Depleted: Day 419, Part 4 [STORY]

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So many times she’d had to survive alone on the road before she’d found Maysbridge. The choices she’d had to make required deciding who would live and who would die, just so that whoever died wouldn’t be her. The memories were too painful however, and her mind skittered farther to when the attacks occurred, and the following riots. The burning cities and the Knights of Xeno—always at the forefront, but her journalistic side felt there was something else. Someone else pulling the strings. The Knights were jackals—taking advantage of the carrion they found—but they weren’t the orchestrators that could’ve pulled this off.

She remembered flying into New York City with buildings still burning. When she had finally found her mother and father’s house, it had been too late. Her father wasn’t there, which was no surprise, since he’d never been there anyway…not really. She knew he’d felt guilty for the way she was, but he’d never even tried. On the other side, her mother’s guilt had led to constant meddling and an extremely a rocky relationship, to put it mildly. However, it had all seemed so petty when Jenna came across her mother’s half mutilated corpse in the wreckage of their home. She was beside herself with guilt, her nearly photography memory reminding her of the warnings and how much she’d ignored. If she had listened to her mentor or her dreams, perhaps her mother might’ve survived.

But those were useless fantasies which passed away as they drove. For a moment, she visualized the Kentucky countryside as though she flew above it, thinking about how unaffected it seemed in comparison to New York. A few seconds later, her soul reconnected with her body and she re-opened her eyes, hearing the DJ talking and seeing the country side begin to vanish as they headed into Maysbridge. She wondered why Fitch didn’t turn the station from the pirate. She suspected that it was his way of figuring out what people’s complaints were in an unadulterated way. After all, keep your friends close, and your enemies closer…

As they drove into Maysbridge, Jenna looked at the work that had been done to keep the towns much as they had been before the Fall. Fitch had used his solar panels and his alcohol generators to bring back some semblance of normalcy for those who worked for him. Those who elected to live in this town had many of the pre-Fall comforts that electricity could provide.

The streets were empty at this time of day because late afternoon was the time when people were out running errands for Fitch or their households in the surrounding countryside. The emptiness reminded her of the emptiness she felt so often. Maybe that was really why she chose not to live inside Maysbridge. She could be just as lonely around people as she could be away from them and, if she had to be lonely, it made more sense in her mind for her to be alone.

As they turned into a side street to park behind the small warehouse that was apparently Fitch’s destination, the brilliant afternoon sun all but blinded her as it glared into her eyes. As they pulled into park, her boss rammed the stick into park, the ratcheting sound of the machinery reminding her of the cold sound of a prison door slamming shut. Suddenly she was a child again, confined to her room while her parents discussed shipping her off to boarding school because of one of her most elaborate pyrotechnic “stunts.”

It had been a legitimate experiment to power a 4:1 scale model of the space shuttle on apple jack moonshine. She’d known the burn ratio…her math had been pristine. It was hardly her fault that Jack, her engineer, had missed a few areas of spot welding in the brass tubing. Unfortunately, that one oversight had transitioned a shuttle launch that would’ve made Buzz Aldrin proud into a NASA disaster, as it listed to the side and began to spin back toward earth, spewing flame like a steam punk comet. The fact that it had been dry that summer around their vacation home had made that disaster a catastrophe. She should’ve been horrified as the lancscape went up in flames and the fire trucks rushed in, but, for some reason, she was gratified as she watched the hungry, flicking dance of the fire. She’d sat up on a hillside, watching the fire in mesmerism while Jack had finished the remainder of the moonshine. Eventually, she’d been discovered and escorted back to their vacation home.

Her room had been her prison there, she was again helpless to change her situation while her parents fought over what should e done with her. She should have been grateful that her father was even in the discussion, since he was so infrequently involved. But, at that moment, he was just another of the forces arrayed against her, his words incoherent like the baying of hellhounds in the distance. In that room, she had sworn that she’d never be that trapped again and, for the better part of her life, she’d managed to always stay on the run to prevent it.

Now she was back in an untenable situation that she couldn’t change for herself.

She took a deep breath as she got out of the truck and followed Fitch and Flanagan around the truck to the front of the building. A sputtering alcohol generator provided power for the building as they descended the concrete steps to the sunken and barricaded door.

Not for the first time did Jenna wonder why Nash would keep power to his warehouses within the town. However, if it was a place for a buyer to meet, she supposed it made sense to have the lights on so that no one ever forgot that he had the power to keep the lights on. In the Post-Fall world, that was equivalent to Mussolini making the trains run on time.

Check back soon for the exciting conlusion of the Day 419
saga of the Gothic Post-Apocalyptic series, World of Depleted!

Author: JT Hanke

J.T. Hanke is the editor-in-chief of DarkestGoth Magazine. A filmmaker who explores dark concepts, he’s also the founder of World of Depleted Creative Community, the postapocalyptic creative project that shares credit and profits throughout the Gothic creative community.

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