Time to Die

This is a short story I wrote about Dystopia Rising a long time ago (November 1, 2012). It was based on the events of the game just prior to me writing it.

**********

Wide eyes looked around with arms crossed tightly over her chest. The glow of the fire illuminated the smiling faces of those present. There was a retrograde, two irons, and a variety of other folk present. Many of them laughed as they spoke to one another. There was an old man present. He had walked her down to this place. He had grey hair to his shoulders and a cane that he leaned on. One of the Irons, a girl, came over to ask if she wanted to try some pie and some moo juice. The wide eyed girl slowly nodded her head. She had no idea what either of those things were. One of the group walked over to her. He wore a stained white shirt with a blood spattered white coat over it. Upon his head was a charred white hat and an eye patch with a small red cross. He extended an open hand to the nervous Iron.

“Hi. I’m Xavier. Most people call me Medic. What’s your name?”

She looked down at his hand but didn’t move. Her eyes darted back up to his and squeezed her arms tighter. “I’m A… I’m Jeanie.”

She slammed her hammer into the red hot scrap with a loud clank. The hum of the reactor buzzed quietly. The drip of water through the pipes of the filtration unit filled the room with a quiet music of various pitches. But to the Iron, only one sound mattered. The sounds of her hammer slamming into the small metal scrap she worked on. The sounds of the red hot coals in the forge as they sizzled and burned. The sounds of hot metal being dropped into cold water and the cloud of steam that arose. These were the sounds that mattered. These were the sounds that the Iron paid attention to. It didn’t matter what else was present. All that mattered was her current project.

“You’re mad at me.” She looked down to her hands to avoid his eyes.

“No, I’m not.” He crouched down so that he could look up into her eyes. She quickly darted them away from his gaze.

“Yes you are. I wanted to help them. I know what they were feeling. I could help them! You’re mad at me! You yelled at me.”

“I am sorry I yelled at you. I was mad that we we weren’t able to help them no matter how we tried.”

Each slam of the hammer onto the hot metal scrap helped to work it into the perfect shape. The Iron knew exactly what shape she wanted, as was clear by the very deliberate placing of each strike she made. Fold the scrap here. Weld it there. Chip off this corner. Smooth down this other one. There was a clear end goal in her movements, yet, they were harsh. Her face was scrunched up and her jaw clenched. Each slam of the hammer came with a groan of anger. For a moment, her actions sped up. The speed of her work increased and suddenly all the pent up rage slammed down. The hammer bounced out of her hand and clattered to the floor. She leaned forward over the forge and just sobbed.

“Jeanie,” Medic smiled as he sat down next to her. There was a mischievous look in his eyes. “You’re dumb.”

“No, I’m not. I learned how to do science.”

“Yup. Just like I said, dumb.” He nudged her with his elbow and smiled. There was nothing mean in his voice.

“No! You’re dumb!”

The Iron slid down to the stone floor of the reactor room and wiped her eyes. Her shoulders shook as she just sat there staring through tears at the cobbled together reactor. She was alone. Years ago, she had felt this very same feeling. Years ago, she had felt the pain of losing her family. When she was a child, the only one that she had ever called family was Big Sis. Then Big Sis was sold. Taken away from her to never be seen again. There had once been a slight hope that she might see her sister again. But now, that hope had disappeared. Every effort to find her Big Sis had failed. She usually ignored the feeling of loneliness that existed by refusing to think of her sister. She would go and spend time with her new family. With her brother. Medic. Except now Medic was gone. Once again that loneliness was present and more suffocating than the smoke from the forge.

“That man is Jigsaw, a Nemesis of the Telling Visions. He is a man who gives people an appreciation of life, by bringing them close to, if not over, the point of death… And you’re his target… This is a game. The point is to understand. Once you understand, you will have won your freedom… You are his target because of what you said. You’ve been casted… I will do my best to help you, but understand I can’t play for you.”

There were many times when Medic had made her so angry. There were many times where she felt like he didn’t think about anything he said. But there were also many times where he would help her through things. There were many times that he would help wipe away the tears and get her back to her feet. Jeanie sighed. She buried her face in her arms and smeared the tears into her sleeves. It took effort, but she reached over and grabbed the hammer and returned to her feet, to her work. Slowly she began to work on the scrap pieces once again. Slowly she began to weld them back together into their perfect shape. Slowly she began to make sense of the pieces, the four points of the cross, and the diamond shaped hole in the center. Slowly her work began to take its final shape.

“What is it?”

“It’s quarry stone. It’s made out of marble. You can’t pick it up.”

He looks at the bottle, wraps his fingers around the bottle and strains, struggling to even make the bottle budge. He sighs, let’s go and readjusts with his other hand, his dead and rotting hand. This time he tosses the bottle into the air with ease and catches it without thinking twice.

“How did you…”

“Tank arm,” he answers with a shrug. “So, you gonna drink it?”

“I don’t know.”

“Do it. Record the data. See how it makes you feel. Just like Science!”

She picked up the cross, forged out of scrap pieces, and turned it in her hand. It was smooth from where she had hit it with the hammer. Over and over she had vented her frustration through the hammer and into the small metal cross. Over and over her loneliness was pounded into the scrap that she now held. Normally she would have gone and talked to her brother. She would have told him how she felt. He would have made it better. That’s what always happened. Now that had ended. Now she was once again alone. Once again it was just her and the hot coals of the forge. Oh, how she hated this feeling.

“Doo doo butter.”

“You too? Really?” The Iron groaned.

“Doo doo butter.” He laughed. “What?”

Jeanie rolled her eyes. “You know what Medic? You’re a jerk.”

Medic smiled brightly. “Yup.”

Jeanie took the cross in her hand and made her way through the small hallway to the stairs from the reactor room. A pull of a lever on the door and the hatch clicked open so that she could lift the heavy door. She slipped out, pulled the lever, and slid the door back into its place. A click made it clear that the latch on the locks had closed tight. She turned and made her way quickly down the stone stairs to the field next to the tap. She turned and weaved, twisting her body to avoid contact with anyone. She didn’t want to talk. She didn’t want to make eye contact. So, with her eyes fixated on the ground and her grip tight around the iron cross that she held, she quickly stepped down the path and walked off alone.

“Why did you call me your sister?”

“A sister is someone that you think of as family. Someone you don’t want to lose.”

“But why did you call me your sister, Medic?”

“Because, I don’t want to lose you.”

Pounding feet on the dirt path. Still, the steps weren’t loud. There was mostly dirt and wet moldly leaves on the ground. Not much to cause noise underneath her hurrying feet. The cross was gripped tightly in her fist as she walked down the path. Here eyes focused strait ahead and each step was just as deliberate as the last one. She knew exactly where she was going. Down the path to where it meets around TV Land. Across the tv land field and then down the next path to the field at Wit’s End. Down to where she last saw him.

Eyes on the ground and arms crossed tightly in front. Every so often eyes dart over to the stairs and up to the tea shop. Nope the door is still closed. Finally, it opens and the familiar face emerges wrapped in a blanket. He makes his way down the stairs and over to where the Iron stood awkwardly next to the bar.

“You didn’t know who I was…”

He held his arms open. “Come here,” he whispered softly.

The Iron latched onto him, not wanting to let go. “You didn’t even know my name…”

“You’re my sister,” he answered, “in the end, I’ll never forget you.”

Tears once again began to well up in the Irons eyes as she walked down the hill toward the field by Wit’s End. The last time he was here, with him… Was right after she had returned from the May Cape. This was the last place that she had seen him. He liked to travel. But here, here was the last place that they had been together. As a family. Jeanie dropped to her knees in the field. This is where they had sat. They were watching the stars together. They talked about everything together. It had been as if Jeanie hadn’t left for her trip at all. Jeanie shook for a few moments and leaned forward dropping her forehead to the ground.

“There’s cake over there, at the bar. You ever have cake Jeanie?”

“What’s cake?”

“It’s sweet. Has chocolate in it. You know what chocolate is right?”

“Yeah. I had some before.”

“You should go get some cake.”

“No. I just wanna sit here with you.”

Jeanie shook. One hand gripped the grass, pulling tightly at the green tendrils. The other gripping the small forged cross, knuckles white. There was a large groan and both fists came up off the ground before slamming into them once again. The Iron let the cross fall from her grip and she began tearing at the grass, pulling pieces out of the ground in large chunks. Then she dug her fingers into the ground as if they were claws. Nails gripped at the frozen dirt, yanking and pulling up anything she could find. She screamed out as she clawed at the dirt, moving more and more dirt to a small pile on the side.

Then she stopped. Her whole body trembled. Gently, she picked the cross up off the cold grass and she held it in her hands, staring at the work that she had just finished. Then she let the cross drop into the whole she had dug up. It seemed to fall slowly for whatever reason, almost as if this were from a Telling Visions scene that had a remote control thing slowing it down. The cross bounced a moment as it fell into the hole with a dull thud.

Carefully she began piling the dirt and grass back into the hole, burying the cross. Then she began to speed up. Each clump of dirt and grass that she piled into the hole became bigger and quicker. She’d drop the dirt into the hole and slam her fists into the dirt to punch it down flat. Finally she just began punching the dirt mound she had created over and over. She screamed as she punched.

“FUCKING PINEYS! YOU MURDERED HIM! YOU KILLED HIM!”

Over and over the Iron screamed. Over and over she slammed her fists into the mound of dirt til she could feel her hands no more.

Finally she stopped and her eyes narrowed.

“I promise, Medic. After what they did to you, every last Piney will die.”

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