|The Last Ride Out
Author: Mirateski PM
They found her breathing, hidden amongst the dead. -postapocalyptic- -T- -mentions of death- Based on a dream.Rated: Fiction T - English - Mystery - Words: 2,651 - Reviews: 1 - Published: 02-18-12 - Status: Complete - id: 2998229
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
The Last Ride Out
Drip. Drip. Drip.
Slowly, heavy-lidded eyes opened.
Drip. Drip. Drip.
"...ck this. Nothing to get out of it. Except maybe more proof that- Jesus Christ, will you look..."
Drip. Drip. Drip.
The room was blurry outlines of white and blue, the shapes nothing more than meaningless fuzz.
Drip. Drip. Drip.
"...Life signs, I think. Whole lot of zeros on it if that's the case."
Drip. Drip. Drip.
Laughter. Not like we're unused to it.
She blinked, and the fuzziness cleared a little. The incessant dripping dulled to background noise; her lungs could barely take in the air. She tried to move one of her hands, found it immobile.
"This is a joke," one of the blue shapes, the first speaker, complained, smacking his hand against the control panel he was stood next to. "And I used to think they couldn't get worse that what they did to everyone else."
"It's not that much worse," the second speaker remarked dubiously, his fingers running over the keys of the control panel in an attempt to make it respond. The dripping continued. Air trickled feebly into her lungs. "And they're clean, by the looks of it," he added, sounding surprised.
"Obviously. They're all dead," the first one returned wryly. She tried to move her hand but only managed a twitch of her fingers. Desperation began to colour her gaze.
"Wait, one of the lines jumped," the second speaker murmured, tapping one button a few times. "Go and look at canister... fifteen."
"Great. Examining corpses. My favourite pastime," the first speaker grumbled, walking over. She looked at him as he walked over, and he froze. She tried to mouth help, but barely managed to open her mouth in the first place.
His cursing was long and full of hatred, and he ran over to her and began to do something off to her left. She couldn't see him, but she could hear the clanging of metal hitting the floor, and the second man looked up at her with sadness and surprise mingling on his face.
"Watch it," he remarked, his partner cursing with renewed vigour as the clang of metal hitting metal echoed through the room.
"Piece of shit," he grumbled, his voice muffled as if he was speaking around an obstacle. As he walked back into her field of view, she saw him sucking one finger, a bead of red blood trailing down it towards his palm. "You fix it?"
"Trying," the second replied. There was a hiss of hydraulics as he pressed more buttons, and with a muted noise of surprise she lost her stability, falling forwards. The first man caught her.
"I stand by my earlier statement," he decided, resting her against the floor. "What we doing with it?" The second man looked around at the rest of the room, an unhappy look on his face.
"Take her back to base," he decided. "We've got what we came for. If the boss thinks it's worth coming back to try and revive the rest of 'em, we can do it when we're not already skirting close to out of time." The first man, one hand on her shoulder, checked his watch and swore again.
"Point," he allowed, before looking at her. "Hey. I'm Deven. We'll make sure you're ok, got me?" she made a weak noise, and hoped they understood it as agreement.
She was carried back in a fireman's lift by Deven's partner, Deven himself with a loaded gun in his hands, his eyes darting backwards and forwards nervously, often looking behind them. She strained to remember who she was, if she knew anything that would explain their behaviour, but memory seemed as out of reach to her as breathing was hard. They encountered nothing on their journey – no animals, no people, and nothing of whatever the two men both feared.
"And I thought you were above picking up chicks," a female voice told them through a very small slat in the door. "If this is what you risked being declared Absent over I'm disappointed in you." Deven grimaced.
"We found her in the labs," he replied. "Clean. All of 'em are, but I'm not sure if any more are alive. Hell, she barely is." There was a moment of silence, then the sound of heavy bolts being drawn was followed by the thick, steel door being heaved open.
"Take her to Zach," the woman told them as she pushed the door closed. "He needs to know."
She was carried through pristine, clean corridors, kept to a military level of sanitation. Something in her mind said that this had been a place to live before it had been a place to defend, that the measures that surrounded them had been bolted hastily on to a place in a good position, rather than being built with it in mind. Hints of its original purpose crept through in the layout, in the carpets or the ghosts of carpets long torn up, in the occasional hint of wallpaper that crept through a quick, white paint-over.
She was carried up to the first floor, and in a small office was sat a tall, dark-skinned man with cropped black hair. He looked at her and frowned. It had to be Zach.
"From the lab," he assumed, before her saviours had said anything other than 'hello, sir'. Deven nodded.
"Dave was checking the signals and she moved," he confirmed. "We thought they were all dead." As an afterthought, he shrugged the bag he was carrying from his shoulders. "We got everything we went for before we did any heroics." Zach took the bag, putting it carefully on his desk before turning back to his examination.
"Hello," he greeted. She tried to respond, a weak noise emanating from her throat. He frowned at that. "Alright. Leave her with me. I'll get the medics to look at her when I call them up for your retrieval." There was synchronised nodding from her rescuers. "...Good work," he added. "Dismissed."
She sat in the dining hall, watching the people come and go. She had regained most of her mobility now, and they had given her a name – Mollie. She had repeated it, as she had practised regaining her voice, but it struck no chord in her head. She wasn't sure it ever would.
"Still here, parasite?" a friendly voice asked. She glanced up at Lucas, the tall man with a hatred for her. He hated that she had no way of being useful, that she was a drain on their resources. Nobody had told her what they were fighting. Nobody wanted to mention it, she thought.
"Yes," she replied, her voice quiet. Lucas scowled at her.
"Walk out the front door and die," he suggested.
"Lucas," snapped the woman she'd first seen when she'd been brought back. Delilah, her name was. Zach's wife, she thought, or at least what amounted to such in the place these people called home. "If you want to be pointlessly cruel I'll put you on the next dispatch out." Lucas paled, then sneered at Mollie and walked away.
"Dispatch," Mollie repeated, her throat straining at the word. Delilah grimaced.
"Probably wouldn't have gone that far. He's a liability most of the time anyway," she admitted. "Sorry about him." Mollie managed a smile.
"Alright," she offered. Delilah smiled back, and unlike Mollie's weak, straining attempt, hers was a beaming grin, showing off a set of white teeth.
"You betcha," she agreed, clapping Mollie on the back. It hurt, but she didn't tell Delilah. Didn't want to hurt her feelings, when she was so helpful. "Chin up, kid." Mollie nodded, the action easier than articulating a word. Chin up.
A week later, Mollie saw someone come in Dirty.
She didn't see them alive. She heard the gunshots, saw the medic desperately looking after a man she didn't know, holding his badly bleeding arm and groaning as a woman lay dead on the floor next to him. She seemed different, somehow, but Mollie couldn't quite put her finger on what it was.
"Shit," Deven muttered, looking down at the pair of them. "Dammit, Gale, Sammy was a good hunter. What happened?" Gale shook his head, his face pale with shock as well as the blood loss.
"Don't know. Didn't even know they'd got her," he replied. "Seemed fine on the way back, then we got inside, and..." He just shook his head again, unable to articulate it. Mollie looked down at the body. There were bite marks on her arms, amongst the other scars. The shot to the head had been fatal.
"What," she asked, making Deven start in surprise. His face fell into grief every time he looked at her, but now the expression was more pronounced. The effect was startling. It made him stronger but somehow more vulnerable at the same time.
"The Dirty folk got her," he replied. "It's what they do. Find the Clean folk, make one of 'em Dirty, send 'em back to a Clean settlement and tear the place to shreds. No thought, just instinct." Mollie looked down at the dead woman, Sammy. She didn't seem dirty. Just sad. "Used to be more of us," Deven added, drawing her eyes back up to him. "But we got hit one too many times by them. Moved out here. Doing ok now." His expression belied his words. They were hurting, all of them were hurting. They were surviving, that was all. "Doing ok."
"Ok," Mollie repeated, feeling like he needed to hear it. His smile was weak.
"Yeah," he agreed, laughing softly. "You got it."
Mollie would stand at the door out and hand out the kits to people who were going on dispatch. It was a job she could do easily – she was even allowed to pack some of the simpler kits – and it made her feel useful, as well as letting her see the people. She liked to be useful.
Lucas was on the current dispatch, with Delilah and a couple of men Mollie didn't know. He only took the kit because he knew he'd need it, sending her snide and cutting remarks about how he'd better be careful she hadn't made it dirty, and other complaints about how she was a waste of space, a parasite.
"Lucas," Delilah snapped at him once she had reached her limit, one hand on the big steel door. "Don't push it." Zach, going over the finer details of the dispatch with the other two men, frowned as Lucas simply swore in return.
"Don't cause trouble," he suggested curtly. "You're more trouble than Mollie is." Lucas snorted in amusement, Mollie ignoring him as best she could, passing the last two packs to the two other men. Unlike Lucas, they smiled faintly and thanked her.
"Favouritism, that's what it is," Lucas accused. "Let the stranger in. How do you know she's clean when she's from there?" Mollie didn't know where there was. Deven and Dave only called it 'the lab'. Nobody called it anything else, really. It wasn't a place she wanted to go back to.
"Like it or not, Lucas, I am the one in control and the call is mine to make," Zach replied simply. "She is not an issue or a threat to anyone's livelihood. Unlike you." Lucas smirked, pulling the door closed, but Zach opened the little talking slat.
"You're lying," Lucas remarked. "I'm annoying, maybe, because I'm right. But I'm not a threat." Zach's smile was cold.
"Not yet, perhaps," he remarked. "But if you become one, nothing's going to hold me back from capping you in the head like any other." He slammed the slat shut, tempering the scowl on his face only when he saw Mollie's concern. "Don't worry about him," he advised her, walking further in.
Mollie wasn't worried. Lucas didn't hurt her because she knew he was wrong now. She was thinking about what Zach had said. Dealing with the threats. They'd dealt with Sammy that way, too, after she'd got Dirty. Cap her in the head. One shot, clean.
"There was a truck," Delilah was explaining excitedly to the people in the dining hall. Her eyes had lit up with happiness, something Mollie had never seen her sport to that extent, even around Zach. "A fuckin' truck, driven straight and everything. Barely got a glimpse of the driver but we shot up a flare."
"Truck," Mollie whispered, confused. Deven glanced at her.
"Dirty folk can't drive," he explained. "No mind left to do it. Truck means there's Cleans about. More Cleans means more hands to help wash out the Dirties."
"Cap," Mollie breathed. Deven frowned.
"You listen to Zach too much," he decided. "But yeah, that's one way to take them down. We thought, at first, that we might be able to save some people, you know? In the community I lived with before." He grimaced. "Everyone thinks that at first, so I heard. Not possible, 's far as I can see." He cursed, but it was soft enough that barely anyone turned to look at him from listening to Delilah talk. "Just ends up making more folks Dirty."
"Problem," Mollie managed, putting one hand on Deven's. That was a comforting gesture, she knew, but Deven still started in surprised, looking faintly embarrassed at it.
"Yeah. Problem and a half," he agreed. "You gotta put 'em down." He nodded towards Delilah. "And the more bodies you got to do it with, the better." Mollie looked over at Delilah, and wondered where Lucas was.
Over the next few days, Zach sent as many dispatches as he could spare to find any evidence of the truck or its driver returning. Most of them came back with nothing. When one of them came back with one member missing and the other nearly dead, Zach stopped sending people out and instead installed sentries in the safer areas of their hideout.
Mollie was one of those sentries. She sat at a window and looked out of it for as long as she was awake, most days. The rest of the sentries spent their time on duty chafing at it, trying to arrange swaps so they could do something more active, but it suited Mollie. She spent most of her days sitting and watching, and it was nice to be able to do so and be useful.
She was watching Lucas and Delilah argue. They did so much of that, especially since they'd seen the truck. Lucas hated her because of Zach, she hated Lucas because he was argumentative and difficult. She wondered at what point he stopped becoming merely irritating and became a problem.
You gotta put 'em down.
She shook her head, turning her focus from Lucas and Delilah to look out. Nothing. No-one else on dispatch, no trucks, no people, Clean or Dirty. They were going to remain alone. Different people had different thoughts on that, but she thought that they would have been accepting. They'd taken her in, after all.