Fall of the Risen – Week 5 – Clark
I stood by the overpass, waiting for Gianni to bring back the new people I had to babysit, when Dawn found me. A cigarette dangled from the corner of her mouth and bounced with each step she took. Maybe it was the amount of time since I had been with a woman, but she made a pair of coveralls look damn good.
“Walking funny?” she asked.
“A little. Newbie patrol.”
“Looks good on you.”
“Could be worse. For a minute, I thought he was going to wall me.”
She went silent, taking a long drag from her cigarette. “You’re still going to clean that engine, right?”
“I said I would, didn’t I?”
“I’ll take it apart, but I’m not touching a single gut. You hear?”
“Good. Enjoy your initiate hell.”
When new people entered Sisco, someone had to be their lifeline for at least a week. Someone to show them around, teach them the way we did things, find them some responsibilities, and just be around for random questions. It was also a week when new people were studied. If they weren’t the good person that they first seemed to be, or couldn’t pull their weight, it usually came out in the first week.
Jack came wandering by. I caught his eye and he hesitated before coming over to stand next to me.
“We’ll look at you,” I said with a smile. “I’m the one in shit and you still show up to help me with the punishment. New people are en route.”
He laughed. “I’m not helping. I’m searching for scrap wood. I’ve used all the stuff I had, and no one will give me any of the good stuff, but I just need to build something.”
“Dawn needs help rebuilding that engine.”
“I told you, I’m not helping you. Not with that.”
“Incoming,” a voice called out.
They heard the outer gate open, along with two approaching engines. Two cars appeared at the top of the overpass and stopped. Four gunshots rang out and the inner gate began to swing open.
The first car came to a stop in front of Chase. Gianni leaned out the driver’s side window and laughed.
“No way! You?”
“What?” I asked.
“You’re gonna be mother bear to these cubs?”
“I like people,” I said.
“Bull. What’d you do?”
“The right thing.”
“Okay,” Gianni said. “Don’t tell me.”
His car kicked up dust as he sped away, the other car following close behind. When the dust started to clear I noticed three other people standing close by.
Like me and Jack, they were all choking on dust and trying to wipe dirt from their eyes.
“I’m Clark,” I said, once I could see and force words through my ragged throat. “I’m going to show you around.”
“Wes,” said the closest of the three. He was a middle-aged man. Balding. Looked more like an accountant than a survivor.
“I’m Romanda,” said the lady of the group. The term ‘lady’ applied in the technical definition. She was younger than Wes, but big enough to play professional football, if it still existed.
The third was something I hadn’t seen since the world went to hell. I was pretty sure it was a dude, despite the Florescent pink dress he wore. His hair was kind of long, for a dude, but he wasn’t wearing makeup. To be fair, most ladies in our world didn’t wear makeup either. Hard to come by.
He eyed me warily. When he finally opened his mouth to give his introduction, he was cut off from his chance.
“What do we have here?” Ferguson wandered over with a cruel smile on his face. He approached the young man and grabbed a part of his dress between two fingers, caressing it before letting it drop. “Looks like we’ve got a new candidate for prettiest girl in town. What’s your name, sweetheart?”
“Daffodil,” he replied.
Ferguson burst out laughing. “Truly a flower in this wasteland.”
I stepped between Ferguson and the newcomers, fists clenched at my sides, temper nearing its max.
“Ferguson, if you don’t leave him alone…”
Before I realized I had even moved, Ferguson was staring up at me from the ground with a hand clamped over his jaw.
“Dammit, Clark,” Jack said. “When you threaten someone, you’re supposed to give them a chance to straighten up before you hit them.”
Ferguson got up slowly, eyeing me. He made a show of dusting himself off. He summoned the little manliness he had and showed everyone he wasn’t afraid.
Without another word, he turned and walked away, stumbling every fifth or sixth step.
“Thanks for standing up for me,” Daffodil said. “But you didn’t have to. I’m used to people like that. That’s why I never stay in one place for long. It’s why I won’t be here long.”
“Hey, anyone who’s survived this long has been through some shit and deserves respect. Don’t forget that.” He gave me a nod. “Besides, it’s none of my business what you do with your weiner. Am I right?”