Alone Together

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by Yvan, Aug 20, 2015.

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  1. Years had passed when the first nuclear bombs were dropped across the United States. Millions more had died since then; in the wars that followed, in the radiation that slowly spread across the lands, and through the small bands of gangs that cropped up since the society began to crumble away. Many of cities had long been abandoned, too many feared that more disaster was to come.

    Then there were people like Avery who stayed in Philadelphia. The 20 something shaved her hair off regularly, seeing that her once flowing blond hair made caring for herself harder. At least she didn't have to deal with tangles and hair ties anymore. Yet she wasn't alone though, another strangler joined her a few weeks ago on a food run. Despite how much she wanted to another human that wasn't going to kill her for shoes, she'd rather not have the boy around. He hadn't spoken a single word and Avery was pretty sure he was sick, point was, the kid was useless to her.

    Night seemed to be the best time to hide from gangs that lurked in the city which made it the best time to find food. Oh, how Avery hated going out into city; gunshots echoing throughout the alleyways accompanied by screams quickly silenced reminded her of how dangerous it was. Praying to whatever gods would listen to her, Avery grabbed an empty backpack and headed out into the darkness, leaving the sick kid behind. "Please let me not die..." she muttered to herself.
    #1 Yvan, Aug 20, 2015
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 14, 2015
  2. It was just past midnight in Philadelphia, not that anyone below could glean that from looking at the moon in the sky, as it was heavily overcast. The gray clouds hanging menacingly above the city, so much darker at night, were common in the wasteland America had become post-nuclear war. It'd been nearly a decade since the first bombs were dropped, and whether they were Russian or American didn't matter anymore. The climate changes it caused had everyone suffering, the first few years, and then...well, this damaged environment became the new normal for the survivors.
    Joanna Reed was one of them. She was old enough to remember the world before, but young enough not to care. This was her reality, and she was quite practical about it.

    She jogged quickly across the street, head swiveling to look at the abandoned houses and cars around her the whole way. There was never a time to let one's guard down. Especially in a city. That was a lesson she'd learned the hard way, and it'd left a permanent scar on her stomach. The house she was going for had been a nice one, a solid two story, but its charm was lost with all of the lower windows and doors boarded up and the general abandoned look it had. There was an upper balcony with a unblocked door however, and Joanna would bet she could climb up to it. Getting onto the roof was the hard part, but between the climbing skill she'd gained from years of doing similar things and the long dead car parked by the side of the house, she managed it. After that, it was just a matter of walking across the roof and vaulting over the railing around the balcony and picking the lock on the door. Easy.

    Too easy, it seemed.

    The door seemed to have some kind of noise trap rigged up to it, and the clattering of metal on metal echoed across the silent street as she opened it. "Shit!" Joanna muttered, cursing herself for taking what had obviously been bait. Thinking quickly, she dropped off the roof and ran across the house's yard, taking cover in a neighboring house that was long since looted. There could be someone still in the house. Or she could have just drawn the attention of everything within blocks of her location. "Nice fucking move, dumbass," she told herself, taking a careful peek over the window sill at the street.
  3. Barely two blocks away from the crumpling building and noise erupts, echoing though out the abandoned streets. Her hairs stand on end as she rushes towards the nearest alley, holding her breath. Clearly the girl wasn't alone in this section of the city but turning back now meant running dangerously low on food, Avery simply couldn't afford it. Without glancing around to see if she was in the clear, she rushed back to the apartments as she pieced together a plan.

    The first thing she grabbed was a heavily dented back she hid among the bushes; despite it being something she found hard to handle it was all she had. Guns were something that were rare to see, especially among wanders like herself. The noise from a single gunshot attracted dozens of people you'd rather stray from. The bat was her best and only choice. The second, a road flare, since from a distance it looked like a gun; it was simply tossed into her bag. As Avery began to head towards the noise with a tight grip on the cold metal, she knew full well she might not come back from the little side trek she was taking. But if she didn't check it out, whoever caused the noise might come her way, causing more trouble than needed.

    She sighs and heads straight towards the noise. "Better to deal with it now than later," she mumbled under her breath.

    The noise only came from a few blocks away and the thin girl was already there in a few minutes. Despite not knowing where is exactly came from, it was easy to figure out what block. Gangs along with a few old coots tended to set them up in their areas; she stumbled upon them a few times around those blocks. Each step was deliberately placed in hopes of not making a sound as she walked past each house. Most were empty but from the outside, they seemed relativity unscathed. They seemed to draw outsiders to them which in turn drew gangs. She bet it was probably a wander like her; never did she hear of one of the gang members setting off one of their own traps.

    Going from house to house, she looked for whoever caused it. The air was stale with a tinge of burning garbage as she moved along. It wasn't till she reached the last house on the block, painted a sickly shade of green, did she see the back door ajar. This is the place, she thought, now let's pray I'm actually alone here. With the bat in hand, she peered inside the house. The place was wreck but it didn't seem like anyone managed to get in, the noise must have scared them off. Avery seemed to be alone as far as she was concerned and turned around to head back, cutting her way through the overgrown backyard next door. Yet as the blond hair girl passed by the sliding back doors, she saw the ever so slight movement of something inside.

    Avery froze in place, her knuckles turning white as her hands wrap around the bat. The seconds seemed like hours as she spun the possibilities of what to do next in her mind. Best option that came to mind: run.

    With her heart beating uncontrollable, she dashed away into the darkness, hoping to get away from whoever was lurking in the home. But luck wasn't on her side this night; as she ran she tripped over a poorly made brick walkway. She fell head first onto the bricks,pain flooding her body and mind in an instant. "Shit, shit, shit," she muttered over and over again. Out of all the thing that had to happen, this was one of the worst. Avery pushed herself up despite the pain and grabbed the bat that laid by her side, using it to haul herself up. This was going to lead to a concussion or at the very least a killer headache. Well, I fucked up good, real good.
  4. Finding that there had been a person on the street when she peeked out was alarming enough, but the person saw her because she had peeked and that was an entirely different level of alarm. Joanna crouched down lower than she had before, hand wrapping around the handle of the knife she had on her. Sometimes, only sometimes, in situations like this, she actually wished she had a gun. It was easier being one sole person with a firearm taking on a group than one sole person with an especially large knife taking on a group. But they were loud, and ammo was hard to find, so she worked with what she had.

    The footsteps she expected to hear, she waited to hear turn and head in her direction never came. Instead, there was the loud sound of a bat and what was maybe a person striking concrete.

    She should not investigate. She really should not investigate. Bad things would happen if she investigated.

    But Joanna drew her machete and vaulted over the window sill anyways, keeping low and moving in the direction she'd heard the sounds come from. It was only a few seconds before she came upon Avery. Her first reaction was surprise. A girl? The person who spotted her and had her hiding behind a wall and waiting to fight for her life or go down swinging was just a girl? No, not just. She shouldn't underestimate the girl, even if the girl had managed to trip and fall on her face.

    Standing up and walking out from behind the car she'd used as cover, Joanna took a few steps in Avery's direction, figuring she might have something useful on her. That plan changed upon the sound of an engine drawing closer to their location became audible. That would likely be a gang, coming to check on their trap. She need to be gone and fast. She only had a split second to think about it, but she offered both of her hands to the fallen girl. "Come on. We need to move. Right the fuck now."
  5. Glancing up, she sees the woman, the who must have been the one hiding in the house. Thoughts spun in her mind; she only saw this as a trap, well, that was till car engines drew near them. Tires screech on the cracked pavement and the roar of the engine sound like a warning call to their death. Gangs were cruel to those they found. Rumors circled a few years back that one was full of cannibals, that the people found were used like objects, or simply killed for pleasure. Nothing was confirmed and she didn't want to be the one confirming it.

    Avery grabbed the woman's rough hands, which helped her keep her balance. "I have a place, we'll go there. 26th and Washington street," she hushed. It was her best bet at getting back alive and she took it. Without another exchange between the two, they rushed off through the mess of yards. Surprisingly, she was the one who led the way despite wanting to double over in pain from a massive headache.

    "It's a safe place, we'll be safe there...." Avery said, hoping that the woman could hear her as she began to lead the way. She desperately hoped the woman wouldn't kill her as they ran. Not once did she glance back to see if the wander had followed and frankly, didn't care if she did or not.
  6. To say Joanna was surprised by the other girl's fast recovery would be an understatement. She just got up, gave directions and took off. Seeing toughness like that displayed by another person was weird for her. Her surprise didn't stop her from following after the girl, however; she didn't have the luxury of standing and staring and she knew it.

    She could roughly estimate where the corner of Twenty Sixth and Washington was, but she followed after the girl anyways. Close, so she didn't lose her, but not so close as to trip either of them up. A thing like that could get both of them killed. She didn't so much as slow down until the specified corner was in sight. After all, just because the vehicle was out of hearing range didn't mean there weren't more threats drawn by its noise. Joanna stopped dead in the center of the crossing of the two streets, panting softly and looking around them. "Which of these buildings were you talking about?" she asked, turning toward the girl she'd nearly tried to rob.
  7. "The brown one, it's safe there I promise." She stopped in the middle of the intersection with her, trying her best not to double over from the pain pulsing in her head. The car was off in the distance and Avery doubted they followed them but she couldn't take any risk. Taking a deep breath, she sprinted right for the building, leaving the woman behind in her dust. "Follow me!" she yelled back.

    She threw open the splintering oak door and held it opened for her to follow. It wasn't going to be the grandest of places but it looked long deserted which made it a nice place to hide, especially from wanders who were the quietest of those who roamed the streets. It would serve as good place for the woman to lay low in, just for the meantime. Avery felt dizzy and everything seemed to go blurry for a moment as she stood there, hopefully she still had painkillers somewhere.
  8. Safe? Joanna didn't trust anywhere that was supposed to be safe on principle, these days. But that didn't mean she couldn't take shelter there for a bit. She'd just keep her guard up, and it would be fine.

    With a nod, she walked in through the door Avery held open, moving with the wariness of an animal in new territory. And, now that she wasn't hiding or running, one could observe that animalistic is what she looked like, too. Her hair was a dirty auburn, bound up into a tight ponytail behind her head, and the lack of hair in her face only accentuated the strength of her features and the scar that cut across her cheek. She was tall and skinny from too little food, but even so, she looked like the strong sort. Her eyes were an eerie brown, light enough to be closer to amber or orange in color. The clothes she wore were light and simple and in decent shape, only sporting a few rips and stains but not nearly enough to justify replacing them.

    "You could let me look at that," she suggested to the other girl, turning back to her after giving the space a once over. She was speaking of the head wound. It was clear the impact with the pavement had done some damage, and while she was here, she could at least help a bit. Since her plans of robbery were postponed for an indefinite period and all.
  9. Avery stared at her, wondering how she'd been able to get by reality unscathed, let alone seem healthy compared to most citizens in the east coast. For her, she managed to barely get away with most situations without a scratch, even luckier if she had food in her hands. Closing the faded door behind them, she dropped her empty bag and bat, which fell with a solid thud before rolling a few inches away. "You don't seem like the doctor type, lady. I don't mind if you do but it's probably just a bad headache or something."

    Moving towards another room which was bare except for a few chairs and a torn movie poster of Oldboy clung to the wall. "I'd rather not stay near the front door," she mumbled under her breath. "So I'm Avery and welcome to the Washington Apartments." Every other room was just like this, stripped of anything and everything useful, mainly by Avery herself."

    "And who are you, well, besides a wanderer?" She sat down on of the chairs, creaking with the littlest of movements. At least Avery pulled another one for the woman.
  10. Well, fine. She could deal with her head injury in her own, if she was going to be like that. Doctors were readily available, what with this being the apocalypse. Joanna moved to stand in the doorway of the next room, shifting awkwardly from foot to foot and listening to what Avery was saying while trying to look like she wasn't.

    The scrape of the chair being drawn out drew her attention. She didn't sit, still too on edge from the close call the pair had had to relax. Along with the fact she was in a strange place in a strange neighborhood with a strange person. It appeared Avery was determined to become less of a strange person, however. "My name is Joanna," she admitted after a moment, grimacing a bit. She hadn't survived as long as she had by being friendly. This was...weird. She shifted and paced across the space, casting wary looks in the direction of the front door every few seconds. "Look, I don't want to do the whole 'getting to know you' shit, so let's not. Why did you bring me here?" she asked after a moment, stopping and turning toward Avery. This was a private place. A safehouse, basically. Giving its location away to some random ass person like her was just dumb. "I could have robbed you. I would have robbed you, if that car hadn't headed in our direction."
  11. "Well, you can still rob me but what does that get you? A bat, a backpack, and a sick kid. I don't have much to lose so frankly, I don't care." Avery had near nothing to her name, even if she was robbed, it wouldn't hurt her too much in the long run. Especially if the sick boy wasn't around her anymore, it would make supplies a lot longer and make her life so much easier. She frowned at the Joanna, the woman was blunt but she should have expected that. The world was harsh and tended to kick anyone as soon as they were down on the ground, luckily Avery had seemed to avoid that part.

    She sighed, crossing her legs. "Well, I brought you here because you said run and this is the only place I know. So many places around here gangs lurking somewhere in them, I know this one doesn't have any." The air was stale as they talked and smelled of mold. "If you want to leave, you can just go, I'll even throw in my backpack for you if you want." Even then, she was trying to be helpful to the stranger who nearly robbed her. It was just second nature of her to be helpful.
  12. Avery's response actually shocked Joanna into momentary silence. Or, more the honesty of it did. She hadn't met someone...someone nice since before the war. How was she supposed to react to it now, with the way everything worked now? Her instinct was to bolt. Run, because there was nothing here to fight. But she didn't. She stood stock still, eyes wide and mouth twisted downward into an expression that was hard to read. She stood and she tried to reconcile that the harshness of the world she'd adapted to hadn't turned the person sitting in front of her into a selfish survivalist.

    It took a couple of minutes, but Joanna took a couple of steps over to the table and so very hesitantly sat down in the chair Avery had pulled out for her. "That's...that's a really stupid attitude, with the way things are these days," she noted quietly, but her tone lacked judgement. She was making an observation, not criticizing.
  13. Her smile was warm as she watched Joanna sit down, glad the woman wasn't going to rob her. Well, at least not at this moment. "True, it's not the best thing to have but it's all I really know how to do. It's hard being mean if you ask me." She tried to laugh it off but Joanna was right, being nice wouldn't is one of the easiest ways of getting killed ever since the bombs hit America. Looking over Joanna, she realized that the hardy woman was still alive since she probably didn't show kindness to anyone.

    Avery curled her fingers, glancing down at them as she spoke. "To be honest, I'd love to be cruel and selfish but it's hard to go against what my parents taught me. Even now." She swallowed her spit and smiled sheepishly. It felt as if she invited a lost dog into her safeplace, how would she know if it would be feral or tame? Hopefully, it would be the latter.
  14. Joanna had to wonder exactly why that was so amusing, as she watched Avery laugh off her inability to 'be mean'. 'Being mean' was prioritizing survival over everything and everyone else. 'Being mean' was why Joanna was able to travel alone and why she wasn't as malnourished as the average wanderer. 'Being mean' was a way to keep living, even in a time like this, and definitely not something to giggle about. She was just about to open her mouth to make a comment along those lines when Avery started speaking again.

    "My parents weren't very nurturing," Joanna responded, figuring it was her turn to give the rundown on her childhood. Which hadn't been a bad one, exactly, but hadn't been easy either. Lots of yelling and being alone. "They didn't really try and keep up the lessons on kindness and sharing." A few seconds later, she moved suddenly, put her fist down on the table and leaned toward Avery with an expression equal parts determination and confusion. "How do you do it? Keep going? Live from day to day without stealing or hurting or killing?"
  15. She jumped back as soon as Joanna's fist came down on the coffee stained table, trying her best not show any fear from the sudden movement. Was her life really that different simply because she showed kindness? It was strange but she answered nonetheless. "It's hard and gets me in a lot of bad situations. Like right now, there's pretty much a dying teenager a floor above us just because I couldn't leave him for dead." She slouched back in the chair, looking down on the floor so she doesn't have to make eye contact. "I hide a lot, go the long way, or just steal from houses. It's horrible. I'm pretty sure I've survived through dumb luck alone," she confessed.

    Even tonight, luck was on her side. It let her live another day thanks to Joanna and spared her of being robbed from her, well, at least at this point in time. Avery wasn't sure what she was getting at but tried to offer up more information. "I just kinda survive day by day and hope nothing bad happens. There's nothing more to it than that." She wished she could say she was a pacifist but she had her share of fights and close calls, time to time when things seemed safe she'd even hunt. Except that was when she was outside of the city, now, the best thing she could hunt was a pigeon.

    Avery scratched her head with her dirty and cracked fingernails. "I think we can both agree that whatever I'm doing shouldn't be called surviving. It's nothing of the sorts," she mumbled.
  16. The fact Avery jumped was good. Jumpiness could save someone's ass. "Not being dead is surviving," Joanna corrected, smirking softly and leaning back in the chair, using her feet to lift the front legs off of the floor. She was careful not to overbalance herself. Falling would just make her look stupid, and pride didn't count for much these days, but that was a blow to it she would avoid at all costs. "So you're surviving. Badly, but you are." She wasn't sure what she thought about the sick kid that was apparently upstairs. Might have some sort of contagious shit. Yeah, she was not heading in that direction anytime soon.

    Anytime soon? When had she gone from sitting and processing the girl in front of her to staying with said girl? The chair legs hit the floor almost immediately after that thought. "Look. This is nice and all, but you don't have anything worth taking and even less worth trading. I need to leave." The last sentence was a reminder to herself as much as it was a declaration to Avery. It was almost sunup. She couldn't stay.
  17. Avery had hoped she might stay the day but she knew Joanna was different from her, which was good. It meant she'd probably live a lot longer than her. "Oh," she mumbled, scooting the chair back it she rose up. "If you ever need a place to stay, you can come here. Well, at least for the time being." It was the least she could do for the woman, after all she had nothing that would be remotely useful to her.

    There wasn't much she could do convince her to stay. Little supplies, surrounded by gangs, some sick kid, and she had almost no skills that would be useful. With a sigh she knew that it was going to come to this either way, she'd expected it from the start. It's just how people were now, they could only look after themselves. A dog eat dog world and there Avery stood rabbit.

    "You're always welcomed here, I promise." Her voice dropped in pitch, a bit sadden to see someone leave again.
  18. Joanna nodded once at Avery's invitation, but she didn't expect to take the girl up on it. She was self-sufficient, dammit. Plus, this girl made her aware of some uncomfortable things about herself, like how easy it had been for her to resort to cruelty and violence in the chaos after the war. The guilt this girl, who'd survived for so long without any of that, put on her was something she didn't care for and would prefer to avoid.

    So she left. She left without plans of ever returning. It's funny how plans change.


    Two days later, Joanna fell off a building.

    It was early morning, and normally she wouldn't be out salvaging in the daytime, but the old factory was too dark to do it safely at night. She'd finished going through the main floor and was climbing up to an open window on the second when she lost her grip. It was't much of a fall. Fifteen feet or so. She landed flat on her back but the pack she was wearing kept her from cracking her head too severely. Not that she walked away unscathed, mind. A piece of rebar in the same pack that'd protected her from concussion pierced through the bag's lining and went all the way through her abdomen. It was just above her left hip and far enough to the side that she wouldn't suffer extreme damage to her internal organs, but the rebar was rusty and it was going to be painful to remove.

    Joanna laid on the ground unail she got her breath back, but standing was difficult. Shock from the fall and the injury made it difficult to move, and she knew with certainty she wasn't going to be able to get back to her hidey hole without collapsing. So, she slowly made her way three blocks over to the only other friendly place she knew.

    "Avery?" she called softly, slumping against the door. "I need your help. Please open up."
  19. Joanna waited for what seemed like forever until she could faintly hear someone's footsteps echoing on the stairs. It wasn't till the door creaked that she saw the familiar silver bat, except it wasn't paired with Avery's hand. A gaunt figure opened the door, towering over her. He was black with short hair that seemed recently cut and piercing eyes that seemed like tar mixing with the ocean, the man was only wearing boxer briefs and a loose fitting shirt. He beckoned her inside the house, not bothering to help her despite being wounded.

    Was this the sick kid Avery was talking care of? Hard to tell but considering how bony he looked, probably. He lead her to the kitchen she already knew well and pulled out a chair for her, the legs scrapping against the floor as he moves it towards her. Setting the bat down on the table, he left the room and headed out back. It wasn't till a few minutes later did he show up with Avery at his side. She looked worse from when she left only a few days ago. Bruises cover her neck along with a cut lip that seemed as if it happened only a day ago.

    "Oh god," she exclaimed and rushed over to the injured woman as soon as saw the blood stained clothing. It was surreal to her seeing the woman injured. Joanna seemed like such a strong from what little she'd seen, what could she have possibly done to get herself in a mess like this?

    Taking a deep breath, Avery pulled over another chair with one hand and the other shooing the man away. She leaned over the back of the dingy wooden chair, staring straight at Joanna. "What happened? Are you hurt bad or?" She paused for a moment, trying to gather her thoughts. Avery doubted she could even help her much; medical situations seemed as if they would lead more people dead than alive with her trying to help. "I can try and help if you need it...I have an extra set of hands too." The only things she was good at was stitching wounds, getting fevers down, and setting broken bones, this was on a whole other level for her.

    Rusted metal stuck out from Joanna, the blood and rust mixing into something that looked as if she was bleeding mud. She took a deep breath and thought of what to do. "Okay," she said, "We need to get whatever is in you out, make sure your insides are okay, stitch you up and somewhere in the process try and disinfect it the best we can. Does that sound okay?" Avery slowly put her hand on the table, feeling the dust cling to her skin with each and every movement. To whatever divine being that was listening to her, she prayed to it in silence for help as she waited for Joanna's answer.
    #19 Yvan, Sep 6, 2015
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2015
  20. Waiting was agony. She wasn't bleeding badly, really, and the fact she hadn't pulled out the bit of metal helped with that. But it was still painful. Throbbing, angry pain, the kind that made a person tired. She'd been thinking about sitting down and maybe resting a little when the door opened.

    Her instinct was to straighten up, try and collect herself to maybe appear less weak to this stranger. She wasn't one to ignore her instincts. The frown on her face was unreadable as she followed the man into the kitchen, and she was unsure if she cared about the fact he hadn't offered her help. Sitting was difficult, but she managed, keeping up a dark glare in the direction of the strange man until he left to retrieve Avery. After he was gone, she let out a small whimper, adjusting herself as best as she could in the seat so the metal poking out of her belly wasn't touching the chair, and waited some more.

    Avery's appearance when she did finally appear was...fucking shocking. And surprisingly aggravating. If Avery told her who did that, she'd. Ooh, she'd.

    Maybe after she was healed up.

    "Fell onto a piece of rebar," she muttered softly in response to Avery's first question shifting so she was sitting on a corner of the chair and Avery had better access to her side. "And yeah. Going to need some help. Not his." She gave a jerky nod toward the stranger, unwilling to trust that he wasn't involved with Avery's condition until proven otherwise.
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