Hello, my name is Rusty Sprocket. I am a survivor of Murkland, one of the few remaining communities of civilization since the great apocalypse happened that destroyed everything. I’ve been writing journals to document my life so that hopefully future generations can learn from our lives as we try to rebuild the world. I don’t know if you’ve read my previous journal entries, but I like to catch everyone a bit up to date with each of my journals. I’m afraid that the papers will disintegrate in the harsh desert community before future generations can learn from them. My hope is that if I give a little update, or covering of what every day life is like in Murkland with every journal entry, at least one of them will have survived to let everyone know.
The Murkland Mercantile Company (MMCo as I call them) our the rulers of the community. They control the money and the land. Since I wrote last, I’ve also learned something else about the popular restaurant we have in town. Though I should say the only restaurant, it is called The Pufferfish Dome. I first discovered it when Vlad, who I discovered is a vampire… or rather was a vampire, took me there to try the food out. He ended up dying there because of to much exposure to the sun. If I had known that he would die, I would have tried to get him to go inside much sooner. I feel terrible about his death.
At the time, I wasn’t thinking about the fact that Gash the Mad Mudder was there. I learned later that there was a reason he was there. The Mad Mudders have a really bad reputation, and when I kept my promise to visit Gash at his home, I learned why they have a bad reputation.
I thought that perhaps they were brothers like the Vardos, my business partners, I was wrong. Mad Mud who I thought was perhaps their father, is more like a religious leader of the Mad Mud faction. He owns the Pufferfish Dome. The reason that they have such a bad reputation is that the local delicacy known as puffer fish nigiri can be deadly. It’s already really dangerous to eat fish as most of the fish in the rivers are poisoned with leftover toxins from the nuclear bomb, but the puffer fish itself is poisonous.
I discovered that little fact when I went to the library and did some of my own research. The librarian was super helpful in finding me the information I was looking for. I am rather fond of the Mad Mudders. They’ve been nothing but kind to me, I couldn’t see how they could possibly have such a bad reputation. I felt terrible for them. The fact remains that it their reputation dwells on the Pufferfish Dome and its symbol of death.
I guess it doesn’t help that they like to fight, though I’ve never seen it myself. They just like a good tussle from what I can tell. They enjoy the thrill, but it doesn’t seem to me like they intend any real harm, if anything it is just a game and they’re a bit mischievous at most.
I suppose it could also be because of how much they love to drink. I’ve read that alcohol can make your actions go to an extreme. If you like a good fight, then it must get out of hand when they’ve had to much to drink and creates the bad reputation that they’ve received.
This is all speculation of course because the entire time I was hanging out with them I only had fun. So now that I’ve got you caught up a bit with the general life in Murkland, let me take you to my actual visit with Gash. Gash is my best friend here in Murkland, and sometimes I’m nervous being around him. Not because I fear him or anything, but I fear hurting him. My goal in Murkland is simply to stay alive. I’ve been on my own since my parents disappeared, and I can’t bring myself to accept others into my life.
My girl friends Jeep and Lavender tease me that I’m oblivious, and okay, maybe I was, but they brought it to my attention and now I can’t unsee it. They told me that he has a crush on me. If I start dating, I’m afraid that I will go the same way as my parents. They weren’t concentrating on themselves because they were worried about my survival and each others. Now they’re dead.
Taken by the desert one day when they went scavenging, and they never returned.
If I start dating anyone, I’m afraid that I will die to.
So even though I came to spend time with gash, I made sure to socialize with all his brothers. Well… other mad mudders. It’s strange to try to think of them as not brothers, they all look so much alike, but I suppose that’s just another one of the mutations caused by the apocalypse’s poisons.
If I make sure I’m talking with lots of people and not just Gash, he won’t have time to admit that he likes me, and I won’t have to hurt him by saying no. He’s already leaned closer to admitting it to me, and that scares me. Love day was recently and he and Rain Vardo both brought me a flower as a gift because I was all alone.
Why am I being so insistent that I don’t want to hurt anyone? Especially not my best friend? The mad mudders make a really strong drink, and some parts of the day I spent with them are a little blurry. I’ve had maybe one or two drinks in the past, and they weren’t nearly as strong as this one was. Did I have just one? I’m not actually too sure.
The day comes in flashes. I remember hanging out by their campfire to keep warm as the coolness of a desert night washed over us. I know I got their in the morning, so I don’t know how my memory went from one drink at the bar learning about Mad Mudd’s ownership of the Pufferfish Dome, to the next one being as the sun was setting. I’m scared that I told him, or perhaps I gave in. Perhaps being alone is actually getting to me.
No… I know it is. I’ve been alone so long, and now there are so many people that I’ve come to love as friends. They all look after each other. Maybe it is save to open myself up to a more special kind of love.
I remember his face looking incredibly peaceful. Even if I didn’t tell him either one of my worries, I’m glad he was at least happy that I was spending time with him and his ‘bros.’ I honestly wish whoever is reading this in the future could help me make this decision. If I am going to open my heart to someone, who do I pick? Will, it hurt someone else. Why does dating have to be so difficult?
Gosh I’m sorry, I’m rambling on and repeating myself so much in this journal. Love day really got me flustered I guess, and it was days ago! I know what you’re thinking if you have been able to read my previous journals. “But Rusty, you promised to write a journal daily in order to keep the future updated on the present that will be their past.” I know, I know! If I wasn’t at Gash’s today then I clearly am not writing these journal entries every day. Well if you’ve ever had as much alcohol as I did when I was hanging out with the Mad Mudders, you will understand why at least this journal entry wasn’t a daily one.
To be honest though…. I’ve gotten so busy, that it is hard to keep up with a daily journal, and instead take a break every once in awhile to update things in the journal. More and more lately it has been becoming an update every couple days, or once a week. Hopefully I’ll never get to the point where it takes me a month to write another entry. Who knows how many more entries that I’ll even be able to make. Who knows if the desert will take me one day and I just won’t be able to make another update.
I guess my point is, dear future reader, you need to enjoy life to the fullest while you have it. Even if it means not leaving a legacy behind like I’m trying to do with this journal. Well I mean sort of… the point is to enjoy yourself, bottom line. Don’t worry about what it does for others at all times. I guess I should take my own advice here shouldn’t I. No wonder I’m struggling writing this journal entry so much. My mind is just all muddled… Heh, no pun intended there. It was completely accidental.
Finally, I remember running home. Honestly, I don’t know how exactly I got home, I know I didn’t take my normal path to get home. But the next morning I spent a lot of time resting up and recovering from my day of drinking. I couldn’t spend my entire day sleeping though, there was a dance party that was happening down the street and I wasn’t going to miss it.
The next day(today) I arrived at the dance party when it was already underway. I was only slightly late because of the sleeping in that I did, but I was excited to see so many faces that I already knew. The Co-mayor was there dancing in the lead of everyone. I also so Dusty, Lavender, and Jeep, my neighbors and best girl friends in Murkland. All four of them have been incredibly helpful and friendly in getting me used to rejoining civilization. My infected friend Lucas was also there.
I want to talk about him a little bit before I move on with telling you about everyone that was there. You see Lucas is one of the infected that have been sent to live on their own because they got poisoned by the nuclear blasts and its after effects. From everything that I’ve learned, they aren’t actually toxic to others, they just have a bad reputation. In fact, it seems like everyone has made their own little clans and hate all the other clans that are different then them. I can’t understand it. Everyone I’ve met has been wonderful in their own ways.
Why can’t everyone see that part of each other? Why is it always the bad things that they dwell on? Well, whatever, moving on with telling you about who else was there having the time of their lives partying and enjoying life. This is where I am both excited and nervous. The Vardo brothers were there, they had returned from their selling trip and were enjoying the music just as much as everyone else was. They’re my business partners, I collect things for them and they buy it off me so that I have a steady income, then they move the items to another town to make a profit.
And of course, Gash was there. He clearly wasn’t as affected by the day of drinking yesterday the way I was. All of my friends and I did a group dance, just showing how you can pull together and do something amazing when you focus on the good in others. It was worth taking a second day off from working to enjoy this moment.
All the dancing though had my stomach growling.
I grabbed some food and sat with Lavender to chat with her while we both ate. I was chewing a rather large bite when I heard Rain and Gash behind me talking. I recognized their voices without having to turn around. I tried to finish chewing fast so that I wouldn’t look silly when I turned around to say hello; but before I could turn around I heard the voices raise in argument, and I heard the slap.
I didn’t hear what they were saying, they had been talking so low and hurried, so the sudden raised voices and loud slap surprised me. I swallowed and my face fell. I didn’t want to turn around now. I didn’t want to know who had slapped who, or why. The feeling in my gut said that I had told Gash something yesterday when I was under the influence, and he had just slapped Rain, or Rain had slapped him. Either way, it was my fault, and I couldn’t face them.
Jeep and Dusty saw it happen and took pity on me. They could see my face even though the boys couldn’t, so they quickly slipped into the two open seats. Just in case the boys noticed me and decided to try to sit with me.
“Boys, am I right?” Lavender said with a laugh.
They all knew about my awkward feelings towards dating, and pretty soon we were all laughing and having a great time again. I’m so glad that they are my friends and can break my tensions. When the boys left, I also poured my soul out to them, like I have been doing in this journal. I’ve never dated anyone at all, male or female. I still don’t know if I want to, I still don’t know if I have true feelings for anyone, and I don’t want to mess up my friendships with anyone.
Jeep thinks that I’m being silly, she thinks that I should try some dating because it is fun. Eventually are dating discussion broke up and everyone started to head back to their own tasks in Murkland as the dance party broke up.
That’s about when I met someone knew. I’ve seen the orange jumpsuit in books at the library. (In fact I was there just before I came out to the dance party. I had wanted to do some quick research on the Puffer fish like I mentioned earlier. I had slept in so I had to make it a very quick trip at a jog to get downtown and back in time for the dance party.) Orange jumpsuits mean that a person is a dangerous criminal.
I think he saw my look of startled fear that crossed my face, and I immediately felt terrible for judging him without getting to know him first. “No please, do not freak out. You do not need to fear me.”
I looked at my feet in my embarrassment. “I am so sorry,” I said, speaking my mind, “I did judge you for your orange jumpsuit. I read so many books that say that it means dangerous criminal, and I shouldn’t think that without getting to know you first.”
He looked surprised, “You are different, yes?”
“Different? Well I guess so, everyone is different aren’t they?” I didn’t know what he was trying to ask.
“You hold the judgement until you know a person for who they are yes? Not many do this thing.”
“Oh! yes. I like to let a person be themselves because everyone is unique and has good in them. You just have to let them show it.”
“You are young. You have been in Murkland since the start or no?”
“Well… no, not exactly. My parents and I were in the desert in my earliest memories, but I have been on my own since they died.”
“Oh I am sorry to hear that. Do you know of the Willow Creek?”
“Freegen? I’ve heard of her.”
He was shocked, “No, no, no, the place, the place!” he started telling me all about Willow Creek where he had grown up as an immigrant. “I robbed a corner store with friends I hang with then. I was sent here to Oasis Springs to child reform jail, big explosion go off, then it became Murkland. Not many survived. They all judge others, no trust when there is so little to share.”
I was ecstatic, someone was finally unafraid to talk about the nuclear bomb that had caused so much devastation. I had intended to leave and get some late work done, but instead I found myself talking to him for hours. I could have cried, I was so overjoyed. I now had a time. After so many years, I now finally knew that the bombs had gone off the year of my birth. My parents must have fled in fear of keeping me away from scavengers and to look for a place where I would be safe from whatever toxins were in the air from the after effects.
Why it is such a taboo to talk about what happened twenty years ago I do not understand, I may never understand it, but I finally have a friend that is not afraid to talk about it. “You can not move on, if you ignore the past.” He was fifteen then, he lost his family to. Now those young boys that were in the jail with him at the time are his family. I will have to visit him and meet his family. I’m so glad he stopped me to say hello.
I’m yawning now as I’m finishing up this journal entry. I’m snacking on some trash fruit and struggling to keep the words moving across the page. I knew that I needed to get all of this written down while it was fresh in my memory. I may be confused, and very emotional right now, but this was the promise I told myself. I’d write and log my experiences for the future. I can’t change that just because I’m tired.
I’m adding this on to the end of my last journal because I don’t want to write an entire journal page for it.
I went out to the campgrounds again to clear my head. My emotional turmoil is still incredibly high and I need a vacation. I’ll write again soon when I’m feeling better.
A/N: I am tempted to let Rusty take a boyfriend and let her turmoil come to an end by trying out her hand at dating. Feel free to suggest who you would like to see her end up with. There have been many over this story that has shown interest in her. Others that she has shown a bit of interest in, and others that perhaps could be a complete twist. The two main ones I was thinking of deciding between are Vardo and Gash, but I know there are others. :3 Let me hear your thoughts on the subject. ^^