Murkland: Keeping Busy

Hello reader. My name is Rusty Sprocket, I hope that you’ve been able to read my other journal entries, but I understand if you haven’t been able to. After all, I live in post-apocalyptic Murkland, and paper disintegrates fast here. It is hard to make money in this land where everything is hard to get a hold of. So I’ve made a deal with the Vardo brothers to try to stop struggling and actually get somewhere. I took a risk, knowing that I fully didn’t trust them. (I’m in the mindset that they are werewolves even though I know those aren’t real… just like vampires aren’t real… right?)

Okay, so I’m not too sure about what is going on in this world anymore. When I decided to make a deal with them, I didn’t realize how much extra work that I would be doing. But on the plus side, I now have a steady flow of income which is wonderful. I swing by every night to their place and drop off my days finds, and they give me my days pay.  But I haven’t had time to write. Things have been strange. Let me try to tell you what’s been going on.

I started with fishing, we’re trying to figure out if any fish are returning to the river that isn’t deformed or have extra limbs. Or like the one, I found shortly after my birthday and have extra eyes. I found a few and dropped them off with the Vardo’s before I headed home to make a deodorizing cream. I wanted to make a couple now that I’ve read all about them in the ancient wilderness survival guide.

It didn’t go so well… I managed to catch myself on fire. Which was just the beginning of my awkward week.

Add insult to injury Rain showed up just after I managed to get myself put out. I was so embarrassed, but he was really nice about it. In fact, he made some playful jokes about it and didn’t seem to be trying to hurt me, just lighten my mood. I’m really thankful to him for not making fun of me.

I was really surprised that he stayed until I was yawning. But I wasn’t ready to say goodnight yet. He was actually making me feel better.

It may be silly… but we went back to his house to continue talking. Mainly so that I could get some of my work on their garden done. Or at least… that’s what I keep telling myself. I swore I would write only facts and not feelings in this journal so that the apocalypse that happened doesn’t get repeated. But I’m finding it harder and harder not to mention these guys that I meet.

I didn’t mean to find myself laying on the ground staring at the stars with him either. He pointed out the shape of the moon to me. And I agreed that it looked lovely. So of course when he mentioned that there was a party going on I forced the yawns back and agreed to follow him to the party. There would be dancing and fun, and of course I was game to go!

The location the fireworks were being set off from didn’t give me full confidence though as I’d just experienced a fire in the last 24 hours. I didn’t really want to see the palm tree also catch on fire. He hugged me from behind as I was looking up. His head in my hair near my neck and he whispered “I’m going to find some food. I’ll be back later. Have fun.”

I shivered. What was that about. My belief that he is a werewolf hasn’t exactly faded…

Which is when I decided to get a drink and try to clear my head… yet another terrible decision. I met the man that is super protective of Gash and the other mad mudders. Oh no. What have I gotten myself into? This is one of the reasons I didn’t want to date. Not that I’m dating Rain and Storm, he’s just a friend. The most I’ve done is hug him, and I hug most of my friends. Ugh. I can’t even shut up in my own notebook.

He wanted to know if I was going to be hanging out with Gash again soon. I said “absolutely” of course. Gash is a good friend. I’ll stop avoiding everyone. That should be the perfect solution right? I can’t just avoid the problem. It shouldn’t hurt to date right? Maybe Jeep was right. But I’m not really ready for love. I don’t want to be ready for love. I want to just survive.

I moved off to dance instead of digging my brain a deeper grave. I danced until the sun rose. Taking quick naps on the benches when I was feeling tired. And I don’t know how he did it, but Rain snuck up behind me and poked my sides while I was dancing and scared the crap out of me. “Hey, I’m back. You want to go swimming?”

“Swimming? Yeah! You know where there is clean water?!”

“Well… it’s not exactly clean, but it will be cool to counteract the heat of the day.”

And yet again, I just followed him like I didn’t have anything else better in my life to do. Whatever he asked I was finding myself doing.

Go figure that as soon as he left, Gash showed up to dance with me.

My day did not seem to be ending anytime soon. I’m not mad at Gash, in fact, I quite enjoyed dancing and chatting with him. He’s a really good friend.

And I’m always sorry when I have to leave. So when I said that I needed to head to the Hot Springs today, I was delighted that he said that he would come with me! I didn’t know that Rain would tag along as well.

Have I mentioned enough yet that Rain is incredibly stealthy and that it just adds to my belief that he is a werewolf? He came out of nowhere and kissed my cheek. “My brothers and I will be heading down there later. See you down there okay?”

“Why’d he kiss you on the cheek?” Gash asked, “Are you dating him?”

“Dating Rain? No. I’m single. I don’t know why he kissed my cheek. I guess he’s just like that.” Goodness, my embarrassing day continues.

“You enjoying the Hot Springs Rusty?” Rain asked.

“Yes, I am. I try to come out every time it’s open. It’s been glorious!”

“Do you want to dance with me again?” Gash asked.

“Sure! That would be really fun Gash!”

“I could grab some granola from the Mercantile Cooler so we can keep our strength up.” Rain offered.

“Oh yeah sure. I guess we can all use some food too…” See what I mean about dating being a terrible idea? I’m not even dating these guys and they’re not letting me focus on myself and my survival.

Two of Rain’s brother’s also stayed after we had finished enjoying the hot springs. I guess they were there to enjoy the food that Rain had promised to purchase from the Mercantile Cooler. Oh, I guess I for once forgot to mention them. The Murkland Mercantile Company or MMCo as I call them for short control Murkland and it’s money. They’re our mayors and take care of divvying out land and supplies to make sure that the community is taken care of.

We danced for a while before sitting down to eat and converse. I could feel all the looks that I was getting, and I feel terrible that I’m going to continue turning everyone down. Or rather I will if they ever ask me. I can’t risk this. I need to survive. I need to focus on myself.

I excused myself and went and got back in the hot springs when it got really close to closing time. Gash and Rain took their leave and headed home. But to my surprise… Wolf and Ice decided to stay and join me.

“So where did a beautiful lady like yourself come from anyways?” Ice started right away making me feel uncomfortable.

“Oh, I came from my parents of course silly.” I replied trying to defuse any attempts at flirting with me, “They’re dead.”

“Oh… What happened?”

“I don’t really know… I think the desert got them.” I shrugged, “It’s been many years since they died. I can’t really remember the full details anymore.”

“But… You’re young. If it happened years ago. You had to have been just a little girl.”

“Yes, that’s right.”

The brother’s exchanged a look that I swear had a spark of fear in it. “You must be really strong to have survived the wilds for that long. You’ve only just gotten to the civilized part of town right?”

“Yes, that’s right too.”

“Oh shoot, look at that, they’re closing the Hot Springs until Monday. I guess we better head out. Great job on surviving so long. We look forward to your next delivery.”

I waved goodbye and slipped my clothes on to head home. Thank goodness this had actually only been about business. I thought they had been trying to flirt with me. Maybe I’m just getting a bit jumpy.

When I got home to grab a quick bite to eat and perhaps start writing out my journal for Wednesday through Friday, I was interrupted by yet another person. I don’t really know who she was but she walked right onto my plot of land and sat down next to me.

Then another woman followed behind her as I switched sides of the picnic table. Okay… so I was surrounded by these two strange females that just showed up and started hissing. The black haired girl that followed the blonde in said her name was Lilith. She seemed relatively nice except for the hissing. About here is where my lack of proper sleep started catching up to me I think. I already had the silly idea going through my head that the Vardos were secretly werewolves, but now I’m starting to think that these two ladies are vampires.

But that’s ridiculous… vampires and werewolves aren’t real!

They stayed… watching me… all night. Sure they talked a little bit. Seeing what I was doing. When did I move to the area? Trying to find out what my interests were. I answered what I felt comfortable answering and tried to avoid giving too much away while trying to learn a little bit about them.

As the sun started to rise they finally decided that they would head home to wherever they lived.

I sighed and rubbed my head. How many days had I been awake for now? I just wanted to get in my tent and sleep. I watered my plants quickly and turned to climb into my tent and sighed exasperatedly. There was a man standing outside my tent watching me.

“Opposites attract, so I am going to take you out to the Pufferfish Dome.”

I’d heard of the Dome, it was some upper-class restaurant for the richer Murkland residents. “Fine. Fine. Let’s go.” Free food didn’t actually sound like a bad idea. I could always turn him down after he paid for the food.

We chatted a tiny bit and I remembered that it was the man who has said my neck looked delicious. God, he is so socially awkward I feel terrible for him. If he’s coming over to hang out with me the new person in town he must not have too many friends. Mostly we walked in silence until we arrived at the Pufferfish Dome.

Then he did something weird. The moment we got seated he got up and walked downstairs mumbling something about needed to go talk to the cook.

I turned and saw Gash at the next table. I waved at him with a smile. “What are you doing out with that creep?” He asked me angrily in a hushed tone.

“He looks like he needed a friend and I figured a free meal wouldn’t hurt.” I shrugged.

I don’t remember how long we were talking. But my meal had arrived and Vlad had started coming around the corner and called out to me. “I’m almost done!” Then took off at a run.

I sighed and grabbed my plate and went to the pool that Rain had taught me was in most lots in Murkland. Yeah, it wasn’t exactly meant for swimming but why not. I could soak my toes and keep cool in this heat.

I hadn’t even managed to even dip the fish in the wasabi when I heard people start screaming. People were jumping up from their meals and running around. I sighed and pulled myself back out of the water and wandered back around the corner.

I saw a huge crowd where everyone but the owner of the restaurant was crying in shock. What was going on? I saw feet on the ground… Oh no.

“Oh, Rusty… I’m so sorry.” I shoveled food in my mouth as quickly as I could.

“Please. He was just trying to show me this place. What happened to him? Is it really his time to go?” I tried pleading with the scythed menace. I could sense his denial in my soul. I didn’t understand why. I looked closer at Vlad… wait, I thought to myself. Why is he burnt?

Did the sun catch him on fire?

Oh my gosh. Are vampires actually real and not just part of storybooks?

Gash came over and gave me a huge hug when he saw me looking down. “Hey, I’m sorry your friend died. He’s a creep, but the kindness in your heart saw something special in him just like you’ve done with everyone you’ve met. I’m sorry I said anything bad. I just worry about you Rusty. You’re my best friend and I’ve never known anyone else like you. I didn’t want to lose you because I know people get hurt around him. ”

I was touched, “You’re my best friend to Gash.”

The Scythed Menace cleared his throat and handed me a small vial. “He is yours.” a cold dark voice came out of the hood and echoed across the grounds of the Pufferfish Dome, and then the Scythed Menace disappeared in a puff of smoke.

I looked at Gash. “Is this really happening. Am I hallucinating? I think I need to go home and sleep.”

“Let me walk you home so you get home safe.”

I agreed and let him walk me home. I could barely put one foot in front of the other.

I don’t know what made me do it. But I tried to make more deodorizing cream because I felt really stinky… I caught myself on fire again.

Jeep was passing by and gave me a hug. “Go to sleep girl.”

“I can’t yet. I’ve got one last thing to do.” I told her with a sigh. She laughed and cleaned me off as best she could.”Thanks… I’m sorry I’m such a mess.”

All my walking meant that I had collected quite a bit as I trekked back and forth. I grilled some fruit and then walked across the street to the Vardos. “Food is here. I’ve got my collections for you, and I’m ready to check to make sure your trash plants are healthy.”

I’m now at the point I don’t really remember much of the conversation. I’m sitting in the door of my tent writing all this by the light of my campfire. I’m heading to bed finally. I’m exhausted. But I am surviving!

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