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Counting the Cost Exerpt from Zachariah 'Zero' Chance's Journal

Zach Zero Chance's picture
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          Zachariah Chance sat at a small table in a place that had become one of his favorite hideouts.  Indeed, if he had to choose a place to call home, this was it.  It was an abandoned factory not far outside of Flagstaff.  It had been empty since before the Fall but at one time in the not so distance past had been home for a clan of tinkerers that called themselves The Shop.  It now sat empty again.  Stripped bare of anything valuable, and left waiting for the day that someone else would choose to put it to use.  Zero often dreamt of a day when the place would be full again with the sound of machines whirring and clattering.   Busy, hard working machines, each lovingly restored by his hands.   Working together to produce an array of items to make life easier for people in the Province Wasteland.   Right now the cavernous expanse of the workshop stood empty.  There were no machines to do the work.  No power to run the machines.  No generator to supply the power.  The dream was far away.  The only sound was Zero’s own breathing, the rustle of his clothing, the cards that he shuffled, and the occasional rat that skittered about in the gloom.  The sun was going down.  Orange light filtered through the dusty windows high above.  Soon it would be too dark for cards he thought.  But it mattered little.  The cards were merely a distraction, Zero was lost in his thoughts.  How had it come to this?

                It had started as a genuine desire to do something decent.  Rare enough in the wasteland it would seem.  To repay a small debt and to reach out to someone who appeared to be in need.  And somehow it had turned out so terribly wrong.  Now, if what he were hearing was true, he was a wanted man, at least enough so that he had been instructed to ‘lay low’ until tempers had been given a chance to cool.  He paused for a moment and sat down the cards.  Pulling the hat from his head with one hand he ran the other through his tangle of black hair.  “My Big Mouth.” He announced to the room, and the words echoed through the empty space, startling the rats.  That’s what had landed him here, his big mouth.   His desire to ‘get things out in the open’ as some put it.   Maybe some things were better left in the dark, hidden from view?  How many times in the past he wondered, had his big mouth landed him in trouble?  That, and his nasty habit of meeting hostility with antagonism.  What was it, a death wish?  Or just plain and simple overconfidence?  Was he so sure of his reflexes that he dared antagonize anyone who offered him more than a passing greif?  Every time someone grew hostile with him, he just simply egged them on.   What was wrong with him, was he insane?  Reaching down he scooped up the cards and stacked them neatly.  It was too dark to play now, with each moment the gloom deepened.  He sat staring off into the darkness as if watching some drama play out in its black depths.  He had to decide his next move.

                He thought about the people who were angry at him now.  And he thought about those whom this event had turned away from him.   So dear a price to have paid to cover such a small debt.  Now nothing left to be gained.  He turned his head aside and made a gesture like spitting into his hands as he rubbed them together.  A Traveller sign of clearing a bad debt, it meant literally ‘washing one’s hands’ of the debt.  It was not a sign to be taken lightly, but he was through.  He would pursue this no more.  He would speak of it no more.  It was done.  He would no longer throw good chips after bad.


Soyala's picture

(awe, he's calling soya a bad chip and he doesn't even know her /sniffle)

Vorela's picture

Muse's picture

((Poor Zero for getting into a mess, but neat to see the intrigue from a reader's/outsiders viewpoint. It's neat how delicate the balance between civility and chaos can be in our little wasteland playground.))

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