Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Hello world.... this is my first post, post NaNoBlogMo. Hope I'm still writing my story, and I'm really having fun. Today is payday, woooooooo, and now i have to decide what to do with it. I'm not going to do anything tonight but play video games... most likely Vampire: the Masquerade- Bloodlines. It will be more fun as i play late into the night. I think I'll get some wendy's on the way home, or maybe some deviled eggs. I love deviled eggs. But i'm also partial to cartoon spokes chicks.... and the hamburgers they sell.

Now that NaNoBlogMo is done i'll be spending more free time on my game, and on my comic with mike, and on various other tasks. I never feel busy, so it really came as a big shock to me when i found out that I am, in fact, always busy.

That's all for today, guess I'll see you all tomorrow.

Monday, November 29, 2004

Well, I'm not going to make 50k words by the end of the month. I gave it a VERY good run. I slacked some, but not just for not doing it. I Was really bummed till a friend pointed out to me that over the course of the month I:

1) Finished Half Life 2
2) Played Vampire the Masquerade, Metroid Prime 2, Castlevannia: SotN, Super Monkey Ball, Pirates!, Everquest II
3) Watched The Incredibles, and The Pollar Express, and National Treasure, all with lots of friends
4) Worked with all my friends to put together a bar in my closet to mix drinks for company
5) did extra jobs for money and got good grades in my art class
6) Visited dallas and spent lots of time with family and eating an awesome thanksgiving dinner.
7) Got to taste and sample 5 awesome cheeses, one of which I baked and served with wine.
8) Wrote 37.5k words, which, by tomorrow will probably be 40k at least

I'd say this has been a VERY good month. I'm proud of myself now that i've thought about it, and I'm not going to stop writing just because I missed an arbitrary release date.

*big smile*

Monday, November 22, 2004

Woohoo.. If i can keep up today's pace, I might make it to 50000 words by the end of the month. It will be a VERY tough struggle. I have 18000 words left to write, but I hit a major milestone today. I wrote 3,000 words and five pages, if i can keep that up, I'll be able to do this in 8 days. It just wont be easy.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Okay, I'm going to start posting again. I've been really bad last week and not good enough this week to make up for it, and worse, I havent been posting. I can play catch up with the novel, but playing catch up here... well, I wont even worry about it. I'll do some talking about how far I am and how I'm feeling about this, and when I'm done, or at least at 50,000 words, I'll post the whole thing to that point one chapter at a time. For now, I'll do stuff like this, update my wordcount and post an excerpt that I like in particular.


This magazine was from the early part of the war. It was maybe three hundred years old, he guessed. There was strong evidence that the federal government was winning the war, based on the spin by the magazine. It was strongly opposed to the uprising and listed strong offensive victories against the rebellion. There was even an interview with a soldier. There was something wrong with the picture of the soldier that they showed. He looked so very soft. He looked well fed, and he looked mean. But he looked, somehow, like people he’d seen torn apart.

It was a hard look to describe. It was a hard look to understand; he thought that he saw it in the eyes. The more pictures he looked at the more he realized that everyone looked that way to him, no matter what they were doing. One or two looked like they had something in them that didn’t seem so alien to him from the people of the world he lived in. However, they still looked fat. He didn’t know what he was feeling, but he felt like it might be contempt. On reflection it felt more like confusion, more confusion than he had had before he had read the magazine.

He wondered how John would take all of this. Out of all the people he knew, John had the most unique perspective. It would be very interesting to see what he thought of the pictures, or the articles that were in there. He put it away and pulled out another magazine from later on. Six months later, it looked like. He opened it up and was interested by what he saw as he turned to the cover story. The war had taken a turn for the worst. The rebels were protecting their ground and the military seemed more and more like it could not force them back down.

Food was becoming a problem; the disruptions had slowed down the food production throughout the states. People were furious because prices were rising constantly as scarcity began to appear where they had never had to deal with it before in their lives. Their eyes had changed. The soldiers more than anyone else had changed for the better in their eyes. Most of them still looked like people just waiting to die, but some of them looked hard, like they could survive. Ultimately, none of them would. Everyone dies eventually.

No better time to wax morbid than when you’re reading the death tolls for a war that was over three hundred years ago. There was irony that no one survived in the sense that they all died eventually.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Been a half a week since i posted any of my story. here's some more... I really need to step up this week.


“ Why do libraries always have the oldest technology in the world “, Cady asked to no one in particular as she examined the desks. All the paper in the library seemed to be very well preserved.

“ I never saw enough libraries to notice, is that really the case? “ John replied.

“ The reasoning, was that they didn’t need to do much at all, their entire purpose was to keep track of what books they had and were checked in or out, later on they got much more advanced, but never as advanced as normal current technology. “ William answered, being the oldest and having learned the most over time. He continued, “ People just figured that since they didn’t need it, it was an expense that would always go to other projects that were more important. “

Robbie pulled a book off the shelf in the survival/camping section and began browsing through it with interest. As he flipped to the third or fourth page in the book he started talking, “ I could spend years in here. It’s very nice that we weren’t left unprepared when the colony ships left. Knowledge aside, have you found the periodicals yet, Will? “

William had his halogen lamp browsing the rear of the bunker and he was lost in looking around at various books and other things. He was, in fact, so absorbed that he didn’t hear a word of what Robbie was saying to him. John walked over to him and tapped him on the shoulder.

“ Hey, Will? “ He started.

“ Whatchya need? “ William responded amiably enough, his eyes still wandering over the reference shelf.

“ Have you seen the periodicals yet? “

He looked up at John, his mouth a turned in an odd matter as he pondered before leaning around the corner and yelling to Robbie. “ No! I haven’t seen any yet, I’m beginning to think they’re probably downstairs, it makes the most sense “, his voice boomed as he raised it high enough to be heard across the library.

Robbie started heading toward them both, passing up Cady as she rooted through the four desks looking for anything she could find. She had started a nice little pile of trinkets and papers next to her feet that she certainly seemed to feel were of interest, and so very well might be. But there were more important things to look for at that very moment, at least, as far as he was concerned.

“ Hey, Will, I’m going to go ahead and take a look downstairs “, he said as he walked past William and started walking carefully down the staircase. He noticed how the carpet still looked like it was in fairly good condition, aside from the dust that was rising up beneath his feet with each step, leaving footprints as he went. He remembered what had happened in the garage, and he reflected on the disaster it would have been and the great lost they would have endured if there had been a similar leak in here.

About halfway down, the stairs made an about face and continued down in the other direction coming out in another room, which he couldn’t see all of. One thing he could tell, though, was that it was definitely larger. There were various pseudo corridors made out of shelves and file cabinets up to the ceiling, near the far edge of his light, he could see conference and computer desks. He walked carefully, one step at a time down the main isle, examining the signs on the shelves, etc. The first filing cabinets had various forms of paperwork archived for office use, the bookshelves hosted the reference section of the library. As he continued, he walked past the computers into more reference books shelves. Time seemed to go so slow while as he took step by step past the dusty volumes that surrounded him. His walk, which only took a few seconds, felt like an hour.

The far side of the room was occupied by yet one more staircase. This base had to be extremely old. Robbie pondered as he started to take the staircase down. It may have been one of the more recently abandoned such buildings, but it for it to have three story buildings without elevators, it had to be old. He bet, that the information was available somewhere nearby for them to find if they were so inclined. He guessed that one of them might even be so inclined, but his interests were far more general after he’d been thinking for a few days. He knew at least a skeleton crew had manned this base until well after the migration had taken place.

As Robbie stepped down the second set of stairs, he felt the darkness swell around him in a way it hadn’t before. There were no sounds of a room behind him coming to life, only darkness behind, and darkness ahead and walls on either side. Soon he turned around at the about face and saw that the staircase ended at a door with a sign on it that read, “ Periodical Storage, Authorized Personnel Only. “

Earlier that day he had been totally worn out on finding real keys, and his fingers pulled the base master key up without hesitation, moving toward the lock. The key slid in smoothly, and his fingertips applied pressure to the edges of the key and then, nothing happened. Resistance. Robbie pushed harder, and then jiggled the key. Still, there was no give for the efforts that he put into it. He hoped that whoever had left these keys behind had been authorized personnel, because this door didn’t look like it would give way to a mere kicking, or, in fact, anything that would be safe to set off without worrying about damaging the contents of the next room.

Minutes of searching proved fruitless as he continued to try key after key. Each one failing as he tried them. It was too early to be frustrated, but he couldn’t help feelings of mild dismay creeping up his spine as he started trying keys at a faster pace, coming ever closer to the last one. There was still an entire base to search and the key could be anywhere, and worst case scenario they could pick the lock, but the more Robbie thought about it, the more urgent opening the door felt.

The dark felt like it was closing around him as he tried key after key, there were only five left. He imagined all the things he would find behind this door, obituaries, the chronicles of lives, the world moving on a colony ship at a time. The heat was beginning to overwhelm him as he felt sweat beading on his forehead and his hands growing slippery till the keys finally fell from his grasp. There were only two keys left.

He set his lamp down and kneeled down, palming all over the ground till his fingers grasped the keys, he stood up and quickly panicked, he started thumbing through the keys striving to find the two that were left. After only a second he found them between his fingers. He tried the first one and it didn’t budge. He tried the second one, and once again nothing. Irritation and bother surged through him and he jiggled and struggled with the key just as he had the master key. It was the last one, if this wasn’t it, he didn’t have it he thought as he gave the door a solid kick, his attention focused on jiggling the doorknob and looking at that stupid authorized personnel only sign as he finally pulled the last key from the lock.

Robbie let out a disappointed sigh as he slowly pocketed the keys without looking away from the sign. He was hot and irritated, but more disappointed than anything else at the moment that he was standing there. Slowly sinking to his knees, his hands picked up his halogen lamp and then stood back up, made one last sigh, and turned back towards the staircase and let out a terrified scream.

Chapter 7:

Cady almost fell on her ass laughing as Robbie slammed into the wall behind him as he turned and almost walked quite unexpectedly right into her. She reached down and turned her halogen light back on while he was still panting and letting his legs give out beneath him as his back slid down against the wall. Heart attacks were not his thing and this was two in as many days. Adrenaline made his whole body quiver as it coursed through him.

“ A little jumpy? “ Cady giggled as her light flooded the hall doubling the light and making it feel slightly less cramped. At the very least, another human being near him made the air feel more alive and less stale.

“ Good god, I did not need this today. “
She reached out her hand to him as she asked, “ Are you okay? “

“ I’ll live. “

“ Well, I was looking through the desks upstairs and I came across the library keys locked up in one of the drawers. Thought you might need them down here “, she grunted as she used her weight to lever him off the ground, pulling on his hand. After he was up, she reached into her pocket and pulled out a loose set of keys and tossed it into his waiting hands. His eyes were blank for a moment before he handed the other set of keys to her to hold.

“ Thanks, I was really starting to get pretty frustrated. “

“ Just in the nick of time then, huh? “ Cady giggled as she leaned till her shoulder was against the door. “ I’m kinda like super girl like that, always in the nick of time. “

“ Yeah, just in the nick of time “, Robbie’s heart was still thudding audibly to him in his chest, he could feel it in his forehead’s veins.

Cady giggled as she watched him fumbling with the keys. “ It’s really fascinating, the sorts of things that could be behind this door if William is right about how recently this base was abandoned. I can almost smell the history. “

“ Yeah? And what exactly does history smell like? “

“ Kinda like moldy cheese. “

Robbie chuckled at that. He wasn’t in a state of mind to talk much as his fingers checked key after key. He had actually just started to notice how nice the clothes he found in the base felt, even in the heat. He was lost in the thought while Cady watched him when the right key slipped into the knob and turned a full turn giving off a satisfying click. His head snapped up and he looked at her, where her eyes met hers as her own attention was summoned.

“ That was it “, he said, followed by a long pause.

Cady didn’t respond verbally, she just gestured with her head to go ahead and open the door and have a look. The anxiety on her face was palpable and his hand was trembling as he broke the gaze they shared and turned the doorknob, giving the door a quick push. It didn’t budge. He pushed a little harder and felt it give a little before he nudged his shoulder against it and knocked it in, breaking the age-old seal.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Wrote nothing today. Very disapointed in myself.

Monday, November 08, 2004

There were countless cast iron tools that would be more than handy if they could ever get them back to the base. Probably just one or two would be coming along with them when they left after their extended stay. They would certainly need to record the location very carefully and send multiple expeditions with heavier transportation equipment. There was maybe at least a year worth of salvage here, if no one else had the fortune of stumbling on it. The thought that maybe it already should have been discovered had already occurred to William, considering how close it was to the city, and he was a little worried, but not so worried that he would even begin to consider not going into the bunkers.

Probably the most useful thing they found, or to be fairer, had been found by Robbie much earlier, was the key ring. It had a number of keys that helped their search of the other above ground buildings on the base. A master level one building key was on it, which meant, for today, and as long as they were opening doors above ground, there would be no more shoulders bruised against doors that needed to be broken in as the garage had been the only one with a leak problem.

The mess hall was then checked, dark once again, till they cracked open the loading bay for the storage room and that helped quite a bit, though they’d missed the optimal time of day to get the most light inside as they looked around and even found food stores that were still good. The army had once had amazing techniques for preserving food. Meals Ready to Eat, or M.R.E.s, were there in abundance and, were in fact, better than anything else they had eaten in quite some time and later that night served as dinner for the hungry explorers. They were just about the most delicious things they’d had to eat in weeks, and were larger portions than they were used to from their own ration bars.

They took the time to explore the gym locker room and the base administration building before sundown. They found very little in the gym or its locker room, only the occasional trinket that had been dropped long ago. The biggest thing they found was the uniform depot where fatigues, uniforms, boots, and other daily equipment was stored, and both Robbie and Sanders got some nice sturdy new outfits, the boots were the best improvement that they could have imagined. The administration building, on the other hand, was full of information on paper locked away in filing cabinets and stored in memos, as well as containing computers, which almost certainly contained plenty of valid information that they could look through a little bit before they unplugged the hard drives to look at later on at a more permanent station.

That night they slept well, the excitement was still all around them, but the work of the day weighed more than enough on their shoulders to drop them off to sleep without any trouble at all. It was the dreamless sleep that exhaustion provides, but refreshing sleep nonetheless, and it served them well. They woke early the next morning, up and prepared themselves as quickly as they could possibly manage. It was going to be a busy day.

Chapter 6:

John and Cady got within visual range of the Wicker camp by mid-day and went on to approach it cautiously, keeping their senses strained for trouble as they approached it. Fear and stressed coursed through their bodies as they crept up upon the tents that were set up. Cady took the most direct approach and moved slowly while John went around the side and approached from the far side, noting the fence that it was stationed near and how it had been cut away. When it was clear the camp was abandoned for the morning they moved quicker and examined the site as closely as they could.

“ Someone was here last night, and it was probably them “, John stated as he looked up from the campfire ashes.

“ What are these? “

John looked at the object she had pulled from the ground nearby. It looked like trash, which was especially strange that it wasn’t in their waste pack where most waste went for reprocessing later. He reached out and took it slowly from her hand in order to examine it closely. It was a food kit of some sort, it smelled good and it looked like it had been a large meal even.

“ Food. “

“ What sort of food? Would anyone in Wicker have anything like this? “

John shook his head negatively, “ No “, he said. “ They must have picked it up from one of the local ruins. You think they’re in there somewhere? “ John gave his head a nod in the direction of the fence and as they both looked there were some clearly visible buildings visible a good distanced walk inward from the fence.

“ Looks promising “, she replied slowly as a worried look worked its way into her facial features.

Just the opposite, relief spread quickly through John’s body as the tension from the majority of the last day overcame him. A fresh site, with a large supply of relics and ripe for exploring would be more than a good enough reason to put in a call for help from the nearest expedition. His muscles relaxed and he even smiled as he looked inside the fence, his grip on his knife loosened and it even flashed and disappeared. John even smiled before he noticed that Cady was looking over stressed and gave her an inquisitive look.

“ Would they go in there without us? Is that safe? “ Cady looked at him.

“ I don’t know for sure, but I trust Will, and if they went in, then I believe it’s safe. “

“ Will? “

“ William Taylor, he taught me most of what I know. You probably never met him; he goes out more than any other journeyman. “ John looked deeper through the fence as he spoke to her. His attention was clearly divided between her and the new place.

Cady worried her lip a little as she looked around and did some more studying of her own over the site. She finally found relief, but it had nothing to do with the assurances that John had given her, because, despite his skills and experience (which was much more than her own, despite the small age difference, she suspected mostly that his expeditions had mostly been of the more traumatic variety), she didn’t think he was above humoring her to make her feel better in a pinch. Such distrust was a healthy attribute for any female to have in a world where no one should work on false information or rely totally on the people around her. However, as she looked around she saw only three sets of footprints. Prints that clearly belonged to the tents’ owners and they headed off into and from the nearby fence.

“ Okay, if you say so, I’ll just have to trust you “, she said, hoping that he had the same good sense to believe her as much as she believed him. Cady, of course, figured that there wasn’t a chance that he would. Guys were always way too trusting. It was almost scary when you thought about all the little things girls could, and did, do with their trust.

If she had been looking up, she might have noticed that he had already strayed into the fence and was heading towards the buildings, and had ceased paying attention to her before he had even finished speaking. Once inside the fence he scanned the nearly plain-like area that was covered in bunkers and buildings and surrounded by hills that were large enough to act as small mountains. The design and placement meant that fences were only needed on two sides of the facility, but it was only visible where the woods thinned out enough to let wandering eyes peek through into the rusty metal fence within the wilderness that may or may not have been there when it was first erected.

Cady set down her things before she noticed he was gone, and by the time she saw him, he was halfway to the buildings, when she yelled for him to stop and ran after him. He did of course stop and turn around for her long enough for her to catch up before he continued on.

“ Why aren’t you leaving your things in the camp? “

“ Don’t know what’s happening yet, not sure I want to camp with Will and his troop “, John answered her. “ And what if they are in trouble that they just got into today? You never, ever know. “

“ Yeah, well, I’m going to have a bit of a look around myself “, she said as she patted him on the back of his pack and went running off spitefully. Cady hated getting anything that even resembled a lecture, and that had been close enough.

John just smiled and let her go. He was in too good a mood to bother caring about whatever he’d done to tick her off today. She’d get over it before sundown anyway, but she had a point about his pack. Mostly he just hadn’t been thinking about it when he walked toward the fence, but he also still didn’t really care, it wasn’t like it weighed eighty pounds or more.

Thinking about it, did make him feel it though and he hefted it to a more comfortable position on his shoulders before promptly forgetting it again as it instantly slid right back to the same spot. He wondered if they would be together or spread out over the complex, as he looked around at all the buildings.

He decided there was only one way to find out and reasoned that in the worst case scenario he would see them at the camp that night as it looked like they were still staying at it. That was his biggest hope, and thinking about it only made the worry that there were indeed problems gnaw at the back of his mind in a way that wouldn’t be put to rest till he was talking to at least one of the Wicker men. He started by walking into the administration building, which was almost the closest to him, but had caught his attention because it was open.

It only took him a moment before he found that it had been pretty thoroughly explored the previous day, but hadn’t been returned to today. The dust in the air was horrible, the Wicker party had been very busy, he guessed based on the evidence presented. As soon as he saw they weren’t there, he stepped out and moved straight to the next building. Checking one building after another, he noticed a pattern in their behavior over the days that they had been here alone. They were clearly only exploring full sized above ground buildings and avoiding the bunkers. He checked the shed, the garage, the gym, and the cafeteria, where he actually stopped for an M.R.E., which he considered an indulgence and found its properties amazing, it was self heating, though he wasn’t sure how. It didn’t matter much considering how good it tasted.

By that time the sun was had moved half past noon and he was still in their tracks even though he felt he was probably getting closer. The next building he checked looked like it might be the mailroom as best as he could tell, but it was so empty there was no real way to be certain. He guessed that no one was getting any mail in the last few days of operation.

He finally found them in the equipment building examining all the equipment, which had been left behind by the previous occupants. Interestingly enough, somehow a pistol had been left behind and they were presently examining it, knowing that even if they ever used it, the ammo they had would be as finite as what they could find in this building here. They almost shot him when he stepped inside. They caught up with each other and shared stories about their previous months before Will brought John up to speed about what they had found so far. Cady found them midway through their gathering and they continued to talk as they traveled back to the camp for the evening where they talked long into night before they all fell asleep.


John woke up first the next morning, followed by William, they ate breakfast together and William game John specific information about how the base generator worked so that he could deal with it too. William gave a much more detailed briefing on the number of bunkers they had mapped and which ones they would be entering. They were going to use halogen lamps they found in the equipment building first, he said, he didn’t want to turn the generator on till they were ready to do as much work as possible as they only had maybe a week, give or take a few days of power worth of fuel.

By the time the discussion was in full swing everyone else was up and had eaten their M.R.E. for the day. They had all agreed that while it lasted, they should enjoy the extra food that was ready for them. The morning warmed up and the cool of the night faded away till it was full light out by the time they all hiked to the closest bunker to them, the barracks, according the maps they had taken from the walls of the local buildings.

Robbie did the honors of unlocking the door and Sanders, having the least experience, stayed watch at the door as they trooped in single file, wielding the halogen lights they pulled from the equipment building the day before when John had first found them. Again, it was empty, and more disappointing; it didn’t lead down any lower. They moved on to the next building, the library.

John went in first this time. He moved his halogen lamp inside, and wondered how many of the books would even be in any kind of readable condition. The air was stale, if not slightly rank. William followed and after him Cady, then Robbie stepped into the ample space provided by the room, the door leaving a bright light on the floor and the lamps casting a cool bluish tinted light over everything in the room, about 20 rows of shelves on their left and eighteen on their right, ending at a staircase going down. The center of the room was filled with tables and four desks arranged as an island in the center of the building where most of the work took place, with extremely old looking computers on them.

Friday, November 05, 2004

The reality that they very well might be standing right over real history, right that very second made him feel refreshed and anxious. Expanded data chronicling the great emigration, first hand accounts in journal form, just about anything could potentially be down in those bunkers. The thought sent chills up his spine. They had enough supplies to search through them for weeks if help-

His thoughts were interrupted when they rounded a corner and Will broke into a run, distracting his train of thought as he looked up and followed with his eyes. Dead ahead, Robbie was lying face down on top of the grass and sand next to one of the few real buildings in the area. He broke into a run and pulled out his knife before his brain could even finish thinking about it.

Will was already down by Rob’s side with his hand over his shoulder saying something that Sanders didn’t quite catch as he caught up with him. Robbie groaned and rolled over onto his back, while hank was looking down at him and he heard William talking again.

“ Hey, Rob! Are you okay? What the hell happened? “

After a second of looking around while Robbie stopped moaning, Sanders notice a little bit of faint smoke drifting out of the garage door and the acrid smell of smoldering ash and burning plastics. It was only half a second before Rob opened his eyes and he looked as lucid as someone who was at the top of his game when he answered Williams inquiry, “ Which one of you bastards turned the power on? “

William sat back, more than a little bit relieved when he replied, “ I did, what was it? Bad breaker? “

“ No, the whole building, there’s a water leak inside, has been for quite a while, you wouldn’t believe how rotted everything in that building is “, Robbie started off. “ Falling apart, water seeping into everything. Power came on and the lights started coming on, and then, kaboom, everything was sparking and catching fire till the breakers blew. Not pretty, not expected, just about not anything you want to be inside of. “

“ Well, can’t undo what’s done, at least you’re all right. Find anything interesting in there before she blew? “

“ Not particularly, only had a brief look around, was just about to open up the main doors and let some real light in. If I go in there and do that now, it will probably help vent the smoke out. Personally though, I don’t plan on going inside there until you go back to wherever the hell you were and turn the power off “, Robbie said as he raised himself up onto his elbows. He looked around and saw Sanders standing over him with his knife out looking a little bit nervous. “ You expecting trouble, cowboy? “

Hank startled when Rob spoke to him. He looked down for a second, his brain was stumbling just a tad, trying to figure out what Rob was talking about when he saw the knife in his hand. “ Nah “, he spoke clearly considering the panic he’d just had, “ just saw you down and, well, worst case scenario. “

“ Good man! Well done, hope I have the good sense next time I’m in your shoes to be prepared. “

“ Thank you, sir. “

Robbie laughed, Sanders had to be rattled. That bastard hadn’t been the one with the whole world seemingly exploding around him right after being shut up in the dark feeling just a little bit put off by the dead, and at the same time all too alive atmosphere caused by things growing in the dark. If he didn’t feel like he had about a million volts coursing through every fiber of his being he would have shuddered thinking about it, as it was, he felt like he’d chugged a gallon of coffee, the strong stuff that Martha made back at home. “ Hey, guys? “

William looked at him and said, “ What’s up? “

“ I think I’m going to just lie here for a minute or two. Until I stop shaking, if you don’t mind. I hope you don’t mind “, he slowly let himself back down on then sickly looking grass as he spoke. When his head touched down and felt a firm support behind it he let go and relaxed as much as he could. His fingers were still twitching a little bit, disobeying his brains orders to sit still.

“ That’s fine, I’ll be right back after I shut off the power for the night. You boys are going to love the news I have for you when I get back from the maintenance shed over on that side of the base, “ Will pointed in the direction he was talking about before he continued, “ Sanders, I want you to wait here with Rob till I get back and then we’ll all stick together for the rest of the day. You know, it was pretty stupid to just split up like we did today. “

“ Agreed “, the other two men voiced their thought simultaneously.


During the rest of the day, they explored the garage first, almost out of an apology to Robbie for the surprise that Will had popped on him so unexpectedly. There certainly wasn’t anything in there that was in working order. There was one jeep that certainly might have if it hadn’t been soaking in that humid air for a length of time that they couldn’t even guess at. It must have been amazingly well maintained when it had been in use for it to be in the condition that it was in now. The engine was fine, some rust needed to be cleaned off here and there; a new battery was needed, other small parts, new fuses, cables, etc. The list was long, but certainly, Robbie had never seen a remnant car that was so close to being in working condition before. Suddenly, he understood why government facilities were considered such high prizes to the older explorers.

There were countless cast iron tools that would be more than handy if they could ever get them back to the base. Probably just one or two would be coming along with them when they left after their extended stay. They would certainly need to record the location very carefully and send multiple expeditions with heavier transportation equipment.

Thursday, November 04, 2004


Well, I'm writing more per day than I was, I'm really stepping up everything for the sake of getting farther. I really don't think 50000 words will be enough to write everything I'll want to write, by my calculations it will only be about 75 pages or so, and I'm already on page 28. I did very near six pages today and I'm really proud of it. I'm at 18,100 words. If I keep up this pace, I don't really want to keep posting everything I write every day unless I have a way of writing expandable posts. I've done a good bit with this blog and I really can't wait to do more littel things here and there. I really love this thing now and I'm enjoying it a lot. For now though, I guess I'm going to keep posting everythign I write in case there's anyone actually reading it, hehehehe. Well, here goes....


Rob did some walking around the garage this time in the morning light looking for anything he might have missed in the dark. He tried checking the bay doors first, but sure enough, they were locked. The window on the far side however was sturdy and still in good shape fitted into the metal siding. He wiped at it with his sleeve, but the interior was far dustier and still blocking his view.

At last he pulled out his flashlight and went inside. The interior of the office was bright enough to see and examine everything well enough without too much trouble. He checked the shelves and found a good deal of books that were suffering far more than the average decay due to the unusually high humidity that seemed to permeate every part of this wreck. The air itself felt a little drier. Robbie felt that might perhaps be because of the door being open all night long. His eyes traces over the collapsed desk in the corner, every last support in it had started to simply fall apart. All the drawers had locks embedded in the crumbling wood. He found himself talking out loud to no one there, “ Locks are useless when the container itself is fundamentally broken. “

He ripped them open a drawer at a time, most of them having nothing but black rot inside of them. Almost no white was left in what he guessed had once been paper documents and other various things, there were also pens, and paperclips, and markers, and other little tidbits. Most curiously there was a necklace with a tiny triangle with an eye in its center as decoration and a small gold wedding band. Rob pocketed both of them. In the bottom drawer after fishing through gunk and wood chips he found a key ring with maybe thirty keys on it. He wondered if it would be useful for anything at all, and linked it to his jeans on the chance that it might be.

Robbie then looked up and turned his attention to the door leading into the actual garage bay. He walked over to it and inspected the door. It was even less solid than the one on the exterior. Wherever that leak was, it had been destroying everything in this whole building from the inside out for maybe a year. Maybe it had been even longer than that. That sort of thing wasn’t exactly his area of expertise. He brought up his right hand and pressed his palm into the wood, it was slimy and he felt it accept the print of his hand before he put more force into it and the whole thing slumped down into the next room breaking apart when it hit the floor.

He reached back down for his belt, wiping his hand off on his aging shirt before wrapping his fingers around his flashlight and turning it on before raising it up and looking into the next room. It was full of junk and at least one car. Rob already knew what he wanted to look for first, his light moved slowly over the collapsed desks and rusted sheet metal toolboxes and the car blocking the view over the rest of the garage and then fell on the faint light near the floor where the first sliding door was clamped shut and locked.

The only sound that graced his ears were the tapping of his worn boots on the cement as he moved toward the door and the dripping of that leak, which sounded much more pronounced now that it was in the same room. When he stood in front of the door he let the focus of the light roam back and forth from the top of the door until he found the lock near the middle of its structure. He thought it would be a fair bet that one of the keys on that ring that he had picked up would more than likely turn that lock and let some decent light and warmth into this cold little tomb. His mind was a little reserved over how many keys he might have to try. It struck him that it would be incredibly ironic and a pointless waste of time if he had to try them all and it was the very last one. It would be nice to have a little bit of luck here.

After about ten tries, Robbie was startled into jumping by a loud noise that sounded sort of like clapping echoing through the whole room. He jumped back so hard that he ran into the grill of the jeep behind him, and dropped his flashlight. After looking around for a second he asked out loud, “ Holy mother, what was that? “


Will let his finger up off the button. With a full tank of gas, this baby would run seventy-two hours, at least. Even better yet, he guessed that there was at least one refill truck parked somewhere around the base, probably two, but he was only willing to gamble that one would have any fuel. He remembered seeing them around, useless, but with plenty of fuel in the tank he checked. All the same, they had more than enough to flip everything on for a few minutes as a nice little morale perk of accomplishment for the trio.


Hank had his blade out from the sheath on his ankle and was gripping it as tight as he possibly could. He wasn’t all that good with it, but god, it was better than nothing after that noise. The pounding of his heart felt like it was going to jump out of his chest as fast as it could and bounce back to camp. He shakily got onto his knees with his blade still up and at the ready as he reached for his flashlight, which was now lying still with its beam pointing in his own direction. His breathing started to steady a little when it was comfortably held in his off hand while he started to head back around the countless shelves of crates that were both full and empty. Right before he reached the door he got another shock that made him drop his light again.


Will let a wicked smile spread across his face as his eyes wandered over the primary control panel for the generator. It was amazing how much they let this thing run, and it seemed like it was only for the above ground facilities, there had to be something bigger somewhere down below, he hoped, that ran the majority of the base. His eyes wandered from the manual to the now lit buttons on the controls, the loud rumbling of the machine filling the room surrounded him.

It took him a few minutes to get his bearings between the rather obscure schematic and the very real, very poorly labeled thing in front of him. He looked again at it, and decided that it had been labeled, once upon a time. It had been a hell of a long time since the last label fell away or faded till it was illegible to anyone. More than a few minutes passed before he stumbled on exactly what he was looking for and he thought to himself about what a surprise Rob was in for if he was inside any dark rooms as he started to activate subsystems.


Robbie was looking rather cautiously around the garage in places that he hadn’t looked before. Not so cautious as that he could give anyone any kind of inventory for what he had seen as his eyes were preoccupied with finding anything that was capable of sending out such a startling noise as he had heard earlier while he was trying out keys on the bay doors. He was almost panicked and he had his knife in his off-hand, which he hoped would serve well enough against anything less than passive that he might find hiding around inside of anything. He found plenty of horrid little roaches and pill bugs in the grime and rot, and his stress rose as he continued to fail to find anything.

Right about this time a new noise started, a softer click than the earlier and a low hum that seemed to fill the air like it was physically there. He looked around, it seemed to be coming from above him and all around him, and then suddenly there was a flicker of light, followed by a flood of lights clicking on so fast that he felt instantly blinded and had to do his best to stand perfectly still to keep from stumbling into anything. After the last of the lights came on and he started to try to open his eyes, he saw sparks coming from a wall in the back of the building. Shit, he though, someone turned on the power and everything in here was permeated with water.

He had stopped breathing, though he wasn’t aware of it, and his vision was still impaired as he started to move towards the exit. The crackling of the rear wall got louder as the lights started to dim and he broke into a run as soon as he saw a clear path out of the room. There was something similar to an explosion as he left the room and all the lights flickered and went out as abruptly as they went on.

Robbie staggered out of the tiny office and out into the near noon sunlight outside, shielding his eyes, but only for a moment before they adjusted and he dropped to his knees on the grass just off the sidewalk. His breathing was ragged and he felt like his heart was ready to just stop ticking as he let the fresh air start to calm him down. Good god, that had him at his wits end and he was finding himself unable to think clearly. At least everything was okay, he bet it was Will, if anyone had done this, it had been William. He was probably found the generator and fired it up without telling anyone about it. Good lord, I almost shit myself, Rob thought.


Hank was absolutely stunned when the sound of the lights coming on filled the room. He’d never heard anything like it; the fluorescent lighting only took another second before it started lighting up the entire room a quadrant at a time. He dropped his flashlight one more time but his hand never loosed its very shaken grip on the handle of his blade.

His left hand went up to guard his eyes for a second or two before his pupils acclimated to the light in the room. After that he got a good look at everything that was inside of the building. His jaw dropped open, more at the how all the lights had suddenly come on than anything else. His mind was racing trying to figure out what the hell had happened. Had it been Robbie, or William? Those were easily the best explanations, but they weren’t exactly someplace where he could just rule out the potential that anything else could have happened.

When his flashlight was back up in his hand he turned it off and started heading into the now well-lit kitchen and then into the room beyond. Robbie would have been relieved to know that Sanders knew to find out what was happening in unusual circumstances and meet up with other team members as soon as possible. He knew Rob worried about his capacity to act responsibly and do things right, and it always gave Hank a sense of pride to prove Rob right, more out of an affectionate hope for respect than out of spite.

Before he reached the exit from the mess hall he noticed a laminated and plastic encased paper on the wall, that was obviously old, but decently protected from the years that wore on it. Wow, he thought as he looked closely at it. He put his finger onto the plastic and moved it to different spots as he started to seriously examine it. This was exactly what he needed.

Chapter 5:

William studied the control panel intently, watching as power started running throughout the base. He wished he knew where Sanders and Rob were, he wondered what the effect of having the lights pop on in whatever dark holes they were in would do to them. It would probably be safest if they were together; Will started to seriously reconsider what he had just done.

He’d never gotten to play with anything quite like this before. He had certainly studied quite extensively more advanced technologies like genuine computers and other machines with software controls, but a large piece of hardware like this usually didn’t attract much attention in the towns where only people who knew what they were doing messed with them. This was turning out to be quite and experience, and he was enjoying it a good bit.

After a few seconds he noticed something odd with one of the sections he had activated, a yellow and black strip above the main section was flashing and the power lights went off. He kneeled down and looked closely at it. After a while he flipped through the manual, and eventually, while looking for the index he found some custom diagrams in the back. Maybe these panels weren’t pre-wired to various areas and they had to be carefully labeled to know which panel had been custom routed to which part of the base.

Sure enough, after about half a minute or so he found the corresponding label, it was the garage, there was something wrong with the breakers over there. He set down the manual, there was no need for dealing with something as simple as breakers, and he had worked with those his entire life. Will walked back over to the map on the wall and located the garage; maybe one of the other two would be there. Probably the least shaken of the two if they were separated, he guessed since the power probably hadn’t come on at all after all these years. He mostly expected to find nothing more than a bad breaker rotting in the building’s power box.

He turned right toward the door and-


-almost shit his pants when he stepped into the shed and almost slammed right into William, who had been turning to leave. Sanders actually jumped backwards and hit his head on the wall on the other side of the door. He let out a little bit of a yelp and William, the more outspoken of the two actually spat out a profane word or two, or even three.

It was more than a minute before he regained full control of his senses and stuttered, “ Ah-ah-I’m s-s-sorry, holy shit you scared me. “

“ If I’d wanted to kill you right now, it wouldn’t be too hard with your blade sitting on the floor like that “, Will growled at the young man. Doubly bitter about being so startled and extra perturbed at seeing his friend drop his knife at the first sign of what might have been trouble, the second one was extra un-nerving with adrenaline running through every part of his body. Dammit, if Sanders had been in real trouble right now, he would seriously be bleeding out on the floor already, probably all over the knife that he had dropped.

Weakness in a fellow journeyman was the worst kind, especially one who you traveled with and on whom your life could someday rely. He walked out of the door quickly, a sudden desire to find someone competent filled him up as he gave Sanders a pat on the cheek while he stepped out, and said, “ Follow me, there’s something I want to check, and then we should find Rob. “

Hank stopped stuttering and bent down onto the ground leaving his eyes on William’s back. His breathing was starting to steady and he picked up his blade and sheathed it back on his ankle before he started after the leader. He only replied, “ Yes, sir. “

William started walking toward the rear of the base, un-knowingly headed right towards Robbie, and quite knowingly headed towards a dark garage. Hank was wondering why Will had turned on the power without telling them, but he was too afraid to ask and question his authority. Worse, he was afraid that he had already told Robbie and that maybe he had merely been left out as a practical joke that he hadn’t found very funny at all. There was only one way to know though, and it was the one he didn’t feel like asking at the moment.

“ How long did it take you to turn on the power, Will? “ Hank did manage to force this question out of his mouth; it was complimentary enough.

“ Only been working on it today, it was what I found when we split up last night, I got really lucky and found a manual stored with it. I’ve been working on it all morning, there’s a problem with one of the buildings though, that’s where we’re going right now “, he recapped what he had been up to in such a brief way for Sanders. He slowed down a little even after his nerves calmed.

“ Oh, that must be quite a find, is it anything like the ones that power Cherry Wood? “

“ I wouldn’t know, I’ve never seen the generators we use at Cherry Wood. Never bothered to look at them, never really expected to find working ones in the field just waiting to be turned on “, Will replied, “ it was unbelievable luck that this one worked, I half expected it to be falling apart. This place was probably abandoned out of lack of funding near the fall of the New United Nations. Maybe even not totally until a few years after the worst of everything. “

Hank got a look of wonder in his eyes. His speech was rather hurried with excitement, and punctuated with wild hand gestures, “ Do you think that maybe just maybe this was a record keeping facility? “

“ There’s only one way to know, and we’re not going to even give it a try till a second party is here to accompany us. “

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Robbie’s nature included an odd and often un-noticed proclivity to avoid any sort of damage while inside of these ruins, that were like hallowed ground to him, whenever he could. The few people close enough to him to notice and ask always got told that it was merely a healthy respect for history. In a way, that was totally true, these places were history to him. To a lot of people, it was just seventy years of decay and some useful tidbits, but Robbie could never keep himself from wondering. Pondering the things that he found, the craftsmanship. It was second nature to him to imagine who was the last person to walk where he set his feet, be it looter, or original owner. What wasn’t damp with decay was coated in a thick layer of dust. There had to be a water pipe broken somewhere for the air to be so damp. Sure enough, when he listened carefully, he heard the dripping of water from a leak. He wandered around the little cubicle room leaving the door into the main garage closed. Locked, or unlocked, the state of the door didn’t really matter; he’d kick it in tomorrow morning when he came back. It was way too dark to do any more tonight. He could probably pry open the vehicle bays and get some real light in there. He stepped back out into the darkness; it had been late twilight when he had gone in.

Robbie looked left and then right, glancing over the bunkers around him and pondering. This was his first military base; he was still relatively new at this. He’d worked hard and trained to be the best, but he still surprised himself when he found things that he wasn’t really prepared for. He started to walk back towards camp at a slow meandering pace. It had been a long and tiring day, filled with more geographical survey and land mine checking than anything else. It was meticulous, dull, repetitive and totally mortally vital work, the absolute worst kind.

Before he got beyond the perimeter of the buildings around them, Sanders caught up with him and started walking along side. He looked like a million bucks; this was clearly heaven to him. It was a little bit of heaven to Robbie too, a heaven he’d worked hard for and respected.

“ How’s it going? “ Robbie asked the man beside him in as friendly and amiable way as he could bring himself to exert.

“ Slow, but incredible, I’ve never seen anything like this, it’s different from the city in some really interesting ways “, Sanders rambled just a little.

“ Find anything interesting? “

“ Well, I found one or two above ground store houses for food; but I seriously doubt there was anything edible in there. “

“ Well, from what I know, that’s not for sure “, Robbie a little curious about whether or not Sanders’ guess was right, “ From what I hear, those M.R.E.s last a lifetime, and that’s probably just about how long it’s been. Think maybe they’ve ever been tested this old? ”

“ I wouldn’t know, but speaking frankly “, the last word trailed off in a sort of question, and Sanders paused waiting to be acknowledged by Rob.

“ Yes? “

“ I wouldn’t want to be the one to test and see if they’re edible. “

Robbie couldn’t help the short outburst of laughter. That was genuinely funny; it had been the first time that Hank had made a real joke since they set out. Frankly he had been wondering if he were safe to bring along at all, and even had started feeling that Will was extremely lucky that he had returned in time to accompany the two. Rob was not decisive on this; his thoughts on the matter reminded him that a third party member had punctuated his own first expedition. That experience had been harrowing.

“ Well, I’m sure they can’t possibly be any worse than they were when they were brand new, if I understand correctly about them “, Robbie shared.

“ Sounds like the army life wasn’t for me then. “

“ Never know, life has a funny way of doing things to you that you never really see coming. Sometimes they’re good, sometimes they’re bad, but they just come out of the blue and all of a sudden, everything you knew has changed into something else entirely “, Robbie spoke with a dreamy look creeping into his eye. Sanders didn’t respond, maybe because he was half expecting Robbie to say more, say something he didn’t already know. When Rob’s eyes focused again the campfire was in range and he could see Will’s silhouette sitting next to it. That was a man he could imagine eating M.R.E.s, some people just seemed to be made for a hard purposeful life.

Robbie and Sanders kept chatting back and forth on the way to the fence and into the camp. When they got there they had some of their ration bars. Robbie and William ate thoughtfully as they contemplated the world they were preparing to explore again the next day; Hank on the other hand ate quickly and dropped to sleep equally fast.


The next morning they were all up before dawn and crawling over the base buildings. Each one had one of fascination that kept them busy, Rob had the garage, Sanders had the mess hall and adjoining storage building, while William had something all together different.

Will waited till both his companions were out of site before he snuck off to where he’d been keeping an eye on the day before. He walked at a quick pace toward the east side of the base and approached the work-shed that jutted out from one of the largest bunkers in the facility. The door, like the one on the garage, had been kicked in the night before and abandoned till morning light. They had started their walk before sun up, but by the time he got to the shed it was getting fairly light out. He stepped inside the structure after he noted all the pipes coming from it and spreading to the rest of the base.

He had seen something there the night before that led him to suspect something that could prove very useful when help came and they went inside the underground campus. Sure enough, when he was inside of the shed he saw that it was exactly what he thought it was. There really wasn’t much else to expect inside of a shed of such size, it was a huge space with almost nothing inside to rot, though there was plenty there that had spent the time rusting. He hoped that the most important item had been made out of quality materials that wouldn’t have rusted.

The cement felt solid beneath his boots. Somehow he always felt more comfortable walking on real floors than trekking through the woods like many of his friends. His boots tapped as he walked toward the wall of machinery that was the outer side of what was clearly labeled as the primary generator. He smiled on the inside when his flashlight glistened across rust free metal parts. Bingo, he thought. Real lighting would be very nice.

The tank was full and after another four or five hours of studying it he found a little locker underneath it with a manual that was laminated and almost totally untouched by time. Sometimes the amount of pure luck that Will experienced was more than he could accept. It was something he had pondered very much in his longer years, which he had ultimately concluded to be a useless activity.


When Hank Sanders first set foot in the mess hall it was still pitch black, despite the outdoors warming up from black to a pale gray-blue light, it wasn’t quite bright enough to shine on the interior. By the time he’d fully explored the room and opened up the blinds on all the windows the light shined in full force from the east and everything took on a bright and warm glow that probably nothing in the room had had for years.

The tables were empty, although on the floor he did find a couple of pencils and pens and some loose change that wasn’t any good to anyone anymore. He examined the whole space meticulously before he moved on to the next room, the kitchen. It took him some pondering before it finally clicked in his head that he could just break the locked door, that stood next to the closed metal blinds that were shut on the shiny serving counter, in. It was almost comical how bad he hurt himself when he slammed into the obstacle with his shoulder.

Eventually Hank cracked the door, and after some considerable pain and frustration even got it to give way to him and slam inward, letting in a rectangular pool of light. He was instantly greeted by a whole world of stainless steel. The room was sterile and devoid of any of the smells that he’d found in the other places he’d been during their expedition. He had been getting very used to the odor of decay, and it was a pleasant surprise to be met with dry, clean, though stagnant air.

Sanders turned his flashlight back on and started looking around. He found the latch to the blinds and rolled them up into the ceiling, letting some real light into the stainless steal monstrosity of a room. Knives, pots, pans, whisks, everything he could have imagined was lying around. The mess hall was probably the last place anyone was thinking of when they stopped coming to work and live here. There was a large metallic island for food preparation, stoves, and a massive sink for dishes. There was probably genuine food preparation here. He hadn’t expected that. He guessed if anyone had, William might have, but he hadn’t mentioned this to Will.

There was also a direct connection to the local storage shed he’d been looking at from the outside, and another door that was unmarked.


Rob did some walking around the garage this time in the morning light looking for anything he might have missed in the dark. He tried checking the bay doors first, but sure enough, they were locked. The window on the far side however was sturdy and still in good shape fitted into the metal siding. He wiped at it with his sleeve, but the interior was far dustier and still blocking his view.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Chapter 4

William was older than most who still traveled out into the world from his coupling. He didn’t know exactly how old he was, he’d been abandoned by his parents long ago, and was picked up by an expedition from Cherry Wood coupling. He couldn’t have been more than 10 when they found him, so he could only guess that maybe he was about forty years old. That’s what he told everyone, anyway. His hair was a light brown frosted with gray streaks and his skin was tan from exposure and a lifetime of hard work, he wore an orange flight-suit that he found on one of his first expeditions when he was old enough to leave the coupling at sixteen. It fit like a glove and it was more durable than any other clothes that had ever been found in the old world buildings. His boots were from the same place, dark black, and equally un-naturally sturdy to have lasted over twenty years.

Right about the time that John was getting himself trapped inside a dark room near the ruined city’s outskirts, Will was looking up at the rusted remains of a chicken-wire fence that ran a rather large perimeter, one too large to be checked quickly, and with a height of at least twelve to fifteen feet. He smelled military ruins. Military ruins almost always had something good. No matter how many times they got looted, there always seemed to be something else to find. Even better this time though, his expedition had made a thorough nearby check, and he was beginning to suspect that just maybe, they were the first to come here since it was abandoned. That was a thrilling prospect. There could be anything inside there if it was un-looted. There probably wasn’t anything that the old government had ever considered to be important. But that was just a probably. He knew that some of the old bases had been abandoned with a lack of resources to fully remove everything of value. Things had begun to crumble quickly near the end. That’s about the way decay works. It works slowly at first, then when the supports and structure have broken away, everything seems to just crash down in a giant heap of debris.

There were plenty of gaps wide enough to squeeze through, but that lacked style, and moreover, it lacked the cleanliness that was the hallmark of a well-prepared excavation.

“ Sanders! Where are those wire cutters? “ He bellowed his question and was rewarded almost instantly with the bustle of one of his two companions. A skinny blonde fellow of only eighteen or so years ran forward from the camp with the wire cutters in hand; apologizing and muttering how he had only just found them.

“ Will, we got a weak signal through for a bit, but everything is all broken again now. I could try for another day and we might still get nothing “, said the other companion who had been lurking off in the distance as he came back toward Will and Sanders. “ Would you like me to keep trying? “

“ How much do you think they heard? “ Will spoke amiably enough, although he didn’t take his eyes off of sanders as he cut his way through rusted metal with his cutters.

“ At the very least, I’m certain they heard our location and identification. At best, maybe they heard the rest of the message too. “

“ What I wouldn’t give to be another twenty miles from that damned city. Nothing ever feels safe when you can’t call home “, Will said as he continued to watch Sanders work on the fence. He was barely more than a boy and was clearly in need of the experience. By this time the other troop member was standing next to will, his pale eyes squinting in the sunlight as he covered them with his left hand. His dark brown hair was longer than was particularly safe and he hadn’t shaved in a few days. Tattered clothes protected him, but it was clear, this was the last trip that he was making in them. His name was Roby and he had joined Will immediately after returning to the coupling from his last expedition. He was a good worker and wiry and William would have picked him out of all Cherry-Wood as one of the three people he would have trusted his life with in the worst of the worst. There wasn’t anyone in Cherry-Wood that he couldn’t trust at least in daily life. “ Worst case scenario, someone gets here in a big hurry all set for a nice little tumble, if they think we’re in trouble. Either way, someone will definitely show up, how long it takes them to get here could be another question. How much food do we have? “

“ We have enough for about twenty-four more days. We’re pretty well stocked considering there are three of us. “

“ That will give us about two weeks of waiting time before we have to move on. Think we should risk poking our head into the womb of the beast and have a little look around? “

“ I’m anxious to, I’m practically dying to, this is an exciting find, but I just don’t feel safe without at least two more for support. But, there are three of us, and our location is known, so we’re pretty well prepared for a look see, if you feel like taking the risk “, Roby said thoughtfully. “ We definitely have the free time to do some early survey work, unless we’re just really damn lucky and we get company here by tomorrow.

“ Sounds good to me, I guess it would be hasty to make that call before we do some mapping first. “

Roby went to do some work back inside the camp with some of the equipment while Sanders worked quietly at the fence till he had an extremely large rectangle cut out of the fence, probably larger than was necessary; but William would never criticize anyone for doing too much work when it involved preparation for the unknown. God only knew what they might find here.

All the rest of that day they spent inside the bounds of the fence with survey equipment and other safety devices. The nature of their location meant that since they were doing an open grounds check they were being wise to check for landmines as they went, although they didn’t find any that day or the next.

Newton Bunker, as the base happened to be called by a nearby sign, was aptly named, as it happened to be more bunker than anything else. A few buildings stood alone, but most appeared to be only nubs on a larger underground installation. The more they looked around, the more indication William found that the majority of the nubs were probably interconnected with tunnels. With some of them it was clearer than others. As it happened, the biggest discovery they made during their time was the garage.

It was clearly labeled, even though it was tucked into the rear of the facility when Roby found it late in the evening on the first day. The whole building was locked up, but not very well, and the wooden doors certainly hadn’t stood the test of time well at all. A couple of solid kicks knocked the rotted obstacles down more than effectively. When he stepped inside, he noticed that the stench of rot that was in most buildings in this state was noticeably lessened, not quite absent, but lessened. He flipped the switch on his flashlight and locked it on scanning the immediate entrance as he began to wonder if maybe he should wait till morning. He was in a cubicle-sized room with a second door leading into the main garage with a broken window between them. The window was, of course, too filthy to see through, and Roby resisted his initial urge to wipe it when he inspected it and noticed the damp and decayed frame might push through.

Roby’s nature included an odd and often un-noticed proclivity to avoid any sort of damage while inside of these ruins, that were like hallowed ground to him, whenever he could. The few people close enough to him to notice and ask always got told that it was merely a healthy respect for history. In a way, that was totally true, these places were history to him. To a lot of people, it was just seventy years of decay and some useful tidbits, but Roby could never keep himself from wondering. Pondering the things that he found, the craftsmanship. It was second nature to him to imagine who was the last person to walk where he set his feet, be it looter, or original owner.

Monday, November 01, 2004

John stepped clear of the very last of the thick underbrush and flashed his hand again down to his belt and tucked his blade away safely where it would not be disturbed till he needed it again. Calculations ran through his head. They were at the very least a day away from Wicker. If the party really was in trouble, he found it very unlikely that they would make it there in time. He found him simultaneously wishing for what his calculations indicated was highly unlikely. He hoped that if they were in trouble that they could indeed hold out till he could get there.

He pressed forward faster and harder than before, he was jumping obstacles and he was limiting his speed only so that he wouldn’t have to stop to catch his breath. He was traveling without saving any reserves for a return trip. Push till the very end and you’ll succeed. It was something he learned very young. That often the odds seemed to be tipped by belief. He had a very private collection of drives from his travels with stories about the phenomenon of belief and reality. No one else knew about them, and maybe he was wrong to keep them to himself, but they really weren’t what they were looking for. They were all just a private interest of his.

After that, Gabby seemed to get quiet. She continued to keep a fair pace with him, he might have talked to her, if he hadn’t felt that he deserved to know the message as soon as possible, not well into the march on the way to the problem. She might have even needed him to talk to her. She certainly didn’t seem to be handling this well at all. Of course, she might have just been worried about Bobby. He could never tell with her, she liked to play games and he wasn’t big on the idea of playing about serious issues, at least, not this serious. After a while he stopped paying attention to her all together except the occasional moment that she walked up next to him as she caught up and captured his attention. She could talk to him if she needed to talk.

He continued to contemplate the possibilities with Wicker. The more he thought about it, as the hours passed, the more logical it seemed that it was good news, not bad. It had to be. Why would they even bother sending out a signal if it was bad news? They’d be dead and that was that. The more he thought about it, the easier it was to logically ferret out that everything was good and that Wicker was just excited about a big find. Something they needed help excavating. The easier it got to reason along that train of thought though, the harder it got to believe it. John couldn’t help it, but his gut simply demanded that something was wrong today.

It was a couple of seconds before he realized that Gabby had stopped catching up with him. He threw a rapid glance over his shoulder to sneak a peak and see if it was just his imagination. But sure enough, she was gone. One thing after another after another, things just would not seem to go right. How long had it been since he’d last seen her? Ten minutes? And hour? He didn’t know, but all he could do was hope it was soon and turn around. It couldn’t be anything but trouble. She wouldn’t have just wandered off on her own. She was way too smart for that.

John started to double back; listening and looking so hard he was worried he would trick himself into seeing things that weren’t there. The first sign he saw, he hardly believed. He should have seen it moving forward. Maybe would have seen it if he hadn’t been so busy worrying about things he couldn’t do anything about yet. He cursed at himself under his breath for being so careless when he saw that they were indeed the tracks of a trainman.

John sprang up and started running. He put all his effort into it. Speed was more important than endurance right now, he knew, and his hand flashed to his belt and the lethal blade was in his grip in a blur. He jumped over logs and dodged hanging limbs as he ran back along the path, his eyes peeled. As best he could tell, there was only one of the vagrants in the area. Maybe the murderous rat of a man had a spot near where they’d passed. Maybe he’d crawled out and followed them. Maybe her. Taken her when he was plodding along, leaving her behind. He felt the knife crying for blood; maybe he would give it just a little, maybe a lot. It really all depended on what was happening when he found her.


John came within view just as Gabby was getting knocked to the ground. John grunted as he kicked harder at the ground, propelling himself forward with every ounce of strength his muscles possessed. His nostrils flared when he was only fifteen paces away and the trainman struck her across the face. John’s vision when dark red and his grip tightened around the handle of the knife. He was only six paces away when his target’s fist struck the second time, and he felt the whole world slow down. When that violent fist was raised up above Gabby for a third strike, John’s knife buried itself into the offending shoulder and drove his knee into the assailant’s sternum, tumbling him down onto the ground nearby with such force that it ripped the knife out of the tender flesh and sent a splash of blood across the leaves below. Gabby only groaned and rolled over.

John slowed enough to control the swing of his left foot as it careened forward with his toes curled up, exposing the balls of his foot to connect with that sternum with a force that made whatever pain his impacting knee inflicted vanish in a brand new wholly enveloping pain. He heard the distinct crack of a fracturing bone, reality came rushing back as the world sped back up and his grip loosened off his bloody knife. John felt wind rushing back into his lungs as though he hadn’t taken a breath the whole time. He fell to his knees over his helpless opponent. The bastard was rolling over and coughing, his eyes were watering and his moans were coming in uneven sobs. John had broken him in less than a second.

He reached a hand down and gripped those teary cheeks between his fingertips and tilted till the watery eyes were looking into his own. What he saw there was the mark of all he despised. He saw fear, fear of losing life. His knife would be doing the world a favor by slitting that taunting throat right now and letting that fear drain out all over these leaves. It only took a second before John had control of himself again, he hated when his mind drifted in that terrible direction.

“ I’m going to let you live “, John spoke firmly as he looked within those wet panic-stricken eyes. “ You don’t deserve it, right now. You are a waste of human life, hiding in the shadows and killing for food. I know what you are, I know what you eat, and I know that if I leave you right this moment, broken and crying, you’ll probably die here. But maybe you wont. Either way, you’ll be too weak to hurt anyone for a very long time. So if you don’t find another way to eat, you’ll die. “

John leaned closer, he saw the man’s eyes widen further. There was such a stench on that pig’s breath that John had trouble. However, the stench made what he was going to say next that much easier, “ or maybe you’ll get stumbled on by someone else and find that you’re the fish. “ With that he slammed his hand forward, pounding that nasty head into the ground and coaxing another cry of pain from those scabbed lips before standing up and walking back over to Gabby who was starting to come back to her senses. She didn’t look at all well though. Her face had been bashed pretty badly and she had a clear limp. He’d seen her take knee to the chest. It must have hit hard in order to bring someone as strong as he knew she was down. He inspected her and noticed that bruises were already beginning to show around her face, and they were nasty ones.

“ You don’t look so hot. Do you need a minute? “

She took a few breaths, and didn’t answer. Her eyes were focused on the ground as best as they could. Gabby felt her head spinning and her ears ringing and she didn’t even hear John talking to her. It was almost a full minute before she could lift her eyes off the ground and she felt the blood come back to her cheeks. She looked at John, and he was talking, but she couldn’t hear a word he was saying over the ringing. She did let him help her up and start walking her in the direction that they had already been heading when it had all happened without even noticing that was the way they were headed.

She tried to think, but it just wasn’t happening. The volume on the whole world was turned down and she was alone. Like she was alone to say whatever she wanted, but she didn’t have anything to say, and there was nothing but silence in her head; silence, and the ringing. John kept talking to her. He hadn’t stopped since he’d helped her up off the ground, but she only noticed when she looked at him that his lips were always moving. Even when she did start to hear him, she didn’t hear words. It was like he was background noise. He was the noise that the woods should have been, but they weren’t right now. Like most everything else, she was almost totally unaware of the woods.

They went on like this the rest of the day. It was dark before she was talking back to him. You got used to this sort of thing. People just aren’t used to almost dying, even when they see it all around them. He expected that maybe someday he would be the one walking around dazed. He really hoped that someone would be there for him, talking the whole time to try and pull his focus back to reality.

They finished the evening talking about lots of nothing at all. It was one of the things he was good at. He could do it for hours on end. He set up most of the camp, he didn’t bother with the third tent, it was pretty clear it wouldn’t be needed. Tonight, unlike most nights, would be for sleep. Even for him. He felt relieved that the trainman hadn’t fought back, both relieved that he had been able to let him live, he also wondered if maybe he shouldn’t have. The fact that he might very well have killed by leaving his opponent lying on the ground coughing blood and with a broken sternum exposed for any one or anything to finish off didn’t bother him at all. When John walked away, there was still every chance in the world for survival, and that’s what he was most concerned with.

He didn’t put up a fire that night, feeling that it would be best not to draw any attention at all to their location. He didn’t know how safe they were, having moved slowly all day, he’d had plenty of time to study the ground and be much more careful than he had been that morning, and he had seen nothing, but Gabby was in no condition to deal with the potential. If John had been totally honest with himself, neither was he, but all the same, he was smart enough not to start a fire. The two of them slept soundly all night long, and John even woke up before dawn and kept watch, letting Gabby sleep an hour past dawn. When she finally did wake up, aside from some serious stiffness and painful bruises, she was as good as new.

/* Amazon Associates Script