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Mistaken Ogren

A Survivor's Tale

By Kerry WilliamsPublished 3 years ago 9 min read
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Precious Little Things

Treasure. That's what I was after. It wasn't what Derek thought when he sent his goons after me, snooping around, trying to find it before I could. But I had them beat.

The wasteland is many things, but much like my father, and his father before him, forgiving is not one of its stronger traits. A land of sheer simplicity, with no rules but those which we made for ourselves. Kill or be killed. Help... or be helped. Sometimes those ideals were synonymous.

My grandmother used to tell me stories about the old world. Places that used to be, events that happened and the many different causes that lead to the end of the world. There wasn't just one. I remembered her telling me about things to watch out for, people, places, and things… if we ever got out.

My grandmother died a couple years before we resurfaced. Heart disease they said, but heart ache was more like it. After my papa died, my grandfather followed suit. My mother died giving birth to me, and with nobody else in her life… I guess I just wasn’t enough. I would catch her staring at me, not in a mean way, but just, as if, she was seeing something else. I often wondered what she was imagining.

“Nobody has good intentions anymore.” Another one of my grandmother’s charming, yet accurate, ruminations. For all her warmth and caring, she could be a cold hard woman sometimes. I guess, when I really thought about it, everyone in my family was like that.

My great grandpa, who died before I was born got divorced a month after getting my great grandmother pregnant. My grandma said it was because he had a delightful disposition that nobody could tolerate, but her. She said I had that same attitude towards life, and I needed to knock it off before it did me in. I never could figure what she was talking about. I’m perfectly fine.

I suppressed a cough as one of Derek’s goons walked by, his rag-tag leather boots kicking dust up in my face. I was holed up, waiting for the scorch to pass, when they came looking for me. Funny thing, they couldn’t. Good thing too. I chanced a peek and saw two of them had single shooters. I hated guns.

Projectile weapons were what most wasties considered a true mark of social standing. It wasn’t cause you earned it, or cause you made it, it was cause, if you had one, you could hurt someone with it, without too much effort. If you had one, you were boss. Boss man. Derek.

Slowly, trying to not make a single sound, I curled my head down, tucked my chin against my collar bone, and went to sleep. Hot as hell, middle of the scorch, goons all around, it didn’t matter. I took sleep when I could and if I wasn’t doing nuthin but hiding, I figured I might as well get a couple winks in. Wasn’t gonna change anything, plus, well… I wasn’t prone to snoring, or at least I didn’t think I was.

When I woke up, the scorch was over. Derek’s goons had moved on, having flipped and tripped every darn piece of debris and trap in the whole area, except the one I was hiding under. Silent as a mouse, I uncurled myself, stretched, did my little self-awareness check. You always have to make sure nothing crawled in and started munching on you while you’re sleeping. One of my rules. I have lots of them.

“Rules are what make us different,” my grandfather used to say. Different from the animals is what he meant. But when it came right down to it, we weren’t nuthin but animals anyway. Animals trying to survive, scrounge around for food and supplies. The only difference was, we could think. Not like, on an animal level. We could think better. We could make stuff.

Feeling the way was moderately safe, I slowly slugged my way out of my hole, and took a quick look around. I didn’t see anyone, but that didn’t mean nobody was watching. I bent down and grabbed a hand full of scratch and rubbed it all over my face, neck, and forehead. Sleeping tended to wear off the grime, and that meant exposed skin, which meant, easy pickins.

I sucked in a quick breath, let it out slow. Took another look around. I had food, water, the scorch was over. Time to get moving. Time to go treasure hunting.

I started off with a quick fill, grabbing handfuls of hanger grubs and stuffing them into my mouth. I ate quickly, crunching the hard bits up and swallowing before anything could get caught in my throat. Hanger grubs were soft and moist, so I decided to fore go drinking from my hidden stash of water. I’d leave it for later, if I really needed it.

I headed off towards the east, back towards where I came from. I tried not to get all nostalgic, thinking about all the luxuries I used to have. That kinda stuff tempted me on some days but not today. Today I needed to get in and get out, fast.

As I reached the top of the first ridge, I paused, laid down low and slowly inched my eye up above the crest, looking. I forced my pupil wide, taking in the entire barren landscape. Was anything moving? I waited.

Out in the open, anything and everything that could happen, would. That was another rule of mine, but thankfully, not much else tended to play by my rules. I took one more look around, and headed out.

The good thing about wide open places was, you could see all around. If something was gonna attack you, you had time to run. I always thought this line of thinking was stupid. Run? Run where? If anything, I thought the best thing to do would be to hide. Hiding, if done correctly, could be much more effective and a lot less effort. The problem was, most people didn’t like staying hid. As I trotted along, glancing to my right, I realized that was my biggest mistake too.

A tiny black dot on the horizon was slowly making its self bigger, and that meant it was on its way. I glanced to my left and saw two more dots. Darn it. I glanced over my shoulder, spun around and trotted backwards for a few minutes, gaging the distance back, and how far I’d come.

Back in town, Derek and his goons were… tolerable. Sure they made a ruckus, and they were loud, and they were disrespectful, but they kept in line, mostly cause, if they didn’t… they’d get dealt with. But out here in the open wastes, there wasn’t anyone else to tell them to stop. Nobody to stand up to them. Nobody else, but me.

I turned back around and picked up the pace. It was twelve clicks to the horizon. They were probably nine… maybe eight. I didn’t have much time. I laughed at the thought. Time is a construct, so they say. I never got that. Time is time, a measure from one moment to the next. It’s not something you make…

I turned around and hauled butt as fast as I could. I had the plan now, so vivid in my brain I could hardly breathe, even though my lungs were pumping full blast. I reached the first and biggest scrub bush on the plain and skidded in next to the base of it. I remember my grandmother telling me something about this bush, back when I was a kid, but I’d long ago forgotten what it was. Now, it was my only salvation.

I kicked the hard dirt from around the stem, using my booted heels, as quickly as I could digging it away from the roots. I made sure to stay far away from the razor sharp thorns coating the spiny branches. A few scratches were okay even though the bush had something in it’s sap that prevented blood from clotting, but a cut would spell certain doom. I flopped back and forth, glancing at the dots which had grown into man sized blobs hot on my tail.

It was now or never. As soon as I thought it was safe enough, I reached into my pocket and pulled out my last ogren. I flipped the safety off and pushed it down into the root ball. I wanted to stick it all the way in, but the dirt wouldn’t budge. Frustrated and out of time, I reached behind the grenade and felt something that was cold and metallic. I slid my finger tips around it and tugged gently, looked down, scrutinized it.

A sudden realization hit me, pieces or memory fit together like a puzzle. I heard the hard breathing and coughing as the men came up on me from two different directions.

“Hey Kameron. Funny finding you out here in the middle of nowhere… all alone.”

I sucked in a deep breath and felt the muddy dribble of sweat run down the side of my face. I turned and glanced up at Gerard… or was his name Gerald? Garmond? “Whadda ya want?”

“Derek says you took something from him, and we’re to get it from you and bring it back.”

“What? Did he say what it was?” I played dumb. Derek didn’t know, neither did his goons. The only thing any of them knew was; I’d gone after something. I’d taken a risk, and a risk was never taken if there was no reward to be gotten.

What was even more alarming, to me anyway, was that I’d been stupid enough, or gullible at the very least, to think that my confession, spoken in a moment of lustful inebriation, was sacred enough to not bear repeating. It was clear to me now, my suitor valued neither my privacy, my safety, nor my company, for he had violated the first, forsaken the second and would never have the pleasure of the third, ever again.

“You know what it is,” Gobble said, sticking his hand out. No less than three single shot’s raised in my direction. I had half the mind to hand him the ogren, but that would end badly for all of us. I palmed the grenade, flipping the safety back on and dropped it in my side pocket. At the same time, I made as if I was trying to hide what was in my other hand.

“She’s got it de’re,” one of the other men said, noticing my flagrant hand movements.

“Come on. Don’t make a fuss. We ain’t gonna hurt ya,” one of the other men said, but I could tell he was lying.

I looked over at the big talker, and then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw something that brought instant relief. I sighed. I smiled. I looked at Goon-man and said, “Derek says I took this… from him?”

I held my hand out and the heart shaped locket fell out of the side of my palm, dangling from the dirt and grime coated chain. Everyone stared at it for a moment. Head goon took it from me, inspected it, opened it after a moment, probably figuring if it was gonna explode it would have already done it. He looked at it, and then looked at me. He stared a long moment. He handed it back.

“Worthless junk,” he said, but his eyes stayed locked on mine for a moment.

“Take it anyway,” one of the other men said. I almost hoped he would. One of the goons turned around and saw what I’d seen and whistled low.

I didn’t dare look at my grandmother’s locket until I was safe back in town. When I did finally open it up, I gasped. Why? When? More importantly, how?

Adventure
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About the Creator

Kerry Williams

It's been ten days

The longest days. Dry, stinking, greasy days

I've been trying something new

The angels in white linens keep checking in

Is there anything you need?

No

Anything?

No

Thank you sir.

I sit

waiting

Tyler? Is that you?

No

I am... Cornelius.

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