Hollow World Chapter 26

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Peter awoke with a start as Rocky licked his hand. He softly scratched the dog behind the ears. “Hey boy, you hungry?”

“Yeah, are you?” Came the sound of Chris’ voice in response, from behind him.

“Oh, hey,” Peter sat up and turned his head. Chris sat at the kitchen table, silently fingering his guitar. Peter almost asked him what he was playing but thought better of it, knowing what the answer would be. “Are the others awake?”

“Amy and Kyle are, I think Julie may still be asleep. Don’t know about Zach or Brian.”

“I’m awake,” Brian said as he joined them. “Look what I found upstairs.” He held out a thin book, a little larger than a magazine, to Chris, who took it.

Flipping through the pages, Chris smiled giddily and Peter moved around the table to see why. “The Best of REM for Guitar” stood on the table now before Chris, who began to play “It’s the End of the World as We Know It” again before Peter grabbed the book.

Flipping through the pages, he picked a different song, and placed the book back down, open to “Man on the Moon”

“Work on that,” Peter said and walked back towards their shopping carts. Digging through their collective belongings, Peter pulled out a bag of cereal and a chipped bowl, poured himself some, and sat back down at the table, carrying the bag with him. Silently, he ate and listened to Chris as he worked on the new song.

After a few minutes of trial and error, Chris figured the song out more or less, and Peter added his voice to the song, doing a poor imitation of Michael Stipe. After a few lines, Brian began to tap his hands on the table.

“What’s going on in here?” Sarah came in.

Chris laughed as he flipped through the book and began to play “Nightswimmer.” Sarah joined with Peter on vocals as Brian continued to bang on the table.

As the song came to a close, Amy called out from the next room, “You know Peter, you suck at that.”

“Yeah, that’s why I play hockey.” He said, laughing.

Chris continued to play, flipping through the book to various songs.

Caught up in the experience, Brian grabbed the book and opened it to the last song. “Now this one.”

Chris looked at the book and put his guitar down, gently leaning it against his leg. He reached out and tore the remaining pages out of the book and then continued to shred those into tiny pieces.

A knock at the front door made everyone jump and caused Rocky to run, barking, towards the foyer.

“Rocky,” Peter called out, but it was too late, another knock came at the door.

Grabbing weapons, everyone went into the front room.

Peter made it to the door first and put his eye to the peephole. “Shit, it’s James.” He glanced at Sarah quickly before surveying the rest of the faces. Absent were Zachariah, Kyle, and Julie, but everyone else’s eyes were on Sarah.

“Ok, let me open the door.” She stepped forward, dropping the pistol she held to her side.

Peter stepped back and flipped the safety off of his own pistol. “He didn’t look armed, but be ready.” He nodded towards Sarah who opened the door.

Her boyfriend stood in front of her, apparently unarmed. Dry grass nestled in his dark, almost black hair and dirt framed his face. His eyes still possessed the blank stare that caused Peter to shudder.

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