The Will to Keep Going

This is a short story inspired by the world of Dystopia Rising and the writings of some of my good friends. I wrote this awhile ago (Jan. 20, 2012) before I was even using this blog to tell stories, which is why it isn’t on here. But putting it up here now. This was a potential future for the character I play in Dystopia Rising. It has long since been put into the never possible category, but was still quite fun to write. Please enjoy!

**********

“NO!”

Running. Feet pounding on the dirt path. Each step slamming into the pebbles louder than the one before. Tears slid down the pale face, sliding into the various crevices of missing skin and sunken cheeks. Down. Down the hills. Down through the trees with their bare arms. Down towards the coldness of the lake. Down.

There was a loud scraping thud. Hands flew out to protect the rest of the body from the fall. Rocks scraped across palms and tore through the left knee of the patched up cargo pants. But this wasn’t a reason to stop. No. Keep going. Nothing must stop her. Not even the knowledge that chunks of skin were probably missing from her hands and knees. No, she must not stop. She must, absolutely must, keep going.

It’s what she always did.

Keep going. Keep running. Keep heading down. Down where the world was quiet. Down where everything made some sense. Down. Down like the tears that slid from her sunken eyes. Down like the bumps in the road where puddles formed in the rain.

Stop.

On the left was a building, a small one that had been scrapped together. Numerous boards had been added and replaced. Some strips of scrap helped hold the one or two windows in place. She paused and slowly made her way over to the small building. The wood was rough and in many places dented from the numerous fights that had happened around it. There were bullet holes in many of the walls, patched with large sticks and sanded down flat. Splatters of blood marked the various injuries caused by protecting the inhabitants. There were secret entrances and exits, installed last month, for a quick escape from the building in case of attacks. Each and every crevice of this building, she knew. She had helped keep it in good order.

The wind blew and she shuddered from the cold, pulling the patched green jacket tighter around her. Cold. Hadn’t she always said that the winter was the better time of year? Work was easier in the winter, at least it was for this particular Iron Slave. But now, now the winter was just a painful reminder of loneliness. Trees without leaves. Ground, hard and unforgiving when you fall. She readjusted her ragged brown scarf. When she had first arrived, it hadn’t made much sense, what Kiki always said about the cold doing horrible things to the body. Now it did. The cold did horrible things when ones skin was slowly rotting away.

Another cold breeze blew gently by. Her hair ruffled a moment and for a quiet moment there was a slight chuckle. For a moment, it almost sounded like… But no. No one was there. It was just her, alone. Never the best idea, but at the moment it was the only thing she wanted. No, the sound was probably just some branches scraping together. Stupid branches.

She abruptly turned away from the small building and continued her journey down. She could see the lake from this house, but she kept going. No, this was not her final destination. She continued downward, to the building closest to the lake, to the church. To the only home that did not constantly remind her of him.

This time she walked, slow but determined. She reached into the pouch on her belt and rummaged through it searching for the familiar metal scrap piece with her fingertips. There it was. The key to the door. She paused at the steps to the church and looked out on the cold of the lake. Yesterday there had been two swans gliding across the lake together. Today there was only one. She shook her head and careful wiped the tears from her eyes so as to not injure the fragile skin before hurrying up the steps, turning the lock, and quickly shutting the door behind her.

Ah the warmth of the church. It was a slight comfort, but only slight.

She dropped her things off on a bed and sat down before dropping her head onto the pillow with a sigh. There were no more tears to cry. But there was such an emptiness, a loneliness that echoed through her. She hadn’t felt this feeling in years. Last time she felt this way, was shortly after… Well, it was best to leave it alone. Not reopen old wounds. Besides, he had fixed that. It had taken a few years and a lot of credits, but he had fixed it all. Besides, now Ruth was one of the town Sawbones. And that wouldn’t have happened if not for him.

A lot of things were because of him. The irradiated knuckles that she now used to defend herself. He had figured those out. The radiation collection device that the church now used. He had figured out with her. All these things made her think of him. She rolled over to face the wall. He didn’t build the wall. At least for now she wouldn’t be drastically reminded of him based on something she saw.

There was a knock at the door.

A groan as she rolled off the bed and shuffled her way over to the door, eyes red from tears that would not come. She undid the scrapped together lock that the Curie had made before opening the door to a familiar face in a white coat and hat.

“Hey,” he said with his hands slipped into his once white coat pockets. “Can I come in?”

“Sure…” She held the door open and let him pass through before pushing the door tightly closed and fixing the lock back into its place once more. When she turned back to face him, he was looking down at her hand.

“Really?” he asked sarcastically. “Some project you did?”

She looked down at her hand, injured from the fall. A chunk of skin dangled. She shrugged and reached into her bag for a scrap of fabric to tie around it and hold it together. Not really the best way to take care of it, but at least it would work for now.

“You want me to take care of that?”

“No,” the Iron shook her head. “It’ll be fine. Wanna sit?”

He looked around the room a moment.

“My bed is that one in the corner with my stuff,” she answered pointing to the spot where she had dumped her back pack.

“Got it.” He made his way over and shifted the stuff to make room for him to sit. “You okay?”

“Not really, no.”

“What’s going on?”

“I saw him just yesterday. Hell, we repaired the reactor again. He was fine. At least, I thought he was…”

“We all did.”

“It wasn’t supposed to be like this.”

“Why not?”

“Well, come on! He was freakin’ insane. Walking right up to Nazis and somehow scaring the shit out of them by being, him. He could get raiders to work for him. So, he was supposed to get everyone on his side protecting him.”

“It’s not like he died in a fight.”

“No. Stupid ass heart attack. Why didn’t he try the tank heart thing that Disco and all them tried?”

“What do you think?”

“Yeah, yeah, he was stubborn just like the rest of us. I just, ARG!” She threw her hands up in the air before letting them flop down to her sides. With a sigh she made her way over to the bed and took a seat next to her brother. “What the hell, Medic. I didn’t want him to die…”

“Jeanie, he was old. It was gonna happen at some point. What, with all the zeds, raiders, nazis and all that we’ve pissed off, it’s a miracle he didn’t die sooner.”

“But…”

“Jeanie, listen to me for a moment. Remember the first time you went to the gravemind?”

“Yeah, why?”

“Remember what you were like after?”

“Yeah. I was freakin out whenever Bones wasn’t around.”

“How did that get fixed?”

“Professor Barnes. He reminded me that they’re never really gone.”

“Exactly. Now, I’m going up to the Tap. Just, keep that in mind, okay?”

“Yeah… sure…”

Medic gave the Iron a hug and ruffled her hair before standing. “You coming?”

“Give me a little while, k?”

“No problem kid.”

Medic slid his hands back into his pockets and headed towards the door. He unhooked the lock and made his way out, pulling the door tightly shut behind him. Jeanie continued to sit on her bed, silently, staring at the now shut door for a little bit. She looked around and slipped her hand into her pocket to pull out the glowing green knuckles. They were good pieces, bound to last a good while before anything happened. Not to mention that Jeanie knew how to fix them up if anything happened.

Yeah, Medic was right. So was Professor Barnes. He would still be there. Jeanie would always have a part of him with her and since he took her in, it would always be an important part of her memories.

Jeanie stood and grabbed her stuff. She adjusted the hat on her head before making her way out of the church and closing the door behind her.

As for now, she knew what she needed to do to keep going. She was going to head up to the casino and get to work at the forge. She was gonna use the scraps she had to build Doc Thomas his rocking chair. Okay, so he would never get to see it. But after all the jokes about the rocket chair instead of the rocking chair that he really wanted, it would at least ease Jeanie’s mind to give him one last gift.

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