Hot Air Balloon Chapter Twelve and Chapter Thirteen

Fiction By Clare // 9/3/2010


Chapter Twelve
Three days later. 20 days since running away.
It was the first night things really stopped being fun. The more days that passed, the hungrier they were for a real meal rather than scraps and whatever they could beg off of people. And the Iowa weather was temperamental. The whole day it had been pleasant and warm, but as soon as the sun started to set, storm clouds rolled in. By nine in the evening, it was raining so hard, it felt more like hippos and elephants than cats and dogs.
Georgie and Cody held their dirty blankets over their heads, trying to stay a little dry. After a while they quit, since the blankets were eventually too wet to help. They wandered around, trying to find a place to sleep for another hour. Finally, they found an alley that was filled with large black trash bags full of garbage, but not much else, so it seemed.
Georgie was exhausted and scared. It had never occurred to her that running away could become not fun, and she was terrified it was only going to get worse from here on out. She collapsed between garbage bags next to Cody, hoping the rain would stop soon. Cody had no such optimism. The world had grown dark for him and his mad but enjoyable plots, and he was silent lest he should say something he’d regret.
“You cold?” Cody finally asked.
“N-n-no,” Georgie lied, her teeth chattering. “I’m g-g-great. I l-l-love r-rain!”
Cody sighed. At least she had a positive attitude. “Don’t worry,” he said, trying to be cheerful. “We’ll dry out eventually,”
Georgie let out a pitifully grateful little giggle. “Yeah, I know,”
“Hey!” a voice suddenly shouted.
Cody and Georgie both jumped a foot as something suddenly staggered into the alley. It was a man dressed like the vagrant he clearly was (you could smell him five feet away in the rain!), stumbling and tripping like he couldn’t see clearly.
“What are you kids doing in my house!?” he snarled, but he sounded like his tongue was getting in the way of his teeth. “I told you kids to stay out of my house!”
“He’s drunk,” Cody whispered, pressing Georgie behind him and holding tightly onto her arm. Georgie clung to his shirt, trembling. The thought of a drunken homeless person wasn’t very friendly…and this guy sounded a little off his nut in the first place.
“We’re leaving,” Cody said, slowly inching out of the alley, pulling Georgie behind him. “Sorry to have bothered you,”
The drunk guy muttered something they couldn’t make out, though Cody did catch a few swear words.
Cody had almost made it onto the street, when the drunk guy was suddenly in front of him, snarling a little to reveal wide teeth, all a nice shade of yellow. He had a large wet hat pulled down over his eyes, and he smelled even worse up close.
“Oh no y’don’t,” he muttered, grabbing at Cody. Cody took a step back, and stepped on Georgie’s foot. She yelped, and in a cat-like lunge, the man shot forward and grabbed her arm. Georgie shrieked, and Cody tried to yank her away from the homeless man.
“Leave her alone, you creep!” Cody shouted.
“Mine!” the man yelled. Georgie wondered how much alcohol one had to drink before you acted as crazy as this, but was quickly distracted as the man wrenched her out of Cody’s grasp.
“Cody!” she yelped.
Cody grabbed Georgie’s arm and his leg flew out, kicking the man’s arm. The man let out an enraged bellow, and Cody didn’t waste the opportunity. He ran as fast as he could, dragging Georgie behind him. The man yelled quite a few colorful words after them, but made no attempt to follow. Still, they ran and ran till they were sopping wet and could hardly breathe.
“I…c-can’t run…any…more!” Georgie gasped.
“Don’t worry,” Cody panted. “Me neither.”
They collapsed on the sidewalk next to a Hyvee, and just sat there, getting even wetter, panting, but grateful they were out of that alley and away from drunken homeless men.
“Oh man…that was crazy!” Georgie gasped, wiping ran water out of her eyes.
“Yeah,” Cody said. “We’ll have to be more careful from now on,”
Georgie nodded, and they were silent for a little while.
They both hoped things would improve. If running away got any less fun, they might be tempted to quit and head for home. Though honestly, they both already were.
The next day was roasting hot. It called for some serious air conditioning therapy, and as reluctant as Cody was, Georgie managed to convince him of the best possible location: a library.
They went up the steps, Georgie skipping happily, Cody trailing behind. Cody had a rather severe allergy to libraries, but the heat was so bad, he could think of no other alternatives.
At the top of the steps, they came to a beautiful old set of double wooden doors. Georgie flung the door open and held it for Cody. One cool blast of air hit his face, and he shot inside fast enough to nearly bowl over an elderly lady who was coming out.
“Sorry,” he mumbled. The woman glared at him, grumbling about irresponsible youths. Cody sighed. Instantly, this wasn’t going well. He scanned the room, trying to find Georgie who had disappeared already. He spotted her at the front desk, chatting with the young brunette librarian as if they were old friends.
He shoved his hands in his pockets and tried to hurry over without looking like he was hurrying.
“Yeah, sure,” The librarian was saying.
“Thanks,” Georgie said, flashing her winning smile. “Nice to meet you, Cathy,”
“Nice to meet you too, Georgie,”
Cody wondered how you could know an adult for less than five minutes and already be on a first name basis with them. Unless you were Georgie, of course.
“Oh, hey Cody,” Georgie said as she headed for the stairs that led to the second floor of the library.
“Hey,” Cody said. “See you later than,” he added as she began skipping up the stairs.
“Can I help you?”
Cody looked up and saw the librarian smiling at him. “Um…no…I’m just…looking,”
“Alright then,” she said. “I’m Cathy by the way, and if you need anything, just let me know,”
“Actually,” Cody said. “Do you have maps here?”
“We sure do!” she replied. “Take a left into the non-fiction section. It’s in the right-hand corner of the information section,”
After ten minutes of looking, Cody found it…a small shelf where dozens of maps were stacked. It took him another ten minutes to find the right map, and flip through the many pages until he found the right section. “Good grief,” he muttered. Over two hundred miles. It would take weeks…maybe months to get back.
Then it dawned on him. Maybe by the time they got close to home, he’d be bored with running away. Or Georgie would be just as excited about it as he was. Perfect. He checked his watch. 4:15. Time to get going.
But first he had to find Georgie. She’d gone upstairs. He backtracked to the front desk, and headed up the stairs. When he got up, he was met by a room just as large as the one below…but much more confusing. There were more shelves, desks, chairs and couches all over, even a large kiosk of computers. Cody sighed, and began looking for Georgie. He searched for fifteen minutes before he spotted her at the computers.
She was hunched over a computer, typing. Cody walked up behind her and stopped. She was on a Yahoo! e-mail account…her e-mail account. And she had a message on the screen that she was typing:
Mom, Dad, and the rest of you---
I just want you to know I’m ok. I’m with Cody. We’re having a blast. We’ll be home as soon as we can. I miss you SOOO much! Lots of love,
Georgie <3 <3 <3
She finished typing and sat there staring at the message. She sighed heavily, and erased the entire thing. Then she paused, sighed again, and hit CTRL-Z, and the whole message returned. She deleted it again, and again hit CTRL-Z. She sighed once more, and started to close out of the message box. She stopped and let her head fall into her hands, frowning and thinking very hard.
Cody felt like the world’s biggest jerk. Her parents had probably e-mailed her…and wanted her to e-mail them back. She probably wanted to reply. But she wouldn’t. Because she didn’t think he would want her to.
“You can send that,” he blurted.
Georgie jumped in her seat and turned around. “Cody!” she cried. “What…how long have you…”
“It’s ok, Georgie,” Cody said. “Tell them we’re ok,”
“But…we’re…running away,” Georgie stammered, her eyes welling up with tears. “I…I don’t want to ruin it for you…”
“You aren’t ruining anything,” Cody said. He sighed. “And we probably should go home. But…just don’t tell them where we are. It would probably…”
“Freak them out?” Georgie supplied.
She smiled at him. “Thanks, Cody. You’re an epic friend.” She turned back to the computer, smiling. Cody didn’t have the heart to tell her just how long it was going to take to get home.
Chapter Thirteen
The next day.  22 days since running away.
It started to rain yet again, and the air was cold.
“That’s my jacket!” Cody said.
“So?” Georgie said teasingly.
“So…it’s mine. And I’m cold. Give it back,”
“I left mine at your aunt and uncle’s house,” Georgie replied. “And I’m colder than you…you have more fat to keep you warm,”
Cody stared at Georgie. “What did you just say?”
“You’re bigger.”
“No, you said I was fatter!”
Georgie rolled her eyes. “No, I didn’t. You’re bigger, thus it stands to reason you have more body fat!”
“That’s so…dumb!” Cody cried. “What the heck…have you never heard that girls have way more body fat than guys!?” (Which isn’t true, just so you know.)
“Oh, so now you’re saying I’m fat!” Georgie said.
“Well what are you saying!?”
“You can’t have my jacket, sorry,”
“So you’re saying you want me to freeze!”
Cody rolled his eyes in exasperation. “What is your problem?”
“So now I have a problem?”
“Yeah, you do!”
Georgie glared at him. “Look, you can have your stupid jacket back,”
“Great, so take it off,”
“You didn’t even ask!”
“I did so!”
“No, you just said give it back,”
“Well you didn’t!”
“Why do you want me to take it off so bad?” Georgie snapped. “Afraid of cooties?”
“You are so weird!”
“You are so lame!”
“So now I’m lame!”
“So now I’m weird!”
“Shut up!”
“You shut up!”
“Give back my jacket!”
“You have two!”
“The other one is too heavy!”
“Why can’t you share?”
“Why can’t you pack your own stuff?”
“I packed everything else! And I did pack my jacket…I just left it behind!”
“Whatever…just give it back!”
“Why are you so hung up on the jacket!?”
“It’s mine!”
“You have this issue with sharing stuff, huh?”
“Shut up!”
“Stop telling me to shut up! I’ll shut up when I want to shut up!”
“You never shut up!”
“Neither do you!”
“I do so!”
“Do not!”
“Do to!”
“Do not!”
“Do to!”
“You’re just in denial!”
“You’re just unbelievable! You could have asked me!”
“You could share!”
“You could think about other people once in a while!”
“You could think!”
“So could you!”
“Age before beauty! You’re supposed to set an example!”
“What are you, my mother!?”
“I thought you were raised by monkeys…but I would think you’d have better manners either way!”
“What!? You started it!”
“The ‘whatever’ card loses!”
“Does not!”
“Does to!”
“Knock it off!”
“You knock it off!”
Cody lunged forward and grabbed his jacket off of Georgie’s shoulders. “Ha!”
“Jerk!” Georgie shouted.
At this point, as they were standing in the middle of the sidewalk, several people were staring at them. Cody was the first to notice this. “Just…quit it,” Cody said, lowering his voice. “Ask next time,”
“I won’t bother,” Georgie said angrily, and turning on her heel, stormed off down the sidewalk. Cody hurried after her, immediately feeling bad. “Hey…wait up!”
They rain started to pour harder. Georgie ignored Cody as she got soaked to the skin.
“Um…want to wear one of my jackets?”
“No, I wouldn’t,” Georgie said coolly.
“Aw, come on, G-girl…if anyone should be mad, it should be me!”
“Oh, that’s interesting.”
“Georgie…stop being such an idiot! Your gonna get sick! Put on the stupid jacket!”
“Nice time to start caring, Cody,”
“Georgie!” To be honest, Cody wanted to grab her and shake her. She was being so stupid and weird! And he couldn’t leave her or let her freeze. “Georgie, look…” And he did the most humble thing he could have done. He apologized. “I’m…sorry,”
Georgie stopped, still not looking at Cody, her hair flowing down in a straight, wet fountain. She finally faced him, and she might have been crying…or it could have just been her shaking and rain falling into her eyes. “I…I’m sorry, too.”
“Well…um…let’s get out of the rain,”
In ten minutes, it wasn’t just rain. It was a full-blown storm, as if the storm of their argument had floated up into the clouds and gotten even nastier. Thunder and lightning made them jump, and they knew they needed to find some shelter. Up ahead was a dimly lit building, and Georgie raced towards it.
“Let’s go in here a little while,” she said, holding the door open.
“But…it’s a church,” Cody said.
Georgie stared at him. “So?”
“Well…we’re all wet. What if the people don’t want us here?”
“It’s a church,” Georgie said. “They only throw people out of fake churches, and this one looks pretty real to me,”
She slipped through the door, shaking her wet hair and sending water flying everywhere. Cody sighed heavily, and followed her in.
The church was dimly lit, and smelled nice…like a friendly house filled with love. It was warm and snug inside the doorway, and looking directly in, there was a carpeted aisle leading into the church. Pews lined either side, and at the end of the aisle was the alter. The stained glass windows, though darkened by the rain, showed beautiful pictures of people doing different things. Little lantern-like lights hung from the ceiling. Quiet organ music was playing somewhere.
They peered into the church and saw several people kneeling in pews, looking very holy and intimidating. Those were the kind of people who could call down the Heavenly Host on you. Not people you wanted to mess with. Georgie drank in the peaceful atmosphere, and noticed the sound of soft crying coming from one of the intimidating praying people. She wondered why someone would come to a church to cry.
She slowly stepped forward and slid into the pew at the very back of the church on the right side. Cody reluctantly followed her, weirded out by the stillness in the church. It made him feel peaceful…but peacefulness was such a foreign thing to Cody that he was slightly unnerved by it.
Georgie pulled out the kneeler and knelt down, using all her best church behavior from going to church twice a year with her parents, and folded her hands.
Cody stared at her. “What…are you doing?”
“Praying, I guess,” Georgie replied. “That’s what you do in a church,”
Cody was under the that impression she (and everyone else in the church) was doing it wrong. They just knelt there and closed their eyes like they were asleep. Or maybe that’s what praying was. Either way, he didn’t kneel. He sat and let his mind go blank, grateful for the peace and the warmth.
They stayed there until two of the three other people had left, and the last one walked up towards the altar and disappeared through a door. The rain was still pouring outside. Georgie let out a loud yawn. “Do you think anyone would mind if we stay for a while longer…maybe catch some Zs?”
Cody wasn’t sure, but he was tired enough to merely shrug. He slumped down and leaned his head back against the pew. “Wake me up when it stops raining,” And he was out.
Georgie sat there, tapping her foot on the carpet absentmindedly. Boredom seeped into her brain. She rubbed her eyes. She unzipped her backpack and pulled out the battered notebook and a pen, and began to write the next chapter of the story.
‘Rain is beastly. We got caught in a dreadful downpour and were forced to slip into a quiet, peaceful little church where we could rest and not worry about being struck by lightning. (I was SERIOUSLY worried about that, but Cody kept saying it wasn’t a big deal…whatever…) And so we are sitting there now. Cody is asleep. It’s my duty to stay awake and tell him when the rain stops. I don’t want to. I’m sleepy. I’d rather take a nap. I’m going to, but I’ll wake up when the rain stops probably. It’s a Wednesday night…we could probably stay till morning. But whatever. Naptime.’
She closed the notebook, curled up on the pew, and was soon fast asleep.
A yell woke Georgie and Cody was a panicked start.
“Ach! I swear I didn’t take your teddy bear, Rachel!” Georgie screamed.
She remembered she wasn’t home when she heard a man laughing. She sat up, and nearly had a heart attack. Standing behind the pew, looking very important, was without a doubt a priest-type dude. He had on black clothes with a funny white collar thing…and he looked amused and angry at the same time.
Cody didn’t know if he had ever come so close to death, as he was certain they were about to be punished severely for tainting a church with their very presence.
“Hello, you two,” The priest said. “Having a good nap?” He was smiling now.
“Um…yeah!” Georgie said, throwing on a winning smile. “It was great! Wow…what time is it?”
“It’s six in the morning,” The priest said. “People don’t usually have sleepovers in here…you two startled me,”
“Sorry,” Cody mumbled, frantically trying to grab his backpack and somehow inform Georgie to do the same. “We’re just…gonna leave…than…”
“No!” The priest said, smiling wider. “Join me for breakfast! I live in the basement. There’s a wedding happening this morning at eleven, so I got up earlier than usual. Eggs and bacon, anyone?”
Georgie clasped her hands together and figured this guy was just about the greatest man on the planet. “I’m Georgie,” she said.


Oh. My. Gosh.

This story just keeps getting better and better as it goes on. I love it! You'll see the announcement from Ben I'm sure--AP is closing down at the end of October. But you HAVE to post the rest of this before it ends or you will leave me wondering forever.... 

Can't wait to see what happens next!!! :-) 

Madeline | Sat, 09/18/2010

AWWWWW!!!!!!!!!!!! Jeez,

AWWWWW!!!!!!!!!!!! Jeez, I hope you can post the rest of this by the end of October.

E | Sat, 09/18/2010

"You were not meant to fit into a shallow box built by someone else." -J. Raymond

I shall try!

I shall try!

Clare | Sat, 09/18/2010

Am I allowed to ask how many...

 Am I allowed to ask how many chapters there are? LOL! I want this story to be never-ending I guess but then we surely wouldn't have it finished on AP in time, would we? Okay, now I am talking like it is mine story. haha. But I think everyone gets so completely into it. It totally wraps you up in their adventures. 

Madeline | Sat, 09/18/2010

Absolutely! There are a total

Absolutely! There are a total of 22 chapters, plus a very breif epilogue. So i can have it all up here in just 3 more weeks! Fear not! And thank you so much!

Clare | Mon, 09/20/2010


22 chapters?? (if I read correctly--lol) 

That is so neat! I can't wait to read the rest. :-) 

And you're welcome! 

Madeline | Wed, 09/22/2010


I haven't been on AP that long, but i love it, and i am so grateful to you girls for being my fan club and letting me know this book accomplished EXACTLY what i wanted.

I love you guys!

See you on the Outpost!


Clare | Wed, 09/22/2010


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