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Grime Stein

Holsom Blue's

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Grime Stein    42

Thomas quietly sits in the small barn they had taken residence in, watching all the people currently mingling, talking and cooperating with each other. He had a lit cigarette in his mouth, idly moving it this way and that while he watched, pulling out a small and abused cardboard box. It depicted a faded but still legible "HOYLE" and a King of Hearts on the cover. He opens it with practiced ease as he tunes out those around him. He takes another drag, letting the calming effects of the Nicotine in the deadly and cancerous drug inducer calm him. He frowned as he let the thought run over him. It was a weakness he knew... one that only started a few months in to this shit life they called "The End". Constructing was his true weakness and he'd been wanting to do that for so long. 

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run over him. He frowned to himself momentarily as he let that thought cross his mind. It was a weakness he knew... one that only started a few months in to this shit life they called "The End". Constructing was his true weakness and he'd been wanting to do that for so long.

'My thoughts wander a lot these days...' he mused to himself while letting the cards fall into his hands. Some of the edges were browned or bent slightly but mostly it was just grime and sun stains. Shuffling them while looking over each of them, the faces and the meanings by the age old cards let him focus his thoughts sometimes.  In this case he needed it badly.

"Because you always need something to do or to think on don't you Folsom?" came words from memories long ago. He paused his actions only momentarily before continuing until he saw they were all in order. He then began to shuffle and randomize the deck of cards as he continued to think.

The latest batch of survivors he found himself with was by far the most interesting. He seen some of their types before but some of them were unique and individual all their own. Logan was the typical young sufferer who felt he must for the good of others. The Estacado fella was the easy going but somewhat smart survivor who lost and gained in this new world... John Waters was one of the ones he'd seen very few of.

'Men like him are only shaped by life and the true view of the world... and it's utter indifference to all.' thought Thomas while setting down the cards and pulling some, beginning to arrange them into the format of Solitaire. It was one of the older games he hadn't played in some time. The Rosenfield man, the Doctor of this band had suggested it and now he was fulfilling that suggestion. Taking another drag and letting the smoke come from his lungs with a half of a care he slowly began his game.

"Who do you think you are anyways Thomas? You have yourself in such a good position and yet you are always so... active. You have your life set ahead of you! Why is it that you only care on what you can do for yourself!"  came another voice long forgotten. It was a friend of his before all of this, just before he left for London to go help a friend get his business started. He chewed lightly on the end of the cigarette as he flipped the first card. The Ace of Hearts.

'That isn't good.' he thought, looking the card over curiously over. Usually he never got a Ace of anything on the first card. Usually that meant something he should know or at least put some attention have gave very little of these days. Glancing up he looked over all there. A recent addition to his memory but not so recent to this band of survivors near him. Diane Thomas. He chuckled at his remark from earlier but no one had heard him.

'They really will have to call me something different or else confusion could come along on it's merry way.' he speculated before going back to his game and laying his card on the hay covered floor. Why a barn next to the road he wouldn't know but he also hardly cared. Then he heard the calm and lecture like voice of Derek Graceland. Glancing to the self proclaimed and so far true to his word Clothes Trader he amused himself.

How a man had such manners still in this time amazed him to no end but he would intrude. Everyone had their own ways of dealing with the horrors they see everyday... it was most likely his way of doing it. He thought back to a time not too far ago... rather recent really.

"All of you hands in the air now!" bellowed an order from a more Middle Eastern tone over the sand dunes. Thomas groaned while letting the pistol drop to the sand below. Several others in this small band did as well. He met them in the last little settlement and now were rolling along with them. Apparently that wasn't the best choice. As if on cue to his own thoughts several rag covered and armed fellows came over from the dunes to their East.

Soon enough they were all forced to their knees and forced to be handled while also relieved of most of their items, mainly the pockets, jackets and backpacks. In end Thomas knew it didn't matter to them what they had. He saw the symbol of a group he heard about roaming around here. It was a Jihadist symbol with some funky coloring. They were some sort of remains of ISIS and Taliban people who were about their... unique way of dealing with infidels. Thomas figured they were all dead anyways.

One of them was looking them over with some curiosity before one of them rifled through his back and throwing out a piece of welding he'd been working on. Wasn't anything fancy but a cigarette case to keep them from getting sand in them as easily. The person rifling through his shit just looked at it before tossing it. What made Thomas interested was that the man who was studying them went over and picked it up. He looked it over approvingly before asking his fellow in their backwards end language something.masked-ISIS.jpg.21587e59b5b9addbc53840462172ce8d.jpg

The man violating his shit pointed to him and Thomas was glad a swift death must be coming. He felt poor for the rest of these people with him. Two of them were women and already the men were looking immensely pleased with themselves.

'Despicable... but nothing I can do for them.' he thought before the man stood before him. He gestured to the two behind me and I was forced to my feet but enough so I didn't gain any footing what so ever. The man just stared at me and I stared back. I had no care at the moment and a bullet to the face was much more preferable to being tortured.

"You... you are American yes?" he asked suddenly. I blinked surprised before wondering how I should answer. If I said yes I would get some torture before being killed. If I lied I would  most likely still get tortured and then killed. What were my choices again. Sighing mentally I looked at him with a resigned look.

"Yeah... yeah I am American." I replied to his question. A tighten of the grip of the men's hands upon happened and I couldn't help the small call of pain coming from me. The man looked at me more critically before shoving the piece of metal work in my face as if it was something I should be ashamed of.

"You made this yes?" he asked again. I blinked, rather confused at this point. Death should be awaiting me... not these pointless questions. Shaking those thoughts from my head I slowly nodded, not understanding what was going on. The man nodded and smiled at me though it was far from friendly.

"Good... you live for me now American... kill the rest." he said. Some had horror on their faces before I saw them all either were shot or beheaded. I puked up the contents of my stomach. While I had seen heads removed I hadn't seen it happen to the living. So watching their blood coat the sand and sink into it while their heads rolled was rather... well the reaction was enough proof.

I was dragged and then forced to walk with my hands tied with these rather fine gentlemen as we wandered the sands. Soon enough we came upon another decrepit looking place that was obviously not all that known about. They forced me into a building and as I looked around it was a... garage? Blinked as I let my eyes adjust I looked about and then saw several tool boxes and even welding material. Turning around I looked back to the same man who was obviously the leader of this small entourage.

"You make my vehicles beasts worthy of war and do other things for me... you live. Understand American?" he stated, his tone serious and no nonsense. I blinked as I couldn't believe that this was happening. They were keeping my alive because I could weld? That was a shocker. I slowly nodded to him in return to which he pointed to a corner. I looked to see a small cot looking thing and a lamp.

"Food and water will be brought to you. You will satisfy yourself with what you are given and work. Work well and you will be rewarded... understand?" he said again in this tone. Not trusting my voice at this moment I nodded again. Smiling that same smile he left and one man was still there, watching me as I went over to the cot. I looked at my hands to still see them bound by rope. The last guy came up and untied my hands while muttering something in his language. I couldn't guess but judging by his rather unhappy face it must've been an insult.

The memory left me after that. I was about half done with this cigarette and almost done with this game. It was a good round and I was immensely proud of myself. I wonder how these people had dealt with the horrors that came to them. I've heard the mentions of Clowns and various other baddies they had fought, killed or ran from. I wonder if any really remained but it wasn't my place as always. I put my stock with them for now and it was to stay.

Taking a drag I looked thoughtfully at the box for the cards off to my left. The King of Hearts had two meanings for me. It was a person of integrity and morality as well as someone of ruthlessness and complete disregard. It was a man who knew not what lay in their hearts but knew how to deal with others. Of course that was just all my opinion on that card so I could be just really fucking wrong and it could have no meaning... eh... fuck it. Laying down another card where it should go I wonder what life would've been had I not escaped those... whoever they were. I never really got their names or anything.

They really didn't hang around that garage... mostly left me be to my work. I appreciated it as silence helped me work the best. Shaking some ash from the cigarette as I kept playing I wondered what most of those who I knew personally would think of me now. A man who killed another just to stay alive... a survivor.... a person who left others to die... a giver... a deceiver... a deserter... a honest man. Multiple sins lay upon my mind and I couldn't help but wonder if there was a Heaven or Hell... where would I go?

I thought while finishing the game. I put the cards away before leaning back into the corner and closing my eyes as I pocketed the cardboard box. I slid my beanie down over my eyes so the light of the torches wouldn't disturb me before I started to get some shuteye. Early match tomorrow meant early eating and early sleeping after all.

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   80

Astonishing lore man! Long, detailed, interesting, what else is there to say. It shows how dark this world can be sometimes, and how only some manage to make it through. Also, I'll be taking notes about those pictures, it makes the whole story much more visually attractive as well as more immersive since you get an idea about how someone (in this case the middle-eastern guy) looks like. I never thought of adding them into a story, but it makes it so much better.

Edited by Mox

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Grime Stein    42

"Why do I even bother anymore..." I muttered as I sat tied to a tree. Currently I find myself in the custody of some Chernorussian assholes who thought that even if I was low on supplies I was worth capturing. They haven't beaten me thankfully though I couldn't help but wince a bit at the soreness of my ribs. When I was forced to give up after being surrounded one of them used the stock of their gun to hit me in my right upper ribs. Breathing in I could hardly understand them. While Chernorussian and Russian are similar it was still hard to tell the similarities between the two.

"What was that American Pig?!" called one of them, currently intoxicated by vodka some of them have been drinking. I simply rose my eyebrow at the man while inwardly cursing myself for speaking. So far I was able to tell they really didn't like me talking. Sometimes either Axel or John would mention that to me... perhaps I should consider being more quiet. The bastard soon blew me off and continued to drink. I shifted a bit while sitting and stretching my arms as well as I could as they were falling asleep from the awkward position they were in being tied a round a tree.

"Don't mind him. He is a sad dog anyways." said the one who had been talking to me most. I looked over to see a more rugged looking Chernorussian come and sit down next to me with a can of food. It was beans judging by the smell. I sighed mentally as I looked up to the man. Niko was his name, or at least all that the man would tell me. It was enough and I gave them the alias of "James Malone" whenever I am stuck in a bad situation.

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"Eat." said the man while setting the can down in front of me and unlocking the handcuffs holding me to the tree. Rubbing my wrists I looked up to the man for a moment before picking up the can warily and looking it over to tampering. Niko scoffed at the rather blatant show of mistrust. I didn't care and soon enough ate the offered food. They hadn't fed me in the last two days so they must've had a good haul from a robbery. They were the typical bandits and I would rather be away from them as soon as I could. Men like this would only end up dead and those around them the same.

"You are strange American. You are not like Americans I met before now." said the man. His English was pretty bad as far as the structure but at least I could put the meanings together. I glanced up to the Chernorussian for a moment before continuing to eat. After I had the whole can I noticed he was still there. I look up at him while wiping at my beard from the bean broth and bits of beans.

"Is that why you've kept me around?" I couldn't help but ask. To be honest with myself I was kinda sick of being used for those means all the time now. Usually people have kept me alive for the sole reason of being a welder or that I had friends to rob or capture, or slaving... or just really anything like that. Not a lot have kept me just because they found me interesting.

"Perhaps American perhaps... the question American is what you do when I lose interest?" replied Niko, his face impassive. Blinking that was a rather good way of putting it I figure. Shaking my head a bit I set the empty can next to myself before looking back up to the Chernorussian tiredly.

"Look... are you gonna keep me around to sell me? Or are you keeping me around for other reasons? I have nothing else to give besides manual labor or slight slaving value." I state. I really didn't care at this point. They've kept me for the last two months now and I would like to get back to Axel's and John's people. Niko tilted his head a bit at me and just smiled a bit.

"That is true American... You don't have much value but I see man who survives with no purpose." said the Chernorussian before reaching into his own bag for a moment and pulling out a small bottle of vodka. Opening it he drank some from of the alcoholic beverage before handing the bottle to me. "Drink." he ordered.

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Looking at the bottle for a moment I sigh before taking a swig from it as well. The bottle was dirty and no doubt the insides as well but I didn't give a shit at this point. The burning liquid woke me up and I struggled not to cough at the unexpected potency. Niko laughed at my obviously tight face.

"Like no?" he said, his own culture poking through. The man had tried to stick to a more, as he put it, "American" approach. I nod but grimace as I take another swig and hand it back. The man chuckled for a bit more before looking back over to the rest of them. His face when blank for a bit and I could see that he was thinking about something. He looked back to me, his face calm.

"Here American... you dangerous man if you continue. Very dangerous. Try to have faith... and maybe... have purpose." he stated before taking something from his chest inside of his jacket. He held it within a fist before holding out one of my hands and placing it into it. He patted it before seeing that most of them were too busy in a drunken song. I couldn't help but look after he let my hand go and was surprise to see what it was.

It was a old and tarnished silver Eastern Orthodoxy Cross. I blink and look back up to the man, slightly amazed he was giving this to me let alone considering I would even consider religion. The man sensed my gaze and looked back to me with a small smile.

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"Go American... go back to the people you came from. Keep close. Keep safe." said the man before standing and walking back over to the rest of his friends. I stared at the man then the silver cross in my hands before pocketing it quickly and then taking the makeshift bag the man left for me. There was hardly anything in it but it would be enough to get by for a bit. I look back after around a minute to see them sitting around the fire in the distance, all of them singing in a Chernorussian drinking song.

"Thanks... Niko." I say even if he couldn't hear me and then race off through the forest, determined to make it out of there. I have been gone way to long and being made a pack mule or being kept prisoner for them for too long. By the time they would realize that I have left I would already by several miles south of where they were.

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Pontiff    189

Nice read ! Keep it up man, I'll catch to the rest of it later today !

(The colour coding and the pictures really add value to your text, good stuff brother.)

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Grime Stein    42

"This island is kinda boring..." muttered Thomas to himself as he watched the coast line. Ever since four or five months ago when he met up with Axel and John and then the rest in GMTC things have been... different. He was used to people being more... secluded. Given that most in the group he was with now were just that they were something he rarely saw... they were a family. A bit a dysfunctional family but one nonetheless. He smirked to himself briefly as he looked down from the rock outcropping to the small little cove and buildings with a few tents.

He didn't understand why Axel wanted to be here but he supposed that it was for seclusion. The man, for all the hostility he showed others he didn't know, didn't like violence. He didn't know if he hated it but he certainly seemed set on making sure that his family didn't get hurt anymore. But with the pirates and other such starting to appear... he wondered if Axel was looking for a utopia. Shaking his head, he pulled out the beat up pack of cigarettes in his pocket. While he had been saying that he quit... and he did... he just couldn't help himself sometimes.

Taking a semi good condition cigarette he stuck it between his lips while setting the box next to him on the rock and then pulling out a matchbox and then removing one from it. Swiping the ignitable side across the strip it lit up with a crackle and hiss. Bringing it close during a lull in the wind he puffed on the cigarette and inhaled the sweet toxic fumes. Sighing out while shaking the match to kill it he threw it off in the forest below him uncaring.

Taking another drag as he let his mind wander some more he removed it, holding it between his right index and middle finger while letting his chin rest on his knees. He wished he had a camera in those moments. It was quite a view before him. He wondered when it was the last time he actually took the time to observe nature. Taking another drag he started to let his eyes wander along the water then to the far shore.

"Why is this land so... fucked up?" he wondered to himself again aloud. Everyone was asleep for the night but he was still awake. It may be night time for him right now but the moon was providing a great view. While he had been through some seriously done in lands where he would never go to willingly ever again... Chernarus let alone South Zagoria was steadily making it's way up the list.

What he especially didn't get was why Axel was so... stubborn to stay here. Let alone the rest of them. Was it because in a way their attached the land they curse? Or was it something he just didn't see yet? Perhaps the beauty. Friends? Allies? Enemies? Letting out a deep sigh, the smoke floating from his lips he brought the cigarette back for another drag. A quarter way done.

"Then again... sometimes the strangest of behaviors are sometimes caused by simple reasons..."  Thomas mused to himself in his mind as the the Nicotine started to truly take effect. Sometimes he wondered why he acted the way he did. He figured it was mostly so people left him alone and without much responsibility besides guarding their backs. He hated having others looking up to him... reminded him of more terrible days. Back when a good portion of people looked to him for leadership and guidance. Given that he did okay and most of them made it to where they wanted alive... he still was haunted.

Taking a long drag from the cigarette and letting it leave his lungs. Whether he showed it or not... death haunted him. He personally felt that it was nipping at his heels, always there just waiting for him to finally given in... to give up. Death was the true enemy to him. Not the infected... he learned to deal with them a long time ago, smirking at the Fire Axe over his shoulder as he grabbed another drag. People were certainly a means to an end for Death. But in the end that familiar presence... that specter was always watching him. In the shadows of the day... and waiting at night.

He always had a... sixth sense for when Death was around and about to make a move. He suspected that was what got him even this far. He couldn't explain it but he always had... uneasy feeling whenever Death was coming. It was like a cold hand putting itself on your neck, the sudden shift making him uncomfortable and worried. While he usually was able to stuff it down and not show anyone how he felt... if he was put against it too long then it grated on him. Made him bitter and tired.

John carried the presence of Death about him like a cloak or shroud. He knew the stories, heard a few from others and some from Estacado. While the man seemed... tame he knew he was just a... dog or wolf watching... waiting... biding it's time until it saw your throat ready for the taking. It only made it more true as the man dealt with the creatures as if they were just mosquitoes on a humid day.

Axel was much the same but different. Unlike John... he carried a defeated air about him. It was like he lost the war already and now just dealt with the oppressor that was currently bullying him in negotiations. While it wasn't always like that, when the fire he suspected that everyone saw and called him "Chief" for came from time to time then it was evident. The man was... haggard and damaged. How far he didn't know but Thomas knew the man only kept going for those who he cared for last.

"The people you meet Thomas... the people you meet..." he thought to himself. Over the years he met many people, seen some like both men, seen some like the rest of the family and yet had seen their opposites. In the end, they all moved on or he moved on. He kept going from place to place to make sure Death didn't surround them. He looked into his lap, at the rifle he recently procured from their tents. In all of his manner he showed John, Axel, or the rest of them... he was a Pacifist. He hated violence with a bitter passion but understood that in this life... killing... and violence was a staple.

"Who am I kidding now? There is no such thing as Pacifists anymore..." he muttered to himself bitterly. Sure, back at home he had a weapon just in case but he preferred to talk things out... to discuss rather than to kill. This land didn't obey by those rules. In fact it tended to go after those who tried to follow them. It was... for lack of a better word, lawless. While control existed in many parts, among the remaining survivors and the obvious control the infected had on the rest of the world.

Finishing the rest of the cigarette finally he put the pack of cigarettes back into his pockets. He slowly stood up, looking to the moon and stars. In a way... he wondered if their was a god. He fingered the cross in his pocket at he thought of this. Perhaps... in times like these... faith was a good thing to hold onto. Shaking his head for a moment he stepped off the rocks and started his way back down to camp. He wanted some sleep and would surely awake grumpy with the lack thereof. 

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