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  • Michael Travis

Neon Odyssey - 3


Arax awoke to a faint sound of beeping, it was the nutrition decomposer. Arax opened his eyes and looked down. He saw his arm and the decomposer blinking from his bag. Directly below him was a decent pool of blood and as he turned another drop fell into it from the back of his head. He reached his hand back and gently touched the back of his now swollen head squinting with pain. His foot was still stuck and now numb since most of his blood moved down to the head. He found enough strength to reach up with his hand, grabbed onto rebar and got himself upright using the other foot. Feeling dizzying again he pretzeled his hand and feet in rebar just in case for a few minutes regaining his posture. After freeing himself and feeling assured he began a now slow and precise way down.

After getting down to the ground he expressed a sigh of relief and sat next to his arm silencing the device in the backpack. He felt a bit lucky, the sun was out in full now and the climb was on the shadow side. Being knocked out exposed to direct sun for hours would have killed him for sure.

“Guess there is no choice now, I have to build a makeshift shelter here.” Arax thought to himself and went to his hiding spot under the slab and rubble. He then proceeded to move concrete chunks with a goal of digging out a pit closer to the cold ground. As he did he was able to find more of the little plants which he set aside for a time being and then a jackpot!

“Whoa!” He proclaimed as he grabbed a worm that was about to slither underground. Amazed he was looking at it in the palm of his hand, much needed protein. He carried it to his backpack and produced a plastic ziplock back which he put the worm in along with the newly found plants. He then proceeded to move more boulders to clear the digging area and found two more worms which he placed in the bag. Sweaty and tired he was only able to dig a narrow pit about two and a half feet deep but it was enough to reach cooler ground. He brought his backpack, arm and the worm lunch baggy with him into the pit. He pulled out the nutrition decomposer and opened it. What was inside was green goo, it smelled awful but Arax was starving and it looked promising.

“Here goes nothing…” He chugged the green goo. It had the texture of a smoothie and he immediately felt a boost in spirit and energy. He even smiled briefly but the stretch of a smile was enough to remind him of the egged bruise on the back of his head with a fresh sting of pain. He pulled the rags out of the bag and wrapped them around his head while looking around until his eyes landed at his pool of blood on the slab.

“Not good, mutants might smell the blood. Better cover it” He thought and proceeded to cover the blood with a decent layer of sand and returned to his shelter.

“Sand and rags should mask the blood for a while but I will have to move soon. At least I got dinner” He turned his gaze onto the Ziploc baggie and proceeded to dump the contents into the newly empty decomposer and closed it, running his fingers on the buttons once more. The machine then beeped in an erroneous way and then proclaimed “Please add fluid!”

“Oh right” Arax produced his flask, shook it with disappointment, there was not much left. He took a few sips and proceeded pouring the rest into the device and put it in his bag. He then laid in the pit as if in a shallow grave putting his jacket over the top. Ground was cool and pretty soon he dozed off.


-


Arax woke up a few hours later with a throbbing headache to a vibrating alarm on his wristwatch. He sat up grunting and looked around, all quiet but only a few hours of sunlight left. Hurried he reattached his arm, head wraps and gear and embarked towards the wreck with a moderate pace.

The wreck was fairly far away and about half way he noticed a faint trail of smoke in the distance. Could be trouble, he focused but did not see any movement and with daylight running short he kept walking. As he got closer he saw people on the ground. He stopped for a moment and pulled out his pistol just in case. The smoke line was coming from a downed drone, same as the once he saw earlier.

Smoke was coming from a mule bot that was blown into two halves and now lying in a small charred crater. About fifty feet away were bodies on the ground. Arax walked over to check for signs of life, two men and a woman were lifeless. Looked like traders or scavengers; ambushed by the bandit drones either unlucky or they were the target. Arax looked at the semi disassembled plane; the wreckage was partially stripped, rusted and full of holes…not a great place for shelter. The other direction was a partially collapsed concrete building of the old, it was partly buried in the sand and only the top two floors of a corner of the building were sticking out. Some windows seem to have been covered with parts of the plane and other debris. On the roof of the building there was a tarp with a portion of it ripped and flapping in the wind. The party must have been salvaging the plane for parts and using the building as shelter for some time; must have been ambushed and ran for cover towards the concrete building. Arax looked at the fast setting sun and made his way towards the promising shelter of the building.

The sun was gone now and it was getting dark quickly. It was a full moon, or what was left of it. The moon was not how it was in the days of old; it was now broken…with cracks and one third of it now orbiting as a thin ring around the Earth. Nobody knew what happened and how long ago but everyone knew that it was the end of a great human civilization. The ice ring around the globe somehow made the desert look like it was snow, even though Arax never seen snow but he read about it in the books of old. Eventually he got to the building and discovered an entry on the other side, it was a makeshift metal door from the airplane. He went inside with caution and locked the door behind him.

© M.A.Travis

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