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As the Tumble Weed rolls, chapter three"

 
Keith Rawkings's picture
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Darkness...

"I have to go to work. honey.' the woman says to the man. "Be back soon."

"Not too late I hope..""

A kiss goodbye...

Floating now...

So much water...

"Not 'eer to kill ya mister. Jist takin you in."

"Well I'm not coming with you alive, sir."

"They will kill us both when you contact them."

Gunshots...

Lifecycle program...

Floating...

Floating on golden fields..

The cattle graze...

The warm sunshine on my back..

Smelling the beautiful breeze..

But the air changes...

Why can't I hear the birds anymore?

The sky is dark now...

Lifecycle program...

Where is she?

I see her now...

The car veers..

The water engulfs...

Help her...

Please, someone!

She can't breathe!

Banging on the invisible wall
Bang, bang, bang!

Fists slamming...

Can't move

Help her!

Can't save her...

Water everywhere....

I can't breathe.

NOOOOO!!!!


Keith Rawkings awoke, floating in the stasis fluid of the regeneration chamber. It was cold. Very cold. And wet.
He was still slamming on the glass when the front of the cloning chamber suddenly opened, the rush of the fluid exiting from the cell into the grating below. Gravity taking its course, he stopped floating, and lost his footing, falling face first onto his hands and knees on the cold metal grating of the chamber. Covered in head to toe in a cold, jelly-like, sticky, blue substance, his senses come rushing back to him all at once. And it hurts like hell...

He tries to scream in pain, but instead the muscles in his throat begin to retch, trying to eject what feels like two big lungs full of fluid.
His bellows are muffled by the rubber breathing mask still strapped to his face.
He claws at the mask, tearing it off off his face, and proceeds to vomit up some of the breathing fluid from his stomach and lungs.
Gasping for breath on the floor of the chamber, he begins to feel more localized pain in his limbs and chest. He notices in disgust as the IV needles and tubing are protruding from what seems to be every crevice of his naked body.
In a panic he beings quickly yanking them out, breathing more heavily now.

He's confused now. Still on the floor, he looks up around to be greeted with four cold concrete walls and the other empty cloning chambers in the room. The computer consoles are flickering with the blue glow of their monitors, all of them displaying the "lifenet" logo across their screens. It looks familiar, but he can't place it at the moment. Shivering a little, he tries to stand up..

It's at this moment he hears footsteps, fast approaching down the hallway that adjoins the chamber on both sides of the room.
Two figures enter the room and face him while he is still wavering on his legs, which he has never used before.

The one figure is a very large man. Unogodly large. He must stand seven feet tall. He looks grim. He's wearing what appears to be a kind of piecework leather armor, the kind a wild warrior would in ancient times, such as that of the greeks or the roman legionaires. Except he's also wearing black garments wrapped around his head and body as if he were persian warrior, ready to ride off into a jihad for his King. On top of this the man sported an eyepatch, which appeared to be covering a fresh wound underneath. And looking at his hands, they were very large indeed, and were those...claws???Whoever this man was, it didn't appear to bode well for Keith that he was standing there in front of him.

The other figure by stark contrast to the big man, appeared much smaller, maybe up to Keith's brow if that. She wore a white labcoat and had short close cut hair which appeared to be a very unique blue color. She was dainty by comparision to the beast standing next to her. She seemed to have a very clinical look to her face as if observing a specimen in a large container instead of a man. Indeed, Keith felt as if he were a fly in a jar, with his wings about to be pulled off.
It was then that the large man threw a bundle of something to Keith. Keith reflexively caught it in his arms, almost stumbling backwards. The woman nodded to the big man and stepped closer to Keith.

"Err , hey?" Keith said to the woman.
"Hi, Those are your clothes. Put them on," she replied in an interesting, yet neutral sounding voice, with an accent he couldn't quite place at the moment.

Keith looked down at the bundle of clothing the big guy had just tossed to him. They looked a little strange. There was a pair of blue jeans, a slightly bloodied green riding jacket, and some dark drown riding boots. The big guy was still holding a brown leather cowboy hat in the other hand. Bleh. Did he really have to wear these? He began to think the man was here to make him wear these clothes and laugh at him while he raped him. And that woman must be here to watch in some kind of perverted game the two were playing at his expense.

"Put those clothes on," the big man said to him in a gruff, almost dog-like, growling voice.
No arguing, then. Not if he wanted to live. It may hurt, but maybe they wouldn't kill him when they were finished with him.
"Uh yeah, those look familiar," Keith said, as he hastily began sliding the jeans on, the blue embryonic stasis fluid making them stick to his legs as he dressed. But he was still nervous and needed answers.

"Fuck am I?" Keith asked in a short, harsh, but slightly nervous tone.
"Your name is Keith Rawkings," the woman responded. "The rest will come in time. I'm Theira."

Keith looked back at the man standing next to her. His mind trailed off for what seemed like a long moment to him, but probably was little more than a second or two in the real world.
He had a vision of a wirey red furred animal stalking the desert plains, hunting for small creatures to prey upon. The kind that was often the main protagonist in native american legend. Or was it the antagonist?
Her voiced faded back in: "That's Fox. Ok. We're your friends..." She looked back at Fox, "...kind of."
"Fox," Keith responded, repeating the words Theira had just spoken to him almost like a child learning the word for the first time....

Then the recognition came, faster than a speeding bullet.
"Fox, yeah..eh man!!"
At that point the two men almost reflexively smashed each others fists together, in a endearing brotherly fashion, that some would simply refer to as "brofists."
Theira proceeded to pinch the bridge of her nose and hang her head.
"Why do women always act like I smell?" Rawkings replied to woman in a defensive, yet truly questioning voice. He did a quick check of his arm pits. Didn't smell like much more than a little Vicks. Of course he was pretty nasty and in need of a shower, so he could clean all of this blue goopy shit off of him.
"No clue, man" Fox replied.

Keith began to look around the room with much clearer recognition then before.
"Oh, gawd dangit, I think I recognize this."
"Had to clone ya," Fox said.
Keith wasn't happy to hear this.
"Fuck man, I hate that," he said.
"God.." he exclaimed as he grabbed his forehead in pain.
"Been a long time man," he followed. He felt around his forehead for the scar he recieved from Deuce Sinclair, and the recent bullet wound from Aulwrak Blackclaw, who Keith only knew as, "The Viking." They weren't there anymore. He grinned.
"My scars is gone."

Theira, back on the subject of the cloning, responded to Keith "It's not that I think you smell. It's that I think cloning is a last resort. And we hadn't exhausted all options." She also acknowledged that Keith's scars were gone. She then stormed off into the direction of her horse outside, clearly beside herself with disapointment, and glad to be finished with the business at hand.
Keith turned back to Fox..
"What happened ?" he asked Fox.
Theira bellowed down the hall, "Viking shot you in the head!" as she closed the door behind her.
"In the buttocks?" he said to Fox.
"In the head," Fox responded mimicing what Theira just told Keith. "Then I had to snap your neck."

Keith shuddered a little. He winced at the thought of this. He didn't remember much of what happened yet. But he did remember being in a lot of physical and emotional pain. Something got scrambled with his brain. He had some strange memories before dying. Things that he knew a little about already, but became so vivid, yet all combobulated together in a big mess in his mind, right before he died. It was probably with good reason that Fox snapped his neck. It would have been a problem if the wrong people started to listen to what Rawkings was saying before he died, and think it was anything other than some delirious gibberish. He thought of Theira again. He hoped to hell she had some kind of high standard of Hippocratic Oath, and would not reveal any of the things he said; To the Serenity Falls townspeople, or anyone for that matter.

Fox on the other hand, had no reason to rat on Keith. The townspeople hated Fox, and some of them probably started to question how harmless a drifter Keith was at this period in time, due to the company he kept. Yeah, they were stuck together now, and two men in trouble can shoot four guns instead of two. There was no issue here.

"Do I still look good, man?" Rawkings asked Fox.
"Yeah, man," Fox said in a gruff voice.
Rawkings grabbed at his forehead again. There was still a little pain and disorientation from the cloning procedure, but it was starting to fade remarkably fast.
Then Keith exclaimed, "Ah man, my head is a little wobbly, but I feel like, "new," ya know?"
"Yeah, I know," the big man said.
Keith pulled his jeans forward around his waist a little and looked down inside and reafirmed this fact out loud..."
"Yeap. No crabs." "Awesome man." he said.

Then he remembered the girls.
"Where's them girls?"
Yeah, the girls...
"I dunno maybe you should radio them," Fox said.

Now he remembered everything up until he got shot in the head again...
They were at Dru's place. She wasn't home. There was a girl who Keith thought was her sister there in the trailer. "Shawnee," she called herself. That Viking was there. The girl looked unnerved. She asked Keith and Fox Dogg to stay. Something was wrong between that Viking and Fox Dogg. Something really wrong. She was probably afraid of that guy. Keith should have seen it sooner. Should have looked over his shoulder at the icey stare that man gave everyone when he was about to start trouble. Keith shouldn't have bothered playing those songs around the fire. He should have just pulled his piece from his jacket and shot the man, while he was off guard, feeling the less compromised of the two.

Well, at least that's what he thought now. He was oblivious then. Seemed just like a nice night out to spread a little cheer with the locals. That was nieve. The Viking calling him a "Rapist" in front of Dru really unnerved him. Obviously The Viking wasn't aware Fox's hybrid blight wolf DNA gave him the ability to hear much further than regular humans. Right up through the walls of that bunker bar... Keith picked the fight. He tried to back out with dignity when he saw the look on the girls faces. But of course the Viking goaded Fox. This practically verified to Keith some history was there between the two.
Then he stopped himself in thought.

No, that wasn't his fault. People are going to talk shit. If others are stupid enough to believe them, then fuck em. That was the big problem with this town. Too fucking nieve. He wasn't afraid for the girls anymore anyway. Logically, if the big man really tried to do anything other than be a big asshole to them, Keith was sure the mayor would probably cut that Viking's balls off. And she looked like the capable type.
No, he alone wasn't the problem here. It was like many of the clones and one-lifers had fucking soup in their brains. Just stirring around all hot and cloudy, diluting any thought. Did Deuce put something in the fucking soup? No wonder Rawkings didn't feel guilty trying to delude himself every day on booze and narcotics. 

Maybe it's because they never knew what it was like to be part of something more civilized, and happy. Shooting each other, cloning, forgetting about it later. God, the Viking and Fox just shrugged off that gun fight like they were two puppies just play fighting for a spell.

Some people were also screwing around with people they saw on a daily basis. He wasn't stupid. He saw some of the signs. Didn't people stop to think of the emotional pain they would cause the other person they may have to run into on a daily basis in town afterwards? Life was cheap to most of them in his mind. You fuck up, oh well, let's rewind and try that again. And at worse, let's just clone while we're at it.

He had no sympathy for that. Just a little pity. The pity you have for a family member you keep giving second chances to, but they keep fucking up.They tug on your heart strings. Somehow they play you the fool over, and over, and over. But, these people weren't his family. Why did he hang around people at all? Why didn't he find some way to destroy this fucking collar and just put one in his brain so he could be with his family again?

He knew why, though.. He was too afraid to die. Fucking hypocrite.

No, fuck these thoughts.. This new body was dry. Time for a drink to "clear things up."

"Gimme that hat," Rawkings told Fox in a more decisive manner.
Fox Dogg tossed him the hat.
"Yeah, that's right, I'm feeling good now."
For some reason he did again. Like a new-born baby. Maybe it was the endorphins flowing through his brain because he was alive again.

Keith dug around the inside of his bloody jacket, and found a stoge.
"And new lungs, too!" He said as he lit up that cigar and took a long drag.
Ah. That was good. That was what it feeled like to live. Now he remembered why he was still here.

Fox bandaged up one of the still oozing  IV marks on Keith's arm.
"Thanks man, I appreciate that," Keith thanked him.
"Maybe you should get some rest," Fox suggested.
"We'll git em next time," he said to the big man.
There was a thought in his mind of how he might do that now, should the need arise.
Keith put on his bloody jacket, and merely said to Fox..
"Ya win some, ya lose some."

Comments

Fox's picture

((Love the description 'in a gruff, almost dog-like, growling voice'

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Lost Bride's picture

(( I really like the nightmare part ))


"There was a girl, a girl named Lost. Her eyes, they were like frost" - from the infernal journal of Zane Gore

Muse's picture

((Another great entry Keith. I really enjoy the little peeks back into his pre-Fall past. He's a pretty neat character. :)  ))

Keith Rawkings's picture

((Thanks folks. Yeah, Keith definitely has a struggle going on in his mind with the past and the present. Hence his duality in his actions and writings))

Calliope's picture

(( Good to see the scene from Keith's point of view, good job. :)  I also like the depiction of how traumatic the cloning process was for him at first. ))

Keith Rawkings's picture

((Thanks for the comment. Technically he has cloned before, but it's disorientating everytime. I thought about going back to the first time he was cloned and describe the same kind of trauma, but I thought the situation kind of presented itself this time. Think of some of the Trauma "Neo" experienced in the "Matrix" crossed with the technology found in the "Coyote Series" written by Allen Steele. Anyone else read those novels? Love them. There about future space colonization with a totallt western feel to them. The remarkable thing about this author is that he suggests technology in future events which is actually very believable, because it's based on research to what is just over the horizon. He has had conferences with NASA on trying to steer them in the right direction with their budgets for space research. Very cool novels(read them all), and I reccomend them to anyone into space colonization novels. Lots of great Drama there.))



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