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The Morrow and Hereafter


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OOC info

All the ideas I had for Isak Magnussen but didn't feel appropriate to use, will be displayed here in a new and separate story. It is set in a fictional version of (an already fictional) Chernarus in the future. You will get to know more about the events that took place as the story progresses.

IMPORTANT: Please play each of the audio tracks provided. Should you arrive at a new audio track before the previous one has finished playing, pause it and continue with the new one. I'll make sure that it's not likely to happen though.

As always, feedback is more than welcome!

The Morrow and Hereafter

In the not-so-distant past there were great civilizations consisting of millions of people. Food was plenty and happiness a prerogative. The most common cause of death was old age. Men and women who were about to die could be kept alive artificially so that they had time to say farewell to their loved ones. And after they finally breathed their last breath they stayed dead. Forever.

Reflect on the past and do not think of what the morrow will bring. You couldn't possibly know anyway.

Chapter 1

"Where do I start? Well, I was born here. My mother... was some woman who fucked some man at some point in her life, I suppose. I don't really remember her or my dad. I've been raised by many different people. Most died. Some abandoned me. Others I abandoned. It was mostly just... survival. Like anyone else.

But you don't wanna know about that, do you? You wanna know about the carnival. About what happened. Truth is I could tell a lot you or I won't ever understand. I don't even think they fully understood it. No one probably ever will.

[mp3]http://puu.sh/8cj3S.mp3[/mp3]

I'm getting ahead of myself. I'll start at the beginning, when I met them. It must've been at least a couple of years after the False Sun. I was young and foolish and as fools go I wasn't quite aware of it myself."

It was early in the morning. The hens were still on the roosting poles and the only sound that could be heard was the howling of the cold wind coming through the cracks and crevices of the house.

The Morton Farm. I had been there for a couple of weeks. It was more of a community than a farm, really. Everyone was welcome as long as they paid their due. The result was a self-sufficient settlement with a wide variety of services. Me, I mostly did errands. I was muscle. And I was content with that.

I was still sound asleep when they came riding through the gates. We'd been told they would come our way and we had prepared everything in advance. The wide variety of services did not include amusement so the carnival was more than welcome. They had never set foot in Morton before and I had never seen them at all. I was extremely excited and had worked my ass off the weeks before to have the time to enjoy it all to the fullest.

Because of all the excitement I had trouble falling asleep the night before, but the caravan made no attempt to be silent. In spite of my tiredness the sounds of the clatter of hooves on the hard ground, voices chatting, laughs, and even the scream of a monkey woke me up. It was the only monkey in Chernarus and for some strange reason it survived every injury it got. Needless to say it was a popular attraction.

I jumped up to notice everyone was already outside and I rushed to the door to join them. They were all already at the yard at the Main House. The last wagons trickled inside the compound and made their way to the designated field. I was watching them silently when I made eye contact with a girl of roughly my age that was sitting on the back of a cart. She jumped down and walked towards me. I stared at her as if it was a flying saucer she had jumped down from.

"Your mouth is open," she observed. I quickly closed it, bit my tongue in the process and winced, but smiled when I saw it made her chuckle.

"Hey," I said.

"Hey," she responded.

"You with the carnival?" I asked.

She raised an eyebrow. "How did ya know?" Again she laughed. My face went red and I stared at the ground.

"What's there that's so interesting?" she asked. All of a sudden I found myself wishing she'd never come my way.

A cold hand grasped my shoulder and I turned around in shock to the oldest woman I had ever laid eyes on. She had a crooked back which made her seem even smaller than she already was. She was wearing a large black-and-red gown, her face was puffy and her eyes closed shut: she was blind. She grabbed me by the wrists and pulled my hands towards her, the palms facing the sky.

"There's darkness in you, boy," she said gloomily and with a trembling voice. Even though she was obviously blind she seemed to stare me right in the eyes. It took me a moment recover and yank back my hands. The girl pulled her away from me and spoke to her in a language I didn't understand.

She turned towards me. "Sorry for baba. I have got to go bring her back. I'll see ya 'round, okay?"

I nodded. She smiled and shrugged and accompanied the old lady back to the caravan.

"Of course I heard the stories. The strangest people you'll ever see, they told me. A man with a tail! A woman with wings like an angel! Twins conjoined at the head! Most of the guys spreading these rumours had probably never even seen the carnival but I believed them nonetheless. And even though half of it turned out to be lies I was more captivated than I could've ever imagined.

The girl captivated me most of all, but for different reasons. Heh. We always seemed to find each other. It wasn't long before I spoke to her again. I was moving stuff into her wagon when she, eh... continued our previous conversation."

"This the first time you seen us?"

She was sitting on the bed while I was carrying boxes full of belongings inside. I nodded.

"Really?" she asked, genuinely surprised. "How old are ya?"

I shrugged. I didn't know. There were people that kept track of their age but no one bothered to do that for me when I was young so didn't have a clue.

"You from 'round these parts?" she continued her interrogation.

Again I shrugged. "Born somewhere in Chernarus. Been livin' here for a month or so."

"You don't look like it."

I ignored her remark and went outside to get more stuff. It wasn't often I spoke to a girl, and a girl speaking to me was as rare an event as sunshine. In most communities the girls lived separately from the boys. In the other communities people fucked like rabbits and the many children born as a result became more of a burden than a gift. It was probably one of the reasons to keep us separated.

I returned to her wagon carrying a large, heavy mirror. I stepped inside and looked at her questioningly, wondering where to put it. She pointed at a corner. I put it down with a sigh when noticed her staring at me through the mirror. I shuffled on my feet before turning my eyes away.

"Baba was right. You do have darkness in ya."

"Wh- how can you tell?" I asked nervously.

"I can see it." She laughed. "When are ya gonna ask me my name?

"Uh... What's your name?"

"Mikayla, but you can call me Mika." It stayed silent for a moment. "So... what's yours?"

I cursed myself for being so awkward. "Name's Theo," I mumbled. I looked around the room. Everything was in its right place. "I, uh... I need to help some others."

"Alright, Theo. See ya 'round!"

"She always seemed so innocent. Happy. Not a care in the world. She even looked that way. Reddish, curly hair. Small, tip-tilted nose. She became more serious later on but she has always remained confrontational. Both healthy and dangerous...

The rest of the day I sat around and watched them all go about their business like they were some alien race. I had never seen anything like it.

[mp3]http://puu.sh/8cGJJ.mp3[/mp3]

And I didn't even have a clue yet. You know, you say to yourself: I will never do this. Then you find yourself doing just so, and you wonder how it came that. And eventually you start to ask yourself questions. Was it a mistake? What if I hadn't done it? What if it all went differently?

What if I had said no?"

I was sitting on a bench watching the rousties set up the small Ferris wheel when the man came to me. He was tall and broad-shouldered and he had a strong jawline. He had no hair at all, not even eyebrows or lashes. He was wearing an old three-piece suit with a bowtie and a top hat with a red band.

He sat down next to me and I looked at him strangely, wondering what it was he wanted. When I got no response I coughed once. He looked at me and finally said something. "Did you know that before Day Zero there were stationary amusement parks like this one, only much bigger? " His voice was surprisingly high-pitched for a man of his stature. It sounded weird and didn't fit him at all. "My name is Ozymandias," he introduced himself. "I'm the owner of the carnival."

"I'm Theo." I shook his hand. I had already guessed at his role.

"So, Theo. Do you like it? The carnival?"

"Uh, yeah. I do."

"Good," he responded, and abruptly he stood up. "I'll see you soon, Theo," he said as he walked away, leaving me behind, too abashed to respond.

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Chapter 2

"They opened the evening of the day they arrived and I made sure to visit as much acts as I could pay for. Everyone at Morton had stopped smoking for weeks just so they had more to spend. There were the usual freaks and carnies I had already heard about - the dimwit strongman Logan, the hooch dancers, which many of the boys went to, some jugglers and acrobats and of course the famous monkey - but there were also many attractions I didn't even know existed.

[mp3]http://puu.sh/8dq0v.mp3[/mp3]

One of them was the baba Mika was talking to that morning. She sat in a small tent at the back, not really noticeable if you weren't looking for it or walked past it by chance like me.

Or maybe it wasn't chance..."

'The Baba of Chernarus' it said on a sign outside, and beneath it 'she'll tell you your future - and more!' I pulled up the flap of the tent and peaked inside. The old woman sat in total silence with her back to the opening and her palms on the table in front of her. For a second I thought she was dead, but then she opened her mouth.

"Come in, boy," she said in her slow, creaky voice.

Hesitantly I stepped inside and waited by the opening, not sure where to go or what to say.

"Come, come sit here." She gestured to a chair at the opposite side of the table. I walked towards it and looked at the table, expecting to see cards or maybe a crystal bowl, but it was completely empty.

I sat down and cleared my throat, still looking down at the table, to afraid to look up at her. I felt her staring at me through her closed eyelids. Maybe she wasn't blind after all?

"Give me your hands, Theo."

I looked up when I heard her say my name. How did she know? I kept staring at her while I held out my hands in front of me. My curiosity won it over my fear.

"The thing with baba was that she always managed to say the most disturbing thing possible. She had the uncanny ability to freak out even the bravest of men. The first time, it eh... it was an experience, that's for sure. It took me weeks before I set foot in that tent again."

She had been holding my hands for what felt like minutes when she finally spoke. "You say no words but you speak a lot."

"What do you mean?" I asked, not sure if I wanted to know the answer to that question.

"You speak from the heart, boy. I feel it through your hands."

Suddenly she threw her head backwards and moaned shortly. She dropped my hands like they had burned her. I jumped up in fright and threw my chair on the ground in the progress.

"Get out!" she screeched. "Get out!"

I made no objection and got out as quickly as possible. I walked straight towards the most normal-looking attraction I could find: a stall where you could shoot a slingshot and win prizes. I paid with a cigarette, grabbed a slingshot, pulled back the pocket and aimed at the tin cans. My hands were shaking and I let go of the pocket at the wrong time, resulting the projectile to hit the roustie that managed the tent. He cursed at me and tried to grab me from behind the counter.

I ran away as quickly as I could, constantly looking over my shoulder to make sure the roustie or anyone else wasn't followed me, when I bumped into someone: Ozymandias. He was wearing the same suit and hat as that morning.

"Why are you in such a hurry?"

"I, uh, I-I wa-"

He interrupted me and laughed. "Are you alright? You look like you've seen a ghost."

I took a deap breath and came to my senses. "Uh, yeah, Mr. Ozymandias." I pronounced the name and wondered why anyone would call himself that. "It's a fun carnival, sir," I said in an attempt to change the subject.

Ozymandias chuckled. "I'm glad to hear that. Have you been in the wheel yet?"

"No sir. I ain't so fond of heights." I wasn't very fond of the sound the thing was making either. It looked like it could collapse at any moment.

"You like to have both feet on the ground." He smiled. "You and me both. You want to know a secret?"

I nodded.

"I've never been up there!" He laughed exuberantly and I laughed awkwardly with him. Unexpectedly he stopped and looked at me seriously. "Look, I wanted to ask you something. I need some help but all of my men are busy. Could you give me a hand?"

I'd rather go to see the hooch dancers but I didn't want to be rude. "Sure."

"At the time I didn't really think anything of it, of all the attention I got. Ozymandias - the carnies and rousties called him Oz for short - he was strange, sure, but no stranger than anyone else there. And besides, he was intriguing too. Life on the Morton Farm was much better than trying to make it on your own in the woods, but nothing ever happened. Everyone was so on themselves, you know. Distrustful, even.

And then you meet people like Mika, Oz, even baba. It's like there are two types of people in the world. Those who are themselves, and those who try their very best not to be."

"Here." Oz handed me flask filled with tea. I wanted to take a sip when he stopped me. "It's still hot." I put the flask down. We were sitting on a bench away from all the tumult. He had asked me to help him organize some books and papers that had fallen out of his bookcase. It hadn't been much work.

"Have you been to baba's tent already?"

"Yeah, yeah, I been there," I answered, wondering why he asked. I wasn't really feeling like talking about that strange experience.

Oz cocked his head sideways and looked at me curiously. "What did she say?"

"She, uh... Not much."

He guffawed. "Hah. She says many strange things but never 'not much'!" He scratched the skin where his eyebrow should've been. "Did she weird you out? She tends to do that."

I decided I might as well tell him. "She told me to get out. Dropped my hands like they was hot squirrel."

Oz' grin disappeared from his face and his expression changed to one of concern. "Did she?"

"What does that mean?" I asked, hoping he would have the answer.

[mp3]http://puu.sh/8dwKp.mp3[/mp3]

He shrugged and looked in the distance to the slowly spinning wheel. "I don't know, Theo. I don't know."

"The next few days they stayed there Oz asked me for help a couple of more times, probably as an excuse to get to talk to me. I didn't know why, but I was happy to help. I met a lot of interesting people, including some rousties, which weren't nearly as surly when you got to know them. I made up with the one I hit in the head with the slingshot. Jon was his name. Leader of the rousties.

More importantly though, I got to spend more time with Mika. And that was likely why I said yes when Oz asked me if I wanted to come along. I didn't even think about it. As fas as I was concerned, life in the carnival was a hell of a lot better than life on the farm.

At the very least it was more exciting."

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