Well, things seemed to be looking up. I should have taken that as a hint that I’d get shot or something, but, well… I’d just gotten laid. For the first time in a long time. And it was actually pretty good. Afterwords I went for a walk and started scrounging scrap round about the compound. There was some pretty good shit just laying around for the taking. Actually a whole armload by the time I got the factory.
So, scrap in hand, I took another look at the borked machinery and suddenly I just saw it—how this fit there and with that there this clearly went up there… before I knew it, and with no concept of how much time had passed, I had a couple pieces of scrap left with nowhere to put them.
So I turned the machinery on.
And it worked.
I was standing there, feeling a sense of deep satisfaction when Lively turned up. Guess he heard the factory running and decided to check it out. We had a brief conversation about the possibility of my crafting something for him—which I’m happy to play with as long as he keeps it on the down low. Oh, and he said something about “What’s going on outside.” So I went out to see what he was talking about.
And took a bullet to the chest, which knocked me on my ass.
I love my lead apron, by the way, every single day I’m thankful for its comforting weight.
I took another couple bullets scrambling for cover—in retrospect, those crappy grenades probably would have done less damage to me, but when you see one hurtling through the air for you—yeah, I panicked a bit. One of them got through, though I didn’t have time to see if it punched a hole through my apron or what, because just then Lively’s sanity went completely off the reservation.
Seriously, why else would he strip down to his boxers, scoop up a metal shiv on the run, then stab some dude to death? I was still wrapping my mind around the thought “boxers” when, all wild eyed he ran for the sewers and disappeared inside—followed immediately by Bright Lark.
I followed, wrench in hand, and when I caught up to them, they both pulled weapons and opened fire on a whole bunch of raggedy oil-soaked people. Oh yeah, and the raggedy people were on fire. And they all wanted to hug Lively.
I guess it was the shorts.
I turned to see if anyone was behind us, and when I turned back Lively and Bright Lark were just finishing mowing all of the motherfuckers down. When did they turn into fucking gunluggers, anyway?
Then I saw the arms of fire rising out of the oil barrels, like someone buried alive clawing their way up out of the ground—only made of fire. I was naked, fending off blows, reaching for, grasping for anything to ward off—make stop-I bludgeoned him-clamped a lid on the barrel-blood-smother-brain-barrellid-eye on cheek-hotbloodandbrainsonthighs-fire. out.
Bright Lark staring at me all pity and touching me on the shoulder. Don’t touch. Not now. Not after that.
Did I win? Do I ever?