I looked up from my iPad and watched a pair of flamingos wing overhead. The smell of a distant brushfire faded and was replaced with a delicious smell from the cook tent. Lisa* popped outside and placed the folding table in the shade.
“Your lunch is about ready. I still can’t believe you shot that gazelle,” she said.
“I couldn’t eat another can of that Dwarven scrapple. I know you’re an animal lover, but a man has to eat. Besides, all you need is recharging.” I moved to the table, and refilled my coffee.
“What’s on the agenda today? Watch the rhinos in the mud again? Maybe watch the elephants water again?”
“Nope. I think it’s time to go home. I’ve gathered enough research, now I need to figure out what to do with it all. I’m still making everything up, but it’s nice to have some points to ground my stories. Besides, I’ll bet you miss Bunny.”
Lisa sat down my plate and turned away. “I’ll get started packing. Do we have to break down these tents?”
“The service will do everything. Load our gear, gas up, and we’re out of here.” I tucked into my lunch.
Lisa loaded her trunk, and my few meager items. She used the hand pump to fill the Landrover, then lifted the rear of the vehicle so the differential sat on a rock with the tires off the ground. “I still think we should have ordered a new starter.”
“It’s an old car, and getting one clear out here isn’t easy. We’ll order one back at the writing cabin. Besides, you’re a good starter.”
She muttered, “Yup, that’s me. Girl Friday, auto mechanic, cook, and laundry.” She placed the transmission in gear, and wrapped the right rear tire with a length of rope.
“Don’t forget spokes model, and main character too.”
“Hmph!” She grabbed the end of the rope and gave it a mighty pull. The rope spun the tire, and the Landrover engine coughed to life. Once she had the car out of gear, she lifted it off the rock, climbed behind the wheel, and backed over to where I sat.
I walked across the compound and coiled up the rope. “We’d better take this, just in case. We can pay the service for it when we get home.”
I crawled in beside Lisa and we got underway. A huge dust cloud formed behind us and I had a hard time looking back at Camp Research.
“So are you ready to choose your next novel?” She asked.
“No. I have two outlines that are into act two, a third one that’s almost there, and one that’s languishing.”
“Lorelei** is getting impatient.”
“I know, but I need to get back to the writing cabin and use the Internet.”
“Oh sure, I need the Internet and it’s no big deal. You need it, and it’s worth breaking camp over.”
“Well, I am the writer, and you’re the fictional assistant.”
She backhanded me across the chest. “Does that feel fictional?”
“No!” I nearly blacked out and spent a minute catching my breath. “For whatever reasons, I need the Internet, and I have an assignment for you.”
“I’m not leaving Bunny again so soon.”
“It’s a day job, I promise. You’re posing for Sean Harrington again. We need some new blog art to promote The Experimental Notebook of C. S. Boyack, and The Playground.”
“I hope it isn’t for a few days. I’m going to need that long to wash Camp Research out of my hair.”
The savanna faded into higher grasslands, and eventually timber. The African animals were replaced by more ice age fauna typical of the area near the writing cabin. Lisa handed me a gazelle sandwich with horseradish as the shadows grew longer.
We slowed for a unicorn in the road, and Lisa blew right by the turn to pick up Bunny. I waived at the road in confusion.
“I’ve got a great WiFi signal here. Faith said she’ll drop him off at the cabin for me.”
Lisa drove to the lower driveway and opened the garage door. She didn’t want to stop and risk having to pull start the vehicle again. Once she parked, she turned off the engine and ran up the stairs for her beloved pet.
*Lisa Burton is the robotic main character in Wild Concept. She also has a new short story in my Experimental Notebook. You can get a free set of Lisa paper dolls here.
**Lorelei is my Muse. She didn’t appear in this story, but since we talked about her, I thought I should define who she is.