Hopeless

Camping Trip

Who brought the s'mores?

Abby pulls up a block away from her house but does not see anything immediately out of the ordinary. Nodding to herself, she drives the rest of the way and she and Corb dismount so she can push the bike over to the side of the house and secure it Inside, she tells Corb to make himself at home and goes to check on her housemate, finding him enjoying himself in the new room. She goes to her room and takes a small briefcase from her closet before going down into the cellar, where she digs her coffee cans up, pulling the cash out and putting it in the briefcase. She shakes her head; this is the sum total of her cash and it is not very much if they are going into hiding for long.

She grabs some of her camping gear and begins hauling it upstairs. Corb comes and helps her with the rest of it and she goes into her room to pack some clothes, first changing out of Trish’s sweatshirt. She tosses some clothes into a backpack and asks Corb to help her bring the trailer out of the shed in the back. Once the trailer is hooked up, they start ferrying the camping gear out and storing it inside. The last bit is the snake’s traveling case that Abby has had built for him. She shows Corb how to fasten it to the top of the trailer and then makes sure that it is on tight before putting Sin inside and turning on the small covered heat lamps. Finally done, she looks at Corb. “Ready?”

He nods. “As ready as I can be, I guess. Are you sure about all of this? It seems scary as hell and it is probably going to get worse.”

Abby nods. “It probably will, but if we do not do this then who will? You can back out if you want and I can just drop you off at your place.”

Corb shakes his head. “No…no, I did not mean it that way. I’m in, just like I said at the truck, but……well…..”

His voice drops off and Abby nods and smiles. “Yeah, I know.”

The two move the bike out onto the street and drive off to Corb’s place to get some of his things.

The ride to Corb’s place does not take long and he does not spend too much time inside, emerging with a backpack and a carry bag of clothes. Abby helps him open the side of the trailer so he can store his things and they mount the bike once again. Abby stops at a gas station to fill her tank and use the bathroom, leaving Corb to watch the bike and trailer. She swaps with him when she is done then goes into the attached mini-mart to get several bags of jerky and a couple of sodas.

Once back outside, she opens one of the jerky bags and offers some to Corb, along with the second soda. They munch and drink a bit in silence, just looking at each other. For some reason, Corb has a bit of trouble getting the sight of her exposed breasts out of his mind but tries manfully, and vainly, to keep his eyes on her eyes as they stand there. Abby grins at her traveling companion. “So, what about all this shit? Believe it?”

Corb is caught off-guard, having been looking at Abby’s chest. He looks up at her and grins, knowing he was caught. He nods. “Yeah… maybe. At least part of it has to be true, right? I mean, we all do change into something else, some sort of creature or monster or something else in your case. Not really sure what that is, to be honest.”

“It is my Loa, my spirit partner. She is like a demi god and she is currently sharing my body with me, and I am thankful for her presence. It seems that I can ask her to take control of my body and then give it back, which is very cool. I am very impressed with what she is teaching me and look forward to learning a lot more. And her body is way more killer than my own.”

Corb blushes a bit and says with only a touch of awkwardness, “I think your own body is pretty killer as it is.”

Abby gives Corb a serious look. “You think so? Thanks for saying that. I show it off so much that sometimes I think people just say that to get me to strip.”

“What do you do?”

“Well, promise not to give me some sort of holier than thou look or speech?”

Corb nods. “It can’t be all that bad.”

Abby chuckles. “Some people think so. I work at a club as a stripper and also take escort work.”

Corb’s eyes widen a bit. “You mean you are… a prostitute?”

Abby nods. “Yep, that’s a word for it. Whore, slut, and skank are among others I have heard. The thing is that I am pretty good at it, and it certainly pays the bills and allows me to live my life. I expect that my looks will fade over time and am trying to save up for the day I get more laughs than tips and I quit.” She holds up her empty soda bottle and wiggles it. “You done?”

Corb nods and takes her bottle and tosses both in a trash can before climbing back on the bike behind Abby. He has to admit to himself, prostitute or not, it is starting to feel pretty nice to curl up behind her and put his arms around her. He does manage to resist allowing his hands to creep up her stomach to her breasts, but the temptation is pretty darn strong. Abby checks the scanner again, just to be sure it is working and there is still no mention of the police looking for them, although there is a news report of some kids joyriding and firing off guns in the vicinity of where Trish’s house is. She keys the intercom. “Looks like the cops got a hit on the activity at Trish’s house. Nothing about any dead bodies, so who knows what they are doing. Let’s get back to the others.”

She calls up Flo’s number and tells her that they are on the way back to the Lowe’s parking lot, but Flo directs them to an alternate site after hearing about the police interest in Trish’s house.

Abby and Corb arrive at the alternate meeting site, a dimly lit parking lot at one of the area night clubs. Flo had said in her message that she was a bit nervous about meeting under the bright lights of Lowe’s. The pair are the first to arrive and park off to the side, out of the direct line of sight of anyone entering or leaving the club. From time to time, the music coming through the walls gets louder as someone opens the door to the place. The night air is a bit crisp but not overly uncomfortable, although it does create a certain reaction from Abby that shows through her taut shirt. This reaction is made even more visible when she gets off the bike and stretches. She does not seem to notice, but Corb certainly does.

He is not quite certain how to take this young woman. Her definite sexuality is a clear draw and he cannot deny a certain attraction to her. He’s definitely not used to her apparent comfort level with nudity and sex, so is unsure of how he should react to her. His upbringing has left him somewhat leery of loose women who sell their bodies… oh, they are nice enough to look at, perhaps, but to have any sort of relationship, even just friendship? That is another issue and he can only wonder what his librarian mother would say about her. Still, the sight of her nipples poking against the fabric of the shirt she is wearing is having the normal and expected effect on him.

Thankfully, the truck carrying Flo and the others arrives before he can get truly embarrassed. Beside TJ, there are several backpacks in the bed of the truck, as well as a large Coleman cooler and a couple of shopping bags. Flo and the others climb out of the truck and exchange greetings. TJ gives Abby more than a once over and smiles brightly at her as he gives her a thumbs up. “Nice shirt, Abs.”

Abby looks down at her front and laughs. “A slight chilly out here, I guess. I can cover up if it bothers anyone.”

TJ shakes his head with a grin, “No, not at all.”

Flo rolls her eyes and smiles at Abby. “Doesn’t bother me any. I could wish for a chest like that and would flaunt it, too, if I did.” She motions to the truck. “OK, we stopped at the store and picked up some things after we hit the guys’ places for clothes and stuff. Say, nice trailer, Abby. And I see you were not kidding about the snake. I am thinking that we should lay low for a day or two and am glad that you suggested camping. Any ideas?”

Abby nods. “I have gone to Cheney State Park several times. It is about twenty miles from here and located on a lake. I would think there should be no trouble finding a place this time of year. It can be rustic, and my tent will only fit two at the most. If you don’t have tents in the truck there, we will have to stop somewhere and I do not know of any 24-hour stores for camping gear. I do have some extra blankets and there is usually some firewood for sale at the entrance and we could rough it for one night and go get some stuff when the stores open.”

Flo nods. “Good. I vote for that. I got nothing from Trish’s house and need some time to think about what to do next. All in favor of camping out for the weekend?”

After some discussion, the group decides that this is as good an idea as any.

Abby puts her bike jacket back on before she and Corb get back on the bike and lead off out of the parking lot, closely followed by Flo in her truck. The drive west to the state park is on fairly open road at this time of night and they make good time, pulling off at the entrance after a short drive. Abby and Flo walk over to the self-registration booth and check the map of the park for available locations, deciding on one within view of the lake before putting money into the deposit envelope and slipping it into the slot at the kiosk. The all-night convenience store is open and they walk over to pick up some things they had forgotten and to buy some of the firewood bundles for sale there. The man at the counter tells them that the ranger usually makes his rounds in the late morning and warns them that they should be courteous to their fellow campers and so no loud music.

Flo laughs and tells the man that they are going to set up the tent and go straight to bed. “I noticed that the sign at the kiosk says pets are allowed if kept on a leash. That true?”

The man nods. “Sure. Just watch the leash rule, though, unless you want to be ejected. Good luck out there, and don’t forget that fires are only allowed in the authorized fire sights.”

They thank the man and head back to the vehicles, where they find the guys stretching their legs and walking around. TJ is off a short way with his dog but then come back as soon as Abby and Flo return. They help Abby go pick up the bundles of wood and put them in the back of the truck before climbing in and heading off to the campsite. The small map from the kiosk is easy to follow and it helps that Abby has been here many times. They arrive at the assigned location and park the vehicles, unloading the trailer Abby was pulling behind her as that has the tent and sleeping bags. Abby and Corb get the tent set up while James and Tim get a fire started.

Abby takes the two sleeping bags into the tent and unrolls them before returning to remove Sin from his enclosure. She drapes him about her shoulders and introduces her friends to him. There is a bit of reticence at such a large snake, but it does not take long before everyone seems to accept his presence. Soon after everything is set up, Flo yawns and stretches, announcing it is time for her to go to bed. Abby stands as well and hands out blankets to the guys, who will be staying out by the fire while she, Flo, and Sin are in the tent.

Abby and Flo go into the tent and get ready for bed. Abby gives Flo the once over as they get undressed and shakes her head. “Girlfriend, I don’t know what you have to complain about. Your boobs are not as big as mine, but they fit your frame perfectly. Sometimes I think I might just have a bit too much up here. They are great right now and certainly help me get lots of good tips at work, but one day they will be sagging. You know, just like…”

Flo finishes the sentence. “Like Granny’s in the old Playboy jokes.”

Both women laugh and smile at each other. Abby strips out of her clothes and slips into a long T-shirt, as her only clothing. Flo notices that Abby shaves and asks her about it. The two talk girl stuff for a few minutes before settling down to go to sleep. Outside the tent, TJ has caught part of the conversation and raises his hand to shush Tim and James, who are still talking about the wisdom of being involved in all of this. The four go quiet and listen to the two girls talk.

“Hey. Not sure we should be listening to them,” Corb protested.

TJ motions dismissively with his hands and whispers back. “Then they should not be talking so loud. God! I wish I could be in there. Did you guys get an eyeful of those boobs on Abby?”

Tim adds his whisper. “That’s nothing. She might come off as some mechanic, but she works nights at a strip club and escorts, too. She took me to the club once and I saw everything. She doesn’t care about being naked and sex is just a thing. She is very hot, but that shit’s too much.”

TJ chuckles. “Too much? There’s no ‘too much’. But my dad would probably pull me aside later and talk to me without mom around and tell me to hit it, just not bring it home to meet the family. And make sure I didn’t catch anything from it. I’d have no problems with Abby if she were into me. I’m the last one to judge. So, yeah, I’d be happy in the tent and in her sleeping bag instead of out here wrapped in a blanket and sharing a fire with you guys, no offense intended.” He looks over to Tim. “So, what’s the name of this club?”

Corb waves his hand and interrupts Tim as he begins to speak. “Hey. Let’s be real here, guys, she is… well, part of the team and I think it is rude to be talking about her like this.”

TJ laughs. “Maybe on your team, Corb. But on mine, she is fair game. If she’s willing, I’m about it.”

James watches silently, letting them talk.

“And don’t be so sanctimonious,” TJ continued, “I saw you staring at her tits when she flashed us back at Lowe’s. Not gonna lie, a big part of why I decided to come along on this crazy… whatever it is? We are going to save the world? Come on, if those agent guys are any indication, the country and the world are in deep shit and no five people, especially wanna-be superheroes who don’t know jack about their talents and new abilities, are gonna stop them. No, I saw those hooters and man do I want a piece of that ass to score on. Maybe Flo, too. Her tits are smaller, but her ass is very sexy when she is walking away, almost as sexy as Abby. I wouldn’t toss either of them out of my bed if I could get them into it.”

James frowns at that.

Corb tosses his hands up and rises from the log he is sitting on. “Damn, TJ. That’s harsh. I thought you were in with us. Someone has to do something and we might be all there is.”

“Yeah, that’s enough, knock it off,” James added.

Corb gets up and turns to walk off into the darkness a short distance. Somewhat alone, he tries to gather his thoughts, muttering out loud to himself. Just why did I come along? I am not completely sure that I think any differently about this save the world mission than the others do, but maybe I do. Or is it that I really am attracted to Abby? He shakes his head. Fuck, I don’t know. How can Abby be so sure that Flo is onto something, especially when Flo herself does not seem to have a clue? But what if Flow and Abby are right and we ARE the ones that can do this? Damn and fuck.

Back at the fire, the other three guys go silent and listen to the girl talk coming from the tent, although Tim looks more and more like he does not really want to be there. He realizes that he is pretty young for all of this but then he remembers something Abby had told him that first night as she dropped him off at his place.

“Tim, whatever this is, it is something special. We have been given great talents and abilities that we are still learning about. Doesn’t matter how old we were or what we were doing on Dark Day morning, we are now something else and we need to accept that.” He is still not sure what she really meant, but she apparently believes it and maybe there is something to what Flo is saying.

James and Tim settle down after everyone tells some BS stories but TJ takes Ben for a short walk before returning to the fire, where he sees that Corb has returned as well and is sound asleep. He shakes his head as he looks at the now silent tent, wondering if he should try something, then decides that it is still too soon to do that and curls up in a blanket and calls Ben over before falling asleep himself.


Abby wakes and hears voices from outside the tent. She looks over and sees Flo still wrapped up in the sleeping bag and smiles to herself as she sits up and lets her own bag slip off her shoulders. The cool morning air makes her shiver a bit and brings on the sharp pang of a need to get to the outhouse. Cursing softly so as not to wake Flo, Abby slips her feet into her boots and unzips the tent, emerging to find the guys standing around the fire. Five sets of male eyes swivel to watch her as she bends over to zip the tent back up, her T-shirt creeping up to almost expose her ass. Abby stands and turns to see that a park ranger has joined the others and waves to all of them as she walks away from the fire to the road and the outhouse located a short distance away. “Got to use the bathroom, guys. Back soon.”

All five men watch her go. The way her body moves under the shirt and what they had almost seen when she bent over has left them with the near certain knowledge that Abby is wearing the shirt and nothing else. The Ranger looks at the others with an eyebrow raised. “You got that right, brother,” TJ said.

The Ranger shook his head. “I have seen her up here before a couple of times, but never quite like that. And she has always been flying solo before. Anyway, as I was saying, please keep your dog on its leash and the fire low and in the burn pit. Pick up your trash, because you don’t want the local wildlife to get too interested in you. It is a bit early in the season and I don’t expect too many other visitors out here, so I won’t mind terribly if the music gets a bit loud, but try to keep any parties manageable.” He looks off in the direction Abby had gone. “And let me know if you are going to have a party.”

TJ laughs. “Sure thing.”

Movement in the tent quiets them all down and they watch as Flo unzips the tent and crawls out. The woman has either slept in her clothes or put them back on, although her shirt is not tucked into her jeans like it had been last night. She stands and hops from one foot to the other. “Bathroom?”

All four point back to the road and Corb says, “Just down there and to the right. About a hundred feet or so. Can’t miss it.”

“Thanks.” Flo leaves at a quick walk and the guys watch her.

Tj looks at James. “So what about her? You’re into her?”

James shakes his head. “Are you kidding? I had just been through some real shit. That’s not really what’s on my mind. Or hers, I bet.”

TJ shrugs his shoulders. “Well, she seems a level-headed sort. Not really my type, I guess. But if Abby wants to get cozy with me—.”

Corb interrupts, “Will you let it rest?”

TJ holds up his hands. “Hey! I’m just talking about consenting adults here. You wouldn’t be against knocking off a piece if she offered, right?” Corb’s face must have revealed something because TJ nods. “Thought so. Besides, you heard Tim here; she is an escort, man. She knows what she’s doing and can make whatever choices she wants. I figure that my charm will get her out of her clothes and inviting me into the tent for some sleeping bag mamba. Besides, I’ve seen the way she looks at me.”

The women come back together and disappear into the tent to finish dressing. Flo emerges first and begins to go through the food packets that Abby has brought as well as the groceries that had been put in the truck. She organizes the men to help her and by the time Abby emerges from the tent she has a fairly good handle on breakfast. The air is a bit chilly so Abby leaves Sin inside the tent is his heated enclosure.

The morning is spent around the fire, although Flo and James go for more wood just before lunch as Abby and the others put some sandwiches together and break open a bag of chips. After lunch, the guys hike the short distance to the nearby lake while Abby and Flo relax. At least Abby relaxes and listens to the radio while Flo racks her brain for some sort of answer to what to do next.

Abby turns the bike on and activates the police scanner a couple of times during the day, but there seems to be no extensive manhunt for them and the gunfight at Trish’s house is not ever mentioned. Confused a bit by the lack of anything, they quickly concluded that the “agents” have clamped a lid on the incident. When the guys return, a powwow is held and the team decides to give it another night here and return to Wichita if there is nothing on the news about them by noon on Sunday.

All of them look at Flo and she puts her hands up. “Hey, don’t look at me like that. I am only trying to help by bringing you guys together. All my father’s old contacts seem to have disappeared. I suppose that they were either taken, killed, or in hiding. I am trying to think of something, but it is just not coming to me right away.”

Abby moves closer to the other woman and puts an arm around her shoulders. “No one is blaming you, Flo.” She looks up at TJ, who has made a snorting sound but doesn’t say anything to him as she turns back to Flo. “Something will come to you, or maybe to one of us. The important thing is to not give up. The Loas will not leave us wondering for long.”

She continued, “We need to stick together as a group or we will fail. Flo will figure out something. Look, maybe she just needs some more time. Like we said earlier, we go back to town if we do not hear something important by noon tomorrow. Or if Flo does not come up with something by then. We can keep in touch by phone and agree to meet in a week just to get together, even if nothing happens by then. OK?”

The rest of the group nods, but some of the nods lack a certain conviction. Flo and James take the truck to a store on the outskirts of the city to get some sleeping bags, and some more ice, returning just after three. They had decided not to get a tent, because the only ones they could find that would sleep four either cost too much or looked like four would be stretching it and a bigger tent was reaching a bit far.

TJ had waited for Corb to go to the outhouse and had motioned for Tim to accompany him so he could have some alone time with Abby. Abby had unpacked a small camp stool and is sitting near the fire drinking a cold Dr Pepper and listening to the radio when TJ comes up to her. “Hey, Abs, you really think Flo can figure something out?”

His voice trails off and Abby looks over to him. “This is all new shit to all of us. I suppose that I would be more leery of it all. And I would be, if Mama Lini had not prepared me for something like this when she was teaching me about voodoo and the Loas.”

TJ doesn’t respond immediately to that. He checks his breath and can’t help but looking at Abby’s hard nipples poking through the thin material of her shirt. Abby does not need to look down to know what is on his mind right then. He brings his eyes back to her face and continues. “Yeah, I get that she might have told you more and that you might be more ready, but do you really believe all that Flo is telling us? Or do you think that she knows more than she is saying?”

His eyes dip back to her chest as Abby shakes her head, sending her braless breasts moving in enticing ways. “No, TJ. I don’t. I am sure that Flo has told us everything she can right now and that she will tell us more as it comes to her. I am also sure that she is right about what is happening. This stuff is just too crazy for someone to make up. And those guys were very real and they killed Trish. And unless you have some sort of special vision from the change, you aren’t going to see my tits by staring at my shirt.”

TJ grins as he looks back up at Abby’s face. “Bingo. Caught red handed. OK, so I admit to liking what I saw yesterday. If you’re up for it, how about showing me some more. Maybe in the privacy of the tent. Tim and Corb won’t bother us, I’m sure.”

Abby shakes her head. “Not going to happen, TJ, sorry. First, I am not sure that having sex with you would be such a good idea. Even though I get paid a lot of money for sex, I’m not sharing myself with friends. But I’m not so sure that you and I are that close yet. Not saying it might not happen, but not on this camping trip.”

TJ’s grin doesn’t fail as he shrugs. “Sure, I can deal with that.”

He leaves her at the fire and walks over to Ben, taking the loop of the dog’s leash off the post he’d hitched it to and taking him for a walk. By the time he and Ben got back, James and Flo had returned, joining the others by the fire.

Abby and Flo work on dinner as the guys blow up the air mattresses and roll out the sleeping bags. Dinner is a quiet affair and the girls go to the tent after a last trip to the outhouse.

Sunday morning dawns a bit cool and there is a hint of rain in the air and the morning weather report on the radio warns of an incoming storm. There is still nothing on the news about the gunfight at Trish’s house and it is decided that the group can safely break camp and return to Wichita. The guys pack up the sleeping bags and air mattresses while Abby and Flo cook up some breakfast. After eating, Abby and Corb take down her tent and pack her stuff in her trailer. Not much is said and there is a general air of weariness among the group.

Flo looks at everyone after her truck is packed and ready to go. “I am sorry that I have not been much help so far. I will continue to look for some clue to help us out. Maybe there is something I missed at my dad’s place. We do have each other’s cell phone numbers and I will call if something comes up. Let’s try to at least stay in touch, OK?”

Everyone nods and soon it is only Abby and Corb remaining at the campsite as Flo’s truck pulls away. Abby makes a last walk through the site to make sure all of the trash has been picked up, then they get on the bike and head for their homes.

Abby finally arrives back at her place and takes Sin inside, releasing the snake into his room then bringing her things into the house. After all is inside, she sits in a chair and contemplates what has happened since Dark Day. She gets out of the chair and goes to the altar, kneeling to say prayers to the Loa for the soul of Mama Lini and Trish. She adds some prayers that the guys will be able to see that Flo is right.

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