[NU] The Ride Home (Ci 1.0, Cl 1.0)

edited June 2014 in nupocalypse
It's been two days you two have been driving together down an empty highway, and nearly that long since you've seen another soul. The once asphalt roads have fallen apart enough that they're basically gravel now, and the grass median is starting to grow back in force after the long, cold winter. The last sign of civilization you passed was a small circle of RVs that were turned into a makeshift camp from who knows how long ago... It had long since been abandoned and ransacked. That was three hours ago.


Up ahead you spot a column of black smoke rising into the sky, and some people moving out from the treelines on either side of the road to block your way past.

Clarity, where are you two coming from?

Cinch, what are you two riding in, and where are you going?


  • [Cinch]

    I drive with one hand on the wheel, left, usually. Clarity makes for decent company though the second day of the trip even he may have run out of things to say. I listen, occasionally ask a question or two to keep him talking.

    We're out on a circuit... pushing our horizon out a dozen or two miles, doing it for both of us. I wanna know where these roads go. Feels like I'm making our world that much wider... Clarity always on the lookout for some relic or other. He tells me to stop and I stop. And this way I'm not alone out here for days on end. Works out for both of us... but I'm ready to get home. Back's getting stiff, I need a shower.

    From time to time I glance over. He's a good lookin' fella ain't he?

    But there's this thing bothering me, this... rusty scrape along the hood. A scratch that started half a year ago and just keeps getting worse. Like a scar slowly bleeding rust along the path of the wind. Hell I keep my rig in better shape than most, 'least I have paint. Seems like a waste to pay for a fix... but it's bothering the shit outta me.

    I slow slightly when I see the smoke, only enough to quiet the treads on the gravel a bit. But yeah... no way around this huh? I exhale a sharp breath, glance at Clarity with a nod as I reach up overhead to unhook the leather loop around the fifty-cal and jigger it around to face more or less front. Just in case.

    "That don't look entirely friendly, does it?" I say, slowing but not stopping.

    But I got a smile on. Why not? Every road's got a few bumps. You deal.
  • [Clarity]

    We're driving along this gods-forsaken road, on our way back from trying to reach something that used to be called Fort Drum. We never quite made it to the Fort, but I did find a few pages of "Army Pamphlet 600–2: The Armed Forces Officer" in a house a a ways away, along with some boxes of ammo and a bagful of stuff that Robinson might be able to fix up, do something with. The passage that stands out is:
    This book is based on the firm conviction that our nation is always at least on the threshold of greatness and is worth whatever it takes to maintain our ideals. It is about the love of duty and the knowledge that there is no higher calling than that of an Armed Forces officer. Old-fashioned concepts of service, of loyalty, of duty and of being better than you think is possible are included because they work and apply in a complex and volatile world that sometimes seems to lack a foundation for action.
    I'm in the middle of telling the story of D.B. Cooper for the second time, he was some Saint from the old times. He could fly, and rained scratch on the world like a rainbow. I'm telling this story, and looking at that unsightly scratch on Cinch's hood. Seems like it's gotten worse in the few days we've been out. Then I see the smoke. And the people. Ambush?

    I pull Joy off my shoulder, make sure the 9mm is ready to be pulled if need be. Hand on the door handle, ready to jump out if we have to stop. "Everyone is a friend you haven't met yet, Cinch. Unless they're not."
  • [Cinch]

    "Well we got a shitload of friends waiting for us eh?"

    MC, when you say they're blocking our way, what, just standing in the road?
  • Funny you should ask... As you pull up to the smoke, you see that it's a big pit in the median filled with tires, wood, and whatever the hell else could be found. On either side of the median are a bunch of logs piled up on each other to form a blockade. In the median itself, there's a gap in the blockade wide enough for a car to pass though.

    Five people have come out, and the biggest of them stands well over six feet tall, and is currently standing in your way. He's trying to flag you down — he's got a huge bat that looks like a four-by-four with railroad spikes sticking out the top. His four other buddies, two guys in armor made of old road signs with chains and knives, and two girls with makeshift bows and arrows, are standing off to the side watching your approach. None of them have their weapons at the ready. None of them look overly well fed, and not very many of them look like they've seen a bath any time recently.

    The big man comes walking up to your car as you get close, blocking your path, and yells, "Hey! Slow down, yeah? No funny business!"

    For reference: if north is up, you're coming from the south:
  • [Cinch]

    Sure, I pull up just within talking distance. They don't look like too much trouble... and hungry people... yeah I hate to see that. But without having to think about it I turn slightly to the right so Clarity will have cover if he steps out. I don't offer to let Clarity speak up first, I'm at the wheel here.

    Soon as we roll to a stop I push up out of the sunroof with a foot on the edge of the seat. If I let go I'll drop down into the seat but I rise up with an elbow over the edge of the roof to greet the guy. My silvery goggles hang around my neck.

    Damn he's big, but up here I feel bigger.

    "No funny business yeah? Didn't know there's folks out this way."

    I'm friendly enough, a hint of a smile on my face.
  • The big guy paces in front of your car as you slow to a stop. He's brushing his big, bushy, salt and pepper mustache, and eyeing you in his peripheral. When you stop, the two young men step into the gap in the blockade behind him, eyeing you hungrily. The two girls with bows and arrows stand off to the side, arrows coming out and resting on their bows "just in case".

    Cinch, the man steps up next to your Jeep, and in a low, manly voice says, "not many people to find out this way — 'cept us, of course." Then he looks over to you, Clarity, and nods with a stoic look on his face. "Name's Bill... Where you folks comin' from?"

    This is Bill, by the way:
  • I'm fine letting Cinch do the talking for now. Keeping my eyes and ears open, hand on the door. I watch Bill, listen to the tone of his voice, wonder what kind of threat these folks really are.
  • [Clarity]

    Read a person
    (Rolled: 2d6+2. Rolls: 3, 6. Total: 11)

  • [Cinch]

    Can't help but look at those girls. I used to hunt with bow and arrow back in the woods. More dangerous than they look, probably.

    "Bill, I'm Cinch," I lean way over from the roof to extend a hand, like to shake it. He's tall, he can reach. The tip of my other foot touches Clarity's shoulder as I bend, then comes to rest against the edge of his passenger seat.

    "Come out from Monroe, up old' six," I add as I wait for him to shake my hand with a smile.
  • edited June 2014
    Bill nods silently when you tell him where you're from, and looks on down the road. He does shake your hand though. "Cinch, huh? Good to meet you, Cinch. Never heard of Monroe... Seen the six a few times though, when the 'nomalies ran us out of here last winter. What brings you folks out our way?"

    He's looking in your Jeep, licking his dry lips for moisture as he tries to discern what you've got back there.
  • Spending 1 Hold of Clarity's 3

    What does Bill intend to do?
  • Clarity, Bill's got the look of a man who's not only been starving, but has been starving with family for quite some time. You can practically sense his next question before he'll even ask it: "Got any food?"

    What he does depends on how you answer — but you get the impression he sees this little encounter as an opportunity to feed his people.
  • [Clarity]

    I keep watching. We've got journey food... jerky and some well-named hardtack, but nothing like what it would take to make a dent in this man's hunger problem. Nothing in me wants to hurt these people, or to see them starve. However...
  • [Cinch]

    He's big, but his grip feels weak. He doesn't look so good up close and they're obviously hungry. I lean my elbows on the metal above the door. "Just scoutin' round... seeing what's out here." True enough, "All clear now?" I mean from anomalies of course. Travelers should share that kind of information.

    But... hell I don't wait for an answer, instead I say, "hold on," and slide down into the cabin.

    A quick look at Clarity, then I shimmy my top half into the back seat where I've got my cooler and pull out a big sealed-up gallon ziplock with a sketchy-looking but calorie-filled mess of some dried fig-like fruits. They dry in the sun and get a kind of sugary crust on them... some people love it. To others it looks spoiled. But it's good.

    "I was saving this... but hey, friends you haven't met yet right?"

    Gonna pop open the door and step out, the bag under my arm. Feels like I should give Clarity a chance to comment if he wants to though?

    The bag represents a jingle worth of food, my own belongings
  • Bill raises an eyebrow when he spots the bag of food, and you can see his cohorts all take an eager step forward at the sight of it. There's desperation in their eyes. Bill pauses a moment before smirking approvingly. "Guess it's that obvious we're hurting here... You Monroe folks seem like an alright type... We ain't seen a 'nomaly since the last snowfall... Scared the fuckin' deer outta our land. Been clear lately though. You folks movin' on that circuit? Or headin' back home?"
  • [Cinch]

    I step out of the Jeep, swinging the heavy door and using it as a handhold to lower down to the ground. The bag tucked up under my other arm, Bill suddenly seems huge as I end up toe to toe with him. I take a deep breath.

    Then I pull open the bag and take a bite of half of one, more or less to show him that they're safe... no messing around.

    "Damn... we haven't seen much game," I look back towards Clarity. "we're runnin' a circuit, yeah. You know, Bill, if we spot a herd I can get word to you." I mean it, too. Least I can do, right?

    "Is this all of you?" I ask as I offer him the bag. I wonder if there's children, or others around. If they're a hunting party maybe this is all. They're probably family, or couples. Feels like Bill is missing someone.

    It would feel good to go hunting again. Bow and arrow. Nostalgic.
  • Bill pauses a moment as you demonstrate the bag is good, and ask if this is his whole group. He looks down at the bag of food, the sweet smell of the figs hits his nostrils and you see his mustache twitch. "This is most of us," he answers, almost on autopilot, "those of us 'at can handle a weapon."

    He reaches out for the bag of goods, and pauses before taking them from your hand — almost asking permission. "Not a whole lotta folks ride through here givin' out free food... Offerin' to look out for us. We ain't real mobile, you know?" The look on his face is asking you, why the hell're you givin' us this?
  • [Clarity]

    I step out of the Jeep, slow and as unthreatenting as I can be, despite size. I'd forgotten about the fruit - have to make it up to Cinch later. Using my "public" voice: "Bill, there aren't enough of us left, all told, not to take as much care of each other as we can, hear? We'll keep an eye out, get word back if we see something close that might be some use to you. Maybe later, you get things goin' right for you again, you do the same for someone else, and maybe that comes back around to us in Monroe someday... maybe not, but maybe so, and there's only a future if we make one."
  • [Cinch]

    He hesitates, people often do, but i give it over, no hesitation. And I'm about to answer in my own way, you know, something about just having enough to share is good for me. But... Clarity speaks up in his way and yeah maybe I couldn't tell ya what he said exactly but I do like to listen.

    "Yeah," I glance at Clarity with a little bent smile, "what he said. No strings attached, Bill. Gotta take care of each other best we can."

    He takes the bag, hopefully to share, and I step back, a hand on the door frame, i lean back against the jeep, one foot up on the fender. Don't make a big thing out of watching him share the food or whatever, he's not on the spot here.

    "What kinda head you usin' on those shafts?" I call over to the Archers. Hunting deer, probably something wicked... also good for hunting men.
  • edited June 2014
    Bill's a little thrown off when Clarity speaks — the cadence of Clarity's voice probably isn't something he's used to — but he takes it in stride, and nods in what appears to be calculated agreement. He takes a fig from the bag, and his lip quivers as he bites into it... He hands the bag off to the older of the two men standing behind him, and they start eating.

    One of the girls, who looks like she just left adolescence, slings her bow over her shoulder, and digs an arrow out of her quiver. It's a self-carved fixed-blade broadhead, mounted on a salvaged aluminum shaft with custom fletching. It's purple, not unlike the small dangling earrings she's got. She doesn't talk though, and she keeps looking at Bill as she munches on her fig. It looks like it's been sharpened to a razor edge, and hasn't seen much action of late.

    Bill answers, "that there's my grandaughter Wisher. Taught her how to do that myself. Just passin' down the knowledge, you know? Everyone's gotta do their part out here." He looks to Clarity, "we don't get much in the way of people to do favors for... But if the opportunity arises, I might just see what I can do. 'Course I prefer payin' my debts straight, you know?"

    Cinch, Wisher's eyeing your Jeep from time to time, specifically the mounted machine guns. You can almost tell she's brimming with questions, but she's not about to pull you aside. Are you really going to give them that whole bag of food? How much will you have left after that?

    This is Wisher on the left:
  • edited June 2014

    Yeah, it's theirs, no strings attached as I told him. After this? I have our trail stock, enough to finish our circuit and get home, but that's about it. Another barter worth but that's not in food, probably something we found along the way.

    "Wisher," I try to say the name of anyone I meet. "That's nice work," I say of the arrows. I want to ask who he other girl is, maybe they can tell, but I don't bring it up. Sometimes people don't like to be noticed. "There's gotta be game somewhere 'round. We'll find 'em. Or you will."

    She's staring. People do. I keep my stuff in shape, a lot of myself in this car. My gear... I owe it to him to keep it that way.

    That damn scratch, makes me look at the car, think about something bothering me though... the trap they set on the road. I haven't noticed any wrecks around so... maybe they just found this place. Don't think I'm not aware of the dangers of stepping out among strangers when I could just drive straight through. But things work out all right. Almost always, 'least-wise.

    And this is pretty much good here. Friends we haven't met. I like that Clarity. He catches me smiling at him for no apparent reason.

  • Cinch, Wisher smirks to herself when you compliment her work, but she still doesn't answer. You sense that she would probably chat with you if Bill wasn't around. Bill seems pleased that you're resolved to help them find more food. Once the food's been passed around, Bill motions back to his crew and announces, "let's let them through then... We shouldn't keep 'em here much longer." He turns back to both of you and bows graciously, "there anything I can do for you folks?"
  • I return Cinch's smile with one that's a bit more subdued. These people are desperate, but not hurtful, and her remembering the dried fruit and being willing to share, well, that saved us a lot of trouble, I think.

    I watch Cinch's eyes sweep the scene. Nothing to indicate these folks are wreckers, but... "What caused you to set up here? A lot of traffic through this stretch of road?"
  • [Cinch]

    Little embarrassed when Bill bows like that, a goofy little look on my face like I'm not used to such gestures. Clarity does me the favor of speaking up with a question... though... maybe not one I really want to have answered.

    "We ain't hardly seen any cars," I comment, but I am curious about this. It was a lot of work setting this up.
  • edited June 2014
    Clarity, Bill stops and scratches at his moustache before turning and answering you. "We get the occasional traveler through the roads. Deer sometimes follow along the pavement. We figured if we made ourselves visible, we might get some more traffic... Try and see what we can do about getting more food."

    Cinch, he looks to you, "not a whole lot of running cars out there anymore. I think I've seen five in my day, including yours..."
  • [Clarity]

    Spending my remaining 2 Hold to get the following, just in case.

    * Is Bill telling the truth?
    * How can we get Bill to ally his (admittedly small and hungry) group with Monroe?
  • [Cinch]

    I take a few steps away from the jeep, walking towards Wisher and the other girl but talking to Bill, "they'e out there... but you're right it ain't like it used to be. Used to be every damn family had a car, two... can you imagine?"

    I keep walking slowly over to Wisher, she seems nice. And I wouldn't mind a closer look at the bow and arrow, not shy. "Nobody had to hunt... you know, I don't think they knew what livin' was."

    For a second I look at Bill, then at Wisher, friendly-like. "Think I could take a shot?" There's a nostalgic excitement in me. Haven't shot a bow for years.
  • Clarity, Bill is partly telling the truth... He definitely set up camp here to be more visible, but you can tell by the state of the barricade that they've had a few people try and run it... You get the impression if he's asking people for hand outs, he's doing it rather forcefully... As for getting them to ally up with Monroe — well, you'd have to convince him it's best for his family, and worth the risk of relocation. Since most of them aren't here now, you'd guess he's very protective over them. Very protective.

    Cinch, Wisher huffs a quiet laugh to herself at the thought of so many cars out on the road... But it makes sense, considering someone put these roads here for a reason. When you ask to take a shot with the bow, Wisher looks nervous – but Bill considers it a moment, and eventually agrees. Wisher drops the bow off her shoulder and hands it to you along with one of her purple feathered arrows.

    Bill comes up beside you and says, "You ever handled one of them before?"
  • edited June 2014

    I take the gear, like the purple. Take a second to run a finger along it and feel that tickle.

    "Oh yeah, used to hunt rabbit, wild turkey..." wow has it been so long. "Long time ago now... up north past the rocks. You know I miss it but .. We barely got by. Weeks would go by without a hit.... but wow. Fresh meat..."

    Got my mouth watering. It's been forever. I really want to find those deer.

    I take the bow and test the pull, then nock an arrow and scan around.

    "What's my target Wisher?"
  • Cinch, Wisher looks up at you, biting her lower lip, when you ask her what you should shoot for... The question caught her off guard. She looks around for a second before weakly muttering, "uh... That."

    She points to the treeline, and you spot a couple of hay bales stacked on top of each other... It's not an overly difficult shot, but I suppose you might be out of practice. You can tell she's watching your form more than anything. Even Bill's interested to see how you do... But while you're lining up the shot, you spot something moving quietly through the underbrush... It looks like a bird or something.

    You could definitely hit the hay bales, though you'd probably spook the bird. You could point it out to Bill or Wisher, and they'd probably make the shot on their own. Or you could take the shot yourself...

    What do you do?
  • [Cinch]

    Rusty. Yeah, been a long time. I test the string another time or two and roll my fingers around the bow. She's not much smaller than me so at least it's a good fit for me.

    I exhale a long breath and raise the bow. I learned what I think is the proper stance, anyway. Arm straight. I don't pull the string back until I'm just ready to fire, aiming only for a moment and letting my body naturally feel the shot.

    So just as I pull the string to my cheek I see that movement, the bird, and without pausing to think I move my aim to it, leading it just a couple of steps and quickly open my hand to let the arrow fly. It's really only when the arrow is in flight that I kind of realize that I might just have made a bad decision... well. Let's see.

    I'm sure there's a smile on my face.
  • The twang of the bow is low, like one of those old electric bass guitars you've probably seen in the city. The arrow sails through the air, and you probably spot Bill and Wisher smirking to themselves when they see the arrow go wide from the hay bale... But then you hear a thwack! and a frantic clucking for the briefest of moments before things go quiet again.

    Wisher and Bill's eyes go wide, and the reality of the moment comes crashing in... "Did... Was that..." Wisher mumbles.

    "Yeah," Bill answers, "Cinch. Clarity. You folks hungry?"

    What do you do?
  • [Clarity]

    I am not inclined to take food from the mouths of these people, but it was Cinch that took the shot. I catch her eye... we've traveled together enough that I'm hoping to communicate without words.
  • [Cinch]

    I don't let go of my breath until I hear the sound, and then it's a surprised little puff, followed by a genuinely happy and surprised smile as I look over at Wisher, then Bill and Clarity.

    "Whoa, did you see that?" I say, as surprised as anyone.

    Bill offers, and I look at Clarity with a little shrug, "come on, we gotta stay... just for a little while, right?"

    I can't get that smile off my face.
  • I can't help but smile at Cinch's obvious pleasure, and Wisher and Bill's amazement. "Well and good, Cinch. All well and good."
  • Cinch, Bill puts his arm around your shoulder and points Wisher over to the bird you just sniped. "Wisher, dear... Why don't you go pluck that bird while I bring our new friends back to camp?" He looks down at you, "C'mon folks... We got us some celebratin' to do!"

    Do you do anything to keep your Jeep safe? Or are you insisting on bringing it with you?

    Both, Bill leads you down a winding trail through the woods a few minutes walk down the road. You never would have spotted it if not for his guidance, and navigating it was particularly tricky... In the dark, you'd be hard pressed to get out of here at speed. The trail eventually opens up into a small clearing about 2 miles into the forest, where a few trailers, and some tents have been turned into a small, makeshift village... Maybe 10 people total, three of which are elderly, and one of which is pregnant.

    All of them are malnourished, dirty, and nervous at the sight of you.

    Bill does his part to assuage their doubts, and introduces you to his daughter, Wisher's mother, Ula. Ula is several years older than you, and is a strong, capable woman (in spite of her physical condition) with short, graying hair, and a small infant slung around her shoulder. You're positive it isn't hers — given that it looks absolutely nothing like her — but then, it doesn't look like anyone in the camp's either.

    Ula brings you to the center of the camp where there's a small pond, surrounded by logs people use as benches. In the center of the pond is an anomaly that slowly boils the water away... If not for the heavy rainfall, and long winter you just got out of, this pond looks like it won't exist in a few weeks.

    Wisher eventually came back with a plucked bird, and they threw it on a spit for roasting. There wasn't much, but everyone got a piece — either fresh meat, or some other, smaller part. Not a part of that bird went to waste. The sun is setting in the distance, and the air is starting to get cold...

    Cinch, Wisher's been beside you all night, asking you about where you learned to shoot a bow, and how you spotted the bird through the brush, and generally chatting you up to the locals. She keeps nudging you playfully whenever she laughs. Where did you learn to hunt like that?

    Clarity, once the food's been passed around, Bill starts handing out bottles of "his stash" to Cinch, Wisher, and finally yourself... He approaches you with a bottle of coca cola in his hand, and gives it to you. It's surprisingly cold. "A right blessing you folks came drivin' through our setup out there today... Here. I saw that there symbol you got... Thought you might enjoy this."

    What do you do?
  • [Cinch]

    Ok, so about the Jeep. Yeah it's hard to steal. You know the thing is armored (It does have doors, unlike the picture) and the machinegun on the roof is attached tight, it won't come off unless you cut it with an arc welder or something. I don't think there's guns out the sides all the time, though I have one in back that can be mounted up as needed, like when we go to the city.

    There's a redundant kill switch on the thing, first you need to get in, locked good, armored. Then a couple of hidden switches before the ignition will do anything. One under the dash, another under the seat. There's one up under the fender too, if I'm leaving her for any length of time. And the alarm still works, goes off if you don't hit the kill switches within fifteen seconds, horn. You know.


    If it's far I'll drive up there, give Wisher a ride even, seems like she wants one. She's cool, made a fine bow as it turns out. I'm sure we talk about that.

    I learned from my dad as a girl, I don't mind telling her about it. We'd hunt through the notches and canyons of the mountains up North... it was tough, cold, but the terrain kept most of the bad people away. What used to be called Vermont or New Hampshire... rough land. Still beautiful.

    It's awesome to get a sip of coke (I certainly don't drink a whole bottle myself) especially cold. I lean back, get comfortable. The people here are good people, you can tell by Bill, by Wisher. A bite of fresh meat, sip of sweet drink... I put my feet up and relax a bit... I hope the feeling spreads.

    I wonder if the children have everything they need. Looks like not.
  • This... is precious and rare. A sacrament.

    Cinch will recognize my "story voice," and I'm sure she's heard this story from me before, but it's a little different every time. I look at Bill, at Wisher, and ritualistically clear my throat.

    "Long ago. Long even before it happened, there was a warrior named Pem-Ber-Ton who was gravely wounded in a war he lost. In his recovery, he grew dependent on the medicines the Angels gave him to combat pain, and wished to break this dependence, upon the Angels and the medicines. To combat his need, he created something that had never before been seen. He incorporated a stimulant called Coca and a concoction derived from the nuts of the Kola plant. Lo, it was good, and soon the people were clamoring for this Coca-Cola, saying that it eased the frenzy of an overworked brain and was also a most wonderful invigorator of sexual organs." I pause, pop open the top of the beverage. Take a sip.

    "Over many years, overcoming many challengers, Coca-Cola succeeded. It was the Real Thing, it Taught the World to Sing."

    I take another sip. Refreshing. "Bill, you have my thanks. There will be a day again when the world learns to sing, when we will know the Real Thing from the False. There will." My words are addressed to Bill, but my eyes are on Cinch.
  • edited June 2014

    Clarity does tell a good story. Did he wait until that moment when I had my lips on the mouth of the bottle I'm sharing with Wisher to mention how it's good for your sexy bits? Makes me giggle, glancing at Wisher... yeah I hand her the bottle back.

    "That's enough'a of that then..." big smile... little blush.

    I never had a sister. Big family by any standard but mostly boys. Some of them actually related by blood... we had to stick together to make it.

    So sitting with Wisher like this, sharing stories, it's kind of great! "Ok, so... this one time I was tracking a mountain goat, bow hunting like a fool all by myself... by the time I realized what was happening it was gettin' dark. At least an hour from camp and a hundred foot climb up sheer rock," I slap my hands together like to make the point.

    "Nobody's gonna to come looking for me right? You know what I did? Followed that crazy goat up the cliff... led me to a game trail along the ridge... followed her half way back. Scared my brother Tucker shitless when I come walkin' out of the dark like a ghost... he almost shot me dead!" I raise my hands like aiming a rifle.

    "I got grounded for a week... no huntin, no hikin' no nothing. Fair... fair. I almost bit it, right?"

    I sit there among these good people, shoulder-to-shoulder with Wisher, feet up on a rock or something. This is nice... we stay till dark?

    "You ever get in trouble?" I ask her, waiting for a moment with her mom ain't looking.
  • Clarity, go ahead and roll that Visionary.

    Bill seems moved by your words — perhaps not enough to do anything, given that he's got these people to look after, but he's certainly sympathetic to your cause. He pats you on the back, and answers, "y'know... I knew a guy like you once. Back when things were still chaotic, we used to hunt together. He was sure, just like you were, that folks were gunna come together and fix this mess we were in... We stumbled on my stash in this huge brick buildin' a few days hike north of here on foot. Thousands more where that one bottle came from. One day, if food and 'nomalies permit us, we should take a hike. Maybe I could show you what I saw..."

    Cinch, Wisher's blushing too at the thought of coca-cola being good for her sex life. You can tell she's had it a few times before... She gets a little giggly when she drinks a bunch, but it looks more like a sugar high than an aphrodisiac. She hangs on your story's every word, and nods along when you look for input. When you finish, she's laughing along. There's definitely some camaraderie there. "No way! ... Uh, me? ... Well... Yeah..." She seems a little uncomfortable, but she presses on, "I used to hunt with my brother... He was real good with a bow. Better shot than I was... We was tracking this rabbit down a trail a few hours west of here, and got turned around. We wandered into this 'nomaly — a big-ass crack inna ground, burnin' hotter than hellfire — scorched the rabbit to a black crisp... We barely got out alive. Grampa Bill almost tanned my ass for runnin' off without payin' attention like that."

    She smirks, "guess we got lucky that time. If you call almost starvin' cause of a fuckin' 'nomaly luck. You run into them a lot onna road?"
  • Visionary

    (Rolled: 2d6+2. Rolls: 2, 4. Total: 8)
  • [Clarity]

  • Cinch, are Clarity's words always this moving to you?
  • [Cinch]

    Yeah I'm sitting there kind of joking with Wisher and listening, really listening to her story. And you know Clarity goes on a lot so I don't pay him too much attention at first... no offense or nothin' right? You know I heard an earful these past days and it's nice music but I don't really listen to the words.

    But he's different talking here around the fire, in front of all these people. I still don't know what he's saying, really... but teachin' the world ta sing? Finding the truth... yeah that makes me feel somethin' inside.

    I find myself staring back at him, at his eyes shining in the fire. I catch myself, kind of shyly turn away, look at Wisher and laugh at some joke or other.

    Then I look back to Clarity. A soft smile... you know it's supposed to be business between us but here we are at the damn nearest thing to a party I seen in ages... you gotta feel somethin' right? I don't mean I wanna jump in the sack or something but it makes me feel... just feel... inside. You can see it in my eyes for sure.

    I'm glad we came.
  • [Clarity]

    I relax into the evening, the stories and the fire. Cinch's smile is the perfect sauce for a bit of bird. I stopped after two sips of the Coca-Cola, passed it along.
  • It feels to me like this evening gradually comes to a close. Where did you people end up spending the night?
  • [Clarity]

    I sleep by the Jeep. Standard bedroll, clear the rocks first and stack them in a pile. Let Cinch do what she wants.
  • edited June 2014
    Both, most people here sleep on decade old bedrolls, or makeshift beds. You wake up naturally to the sun hanging low in the morning sky. Bill spots that you're both awake, and comes over... He offers you both a small potato from the communal garden... It's raw, and probably tastes like garbage, but it's food. From what you gather, potatoes are likely all these people eat aside from the odd foraged fruit/vegetable from out in the woods, or hunted animal. If they've been doing this for a while, it's a marvel they're still alive.

    Whether you take the potatoes or not, Bill takes a step back and says, "I sent Wisher out to the barricade at dawn, and I've gotta start a harvest out here... You folks are welcome to stay, but I figure you'll probably wanna be movin' on. You folks are welcome here any time, you hear?"
  • I will accept the potato. "Bill, thank you for your hospitality. We will certainly visit again when we're in the area." I gesture with my head in a way that's somewhere between a bow and a simple nod.
  • Clarity, Bill nods, "Much obliged... If you're lookin' for more of that there drink I found — the cola — just lemme know. I'll bring you out some time."
  • edited June 2014

    So the party winds down and I head back to the Jeep, my fingers deliciously greasy from the meat and the taste of one last sip of cola in my mouth.

    I wipe my hands and reach up for the door handle, a foot on the running board... then look back over my shoulder. Bill is telling Wisher something, another guy stomping out the fire... I wonder if it attracts trouble.

    Feels lonely always sleeping closed up in there, you know I usually do... the one time it's hard to feel safe, when I'm sleeping. I have dreams sometimes and not always good. So I hesitate, frozen there for a coupl'a seconds. Finally though I stop and drop back down to my feet, turning to the others, one hand still on the door handle but I let go of it when they look.

    "Hey!" I call out to Wisher, "think I could borrow a blanket?" I have blankets, you know it's one thing the world doesn't have a shortage of. But I'm really asking if I can sleep over there with them... should be obvious, right?
  • edited June 2014
    Cinch, Wisher looks around for something that might resemble a spare blanket, but then picks up on your true meaning and says, "Uh... C'mere. I'll share mine." The tone in her voice is totally platonic. You can tell she's starting to like the idea of having you around.
  • [Cinch]

    Yeah! I almost laugh cause you know this is awesome. Does feel a bit like I imagine having a sister feels.

    When you're out in the open night comes fast and dark, folks sleep early and wake early.

    I smile at Clarity as I pass. He seems to be setting up to sleep near the Jeep, still a little bit warm from the day's driving. After so long with just the two of us it's refreshing to have some more company. I look at him for a couple seconds, you know... I'll have to listen to his actual words a little more carefully next time we hit the road.

    "It gets cold out here, yeah?" I call to Wisher, skipping a bit as I hustle over. I'll help clean up if there's any more cleaning up to be done, guess there's not a lot of dangerous wildlife around. Wonder if they keep a night watch.

    I catch up to her and follow her lead, whatever her routine is... but I do have my own nightly routine and I'm not straying from that. Wash my hands and face if at all possible, brush my teeth (you can always find old toothbrushes around, though I haven't seen any toothpaste for ages) Also I check my pistol... lay out my vest as a sort of blanket and disassemble and re-assemble the weapon like I do almost every night, more just to stay sharp. I seldom fire it but it's good to feel the parts, smell the oil, keep my hands busy, I can easily chat with her as I do it.

    This should be fun.
  • Clarity, Go here.

    Cinch, they're a small group, so cleanup is relatively quick. Most of them are so exhausted they don't even bother setting up a night watch, but you do spot Bill checking the perimeter, and fiddling with some stuff before coming back to bed. Wisher nods when you mention it getting cold out. "Friggin' right... You gunna stick around, Cinch?"
  • [Cinch]

    I settle in, sleeping outside, yeah I've done that plenty. Can't say I've shared a blanket like this all that often. I talk over my routine, legs crossed, working on my weapon.

    "I uh..." yeah, wish I could, "I gotta get Clarity where he's goin' before I can stick around anywhere... but." I look up at her, "maybe you wanna come along?"

    I hold her eyes for a second before returning my eyes to what I'm doing. It's an honest offer, take her wherever. Bring her back if that's what she wants.
  • Cinch, Wisher seems conflicted... She looks over to your big Jeep on the outskirts of the camp, and over to her grandfather checking the perimeter. Her smile drops to a frown, and she shakes her head. "No... No, I can't leave grampa Bill. There ain't so many of us that can hunt, let alone keep this place safe... I mean... Not that I ain't curious. If somethin' happened, I should be here, you know?"

    There's a pause, "where you goin'?"
  • edited June 2014

    She tells me no. Yeah, ok... little disappointed but... yeah that makes sense. She's right. "Yeah, you're right, you got people... stick together." A little quick nod, like you do when sort of agreeing with something. I keep busy with what I'm doing and try not to show it. No big deal... would'a been fun.

    She asks where we're going and I look up at her, saying simply, "home." A thoughtful pause, "if Clarity's done with his wanderings." I tip my head towards where Clarity is laying out for the night by the Jeep.

    I put my weapon away, leaning back on the heels of my hands. "You know if it's alright... I'll come visit sometime... cool?"
  • Cinch, Wisher seems a little disappointed too, truth be told. This place is like her family, though, and uprooting with someone she just met is certainly out of the question. She follows your nod over to Clarity, then back to you. She nods enthusiastically when you offer to come back and visit. "Hell yeah! That'd be awesome!"

    She leans back under the blanket, you can see her gaze wander over to Clarity again. More than once actually. Eventually, she timidly asks, "you and Clarity ... y'know... Together?"
  • edited June 2014

    My eyes shine a bit, no doubt, as I look up at her. Little blush, "uh... no... no nothing like that." I raise my hands up like nuh-uh but I'm smiling. She likes him... not surprised.

    I follow her eyes over to Clarity, who is settling in to sleep and gaze at him for a few seconds. I giggle, teasing her a bit, "he is something special, isn't he?"

    I look at her, then at him again I giggle to myself and lay down to sleep. Shoving her gently to tease. I quietly say, "you should ask him."
  • Wisher's a little lost when you compliment Clarity, and only comes back down to earth when you tease her to ask him about whatever's on her mind. She shakes her head bashfully. "Naw... I mean, he is kinda special. Grampa Bill likes talkin' about makin' sure we're still around tomorrow, right? To make sure we can all survive. Clarity though... He thinks big — like, makin' life better rather than just survivin'. That's really cool, you know? If he can find a way to make it happen..."

    She smirks, and adds, "plus he's not too bad lookin'."
  • [Cinch]

    She gets a grin out of me, now laying on my back, my head on my hands. "He ain't at that..."

    I still don't really get what Clarity's talking about, but that's kind of the charm. He's on another level.. it might be bullshit, but I'm happy to believe it. At least a little... I'll let myself believe it.

    I lower my voice to a whisper, "You uh... have a boyfriend hidin' around here somewhere Wisher?" Not teasing, it's an earnest question.
  • Wisher shakes her head, "Naw... Nothing like that. The folks here are either family, or like family... Just thinkin' about layin' with someone who's either wiped my ass, or vice versa grosses me the hell out — let alone makin' a baby with one of 'em one day..." She sighs, and says, "You?"
  • [Cinch]

    She makes me laugh a bit. Yeah, guess they're like family. I look over at her, still leaning back on my hands.

    "Naw," I start the same way, "you know I come and go so much... ain't ever met someone worth giving' up on that for..." I spend a moment quietly reflecting. "Not to say I ain't had a fling or two, right? There's guys out there that'll surprise you... If you give 'em a chance."

    I take a deep breath, obviously thinking of some lover from some time ago.

    "Sometimes the hardest guys are the softest inside..." I kind of grin, looking at her again... And then a word of caution. "Well, and sometimes they ain't."

    I settle into the blanket, I can sleep just about anywhere. This is fine, we're close enough to keep each other at least a little bit warm. Nice.
  • Wisher smiles to herself as she gets comfortable. "Maybe I can convince Grampa Bill to let me trade some of our stuff out with Monroe... Y'know, once things get quiet. Maybe we can get a batch of arrows or somethin' ready in a week or two. That is, if you could teach me the way there..."
  • [Cinch]

    "Don't see why not," I comment. I really don't. Even Clarity was talking about some kind of trade or whatever. So sure!

    I settle in to sleep, letting out a content sigh. "tell ya the way in the morning, Wisher. When we got light." Travelers like me know their way around by a lot of ways. Landmarks, towns... and the old highway numbers. Most people don't know them but they're there if you look for them.

    "And you know, I'd buy a bow from ya if you can make me one like yours," I add, "you might sell a few of those to hunters. Arrows too."

    It's been an unexpected day. A good day. I'll sleep well.
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