Categories > Original > Fantasy > Tradewinds 07 - "Away From Home"


by shadesmaclean 0 reviews

a small eternity

Category: Fantasy - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Fantasy,Horror,Sci-fi - Published: 2009-01-14 - Updated: 2009-01-14 - 897 words - Complete

Justin walked down the hallway, trying to make as little noise as possible.

During his long years in the Triangle State, he had learned to move about very quietly, and now he was starting to get the hang of making little sound even on this metallic floor. Over the many over-long days since the Enforcer reappeared, he had not been idle. Both above and below ground, he was gradually carving away at the network of scanners surrounding the nearest rations storerooms, using the regenerating power of his laser staff to create a growing area where he could move about undetected. Using the existing markers in the hallways, and his own marks in the vents, he was hoping to work his way in a consistent direction. Perhaps eventually toward some kind of exit.

All the while trying to keep NK from sitting on the food supply.

Even the simplest aspects of his life had become overly complicated. When he was younger, he could get away with wearing dirty clothes all the time, but it was only after being able to wash everyday in Paradise that he realized just how thoroughly he had become desensitized to his own B-O; cramped in the shafts here, the only thing for him to smell was himself. He grabbed as much food as he could each time, and that was to say nothing of using the can, for he had yet to find an accessible bathroom anywhere that didn’t look like an even more likely tomb than a closet, so all he could do was use any closet where he could find something to wipe his ass with. And remember not to go back to that particular closet again.

For two infinite weeks, this was his life.

Lately, he had been having weird dreams about people he once knew, and people he only vaguely remembered, trying to give him directions. Seeing Eleanor and Poe vanish around corners. Trevor or Slash somehow pointing NK-525 down the hall, saying, He went that way! Mirage Mr Morgans warning him against going certain ways, often holding or pointing to warning signs he couldn’t decipher no matter how hard he tried. Visions of Jesse Fletcher trying to lead him down various hallways, saying, Max went this way…

He feared he wouldn’t be able to hang on to reason much longer.

Sometimes he wasn’t sure where he found the nerve to come out here anymore, but he knew his very survival depended on uncovering more of this place’s secrets. Just one unlocked door could be the difference between life and death. To that end, he had decided a little recon was in order.

As he peered around another corner, he froze.

In spite of the cleaning drones hard at work form floor to ceiling, there were still carbon scars streaking up and down the walls. Justin could tell right away that a massive firefight had taken place here at some point. From the looks of it, though, it appeared that there was heavy fire coming from both ends of the hall. The more he thought about it, this looked awfully familiar to him. It was when he saw the ladderwell door, the very one he had cut through gods alone knew how long ago, looking very much as it had when last he saw it, that he realized he had been going in circles.

Beyond any shadow of a doubt. Beyond rational thought. Almost beyond fear. This scenario was cutting him down an inch at a time.

“No…” It was all he could do to whisper.

Justin stood there for a long moment, trying to regain what little he feared he had left in the way of a grip, just staring at his handiwork from what felt like a lifetime ago. He knew the longer he stood around, the less time it would take the Enforcer to catch up with him, yet all he could think of was that this was the only place he had been through in all this time that he was sure Max had also passed through. The last place their paths crossed. Before, when he looked at this spot, he had imagined Max escaping the guards there, but this time…

Justin shook his head, as if negating how grim this scene looked to his now-opened eyes.

Seeing the ladderwell had just given him the idea of sabotaging sensors on adjacent levels to confound NK when the alarm system abruptly activated, scaring him so badly he cried out in spite of himself.

“Fuckin’ A!” he screeched. “I didn’t even do anything!”

He knew the drill. In a matter of moments, these haunted halls would be swarming with robo-guards and Junkyard Dogs, and the Enforcer wouldn’t be too far behind. Even as his mind raced, the only good thing he could think of, was that if he didn’t do anything to sound the alarm, it had to mean that someone else had, renewing his hopes that Max might still be alive. Wasting no time, he dashed down the hall, taking a couple random corners for good measure before popping open a storage closet, hoping he had enough of a lead—

“Get lost. This hiding place is taken.”

Justin simply stood there, struck speechless. It had been a small eternity since he had last heard a human voice.
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