Mission: Obtain Water.
Updated: Jun 19
“Dawn” broke and by dawn I mean the violet edges of the clouds above grew brighter with the sunlight shining behind them. Somewhere behind them was the old blue sky I’d known growing up, but for fifty years it’d been shrouded in constant cloud cover.
“Maybe I am old.” I grunted as I sat up on the edge of the bed, rubbing my lower back.
“The disadvantages of having muscles and bones.” Sylus approached me with a cup of water in his hands. “We’re running low.” He was already dressed in his customary suit and tie. I couldn’t help but notice how badly it needed to be washed.
“Great.” I muttered as I sipped the cup. “God I could kill for some damn coffee.”
“And I a pot of tea, but you don’t see me complaining.”
I shot him a glare he didn’t even see as he turned his back to me. I watched his tentacles slowly writhe as they hung from his back. They looked worryingly desiccated, but at least they were still moving.
“Here.” He threw my clothes to me. “Get dressed.”
As I unfolded my crumpled attire, once more I was reminded of how badly we both needed to clean ourselves up.
“How long’s it been since we’ve had an actual shower?” I spoke as I pulled my tank top on over my head.
“Months?” He replied. “Not sure really.”
“Goddamn. We’re gross.”
“Hey, I don’t sweat nor do I slough off skin cells. Not anymore anyway. Dirt just gets on me and I can wipe it off pretty easily.”
I glared at him again.
“At the same time,” he continued, “I do miss just being able to stand under hot flowing water for a bit.” He tossed me my boots as buttoned my pants closed.
“Your respirators doing okay?” I nodded to him as I finished tying off the first boot.
“Hm? Oh.” He glanced over his shoulder. “You noticed huh?”
“How couldn’t I?”
He bit his lip.
“We need to get you water.” I grunted as I slid my foot into the second boot. “I think there’s a trade station on one of the western routes. I’ll check the map.”
“Jeron, we don’t have money for water. At least not enough to plump these bad boys back up. Don’t worry about it, okay?”
“How do you expect me to not worry about you steadily dehydrating before my eyes?”
“I’ll be fine.”
“We’ll pick up a job in exchange for water.”
“Don’t you ‘Jeron’ me.”
“But that’s your name, isn’t it?”
“I don’t appreciate it in that context. We’re getting you water, Sylus.”
“I can wait until Stratica.”
“Like hell you can.”
He tossed my crystalline guitar at me and I caught it by the neck. Followed quickly by my old brown bandana.
“Wanna bet?” He sneered.
“No. I don’t. We’re partners, remember? For half a century? I need you functioning not wasting away.” I fastened the bandana around my dreadlocks and tendrils, holding them back from my face. “Water. We’re getting it. Understood?”
“Yeah yeah okay.” He waved me off.
I stood up and grabbed his hand. He looked into my eyes. I slipped my hand into his and closed my fingers around him. He closed his grip on me. We held hands for a long moment as we stared into each other’s eyes. Matching markings seamlessly wove down our arms and over our laced fingers. Lines of violet runes dappled our skin. The visible manifestation of our bond. The thing that made us as unified and deadly as we were. We were both strong on our own, but together we were even stronger.
“Fine.” He snapped with a chuckle as he pulled away. “We’ll do things your way.”
“Good. Because if we did them your way, I’d end up having to haul your tentacle-y ass to the sanctuary by myself and I really don’t feel like having to reconstitute you in a bathtub first thing in a new location. First impressions and all that.” I slipped my guitar strap over my head.
He snorted as he opened the door and stepped aside. “After you.”
Holding my head high and without another word, I left the relative safety of our shelter and stepped out into the ash-covered wastes. I immediately looked up to the sky.
“I miss it sometimes.” My voice strained.
Sylus shrugged. “I don’t.”
I turned to him. “Not even a little?”
He shook his head. “Blue skies never meant anything to me. As far as I’m concerned, life was rubbish before the Void came.”
I sighed. “I know.”
“But.” He slapped a heavy hand down on my shoulder. “That doesn’t mean you can’t find some value in it.”
I looked back up to the sky. “Yeah. I suppose.”
“Shall we, then?” He motioned in a generally westerly direction.
“Hm.” I pulled the map out of my pack. “If this is even remotely accurate, in about forty miles we should find a depot.” I put the map away. “Let’s hope they have water.”