick wouldn’t complain though; he had no argument to… he was just curious frequently.
Whatever. It was time to get up.
With a grunt, he tossed himself onto his frontside. His face was quickly met with a very warm, silken pillow. The fabric stroked his skin politely.
Derrick strained his arms to push himself up from the bed, and failed. He slumped back onto the bed and rolled onto his side, messing up the sheets.
He exhaled deeply.
Do I really have to get up today? I’m quite considering waiting until father tells me to.
Consider he did. Derrick sank back into the bed, facefirst. He stretched his arm, felt around wildly, clamped his numb fingers around the plush fabric of his blanket, and flipped them over him. His body was filled with a lovely warmth quite immediately. In Derrick’s opinion, being under a blanket in bed (especially on frigid days) was possibly the most satisfactory feeling ever, and he never wanted to leave his bed.
Derrick made the groundbreaking decision to instead harness his energy to heave himself onto his back. Both Derrick and the mattress itself groaned with effort and weariness respectively.
Derrick rarely noticed, but a large percentage of mornings were quite like this. He wasn’t an early riser, but a few of his friends fit the title snugly. On nights more on the foggy, bleak and depressing side, he would privately invite them over to his house and let them sleep on his bed. On those nights, he would sleep outside.
Snow, startlingly, is lovely for passing out.
When the sun surpassed the horizon, he proceeded to drag them (Or lift & carry them if they were still snoozing) back to their homesteads.
Dad’s a deep sleeper, fortunately.
He hadn’t been busted pulling this stunt… yet. But afterwards, his mind would be plunged deeply into a deep, arctic, frozen pool of thought and consideration.
Derrick stretched widely (His hand narrowly avoided smashing against the wall), yawned audaciously and melted back into his bed, pressing down his eyelids with indecent effort. Mornings seem as if you could stay asleep for ages.
Derrick thought about his friends. He took a depressed glance at the dead, wasted space to his right, which, in a superior reality, could be satisfied with someone else. Luxurious sleep furniture is scarce, after all.
Maybe I should be more grateful for what I have.
But that space should be occupied by now.
Derrick’s pondering was soon impaled, then procedurally shattered like an iceberg, worn from mining.
“Get up”, stated a piercing, yet calm voice from Derrick’s left.
It echoed throughout the igloo, filled with a hollow vibe. This was Father’s normal voice. But something was impossibly different, unique. Something that Derrick couldn’t grasp. He chose to blatantly ignore it.
Which was a mistake, of course; Instantly, his blankets vanished, rolling him on his side forcefully. Derrick barely suppressed a shriek. Frosty air danced across his skin, and Derrick’s eyes shot wide open.
“Get up”, Father’s voice repeated, slightly more determined.
“Fine”, Derrick griped. He wasn’t in the mood for a quarrel.
Only now had he realized he was shivering from the cold. He forced himself to stop. Father hated it when he showed any weakness, reasonably. Fortunately, Father was slow to pick up on it, this time around at least.
Without so much as a sound, he thrust himself from the bed. He hung his head low, his neck aching, avoiding eye contact with his father in a fatigued spite. His legs wobbled for a moment, but Derrick held himself steady.
He wore a nonchalant, empty expression in case Father was looking at him. Derrick strutted forward, and stuck both his hands out, promptly dividing the thick, fabric veil that separated the inside and the outside of their igloo.
Derrick only possessed two pairs of clothes. He didn’t need to change today, as his other set, which wasn’t as comfortable anyways, was still drying. This process had been mocked and halted by a snowstorm a few days ago. Father had ordered Derrick to rush outside and bring the clothes in. They blew away just as he reached the clothesline, but all nabbed on an irregularly shaped rock and were effortlessly retrieved.
A second wave of frigid wind slapped Derrick across the face. He reeled, and barely stuck his left foot behind his right, catching himself. His eyes slowly adjusted to the light, and he scanned the sky.
Wow, no clouds today. The sky was a pristine shade of calming blue. There were either small clouds smudged against the sky, or they were entirely absent. Which was odd. It had been either stormy or misty the last few weeks.
A cross huffing sound made itself present directly behind Derrick. He whirled around, and his eyes hastily scanned the woman looming over him.
Oh. He narrowly avoided saying this outloud. His heart sank. The woman clenched her pudgy fists, in clear disapproval of Derrick’s appalled expression. Derrick commanded his face to appear as neutral as possible, and he instinctively straightened his posture.
He had recognized the woman as Susan, a very wealthy, obese woman from New Alalea. She had arrived spontaneously a few months ago. Since her time here, she’s told 2 different stories; One, that she’s visiting a distant relative, or two, she’s on a business trip for investment and advertisement purposes.
No matter why she decided to make herself Derrick’s neighbour, she was deplorable. Independent to how well things were going, Susan never failed to scrape up a reason to whine and conspire. Today, she was wearing a blindingly bright (But decidedly cozy looking) red coat, and the most unattractive scarf Derrick had ever laid his eyes upon. Occasionally, her neck fat would eject the scarf, and Derrick would always end up picking it up for her, which was persistently met with senseless vulgarity.
Her ruinous glare sank onto Derrick. He flinched, and Susan’s lip curled menacingly. Her eyes shrank to slits.
“Well?”, she hissed. Her audacity shattered the silence. The remaining shards of tranquility evaporated.
Derrick froze for a second. Susan grimaced with a foul aura of amusement. Derrick silently prayed his father wasn’t behind him. Susan would probably kill him if he turned around, though… He resisted the urge.
I shouldn’t be afraid of her by now. The woman’s been here for months.
His thoughts, as expected, were futile. He summoned a bit of weak dialogue.
“Maybe I should be the one questioning you. What’s wrong?” Derrick regretted this nearly immediately, but Susan responded before he could show any weakness.
“Well, maybe you should take a look at this”, she snapped. She whipped out a large beige garment from a humongous pocket in her jacket. “I would love you to take a guess at who’s shirt was on top of my igloo.” She smirked, obviously satisfied with her bloated snarkiness.
Derrick took a fast glance. Almost everybody in this town wore a shirt like that, but the rips screamed that this shirt belonged to father. He now had a significant clue to why Father was only wearing 4 of his 5 shirts that he rotated through. There must have been another shirt on that clothesline he couldn’t see a few days ago. The storm was quite blinding, after all.
Maybe it blew away before I got out there. This woman is insane.
“I’m guessing it blew off our clothesline a few days ago around when the storm ended. Please don’t make this worse than it needs to be.”
Susan raised her tiny eyebrows, perched on lumps of fat. She most likely wasn’t accustomed to Derrick back talking, or him talking at all, for that matter. Derrick wasn’t very social.
The glorious smell of smoked cod floated in from an unknown location. Susan’s interest began to waver. She was a sucker for food.
Like anyone who took one look at her didn’t come to this conclusion. Derrick nearly laughed out loud from this thought. He brushed away the smell. But Susan didn’t.
Her face puffed up in rage. She bared her teeth and grinded them in her lumpy, enormous mouth. She pulled Father’s shirt over her shoulder. With enormous effort, she lobbed it at Derrick. Without thought, his arm hoisted itself from his side, right into a magnificent catch. His fingers victoriously wrapped around the shirt. He couldn’t resist a grin.
But he grinned at nothing, to his disappointment. By the time he let his arm fall back to his side, Susan was gone. His smile faded. He glanced around for a moment, then scanned a long trail of oversized footprints in the blanket of snow. He had no idea how Susan could run so fast; a shame he couldn’t see her reaction.
Derrick’s mind returned and dwelled in her seemingly incredible speed. He let the thought sink. Maybe it was something he would find in the library, some day.
He whirled around. His skin was starting to get numb, and he needed to return the shirt to Father.
Another thought surfaced. He smiled for a moment.
I really pissed her off, didn’t I?
It was disappointing that Father hadn’t been watching. He could still hear the clanking of cheap bowls leaking from their igloo, among a smorgasbord of other sounds. Just a few minutes ago, he was begging that Father wasn’t watching. After his score on Susan, though, it seemed that it would come true, to his dismay. He started towards the igloo, clutching the cold shirt. His heart still beat rapidly from the encounter.
Funny how fast things can change.