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Tranquilize Part 2 

Nocturlos is owned by Nocturlos


Part 2 


The morning was a rough one, Brettman had found a car fixing tool kit within the church that was once owned by the priest who once lived there, and Bastialus didn't eat breakfast until the car was finally hot wired. Brettman took himself to the steering wheel inside of the Plymouth while Bastialus could read what he needed from the pages from the car manual; the Plymouth once belonged to the old father of the church which only made Fane say "he's dead" more often to the group of survivors. Bastialus just wish one day he would punch him in his muzzle to shut him the hell up. 

"How's the car looking?" Bastialus asked.

"Could be worse," Brettman said, "But if I don't get the car going, well, as Fane said I'd rather not take chances. We drive as much as we can until we find fuel...or a better car. I suppose I should be grateful that this old thing was left open and not touched." 

"You mean stealing?" 

"I mean...find one left behind and hot wire that," Brettman sighed, "I'm not committing grand theft. I'm sure that's something Fane would do." 

Bastialus rolled his eyes thinking of the haute rodent, "Where did Fane go anyway?" 

Brettman gestured his wrench to the side of the chapel where Fane was sunbathing on a folded chair with sunglasses. Bastialus started seething. 

"And he calls me useless," Bastialus growled. 

"Yes, he's not the best company I wanted to be with," Brettman added. 

Hot wiring a car was far less different than what Bastialus pictured, he was taking engineering class back in school before things went down hill, but he wondered if it always took a sample of wires below it to get a spark but it was harder than that, a panel below the steering column had to be carefully taken out, and in that wires connected to the ignition key, if Bastialus hadn't had the drivers manual this would have been a impossible task to figure out which wire was connected to the ignition. After Brettman finally figured out the starter and power wires, he removed them from the cylinder and used a wire stripper to remove the plastic. He twisted the wire ends together and pulled the plastic off each of them before putting them together. There was a flashing spark and the Plymouth sprung to life. 

"There! Finally!" Brettman exclaimed, "Tell Enosh to get the supplies, this car is ticking every minute we waste. I'll drive. Bastialus, you take shotgun, Enosh and Fane will take the bake seat." They packed what they could in the back before they buckled up and left the chapel. Bastialus had only spent one day there but his instincts agreed that if they stayed there any longer, things would fall apart, it was better to move now than be sitting ducks at the chapel; Bastialus was still curious about what happened to the priest but it didn't matter now. Enosh leaned back and smoked from another cigarette, either to relax himself due to the situation or the fact he and Fane had to share the back. Brettman tried checking the radio stations for any updates but what came out was static or flat out white noise when a flat lining screech vibrated, he grunted in frustration and turned it off. 

"Not a damn thing." 

"Maybe the power is out," Bastialus suggested. 

"To all the stations? I think some of them are no longer standing," Fane said.

"Did you check both AM and PM?" Bastialus asked Brettman. Brettman sighed, running his hand through his hair as he tried keeping himself calm and collected through this ordeal. He wasn't the designated leader, but he was the only person keeping this group of four alive; three adults and a teenager, the baggage was heavy but he kept himself together as best he could. 

"I checked both," Brettman replied. 

And that was that. The group fell silent, with the only noise being the sound of the Plymouth motor and broken sirens in the distance giving a mourning cry to past bombs. Bastialus recognized the smell of smoke and powder, and even after two months the air was still fresh with debris. 

"Sorta wishing there was freaking zombies walkin' and shit at this point," Enosh said, breaking the silence and blew from his muzzle, "The air is so fucking dead you can make a grave out of it." 

"I heard a lot of church folk yapping about the dead walking the earth, but...this is not what any of us wanted..." Fane sighed, "We don't have the dead walking, we have dead souls..." 

Enosh chuckled, "Funny, hearing that from you." 

"I didn't ask for any of this-! I'd much rather be at home, but my home is gone! My job is gone! Everything is gone!" Fane snapped. 

"Children, please, I'm driving," Brettman said. Fane let out a huff and crossed his arms, almost pouting while Enosh continued to smoke, "Also, if you need to use the bathroom, either hold it or wait. If we're lucky, we'd find a car with a key and enough oil but I'm not holding my breath." 

"What happens when we're low on gas?" Bastialus asked. 

"We camp...somewhere, for a while. We'll scout it out and keep weapons close." 

"That reminds me, Brett," Fane seethed, "Give me back my knife." 

"No." 

"Cad." 

"I'm not giving it back. You can beg and stomp your feet but I won't give it back," Brettman said firmly, "Oh, great, a curve is coming up. Do we try the city or we go to another less populated area?" 

"Both are death traps," Fane said. Brettman ignored him. 

"Um, let's avoid populated areas...maybe if we can find a small town or village with help there we can know where to go from there," Enosh suggested, "I remember coming from the city. It's absolute hell." 

"You walked all the way from the city?" Brettman asked.

"I was dumped from there, like week old trash," Enosh replied, puffing softly. 

"Fine...let's just hope the gas will last and we don't run into desperate individuals during the drive to a place to get help," Brettman said. 

Brettman felt like he was driving aimlessly, coming across traffic with collisions and barricaded roads with signs that said REPENT THE END IS NIGH and DEATH IS TRUE SALVATION: RAPTURE IS HERE and YOU DEZERVE HELL. Brettman wanted to vomit, even in desperate times others will willing to bring misery with this religious graffiti while Fane indifferently chimed in a freaking idiot couldn't even spell deserve correctly on their own vandalism. "This is our third detour," Brettman sighed, "I feel like I'm getting driver fatigue and this graffiti is not helping the slightest." 

"On the bright side...I'm so buzzed right now, I'm hoping I am Jesus," Enosh said. Fane rolled his eyes. 

"Shut up, you stupid hobo." 

"You shut up," Bastialus retorted to Fane. 

"Okay, okay, enough bickering," Brettman said rubbing his temples, "There's just one stretch of road or two that we haven't tried, and we need to camp soon because our gas is just at half by now. I don't expect clean water or electricity, but a place to crash and we can scout together to build a plan." 

"You're optimistic," Fane said, opening the window to release Enosh's smoke clouds. 

"Keep that window down!" 

Fane groaned and reluctantly rolled it back up. Brettman ended up on a stretch that was longer than he anticipated, Bastialus could visibly see suburbs turn to long grassy fields and farms; cars and trucks were abandoned but Brettman carefully squeezed through them and continued his drive. There were tipped over signs and leftover corpses, Bastialus winced softly and closed his eyes. He couldn't bear to look at the corpses anymore, they were just a grim reminder of his failure. Brettman looked at him sympathetically but he couldn't take his eyes off the road now. The road stretched farther into the rural area, and the grim grey husk of the city was far from there view with no lights on as they sky began to become a violent hue of reds, purples, and blues. The sun looked red due to distant fires and it felt hot in the Plymouth. Brettman could feel his muscles ache, his paws were getting sweaty and numb, and his legs felt like they were attached to a ball and chain, every time he tried to find relaxation, they tingled and stung. Brettman equated it to feeling like his foot had fell asleep but it was his ankle and the pain went up to his thigh. 

"Fuck," Brettman strained. He heard the car start to sputter softly, the fuel was almost out. He saw what looked like a camp and brought the Plymouth up to a dirt road leading to it. Bastialus looked from the window and saw the camp had makeshift housing, wooden boards and metal sheets were together in a abstract hazard but still managed to hold, there were lights coming from inside, and each had a lantern and number painted on the shack. There was something on the side from the houses in the near back but he could vaguely see it. A garden? Bastialus made another glance and noticed a wooden tower with a radio with a guard and another rodent handling communication. 

"Hey!" A mouse woman exclaimed rushing over, holding a large rifle. Her clothes looked dirty, but she was armed. Bastialus was surprised that her casual clothing with a bulletproof vest and arm and kneecaps gave an air of preparation compared to their little group of survivors, "What business do you have here?" 

Brettman hesitantly rolled down the window, "Um, evening miss, me and my party have come a long way...we need a place to stay a while until we can...you know, figure out where to go." 

The woman paused and looked over him, "How many do you have?" 

"Three adults and one young adult." 

She looked livid, "Young adult? A teen?" she spat, "How old?" 

"Err, 17, roughly?" Brettman answered bashfully. 

"If you plan to stay at Sun Flag camp, you have to do duties to pay rent," She explained, "The kid will do the rent; park your car at the lot there and we'll get a shack ready for you with bunk beds and a working kitchen and water. Well, kitchen in a sort of sense. You talk with our camp leader about the rent and your curfews."

"Curfew?" 

"Bandits and desperate rodents are running around robbing rodents and conquering safe camps while letting innocent blood spill," she explained, "I won't give my real name to you, just call me...Troy. I'm the head of security at Sun Flag."

Brettman looked embarrassed when the car let out another sputter. 

"You best go." 

Brettman didn't want to argue and silently parked among other cars left there, there were ten vehicles beside them, some vans, some compacts, and a few were trucks. There were also two large trucks which Brettman came to the conclusion that they were used for supplies, along with rations. "Brettman, what do they mean...I do the rent?" Bastialus asked, "I mean...I ain't got much money left." 

Fane scoffed, "It means you do work to pay for your stay." 

"Work? Like what?" 

"Ask them yourself, your inquisitiveness is utterly annoying me," Fane spat. Brettman unwired the car after the supplies were taken out, and Enosh and Fane held them ready to temporarily stay at SUN FLAG. Troy took them to a green tent and a ash grey rat with messy black hair in unkempt police uniform sat on a desk with a map and notes, with papers. A radio sat near by on another desk which was no longer working as it sat dead but it looked like the rat was trying to work it back up recently, with a small kit and wires, along with a makeshift power source that resembled a battery or power source, "Joseph, you got visitors. A group of four looking for camp. One kid, three adults," Troy explained, "The two mouse adults could be useful but this...wire head looks like a screwball." Enosh looked amused by the comment, letting out a chuckle as he shrugged as if he expected that reaction. 

"Let me guess, Joseph is an alias too?" Brettman said.

"You catch on," Joseph replied as he stood up, "So, you're not bandits...but how can we trust you?" 

Fane was beaming, "We offer Bastialus." 

Bastialus glared, "I offer Fane." 

"Uh," Brettman rubbed his neck, "We'll work for you. I promise to do our part for this camp, it won't be a long stay...give us two or three weeks...a rough estimate?" 

"And what about that old hunk of junk you drove in?" Joseph asked. 

"Do you...have a spare car we can use?" 

Joseph paused, "Most of the cars available belong to the people of the camp, but if one of the 'tenants' left a key if they died, you can use that for your future travels. We can give a couple tanks of gas, water, food and medicine; but you have to pay for our hospitality...and figure out your destination. That is if you four plan to stay." 

"Trust me, this is just a...uh, you know...as I said, a temporary stay?" Brettman said, "We have no plans of staying." 

"I doubt you'll come onto a safer place like this in a long while..." Joseph replied, "But this is your choice," he sighed, "Just one question, why is your teen in choir clothes? That stuff is so thin a bandit will tear through it with a knife like it was nothing, might work in warmer areas but here at Sun Flag, we got cold air and rain; sometimes storms come up but with how tough our shacks are they don't go flying." Brettman broke into stammers.

"My clothes are dirty for being inside a bunker for so long, it was an old underground one," Bastialus explained, "There was a toilet and paper and a section for a sink but..." 

"You, does he have his old ones?" Joseph asked Brettman.

"Just call me Brettman," he answered, "But yes, we have his old ones, but if you have extra spares instead of choir clothes..." 

Joseph looked over at Troy, "We still have the farming clothes for this boy's size? I remember we made enough, should come with underwear and socks too, give him four days worth of it. He ain't staying long," he then looked at Bastialus, "You'll get your own box of clothing...but you wash them on your own with the soap provided, use an available wash basin and hang them to dry; just try not to walk around naked."

"Yes sir." 

"Now, about your shack, you'll be taking B6. It should be small enough for a party your size, you get water, you got electricity, you get a stove and rations. We don't have the luxury for making it a total living space these days," Joseph explained firmly, "But at least we made bunk beds and some drawers. No TV, but you can hook up a radio; but you piss outside, but we have showers outside. So, be thankful for that. There is something of a toilet within these shacks...took ages to get the right piping but we got it. If it acts up or any of your electrics...we have someone to look at it," Joseph suddenly went over to a large double door wardrobe and pulled out a package, "This is your food, medicine, soap, toothbrushes and paste." 

Bastialus felt his throat dry up as he listened to Joseph, the gravity of the outside situation was much worse than they thought if others were living like this. Brettman took the box and slowly opened it just to make sure himself of what was given, but his heart dropped when he saw a pistol and six bullets among the supplies.

"Oh, that? Bastards like bandits and power hungry rodents want this camp for themselves because of our resources. We have to fight tooth and nail to keep Sun Flag going, and you're responsible for your shots. Don't worry, we have boxes of ammo after we found a turned over truck for the army or something along those lines. But I swear if you turn that gun on me...I'll personally end your stay on this camp. Permanently," Joseph said, "But...I'll give your party the benefit of the doubt. You look like folks who struck it hard and you got a teen with you. I don't expect trouble; but as a warning. Don't give any," he pulled out a paper from his drawer, "Y'all sign here for your shack. Welcome to Sun Flag." 

Welcome to Sun Flag, Bastialus realized that his welcome felt more like a threat than an open embrace. 

Curfew at SUN FLAG worked like this, you eat breakfast, you wash, you work (renters work earlier at 4 AM), you have break, you wash and eat, you go back to work, after work is over you get back to your shack at 8 PM and lights out. Minor exceptions for adults, teens and kids are not lucky, once Joseph explained this Bastialus' nose wrinkled but he couldn't argue. He was helping, even if they were asking a lot for a teenager to work the vegetable garden. Their shack was at least was roomy and sturdy despite it looking considerably smaller from outside, there were four bunk beds, a makeshift kitchen and bathroom area, and shelves and sockets, and dirty old drawers that looked cleaned up for new use, but one sight threw the entire team off, near the corner of the room laid a blood spattered baby crib. Troy excused herself about the display as the crib came from the earlier tenant but she promised that the blood was not there before. Troy kicked it over before picking it up and left hastily. 

"This is just...fishy," Bastialus said. 

Brettman ignored him, trying his best to not be too rattled, "Oh, err, Bastialus...change out of those flimsy choir clothing and put these on. You'll feel much better wearing underwear again than bloomers."

"Bah, of all the places to camp at..." Fane scoffed. Brettman rolled his eyes, but chuckled a little. 

"You'll be pulling your own damn weight now instead of bloody sunbathing," Brettman said, "Which is good, despite getting power working in the church, you haven't worked at all." 

"What about Enosh?! He just smokes and sleeps!" Fane snapped. 

"You just complain," Enosh shot back. 

Brettman rubbed his forehead feeling a headache building until he sorted the supply box out and placed everything away while Bastialus watched from settling in on the bottom bunk bed not far from the drawers; Brettman closed the cupboards containing their food rations and he started to feel around for anything more, only for his fingers to graze and feel the coldness of the pistol and hearing the soft clinks of the six bullets, "Fane, do me a favor and don't touch this gun, we only use this in a emergency and due to how...jumpy you are, I hope you refrain." Fane looked livid. 

"You take my Swiss Army knife and now I can't handle a gun?" Fane stammered, "Do you realize how ridiculous you sound right now?!" 

"No, I am merely saying that this weapon given is to be used when we need it," Brettman paraphrased, "You aren't allowed to be trigger happy and using Enosh or Bastialus as a possible bloody target just because your feathers get a teeny bit ruffled." 

"Oh...oh...I see how it is now, you think I'm irresponsible?" 

Brettman sighed, "Fane, not right now. You can bellow, gripe, and yell at me tomorrow; but we're all exhausted and tired from our trip here. Let's just...get to bed." Fane looked ready to say something but nothing came out, he huffed and pulled Enosh off the top bunk of the second bunk bed and laid himself down, facing the wall. Enosh rubbed his head and glared up at Fane, before settling into the bottom bunk just underneath him. 
"Uh, here, you take the bottom bunk, Brett..." Bastialus said, "You're the one that drove us here. Your legs must feel crappy right now." 

"No, no, it's fine Bastialus," Brettman replied softly, "You keep the bottom bunk, my legs might be sore but I'm not weak enough to climb a bunk ladder. You were out...burying the dead a few days prior, I'm sure experiencing that and losing a loved one is terribly hard on you. I wouldn't want you to fall off the top just because of night terrors."  

"Brett, one last thing..." Bastialus started, "Do you think we're safer here?" 

Brettman paused, "I can't answer that. I've never been to such a camp like this, I was in a shelter for a while but this is a makeshift camp; however, I assure you, I'll keep you safe, Alex." 

"Alex?" 

Brettman's ears folded, "No one in particular, just...just go to bed. You have work tomorrow, I'm sure the camp will provide breakfast to you "kid" workers," he chuckled sadly, before resting on the top bunk. The morning came and they were greeted by a loud horn before a woman spoke over from the top tower: "Renters! It's four! Morning work before breakfast!" She called. Bastialus groaned as his ears felt like they were ringing from inside his head and his mind was barely awake as he was, "New renters grab a garden tool and get to tilling the soil and planting!" Bastialus sighed as he forced himself up, and took a quick piss in one of the buckets for waste they were given, before watching his hands in a basin of water and soap before heading outside in his given attire, green overalls that had pockets and a fanny pack sowed into the front to add in seeds for the garden. Bastialus walked over to the garden and noticed how big it was and how it stretched, it made it to the side of Joseph's tent all way to the side not far from the parking lot. There were all ready some vegetables growing, but Bastialus could see that it was because of the pack of children and teens that this got to where it was now. 

"You, from Camp B6," Troy said sternly, "Get to working," she threw a garden spade at him that Bastialus caught before she pushed him into the lined soil.

Bastialus had heard at his school that a garden was being made for a cooking and garden classes, the garden was self-sustaining because of everyone from both classes were pitching in; even though Bastialus was part of cooking classes, he never did participate in garden activities, not because he was worried about getting dirty, he got a lot of that from engineering...but it was a social activity. Bastialus preferred his own company instead of others, but now he was in a position where he had no clue what to do despite Troy's orders. He was a deer in a headlights. 

Troy looked annoyed by Bastialus' blank expression, and gave him a bag of vegetable seeds, "Plant these while you're at it." 

Bastialus just nodded and watched her leave, he placed the seeds in his fanny pack and looked at the garden and the only children and teens tending to it. The number of them felt off, there was about seven of them including him, three teen boys, four...children? They looked young for this labor, the youngest was a little mouse girl who looked six, her pigtails were dirty, and her hands looked even dirtier. The dirty pink dress she was wearing looked torn and she had a habit of coughing in between adding a seed and putting soil over it. 

"Troy-" Bastialus started.

"Get to work, new renter." 

"Troy-!" 

"I said-!"

"Troy, there's a sick little girl working here!" Bastialus bellowed catching the attention of the other renters, "You can't...you can't just force labor on a six year old! Where's her mother?! Or her parents?! Where the fuck of her guardians?! If you let a sick little girl work on the garden soils...she'll not only get more sick, we'll catch whatever she's sick from too! Aren't you and Joseph supposed to be looking after us?!" 

"What's with all the goddamn yelling at 4 in the morning?" Jospeh walked over to the garden, Bastialus' outburst was loud enough for him to hear, "Oh, Bastialus...seriously, on your first work day?" 

"He says Ashley is sick..." Troy explained. 

"Oh...right," Joseph said sounding disappointed than concerned, "Well, clean her up and get her to the sick tent. Sorry, Bas, we've been so busy with scouting and scavenging, we didn't notice her coughing up a storm lately." Bastialus was in between feeling bewildered and aghast.

"Calm down, Bastialus, we'll handle it," Troy said, "Now, you get your ass to work otherwise you ain't getting any food." 

Bastialus deep inside wanted to say "fuck you" in retort but he took a deep breath and held it in and watched as Troy and Joseph talked with Ashley and helping her to the medical tent that was next to the radio tower. Bastialus let out a long breath and held his head. 

"I tell you, Ashley was safer being sick in garden soil then being off with those two," Bastialus heard another teenager say and looked over and saw a soft light brown mouse that had brown fur around his eyes looking a mask, and his dark brown hair looked disheveled and messy. Bastialus noticed he was wearing black jacket just over the overalls and what looked like a shirt to a metal band on the tee underneath, but he couldn't make it out since due to the weather the name was fading and looked speckled, "You, my friend, just gave her a death sentence." Bastialus was taken aback.

"I...I was just..." Bastialus stammered, "Wait, I just got here, and besides, if she got us sick..." 

"Well, that's the only downside to it..." The teenager said, "But Sun Flag is no saving grace. I've been here longer than you have and I've...I've reached my conclusion that I'm not putting my trust into Troy or Joseph," he scoffed, "Man, saying his nickname just leaves a bad taste in my mouth." 

"How did you come to that?" Bastialus asked. 

The teenager sighed, "I'll tell ya later after breakfast. Here, help me work that way you can get your feed; help me line up the soil correctly and fix these sticks for tomatoes." 

Brettman slept heavily through the early morning as the soreness of his legs started to settle. He cried out when he heard the door of their shack opening and saw Enosh walk in with a box of magazines, Brettman panted, he felt his heart going rapidly. "Cripes, Brett," Enosh walked over and patted his shoulder, "No need to freak out, it's just me." 

"Where...where'd you go off to?" Brettman panted.

"Looking about..." Enosh said holding the box, "I found a box of these left out in the open near the fence of the parking lot. I doubt it's the radio's reading material, I think it's meant to be trash," he chuckled, "Ah well, fuck it, mine now!" 

"You can't just walk around like we don't have a schedule to follow," Brettman said, "What if someone found you?" 

Enosh scoffed, "Joseph and Troy barely bat an eye when they get a good look of me." 

"Yes, when a weirdo walks around with torn jeans, crocs, and a bunch of wires on his head, I'd stay far away from him too," Fane said from atop the bunk. 

"Well good morning to you, princess," Enosh replied sarcastically before putting the box down and started to look through the contents. 

"If you're looking for any porn in there, throw me a mag of Pentmouse magazine if you can find any," Fane said, Brettman gagged, "Oh, don't be such a goddamn prude, Brett. I got needs, unlike you, mister-no-lay." 

"I am this close to leaving you out of this shack to just freeze to death," Brettman threatened, his face a tomato red. 

"Oh cool, there's a pamphlet here prior to the catastrophe and all that..." Enosh said pulling it out from a magazine, "Come to us at the English Rd highway in between the east and south of the the broken I-88our sanctuary is your sanctuary when you reach here...Sanctuary City 34," Fane rolled his eyes, "There's fucking coordinates and everything from flight travel to driving!" Fane jumped off the bunk and quickly snatched the pamphlet. 

"No wonder this was thrown in with junk," Fane scoffed, "Too good to be true." 

"Fane, there's housing, jobs, other rodents working together instead of against each other and I heard it's self sustaining enough to have food and water there...completely different from Sun Flag," Enosh said. 

"As I said...too good to be true, I should rip the damn thing apart." 

Brettman snatched it from Fane, "I'm keeping that. Some hope is better than no hope at all," he said. There was a knock on the shack door and Brettman hastily hid it into his pocket and Joseph walked in. 

"Usually Troy usually does this, but she's a little busy as of now," Joseph said, "How y'all holding?" He was only met with awkward silence among the three until he noticed the stack of magazines in the dirty box, "Wire man, did you really take our trash?" 

Enosh crossed his arms, "Mainly making use of what you don't want. Besides, any man's trash is another man's treasure in times like these. I could sit around listening to goddamn white noise from a radio or I can get some sort of entertainment from old ass magazines." 

Joseph's nose wrinkled softly at the response, as though he wasn't used to having his authority questioned or confronted, "Okay, you make a point. I mean, goddamn, I had to make this camp from scratch just by taking and scavenging around this farm, although it was against my beliefs as a God fearing man and all. But, shit hit the fan, and we're no better than wild dogs looking for shelter and meat to just live in this hellhole. So, I can't blame ya for taking that box..." Enosh still looked wary of Joseph, holding his ground as Joseph held his, "...I tell ya what, folks. Can wire man do a good job of foraging and scouting? It do better if he had a weapon." 

Brettman was about to say something but Enosh answered, "I can forage and scavenge a hundred times better than your little groups here. Give me a day, and I'll get a you a cart of medicine, bandage wraps and gauze, and fucking food." 

Joseph smirked, "I like your spunk, wire man. Come with me to the scouting party, you guys'll be going early before more raiders come...I'm putting my team in your hands," he explained, "And you better keep your word about getting medicine and food; otherwise I'll make you eat those words." 

"Enosh..." Brettman started. 

"Don't worry, Joseph, a scavenger knows where to find food compared to a lost dog," Enosh said and followed Joseph out to the scout team that consisted a group of six rodents, each of them had a weapon, "So, what do I g-?" Joseph went over to a truck and opened the back showing a collection of guns, under a tarp. He pulled out a small handgun and threw it to Enosh who caught it. It was small enough to fit into his palm and felt heavy. He noticed it was shinier compared to the other weapons inside of the truck and when he looked he saw there were bullets inside.

"S&W Model 36...nickel finish," Joseph said as if to answer what Enosh was all ready thinking, "We used to have these guns back in the days back in South Carolina on the force before we went with new models...then finally semi-automatics." 

"More surprised you're trusting me with this in the first place," Enosh replied. 

"And the bullets are all I have for it, once they're used up, it's nothing but a gun used for the mantel," Joseph explained, "But I trust y'all to not waste bullets, especially in times like these. But if you think you need extra melee...grab a bat at a rundown sports store, like Big 5's or DICK's Sporting Goods...some shit like that," Enosh examined the gun and adjusted his posture to the weight, "I hope you know what you're doing wire man." 

"Know more what I'm doing compared to you..." Enosh said before getting into a supply truck with the scouting group before it drove off away from the camp. Joseph scoffed and went to his tent. 

Bastialus thought his arm muscles and legs were starting to feel cramped while working on the garden. He felt the muscles tighten and start to knot, and his legs were throbbing slightly due to the leg work which only made him relieved when he heard a bell ring and that breakfast was ready. The other teenage mouse who talked with him recently looked like he wanted to say something, but held it back once Bastialus went almost running to the open pot on a table with another adult rodent preparing the number of bowls and spoons. She looked at Bastialus, "Clean your hands first in that bowl..." 

Bastialus had briefly forgotten his work on the fields, his hunger had overtaken him at that moment. He cleaned his hands in the wash basin with the soap provided, cleaning off the dirt, and mud before drying it with a piece of a cleaning paper roll. The server poured him a bowl with the spoon inside and handed a large piece of an uneven looking bread roll. Bastialus looked at the contents with a look of bewilderment and confusion on his face, it looked like mashed potatoes with small seeds but he couldn't tell which type it was. He sighed and stirred it a bit, seeing it was unusually thick and gave off a stench of chicken bouillon cubes and something else. He closed his eyes and brought it to his mouth and swallowed.

It felt like little tiny daggers scrapping against his throat, it was as if someone was rubbing sandpaper on a harsh gravel surface, and the thickness of the potatoes and the heaviness and saltiness of the bouillon added for flavoring almost made him regurgitate. These weren't ordinary seeds. 

"What's..." Bastialus gasped as he coughed, "What's in this?" 

"Barley." 

Bastialus coughed again, "It...it hurts..." 

"You'll get used to it." 

Bastialus panted and just sat near the garden against the fence dividing the garden from the farm field. His dry throat still feeling the jabs of tiny barley grains slowly going down was torturous. Was this what these renter kids ate everyday? No wonder Ashley was coughing as she did, if not only sickness, eating this would slowly choke a toddler. 
The other teenager walked over and sat down with Bastialus, and pulled out a carton of apple juice when he saw no one was looking, offering it to Bastialus. His eyes lit up at the sight, and he hastily shredded the plastic paper containing the straw and punctured the aluminum opening before greedily sucking on it and felt the pain subside a little but now the pain was going to his stomach. He could care less now, at least he felt like he wasn't going to choke. 

"We skip breakfast..." The teenager said, "That vaussgraut potato porridge thing is anything but edible. Believe me, I've seen them toss it and not even the stray dogs and cats, not even goddamn raccoons will eat that damn thing." 

Bastialus breathed softly, "Then why feed us that?" 

The other teenager rolled his eyes, "Joseph's explanation is a stretch," he chuckled bitterly, "Just mentioning his name pisses me off...anyway, I'm Nocturlos from Shack A3." 

"Bastialus...B6," He answered in return before he slightly nibbled on his bread, "What's going on with this camp? I mean...why treat us younger ones like crap?" 

"The adults of your party don't?" 

Bastialus thought of Fane but he kept quiet about him, "No..." 

"Well, you're lucky," Nocturlos sighed, "I'm not sure of the full story either but I no longer trust this camp. I was separated during the utter worst of it, my band friends and I..." He held his forehead, "Everything went by so quickly, others were screaming, bullets were going off, and those...loud...ear piercing whistles from the sky." During the conversation, Nocturlos had broken eye contact with Bastialus. Now he was just looking out towards the horizon. But, even when speaking of losing friends, Bastialus noticed this mouse's voice didn't change pitch or show emotion. 

"You were caught in the madness of it?" 

"More like the whole...jævla bølge."

"Huh?"

"The wave of it, I was caught in the wave of it," Nocturlos quickly corrected himself realizing his Norwegian slipped out. Bastialus smiled a little, it was nice to talk with another young man his age, there was only Nocturlos and one other teenage boy at the camp, the rest were children who looked ready to be in Middle School, except for Ashley. Bastialus still felt a chill run up his body, thinking about what Nocturlos said brought dread back like a dagger. 

Youmy friendjust gave her a death sentence

Bastialus felt nauseous till he was caught off guard when Joseph walked over to them, his stature casting a shadow on Bastialus. Joseph looked irate, his brow was wrinkled and he had his shoulders crossed. Bastialus wanted to speak but Nocturlos beat him first, "What the fuck do you want, Joseph?" Nocturlos said partly aggressive, and the other half was dry.

"I see you two are skipping breakfast and just stuffing yourself with bread," Joseph said trying to seem lighthearted, "I suppose y'all young folk planning on skipping work too?" Joseph added, glancing at Nocturlos who continued to eat his bread. 

"But...I just finished planting and..." Bastialus breathed. 

"The garden is big, Bastialus," Joseph stated as though he was scolding, "Ye ain't gettin' food if y'all slackin'..." 

Nocturlos stopped eating and glared. 

"But, it is your choice if y'all don't want to work, if the Lord's willin' and the creek don't rise, that is...if the creek don't drown ya first," Joseph said smugly, "Bastialus, today is your first day. I'll let y'all off...just this once. Be glad I'm merciful." 

"None of us can barely work with that slop you serve us," Nocturlos snapped, "Without good food or drink, a hero won't do." 

Joseph rolled his eyes, "Is that one of your stupid Viking phrases?"

Nocturlos looked heavily insulted, "It's an old Nordic saying! And you of all dickheads should start fucking listen to it!" He hastily grabbed Bastialus' hand and Nocturlos left with him onto the farm field grounds. Bastialus noticed Nocturlos' cheeks were hot, still angry at Joseph, "Stupid Viking phrases, one of these days I'm going to..." 

"Nocturlos, where are we going?" 

They were far away enough from camp, not even Troy could see through the thickness of the wheat and barley fields. Nocturlos briefly let go of his hand and looked around cautiously making sure the two teens were alone with no inference or interruption. Bastialus could vaguely hear the generators in the distance from them, he had no idea the power supply for the shacks were so far yet managed to sustain all ten of them. 

"Safety," Nocturlos replied, "Well safety in a sense; the adults come here to get tools and stuff, but I got my own places."  

Bastialus' eyes widened like saucers, "W-wait, tools...you take from here too?" 

"It's a free for all world by now after things went downhill, besides, as I mentioned...I don't trust the adults at the camp. Troy and Joseph can go suck my dick," Nocturlos noticed how crestfallen he looked, possibly the idea of these rodents helping them have shelter being somehow abusive or deceitful was still a hard pill to swallow all together, "Hey, come on...cheer up. You're with me now, what'll cheer you up?" Bastialus shyly looked at the workshop shed and Nocturlos chuckled. 

"Engineer type, huh?" Nocturlos smiled. 

Fane would've done anything else  besides hammering away at making a fence, the one from the looking tower named Babylon suggested the two would for now work on their support fence, Joseph had ideas to put electric wires on the top so none of the bandit bastards would penetrate their camp. It was a lackluster fortress right now, just wood slabs next to wood slabs with over pieces of wood covering little holes and this whole thing had to be finished by just the two of them while the other adults had other matters to attend to, "supply counting and map routing for the next scout group" Babylon told he and Brettman. Goddamn hell if the adults were, Fane saw a group from a separate shack laughing and joking (most likely about their expenses) for being the new meat at this freaking survivor camp. The way Fane saw this, he saw it as forced labor, this was the work this camp didn't want to do and having two new adult men pick it up was just a Good Samaritan act wrapped up in lies. 

"If I didn't know any better," Fane started, exercising his hand from the pain, "I think this bloody camp it trying to isolate us from the others." 

Brettman rolled his eyes and sighed softly, "Why are you so bloody paranoid?" 

"How come you aren't?" Fane asked, "You can give someone shelter and food and still plan to stab them in the back." 

"That...kinda fits how you are, actually; almost drowning a teen in a holy water bowl-" 

Fane was almost stomping in a tantrum, "That's not what I mean-!" He strained, "This camp, this survivor camp feels like a wasp hive! Bee hives? Fine, we need them, we need the bees, but wasps? Wasps are fucking Satan!" That last line was too much for Brettman, making him burst into a fit of laughter and he had to make sure to cover his mouth to not catch Babylon's attention on the watch tower. This reaction made Fane start to seethe, "Fine, let's put it this way...wasps are usually solitary or social insects aren't they? Their colonies are precious to them as are their queen, solitary ones don't care so much, they sting when you sit upon one by accident; but social ones attack anyone and anything poking at their nest, threatening a stinging swarm." 

"Fine, I'll bite..." Brettman breathed, catching his breath, "Sun Flag is a solitary nest?" 

"No, it's a social nest," Fane warned, "One poke and a swarm comes at you. You'll see...I just wish we had a big bag of sedation gas or something to tranquilize these goddamn shady campers." 

Tranquilize? "Tranquilize...aggressive nature..." Brettman muttered, "Alex talked of..." 
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