They crinkled their noses, wondering what could make the room smell like this.  It was dark, quiet, and damp.  Their hands flew to their faces, attempting to cover their noses and mouths, anything to keep the smell out.  As their eyes adjusted to the light, they began to enter the room one by one.

“Good thing I managed to grab this pack before escaping,” Finley said.  “I’ve got a few things in here that will probably help.”

The others nodded as they continued down the only narrow walkway remaining.  Finley looked around at the others and sized them up.

Myrtle would be the first one to die, was Finley’s first thought.  While she was 196 pounds and possibly a Hitler niece, her shoe size was a meager 6 ½.  When cutting her food Myrtle would hold her fork and knife in the same hand and the only reason she had come with him and the others was because her dog had died two days earlier and she just didn’t feel like looking at it anymore.  Something about those features made him sure that Myrtle would be the first one to die.

Howard, the tallest of the group, was at the front of the line.  While Finley had never cared for Howard and his outgoing personality, he had recognized his ability to sniff out trouble and smell the right direction.  Jews were useful like that.  Not that Finley was anti-Semetic or anything.  In his mind he was just observant, and what was wrong with that?  It was Howard who had suggested to Finley that he should bring the pack.  But of course Finley will never admit that.

Finley likes being the leader.  The one in charge.  It was he who suggested they had towards this abandoned building.  When the smell hit them like a tidal wave, Finley tried to pretend like he wasn’t bothered by it and expected it.  Myrtle, however, looked like the smell alone would kill her.  He had already contemplated ways to get rid of her.  When they were walking along the giant cliff on Welsh Road, Finley thought about tripping her so she would go tumbling to her death.  But if he did that, he realized, they would be without her supplies and her meat would go to waste.

Finley continued to look around at his group.  His group.  He liked the sound of that.  He remembered back when he lived in San Francisco he had a large group.  People just seem to flock to him.  And he could get those fools to do anything.  It’s harder to get a group when you’re forced to travel.  As he made his way across the country, group members came and went.  It’s important to keep a loyal following.  The more loyal they are, the more obedient.  And when new members see the obedience, they fall in line.  But this group.  This group is different.

He can sense that Howard fancies himself a group leader.  But Howard doesn’t have it in him.  Look at him, walking in the front like he runs this operation, thought Finley.  Finley knew that being in the front isn’t always the most lucrative.  Howard will get hit with whatever is up there first while the rest of us have time to run for cover.  Besides, Howard is too tall.  His height freaks Finley out.  Jews aren’t known to be tall.  Howard must be a mix, Finley thought.  A mutt.  Finley was about to yell out to Howard to clear that all up when that silent girl made the first noise since they picked her up two weeks ago.


The muffled yell came from Finley’s left.  He jumped into action, reaching behind him for his weapon.

“Howard, you stay up front and guard that side!  Myrtle, get your medi pack ready!  Balthasar, come with me!”

Finley and Balthasar ran towards the sound.  Silent girl continued to scream but the scream kept moving.

“What is going on here,” Balthasar shouted.  “It sounds like someone is holding something against her mouth.  How did she get so far away from us?”

Finley growled as he realized it might have been a mistake to bring Balthasar.  Leave it to a limey to point out the obvious.

Finley and Balthasar could only see the leg of Silent Girl as she disappeared behind a rock.  Finley was instantly annoyed that he was going to have to work with someone.  Balthasar was annoyed because before the scream he was only moments away from stabbing Finley.

The men chased after the scream attached to the disappearing leg.  They turned the corner and found that the smell intensified with every step they took.  It wasn’t clear which was thicker, the smell or the heat.  They came to a fork in the forest.  Going one way would bring them farther away from the smell while the other brought them closer to it…and to Silent Girl.  Neither wanted to choose the latter but both did because they knew that the faster they got her back the faster they could keep going on their journey.

Cobwebs stuck to the sweat on Balthasar’s face but he kept going, never taking more than one eye at a time off of Finley.  As they approached another fork the men saw Silent Girl under a tree.  No one else appeared to be around but she was hovering, hiding herself in the fetal position.  They heard the others coming behind them as they approached Silent Girl.

“Come on.  Get up you damn Roma!  We’ve got to get out of here,” commanded Finley.

She looked at him with blank eyes.  If he had been another man he would have been scared, or at the very least, sympathetic.

“Just grab her arms and I’ll take her legs,” instructed Finley.  The men lifted the girl like one would a corpse right as the rest of their posse came upon them.

“Oh no, oh no, oh no.  What’s happening?  Something’s wrong, something’s wrong, something’s wrong,” muttered Tad as he began to walk in small circles.

Finley shot him a look as he and Balthasar ran with Silent Girl back down the path towards the building.  The others ran behind, some fall further behind then others.  Balthasar kept up an encouraging chant to keep everyone moving while Finley hoped they would end up losing some of the weaker ones.  He figured if they can’t keep up while he carried a dead weight, then they didn’t need them.

“Let’s just get back to the building and we can check her out for any injuries.  Then we need to get the fuck out of here, mate.  The smell, I don’t know, it reminds me of something.”

Finley nodded his agreement.  Answering Balthasar would have meant using energy he didn’t have right now.  He didn’t realize how strong Balthasar was.  He’d have to keep an eye on him, Finley thought.

As soon as they got back to the building Tad began handing out handkerchiefs he had stored away in his pack.  Everyone tied theirs around their face to keep the stench out of their noses.  Balthasar was crouched besides Silent Girl, running his hands over her body to check for any breaks.  Silent Girl stared up at him with a blank look not seeming to register anything he was asking her.

“She looks good.  Can you walk,” Balthasar asked her as he lifted her to her feet.

Silent Girl walked over to Tad, sat next to him, and began patting his knee.  Tad looked down at her hand then smiled warmly.  Silent Girl smiled back.

“What now,” asked Howard.  “Should we try to set up camp here or move on?”

The group all looked at each other.  No one wanted to be responsible for this next decision.  Finley looked at Balthasar.  Maybe it’s time to test him, Finley thought.

Balthasar punched Finley in the face.  While Finleys face bled, his stayed eerily calm and without much, if any expression.  As his hand had lunged forward the rest of his body had stayed completely still, which made everyone, even Balthasar wonder if he had known what he was going to do before he had done it.  No one moved except for the small twitches that come from trying to cover a smile.  Finley grasped at weeds.

Without speech and without explanation, Balthasar had just taken control of the group.  They set up camp.  Balthasar and Finley shared a tent.

A Saucy Title–Jacquelyn Wheeler


3 Responses to “A Saucy Title”

  1. Is there more to this? I feel like they’re cannibals or something, and I want to know more about Myrtle.

    1. justjacq Says:

      Interesting… more about Myrtle? I like this idea of audience participation.

  2. rgoldfarb Says:

    I have a description of what we’re doing on the home page, so be sure to check it out. My friend and I are going back and forth writing different parts of the story. As we update the story we post the new additions on our blogs. We hope to update it at least once a day, though since life gets in the way sometimes it may take a bit more time. Hopefully no longer than a weekend in between posts.

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