Foxglove

Chapter 3

Louisa had been rummaging around the ground level for the last fifteen minutes before grunting and making her way over to the ladder that lead to the upper level. Her search so far had resulted in a couple backpacks, six sleeping bags, three small med kits, and a smaller version of the parachute that had been used in the descent to Earth.

The upper level didn’t hold much either. Canteens for water and another pack. John helped her gather the materials they would use plus extra for Finn. They left the rest at the main door.

Louisa had noticed a grouping of smaller trees towards the back of the drop ship that she had claimed for her own. She set down her materials and started planning.

“What’s next?” John asked, setting his own load down.

“I’m thinking of the best way, is to use the parachute as a tent without having it in the way of where I want to build a more permanent shelter. I’m still debating what type that’ll be.”

“We could cut the lines from the edges and attach them to the places in the middle and hang it in the trees.”

“That would work, leaving the rest of the fabric to hang down so they form a wall. Though we should probably try to stake the edges to the ground. Maybe angled instead of perpendicular?”

The pair set to work spreading the fabric out on the ground. Louisa placed twigs where they would need to attach the lines.

“Shit,” Louisa muttered. “We have nothing to cut the lines with.”

“I’ll see what I can find in the drop ship,” John said then left.

In the meantime, Louisa looked around her, taking in her surroundings. The ground below the trees was littered with twigs, some long and thin, some short and thick. The latter would work for stakes and if she remembered correctly, the thinner ones might work for weaving. Further off, a larger tree caught her eye. The trunk looked to be four feet in diameter with a deep groove across the front of the trunk. Perhaps she could expand the groove and hollow the lower part of the trunk out, maybe even dig into the roots. Hopefully that wouldn’t kill the tree.

Louisa walked closer to the tree in question taking mental notes. As she went, a beautiful picture began to take form. She would dig a slope into the exposed roots using the tree as a wall. Then she would find a fallen branch that would nestle into the ground and the groove in the tree as a support. Afterwards, she would find other branches to create something like a lean-to.

She returned to the parachute as John was returning from his scavenging. He seemed to have had an amount of success as he carried multiple metal pieces.

“What’s that smile for?” he asked in greeting.

“I decided what to build after our tent,” she replied smugly.

“Oh? Care to share?”

“Sure, but let’s work while we talk.”

The pair got down to business cutting and tying. As they progressed in their work, she explained her idea with the larger tree.

“Digging? I suppose the wider scrap could work as shovels.”

“Yeah, that’s what I was thinking. It’ll be like a lean-to hybrid,” she said straightening up.

Louisa took a step back to admire their handiwork. The tent stood about five and a half feet tall, gracefully sloping to meet the ground. The entrance was formed by two points hung off a lower branch close together, leaving folds of material to act as flaps.

“I didn’t think you would pull it off, Murphy.”

Louisa and John turned to see Bellamy striding towards them.

“Don’t look at me. This was all Loui’s idea,” John said proudly.

“Huh, well, ah, go show the others,” with that he turned on his heel and left.

John turned to follow but stopped when he noticed Loui wasn’t with him. Louisa stood with her back towards him, staring at the tent they had built. Next to the tent were the supplies they had found in the drop ship.

“Loui?”

“Hmmm...?”

“Aren’t you coming?”

Louisa shook her head, scuffing the ground with her foot.

“Is Louisa scared of the ickle fickle kiddies?”

“No!” she replied indignantly. “I just don’t feel like talking to them!”

“Yeah, sure, whatever you say, Loui.”

“Float yourself, Murphy,” she grumbled, stomping over to where her friend stood.

“Oh, yeah?”

“Yeah!”

“Whatever, I’ll do it myself. Go play in the dirt.”

“I’m not scared. I just really hate talking in front of them. They look at me like I’m stupid,” she mumbled.

“Argh! Fine, I’ll do it, but you’re putting everything in the tent and building a fire, but not because I can’t.”

“Okay, deal. And John? Thank you.”

John nodded and walked towards the rest of the delinquents. Finn has no idea what he’s talking about, Louisa thought as she stooped to start sorting through their things, deciding what to move into the tent first.

She blew a lock of hair out of her eyes and glanced at the floor inside of the tent. There were twigs and leaves everywhere, with a sigh she started collecting the debris and placing it in a pile outside the flap. Luckily, the cleaning went quickly, and Louisa started laying out the sleeping bags. Since the tent was round, she thought placing them with their feet towards the center, like spokes, would be best. She then set a back pack to the left of where their heads would lie. The extra sleeping bags were under the main ones for more padding, and the med kits were divided between the back packs.

When the work was finished, Louisa decided to rest there had been non-stop action since she was escorted from her cell earlier that morning. The sleeping bags were soft beneath her sore muscles and the smell of earth soothed her mind into silence. It was soon after she drifted off to sleep.

While Louisa had been putting the finishing touches on their tent, Murphy had the honor of fashioning Bellamy a tent out of one of the largest parachute in the same way he had helped Louisa. As the sun set, Château de Bellamy was complete. The other kids saw what their rebellious pseudo leader was up to and began to mimic him by dividing another large parachute amongst themselves. Soon, little tents were popping up around the camp.

As evening settled in, Murphy was again volunteered, this time his task was to build a large fire to bring warmth to the chilly air and possibly cook food if they ever figured out how to hunt.

“Damn it!” Murphy exclaimed when the little spark he had managed died.

“Having trouble?” another kid asked laughing.

“Shut up, Mbege.”

“Maybe you should grab that nerdy girl you’re always going on about.”

“I do not always talk about Loui.”

“Ha! That proves it!”

“Proves what?”

“You like her!”

“She’s cool.”

“No, you like her. You assumed that she was the girl I was talking about.”

“How many other nerdy girls are there?”

“You’ve got it bad.”

“I-I-I-, argh! Go float yourself,” Murphy replied gruffly as he stomped off towards his tent.

“I do NOT always talk about her,” he muttered once more as he approached the tent. Murphy whistled, impressed at the sight of what he helped build.

“Loui, it looks great in here!” he said stooping to enter the tent. He stopped just inside the flaps, looking around. His eyes landed on the sleeping girl and smiled. Okay maybe I like her a little. Murphy stepped carefully around the other sleeping bags and crouched beside Louisa.

“Loui?” he gently shook her shoulder, trying to rouse her. “Loui, wake up.”

Louisa wiggled and stretched, groaning all the while. Her eyes flickered open and smiled shyly.

“Hiya, stranger,” she whispered.

“Hiya back.”

“What did I miss?”

“I got Bellamy’s palace up, but I need help getting a fire started.”

“Help? Do my ears deceive me or did the great and mighty John Murphy just ask me for help?”

“Ha ha! Well, you are the resident fire expert.”

Louisa’s smile quickly disappeared, her eyes flickering to her lap. While they had been talking, Louisa had sat up, crisscrossing her legs.

“Louisa, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to-” John said noticing his friend’s discomfort.

“It’s fine. I got to get over it. It happened and now it’s over,” Louisa spoke with a tight smile. She took a deep breath and stood up. “Are we going to start a fire or what?”

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