One can always Drown beneath the Past

Submitted into Contest #98 in response to: Write a story involving a character who cannot return home.... view prompt


Speculative Science Fiction Mystery

People strolled through the town, quiet and peaceful in a manner jarring to him and his once chaotic life, he watched them anyway, halfway waiting to spot a Revenant amongst them.

Sleep wasn’t an easy task for Laz, it never had been, under the Bunker’s artifice, and it hadn’t changed after the flood. So he watched his neighbors, as they took to their menial tasks.

Most didn’t take their limited time to notice him, in the once vacant house his benefactor’s had been allotted. 

But they were always nervous when they did. He was new of course, but new was something that happened in well fortified towns with ample resources. Most of the other newcomers were of lesser concern than he was. 

Laz would’ve been lying if he could say he didn’t know why. at least upon reflection. 

It was just the way as far as he saw it, squishing Revenant hearts with whatever blunt weapon he happened to possess, ending his assault at that would’ve just made him an odd duck. But he’d insisted on feeding the hibernating ones stones, a fault in his senses as an outsider. He was as a result the mad one among newcomers, and his attention was suspect.

Especially at night. He’d watch anyway, though, it wasn’t worth it to lose his latest roost.

They’d taken him in of course, and he was well within his rights to keep watch when he couldn’t sleep.

Laz had never thought of this path, even as he tripped through it. He was lucky like that.

He rather liked being a sentinel against his benefactor’s duress, even if it left him as the only wakeful person in the house most nights, or the last to rise those corresponding mornings.

It was his price for staying, and it was a whole lot fairer than rent in the Bunkers. He could afford it for one, and it hadn’t cost him his dignity yet. 

It truly was a marval, the strange things found in the rubble left behind.

Laz was unlikely to sleep that night. Whatever rest that could be had would be among heavy curtains at the behest of kind strangers. 

That was unfair wasn’t it? He could think it, but not say it. In all honesty Laz hadn’t known how long he’d been like that, unable to speak rather than choosing not to.

Laz was alone with his own thoughts most of the time.

And he was beginning to hate it.

So when ‘new voice’ led him to her home, he was more than willing to go along with it. Laz hadn’t expected the invitation, he was a stranger among strangers, but it would be rude to refuse.

Laz still couldn’t afford that.

Like everywhere in the tiny settlement, it was only a short walk to her house. It was known that she lived with an elder of her’s, an old man of sturdy frame and booming personality, he was one of the common sights in town. 

Laz had long since gotten to know the dynamics in town, and the old man seemed to make one leg of her position. Whether it was in respect of seniority or the elderly overall was arguable.

Though it didn’t much matter to Laz, why she held rank, it was enough to know she did, as far as he was concerned. 

Now being up in front of her home, seeing her elder, Laz was contemplating his actions and his readiness for this entire interaction. The conversation had slipped beyond pleasantries, and straight into an argument, parts of which were only recognizable to him by voice.

And only so much could be caught by then.

“Why feed him?”

“Cause I speak. Yeah?”, she said, pointing him out, “He doesn’t, Fools a fool, but he needs to eat right?”

“Fauxs a fool, for a fool.” her elder said, “And you won’t be alone. Chances lost.”

“Had and gone, why have him starve? What are we losing sleep for? We got it to give.”

“We have it to have, ain’t gotta give anything.”

“You’da had us in a Bunker, had you been living then.”

“Done had it right Dara, why lie when they're safe from above?”

“Be that, but I tell you he will eat.”

“Fools make it then.”

And with an exasperated sigh, she led him in. Laz didn’t much like to be the catalyst for angry words, especially when he didn’t understand most of what was said. And while ‘Darah’ seemed hospitable to him, her elder was much less welcoming.

“The way she had it, you were going for the heart as much as their heads, wonder takes it, where you learned that. Rats are sly after all.”

Since Laz couldn’t talk back it was good enough to watch and nod if spoken to.

“Wonder takes it how old men speak outta turn. He hasn’t a clue, sin or effect.”

“Sparn me child, but he’s no fool if that’s comfort.”

“Fools a fool who’d take offence for comfort.”

“And how should I take it?”

“Non less, then if the Nyaff is lying, take yours as true and prove it with tact.” she said looking her elder in the eyes, “beyond that, if he’s a fool, there's more than chance, having him know it.”

His host’s little tiff was the preamble to a less than comfortable dinner, Darah’s elder taking what amounted to the head of the table, while Darah served a rather colorful stew. One thing that was nice about the various settlements was the variety of vegetables that had succeeded the common fair of the old world. 

Laz wondered if the elder understood how much better it was on the surface.

If he’d had the words to tell them the fate of the overly sheltered people drowned in the Bunkers, he would, but Laz wasn’t one for words, really, or for the delicacy of speech. So he opted to simply enjoy what was given.

It was better than leading them wrong anyway.

They managed to do away with some of the stew, before taking the main trail out of town. Darah had apparently planned an outing with her compatriots, prior to inviting Laz and now he was coming along.

He was pulling double duty that night, entertaining and fighting. Which considering the alternatives was at least more productive. Maybe he’d be noticed for something other than staring.

June 16, 2021 15:03

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20:19 Jun 22, 2021

This story was a little all over the place, but it seemed to fit the vibe. Laz is a wandering soul, not having a place to return to; the story is a wandering soul, too! It flowed like a little brook, and was quite intriguing. A couple small critiques: 1) "It truly was a marval, the strange things found in the rubble left behind." "Marval" should be "marvel". 2) "One thing that was nice about the various settlements was the variety of vegetables that had succeeded the common fair of the old world." "Fair" should be "fare". Thank you for ...


Kathleen `Woods
21:20 Jun 22, 2021

Thanks for the spellcheck. I kinda started with Dara's argument, then figured the rest.


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Elaine Baker
01:09 Jun 21, 2021

Nicely done(This sounds so generic,but I mean it!)


Kathleen `Woods
02:44 Jun 21, 2021

Thanks, I was trying for that.


Elaine Baker
14:45 Jun 21, 2021



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