The Open Road

The Open Road

A Chapter by Idiotekque
"

I'm really getting tired of carrying bodies ...

"

Chapter Five

 

Carrying Antonio was a depressing experience, regardless of how well I knew the fellow. We had wrapped his body up, but that didn’t take much attention away from the stain on one end of the wrappings. He was dead�"we were carrying his body in two parts, balancing the workload of as we moved through the city. If anything had forcefully made me aware of the nature of this world, that was it. Selfish as it might sound, it was a relief to put him in the ground.

 

Carrying Jane wasn’t much better. She was alive, but for how long? We weren’t traveling through the city now; there was just… nothing. I couldn’t exaggerate the statement anymore if I tried. As Tyr told me, we were in India. I couldn’t remember a lot, but Delhi was a heavily developed area. The city was relatively intact, even if it did look like a war zone, but this? It was a wasteland. As far as the eye could see there was nothing but sand, dunes, and the odd demolished building. As dismal as the time sensitive journey was, the scenery made it worse. It was a struggle just to keep my spirits up�"keep hope alive.

 

It was a strange feeling being connected to these people. In a way I felt like a blank slate, but I was still me; whoever that was. For one reason or another though, I felt close to Tyr, Alyssa, everyone. Granted, as close as half a day could get you to anyone, but regardless. I didn’t have much reason to second guess it; being alone in this place was a frightening prospect. Having friends was vital�"even the Scabs followed that creed.

 

My new friends were resourceful too; that much was clear. It only took Tavis and Alyssa a few minutes to fashion a gurney out of loose material and shelving parts. It wasn’t a marvel of modern engineering or anything, but it was a big help in carrying the injured woman quickly and comfortably. Tavis and I had taken turns carrying Antonio over the shoulder. It wasn’t pleasant.

 

There wasn’t a whole lot of conversation as we moved silently across the wasteland. No one really knew what to say; it was hard to breathe easy with Jane’s life possibly ebbing away by the minute. Tavis and Alyssa had heard of those Inyx things, but they hardly knew the first thing about them. The only real knowledge of the beasts was locked away in Jane’s mind, and it was hard to say if she’d let anything on even if she was conscious. We were saving her life�"against her will. Something told me she’d forgive us.

 

“I’m sorry you’ve been dragged into all this.” Tyr touched my side and I turned towards her voice. “This isn’t your battle.”

 

Honestly, she was right. Since I’d been awake, it had been one disaster to the next. Did I owe them? Probably not. They were scavengers�"finding me wasn’t the result of a rescue mission. As far as I knew, they’d been picking valuables off of bodies in that place. Like Alyssa said, I got lucky. They just happened to play a hand in fate’s grand scheme. Beyond that, I’d pulled my own weight. I definitely could handle myself.

 

But how much better would I fare alone? I had already convinced myself that strength in numbers was the way to go. Was that really the right call though? An army draws more attention than a lone soldier. Was I just painting a target on myself�"fighting battles that weren’t really mine?

 

In the end though, there was something magnetic about this group. Granted everyone and everything else I had met thus far wanted to kill me, there was something about these guys. Maybe I couldn’t put my finger on it yet, but for the moment I’d rather be a target than alone. Tyr was kind enough to try and give me a way out, but I had made up my mind�"at least for the moment.

 

“It is if I make it.” I smirked faintly, glancing towards the girl. “Unless you’re tired of me?”

 

“That’s not what I meant!” She frowned, looking a little redder than usual. “I just meant…”

 

“Relax, I’m just playing.” I chuckled, watching her out of the corner of my eye still.

 

As dire as the current state of affairs was, I felt bad for the girl. Even if things were pretty dramatic and serious, she couldn’t have been more than fifteen. The girl needed a laugh�"at the very least a less stressful outlook. Maybe I was just being a dumbass.

 

“Oh, well.” I could see her squinting, deciding how exactly to respond to that. “Maybe I am getting tired of you. You’re not much fun�"you don’t even have a name!”

 

Mission accomplished?

 

“Ha ha. You’ve got me there.” I had been avoiding even thinking about that one, myself. “What sort of name do you think I look like?”

 

Tyr put a hand to her chin, her brow furled slightly. It was cute, but at the same time it was a little scary. It looked like I was about to get named by a little girl.

 

“Harry?” She stroked her chin in a pretty obvious gesture. Nice.

 

“Find me some little round glasses and I’m your man. Till then, no thanks.” I smiled back to her, shaking my head.

 

She giggled, acceding to my protest. Good, she was kidding. The girl wasn’t done yet though. As we traipsed along through the sandy wasteland, her mind was still ticking. It only took her a minute or so of thinking, but now and then she’d glace back towards me. I felt�"in a way�"like a hapless victim awaiting the executioner to drop his axe on my neck.

 

“Well, you can’t remember anything. I don’t think you’ve got amnesia… You’re just figuring things out as you go, right?” She thought aloud, not really asking me. “Your brain’s been sleeping for at least fifty years. That’s gotta be tough, but at the same time you’ve kinda got a blank slate, y’know?”

 

She trailed off, meaning she had an idea. I wasn’t sure if that was a good or a bad thing.

 

“That’s it! Slate.” She nodded, her mind clearly made up. “What do you think?”

 

“Do I really have a say in this?”

 

“I think it works.” Alyssa chimed in.

 

“It’s settled then.” Tyr smiled, reaching up to give me a pat on the shoulder. “Much better than new guy, right?”

 

She had a point. New guy, newbie, stranger�"none of them were all that appealing. Kind of annoying actually. I thought Slate made me seem like a meathead. Like Butch or Spike, but I guess it made sense. It would have to suffice, until I could remember more at least.

 

“Alright, alright, you win.” I put my hands up in acceptance. “It’s Steak right?”

 

“Slate!”

 

“Kidding, gosh.” I chuckled, looking back to the horizon.

 

I could make out the faint silhouette of the settlement now�"Radi, as Tavis had called it. Even from this far away, it was a pretty dilapidated scene. A cross between the quintessential ghost town you would see in any old western and a metal scrapyard. Interesting maybe, but not very inviting. I was starting to wonder why Jane was so opposed to us coming here.

 

I had tried my best to lighten the mood�"and I thought I succeeded�"but seeing our destination put everyone’s heads back on the real issue. In the end I suppose that was a good thing, even if there was nothing wrong with a distraction. Jane was the true concern; as soon as we got in there we needed find a doctor, and fast. I couldn’t imagine that any licensed physician in his right mind would set up shop in a place like the one I saw before me, but it looked like we would have to take our chances. It’s not like we had an alternative.

 

“Keep to yourself when we get in there.” Tavis turned his gaze towards me. “Like Jane said, the mood in there isn’t all too friendly.”

 

He’d get no argument here. I was a stranger in a strange land; this was all a learning experience, and I was doing my best to be a sponge. My aim was to stay alive. Any other goals seemed a little naïve. One step at a time, right?

 

It didn’t take long to reach the settlement. A couple guards were posted at the entrance, but they didn’t seem to pay any attention to us. Something told me they were more worried about Scabs than a group of kids and a wounded lady. Hopefully everyone else in town would think the same thing.

 

The entire illusion of the quaint little township on the frontier was shattered as we made our way down the streets. The buildings running down the roads were in terrible repair, patched up with loose pieces of scrap metal and rotting wood. Instead of a variety of little stores and houses, most if not all of them looked like squatters had taken over. The place was a mess�"the only people I saw looked strung out and out of their minds. There was no stereotype either. I saw everyone from a feeble old man curled up in a dirty alleyway drinking his life away, to a young woman who was probably once beautiful, now a stranger in her own mind, neurotically rubbing at her frail arms. It was a horrifying thing to look at, but there was nothing I could do about it. If there was one person I could actually save, it was Jane. I needed to keep my head in the game.

 

“Well, if it isn’t my favorite little bunch of scoundrels.” The casually purred phrase turned our attention to a young woman.

 

She was tall, in good shape with an outfit that showed some skin. While everyone else I had seen was falling apart either physically, mentally, or both, this girl looked strong and confident. Her hair fell past her shoulders in large loose dirty blonde curls, resting against her tanned muscular shoulders. Judging from her words, it looked like everyone here had some kind of history. I hated being in the dark.

 

“And if it isn’t my favorite conniving little putayn.” Tavis replied with a guarded smile. I could smell the bad blood.

 

A shrill whine cut through the air as the girl and two men behind her drew their weapons, holding them steady on us.

 

Out of the frying pan and into the fire.



© 2011 Idiotekque


Author's Note

Idiotekque
I'm open to criticism as brutally constructive as anyone who knows their stuff is willing to give. I'm a writing student, so I'm looking to refine my work as best I possibly can. Professional criticism is heartily appreciated.

Thanks for reading!

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I was still stumbling around in the dark about the age thing to but I was being patience to you’re slowly reveal. Discovery is your story and the age is one of the things to discover.
Still loving this fast pace story.


Posted 8 Years Ago


I try my best to self-edit. Glad it's working well enough.

Since Slate was in cryosleep, he either hardly aged, or didn't age at all during that fifty years. His exact age is unknown, but he's likely in his mid to late twenties. Jane's comment in chapter one of him being "just a kid" was a comment coming from the perspective of someone very mature and commanding in mind, even if Jane herself is probably under forty herself. Tyr could be anywhere from ten to fifteen, but from the perspective of most adults, that still makes her a "little girl".

Thanks for second comment!

Posted 8 Years Ago


I'm really liking this-- things are escalating fast, and so far I see no grammatical or spelling errors. Makes my day brighter. I have just one question: how old is the protagonist/Slate? If he's been asleep for at least 50 years, I'm getting an image of an old guy. Or does time work differently? I mean, Tyr is 15 and he's saying that she's a little girl. (I'll be honest, I thought she'd be around 10)
Just throwing that out there.

Posted 8 Years Ago



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Added on December 15, 2011
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Idiotekque
Idiotekque

Makawao, HI



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I'm 20 years old and I'm a writing student living in Hawaii. Writing is my passion, and I'm striving to break into the market doing something I really love. more..

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