On to day 3 of Lauren Oliver’s tweets of the first chapter of Requiem. Are you feeling the angst yet?
“The larger our group, the safer we are,” Tack argues. He has pulled off his fleece and is wearing only a T-shirt, so the ropy muscles of his arms are visible. The days have been warming slowly, and the woods have been coming to life. We can feel the spring arriving, like an animal stirring lightly in its sleep, exhaling hot breath.
But it’s cold now, when the sun is low and the Wilds are swallowed by long purple shadows, when we are no longer moving.
“Lena,” Raven barks out.
I’ve been staring at the beginnings of the fire, watching flame curl around the mass of pine needles, twigs, and brittle leaves.
“Go check on the tents, okay? It’ll be dark soon.”
Raven has built the fire in a shallow gully that must once have been a stream, where it will be somewhat sheltered from the wind. She has avoided setting up camp too close to the mall and its haunted spaces; it looms above the tree line, all twisted black metal and empty eyes, like an alien spaceship run aground. Up the embankment a dozen yards, Julian is helping set up tents. He has his back to me. He, too, is wearing only a T-shirt. Just three days in the Wilds have already changed him. His hair is tangled, and a leaf is caught just behind his left ear. He looks skinnier, although he has not had time to lose weight. This is just the effect of being here, in the open, with salvaged, too-big clothing, surrounded by savage wilderness, a perpetual reminder of the fragility of our survival.
He is securing a rope to a tree, yanking it taut. Our tents are old and have been torn and patched repeatedly. They don’t stand on their own. They must be propped up and strung between trees and coaxed to life, like sails in the wind. Gordo is hovering next to Julian, watching approvingly.
“Do you need any help?” I pause a few feet away. Julian and Gordo turn around.
“Lena!” Julian’s face lights up, then immediately falls again as he realizes I don’t intend to come closer. I brought him here, with me, to this strange new place, and now I have nothing to give him.
“We’re okay,” Gordo says. His hair is bright red, and even though he’s no older than Tack, he has a beard that grows to the middle of his chest. “Just finishing up.”
Julian straightens and wipes his palms on the back of his jeans.