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07-01-2011, 04:07 PM
Narrow Escape
He walked through the dark, cluttered room. Not knowing what he was looking for other then when he saw it he would know it. A sign or clue. He had been in buildings like this before; they used to be places of learning. Jacob had never been to school. He grew up in the wilds, away from what was left of society. His father had raised him, taught him how to fend for himself, and taught him how to survive in this new desperate world. A world that didn’t have a place for school.
It was hard getting through the rooms. Desks, tables, chairs were strewn about either from the day it all changed or the scavengers afterwards. Although, it was unlikely scavers came this far into the city. For the most part you never went further into the city then you could get back out before night. The human race had turned into nothing more than small family groups of scared animals afraid of what went bump in the night. Not Jacob, for all intents and purposes He was what went bump in the night.
His father taught him to embrace the dark, to hunt by night, to prospect when all the scavers were afraid to even enter the city. He had a couple of run-ins with a few different creatures. Some that he had seen in books, beautiful creatures, different ones from before the War. Normally they would square off and stare at each other. Frozen sizing each other up, checking each other’s motives before the eminent need for survival reminded them that there was a task at hand. SURVIVAL.
The Beasts. Those were another problem. Unsure of what they were, they came in all different shapes and sizes. Some flew, while some crawled on their undersides. Some appeared to be human, even mimicked the sounds either a crying child would make or that of a weeping woman to draw you in close before another one attacked you from behind. No one had bothered to name them separately like the animals of the old world. All the dark things were just classified “Beasts”. Creatures of an unknown origin, other than they did not exist before the War. He and his father knew differently, each one had a special set of skills and inherent weaknesses. Each kind had specific hunting patterns and behaviors. Some were rather intelligent, while others simply roamed around until the happen to bump into food. All were dangerous, especially to humans, who were no longer the Apex predator.
He had made it throughout the old building lost in the thoughts of his father and everything he had taught him. After all, it had been three days since Jacob, had last seen him. This building he searched was where his father was said to be heading to last. He knew the rules, he knew to assume the worst, he knew to never to look for someone lost in the cities, and to never stay in the city after dark. All rules society had lived by for the fifty or so years. All rules he and his father completely ignored. He would find his father… something down the hall alerted him. He was no longer alone.
He had let his guard down while he was searching, not being part of the night as he was taught. He had moved furniture and left thing out of place, he had touched doorknobs with his hands and left his scent out in the open for a creature to find. Hopefully, it was a dog, or another animal. The likelihood both being slim it was just past midnight the only things that lurked at this time of night in this world were that of tooth, claw, and nail. And on this night the hunt was on…
Jacob, stood completely still in the room. Both, out of fear and to get his bearings. He had to come up with a plan, quickly! Escaping didn’t always mean running. The Beasts radiated a type of fear that crippled your senses and triggered the flight mentality quickly. The closer they got, the more the feeling of dire self-preservation told you to RUN fast and don’t look back. Unfortunately, evolution hadn’t been as kind to humans as to provide us with eyes on the back of our heads, or inverted knees to jump away as it did to some of the beasts. So running away without knowing where you were going usually meant you either got cornered or mauled from behind by a creature much stronger and faster than you.
Jacob moved quickly to the big oak desk at the head of the class. It was musty, and weird vegetation grew on it that gave off a strong odor. Possibly enough to conceal his own. He crouched down into the crawl space under it; he peaked under to look at the door that leads into the hallway.
The Beast grew closer now, intentional in its path. There was no doubt that the creature in the hall was hunting him. A loud heaving sound came from just outside the door; it smelled the air for him. As the shadow approached the doorway the fear tore away at his confidence. And by the time he saw a knarred and twisted claw grab the doorway he was the size of a mouse on the inside. The door jamb cracked and crumbled with the force of the Beasts grip. It jumped in front of the doorway, expecting whatever hid beyond to bolt at the vibration of a huge monster just outside the door.
The Beast’s feet were huge, with clawed toes. Bulky, muscular, legs held the Beast upright. Its torso looked almost human, with arms the length of its body. The creatures head looked like that of a boar, an animal of the old world known for its aggression; but it was far uglier. Drool from its sharp toothed mouth, pooled on the floor. The beast could almost taste its prey. Its body was covered in thick black fur, long and frizzled at the thrill of the hunt, making the Beast look even bigger, even more intimidating… If that was possible.
It stood in the doorway, head up; heaving into the wind, hoping to catch a whiff of it’s pray. It got nothing but the rancid smell of the old mold that ate away at the oak. As it turned to walk further down the hall, Jacob, noticed that the creatures limp wasn’t a natural one, it had a battle scar on its leg, relatively fresh, blood still making its way through at some parts where the act of moving cracked the coagulation of blood that formed a scab. The wound was straight, a deliberate slash from a human weapon. He had found his first sign. His father was the only man he knew brave enough to attack a Beast. And as he got a full view at its hunched back, he saw a piece of gleaming metal.
His father’s bayonet, wedged hilt deep into the creatures back. Despite common sense he decided he was getting the combat knife back so that when he found his father he could be handed the heirloom. The Boar Beast crept away; dragging it’s nearly incapacitated leg in the process. Jacob rose from behind the desk and grabbed a handful of the stink moss and put it in a ‘wich bag, then into his knee pocket. He shadowed the Boar down the hall from inside of the classroom towards the back door. Every so often the Boar stopped and sniffed, but the wall separating the two and the smell of the stink moss wouldn’t give away Jacob’s position. As the creature approached the back door Jacob slowed his steps, cat-like, predatory, and finally paused pulling out the shock teeth from its belt pouch.
The Boar made one mistake and Jacob was all over it. It turned to the room across the hall, turning its whole body as the muscles on the creatures shoulders and neck were so dense that it would have to turn its whole body to check its flanks… a weakness! Jacob, jumped up to snatch the bayonet quickly, he pulled it out of the Boars back, feeling the teeth edge of the bayonet tear at its hide like the cutting edge of a saw. The creature let out an enormous cry of pain that shook the very foundation of the building. The Aura of Fear crippled Jacob’s judgment once again… This time he paid for it. The creature turned and swung its trunk-like arm at Jacob, knocking him back into the classroom across the chairs. Jacob was on the fringe of losing consciousness as the beast ripped at the doorway to fit its burly frame through the door. The Boar salivated, and roared at Jacob, as if cursing him for the pain he caused it, or mocking him at the fact that he was tonight’s dinner.
Jacob staggered to his feet, checked to make sure he hadn’t dropped anything and ran to the first door the Boar had checked. The boar tried to cut off his escape, but was to far slowed by the gaping wound on its leg. Jacob ran as fast as he could towards the staircase leading down, feeling the Beasts breathe on the back of his neck as it swept its arms at his feet. He was barely able to dodge the attack as he got to the T intersection that leads to the staircases on either side. He remembered the pool of water that laid to the right side and opted to run in that direction instead of the way he had come.
The Boar chased unknowing of the fact that it was heading to a trap, only thinking of the fury, or the hunger it possessed for Jacob. They both turned the corner sliding on the dust and gravel that had accumulated over time on the concrete floors. Jacob, currently being the more agile of the two took the opportunity to create some space between them as the Boar crashed into the wall almost plowing completely through. When the beast freed itself from the impromptu snare it found Jacob, standing at the end of the hall staring at it. The Boar carelessly rushed towards him using all four appendages to maneuver itself and create the speed it couldn’t use as it attempted to trip him sooner.
Jacob waited for the perfect moment as the boar splashed across the puddle and put the shock teeth into the puddle. The clicking noise it made on the way to the puddle slightly alerted the beast but the fury had taken over. By the time the Boar took its next step the electricity of the shock teeth amplified by the water, electrocuted the beast still. Its muscles all contract at once the violence of the shock stopping its black heart. It fell to the wet ground, smoking at the skin and fur. The power cell to the shock teeth fried, the smell of burning skin, heart racing, and out of breathe Jacob stood alone in the dark hallway. He knew that wouldn’t last, the noise made from the entire altercation would alert any other beasts, and he did not want another run-in this night. Luckily he had escaped danger with nothing more than some bruised ribs and all the hairs on his body standing on end. He crept away silently into the dark passage, hearing the approach of the other beasts enroute to enjoy a midnight snack.

The Search Continues
That night Jacob found shelter in the building across the street, watching silently as the different kinds of Beasts came to devour their own. To him it’s what separated them from animals and humans (most) alike. They tore away at the flesh of the dead boar with a brutality and savagery that was ruthless… Even other boars came to join in on the fray.
There from the shadowy room, he felt others pass him by, too preoccupied with the chance at a free meal to even look for anything other than what they were coming for. In minutes there was nothing left but a pool of blood. By morning that would be gone also, smaller creatures that survived off of lapping up whatever was left behind.
It was a crazy world that existed. No one could ever remember what it must have been like before. In fact the world before this one was only talked about as legend… Not knowing what was true or fairy tales of a bustling human society that was only threatened by itself. The monuments left behind by man were nothing more than part of the landscape by now, nature taking back what once was hers.
He walked over to the closet in the room and pulled small table over to barricade himself inside. He pulled out the stink moss from the ‘wich bag and placed it at the entrance to the closet. For the remainder of the night he slept, father bayonet in one hand, and his short boom stick in the other.
At dawn, the Suns light crept across the contours of his face. As it swept across his eye he woke, he laid still, taking a deep breathes, collecting his thoughts and thinking of what his next move would be. His body was still sore, a reminder of last night’s foray and the conditions in which he slept. Before leaving his makeshift shelter he listened outside, even though it was more dangerous at night the world was not avoid of danger during the day. It was possible that one of the beasts liked the room he was in as a shelter from the day. When nothing alerted his senses he moved on from the room, looking out the windows to the school building he noticed that all remnants of the boar were gone. He went down to the street to retrieve the rest of his gear that he left in a carriage so that he wouldn’t be weighed down in flight.
As he walked down the street past the ruble and debris left behind by the old world, he looked into the different carriages, fading in color from years of the abuse of the Sun, the insides basically gut out of everything useful. But it was a habit that was hard to break; you never knew what you could find unless you looked. Even if others had passed something up for not having a use for it, doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be useful to you, it just took a certain amount of creativity, or savvy to come up with a useful purpose for ancient junk.
Father once told him about a child’s toy that he used to used to use to draw out beasts from where he wanted to go. He would tie a piece of meat to the top of it and skitter it away with a control device. The smell of fresh meat and the sight of running prey got them to chase instinctively. The toy looked like a small car. Jacob laughed inside at the thought of beasts in hot pursuit of a “toy”. Father knew the world differently, his father was “a survivor” one of the few who had known what it was like before the War. So father had a bit more moxxy when it came to the things of the old world. He had learned a lot from his dad, and ultimately passing it on to Jacob. His heart sank at the thought of a world where he no longer had his best friend and mentor at his side. Father was the last of his family, Mother died three summers past. Both of his brothers died young of sickness. He would have been out here with father if it hadn’t been for the fact that he had hurt his knee during the last trip into the city. Father didn’t want to chance Jacob getting hurt again or worse. He was going this way to look for something in particular, but he never specified what it could be. He felt his father was still alive; then again it could just be hope. Something this world had little of.
When he got to the carriage he was using to store his gear he opened the door and snatched up his bag and put it on the roof. Reached under it and pulled out his long spear from under it. He reached into his bag and grabbed a map, his father had found many of them in his time, and Jacob decided to bring the one that father sat looking at every night at home. He had marked the maps as if meticulously searching for something in particular, why had he never mentioned what exactly it was that he searched for? Regardless… the map didn’t have many more buildings left to search in the area that he marked off. Jacob marked down the school and the building across the street. He looked at the map one more time for bearing, put it in his bag and strapped the bag on his back, picked up the spear, put on a dusty cap, and wrapped the shemagh around his face so that the radioactive dust wouldn’t poison his lungs then started walking towards the center of the city.
A menagerie of decrepit carriages and debris all about created a maze that made a trip of a couple of blocks a lengthy process. One had to be careful not to slip and twist an ankle, or fall on to a carriage and rouse enough noise to wake one of the beasts nearby that slept. The beast didn’t like the Sun but it didn’t mean that they wouldn’t take the opportunity to snatch you up in broad daylight. He wasn’t worried with a run-in with Raiders or Cannibals; he was too far into the city to have to deal with any other humans. If you were anywhere around here it was for a very specific reason. His was finding his Father.
The Sun burned across the sky, the heat was stifling but wondering into a building to avoid the heat most definitely meant jumping from the frying pan and into the fire. His father used that phrase often; Jacob didn’t exactly know what it meant other then things would go from bad to worse. He couldn’t help the feeling that he was being watched; He often paused to look over his shoulder or knelt down to sit and listen. In the distance he heard the thunder of a coming storm and knew he needed to find shelter quickly. Nothing in the immediate area felt threatening. He knew from his map that there was a section of row houses not too far from where he was and that he wouldn’t need to back track much to get there. He quickened the pace to beat out the front wind of the upcoming storm.
As he got to the row houses he looked to gain entry with as little noise as possible. A blown out window would suffice. He jumped up and in, just as the roar of the front wind kicked up a nasty dust storm outside. The dust turned the air red as it blew across the landscape giving the Sun’s rays a reddish hue. He crept around the first floor of the house with the boom stick in hand. Carefully choosing where he found footing to not arouse anything that lay beyond. After making sure the first floor was clear he checked the second with the same meticulousness. The house was void of dangers, he chose to take the opportunity to rest up again there was no way of telling how long the dust storm or following rains would last. Living in this world took a certain amount of patience. Jacob had plenty.