Chapter 4.15- Direct Harassment

7 Jun

Hey, welcome back! We’ll start off the post with yet another birthday of a random spare, cause why not.

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This is Jeyna, Sam and Dorah’s youngest. They pretty much all look just like Oscar, so nothing too spectacular here.

Anyways, last week Briony found a new home and Rylo peaced out. Let’s see how that’s working out for them.

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When Briony had first stepped onto the porch, the woman, who Briony now knows to be called Carlene, thrust a broom into her hands and upended a bucket of water onto the floor. Briony was instructed to “scrub until all the water’s gone” and left alone.

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When this is completed Carlene instructs her to carry in two basketloads of wood to start the cooking fire for dinner. The first two loads are both deemed “not enough”, and Briony is directed to make the trip twice more, nearly toppling over from the weight.

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Rylo spends his afternoon trekking resolutely through the forest, straining to find the familiar sounds of birdsong and leaves blowing in the wind. Both seem to be absent on this still afternoon, and Rylo is acutely aware of the deafening ring of silence in his ears.

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Briony is then shown to the pantry and told to whip up some dinner. This is something she knows she’s good at, and thinks back to the spiced dishes she would help her mother make.

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This family has next to no spices, but Briony is nevertheless able to make a slightly flavourless but filling potato-based soup. Not quite tall enough to reach the oven, she teeters on a spindly old chair, nearly tipping over into the fire a few times.

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For his dinner, Rylo scrounges for more of the brown mushrooms that Briony had shown him. As he eats he realizes he must have acquired a taste for them, detecting a note of creamy sweetness he hadn’t noticed before.

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Once her soup is ready, Briony serves the family. They say nothing to her, and in fact hardly seem to notice her.

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She retreats into a corner, leaning against the rough log walls as she eats her dinner alone.

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Meanwhile, Rylo builds his fire for the night. The air is chill and damp, and it takes some time for the dewy logs to hold a flame.

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Having finished eating, Aaron and the boys head off to their respective bedrooms for the night. Briony looks questioningly at Carlene.

Carlene: Wouldn’t want the dishes to sit out dirty all night.

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Briony knows it’s best to take the hint, and sets to work clearing the table.

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Inside the tiny kitchen she finds a bucket of water already waiting for her, and begins scrubbing the tower of dirty dishes. By the time she’s finished her eyes are heavy and her back is aching for sleep. She’s just finished replacing the last bowl in the cupboard when she feels a hand grab her arm and yank her backward.

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Briony can only comply as Carlene jerks her across the tiny room. The pantry door opens, and Briony is shoved in.

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Her head slams against a shelf, and she brings her hand up to feel for blood. The door shuts, and she’s left in the dark.

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Satisfied that she isn’t bleeding, Briony scrambles to escape. She hears the click of what can only be a lock, and settles back down on the floor.

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Lying on the hard ground, Rylo waits for sleep. The stars above seem to bore into his eyes, keeping him wide awake late into the night.

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For Briony, sleep comes with her head cradled between her knees and the wall. For long stretches she sits awake in the darkness, listening to the creak of the house in the wind.

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Morning is announced suddenly, with the door being wrenched open and light searing her eyes.

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Again she is dragged by the arm and ordered by Joshua, the eldest son, to get breakfast on.

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Rylo huddles by his fire, trying to soak in the last waves of heat before he has to move on for the day. It didn’t rain last night, but Rylo feels soaked to the bone.

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Over the course of the next few days, Briony learns the entire chore list that is expected of her. In addition to cooking and cleanup, she spends every second morning washing the family’s clothes. She works submerged to the elbows in some mixture of water and a harsh soap that Carlene makes herself.

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She’s also responsible for the general tidiness of the house, and has to make beds and pick up dirty clothes left out by the boys.

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Her least despised task is caring for the garden. Carlene only seems to have been able to grow cabbage, potatoes, and one weak tomato plant, and Briony relishes the challenge of bringing some life back into the garden. She builds up her courage to suggest to Carlene that the garden might benefit from ladybugs to combat pests, and perhaps even bringing in more fertile soil and replanting. Her advice is met with a cold hard stare, and a reminder to stick to her own chores.

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While Aaron is silently grumpy and completely ignores her, Carlene seems to become more and more ornery towards Briony. She seems to speed up as she walks past Briony, often coming close enough to knock her backwards into a wall.

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Joshua prefers more direct harassment. When he’s not cutting firewood or killing the zombies that get stuck on the walls, he jostles himself up against Briony, stepping in front of her to block her path. When she finally gets by him, he seems to enjoy the fact that it’s only because he allowed her to.

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Kane, who seems to be a few years younger than Briony, goes days without even looking at her. That’s fine with Briony, as she knows she’s too old to play in the dirt like silly children anyways.

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Rylo goes days without seeing any meat that isn’t rotting off a zombie. Finally, on the fourth day, he gets within a spectacularly close range of a red fox. It doesn’t seem to have noticed him at all. He inhales slowly, holds the breath, and releases his arrow.

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It sails high over the fox’s head, and the fox bolts. Rylo stands up in confusion.

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Frustrated, he takes aim again. He inhales, holds the breath, and stops.

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Rylo drops his bow to his side and watches the fox disappear.

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He walks for a time, and hits a lake. It stretches widely across the horizon, taunting him with the impossibility of continuing in this direction.

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Rylo considers his options. He could choose a direction, and follow the boundary of the lake. Or he could turn back.

His feet make the choice before his head fully understands it, but as soon as he starts he knows it’s the right choice.

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In a few hours, Rylo is crouched behind a stone wall, peering through a gate at a little girl loading firewood into a basket.

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Briony stacks the wood carefully, flinching at every aggressive crack of the axe behind her. With the basket as full as she can manage, she stands up to begin the trip into the house.

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Joshua: Hey!

Briony drops the basket and whirls around.

Joshua: My mother told you to bring in wood for a cooking fire. Not candles for a birthday cake!

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Briony stands frozen, until Joshua steps forward and starts kicking wood at her.

Joshua: Go on then, load up!

Briony rushes to fill the basket while being pelted with split logs.

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All the while, Rylo watches.

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The basket is nearly overflowing, and as hard as she tries, Briony is unable to lift it. She looks pleadingly at Joshua, who stares back with an ugly look on his face.

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Joshua: You lazy little shit!

Briony falls back as his hand cracks painfully across her face. Disoriented, she blinks tears from her eyes and scrambles away through the dirt.

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She hears it before she sees it. There’s a whoosh of air, and then Joshua collapses with a hole in his throat that definitely wasn’t there before.

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Rylo vaults over the wall and hurls himself towards Briony who is staring wide-eyed at the pathetic gasping boy.

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Rylo wraps an arm around her and sweeps her onto her feet as the air is cut by a high, piercing scream.

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The cry brings Carlene and Aaron rushing out onto the porch. Carlene gasps as she discerns her eldest son clawing weakly at the blood bubbling from the gash in his neck.

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Rylo hoists Briony up onto the fence, and she tumbles over onto the other side. By the time Rylo is over she’s back on her feet, running full tilt beside him.

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The last Rylo and Briony hear of the family is Carlene’s furious shrieking, interspersed with Kane’s loud sobs.

Man, last week you guys really outdid me with ideas of freaky shit this family was gonna do to Briony. Locking her in a pantry was pretty tame compared to cannibalism and forced wifey stuff. Stay weird, everybody.

Chapter 4.14- Theatrics and Absurdity

31 May

Oh hey. Welcome back to Rylo and Briony’s amazing road trip. Let’s first stop off at Joey and Marina’s house, where there’s been a birthday.

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Graham’s grown into a child, and I can’t pinpoint why, but he’s sorta goofy looking. Oh well.

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Rylo falls asleep that night waiting for piercing stomach pains or some other symptom to let him know that Briony has succeeded in poisoning him with their dinner of brown mushrooms. One never comes, and he sleeps through the night as healthy as ever.

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In the morning they continue on their journey to nowhere in particular. The next few days are filled with the same incessant questions (“How did you meet my mom?” “Did you steal that crossbow?” “Do you have a mom?”) all of which Rylo stoically ignores.

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On the third day, Briony seems to catch on, and her questions turn sarcastic (“Why are you such a nice guy?” “Where do the stars go in the daytime?” “Where does your poop go after you bury it?” and on and on and on). Finally Rylo cracks.

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Rylo: Enough!!

Briony: Does it stay in the ground forever? I bet the ground’s full of poop and nobody knows it.

Rylo: Why are you such an attention seeking brat?

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Briony: Because you stink like poop and act like poop and that’s where all the poop goes is into you and that’s what makes you the way you are!

The theatrics and absurdity of this outburst take Rylo aback, and he stands speechless, staring at this tiny exploding person.

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Then, unable to contain it any longer, he doubles over in laughter. Briony manages about two seconds of stony silence before starting to giggle.

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Rylo struggles to catch his breath, and notices some sort of tension, or some sort of weight seems to have been lifted.

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Rylo turns and resumes walking, listening for the reassuring sound of footsteps behind him. Question period seems to have ended, and they carry on peacefully for the next few hours.

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Of course, peace can only last so long in a wilderness populated by zombies, and its interruption is often signaled by a rustling of underbrush.

On high alert, Rylo swings his crossbow off his back, feeling the familiar coursing of adrenaline through his muscles.

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The cause of the sound stares back at them, its orange coat a sharp contrast to the surrounding foliage.

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It turns to run, and Rylo’s stomach growls.

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He takes aim, and a bolt lands squarely between the fox’s shoulders, pinning it to the ground.

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Before he’s even had time to lower his bow Briony bolts out ahead of him. She crashes through the brush and lands heavily next to the dying animal.

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Confused, Rylo approaches Briony, who is running her fingers gently through the fox’s bloodstained coat. She murmurs something quiet and song-like as the fox strains, its front legs struggling against the ground. It’s back legs are disturbingly still.

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Rylo: Briony, we have to eat.

Briony: I know. It’s okay. I just don’t want him to be scared and hurting when he goes.

Rylo: Okay.

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Rylo pulls out his knife, and Briony lets a few quiet sobs escape. Once it’s done, she releases a long, slow breath, and stands up.

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Rylo had been expecting some protest about today’s lunch, but Briony seems to have no qualms about eating the fox. Then again, it’s the first thing they’ve both had to eat today.

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Once they’ve had their fill, Rylo stamps out the fire and randomly chooses a direction. As they walk, Rylo wonders if Briony knows they have no idea where they’re going and essentially no chance of finding what they’re looking for. Rylo knows that this faint hope might be all that’s keeping her content right now, and decides to say nothing about it for the time being.

They carry on, stepping over logs and winding their way around the thicker brush. Rylo lifts a low-hanging branch to pass underneath, and then stops.

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Up ahead, the peaceful little dwelling that Rylo thought they’d never find stands sheltered in a meadow.

He knows it’s more likely to be inhabited by zombies or bad people than good people, and he creeps slowly towards it. Briony seems to understand, and her steps are soundless behind his.

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As they crouch behind the stone fence, they hear the noises of life. The rhythmic crack of an axe splitting firewood, the reluctant sound of weeds being pulled from the ground.

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Rylo: I’m going to take a look.

Briony: If they see you first they’ll be terrified. I’ll look.

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Slowly Briony moves up along the stone wall, surveying the scene of the little home.

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Closest to them, a woman tends her meager garden. Further back, a wiry teenager chops wood while a dirty little child huddles on the porch.

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His curiosity gets the better of him, and Rylo joins Briony in scrutinizing the little family.

Rylo: Looks normal enough. The wall isn’t great but the house has no windows so that probably helps with safety.

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Rylo: The only weapon I’m seeing is the kid with the axe, and he’s  pretty far off. Not much to worry about if they decide to attack us.

Briony: Uh oh.

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The gardening woman rises to her feet, looking back at them in alarm.

Woman: What do you want?

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Rylo and Briony stand speechless. The sound of logs being chopped stops, and they become acutely aware of the many pairs of eyes now fixated on them.

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Rylo: ….

Briony: Sorry to scare you, ma’am. I’m an orphan, looking for a home.

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Woman: Who’s that man, then?

Rylo: Uhh… nobody. I was just helping her find somewhere safe is all. Once she’s safe I’m leaving.

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The woman’s voice comes out flat and indifferent.

Woman: Well you won’t find a home here. I’ve got too many mouths to feed as it is.

Briony: Please! I can work!

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Woman: Aaron!

Rylo and Briony both stand feeling as though their hearts are trying to escape their chests.

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The door creaks open and a sleepy looking man lumbers out. Rylo and Briony take a step back, preparing to run, but the man stops on the porch and blinks his small bleary eyes. Briony tries again.

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Briony: I can take care of your garden, and clean, and cook, and mend torn clothes! I’ll work all day if I have to.

Rylo: She’s a good girl, and stronger than she looks.

Briony: Please!

Woman: Aaron?

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Aaron peers down at the scene disinterestedly. The woman turns, and joins him on the porch.

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She whispers hurriedly into his ear, and he seems to tolerate the conversation as an annoyance, offering no reply of his own. The woman stops whispering and looks expectantly at him. He offers a grunt and a non-committal wave of his hand, and then disappears back inside the house.

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Rylo and Briony, who have been straining to hear what is being said, watch nervously as the woman turns to face them.

Woman: Come. We have floors to be washed.

Rylo hears Briony breathe a sigh of relief.

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Wordlessly they turn to each other, and Rylo realizes he has no idea what to do next. Briony seems equally dazed.

Rylo: …okay.

Briony: Okay.

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And then she turns and walks towards the gate. She pushes it open and steps through. Rylo takes a few unsure steps backwards, and then turns and trudges off into the forest.

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Briony steps apprehensively towards the house, slows, and looks back. She watches wide-eyed as Rylo melts back into the trees, and then the strike of an axe against wood rouses her.

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Briony climbs the four creaking stairs to the porch, and the woman hands her a broom.

Chapter 4.13- That Dead Dog On Your Head

24 May

Hey guys. Last chapter ended with a not-so-awesome slumber party.

We’ve got Rylo and his estranged daughter sleeping in a dilapidated shack, seething with hatred for one another. Good times, good times.

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Rylo is just dropping into that pre-sleep stage where everything is warped and sweet and syrupy. His frustration with the child across the room begins to ooze into a dream featuring a little girl named Link, his mother, a red-headed teenager, and a big hairy dog.

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He’s roused slightly by a creak of floorboards, but his dream state explains it away as the thwang of a crossbow as he makes a clean kill on a stag deer.

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Footsteps fall, nearly soundlessly, moving from one end of the room to the other.

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And then the little girl is falling backwards, gasping as her back slams painfully into the wooden floor. Something heavy and metallic clatters across the room, coming to a rest in the shadows. A thick, muscled arm restrains the girl against the ground, although she’s in too much of a panic to even consider running.

Rylo narrows his eyes and peers into her wide terrified ones with suspicion.

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He then sees the hammer glinting in the darkness. His voice comes out hardly more than a murmur, low and menacing.

Rylo: You are not doing this.

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She gulps, and he releases his hold on her. He eases himself against his wall, watching the girl scramble back to her corner.

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She holds her head in her hands, shaking violently. Rylo maintains his vigilant watch until long after she falls asleep.

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The little girl takes his words to heart, and they both make it safely through the rest of the night. Her crying spells seem to have lessened, and she spends her morning gazing into the fire, assuming the posture of an ashamed dog.

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Rylo: We don’t have to talk about your little stunt with the hammer last night. But we’re going to have to figure out what to do here.

The little girl stares silently at the toe of her boot kicking a depression into the dirt.

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Rylo: If you’re trying to kill me in my sleep, you’d obviously rather be somewhere else.

Girl: ….

Rylo: Any ideas where that may be?

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Her voice comes out barely above a whisper.

Girl: I don’t know.

Rylo: ….

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They remain silent for some time, while Rylo mulls over his options.

Rylo: Let’s go.

Girl: Where?

Rylo: I don’t know. Somewhere. To find you a family you want to be with.

Girl: ….

Rylo: Get up, we’re going now.

Finally she raises her face to him, revealing red puffy eyes and tear-streaked cheeks. Wordlessly she follows him.

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Rylo marches resolutely into the woods, the girl trailing a few yards behind him. He knows the chances of finding a good family willing to take in this child are almost non-existent, but he hopes that having some kind of end goal might take the girl’s mind off trying to kill him again.

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After a few hours of blissful silence, a voice pipes up.

Girl: Why didn’t you try to kill me back?

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Rylo sighs heavily, and tries to come up with a response that will shut her up.

Rylo: You’re not supposed to kill your own kid. Laws of nature and stuff.

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Rylo crosses his fingers for her to stay silent, and is massively disappointed when she replies in that ridiculous sassy voice he’s getting so sick of.

Girl: I’m not going to call you dad.

Rylo: Good, I don’t want you to.

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Girl: Hey dad, guess what I-

Rylo: No.

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The girl seems to be taking pleasure in testing his patience, and Rylo huffs and speeds up his pace.

Girl: What’s your name?

Rylo: Rylo.

Girl: That’s stupid.

Rylo: I don’t care.

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Girl: My name’s Briony.

Rylo: Also don’t care.

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Rylo and Briony push through a break in the bushes to find an abandoned helicopter. Of course, they don’t know it’s a helicopter, they just see it as an angular chunk of rusted metal. But Rylo does know it will make for decent shelter.

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Briony settles herself onto a rock and watches Rylo drag firewood into a pile.

Briony: Why do you wear that dead dog on your head?

Rylo: That dead dog was my friend.

Briony: Oh. Remind me never to be your friend.

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Rylo: Noted.

Briony: Did you kill him?

Rylo: Her. And no, but I did eat her.

Briony: You’re crazy.

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Another moment of silence, and then another question.

Briony: Have you ever killed a person?

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Rylo: Weren’t you there the night your mom died?

Briony: But like, really on purpose.

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The fire roars to life in it’s cradle of dried mosses and Rylo lifts himself back up off the ground.

Rylo: Yup.

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Briony: Why?

Rylo: Wanted to.

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Rylo lowers himself into a less dusty spot of grass and waits for the next prying question.

Briony: Just the one guy?

Rylo: Just the one guy.

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Briony gets off her rock and takes a step towards the fire.

Briony: …I could kill you.

Rylo: Oh yeah? How would you do that, assuming there’s no hammers around?

Briony: Poison.

Rylo: You couldn’t poison me.

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Briony: You’d better believe it, I could.

Rylo: Okay, how?

Briony: Plants. My mom taught me.

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Rylo: If you know so much about plants, why you haven’t found any we can eat yet?

Briony: Because I hate you and I hope you starve.

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Rylo: I’m not going to starve, I have a crossbow and about fifty pounds of annoying little girl to eat if I’m desperate.

Briony: You probably would eat a kid, you crazy person.

Rylo: You’re right, I would.

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Briony: Whatever. You can eat these brown mushrooms here. I’ve been eating them all along behind your back.

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Rylo: Oh, for fucks’s sakes!

He marches angrily off into the bushes to hunt down more of the mushrooms Briony claims are edible.

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Behind him, Briony lays down on the earth, staring up at the sky behind a frame of warped helicopter propellers.

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Rylo quickly finds more of the ugly rock-like mushrooms. He pulls one apart and tries to analyze its damp scent. Briony could be trying to poison him right now and he would have no way to know. He carries on collecting the mushrooms anyways, thinking that death might be easier than dealing with any more of her incessant questions.

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Rylo returns to the firepit and tosses some mushrooms to the girl.

Rylo: How do I know you’re not poisoning me with these?

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Briony: I’m not.

Rylo: Is that how your mom raised you? To poison people?

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Briony: My mom raised me to be smart, and to know how to use what’s around me.

She takes a bite, chews, and swallows. Rylo relaxes and bites into a mushroom.

Rylo: That’s a laugh. Last time I saw your mom she had no idea what was around her.

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Briony: …fuck you!

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Rylo: Can’t lie, this is actually pretty good.

And we’ll end this post here. I gotta say, I love Briony. That girl asks the burning questions we all probably have, and her homicidal threats are nothing short of adorable.

It’s like this, but with less chicken.

Chapter 4.12- How Do You Like Them Road Apples

17 May

Hi!! I’m really excited for Rylo’s story right now, and my excitement feels really out of place considering what’s actually going on in the story. But anyway.

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Sunlight filtering through his eyelids rouses him back to consciousness. Rylo stretches his back and readjusts his position, hoping to doze back to sleep. Then, images from last night come flooding back, jarring him awake. The fire, the zombies, Ravenna, the kid. Oh god, the kid.

It takes a while to build up the courage to open his eyes. Rylo hopes against hope that he’ll open them and be perfectly alone, and the whole thing will have been a dream.

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His eyes open to the sight of the little girl sitting in the corner, clutching her knees. Staring at him. A real flesh and blood little girl, with her round green eyes boring into him.

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Rylo knows the little girl is probably traumatized, and cold, and hungry, and now he’s stuck with her and all her problems. Rylo groans and mutters a “fuck”, and then lifts himself off the wood floor.

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He stands up and stretches, willing the child to stay silent. He’s relieved when she does, and he heads out of the shack to start a fire.

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Outside, dew clings to every surface, but Rylo is able to unearth some dry wood rotting away in a fallen tree. The past owners of this charming abode have left behind a stone fire pit, giving Rylo a convenient spot to build his fire.

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Rylo glances back into the shack, again hoping the kid would somehow disappear. Unfortunately, she has hardly moved, but Rylo is relieved to see that she is now staring at a dust mote dancing in the sunlight, and is no longer scrutinizing his every move.

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He has just barely sat down when he feels a presence moving towards the fire. Hers are the only steps he has ever heard that are quieter than his own. The only sound she makes his her breathing, quickened by her violent shivering in the cool morning air.

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The girl warms herself against the fire, and immediately recommences her uncomfortable stare. Rylo shudders and looks away.

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As she absorbs some of the fire heat, her trembling slows, and she sits down in the dirt. At no point does she take her eyes off Rylo.

He tries to silently bear the weight of that familiar green stare, but as the seconds move agonizingly by he begins to feel open,  exposed, dissected. He’d like to, but he can’t kid himself. He knows how long it’s been since that night with Ravenna, and he knows the sight of his own mother’s eyes.

He shudders, and finally cracks.

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Rylo: Kid, you’ve gotta stop looking at me like that.

The girl remains an impenetrable wall, her eyes completely fixed on Rylo.

Rylo: Goddamnit, why do you gotta look at me like I’ve just grown a tail?

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Girl: You burned my house down.

Rylo: I might have had something to do with that.

Girl: My mom was in there.

Rylo: Yup.

Already Rylo regrets saying anything. He could have spent the morning in uncomfortable but quiet peace, and now he seems to have opened the floodgates.

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Girl: You let her die.

Rylo: She let herself die.

Girl: You could have saved her. You let her burn.

Rylo: She let herself burn along with all her fucked up junkie plants.

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The girl tenses and raises her voice to a yell.

Girl: My mom wasn’t a junkie!

Rylo: Trust me, I know all about junkie moms. Your mom was a junkie.

Girl: My mom was not! She was a good witch.

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Rylo snorts in disbelief.

Rylo: Is that what she told you?

Girl: She could make magic potions and do anything she wanted with the right plants. She could make the zombies get sleepy and forget to be mean.

Rylo: If it sounds too good to be true, it is.

Girl: What’s that supposed to mean?

Rylo: It’s supposed to mean that your mom didn’t seem to care that her precious junkie plants that turned the zombies into sleepy slobbering idiots were doing the same thing to you.

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Girl: It’s not junkie plants, it’s called aspira leaves. They kept us safe.

Rylo: You didn’t look so safe with your eyes rolled back in your head.

Girl: What do you care, it’s none of your business anyways.

Rylo: Kind of is, I’m your dad. How do you like them road apples.

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Girl: Liar.

Rylo: I’m serious, go ask your mom- oh wait, you can’t cause of your wonderful ass-press leaves.

Girl: Aspira leaves.

Rylo: Whatever.

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Girl: You’re not my dad.

Rylo: Am so. Helped make you and everything.

Girl: Even if you are I don’t like you.

Rylo: Great, well, you wouldn’t be the first.

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To Rylo’s surprise, the girl seems to run out of things to say, but not before huffing at him and gazing moodily into the fire. She sits like that for some time, blinking back tears, until something rolling towards her catches her attention.

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Rylo: Eat that.

Girl: It’s gross.

Rylo: A lot of things are gross. Dying of starvation is gross. Eat.

Girl: No.

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Rylo stands up and rolls his eyes. He looks down at his own onion and takes a bite.

Rylo: Whatever. If you’re not going to eat, go back to what you were doing. I was enjoying the quiet.

The girl kicks at the onion, sending it rolling back at him. Rylo sighs in exasperation, but refrains from complaining since she has gone back to staring quietly into the fire.

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Two more days and nights pass, with no new development. The girl seems content to ignore him, and Rylo carries on in grumbling silence.

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He spends his days killing the occasional zombie, digging up wild onions, and  shooting at whatever walks or flies by.

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The girl spends most of her time inside the shack, pressed tightly into the corner. Rylo only approaches to leave food next to her, which always remains uneaten. He tries raw onion, cooked onion, cooked meat, meat and onion cooked together, and even raw meat in a moment of desperation.

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Before going in he always holds an ear to the crumbling siding, hoping to hear a sound other than the girl’s heavy sobbing.

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After the third day in a row of picking up barely picked at breakfast off the floor, Rylo’s frustration hits a peak.

Rylo: Kid, there’s enough to cry about in this world as it is. Give it a break.

Girl: Shut up and go away!!

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Rylo: Gee, sounds tempting. But if I did that, you would most likely die.

Girl: You think you know everything but-

Rylo: Listen, little girl. If I’d spent this much time shedding tears over every nasty thing that happened to me I’d have died of dehydration long before I was your age.

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Through hysterical sobs she shrieks a reply.

Girl: I wish you had!!

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Rylo: Cool, okay. Because that’s totally rational.

Running out of patience, Rylo rolls his eyes and stalks off.

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The girl spends the rest of her day leaning against the wall, drifting in and out of sleep. She’s incredibly exhausted from not eating, but has no appetite. Crying so much has taken a lot out of her too, and sleep seems to be her only rest from the shuddering sobs.

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Eventually night falls, and the darkness nudges her into a longer, deeper sleep.

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Rylo avoids the shack until he’s certain she’s sleeping first. He has no more interest in speaking to this frustrating child, and settles to sleep in the farthest end of the room.

Soooooooo yay for impromptu parenthood!! And don’t worry about calling the Maury show, Rylo is definitely the father here. I will confirm that now, much to his dismay. See you all next time.

Liebster Award

17 May

Wow! That shiny thing that I put there myself denotes that my blog has been nominated for a Liebster Award by Atlassims and Niura, whose fantastic blogs you should check out.

Here are the rules:

  1. Post the award on your blog.
  2. Thank the blogger who presented the award and link back to their blog.
  3. Nominate 5-11 bloggers whom you feel deserve this award and have fewer than or equal to 3,000 followers.
  4. Answer 11 questions posted by the nominator, and ask your nominees 11 questions.

I’ll be honest, I don’t follow a lot of blogs due to not having the time or brain power to read them all and keep the different characters in my head, and the ones I do read have probably already been nominated. But too bad, we’re doing it anyway.

The Amazing Hollander– Niura already nominated The Hartfields, so I’m going with Louise’s other blog. While I’m caught up on the Hartfields, I’m super behind with this one but I know I will like it because Louise is writing it and that’s all you need to know. Also, I totally agree with Niura, her poses are great and I use them all the time.

All’s Well That Sims Well– This is just hilarious. I effing relish these posts and I wish I could write such funny shit all the time.

Absolutely Cuckoo– I can’t handle how much I love the names in this legacy. I would literally let the author of this legacy name my pets, if I had any.

I know it says to nominate 5-11, but that’s all I’ve got for now! I really need to sit down and get into some new legacies and stories, but like, school and life happen.

So since I got nominated twice and I have two different sets of questions, I’m just going to pick the ones I find the most interesting. Here we go.

1. If you could be any character from a book or a movie, who would you be?

Right now, I would be Gavroche from Les Miserables. I’m currently reading the book and despite the fact that I’m a modern day 20-something girl, deep down in my heart I really just want to be a shit-disturbing street urchin who lives in an elephant statue. What what.

 2. What part of the world seizes your imagination? Deserts? Islands? The tropics? Europe, Asia, or the US?

Definitely forest and woodlands. I’m Canadian but I kind of set my stories somewhere in the US so I don’t have to work around the harsh winter for my poor post-apocalyptic sims. I also find abandoned and run down urban areas just fascinating.

3. What era or century do you like to write about?

It’s not so much about time periods for me as it is about the feel of the time and place. I write about the post-apocalypse, but I would also enjoy writing about modern life in the third world, or medieval time periods or something. I prefer to write about people with more tangible problems than the modern first world provides. I think that a world where people are trying to survive wars, disasters, and diseases provides more of an interesting backdrop for character development than the cushy world we live in.

4. Do you think about your story you are writing, coming up with new plots, while at work, school?

Inspiration always strikes me at the worst possible times. I’ll be driving and suddenly imagine a whole conversation my sims need to have, and I’ll actually have to pull over and write it down. Otherwise it’s while I’m trying to fall asleep. Three generations worth of storyline came to me at midnight while I was trying to sleep a few months ago, and I had to keep turning on the light to write all my ideas. But then when I actually sit down and try to write something during the day its like

5. Do you modify your sims’ appearance so they are a bit more ordinary, or do you aim for beauty?

It’s really important to me that all my sims look like real people, so I go for natural-looking hair and eye colours and faces that are in realistic proportions. No big doll eyes around here. Buuuut I do want my heirs to be kinda nice to look at so I do try to make that happen a bit.

6. Sims 2, Sims 3 or Sims 4? Which do you prefer? 

It’s all about Sims 3 baby. I’ve got all my mods and CC and my game is so perfectly tailored to me. If my laptop ever died, I would literally just quit sims forever, cause I would never be able to get this back.

7. What novels/movies/tv shows do you love?

Game of Thrones, Orange Is The New Black, Last Week Tonight, and Drunk History are some of my favourites. For the past few years I’ve been really into reading classics and so I’ve been all about the Tolstoy, Dickens, Steinbeck, and my bae forever, Thomas Hardy.

But my favourite book in the world is this glorious shit:

Marvel at its beauty.

8. If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Pomegranate. All day, erry day. It’s a meal, right?

9. Mac or Windows?

I have an old piece of shit Windows that gets so hot it burns me and has broken pieces that cut me. But I love it, because it runs my sims games, albeit slowly.

10. Do any of your close friends know about your sim-story blog? Do they think you are a weirdo for writing stories about a video game?

No!! Noone in my life even knows I play sims. I try not to let people know what a huge nerd I secretly am.

11. What do you hope to express in your Sims stories?

I ‘m a firm believer that people are products of their environments and are all just doing their best with the hand they’ve been dealt. That’s why I think it’s interesting to explore the gray areas of humanity and morality, which is what I’ve been doing a lot in the past two generations of my legacy. It’s weird, but I think about Kohlberg’s stages of morality development a lot when I’m writing my legacy.

A lot of the stuff my characters do (ie. theft, murder, generally being dicks to each other) seems flat out wrong if you look at it from, say, the conventional black and white perspective of right and wrong. Moving into post-conventional perspectives that take the broader situation into account, their actions become a bit more understandable and relatable. So I guess in my sims stories it’s important to me that I express a different perspective about what’s right and wrong and when we might just need to throw right and wrong out the window. I guess.

The questions I want to ask my nominees are the same questions I just answered, because I feel like those are some damn good questions.

Chapter 4.11- Noxious Smog

10 May

Hey all. Just a heads up, this is one of those posts that I’ve been psyched to post for a very very long time. Like, months. Also I got drunk as I was writing this, so that helped. Let’s get started, shall we.

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Looking up at the lighted hillside, Rylo recalls a name, “Ravenna”.

He vividly remembers the terrifying hallucinations of the last time he was here. The feeling of losing control.

The effects of that pungent smoke are not something Rylo wants to repeat, but some part of him is curious to go in. Just for a quick look, to see if it’s all still the same.

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Anyways, Rylo has an idea. He remembers a scrap of fur he carries in his pocket. It’s just an old thing he uses for a pillow, or to wipe his hands, or for whatever other unexpected need comes up. He wraps it tightly around his face, and holds the fur to his nose to block out the smoke.

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The fur doesn’t do the greatest job of keeping the smoke out, but Rylo can tell it’s enough. His mind seems to fog up a bit, but nothing like before, and this time he’s fully in control. It’s a good thing, because as he approaches the hole in the ruined foundation the smoke seems to thicken.

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Rylo steps soundlessly and peers around the corner. He had half been expecting to see another performance going on, but what he sees instead surprised him.

Despite only having spent a few hours with her, Rylo feels that this is out of character for Ravenna. From what he remembers, she always seemed like she was a step ahead of him. Seeing her slumped over the table like this, Rylo feels compelled to move closer.

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Walking towards her, Rylo keeps expecting Ravenna to wake up. He even intentionally drops his feet more heavily than he usually would, wondering if the sound of footsteps would be enough to rouse her.

Rylo walks right up to her without stirring her. Tentatively he reaches out and touches the golden hair, just as soft and long as he remembers. Underneath his fingers her body feels slack and unresponsive. Rylo tries shaking her shoulder, lightly at first, but then roughly as she continues to lay slumped over the table.

Looking down at the unconscious figure and breathing shallowly through his furs, Rylo realizes the cause.

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The barrels prove too hot to touch, so Rylo has to kick them over, spilling burning cinders and leaves from the strange toxic plant growing in pots all over Ravenna’s house. He holds his furs close against his mouth as he carefully stomps out the ashes smoldering in the dirt.

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Satisfied with the barrels on the ground level, Rylo makes his way up the stairs to the barrel burning by Ravenna’s bed. Already he can feel the fresh air rushing in from the holes in the walls and ceilings, replacing the thick noxious smog. He breathes deep, feeling his mind clear with each inhale.

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This last barrel Rylo lets down slowly with a deft maneuvering of his feet. He’s careful not to spill cinders on the flammable old carpet, but still concerns himself with the embers that land on the dry hardwood.

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As he stamps out the last of the ashes, Rylo jumps in surprise at the little figure lounging dreamily in the corner.

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He walks over to the little girl, who does nothing to let him know she’s at all aware of his presence. He tries waving his hand back and forth in front of her face, and shakes her shoulder just as he did with Ravenna.

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The child sighs, and stares straight through him with that same glassy expression he knows he wore the last time he was here.

Rylo considers the girl. Maybe he could set her by a doorway to give her some air. Then he could walk off into the forest and never look back, like nothing had ever happened.

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Delicately he lifts the child into his arms. She’s incredibly light, but her warmth and aliveness makes Rylo so uncomfortable he nearly throws her back down. Again she makes a few sleepy sighing sounds, and leans into his body. Repelled, Rylo looks down at her with aversion and holds her outwards, extending his arms as far away from himself as he can without dropping her.

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With a few inches of empty air safely padding the space between himself and the girl, Rylo finally looks up again to survey the scene. Crackling heat has taken over a corner of the room, and is creeping hungrily towards Ravenna’s peacefully slumbering form.

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The flames are a foot away from catching Ravenna’s loose hair, and Rylo bounds down the stairs. He quickly deposits the sleeping child on the ground and sprints back to Ravenna.

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Rylo drapes Ravenna’s arm over his neck and lifts. She’s not terribly heavy, but she’s complete dead weight. Her legs drag uselessly behind as Rylo hauls her away from the ravenous flames.

The proximity of the blaze is close to burning his exposed skin, and Rylo turns away his face and scrunches his eyes to shut out the heat. Finally gaining some distance from the fire, he shoots a glance back at the girl lying on the ground.

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Rylo looks on in horror as four zombies stumble through the breach in the foundations. This is what he hadn’t thought about, but it makes perfect sense. With the smoke dissipating, the zombies are quickly returning to their usual selves.  They move more clumsily, but are still just as focused and menacing as they move towards the child.

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Panic surging through his veins, Rylo drops Ravenna to the ground. He pulls out his pocket knife and hurtles towards the zombies closing in on the little girl.

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Rylo body slams the first zombie, and follows it up with a quick slice to the head. Pieces of flesh and coagulated blood fly off in different directions, sticking to every surface they hit.

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With no time to agonize over the closeness between them, Rylo hoists up the child around her waist and takes off running up the stairs.

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He briefly registers a second fire that has started upstairs, and then whirls around to look back at the disaster behind him, hoping that saving Ravenna could still be possible.

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Rylo gasps at the sight of the deadly inferno consuming the ground floor. Flames lick their way across the room, racing the zombies for the first chance to devour Ravenna’s motionless body.

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Rylo feels vomit rising in his throat as the race between the zombies and the flames is declared a tie. In complete horror, he spins around and takes off running into the night.

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The only sound he recognizes as he runs from the burning building is a long, high scream coming from somewhere near his left ear.

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Rylo runs directionlessly, unthinkingly. He runs past rivers, through trees, over rocks. Eventually he slows to a walk, and realizes that the little body he’s carrying so tightly against his chest is shaking violently. He continues walking, and after a while the shaking stops, replaced by relaxed muscles and long deep breaths.

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He hadn’t been looking for a place, but somehow he ends up walking straight into it. It’s not secure in any way, but it’s enough for tonight.

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As soon as he enters the dilapidated building Rylo starts to stagger with exhaustion, and quickly lowers the child to the floor. Her eyelids seem to stir, and Rylo retreats in fear of her waking up.

Then, her breathing slows and Rylo knows it will be alright for tonight.

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Rylo crawls to the other side of the creaking cabin and, exhausted, falls into a deep sleep.

Sooooo holy fuck. Yes, this chapter just happened. I love it the best of all chapters. The end, goodbye.

Chapter 4.10- Birth Fluids

3 May

Yooooo.

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Welcome back errybody. Last we left off, Rylo was reveling in the glory of solitude.

Anyone else getting highly anxious this guy’s never gonna pass the torch onto another generation?

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Yet again a nomadic hermit bachelor wild man, Rylo bores us all with his uninteresting eat sleep kill crap eat sleep routine. Sooo time jump anyone?

I think yes. We’re going to jump ahead eight boring years. I’ll fill you in on all the lovely things that go on for the Yu extended family during this time. Starting with this.

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It’s a picture of Dorah wallowing in her own birth fluids. Nice, right?

This is Ben Yu, the newest nooboo. Pretty sure he’s Good and a Natural Cook, basically another awesome Yu kid.

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He grows up to look like dis.

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And eventually dis.

He looks so much like Oscar. Funny story, Oscar was actually named Benjamin for the first few days of his life before I changed my mind. The coincidence is 3spooky5me.

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Carys (who is the oldest) looks like this.

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Dorah later gave birth to Mariella, who I know very little about.

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Apparently her and Sam do it like rabbits, cause like a day later she popped Jeyna out in the bathroom.

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As for Joey and Marina’s family, Reuben grew up to look like an average human child.

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Surprise surprise, Siri somehow grew up to be ginger.

Marina: R u my kid?

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Siri: I dunno but plz put your boobies back in your shirt.

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As Siri grew up, she continued to be ginger.

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Joey and Marina also had this child, Graham, who really likes stroller rides I guess.

If you don’t care at all about the extras, you have my sympathy. That’s like, ten seconds of your life you’ll never get back. Moving on.

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Four, five, six winters pass uneventfully. Rylo loses count.

Probably the coolest thing that’s happened has been Rylo’s KO on this deer that thinks it’s a mountain goat. You do you, deer.

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Eventually Rylo falls in with another group. It’s no different than the last one, and Rylo’s fine with that.

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Some of the people in the group have some sort of drug they do sometimes, but Rylo’s past the point of caring. He doesn’t want it, and they don’t offer anyways. Sometimes it’s just nice to have someone watch your back while you’re sleeping.

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Boundaries are non-existent in this group, and they take each other in the open like animals. Rylo’s past the point of caring about that too.

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For a while he takes part in it, with a woman named Michelle. There’s no talking, just the occasional sweating and grunting in the long grass.

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For a while that works alright, until she starts trying to nestle in with him at night. When that happens Rylo pushes away and arches his back against her.

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In desperation she starts trying to get his attention during waking hours. After a few times of pulling away and ignoring her it all stops. A few days later and she’s grunting and moaning under a deerskin with someone else.

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It’s all the same to Rylo, and soon enough he’s found some other woman who doesn’t feel the need to get him to talk.

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The group keeps constantly on the move, with the only rule being keep up. It suits Rylo fine.

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At the height of summer they sometimes go few days without seeing water. Today, they stop for a few sips at a murky, putrid puddle.

It’s gross, but anyone who’s survived this long probably has an immune system that can handle it.

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The group’s just getting ready to move on when they hear a shriek. Pale arms reach out from under the ruins, and Michelle drops heavily to the ground.

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The group members watch in shock as Michelle is rapidly dragged under, thrashing and clawing at the dirt.

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Rylo lunges forward, steadying his bow. He takes aim, releases, and the struggle ends.

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Laboriously Michelle crawls out from under the ruins, and lets out a deep, tormented wail that seems to never end. Strips of denim and flesh hang loosely from her mangled legs, and Michelle’s cries grow dry and gravelly.

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One by one the group members look away, and then start walking.

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As she realizes what is happening, Michelle struggles up onto her feet. Her destroyed legs drag awkwardly, unresponsively. Exposed muscle quivers, and she pitches forward into the dust.

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There she stays, and the group walks on.

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In the late afternoon, they find a small house. Some fall asleep immediately, while some stand around talking.

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And some, like Rylo, disappear into themselves. Even when he’s in a room full of people, Rylo is always in the fortress of solitude. It’s a skill, really.

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Suddenly the silence is interrupted by a scratching, and the group reflexively jumps up with weapons raised.

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Just one zombie outside a window isn’t a huge threat, and one guy volunteers to take care of it. Everyone begins to settle back down again as the guy draws his knife, but as he moves towards to window he flinches at the sound of another thump.

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Two more snarling zombies hungrily paw at the front window. Unsurprisingly, noone volunteers to get these ones.

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Another thump, and everyone turns to look at the back window where two zombies claw out for flesh. The guy who had volunteered to take care of them begins slowly backing away into the center of the room.

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Another rattling moan, and the dead come lurching through the front door.

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All hell breaks loose, and everyone tears off in different directions. In the chaos, a shrieking woman is seized. The zombie’s black teeth tear at the skin and cords of her neck, and her shrieks become silent but carry on all the same.

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One guy makes a dash up the stairs. Another tries to follow him, but a pair of clawed hands reach through the window and snatch at his arm, dragging him roughly back.

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Somehow Rylo fights his way through the chaos and up the stairs. He glances back in horror at the woman with her throat bitten out, and at the man struggling away from the zombie clawing his arm to ribbons.

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Rylo streaks up the stairs and bursts through a door into an empty room. A man named Barrett stands resolutely in front of the only window. Taking no notice of Rylo’s presence, he clambers through the window sill, hangs by his arms, and then drops.

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His heart beating wildly, Rylo rushes to the window and hangs his head out.

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He watches in slow motion as Barrett totters atop a rusty barrel, and then steadies himself. A low moan sounds from behind him, and in his surprise Barrett steps back into air.

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Arms reach up to receive Barrett’s flailing form, and then a new set of screams joins the ones coming from inside the house.

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Amid the sickening slurp and tearing sound that Rylo wishes he could forget comes a dragging, rattling, moaning on the stairs behind him. The zombies below are frenzying around what must seem to them like a gift from the heavens, and take no notice as Rylo quickly drops from the window, landing squarely on the barrel.

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Rylo hardly takes time to shudder before leaping forward and breaking into a run away from the scene.

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After only a few meters Rylo realizes he has a follower that seems to have lost interest in Barrett.

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He’s sure he can outrun it, but then changes his mind as two more zombies emerge from around the corner.

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In one fluid, practiced motion Rylo swings his crossbow around his back and sends a bolt into the trailing zombie’s softened skull. He then spins around the deal with what’s ahead.

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The two in front of him are closer than he thought, too close to use his crossbow. He steps back a few paces, swinging the crossbow onto his back.

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Rylo pulls out his pocket knife, stepping deftly forward and then quickly to the side in a sort of dance. The slower zombies lunge out for him, but he’s already leaped just a pace out of their reach. By keeping his movements unpredictable Rylo slinks around the zombies, plunging his knife skillfully into their brains.

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After that it’s just a cool sprint through the night air, away from the screams and the carnage and the death.

Rylo could run for hours if he wanted to, but eventually stops when he realizes his running has landed him somewhere familiar.

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Up on the hillside, barrels of fire light up the night, and a sweetly pungent aroma wafts through the breeze.

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