The Chardon Chronicles: Season One -- The Harvest Festival, страница 1
The Chardon Chronicles: Season One
The Harvest Festival
By Kevin Kimmich
The Chardon Chronicles: Season One -- The Harvest Festival
(cc) Kevin Kimmich 2015
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Inspired by The Chardon Chronicles by Kevin Kimmich
Based on The Chardon Chronicles by Kevin Kimmich
You may copy, distribute, display, and perform the work and make derivative works based on it only for noncommercial purposes. Commercial uses require written permission of the author.
All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
This Book Contains Strong Language;
Descriptions of Graphic Violence;
Descriptions of Men and Women’s Bodies;
Gratuitous Use of the Word ‘Titties’;
Descriptions of Reckless Driving;
Recreational Drug Use;
Invocation of Supernatural Entities;
Depictions of Corrupt Politicians and Law Enforcement;
Children ignoring their parents;
Adults Encouraging Children to Scoff at Authority;
Descriptions of Teenagers Drinking Beer;
Dogs Eating People Food;
Constant Reminders That You Might Live in Someone Else’s Dream.
The Sun Tarot From 1909 Rider-Waite-Smith Deck
EPISODE ONE -- Pilot
Judge Marcus Rice was on the road almost every morning. Rain didn’t bother him. Cold didn’t bother him. He jogged his five mile route as long as the footing wasn’t too bad. The rural roads of his route connected nowhere to nothing, so traffic was rare and drivers that did pass were usually courteous and slowed down as they went by. In spite of that, his wife made him wear a ridiculous, he thought, LED hat and jacket. He got the outfit for Christmas, and tweeted a picture of himself standing next to the tree, “Which one’s the tree?!” Lots of retweets and favorites on that one.
He lived in the country on a gentleman’s farm with his wife their four kids and a whole menagerie of animals. He made a point of keeping the place going year round as if farming were the family business. They rented horse stalls all year, did maple syrup in the spring, and firewood and hay in the fall. The kids usually enjoyed getting involved and the property was a great place to entertain and engage in the glad handing politics of the County: prosperous people helped other prosperous people be prosperous, but not in an unseemly way.
The miles ticked by under his feet. The dry grass of mid August was yellow and waving in a gentle morning breeze. The leaves of the maples and locust trees along the road were still mostly green. The sky was deep hazeless blue, and the morning sun a bright white disk. Fawns and their mother looked up at him as he went past. He waved, “mornin’ fellas”.
He had no idea death was bearing down on him. Sarah Cantoe pulled out of her sister’s driveway and went north on the narrow chip and tar two lane. She barreled along and ignored the sounds of the tires slapping over potholes. A bootleg CD from the tween idol du jour kept skipping and chirping and her kids were carrying on and fighting with each other. The light from the world poured through her eyes and into her mind, but the brilliance of the day only made a fuzzy impression on her.
She was under the influence of a cocktail of drugs and booze that would have rendered a typical person unable to walk, but for her it was just normal numbness. She saw Marcus’ vest from a couple of miles away. A small voice inside her pleaded to just pass him and go home, but she ignored it. She gripped the wheel and pointed the car over the double yellow lines. Marcus heard the car approaching from behind, but didn’t see it. His life was so routine and protected he barely imagined the possibility of an accident happening to him. He couldn’t have conceived that a group of predators stalked him for months and coldly decided to erase his presence from this plane of existence.
He didn’t really feel the impact. It was just a jumble of up and down and spinning sensations. A profound injury is a different sort of experience than a minor one. Get a paper cut, and a chorus of nerves shrieks against a background of quiet. The brain focuses all attention on a trifle. With a shattering injury, the attempt to regain equilibrium consumes all the brain’s resources. The world just becomes a fuzzy dream.
Keith Marte woke up an hour before his alarm was set to sound and he got up to look in on his daughter Chloe. The condo was still stacked with boxes. Only the kitchen was unpacked and there was some sitting space in the living room. The timing of his lease running out in Nashville made the move a big rush, so they had no time to settle in before school started. He felt a little twinge of regret about it, but his daughter was amazingly resilient, or at least she pretended to be.
She was still asleep. Her cell phone screen was casting a faint glow up at the ceiling and shining against the empty boxes stacked near her dresser. He started the coffee and got breakfast going and picked up the paper from the concrete slab porch.
The activity nudged her awake, and a crusted rag slipped off her head onto the bed. “Oh… shoot! shoot… shoot!” She said. She walked out into the kitchen. “What’s up?” he asked.
“I had a zit on my forehead last night, I was soaking it with peroxide, but I fell asleep.” She ducked into the bathroom. Oh great! I’ve got skunk hair.” She held the offending strands in her hand and stared at them.
Keith Marte glanced up from the paper. “Well, it’s really not that bad. Maybe you’ll start a trend?”
She rattled through some boxes in the kitchen. “I don’t have any hair coloring! I tossed it before we moved. Grrr….”
“Wear a hat!”
“Do I want to be that one kid who wears a hat? There can only be one per class; what if someone’s already that kid, dad?”
“I’ve got some black spray paint in one of these boxes.”
“Haha. very funny. This trauma’s gonna scar me for life and all you can do is mock? I think I’ll do the hat.”
“Do you want a lift? I am going to the office and it’s on the way.”
“I think I’ll walk. Soak in the scenery.”
She popped earbuds in her ears and set out toward the school. It was a cool morning and dew was silver on the grass. She had hiking boots on so she left the sidewalk and cut across the lawn of the condos. The town was just starting to stir. The adult faces in the cars were heading off to jobs away from town. The baby faced sixteen and seventeen year olds were heading toward the high school.
The high school is the heart of any small town. It’s one place where at least some patches of actual human life happen. Dreams are protected and even encouraged by adults who project their hopes on their children and at least attempt a vicarious escape from The Matrix.
The High School building was faced from reddish orange bricks and had two rows of dark framed institutional windows. Some were decorated with posterboard letters “CHS” and “Welcome Back!” signs. A smokestack towered above the building. Busses were stopped in a long line and the students without cars streamed from them into the building. Kids were hanging around
A lanky black haired boy on a BMX bike shot past Chloe’s shoulder. He was wearing a black concert T-Shirt that had the name White Roses in script letters across the front with white silkscreened rose stems wrapped around his skinny torso. “Hey!” she shouted angrily.
“Sorrrryyyyy” she heard as he went by. “Steeeeeve!” he shouted and waved to a friend wearing the same T-shirt.
A convertible drove past on the way to the east student parking lot. It was a cream colored Austin Healey 3000 with red leather interior. The girl driving the car had shoulder length red hair that curled at the ends. She was wearing a bomber jacket and sunglasses like something out of the 1940’s. Heads turned as she passed.
Chloe’s 7:30AM class was Calculus. It was on the second floor of the building in a windowless drab cinder block room. The rear wall had a crack that ran from one side of the room to the other--the result of an earthquake in 1986. The crack had mostly been patched, except for a few places where the dark cinder block material was visible.
The room was already almost full by the time she found it. The two boys in the concert T shirts were sitting at the back chatting to each other and laughing. Tracy Wells the girl in the convertible was in the back row watching the class pile in. Chloe sat in front of her.
The teacher, Mr. Bartlett, walked into the room. He was a big man, with a big smile, and big hands. He wore a well worn dress shirt and some dockers with frayed cuffs and tennis shoes. He grabbed chalk and wrote on the board, sounding out the syllables. “Cal-cu-lus.” with a flourish underneath. “What is it? What does it mean to you…Steve.”
One of the concert T-Shirt boys answered with a shrug, “To me, it means scary.” The rest of the class chuckled. His friend, Morgan, nodded.
“How about you, Tracy?”
“Integrals. Derivatives, I think…” her voice was a contralto, a little rusted from smoking for a couple of years and seemed out of place coming from a fresh faced teen.
“Yes, good.” He wrote INTEGRAL and DERIVATIVE on the board along with their mathematical symbols. Then he stopped. “This is the most important thing I’ll tell you all year.” The class was very quiet. “Calculus was invented--maybe discovered--by two men; Just flesh and blood men, dudes even, only a few hundred years ago. Their names were Isaac Newton and Gottfried Leibniz. It transformed the world...” he launched into a lecture on the history of the subject.
When the bell rang, the room exploded into noise and activity. The kids clumped into groups and went out the door into the crowded hall. Morgan and Steve and Tracy went together. Chloe started to follow them. Morgan stopped suddenly when he saw something glinting in the crack in the wall.
She almost ran into him, and complained, “Whoa! Again almost hitting me!”
“Oh, sorry. I thought I saw something in there. He pointed at the crack in the wall.”
“What, in the wall?” She asked.
“New Girl, can I call you New Girl? Yeah, there’s something shiny in there, I’ll have to check that out.”
“My name’s Chloe, Chloe Marte. My dad and I just moved here.”
Tracy said, “Nice hat.”
At the end of each school day, the high school becomes the nucleus of a cloud of activity that extends for miles. Kids head out onto the front field for marching band practice, others to football or gymnastics, some head into a garage to work on a car. Others go running miles for cross country. Some head home, or into the woods to smoke, drink, or get in trouble.
Chloe just started walking home with no particular plan in mind. At the crosswalk, Tracy pulled up. She was vaping. She blew out a cloud of mist through “O”’ed lips. “Hey, Chloe. Want a ride?”
“Sure. The car is so cool. What is it?”
“Oh thanks. It’s an Austin Healey. It was my mom’s. I just took it out of storage. I love it, even though it’s actually pretty unreliable. Hopefully it will run for a few months before the next major repair.”
“Well, I’ll fill you in before you hear the sad story from people who want to weep for me... My parents are gone. If you Google it, there was a car accident, a total loss. Dental records… DNA… But I know they’re not dead.”
“Wow. How long?” Chloe checked Tracy’s face for any sign of emotion, but the sunglasses made it difficult to read her expression.
“It’s been three years... My Uncle is around sometimes, but otherwise, it’s just me in a big old house.”
“I’m with my Dad in a condo. Mom’s who knows where doing god knows what.”
“Family, eh? Want to come over?”
“Sure, but can we stop at the drugstore first… bit of a hair emergency.” She took off the hat.
“Dude, you could totally pull that look off.”
“Maybe, but I want it painted black.”
The wind whipped their hair as Tracy buzzed along Sherman Road toward the tree farm. A big faded sign “Wells Hardwoods” stood high above the driveway, which was a gravel snake winding through a field toward a boxy white farmhouse with black shutters. In front of the house, hay was waving in fields that rolled off to a distant tree line.
They parked in a pole barn next to a Ford blue tractor. The floor was hard packed dirt that had been polished shiny by decades of feet and the place smelled of oily mustiness and hay. Light shone in through vents near the roof at either end. Chloe followed Tracy along a concrete path to the back door. She fumbled with a big ring of keys and they went in.
The interior of the house was like an all-wood box with windows. The ceilings, floors, and walls were wood. Some trim had been hand carved into leaves and acorns and geometric patterns. Knick-knack shelves and book shelves were tucked into every available space that wasn’t covered with a painting.
“If you want to do your hair, be my guest. The bathroom is down the hall on the left. Or if you want to use the kitchen sink, go ahead and we can chat. I’m going to get a beer.”
“Yeah, want one?”
“OK. I’ve never had one. I’d love one.”
“If you don’t like it I’ve got some hard cider. Or water or juice or whatever, too.”
“I’ll try a beer.” Chloe opened the hair dye box at the sink. “You have a towel? This can get messy, so if you’re a neat freak, don’t uh, freak.”
“Neat freak? Not me.” Tracy grabbed a couple towels from a closet and threw them at Chloe. She popped open two Erie Brew House Red Ales with a bottle opener. “Let me know if you’d rather try something else.”
“Um. Yeah… well, that’s so good. It’s so red. Looks like blood from this angle.”
They chatted and drank in the den while her hair dried. The kitchen door opened again. “That’s the guys. Hey guys! We’re in here.”
Steve and Morgan walked in. They were sweaty from riding bikes. Steve got a glass of water and sat in a big plush chair. Morgan grabbed a beer from the fridge.
“Hey! Chloe, was it?” Morgan said. He sat on the couch next to Tracy. “What’s your story, anyway?”
“My dad grew up here--that’s why we’re here, now. We were on the west coast when I was a kid. San Francisco--which I don’t really remember, then LA, then Nashville--that’s where we were last where my dad got shot!”
“Holy shit! For real?” Steve said.
“Well ‘just’ in the shoulder. He was only in the hospital for a day, then lots of physical therapy. His arm was in a sling for a couple of months. He couldn’t even make it move--and it basically atrophied into a broom stick. At therapy, they would just spin it around for him while he tried not to shout. It’s basically back to normal, now, though.”
“So back to sleepy Chardon to recover and put the pieces together?” Steve said.
“That and we hav
“Do you miss the city life?” Tracy asked.
“We just moved in last week, so I haven’t had time to miss anything yet. Nashville was cool. It’s a sort of small city/town, but there’s always something happening. LA was the burbs---but the Ocean was close and I was at the beach all the time---I had a group of friends. I haven’t been here long enough to judge, obvs.”
Tracy, “Here, you have to make your fun. Every once in a while someone throws a party. But they’re usually just meh,” she wobbled her hand back and forth, “not worth going, or they’re stupidly crazy blow outs with ambulances and cops and fights.”
Steve, “And the cliques are basically set in stone at this point. You’re the first new kid in years.”
Morgan, “I think Tracy is the last one. She went from hanging with the rich kids at Tweedy Pines Academy to hanging with… us.”
“Mom had me go there for high school. I was only there in ninth grade, and I was pretty miserable. I think I would have ended up back in Chardon no matter what. Anyway, once it was just me and my Uncle there was no argument.”
“So now you’re back with the poor kids…” Steve said.
Morgan nodded. “Well, at least one poor kid he pointed at himself.”