Depleted: Day 419, Part 2 (STORY)

Day 419, Part 2 Banner
Jenna emerged from the battered house to find Flanagan standing outside. How he always managed to be waiting for her when she came outside, she had no idea. She knew he had to walk a perimeter regularly and she knew he had to rest some times, but, whenever she exited, she was always greeted by the tall blonde bodyguard, standing stoically in place. Sometimes he reminded her of the Bobbies that used to guard the Tower of London. Back when it mattered…

With the visions becoming more pronounced, she knew that she would have to be released from her duty to Fitch, but her trust for the man was not much greater than it was for any man. People used people until they didn’t need them anymore, that was the way the world worked. Of course, the fact that he was a man and a criminal meant he would have even less compunction about getting rid of her as soon as she failed to be useful.

For a moment, she wondered if she could somehow knock out Andre and just run. However, even as she thought about it, she knew she would never do it. She may have prayed for death after the Fall, but her death wish was simply not as strong as her desire to live. She had her mother to thank for that inconsistency. The woman’s constant nagging that Jenna’s life would be too short because of her condition…that Jenna would have to hold on to every moment with an iron grip had somehow scarred the fear of death into her. Of course, the irony was that she’d outlived both her mother and, most likely, her father, despite her condition. If there was a god, he clearly had a wicked sense of humor…

For a moment, she pitied Gavin for believing there was a god, but, then, remembering her betrayal of her mentor, she thought better of it. After all, he’d been right and she hadn’t listened. He’d tried to help her, but she’d just left money for him and hoped he’d go away. Gavin was the father she’d always wanted, but, when he needed her, it was too easy to treat him like her birth father. Maybe she was no better than the men she hated…

“What do you think Fitch would do if I were to put in my two weeks on this gig?” Jenna asked Flanagan after she locked the door and approached the trench coated body guard. She tried to sound nonchalant, but her voice sounded brittle in her ears.

“I don’t think that’s how Nash works,” Flanagan rumbled, his voice deeper than many expected. “I mean, he has me here to protect you. Would you want that to stop?”

The question could’ve been innocent, as Andre Flanagan wasn’t the smartest of men, or it could’ve been meant to intimidate her and remind her that she might have an “accident” without Fitch and his bodyguard. For Jenna, it was always safest to assume the worst. As far as Jenna was concerned, if you always expect treachery, you can never be surprised when you’re betrayed.

“No. I don’t suppose so.” She tried to laugh it off so that he might not read too much into it, but she knew it sounded forced.

With that, she and he walked to the old battered white truck that Nash had entrusted them with. As she got in, the battered vinyl emanating heat that made the cab oppressive, she tried not to think about her impending conversation with Fitch. The truth was, if he didn’t give her the go ahead and help her find some mils or reapers to protect her, she wouldn’t leave this place until she and everyone else was slaughtered. She knew in her heart that she would never go back on the road alone. Not after all that she’d witnessed in the 10 months before Maysbridge!

But, if Fitch was what she expected, she’d be dead long before that.

Flanagan flicked on the radio and, as usual, the local pirate station came on. They could’ve listened to the “Official” channel, as Fitch had acquired a small radio station when he took over Maysbridge, but that had all the official news and wasn’t terribly interesting (due to the limited amount of official news that made its way to Maysbridge to be passed along). The pirate radio stations had gossip, tantrums, and a number of other unofficial elements. Sometimes they’d play some music, but usually they’d use their meager reserves of power for their rants. Fitch probably could’ve found the pirate easily enough, but he chose to allow them to broadcast. Jenna had no idea why, because half the rants were against Fitch himself.

As so often happened, she closed her eyes during rides, trying to collect her thoughts, while letting the radio broadcast and the feeling of the truck wash over her.

“…So what we’re hearing is that the battle of K-12 in Tennessee seems to be over.” A southern slurred voice came over the radio, crackling due to the low-power broadcast, “It looks like the fortress has finally fallen, as hungry wanderers and survivors have finally broken into the storehouses there. Y’know, that’s just typical pre-Falll government behavior. Horde all sorts of stores for a bad time and then, when the bad time comes, they don’t give it out to the people….”

The pirate, of course, was wrong. The government had held on to stores for disaster, but wasn’t equipped for the disaster coming at the hands of its own citizens. Jenna had heard about the thousands of mils that had died trying to protect the outpost, holding on to the remnants of what had been because of orders given by those who’d died days and weeks before. To the mils, the attackers had been looters and bandits, hardly wanderers and survivors. Who knew who was right, but Jenna was pretty sure who’d end up with the goods in the end…

Jenna tuned out of the self-righteous prattle for a few minutes, opening her eyes to look at the country side of Kentucky and the seemingly untouched houses. You could almost expect that there was peace in the world from the rolling hills of green…

“…But what can you expect,” the pirate was going on when she paid attention again. “The Ark is hording the technology and waiting for us all to be good enough to give it back to us! I mean, who the hell do they think they are? Their secret society of braniacs get to play God with us?? Somebody ought to lead a bunch of outsiders to their doors and crash their little party. Wonder what that Arch-er Newbill would say to that…”

Jenna had to admit that she did agree with that. Maysbridge was barely 15 miles from the fortress-like Ark. It was so-named because the people who had holed up there were all academics and thought that the world was coming to an end, so they would store up whatever was needed for a future re-population. As so often happened with academics, they’d had part of the facts and had made some far reaching assumptions. The end of the world must mean the destruction of animals, plants, and technology. As such, they thought to breed animals and plants there, as well as store technology for the future. However, as neither animal or plant life had been consistently damaged in the Fall, they’d just gained a reputation for stupidity. With that said, it was true that they’d managed to collect a huge amount of technology, paying top dollar from anyone who was willing to part with things. Without electricity, most tech was worthless, so they’d gained a lot of stuff over the last year.

Jenna wondered where they had gotten the money, but Lexington had a lot of well-to-do people, many of whom didn’t trust banks, so they may have been able to get the necessary gold that way. Little did they know the tech they’d acquired was a lighting rod for an army…

Suddenly, Jenna was shaken out of her revery by the truck braking and Flanagan shutting off the ignition. They had arrived.

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

Author: JT Hanke

J.T. Hanke is the founder and former editor of DarkestGoth Magazine. Stepping down as editor in 2019, he currently serves as its technical adviser and a contributing writer.

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