Storm nervously licked the sharpened tip of the bone fishing hook she would eventually use to create tattoos. The fishing hook had been given to her by her Grandpa Petre. She regarded it as almost a talisman or protective amulet. She prayed it would help to give her some semblace of solace in all this mess, and maybe even help keep her safe; much like Christians felt about a crucifix or a cross.
She watched the infected wander and crawl aimlessly in the dusky street below. Their growls and snarls gave her the shakes. She almost pricked her tongue more than once, startled by sounds that seemed to creep ever closer to her hiding place. Every now and then she could hear the sharp and desperate cries of some poor survivor. While she was scared shitless in the top floor of the abandoned building, she felt better off than most who had either sucumbed to the infection, or been killed by those who had. Sometimes the infected bumped into one other, knocking each other down carelessly. She fearfully wondered if they even knew they were dead.
“I will need antiseptic spray…” she thought absent mindedly.
Kade had been gone for a while. Too long. He had gone out to try and find someone....anyone that might be able to help them. He had, probably with good cause, asked her to stay behind so that he could assess anyone he encountered to see if the situation was free from danger. He felt he might be in a better position to create a relationship with any newcomer, as well as lay the ground work to have them both included into some type of safe haven group. Being the protective big man he was, he felt he could keep her as safe as possible if he just went mano a mano first. They both felt that it was potentially unsafe to bring a vulnerable woman around a band of strangers. They both knew this full well. Problem was, that left Storm on her own and alone for the time being. She now weighed whether this approach even made sense. Perhaps Hawke had just wanted time away from her; to be free of the responsibility of protecting her. He had been vigilantly protecting her since all of this started. Storm was sure that this had not been what he'd signed up for when they met by chance at the Tattoo Artists United convention in Chernograd. That had been two months ago. They seemingly had been inseparable, even before the outbreak. Although it sounded terribly corny and akin to romantic melodrama, Storm liked to think it truly had been love at first sight.
She began to tremble thinking about what could happen while he was away. She was a tattoo artist, not a fighter. She wondered what was worse; being all alone having to fend for herself, or being among a group of strangers who had unknown motives and behavior? Time would tell she guessed. She didn’t mind being alone in the dark. She had long been an insomniac. So much so, that at some point in her teens, she began to embrace the darkness, and actually prefer the shadowy nocturnal peace of night time over the bright clamor of daylight. Her most creative visions for tattoos were often born at night. She contemplated often, that if one had daydreams at night, weren’t those just dreams? Maybe the only difference was if the sun was shining or not.
For now, waiting for Hawke to return, she laid low, tried not to travel too far from the building she was holed up in, or go anywhere during the day when she might be spotted by stray rogues. It was times like this though, when she was scared and lonely, that her mind drifted and she felt melancholy. No one to tattoo, no one to talk to, no one to run to if trouble arose. Though she wasn’t the greatest conversationalist, she still liked the company of others. She hadn’t been able to tattoo anyone in a couple of months. Even before the outbreak, she had been taking a small break. The convention had breathed life into her lagging fervor. Now that was again threatened as her focus had to shift from art to survival. Even still, she longed to unleash her creative spirit again, to breathe her illusions into life by channeling them from her mind onto a living, animated canvas of skin. Maybe that would help to make this crazy, dangerous situation seem more like her old normal life. Funny how "normal" suddenly seem priceless.
One slender finger slow danced over the tattoo on her left arm. Her mind floated on the cloud of memories that often overtook her when solitude enveloped her like a cloying mantle. She retreated into the memories to keep from feeling as though she was drowning, or being smothered. She was born in rural Chernarus, out in the boonies near the little hamlet of Msta. Her mother, Annika had been irresponsible and young when she got pregnant with Storm. Thus she was mostly raised by her grandma Sable and her grandpa Petre. If Annika knew who Storm’s father was, she never revealed it to any of them. She had died in a hit and run car accident in Berezino when Storm was twelve. Storm’s right arm bore a tattoo to memorialize a woman she felt she never really knew. She had always seemed more like a carefree aunt than a mother. To Storm, her grandma would always be her real mama.
Sable Storme was a wonderful, hulking slab of a woman covered in intricate and symbolic tattoos. Although Petre wasn’t a tattoo artist himself, the Storme clan consisted of a long line of tattoo artisans. Sable had created the elaborate black collar tattoo Storm proudly displayed on her neck and chest. She rubbed the expanse of the collar tattoo softly with both hands, remembering how comforting it had always been to be swallowed up in Sable’s large, pillowy breasts if she wanted a hug or just to be loved and pampered a bit. She prayed Sable was still alive, still creating mystical and amazing tattoos, somewhere out there in Chernarus. With her mother and grandpa Petre both gone, she had to hang onto hope that Sable was still with her, even if only in spirit.
Sable had taught her how to nurture the craft and make it her own. She coached Storm on the significance of certain symbols and decals. She taught her that getting a tattoo is a spiritual experience. Whether it be a tiny smiley face or a big bloody skull, a tattoo could protect, explain, and represent the individual getting that image inked into the temple that was their own body.
“A tattoo birthed by a true artisan is a sacred and eternal emblem, Stormy girl,” Sable had told her. Storm thus treated each tattoo she created as such, often explaining to the recipient the importance of respecting and cherishing the illustration they now bore.
Storm put the bone hook away, carefully wrapping it in a clean, white rag. She would have to remember to look for antiseptic the next time she dared to go out foraging. In the meantime she shivered and curled up on the raggedy bed. She could still hear the sluggish shuffling of the infected. Thank all that be blessed that they were still oblivious to her presence nested inside the groaning and deserted building.
“Where are you Hawke?” her heart cried out. “Please come back soon, I need you…”
With each shiver, one solitary tear meandered down her pallid cheek.