Grave Awakening

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Making a Friend

Nick was knocked out, so this must mean he dreamed, yes? That’s what most expect when struck cold in these situations would be that he would have his moment of reflection and understand a little bit more about himself and how he ended up in this mess to begin with. It could be about his family and their multitude of tragedies or his friends or loved ones and how he disbanded from them all, all adding to who he was presently. Small snag, though: he gave up on dreams a long time ago. They are as real as the children men have every time they need to handle themselves, and just as disgusting and remorseful to deal with after. It’s why he gave up on both, and became focused on the now rather than possible futures.

But therein sort of lied the problem of his current situation. What could he focus on right now? He already reached the mound, that ended up being a town which now had thirteen less people than before he arrived. In all fairness, only one was really his fault, but that didn’t change the fact the others would regard him as a right negative to the city. From what he gathered from the small meeting, there probably wasn’t more than fifty people in this city alone, so he roughly already decimated a fourth of the population –again, from what he gathered. He hoped that wasn’t everyone there, but he was the hot topic, a white man in a red demon... goat... lizard people’s world... Which, in bringing that up, he supposed he was honoring his ancestor’s well with such an introduction... He, also, wondered what would happen if he sneezed on one; that would really live up to his ancestor’s legacy.

Alas, he couldn’t keep faking that he was still unconscious forever. It was already hard enough with the smell. Lizard was right; wherever he was had that funk only a reptile could really put off, and it was thick enough to lay scales in his nostrils. They itched something fierce, which made no sense since they didn’t seem to have scales. If they were related to lizards, they would be more akin to salamanders than almighty komodo dragons, but that only lead into the question of how they survived without water. They would have to keep their skin moist and sleek if they were down that evolutionary line... but, then again, that sort of thought went out the window when they sport hair, horns, and breasts, mammalian traits when all togethe-

He groaned, catching his breath before it could fully escape, puffing out his cheeks as he was given his wake-up call. Finally; took him long enough. Nick slowly opened his eyes, blinked them, and saw his new best buddy Rylo standing over him, still holding that spear. He was a bit slow on the update, though. The pointy part was supposed to hit him, not the wooden, stick part.

Rylo spoke and nudged Nick in the gut with the blunt side again, tapping his foot as he watched Nick lurch to his feet. Nick was thankful for the wall behind him, though wished it didn’t feel as... clammy as it did. It was soft, red clay, refined to a smooth surface and polished to glistening from the light streaming through the glass to the left. Not a single nook was left unlit, making the entire room glisten, all made of that soft clay, but there was no hint of a light source otherwise. No sconce for a torch to sit in nor a lamp nor a candle to truly be seen; instead, the only other item in the room, the only bit of furniture, was a “bed” pressed flush against the glass. It was little more than an over-sized woven basket with a few treated furs lining it. From this angle he could deduce that at least three could fit in it comfortably, though that’s a word that would need defined if anyone found comfort sleeping in a bloody b-

“Nick!” Rylo barked, and finally made use of the pointy bit of that long stick. In such a considerate way, too; Nick was needing his neck trimmed, so getting started on it for him? No wonder Rylo was his new best buddy. If only it wasn’t for the language barrier, then he could tell him to just fuck right off. Then again, if he could, he wouldn’t be alive right now w- okay, that was a bit too hard with the old point there. It actually drew blood.

“I hear you I hear you,” Nick said, raising his hands to either side. “But, just like you hearing this, I can’t understand a thing you say, so we’re just wasting air here. For all I know, I should start buying stocks of the stuff; it’s been three years since I was on Earth, and there’s no doubt one of the big bads started privatizing it.”

He might have been wasting his best cynical jokes, but at least he still could make them. In truth, he was still... surprised at how easy it was for him to take that thing’s life. He didn’t even hesitate to thrust, the choice made within a breath of him receiving that spear. Sure, it wasn’t human, but it still looked partially like one, it still spoke and argued and shown signs of intelligence. Just not his level of intellect... maybe he really should have joined the armed forces. Perhaps his father was really onto something... aside trying to recapture his glory days through his son before he became a washed-up florist in the middle of nowhere. You want to talk about somebody batting a hundred-

It would be Rylo.

“Nick,” he repeated, pointing at him. “You. Nick.”

“Yes! Me! Nick! You Rylo.” Nick rolled his eyes, sighing heavily... before understanding what he was meaning. “Wait. Are you already picking up the language?”

“Yes.”

“Way to waste a few brain cells, then. I’m the only one that can speak it on this damn planet... but you wouldn’t have understood a singular part of that, would you now?” He chortled, gesturing to himself. “Nick. See Nick. He is Nick. I am Nick. Me Nick. Me jumping Nick. Jump, Nick, jump!” He stopped, huffing, and shook his head. “You’re better off teaching me your language, or, even better, teach the crops how to talk. It would prove far more beneficial to you in the long run.”

Nick sighed, and walked over to the window, looking out upon the fields and path he just arrived upon. It seemed this trip was all for naught; he couldn’t see any further, and it turned out that the mountains simply continued, with no break in their jagged teeth. It was as if that part of the world was blocked away by nature, itself, to keep the grasslands... and whatever laid on the other side from ever meeting... A certain president would be proud of nature’s accomplishment here if that were the case, but now he was curious. What did await on the other side? What was beyond?

“There had to be a reason I am here, and it’s not to... ‘enrich’ these people with the American way of life,” he mumbled, and scoffed as Rylo approached to his right, looking out the window, as well. “Must say, even if you can’t understand: this solid sheet of glass, the clay walls, the road? Very impressive for a species that can’t even make bronze yet. So, what, you make your homes in the mound, like Japanese pod hotels except for those that matter?” He turned to Rylo, sneering at him, leaning hard against the glass as he did. “So what does that make you? Are you their leader? Their chieftain? What about other tribes- in fact, where was Nosu Hal heading? He mentioned a few places when we ‘talked’, so I might as well butcher them and ask what sort of places are Old Chao, Rah Lie, and Chloroform May?”

The mention of Nosu Hal caught his attention, but not for the better. More hate laced through his dour glower... but also a trace of fear.

“Relax. I didn’t kill him.” He rolled his eyes again, getting frequent mileage now in this place, and swiped the spear from Rylo. He started to give chase when Nick aimed it square at him, making him stop and hear. Nick pointed at Rylo, said, “Nosu Hal,” then did a few quick stabs towards him, just stopping short... before returning it, shaking his head. “No.”

Rylo cocked his head, looking from the spear, to Nick... and relief crossed his face. Though it was brief as scorn, and annoyance, returned. He held his spear pretty tight from then on, keeping on the side opposite of Nick, and making sure to keep him on that side. Nick knew he knew, though: He could have killed him then and there... but he didn’t. What kind of monster killed their best buddy? Why, the same kind who kept a race traitor as his best buddy, of course, but that’s not important.

“Olshao? Ralai? Klomei?” Rylo said. “Feo de nast, Nosu?”

“So... Nosu your brother or something? Lover... Brother lover... Yeah, this would be a lot easier if I still had my phone to show photos to explain what a brother was... or a sister. Couldn’t help with lover, but I could have shown you a pic of my ex. It’s not a very appropriate one, but I saved it because she always looked hottest after a nice, hard-”

“Nosu de kin,” Rylo interjected.

“Ah! So we do have a similar word. This is great; this means we can actually bond some and it makes it that much harder to kill you.” He patted his chest, and held up three fingers. “I had three kin.”

Nosu held up three fingers as well, smiling as he said the number... and frowned as he dropped one.

“Had two. Nosu... Kunas.”

“Did not expect Nosu, since you shared different last names... unless they’re not last names at all and are like Leeanne or Annabelle... Though we seem opposites. My two male kin are dead while the female kin is still very much alive. Micheal, Danny, and Valerie. Val was the oldest of us, leaving me as the middle child of the three brothers.” He clapped, making Rylo jump, and Nick sneered at him. “So, tell me, what’s going to happen now, hmm? Are you going to spend the next year teaching me your language? Are you going to try to teach me the ways of your people after I had killed a significant portion of them? None of them looked too pleased that I was still here, and I can’t help but feel I have a higher calling than slinking with the snake people. So, if you could just point me in the right direction I can be on my very possibly world-changing way and out of what hair grows on top of that little head of yours... What do you say?”

Obviously, he knew it would be nothing in English, let alone an actual answer to what he was saying. Instead, Rylo simply... watched him talk, absorbed what he was saying, how he was saying it, doing whatever he could to obtain an understanding of what he was trying to tell him. He already worked out you, me, mine; he was already nine-tenths of the way to understanding America, and Nick couldn’t be prouder.

“All right. I’ll make this a little simpler,” Nick said. “What is going to happen to me?” He waggled his index fingers to the walls before pointing back to him. “Trapped? Imprisoned?”

Rylo seemed to get the gist of since he shook his head, and, instead, pointed out the window. As they talked, the white sun must have gone down, the sky washed in red. But even that was waning, fading to the heavens above, already starting to glisten and shine upon the grasslands to the east. Nick looked down, down at the fields, and saw those that worked them were quickly making their way up the path, staying ahead of the twilight barrier that expanded in the red sun’s absence. He jumped a little as he heard doors thunder behind, above, and below him, accompanied by the soft scratching and padding of feet and the rustle of settling into baskets, and, as one, a contented, tired sigh as the darkness graced the mound.

Rylo yawned alongside it, and turned around, heading for his own “bed”, and Nick was surprised at how cold it got. As soon as the sun no longer shown through the window, it dropped thirty degrees. Easy. It wasn’t enough to be uncomfortable, but he was never the best metric of such; he could walk around in the summer in a full Eskimo suit and not break a sweat, as well as in nothing but his boxers in knee-foot snow and put on suntan lotion before unrolling a towel. Still, given how these people seemed, it must have been far hotter than he thought it was... which would have made sense. A neutron star and a dying red super-giant for suns? This place must be always 120, at the coolest... Which only made him wonder even more what was beyond the grasslands. This had to be the perfect spot for life to flourish, right along the line before the planet was a scorched landscape, but life always finds a way once it takes root. What lived beyond?

Sadly, these would be questions he would probably never have answered for him... More than likely, he will have to cross those mountains. Which what better time than the pres- and the door was locked... Simple, yes. Dumb? Checked, and absolutely not... At least, his best buddy wasn’t, a best buddy he killed the sister of and threatened to do the same. Nick knew how to pick them, that’s for sure.

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