While watching an episode of the original series of Star Trek, I stumbled upon a journal post in my deviantArt account. Live-Love-Write, one of the groups there, has a weekly writing prompt, and to be honest I rarely give it much thought. This week, emboldened by the two pieces of fiction I've already completed and uploaded today, I looked at it.
The result is a post-apocalyptic mix of a true gentleman in a situation not unlike The Hunger Games (the first book of which I've read and truly enjoyed) and The Running Man (King at his best as his pen-name Bachman). It's not long, it's not even particularly good, perhaps, but it's a successful twisting of what should have been a wonderfully positive prompt. All of the examples they gave were about lights finding you in the darkest of times, positive things leading you onwards. Of course, I immediately wondered what it might be like if you didn't want the light to find you, if the darkness were your friend. This is the result.
The Light That Finds Me
It’s been ten days now without sighting of Gen1US. I write this journal entry while crouched in a sewage drainpipe just large enough to admit me, my backpack and a couple of rats. One of my snares is set up around the corner in the hope that, tonight at least, I’ll catch dinner.
The wound I sustained five days ago is beginning to fester, I fear. It’s warm to the touch and gives slightly when I push against my ankle. It’s affecting my movement, no doubt about it, and, most worryingly, it doesn’t hurt any more. I’m hoping I can still reach the supply bunker near Stanchion 8, but it’s going to be tight.
The darkness is welcoming. My goggles, though they cast everything in a greenish ashy glow, are effective. Today alone I saw a ratlion, mutated through all the possible permutations into a gigantic beast. Teeth erupted from the three vicious mouths and its tails swished from side to side. It was only through judicious use of the smoke grenades I picked up at the Army Depot I was able to bypass it, and its howls followed me across the rubble for many a mile.
I end this entry, as ever, in hope of making a further one tomorrow, and I pray to the Mother that tomorrow finds me in sight of Stanchion 8.
No sign of Stanchion 8. Ankle is now completely numb, the numbness extending up my leg. Today I was sure, in the ghostly vision I am reduced to, that I saw another contestant. I chased them for several minutes before I encountered my own camp from the previous day. Is this madness I am descending into, or merely my own end?
It is warm, then cold, by turns. The rat I caught yesterday tasted like cardboard, but its blood sated my thirst for a moment.
Cold, and the whimsical nurturing of the world. What is the time, said the mother to her chicks? Never to the tall tower I shall return, though it says a number, the holy number. An octet of orgasmic ordeals, and I am done.
Somehow I am alive. I found myself awake at the beginning of this period of wakefulness, in a bed at Stanchion 8. By the bed were the three syringes that proved to be my salvation, and the swelling in my leg is already diminishing. For now, I can write no more. I submit this to the ether and pray for tomorrow’s health.
It took two days before I was able to raise the pen again, but now I feel stronger than I have done for nearly two weeks. It is time for a proper telling.
Supplies available to me include a week’s worth of food, both gathered from this Medical station at this bunker and from my traps in the Ruin. I have a stout piece of pipe, torn from the Army depot’s wall, and my standard-issue knife. The gun I have been carrying around since I found it a week ago on the Russian is out of ammo, and I am seriously contemplating leaving it here. I had hoped to find ammunition for it, but sadly it was not to be.
I did find a sturdy raincoat to replace the tattered remains of my own thin plastic mac, and a pair of boots that are more suited to tramping over the rubble of San Francisco than my own leather trainers. My backpack is still serviceable and contains all the items I need. Tomorrow I hope to be fit enough to move on. The Light has not found me yet, and for this I am glad.
Uneventful day. I saw nothing of Gen1US, Gen2SU or Gen3EN, and I think it is time to note down a little background, in case I am lost to this world. If a stranger were to come upon my journal in some (not so?) far-off day, I am sure that he or she would benefit from the information I have discovered.
The Army depot was by far the most informative. Gen1, 2 and 3 were independently produced in three countries, the US, New Soviet Union and England respectively, giving the last two letters. No country would name their invention as the second or third, of course, but in the wake of the WorldFall these devices have taken on names given by the public. It’s not hard to imagine where the initials GEN come from: they are genetically engineered nemeses, designed to hunt down anyone in their area. Similar in size to the old Harrier jump jets, their undersides are covered entirely by lasers that provide light or, in a twinkling of an eye, death.
I have encountered one of them, Gen1US, three times. The first time I evaded him by stealthy movement, hiding like a cornered horseroo. I believe it was a fireplace I hid in, large red and white socks still dangling from the mantle as if waiting for some ethereal foot to be placed in them.
The second and third times I was able to evade using the weapons I have gathered. Most of my bullets were used in the third attempt, destroying several of the lights on Gen1. It will have repaired them by now, of course, but it felt good.
I grow fatigued now. I managed a mile or two’s walk from Stanchion 8, but it looms ever over me, like a bony finger. I am reminded of my own mortality this evening.
It is not even time to be awake, but I am nevertheless. I will be brief. Gen1US has found me. It circled around at about 4 this morning, its light waking me. The light that finds me, seeks me out, destroys me.
I must flee.
Day 57 – later
I have sought shelter briefly in an abandoned shop, its large window proof of purpose. There was a can of beans here, unirradiated and delicious. They will serve as a last meal, for surely this is my final stand. I have lost my backpack, torn off in my flight. I miss the knife most of all, for it leaves me with only my wits to protect me. The water bottle was, thankfully, attached to my belt, as was this journal, but I need neither for much longer.
The light. It is back. There is no back exit from this shop; I have already made sure of this. I can only hope that the incendiary grenades I had in my pocket are enough, for I have naught else remaining. I can hear a humming sound coming closer. Adieu.
Subject 916e recovered from downtown San Francisco area, sector 8a. All belongings burnt according to doctrine. Body returned to family for burial. Report ends.