Just Morning

January 8, 2014

A writing prompt from a friend inspired this story about a normal, boring, and drama-free day in the life of my Dystopia Rising character.

Wolfram stared out the window of the Tap. False dawn was breaking over the horizon. A cold fucking dawn. And no coffee. He’d woke to find himself colder than usual. Probably needed to really pull out the old blanket soon. Can’t sleep shivering, and if you can, you probably don’t wake up.

The scavenger coughed and shook his head. He had always hated this type of weather. Cold was fine, but this was just bitter, and it was always the worse just before the sun broke. Shrugging, he stood up, ignoring the few shuffling feet in the Tap who were actually up at this hour. The cup of hot water in his hands wan’t much, but the chicken bone he’d boiled in it at least added some flavor and could keep him a bit warmer.

Stepping out the door, he felt the cold air immediately bite at his face and ears. The set down the cup, and pulled the hood over his head, the bandana across his face, and resettled his ever-present pack.

“Late night?” he asked himself, picking up the cup again. “Early morning,” he replied as casually, descending the stairs. “Just like every day.”

The trails weren’t exactly littered with scroungables. He walked slowly, down the path and letting his eyes cast about slowly. No rush. Every few seconds he stopped, he feet frozen, and he listened, glanced about and stared hard, looking for movement or signs of something out of place. Maybe the Raiders would just stay home today. Not likely, but you can dream.

His eye caught on a spot where the rain had washed oddly. He bent down and set his cup on the dew-coated grass before hacking at the earth. Nice, he thought, looking around to make sure he was still alone. It wasn’t quality, but it was quantity. And that was it’s own quality. The scraps of metal went into his bag, and he picked up his cup, sipping and walking again. It’d do for the day, but tomorrow might not cover itself, so no rest. As he neared a corner, he heard movement far behind him and quietly darted into the brush and twisted himself low, behind a small stand of trees.

Three people, armed. Weapons aren’t out, and they don’t look aggressive, but they also aren’t familiar. Stay low.

He watched the three pass; they looked like they were probably from Hayven, but he didn’t know them, and alone, before anyone’s awake, was not the time to find out. Once the three were out of earshot, he glanced around, straining to see any sign of trouble. Nothing. The Yorker stood, joints complaining of cold and too many years hard-worked with little kindness or respite. He let the discomfort show, but stretched anyway, and moved from cover, sipping his cup and once again hunting for anything he could turn to scrap, credit, or some good rep.

A plant caught his eye and he bent to examine it. Yeah, edible. Not very good, and close to useless, but edible. He cut it free and slipped it into a leather pouch for use or sale later. Actually, he’d probably just give it to Easy. Unless it went bad before he got the chance. Then it’d be Uncle Chuck’s. Herbs didn’t matter much for the scavenging tinker. Not directly, at least.

Two hours later, Wolfram was tired, sore, and his legs were cramping. He wandered back into the Tap to warm up, get more broth, and sort what he’d do for the day. He had enough to make a new set of armor. He’d bang that out when the Kennel put out the work bench and make sure he made enough noise to annoy Yossarian. Wolfram like Yossarian well enough, respected him, certainly, but it was just the principle of the thing.

“Ah, pardon me… You can make stuff, right?”

Wolfram turned to see someone who looked new. Not dressed heavily enough, a bit lost in the face, and shy. The casually reached over and took the young woman’s weapon from her hand, examining it and silencing her protest with a raised hand. “This is shit. Came here on a caravan?”

The girl looked shocked. “Um… yeah. Got in last night. How’d you know?”

“Decent guess. I can replace this with something better. What do you need?”

The girl’s eyes widened. “Actually, I need armor.”

“What do you do?” Wolfram almost felt bad. She was too easily shaken, and he was still pissed from the cold.

“I’m a doctor. I need a better knife, but I really need armor for my sister. I can pay. But she nearly was killed last night and- what are you doing?”

The Yorker continued to ignore the girl as he set down his bag, took off his jacket and hoodie, and slipped his belts and straps out of the way. He took the armor he was wearing off and handed it to the woman. “Ten cred or scrap, you can mix ‘em if you need to.”

The woman stammered. “I can’t take your armor!” Wolfram shook his head and held up a hand to stop her talking, brow knitted. This girl was giving him a head ache.

“I make the shit, so yes, you can. I don’t charge doctors or medics. Normally I’d charge since it’s not for you, but you’re new and I’m too tired to haggle shit. Credit or scrap, c’mon.” He shrugged the straps back in place, tossed on his outer layers, and slung his bag back on. The girl fumbled and dug into her bag, pulling out the credit he wanted. His eyes lit up.

“Where’d you get that?”

“Get what?” The girl looked terrified she’d done something to anger the Yorker.

“That nice chunk of scrap.”

She held the bag almost protectively. “My sister found it on the way into town.”

Wolfram set his bag down. “Give it over.”

“Excuse you?!”

“Shiiiit. I don’t have the energy for this crap. Look, lady, I got a better weapon for you in my bag; you give me that bit of scrap and that piece of rusted metal you call a knife, it covers the cost of the weapon I’m going to sell you. And this one’s a lot better. I need the scrap to build things, you need a real weapon. Ain’t fuckin’ hard.”

The woman looked at him and at her bag and knife. “Oh… um, alright. I mean… Is that…”

The Yorker held up a hand to stop her again. “Unless you get really good friends who’ll arm you for free, it’s the best price you gonna get. It’s at cost. I don’t normally work for fuckin’ free. Also, I’m tired, cold, and sore. So do the deal or fuck off.”

The woman silently handed over the weapon and the scrap. Not the best stuff, but he had enough of that for the moment. Oddly, it was the slightly more common quality scrap he needed a lot of now. He dug into his bag and handed her a Skewer. “There. Good shit. Don’t lose it, I don’t do refunds.”

The doctor turned to leave, looking somewhat scared and upset. Shit. “Hold on, take this.” He placed a snake oil in her hand. “In case you don’t have time to work.”

The woman looked at it. “Wait, how much?”

The yorker shrugged as callously as he could. “Don’t worry about it, just take care of my ass if I go down, yeah?”

The woman looked it over. “Thank you.” She leaned in and kissed his cheek before walking off.

Wolfram shook his head and gathered his gear, headed for the kitchen. Still needed to get that broth. No one had better have seen that shit, that sort of bullshit rumor could fuck with his rep.

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One Response to “Just Morning”

  1. Heather H. (Bravo) said

    yorker with a heart of gold.. or, at least faux gold.. great read. thanks for posting =)

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