A Big Shiny Blue Marble Ch. 52byTaLtos6©
***Sorry for the delay on this, but I was uh, overtaken by events, you might say. I've been trying to get this written for a while now and I've had a few um, obstacles along the way...
Anyway, this chapter is going to be a 2-parter. Not a lot of fooling around here - that's in the next chapter. What we have here is a bit of hope for a few characters out in the wild and woolly hills. So there's a bit of a horse chase which I hope I've managed to convey well. It doesn't happen here, but there is a threat in this chapter of non-consent. Just saying.
And all of this grew out of me watching a nice lady take blood samples... 0_o
Book of the Forsaken Part 7
"Where are you going?" Rudhi asked as she watched Billy and Randi make a few preparations and place some things into her tank.
"Over to the old base where I put my piggy together. There's something there that I want to add and never got around to. It wasn't even anything that I thought I'd ever need or want, but now I can see that it would be a good thing," Randi said, "Why? Do you want to come along?"
"Of course," Rudhi smiled, "I am so much in love with you both. I must go along." She thought for a moment and then laughed, "I learn so much from you and to me, you are both so beautiful. For myself, it is not hard to find women here who are lovely, but it is a little harder to find men who I like to look at. I don't know why that is, but it is something that I've noticed. So, since there is a drought and I cannot have my own, I am happy just to look at your man."
The two girls remained close, in spite of Randi's happy relationship with Billy. From them, Rudhi was learning how to make love without the hard sort of fights that her people had always employed as a backdrop in their personal relationships. She'd asked, and though Billy had been uncomfortable about it at first, they now didn't mind it if she watched them as long as she didn't interfere in any way -- though she had a way of asking the most startling questions sometimes.
"And anyway," she smiled as she found a few things to help with, "you make me laugh so much. It is like watching two people's first love, but without the sticky foolishness that accompanies that in people who are much younger."
She meant that if the pair of them found themselves within arm's reach of each other, they gravitated together without even knowing it and when it was noticed, it was that they were touching somehow or holding hands, yet without the seeking for it which happens with a pair of young lovers. For the two of them, it just happened and wasn't thought of or sought for at all.
"And there is something else that I have learned from you," Rudhi said, quite earnestly, "When Randi rides anywhere in her rolling home, she always makes the sandwiches that I love so much to take along and eat on the way. I would go for them alone."
"Fine," Randi nodded with a laugh, "come on then, and I'll teach you how to make them for yourself."
The night was cold and clear as Samantha reported for her shift at the hospital. Given the general shape which mankind had found itself in a few hundred years earlier, the fact that there even were still a few barely functional hospitals was remarkable. And of course, their use and services were for the sort of people who could afford them.
Sam hung up her coat and when she turned around, she was looking at her manager rather than her boss -- which was a blessing, she thought. Clancy Harrington was a great boss to his many minions and he rewarded dedication. To herself and a pair of others, he was the most awesome uncle and father that you could ever want to have.
"Put your coat back on, Sam, " Clancy said, "you're going out to a quarry. They've got a prisoner there who's a little fucked-up and they need you to tell them if he's gonna die or not."
"But I just do blood samples," Sam protested, "I'm not a doctor or anything. You know that, Uncle Clancy."
"Yeah, I do," Clancy replied, taking a pull of his cigar with a grin, "If you were, I'd be able to get a lot more for sending you out, wouldn't I? Look kid; let's face a few facts here. Think of it as a day away from that old bitch, Margie. That's gotta be worth it right there, huh? I do know how she treats you, but I can't be here every day to look out for you, can I? If you think the guy's fixable, then push to have them let you bring him here for treatment. Otherwise, just bandage-over whatever holes you find and hand 'em the bill, honey."
Samantha nodded with a shrug. "Hey," she said, "what if I find that this guy is really busted? What happens then, Uncle Clancy?"
"Well I get paid regardless," Harrington said. "but they'd probably just throw him onto the shitheap. He'd die there eventually. Everybody does. It won't make any difference to you either. They just need to know if he's worth keeping, that's all. You oughta go and get whatever you need ready."
As she packed her kit, Sam reflected on what she'd heard. She might come off occasionally as a little bit naïve, but for the most part it was just her way of verifying what was expected out of this. One of the biggest stress factors of her existence was her boss Margie -- who was at minimum, a Size 12 asshole, officially, and though Samantha could deal with her rather easily, she was hobbled in that her methodology was of a rather permanent nature -- which would be frowned upon to some extent at least.
She wasn't anywhere near being a doctor either, but she was the nearest thing that her uncle Clancy had to send and she was meticulous in her note-taking and accurate in her observations. She was also not a hematologist, but for the more basic interpretations, she knew what was what. Blood work these days wasn't anything like it used to be, from what Sam had heard, but it still had value as a diagnostic aid. She also knew why it was her who was being sent. Little Sam was a lot easier to send, transport, travel with and just plain easier to defend out on the road.
Margie likely would have wanted to go, since there were bonuses involved, but Sam knew that all of her uncles' roadmen had threatened to quit if they had to take Margie anywhere again. Travelling anywhere with Margie was known to be a pain in the ass of monumental magnitude. Any activity with Margie's name in the same sentence could be, it was said, whereas all of the roadmen loved traveling anywhere with Sam.
Samantha was just a little thing, maybe four feet, ten and she was a flyweight, but she had the sense to keep her mouth shut if things got a little tense and with the way that things had been lately, it helped everyone's nerves if the payload knew when to keep her head down and even better in Sam's case, could shoot half-assed decently as opposed to bellowing out that she was important and needed protection, as Margie was wont to do if they were attacked out on the road. Nobody knew but her uncle, her cousin and the roadmen, but Sam had a secret, and it was the nature of that secret which allowed her to take care of herself in a tight place a lot better than most girls would be able to manage for themselves.
It always amazed folks who didn't want to be cooperative when the diminutive girl with the honey-blonde hair and the dark eyes set to work on getting the samples that she required. They might try to resist after agreeing initially, but once Sam grabbed an arm and twisted ever so slightly, well it was over almost before anyone knew it had happened and the person who might have wanted to give Sam a hard time over allowing her to take her blood samples usually just sat there in a bit of shock wondering what the hell had just happened while they stared at the bit of gauze they were holding over the hole on the inside of their elbow.
Sam got her gear into her saddlebags and she checked the load-out for her rifle and her pistols twice as she got ready. This was going to be a long trip and so the first part of it had to be made while it was still dark.
The horse had been Sam's idea. There had to be a wagon along anyway in case the patient needed to be transported, but if there was no patient, Sam didn't see the need to center herself out before then. She'd much rather ride with the roadmen. It made for a better trip, kept her out of the clutches of whatever nasty old fuck was driving wagon for this, and it kept her nearer to D'Arcy and Shane, Clancy's adopted sons and her cousins. They'd always gotten along great and if there was a place to be on one of these road trips, it was next to those two boys.
"Who we gotta go see?" Sam asked D'Arcy as they rode.
"Dunno much," D'Arcy replied, "He's supposed to be a big fucker, so you need to watch yourself, cuz. I also heard that he's their best, so they might want him fixed if he's busted not too bad."
The statement was worth a smile to Sam because D'Arcy was not a little man himself, probably going better than six-three and over two-thirty on the scales. In many ways, they weren't anything like each other, but in temperament and drive, they were synchronized if such a thing were possible, one often knowing the state or the feelings of the other without the need to waste breath on words.
The trip out was fast but otherwise unremarkable and though she was still a little dazed from the road and the fast ride, Sam threw off her cloak and coat revealing the old neoprene suit underneath. She'd been told that they were keeping the patient out in the showers, so she'd dressed a little accordingly. It was part of a strategy which she's worked out with D'Arcy the summer before. For a place like a quarry where they'd keep their injured fighters in their showers, she and D'Arcy geared for it so that he could accompany her and keep her safe.
Clancy did his best to make sure that the calls were genuine, but more than once, Sam had found herself in the middle of a bunch of addicts who thought that she must carry some form of opiates in her crash bag. So these days, D'Arcy went with her, but the result was always the same if they found that they'd been set up.
That was when that little secret which Sam shared with her cousins might just slip out of the place deep inside where it was usually kept tightly restrained at most times. When they walked away afterward, there was usually no need for opiates by then anyway since nothing back there was breathing.
The quarry, like a lot of other places which needed a rather steady supply of new workers, was really just a form of prison in the current culture. A prisoner could elect to remain in a regular jail or transfer to a work farm or a quarry to work their sentence off a little quicker.
This particular quarry also fielded some fighters who would be matched against the fighters of another quarry or factory someplace. Typically, the fighting was much like the Roman gladiatorial model, and while it was theoretically true that a prisoner could work off his or her time even more quickly by volunteering for the fighting pits, there was also the possibility that a severe enough loss would end more than one's career.
All that Sam knew in regard to her charge today was that he was he was reputed to be a large man and that he never lost. Keeping him in the showers would keep him out of sight of most of the others, keep him a little warm, and clean out his wounds as well.
She cocked her pistol and set the safety before she slid it inside of the holster strapped to her leg. When D'Arcy indicated that he was ready, they walked after the young woman who was to lead them. There were no words exchanged as they walked through the dripping water and hissing clouds of steam until at last, they were near a series of rectangular pools filled with hot water.
"What's all this for?" Sam asked and their guide shrugged, "Healing tubs. The water is hot enough to make you whimper climbing in, but they tell me that it's the best way to get your body started on fixing itself in a lot of the cases and once you're in, well, most people have a hell of a time getting out. That's your man there -- third tub from the left. Name's Ewan."
"Ewan what?" Sam asked, and the girl shrugged, "Damned if I know, Lady. All I know is that Ewan is his real first name. Most people here don't even know that much. They all just call him Samson."
D'Arcy looked at the young woman a little hard, "You don't really give a shit, do you? I mean, I can see that all over you, but is there a reason?"
She shrugged, "I just work here. If you really need to know, talk to one of the hub here; you might get better stuff from one of them. To me, this guy is just a walking turd like the rest of them."
"Why?" Sam asked, "Because he's a prisoner or because he's trading off his time for keeping the bunch who run this place rich?"
The guard shook her head and shrugged but D'Arcy saw it, "They taught you right, didn't they?"
Sam didn't really get it, but she watched as D'Arcy nodded coldly, "I've got the same disease that he has, Muffin. Best not get too close."
The young woman turned away then and Sam asked her cousin what he'd meant. D'Arcy just snorted, "Ewan's trouble -- in that woman's view because she was trained that way - is that he's a male. That means that to her he's stupid -- at best -- and a piece of bothersome livestock the rest of the time. I'd lay money that this place doesn't have one female fighter and that all of the others in the hub are women. Males are useful to them -- occasionally as guards - and that's about it. We'll see how this goes, but I'm telling Dad when we get back, and then he'll decide how much his profit picture needs this place's bullshit then."
After that, D'Arcy barely acknowledged their guide. Sam would have questioned it further, but she knew that look on her cousin and she knew that she could always get her question answered; she just might have to wait for a better moment.
She also knew her uncle. To Clancy's way of thinking it was a man's responsibility to take an active role in the protection and care of any female in any sort of difficulty, but that if she were in an area where her own skills and abilities could help another, well, then he thought that she ought to help just the same. He laughingly called it "old school equality" and he was big on it -- since without it, everybody was in for just that much more of a hard time staying alive in the present age.
Samantha loved and looked out for her cousins. It wasn't out of anything more than family, but she also knew the backstory. The two boys were far apart in age; D'Arcy being six years older than Shane. He'd left home at eighteen and came home after a while with his tail between his legs to get a breather from the harsh world outside.
Only when he came back, there wasn't any home to come back to. Young Shane was the only one that the flock of demons had missed and he'd been starving on his own for ten days out on the little that was left of their remote little farm by then. Shane had watched his parents being killed from his hiding place and it had affected him deeply and caused him to withdraw from everything and everyone -- except D'Arcy.
It had been D'Arcy who had held Shane for a few weeks' worth of haunted nights and let him cry it out as he'd needed to. It had fallen to D'Arcy to finish growing up fast so that he could raise Shane himself to where he was now a twenty-two year-old man. It was as if the two belonged to some private club which neither one would have ever wanted to belong to, but it was what they had. The only other person who had visitation rights was Sam, who'd kill for them in a heartbeat if needed -- and that had already happened a time or two.
D'Arcy was the sort of man who was a natural leader and that was reflected in his leadership role among the roadmen. Tall, hard, and ruggedly good-looking, he fit the role easily and was incredibly good at it.
Shane was a little harder to figure out. He was a bit shorter and far thinner than his older brother and he tended to keep his thoughts to himself. He shared a few features with D'Arcy though; having the same clear and piercing light gray eyes and the long, ash blonde hair which could look almost silver depending on the way that the light hit it at times.
Shane had been told by Sam and his brother, but he seemed to reject the information as though they couldn't possibly be correct and weren't being anything more than charitable, but the truth was, that as good-looking as D'Arcy was to a lot of people, that was what it was.
But Shane wasn't just good-looking -- he was beautiful. Beautiful enough to make the hearts of most girls his age and younger threaten to explode on contact. Females who were his age and a little older tended to get weak in the knees and feel stupid over the way that they seemed to have trouble speaking clearly in his presence -- and Shane's interpretation of that was that his awkwardness and poor appearance was the cause of the trouble.
Women who were say, in their late twenties all the way to the age where his late mother would be now just had tremendously lusty thoughts about him as soon as they laid eyes on him and if they gave voice to those thoughts, if just scared the hell out of Shane. There was something sweet yet tremendously masculine about him. He looked as though he knew what he was doing -- because he did - and yet, he also had a way of looking slightly lost sometimes and that look was the lady-killer that he didn't even know that he possessed.
All of that caused Shane no end of trouble and embarrassment, but that wasn't the worst of it, because as godlike and desirable as his appearance caused him to be to females, it was just as effective on males who liked boys.
Shane and his brother shared something else which had somehow grown out of the horrific murder of their parents. Like most other men, they would have wanted to find that one perfect girl for themselves.
The trouble with that was the dark little detail which they kept hidden. It precluded falling in love with almost all girls in the area -- and indeed, in most areas of human habitation. The other thing was that due to their past, they'd grown close and that closeness came to the surface now and then. Whether they wanted it or not, their bond made them love each other because they were pretty much the only ones who understood. They weren't lovers and likely never would be, but as Samantha watched them, she could see that they shared a deeper bond than most married people ever would.
It made no difference to her. She'd still love them and she knew herself well enough to understand that she was bound to become even more murderously protective of them if anything happened to either of them, though she wanted more than anything for them to find a girl for themselves. They protected her well-being and she protected their hearts.
Looking around, they saw the in-ground tubs and saw a more or less human-looking head resting on a pair of huge forearms. The hair that they could see was long, light brown and matted. There was no telling what color the eyes were, since they were closed and there looked to be a beard, though it was quite obviously under the chin on those forearms -- those very furry forearms.
"What happened?" Sam asked and the girl shrugged again, "Nobody knows, to tell you the truth, friend. He's the hub's favorite fighter, but suddenly yesterday, he said that he was hurt and came down here. Of course, the Ladies didn't believe him and kept sending in other guys to fuck him over and force him back, but Ewan would just kill them and then get back into the water. Nobody will come for him anymore, no matter how much they offer. The Ladies upstairs are some pissed over it, but Ewan has made them all rich, so ...."
Sam nodded and their guide left, saying that she'd come back if she was called, and Sam looked at D'Arcy, who nodded, and then she stepped forward to sit on the edge of the bath. There was silence for several minutes before she spoke up.