I spent another few days just hanging out before I started to get bored. By now, I had read all the books I’d been lugging about and I was just lying about and going for the occasional swim. Follows-Chalk was still hanging about, and while I considered sending him away back to his tribe, I reconsidered based solely on the fact that he’s one of the few tribals I’ve met that speaks English rather than their own odd tribal language.
I’m so bored that I start flipping through notes on my pip-boy. To my astonishment I discover I’m quite the through note taker… and compulsive too, because I can’t even remember writing any of this stuff down.
While flicking through said notes I come across the details of my conversation with Joshua Graham and note with some surprise that I’d agreed to drop his supplies off with Daniel, not Joshua.
Given my current bored state I don’t see any reason not to do that now.
Follows-Chalk and I meander around the Sorrows camp, looking for Daniel. He’d be easy enough to spot, being the only person wearing ‘civilised’ clothing; however his propensity to wonder about an already confusing area means that it’s a tougher job than it sounds.
I do eventually find him and, somewhat unceremoniously hand over the doctor’s kit, survival packs, walky-talkies and compass.
What happened next was a little shocking… Follows-Chalk, up to this point my long suffering, silent companion, declared that now I’d found those items for Daniel, his job was done. Despite an attempt to get him to stay with me, Follows-Chalk politely explained that he had agreed with Joshua to help me with this task, but now he had to go back to his people.
Agreed with Joshua?! I here I was thinking that he was continually throwing himself into danger because he loved me! How will I ever trust again?
As if that wasn’t abrupt enough, the crazy bald-headed lady who had welcomed us to the village suddenly appeared behind me and looked at me with an expectant glare.
Daniel explains the supplies are great – but he also needs a bunch of other stuff. Stuff that includes, but is not limited to, a map of the way out and the path out of Zion cleared of ambushes. And then he adds that this lady, Walking-Cloud, will help me.
Daniel even has the locations of all these things can be found on a map, but while I agree in principle that this stuff is needed, I’m not convinced that I should be the one to see to it – I already got the Sorrows all the other supplies.
I politely tell Walking-Cloud that I won’t be needing her services and then sulk off back to my cave.
After a day of sulking alone and morning the departure of Following-Chalk, I decide to resume reading the survivalist’s journal. I have a few more notes from him that I picked up from various supply stashes that he had hidden around Zion valley. I bet he never had to deal with being taken advantage of like this.
January 2nd, 2124
I’ve been leaving notes for them, and gifts.
They like the books. Started with stories but moved on to weapons manuals, medical books, practical stuff.
In the notes, well it’s embarrassing, almost like those cards people used to give each other, everything sweet and loving. I tell them to read and to learn and to make the most of their new home. I tell them I’m giving them Zion as a gift to make up for all the sorrows of their lives so far and all the sorrows man has visited on man. I tell them to be kind to each other and modest. I tell them never to hurt each other but that if someone else comes along and tries to hurt them to strike back with righteous anger. Stuff like that. I sign every note “The Father”, because well, just because.
That’s interesting… I’ve heard the Sorrows talk about a watching god, “The Father in the Cave”. I wonder if there is a connection?
January 18th, 2124
Have I mentioned that I’m dying?
Mind’s still sharp. Lungs are the problem. Might be cancer. Cough’s been getting worse for months, finally there’s blood in it. Getting harder to visit my little friends, breath’s so short.
I’ve given away most of what I own. They’ll find the rest in caves when they get a little older. I don’t want them to find me, though. “The Father” is a broken-down old man? Disappointment.
It’s time. I don’t want another birthday.
Well, the ‘little friends’ didn’t find the caves… or they did, but they marked them as places of religious significance and then avoided them. Which was probably a good thing considering the number of traps the survivalist used to protect his homes.
January 23rd, 2124
It’s cold enough that I won’t last long on the high mound up next to Red Gate. I think I’ve got enough breath left in me to make it. I’ll just lie down and stare at the sky. Feels right.
I hope they’ll do well. I hope no harm comes to them, from within or without. Did my best to prepare them with the last notes. Said something kind about each one of them, what makes each one special. Told them “The Father” was pleased by their kind natures and that it would be up to them to handle things on their own from now on, that I’d be silent but still watching and still caring.
Lying, then. Oh yes.
Lied to you, Char. And Alex. And Sylvie. Told you I’d be with you forever. But I wouldn’t go back and unsay it once if I could.
What was the point of it all? So many failures.
But I never forgot your face. Or Little Nut’s. Or (sorry) Sylvie’s. They used to say that happened after a while but it never did for me.
Maybe the only point of all that living was to keep those pictures in my head going for as long as I could. It was the only life I could give you. Not a day went by without.
It wasn’t choice. I chose to die again and again. Just never did. Body had its own drive.
Well, the little ones will need it. Species will need it if it’s to continue. That blind drive onward.
I wish them well. It’s been a gift to me, at the end of it all, to behold innocence.
Randall Dean Clark
Feb 5th, 2053 – Jan 2124
There is one line that sticks with me; “I tell them I’m giving them Zion as a gift to make up for all the sorrows of their lives so far and all the sorrows man has visited on man”.
The Father in the Cave… a gift to make up for all the sorrows…
The Sorrows Tribe must be the descendants of these children.
Well, that shouldn’t change things… but it kind of does – knowing that the Sorrows are the legacy of the survivalist whose homes and resources I’ve been sharing makes me feel indebted to them. I owe him, and he cared about them.
I guess that settles it – I’ve got to help Daniel help the Sorrows.