Understanding

This story is based on the events from a Dystopia Rising event. Dystopia Rising is a Live Action Roleplaying game (and tabletop roleplaying game) put out by the company Eschaton Media. It’s epic and amazing and best of all, it has zombies. So, please, check it out.

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It was cold. Jeanie was bundled up in her jacket in the hospital. The jacket was reinforced to provide some protection but it was broken right now. The Iron could easily have fixed the jacket, but it was too cold to take it off right now. Autumn had come early and brought with it winter cold. Even Bravo had been cold, despite only just being finished with the burning season. Here in Ripton Falls it was almost freezing out. When she got back to Hayven, she would have to get out her cold weather gear.

There were two others at the table with Jeanie. On her left was a familiar face with antlers and paws, but the eyes were different. Instead of the protective glance Sliphox would give,there was something else. There was fear. Sliphox wasn’t there. Instead, this was Caleb. Sliphox had been sleeping for a day now and Jeanie had been protecting the young Ascensorite as best as she could, praying that Sliphox would wake up soon and bring the spark she loved back into those eyes. On her right side was a Rover, covered in flowing scarves and named Miss Rayleen. In front of her was a bundle of food, however she was missing the gentle smile that she usually had. In it’s place was a stern and sad expression.

“Jeanie, when you leave this room, you will tell your young friend here, and Charles, and that young lady, you will tell them my husband’s message. You will not come to see me again. And when you see Ruth, please forgive her.”

“But we can still try to fix things?”

“It’s too late for that. Now, go.”

Jeanie nodded. She was confused but she would listen. It seemed safer to listen. Something was about to happen. Things were going to be bad. Everything felt wrong.

“Caleb.” Jeanie stood and moved over to the Ascensorite. “Caleb, it’s time to go.” She could see the fear in his eyes. He knew something was wrong. Whatever would happen, Jeanie had to protect Caleb from it. She hurried him out the door and towards the still. They had to be away from the hospital.

“Jeanie, what’s going on?”

“I don’t know. But we had to leave. It wasn’t safe.”

“What was in the bundle she had.”

“Food.”

“She’s a Rover. Why didn’t she share the food? What’s going on?”

Jeanie shook her head. How could she answer what she didn’t really know? Caleb’s eyes were wide and he kept glancing over to the hospital building. Jeanie followed his gaze to see Charles walking over to them. “It’s a bomb,” he told them.

“A bomb?” Caleb’s face paled. “We have to go help them.”

Jeanie grabbed Caleb’s shoulders. “We can’t.”

“But people will get hurt!”

“We can’t help them, Caleb. We have to stay here.”

How do you get someone to not help? How do you sit by and do nothing? How do you cope with understanding what no one else sees? Cadence and Slink had both been right. She never should have learned or tried to get involved. Jeanie trembled as a loud explosion rang out from the hospital building and smoke poured out from the doors. Charles ran over. Jeanie tried to stop Caleb, but she couldn’t. She watched and shook. To help would lead to Ruth and Randall hurting the young Iron as had happened to Cadence on the beach. To help the farm was to be condemned by Ripton, one of the few places she felt at home.

Charles returned, a body in his arms. Miss Rayleen was dead. There was a large, gaping hole in her chest. Jeanie didn’t say a word as she grabbed Miss Rayleen’s body to help Carles carry the Rover. Neither had to speak. They both knew where they were bringing her body.

I went down to the river to pray, studying about that good old way. And who shall wear the robe and crown? Good Lord, show me the way.

Down the hill. Across the field. Past the morgue. Past the beach. Down the path to the lake. Jeanie carefully let go and watched as Charles waded out into the lake and let Miss Rayleen’s body float off into the water.

Oh, Mother’s let’s go down. Let’s go down, don’t you wanna go down. Oh, Mother’s let’s go down. Down to the river to pray.

Jeanie turned and walked back into the field. A lump seemed caught in her throat. Her body shook as she began to pace back and forth. The Iron brought her hands up to her face, trying to keep away the tears that threatened to fall. Why did Jeanie have to push Cadence? He had told her that he was afraid of it all. He had told her to slow down. He had told her that it wasn’t safe. He had told her that she might go crazy from it. He had very clearly warned her and she kept pushing him to teach her. She begged Bloom to teach her and explain. She made a deal with Bloom just to learn what Cadence and Slink already knew. She wanted to understand. but now, now all she wanted was to forget. She wanted to go back to when she knew nothing about the gravemind.

Jeanie heard bells and turned to see Caleb walking toward her. The tears began to slide down Jeanie’s cheeks. She didn’t want to talk to Caleb. She couldn’t tell him all of the things that were going on. He wouldn’t understand. She needed Sliphox. But he wasn’t there to help. He hadn’t been around since Coyote had killed him. Sliphox was sleeping and Jeanie was alone.

“Jeanie, I’m sorry,” the Ascensorite whispered as he wrapped his arms around the shaking Iron. The worst part of Caleb was how he sounded like Sliphox without being him. “I’m sorry that I haven’t been here all day.” Jeanie shook even harder as she latched onto the man holding her. Caleb had finally gone back to sleep. Sliphox was finally back. The tears fell harder as she tightly hugged her Ascensorite. “I’m sorry I haven’t been there when you needed me.”

“Everything is bad right now.”

“I know.”

“Everything hurts.”

“I know.” He held her close and let her cry.

“I wish I didn’t understand. I wish I didn’t know what was going on. I wish I could go and forget it all.”

“I know, but you can’t.”

“Why not? Why do I have to be the one who understands?”

“Because the cycle made it your job. Because someone has to know, so that when the time is right you can go help them.”

“I hate this.”

“I know, Hun. I know.”

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