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 "I give this apocalypse two thumbs down, a boo, a pbblt, and a hiss" [open!], dammit atlas [post-apoc, casual]
bear
 Posted: Jul 7 2015, 08:46 PM
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[CW: violence
BTW, no matter what the post count is - you are always invited to join! c:
additionally, any post length is welcome! short post, long post, medium post, red post, blue post, etc <3]

And I sit,
With a GOLDEN DIAL,
Between my teeth,
A CEMENT MOON,
Beneath me.


The year 3000 CE was when Atlas collapsed.

Atlas of course being a united coalition of plutocrats all with a twitchy trigger finger and a trigger that activated weapons of mass destruction. It was a long story, a complicated history of conflict, but how much did it matter now? Their earth was a destitute and radioactive hell, filled with monsters and abominable mutations. What few survived struggled every day, many apparently vulnerable to the clans of those looking for the vulnerable. Guilds and associations popped up amongst the apocalypse, some good, many bad. Some looking to rebuild a community, and some looking to join their ranks to dominate what little of the world was left. And some just wanted to destroy what was already so destroyed.

Who were these people? Saviors? Samaritans? Destroyers? He wasn't willing to stay and find out.

He lounged as comfortably as a man could in a metal bed, bound in rusty manacles though he held a pamphlet between bony fingers with all the informality of reading a newspaper on a Sunday morning, commenting idly to nobody in his damp and musty cell.

A BULLET near my breast.
A LILY -


"... No offense to the cult of the day, but this is really poor literature. Too prose-y. What are your amendments? Your god?" He leafed through it, coming upon an illustration of an inky eldritch monster, with eyes upon its bony limbs and teeth lining the many voids spotting its body. A golden dial between the set of jaws fixed upon its chest.

"Ah."

He discarded the pamphlet, distracted by the rustling from the opposite corner of their small cell. The flash of alarm dissipated into an expression of relief and apology, the lanky man brought himself to his feet and approached his cellmate with haste.

"You- You're awake. Good morning." He remarked with a bit of wryness and inappropriate humor as the muted grey light of dawn leaked through the slats of their barred window. "I'm... sorry it couldn't have been to better circumstance." He reached out, his spidery fingers briefly grazing and examining the violent abrasions and dried blood covering his cellmate's head and scalp before receding his touch, aware it wasn't asked for.
"I did the best I could, but there's only so much I could've done in a cell for someone with a head cracked like an egg. You know, I would've suggested they give you some melatonin instead of head trauma the next time you have trouble sleeping. Welcome to reeducation, my friend."

It was hard to go a day surviving in their hellish landscape without some cult snatching up the hapless ones. This cult was one rooted in something visceral, violence and abominations for gods, something that consumed the human spirit and manipulated it into barbed wire. He didn't belong there, and neither did his new companion.

"Don't worry, we're not staying. What grey matter you still have left is necessary for our escape, so we'll talk more whenever you can. Here, they didn't give us much, but I saved this in case you would come back." He reached for the bucket wedged beneath the opposite bed, the sinew of his arms and bare shoulders strained - in better circumstance he may have had an impressive frame, but it withered quickly alongside access to food and water. In the bucket and hidden inside a scratchy russet blanket was a bottle of water.

"Filtered." He reassured, placing the bottle next to his near incapacitated cellmate.
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Bleedpretty
 Posted: Jul 8 2015, 07:49 AM
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It was amusing to him, that when the tentative structure of society fell those that were left behind shed their morals without second thought to instead tuck into the most base of instincts. Humans were funny creatures, he'd found, thinly veiling their more animalistic behaviors to play at being something better than a beast. Now there was little need for facade, just the cruel and brutal honesty of the will to survive. Not that he was any better, but at least he hadn't ever pretended otherwise. Three rules had kept him alive thus far; Trust no one, listen to your gut, and take whenever given opportunity without second thought. It helped that he didn't argue with himself morally, he simply did what he needed to with the understanding that if he didn't then he'd be the one who got taken advantage of.

An apocalypse definitely was one way of weeding out the weak, which left only those who were either resourceful enough to get by or those who were ridiculously lucky. Either way, the ones that remained were those capable of making the tough calls, which really made things very simple for him. It was doubtful that anyone got this far without a little blood on their hands, if not downright impossible. No one trustworthy was left.

It was the pounding headache that pulled him from the inky blackness of unconsciousness, and despite that he initially tried to resist the tendrils of awareness, he was stirring. Each pulse of his heart brought on a fresh resonating throb in his head, a feeling he was not entirely unfamiliar with. It was similar, but not the same as, the sort of headaches he'd get after one of his self destructive benders. Instinct kicked in as his memories came flooding back and he startled into wakefulness with the sudden sort of sobriety that came with recognizing the vulnerability of being out cold. The first thing that came to mind was the driving urge to break the fingers that had sent a refreshed shock of pain through his skull, but he managed to restrain himself as he became more aware of his surroundings, only blinking at the other blearily.

The man was speaking, but he wasn't really listening, the words bouncing off of him as he glanced around. This wasn't the first time he'd been behind a captive, and it wasn't likely to be the last. The groups that had begun to form were the worst thing that had happened since Atlas collapsed, at least in his personal opinion. They preyed upon all that they could, whether by forcing the unwilling into their ranks or through manipulation of the weak, and they were all hungry for warm bodies. Right now it was all about who had more than anyone else, be it supplies or ranks.

Pushing himself up onto a palm, his lips curled at how his head protested his movements. The word 'escape' drew his gaze and he eyed his cellmate with a mixture of wariness and curiosity. When the bottle of water was placed near to him, hollow eyes dropped to examine it. As if his body only needed the reminder, he was suddenly painfully aware of how desperately thirsty he was. His lips were cracked, his mouth so dry that it seemed incapable of producing saliva at this point. There was only a moment of hesitation before he snatched up the bottle and drained half of it only managing to come to his senses at that point. He knew how to use things sparingly, chugging the water greedily was not wise.

Shifting to stand, he didn't even seem to take notice of the manacles, clinging to his bottle with a death grip as he moved to try and peer out of the barred window. It was smudged and foul, offering a less than optimal view of the world beyond. Nothing outside indicated what section he was in. “Is this A sector still?” The world was divvied up, partitioned out in sections based on old territories and boarders. It was a well used system at this point but not necessarily known by everyone. “I need to be in E.” He was muttering more to himself than to the other, entirely accustomed to being on his own. He'd been about to take a shortcut across the wastes to the south to get to the E sector when he'd been knocked in the head. He hadn't expected to wake up.

Turning back to the other occupant of the cell, he let his eyes settle on the stranger. He was certainly a survivor and it showed, from the way he now all but ignored the head wound, to the sharp gleam in his eyes, there was no doubting that he was capable of most anything. Or capable of making an attempt at least. A wave of dizziness passed over him, but he only raised his free hand to grip at the bars of the window, refusing to sway for it. “Do you have a plan?” It was the first thing to be said directly in response to the other man, not bothering with even a shred of gratitude for any of the decency he'd been shown thus far. What was the use in bothering with formalities anymore? He had a more than slightly negative outlook on the future.

--------------------
And I watered it in fears,
Night and morning with my tears;
And I sunned it with smiles,
And with soft deceitful wiles.
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bear
 Posted: Jul 8 2015, 04:59 PM
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It was expected in this landscape, of course, for those with shattered skulls to start scrambling to their feet the moment any semblance of self came back. He looked more newborn fawn than severely concussed. He observed the fellow prisoner, hesitantly reaching out a hand to try and discourage the sudden movement.
"You've just spilled your brains for at least a few feet," he gestured to the dried red trail snaking into their cell from the prison corridor and stopped to where his cellmate was only a glorified corpse a few moments ago, "you'll only be helpful if we don't have a repeat." He offered the aforementioned russet blanket, "Take this. In case you are still bleeding."

He straightened to his feet once more, brushing off the sediment from his palms. The rusty chains clanked and he thoughtfully glanced at the cell door.
"Well..." He cleared his throat, approaching the front of the cell and taking the moment to peer both ways down the hall. There was nothing in their mournful prison save for the sounds of other prisoners weeping. The two prisoners with their relatively calm auras seemed out of place in this hell, looking like temporarily inconvenienced tourists albeit covered in their fair share of viscera.
"Unfortunately, there isn't a pattern as to when the guards come and visit. But I notice they come at least every few days to drag out corpses and prisoners who have decided to convert, or to drag in more prisoners and people who are mostly corpses." At this, he pointedly glanced at the other man.

"I have a few ideas," he again reached for the bucket, his words only merely above a whisper as if paranoid the other prisoners were particularly interested in matters beyond their soul-crushing misery, "When they took my things, they didn't.... er look as closely as they should've. I managed to sneak in a few picks." He pulled out four stems of feeble looking lockpicks, "They're pretty flimsy, and I don't know how many locks exist beyond the handcuffs and the cell door. So, we'll need a plan beyond breaking out into the hallway. Magical as that first step may be."

Outside the window, one could at least see towering walls made of scrap metal and barbed wires. There were guard towers and people with guns on patrol. The human population was likely under six figures by this point, and yet still there existed the ones who wished to eradicate more.
"... You're definitely not in Sector A, by the way. This is er -" he picked up the pamphlet from where it was discarded on the grimy floor, flipping to the image of the charming abomination and squinting at the fine print below it, "My friend, you are currently in Sector K. The Capricorn zoning, if that narrows it down for you." There was a moment's breath of silence between them, interrupted by a particularly guttural sob several cells away, "I'm unsure how it happened, but I'm sorry for the circumstances that led you here."

He awkwardly cleared his throat, offering over the pamphlet. "Anyway. I had pondered if we could pretend to have converted and sneak out the compound that way, perhaps steal a set of uniforms, assault the guards and take theirs? Or you could pretend to be dead and we still go down the same road. Of course then we have to think about the witnesses and recovering supplies. I realize it's outlandish, but if you have a better plan, the floor is open." He tried to fan his cuffed hands in as grand a gesture as he could manage.

They were trapped in a metal cell an infinite number of miles from any semblance of polite society, and what a cruel place it was.
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Bleedpretty
 Posted: Jul 8 2015, 09:23 PM
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The outstretched hand was like a bridge, reaching out to try and make landfall on the island that was him and he wanted nothing to do with it. Recoiling as if the offending appendage may very well burn him, he grunted and turned his attention to the indicated trail of blood. He had no apologies to offer, hollow eyes not even acknowledging the other man when the blanket was offered to him. He took the material between the fingers of one hand, still refusing to release the bottle of water in his other. It was as if he believed that the second his digits relinquished their death grip he would have the bottle torn from his grasp. Bringing the fabric to his nose he inhaled the all too familiar scent of decay and misery, blinking before he stared out of the window once more. “A scratch.” He muttered stubbornly, too prideful to understand that machismo did him no favors here. If he had any one downfall, it was his ego. Though, were he asked and were he in a mood to explain, he likely would have launched into some ranting tirade about not needing to owe anyone anything. It was better when he didn't speak he'd found, his unguarded words were static and few thus far had been capable of tuning into the right frequency. Words were complications. Actions were simpler. He tossed the blanket haphazardly at the bed.

The ideas offered were shaky at best, and he frowned disapprovingly. No known layout, no real information, no schedule, nothing of any real use. The lock picks looked as though they might snap in two if they were handled too roughly, and as the other had mentioned, who even knew how many locks existed between them and freedom. Could just be a few, or it could be more than the picks could handle. How tragic if they snapped at the last door between them and freedom, but that was his sort of luck if one believed in such things.

At this point, he was deaf to the snuffling sounds of the weak about him. Having been imprisoned more times in his life than he had digits, he was all too accustomed to being in this situation. The end of the world had not affected the human need to control, and as it happened, he was not a very willing subject. The cruel ones liked him because he didn't break easily, they lusted after him, desiring to be the one that finally penetrated his spirit and crushed him. Fortunately, he'd always managed to escape their clutches before that point had ever been reached. Thus far at least.

Being told that he was not only no longer in Sector A, but actually in Sector K, prompted more of a response than anything thus far. “No!” He hissed, free hand raising to tug at the messy mop of black hair, fully ignoring the still tacky blood that smeared with his fingers. It was awkward for his confines. How in the hell had he gotten to Sector K? Now he would have to backtrack to get to A and take his shortcut down to E, which also meant that he would have to cross the cannibalistic territories of Sector B. Again. As was he'd barely scraped through the first time and he'd earned several new scars to show for his venture. His head pounded incessantly and he outright ignored the civilities the stranger offered him. Apologies and gentle words only had a place in the past, and even then they'd had no place with him.

Reining himself back in behind his steely walls, he drew in a breath and pressed the bottle of water against his temple. What he wouldn't give for a bag of ice, a bottle of whiskey, and a cigarette. His mouth watered for the very thought.

“How long have you been here?” Still reluctant to release his grasp on the bottle, but deciding he needed his hands free more than not, he tentatively placed the bottle on the narrow ledge of the barred window. Moving, and entirely ignoring the other man's sage advice, he began to examine the cell. The good thing was that these so called 'prisons' were not as well fortified as the ones he'd been kept in before the world had all but ended. As only the ones who have spent any great amount of time in one single room are able to do, he searched for the anomalies. They were not the first prisoners here, they were not liable to be the last either. His fingers crept into the crevices between bricks, felt beneath the metal of the bed, searching out every last nook and cranny he could find. He produced a stashed piece of metal, but he wasn't sure what good it would be aside from a makeshift shank. He also found a few small rocks which had been used to apparently mark days on a brick beneath the bed, a tiny dark hole that he imagined led to the cell next door, and a wadded scrap of material wadded into the supports of the flimsy mattress. It was scrawled with words in a language he didn't know.

“Feigning death isn't an awful idea.” He admitted reluctantly. “Though you may want to avoid pretending to convert should you ever be placed in this situation again. Sometimes these cults sacrifice the occasional convert to whatever god they're pretending to believe in.” Or worse. Death was a blessing prayed for by the suffering. Bitterly he tossed the scrap of incomprehensible rubbish aside, frowning out of the window once more. “If we go as guards we may be able to get to the outer walls, but there is no telling what's beyond this hall.” He lapsed into silence, letting the gears turn in his head. “Sneaking out quietly may not be an option.” Drawing close enough to be able to speak in conspiratorial tones, he set dark eyes on the other man. “We might have better luck knocking out the guards, taking their garb, and releasing the rest of the prisoners. If we rile them up and flush them out we may be able to slip off during the commotion.” He liked using the word 'we' but he had absolutely no alliance to this other man. He'd leave him behind in an instant if it meant he could save himself. He had better things to do than to allow his brain to become cult pudding.
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bear
 Posted: Jul 10 2015, 03:51 AM
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"Right. A scratch. And these are just bracelets." He murmured a little under his breath. The rusted links clinked pointedly as he pushed the bucket with the precious few and flimsy picks back to its secure little alcove beneath the bed.

The other prisoner found a few things: a piece of scrap metal, a piece of paper with something already scribbled on it, and his stash of small stones alongside the brick he lodged loose from the wall. He was pulled from his reverie by the other man's question, his eyes owlishly blinking and one spindly finger tapped his chin.
"Hm." He picked up the discarded brick, tilting it back and forth in the meager light to see the silvery scratches, "I was doing a decent job keeping up with it when they first left me here, I could see the sunrise from the window. But you know how it is, a few overcast days, a brief onset of severe psychosis and suddenly it's all a blur."
He adjusted the brick, an almost fond smile crossing his lips as he found one particularly distorted line, "Look," he pointed to the dash, the loopy sliver of entropy in contrast to the other prim and proper slices, "you can actually pinpoint the exact moment I began to lose my mind. Not only is this brick a good blunt trauma weapon, it's a souvenir."

But he thought better than to invite the other into the noisy vales of his conscious, interested instead that he found the plans suitable - albeit reluctantly - and offered his own sage advice about bowing to unfamiliar gods. At this, he scoffed and reached for the only piece of literature once more to display their god.


"Oh, I don't know. Does this fellow really look like a vengeful god that demands a sacrifice?" The bit of sardonic humor aside, he let the pamphlet fall back upon the metal bed, "I don't plan to stay long enough to be considered a sacrifice in any compound. I imagine you don't plan to play dead long enough for them to feed you to the dogs either."
Freedom in a destitute landscape meant so much when the other options involved being peddled off to being brainwashed for a cruel and wretched eldritch monster or being hacked to feed the hounds.
"Speaking of which, don't eat the meat they offer if our plan takes a bit of delay. They have that look in their eye, you know?" The cult members eyes were something feral, the sclera to pupil ratio unsettling, "Unless you are also of the sort. In that case, help yourself - especially if it'll make me look less... appetizing."

He glanced at the other prisoner, thick brows furrowed at the idea of coaxing a mini riot. He was an invisible one, spindly and russet like the rest of their world, but there was a bit of skepticism crossing his expression. "I see. I believe that could work, but consider our fellow inmates here." He pointed across the meager corridor to the cell across them, barely visible given the only light they had was what leaked in their window. "That's the kind of person we'll need to rile," And he pointed at a something that was merely a lump in the early slivers of dawn, "haven't seen them shift for days now. Can't tell if they're dead."
Within the vast , empty, and cruel miles about them, the purest thing that existed were the few sips of water left in the other prisoner's water bottle. And perhaps the most vigorous sign of life may have been the ecosystems of bacteria growing in cultures in every crevice.

"I think we should wait a bit before acting on anything, at least until you're slightly less concussed. Or do you think you'll be able to run if it all goes to a lower circle of hell?" For what it was worth, their cell offered some safety from the madness encircling them! But that might have been another bout of psychosis chirping.
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Bleedpretty
 Posted: Jul 11 2015, 07:04 PM
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When prompted, he glanced to the brick and furrowed dark brows tightly enough to cause a crease to form between them. The fact that the other had been stuck here for a significant amount of time should have been disheartening on some level, but it only made him all the more determined. Too long and the mind began to rot away, incarceration had a way of eating holes through one's mental cognizance. Nostrils flared as he drew in a long breath, inhaling the stench of captivity and desolation. There was no price too great to pay for freedom from the confines of such a place.

This new companion of his was much more upbeat than he could have ever expected, the strange sense of humor punctuating his words and tone. It was perplexing in a way, curious in the same, and almost frustrating in another. Did this stranger not know he was supposed to be broken like the rest of the cattle here? After a moment of thought on it, though, he decided it was at least somewhat entertaining. Squashing his intrigue was difficult but absolutely necessary. Curiosity led to questions led to far more connection than he was willing to engage in.

His attention fell to the pamphlet as it fluttered down onto the bed, examining the depiction of the so called 'god'. The cynical commentary actually saw a smile pulling across his chapped lips, peeling them away from his teeth in an expression that looked far too tight to be genuine. The eyes were dead though, hollow and so thoroughly disengaged from whatever fraction of a soul he may have once had that emotion did not touch them. Perhaps that was why the odd attempt to smile looked so very fabricated. It was quick to fade, the crack in his veneer sealing as though it had never existed at all.

No answer was given for the offered advice on the 'meat', neither confirming nor denying what he may have put into his mouth at some point in time. He wasn't a cannibal, not exactly, but if it came down to it he would survive. It wasn't self preservation that drove him so much as a higher purpose. For now, though, he would avoid the questionable meat, he would do so until he no longer could.

“Perhaps you underestimate the power of the instinct to survive.” He offered as argument, moving close to the filthy bars. Even the slightest notion of freedom being a possibility would be enough to get most anyone up and moving, even those damn near corpses were liable to get up and shamble about. There was nothing like the rush of adrenaline to get the blood pumping. There was little else to add though, it was simply an idea. Sneaking out was likely possible honestly, but slipping away from the riot would buy them a little bit of distraction at least. It would be difficult for anyone to question them if they were busy with a swarm of half alive, desperate prisoners.

Weathered fingers raised to curl about one of the bars of the window. Sometimes he thought that they looked similar to a bird's bones, thin and long, though they were no longer pale as they had once been. Digits outstretched as he let them unfurl before tightening back into his palm. Freedom, it seemed, was invariably beyond his reach. He wondered if that was how the fledglings felt when they first attempted flight, struggling and fluttering helplessly to reach that which seemed impossible to attain. They continued to try though, and that was the persistent thought that lodged itself into the back of his mind. Not even birds got it right the first time, not even the second or third time for that matter.

“I need time.” He said simply, turning to glance over his shoulder at the other man. It had taken a moment to come to that conclusion, but it was the smart choice. Could he run if necessary? Absolutely. Was it wise to push forward despite physical injury? No. The words themselves, though, made his mouth feel dry and his stomach drop. He couldn't stay here and he knew it. He would wind up bashing his head into the grungy bars before everything was said and done. Every passing minute ate at him, but he would not risk a chance at escape with carelessness.
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bear
 Posted: Jul 24 2015, 03:32 PM
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In perhaps what was the first display of something more morose beneath the surface, he murmured "I've begun to think... I usually overestimate people's tolerance with existing." beneath his breath. He scratched his dirty head and let the brick fall back to its stone floor from his bony fingers. Souvenir or not, he had plenty of bricks already resting on his shoulders, in his chest, around his ankles.
This rotting away in a wasteland wasn't living, this wasn't a life - this was surviving like a lonely hare perpetually stuck in a concrete den of hungry wolves. Constantly, day in and day out. They were outnumbered by roaches in healthier and larger colonies, while people were frequently damaged further by their own species.

But just as quickly as his companion's melancholy smile faded, so did his disheartened tone, only slightly unsettled by the fact his cellmate's eyes resembled more husk than human. He had seen that thousand yard gaze in the eyes of everyone he had met, so much so that he began to wonder if he was the odd one out. Like a cow in line at a slaughterhouse still remarking 'Eh! Things could be worse!' minutes before the wretched end.
He cleared his throat, broke their eye contact when he was further disturbed by the man's unwillingness to address cannibalism. His skin crawled and he let his dark fingers idly trace the sinew of his arms, glancing across the hall at the despondent human while his companion held the depressing bars of their depressing window. His fingers found his pulse, a solid, racing, hummingbird thrum-thrum that comforted him while it would be a cause of concern for most physicians.

"That's a good idea, we're not in a rush, are we? And look - perfect timing, here they come." The heavy metal doors to their stuffy jailhouse clanged open, sunlight filtered in and he could feel things skitter away to avoid it, "They... usually come two by two. One's a saccharine bastard, the other's a mean bastard. Try to guess which is which." He said lowly, a tall and once broad man, yet he cowed further away from the front of their cage. His cheerful expression grim and his eyes downcast as the two guards sauntered down the hallway, banging on the bars, talking kindly to the ones who cried out in fear (something, something about peace in war and converting to their cult), and then dragging out the one or two who hadn't survived. He wasn't sure if he had a religion, but merciful gods weren't this.

Quick to pick up the pamphlet of the inky abomination, he was sure to place it back upon his bed before the guards reached them, it was a cardinal insult to leave their holy war mongrel on the floor, plus neatening their meager belongings gave him an excuse to avoid eye contact. The light reaching the front of their jaildoor was blocked, eclipsed by a monster of a human, looking akin to something more of a tapered tree trunk than person. Their features were indistinguishable since it was all covered with armor of metal, leather, and what looked to be carbon fiber - a resilient polymer so rare it was comparable to donning diamonds and platinum.
Their companion was slighter, a cheery woman wearing an eggshell set of robes more suitable for their harsh and sunny climate. Upon her face a splitting and radiant smile.

"Brother! It is good to see you lived! We feared the worst when we found you."

Right. "Found."

She addressed only his cellmate, leaving him be as he did everything to avoid eye contact and focus on the thrumming of his pulse. Her gargantuan companion was occupied with dragging the body out of the cell across the hall, he wondered how long they had been dead... his suspicions were only verbalized mere minutes ago.
She, however, cheerfully paid no attention, simply regarding his concussed cellmate as she dug for a set of pamphlets and their holy book. She slid them through the bars with a beatific smile, "This. For the soul." Then came the single pack of dried meat and fruit, alongside another single bottle of water through the bars.
"This. For the flesh."

His stomach lurched at the sight of the food, but he stayed very quiet, trying to become grit in the dirt, the flecks of dust in his lungs, a cockroach skittering through the cracks. Invisible.

"I am Carina. And release from your misery is very easy. I hope one day to see you stand beside me and not across from me." She spoke gently, kindly, a vision in all white in their abode of death and decay. Of course she would never clarify how every woman beside the few in white robes was treated, of course she would never clarify how every man not wearing carbon fiber and steel was treated. But a prisoner hoped it was better than this.

They continued to walk past, as if they were walking through a shelter of feral and unruly dogs, slipping treats and kindness through bars in hope of winning favor and then dragging out the ones already dead.

He wondered how long his skin was so cold when he finally came to, "Um. Pleasant. Aren't they? Don't... mistreat their reading material."
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Bleedpretty
 Posted: Jul 29 2015, 07:03 AM
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Unlike his cellmate, he had no reservations about meeting the eyes of his captors. Or at least the one attempting as much anyhow. These cults all claimed to be different, they sang sugary songs of the way of the true god, of repentance and salvation, then watched as the weak fell to their knees before them. It was easy to sway the feeble minded, most especially when they were fearful. Humans were malleable, it only took the right set of tools.

The woman's words were met with stony silence, something he was actually remarkably good at pulling off, pretending to be an impervious brick wall. One only had to take a close enough look to realize that his bricks were held together by embittered determination instead of anything even as remotely stable as mortar. As was, the brickwork was shoddy at best, and what little was holding all of the pieces together was cracking, deteriorating and chipping away to be carried off by the wind. Maybe he was a shell, shambling along so very like these other walking corpses, but he had a goal, he had a reason to live and that was more than most.

Though he was willing to come near the bars, not quite as fearful (or perhaps just a bit more reckless) than his cellmate, he did not make an attempt to interact. His eyes skipped over the large man, and he briefly wondered how it was that they were supposed to take a creature such as this down. It seemed more troll than human, not a very easy task for two men who were more skin and bones than meat at this point. He didn't believe it to be impossible, but it might take some more thought than the haphazard sort of plan they'd mused over for all of two minutes. Troll-man had been eating well obviously, he wondered about his companions warning over the 'meat'. The musings conjured to mind the thought of the massive individual gnawing on a leg bone like a dog. He managed to not cackle maniacally.

Taking up what had been offered to him, he only watched as the two moved on. He was envious over that armor, if it was what it looked to be then it was a rare commodity indeed. He'd be taking that if he got the opportunity to do so. Having two bottles of water, even if he had drank the majority of one, was something akin to winning the post-apocalyptic lottery for him. At least currently. He clutched just as desperately to the second bottle as he had the first, and though a kinder man may have instantaneously attempted to share the gain, he only thought about his own survival now. Once, long ago, there would have been little hesitation on his part to share. That person was dead though, which was the case with most anyone these days. The instinct now was to cling to whatever resources he could, though it did not necessarily mean that he reverted to an entirely base mindset, he was capable of half-way intelligent thought. Now the gears in his aching head were turning, dusty though they may be, and he was starting to process that his companion here might be somewhat capable. Or in the very least, somewhat intelligent. The other had admitted to being here for a while and yet had survived somehow, sheer will alone was unlikely. Paranoia was setting in, but rationale kept it at bay.

The empty eyes were swiveling to once more rest on the strange man who seemed to like to hear himself speak. The advice was taken and tucked away, but he had no response for it. It was better to play by the cult rules for the moment, even if he did want to throw the damned thing onto the ground and stamp upon it with the worn sole of his boot. Curse this cult for dragging him off course, and curse their fictional god. “Are you familiar with this Sector?” He sure as hell wasn't. He'd avoided Sector K like the plague, knowing full well that it was swarming with cults just like this one. At this point, he'd rather take his chances with the deranged cannibals than deal with the crazed, raving religious fanatics. At least with the cannibals, or at least the mad ones that lived in Sector B, death came quickly. Though he was certain that he needed no help, that he was quite capable on his own, he wanted to try and soak up any information he could from this stranger. It'd be best if he could avoid stumbling into another cult's territory after springing free from this one.

Lowering his voice he furrowed his brows and inched closer. “Have you heard anything of the uprising? The movement in the south?” It was rumored that Sector E was being cleansed, that the cults were being chased out by a force that was on the up and up. He'd been following the whispers he'd heard, the small tidbits parceled out to him by the occasional stranger. It meant he would have to actually speak and even what they'd exchanged thus far had his throat feeling raw and cracked, dry from use after being unused for so very long. Any information gained was well worth it though.
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bear
 Posted: Aug 3 2015, 01:52 AM
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They were polar opposites, the closer his new cellmate went to the bars, the closer he approached the back of the cell - where the insects festered. His back was against the wall, knees suddenly too unreliable to support his weight.

His vision wavered, a trembling cascade of entropy as he listened to the footsteps in the distance, intimidating with their weight, intimidating with their kind words. The man's head bobbed from side to side, his skin prickled with cold sweat. Words babbled out of his mouth with perhaps a third of his brain aware of them. He was an exemplar of how malleable humans were, a half-working spirit inside a stubborn husk. This place molded him, and though he wished to escape, that thread seemed to get thinner each passing day he saw the sun rise and set on the violent landscape. But something kept him hardwired to keep going, to keep hold onto his human side, perhaps that was the only reason he willed himself enough to help his cellmate when they threw the man in here. To try and haphazardly aid the head trauma and give up his sole resource.

... But sharing a cell with a corpse didn't sound very ideal either. Rigor mortis was cruel and obscenely disgusting.

Normality resumed when their prison doors closed, blocking out the sunshine to let insects and dust resettle. He came back to himself with a few deep breaths, fingers ceasing their oppressive dig into the sore tendons of his arm. Another sigh, and his vision stilled again, the floor was sloping left and right, the air was steady. He pulled his shirt, feeling the sweat begin to prickle on his filthy skin, he cleared his throat again.

"I'm... not familiar with this place. This is my first time here too. I'm a Gemini, we're not compatible with Capricorn." He murmured with a feeble jesting smile after letting the man's words linger too long in the empty space, "But I know that... I had more teeth before I came in here." They tried crushing out that sunny spirit with their fists, he remembered, and he remembered spitting mucus and molars and blood for hours. He eventually came to realize that his sunny demeanor wasn't something of... self. It was a product of coping, a stony skin of disassociation. And sometimes the surface cracked. He cleared his throat, again.

"They have a penchant for-for hitting, you know?" He chuckled, running a hand over his face as he shook the rest of the chill away, "Who knows. They're probably tenderizing us for their god. Or for themselves." He glanced again at the little scrap of food they gave the other man. It was perhaps a generous five hundred calories, and it was impossible to gain weight on it.
How were they so big?

"Do you think I could...?" he began to ask, quietly, for even just a dried apple slice or perhaps some water - but he let his words drift very quickly, as quickly as they came. He couldn't afford to make enemies in cramped quarters, he had already given his fair ration of teeth to violence. He would've assented given a no, but he realized how violent people became with their meager resources even slightly "threatened." He shook his head in an abrupt 'never mind' and instead began to focus on the rumors.

"I've only heard as much as you have. I don't believe in any of it. I think it's just a product of an insignificant species disassociating from their insignificance. It's an ant trying to call itself a giant. This?" he gestured around them, to their damp cell where if they stood side by side and stretched out their arms, they would touch every wall.

"This is it. And the sooner we learn to... thrive in... this. The better. I'm sure there's no harm in going towards there, adjust your expectations accordingly. Expect more evil, and maybe, you'll feel happy to see there is some good. Expect some good? You just end up losing teeth and landing in a cell, surrounded by cannibals and eldritch assholes."

He awkwardly scratched his arm.

"Sorry. You probably didn't sign up for some cynicism on top of a shitty situation. For what it's worth - I heard... Sector E has pretty good weather this time of year."

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Bleedpretty
 Posted: Aug 4 2015, 06:17 PM
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Whatever the joke was, he either didn't get it or he didn't find it very amusing because the words fell short in the expanse between them. The literal space was not all that vast, but there were canyons that separated the two of them. No visible reaction was to be had, only a blank expression that left very little to be read from. A slow blink and a soft breath, a shifting of his weight. It was all he could offer.

All of these little cult prisons were riddled with violence, between captive and captor, between cellmates, hell sometimes even between captors. It was nothing different than that which laid outside of their prison walls really, most of what remained of humans and their so called humanity lay in shreds in the ruin that was their society. They were animals now, self serving and entirely consumed with the lust that accompanied the instinctual desire to live. The weak were the ones to lay their all but empty vessels down in the dirt, they were the ones who gave up prematurely.

The reaction to their captors was not lost on him, and he paused to take in the way the other man's fingers dug into his arm. Fear was not necessarily weakness, in fact, the lack of fear on some level would have only made him exceedingly wary. He had not been here as long as the other, he didn't have the same reasons to be fearful, though he suspected he would quickly enough if they didn't find a way out. No, fear was not weakness in his eyes, not alone. Cowardice was different from fear. A coward would not bother seeking a way out, easily trained by a heavy hand, not unlike a disobedient dog. Fear was a realistic reaction, a result from observation and experience.

The start of the question drew him out of his thoughts, and his eyes, which had drifted away, now returned to the other. His fingers tightened around the morsels he'd been given, shoulders stiffening some as if expecting some sort of attempt to take what was now his at any moment. The silent 'never mind' was not enough to see him relaxing all that much, his worn knuckles whitening for how tightly he now clutched at his new acquisitions. It didn't even matter that the other had been so kind as to give him the water, an act that had not gone unnoticed nor unappreciated, but could not be repaid all the same. There was too little to offer it freely.

That wasn't to say he wasn't willing to share for a price.

For him, the other unwittingly ventured near to the unspoken price with the words that came next. He cocked his head and studied the strange man. Most of the others he'd encountered after the fall of society had not exactly been a stellar example of mankind. Intelligence did not always play a role in survival unfortunately, more often it was those who had the means or capability. So when the other man began to speak in reply to his question he leaned forwards. It was subtle, far too slight for he himself to take note of. A single thought punctuated his mind.

Finally.

He seemed to perk up.

“It's relative though is it not?” The apology was allowed to pass by him with little to no acknowledgment. Why apologize when he was genuinely interested in pursuing the conversation? Throbbing head or not, he always had enjoyed taking part in thoughtful back and forth. For this moment he felt a bit more familiar to himself. “An ant is tiny in comparison to us, and for it to call itself a giant when placed on the same scale would, of course, be ridiculous. Maybe you are right, maybe the rumors are only the result of some sort of widespread coping mechanism.” He paused. “Consider for one moment though, when could an ant call itself a giant? Perhaps when comparing itself to that which is smaller.” He wet his chapped lips. He was rambling.

“Don't get me wrong, I'm not disagreeing with you. I think anyone who has made it this long has long since learned to distrust the tales of rainbows and sunshine, they're akin to the sticky sweet traps of the pitcher plant. Lure you in with promise only to pull you into their trap and drown you within.” He paused again, his throat hurt. When had he last spoken this much? At a lecture perhaps. Looking away, he seemed to drift off into his own thoughts for a few extended moments. When his eyes returned he was holding out the pouch of dried food, offering to share, extending an olive branch of sorts.

“There is quite the difference between survival and living. The idea of thriving is subjective at best.”
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bear
 Posted: Aug 11 2015, 12:53 PM
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The sweat dried on his skin in the absence of his ghouls, he was able to recover normality, and even if it was hard to tell the ways his pupils dilated in his dark eyes - they too resumed mediocrity, though he blinked hard to dissipate the ache. Their cell was oppressively dark, even in the early rays of sunshine. And yet, what an odd blessing it was, while their meager population receded due to the brutal heat waves that wouldn't break for days on end.
He shivered, actually too cold.

Pulled out of dissociative reveries, he himself noticed amusedly how he was being examined by the other man. There was a hint of human intelligence lighting up in the other's eyes and he wondered whether it was because of something he said! Though the apocalypse honed a few skills within him, he was always talkative - able to touch on subjects from institutional oppression, the meekness of their existence, to the weather is almost pleasant today! The Gift of Gab made itself worthwhile the peers he irritated - charisma and easy smiles occasionally broke through barriers, even if it irritated at first.

"Relative? Dead is dead is dead, isn't it?" The parasites in their walls didn't discriminate against the gods and men, and perhaps that was the only reassurance left in their short lives. But he begin to smile, pleased that he was being engaged in conversation after so long of chattering only to himself - like an attention starved (and potentially brain-damaged) parakeet. "Besides, what's really smaller than an ant?" Ticks, parasites, disease, more things to crumble giants that even ants couldn't!
"Simply, more horrible things."

Was this really the crest of their shaky alliance? A discussion about futility? A discussion about how life had become one giant carnivore and they were all flies?

His eyes widened like saucers at the sight of food. Despite his ability to scavenge, mediocre skill with first aid, and athleticism, the only thing that won him his first bite was simple kindness.

Or. Well. Something. It had to be something beyond kindness, that human spark in his cellmate's eyes seemed triggered by a particularly cynical look on life. It would have been almost funny if he didn't feel his eyes burn.

I'm not going to cry. He kept chanting inwardly, hesitantly reaching out for the bag of morsels - giving plenty of avenues for the other to recede his grasp, change his mind and save the few precious calories for his own withering self. When he had the bag, he was sure to take the slightest thing, a small crescent of a dehydrated apple slice. And when he bit into it, he certainly sniffled at least once. He immediately handed back the rest of the food, busily unsure whether to inhale or savor each bite of the apple.
But by the time he had decided to savor it, it was already gone and his the sugary taste was mere residue on the top of his tongue.

"I'm usually not so emotional about apples," he was sure to clarify, wiping tears away with dirty palms before clearing his throat, amazing what a little bit of food could do! "But. You're right. I'll say my idea of thriving is anywhere out of here. You've seen a little bit of what to expect, any ideas to get out of here?"

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Bleedpretty
 Posted: Aug 19 2015, 06:54 PM
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It wasn't just cynicism though. Perhaps he wasn't making a very good argument, but he was on the side of the ant. Or something like that. Resistance was not futile, he believed, and he would stand fast by that belief. The uprising he'd heard rumor of was the ant here was it not? His thoughts were starting to get twisted around in his head, and he was confusing himself. He resisted the urge to tug at the short crop of hair, all too ready for an in depth conversation, yet not prepared in the slightest. That person he was trying to get in touch with, the very same one who had wanted out so very badly, that person had been locked away for far too long now. It was more difficult to reach the same philosophical levels as he had once been capable of. Now that he'd tried to call upon that inner self, it was standing there dumbly, all but gaping at his unfortunate companion.

“Atoms.” He breathed after a moment of staring almost blankly at the other, jaw slightly slack, eyes nearly vacant as he reached into the recesses of his mind. The word was so quiet that it was nearly whispered, uttered upon a soft exhale. Gaze having settled elsewhere, it now returned to his cellmate. “The building blocks of matter.” A wry little smile twisted over his lips, the expression looked forced and somewhat odd for the sun weathered, weary features. It looked even stranger when his chapped lips parted in a wide grin. Atoms weren't horrible. They couldn't be.

When the offered food was taken from him, he lost interest in the conversation briefly, attention fixating on the other. He did not try to recant his offer, but he did watch with wide eyes, very much afraid that the other man may just decide to keep the bag for himself. It made him nervous, it took everything in his power to keep from snatching the bag back. Shifting his weight nervously, he watched as the other took a sliver of apple before instantly handing the bag back. He clutched it to his chest, heart pounding. In that instant the stranger gained a minuscule amount of trust though, whether he realized it or not.

The other snuffling and wiping away tears was enough to disorient him. The new him and old him were clashing, and he felt a bit dizzy, though that very well may have been the head injury. A wave of vertigo crashed over him and he took a step back to sit down upon the threadbare bed. How had humanity ever come to embrace such a pathetic existence. His eyes settled on bag of food before he slowly reached in and grabbed what looked to be a raisin or... something. Hopefully not a rat turd. He slipped it between his lips. Definitely not a rat turd.

The words had his attention returning to the other once more, taking in the sight of the other as he wiped away tears. He ignored them politely, having no words or reassurances, and honestly not quite sure where they'd come from.

His cellmate's idea of thriving was akin to his own. He wanted nothing to do with this place, and he briefly examined their confines, drawing in a slow breath before exhaling it. “Playing dead may not be the smartest.” It may also be all they had. Slowly he shook his head, deciding to dig through the little bag for something else, a nut of some sort, which he ate eagerly before reluctantly offering the bag once more. Perhaps cooperation was more necessary than he'd previously believed. It was probably better to keep himself separate, yes, but right now it felt too good to attempt to be human even if it was at the very expensive cost of his commodities.
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