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RogueSolace

Lost and Alone: Tales of Elizabeth Smith

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Trigger warning: Extreme violence, mutilation, death.

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Past

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His eyes wandered slowly up and down her face several times, finally stopping when their eyes met. Using an arm that was already wrapped around her back; he pulled, standing up at the same time.

The movement pulled her onto her own feet, while also keeping her against him. He leaned down, kissing her again. She was starting to have trouble thinking straight; she was in shock, which was obvious. But she also felt like she was being flooded with warmth from the inside, she was beyond furious with him.

A sudden loud noise made her jump and yelp, pulling away. The radio on his belt was going off. Pausing to listen to the chatter, Jim groaned in annoyance. Looking up he sighed and leaned in, giving her another quick kiss.

“No rest for the wicked, hmmm?”

Taking a few steps he turned so his left side was facing her. Pulling the radio off of his belt, he responded, being answered by more chatter coming through.

She jumped as a scream echoed through the area, then realized with a sickening feeling, it wasn’t the only one. Screaming, crying, laughing, all the sounds faded in and out of each other. It made her sick. Voices yelling, degrading. Screams of fear, of pain. It was all around. Screams and cries of the dying. She felt so helpless and horrified.

“Status report?” turning the volume lower he put the radio to his ear, glancing at her while he listened to whatever was being said.

He shook his head while listening, talking to her. “I swear these people can’t do anything without me or someone else bossing them around… kind of terrifying really…how did they live this long?”

She watched quietly, not sure what to say or do.

“That’s a lot…shame. Yes. No, pile them. Keep it organized, I need to be able to identify faces. Make sure snipers and gunners are paying attention, all this noise and light is going to draw a lot of unwanted attention from infected and possible allies if they somehow got word out.”

The noise around her sounded like a swarm, only with every cry or scream she felt like she was being stabbed in the chest. Crying again, she put her fingers to her ears, trying desperately to block out some of the noise. Putting the radio back on his belt, Jim walked back over.

“Don’t worry, it’ll stop soon. Well, we’ll be leaving it behind anyways.” She glared at him in response.

“Come on.” He motioned for her to come to him, she did. Wrapping an arm around her he started leading her somewhere.

Sounds were dulled but she could still hear all the noises. Smoke made her eyes sting, the smells of blood, gunpowder and smoke filled her nose. She could taste the coppery smell in her mouth. She shut her eyes tightly, letting Jim lead her. After a bit he stopped, the noises were much louder now so were the smells. Opening her eyes a bit, she noticed him watching her with a frown, he appeared to be thinking.

 

She risked looking up and immediately regretted it. People seemed to always be talking about bullets now, being shot, shooting someone else, that kind of thing. But no one ever actually seemed to give any thought to how they really worked or the damage they did.

A shot to any limb could be fatal if it hit the right artery or veins, could shatter bones that then acted as shrapnel to the interior of the body. If the bullets broke apart they did the same, rattling and bouncing around causing destruction. While a bullet usually went in cleanly, its exit usually wasn’t. Especially with bigger, automatic guns. Rounds designed to break apart and shatter upon impact, inflicting maximum damage. Rounds that once an inch into the target started to spin vertically, turning into shredders, leaving a massive hole in the body upon exit. Even suicides had a high rate of blowing the skull off, shattering the head and leaving a massive mess. No one seemed to realize the reality of the damage they did. She was staring at all of it firsthand.

Bodies were being piled, organs hanging out, limbs missing, and blood everywhere. She cringed at the metallic taste in her mouth. Turning towards a scream she looked down and felt sick. A boy was lying on the ground, he couldn’t be older than her…he’d nearly been ripped in half by machine gun fire, his organs spilled out around him. He was still alive, crying, screaming, and begging for his mother. No one seemed to pay him any mind, they just moved around him.

This is war, she thought bitterly. She remembered accounts of the civil war, any war really, this was the reality of it.

Turning around she took a few steps to stand next to Jim, who was talking to someone. She tugged on his sleeve to get his attention, turning he raised an eyebrow at her.

“I need a knife, please.”

He looked at her with an expression of non-amusement, “How much of an idiot do you think I am?”

“Please Jim… I promise I won’t do anything stupid, but I need a knife, just for a minute. If…if I’m going to…be your wife….we have to learn to trust each other, right?”

He watched her a moment, then indicated for the other guy to leave. He put his hands on his hips, watching her carefully.

“Please?” her voice was quiet, begging.

“Please Jim?”

Silence.

“Pretty, pretty, please?”

His eyes narrowed at her.

“Pretty, pretty, pretty please, with sugar on top? And kisses?”

He looked down suddenly, his hat covering his face, she noticed he was shaking slightly. He must have been doing what drill instructors did when their students made them laugh. Having to keep stern, they simply tilted their heads down and allowed the hat to hide the fact they were laughing.

Maybe because she was actually begging him, or just the childish wording? After composing himself, he pulled something off of his belt he handed it to her. It was a small blade, maybe two inches, a small knife, but it would do.

“Thank you.”

Aware that he was watching her like a hawk, she turned and walked over to the boy on the ground. She nearly choked on the smell; blood, fecal matter, body fluids, death. She quickly made sure to breathe through her mouth.

“Hey….hey.” She spoke gently as she knelt down, keeping the knife to her side, out of view of the boy, but where Jim could clearly see it.

The boy looked at her, his eyes full of tears. “Help me, please….please….help me…why…why won’t they help me….”

She nodded quickly. “It’s okay. I’m a doctor. I’m going to take care of you, I’m going to make it all better.” Leaning out she gently rubbed the boy’s head, which seemed to soothe him a bit.  “I want my mom…” She nodded again, sadly.

“She’ll be here soon. You’ll be with her.”

He looked at her, his eyes wide, the fear calming a tiny bit, “Really? She’s okay?”

She nodded, continuing to rub his head. “She’s just fine, she’s on her way. I’ll take care of you…everything is going to be just fine. I promise.”

The boy gave the slightest nod of his head, sniffling. 

“Now, I need you to move a bit, okay? I have to check something really important, and I can’t unless you’re laying just right. Just rest your head back, try to relax, close your eyes…perfect, just like that, shut your mouth, there you go. Perfect, just like that.”

She felt for a pulse, checking to ensure his neck was lined up properly. It was slow, she was surprised he even had one. In one quick motion; the blade went cleanly into the side of his neck, then back out again. A sudden jerk as muscles responded. His pulse stopped, as did his breathing, and a moment later he was gone.

She cleaned the knife on his shirt, and slowly stood back up and turned around. She couldn’t place Jim’s expression, other than some kind of surprise, confusion perhaps? Impressed? Walking up to him she carefully closed the knife and handed it back to him.

“Thank you.”

He took it, the same calculating expression on his face, and put it back on his belt.

“You’re welcome. Thank you for not doing something stupid like trying to stab me, or cut yourself.”

She nodded in agreement.

“White lie to a dying boy? You going to be doing that to everyone you come across who is wounded? Because that’s not going to happen, you’d take too much time.”

Shaking her head, she pointed to the area where bodies were being laid out. “If you have any regard for life or decency, put him by the redhead there, in the blue top. Let him rest with his mom.”

He regarded her quietly for a moment, then nodded once to someone behind her. She heard shuffling and movement behind her. 

“So his mom was here, you didn’t lie about that part.”

She looked at him angrily. “I don’t know what you believe, but I’d at least like to think his mom was waiting for him in spirit. Only they didn’t have to die in the first place.”

The way he looked at her, something for a moment was different. Pain? Hurt? Whatever it was, was quickly hidden.  

“I told you, it’s how the world is now. Come on.”

Walking back to him he put his arm around her again, leading her away from the chaos.

 

After passing a few buildings, he stopped, a man walking from the other direction signaled him, then walked over to whisper to him. She shuddered, trying to block out the noise, what was happening around her, the helplessness she felt. The men spoke back and forth a few times before the other continued on his way. She felt herself being gently maneuvered to the side.

“I’m going to do something you’re probably not going to like.”

She frowned, suddenly scared. She felt like she was watching a movie, her heart racing.

“I’m going to have you cover your ears, put a bag over your head, and carry you for a bit.”

She frowned more, feeling skittish, wanting to bolt. “I…I can walk…”

“I know you can walk.”

“I’d rather walk…I want to walk… please? Why can’t I just close my eyes? I won’t try to run off…” Why did she suddenly feel hysterical? She was begging him, nearly in tears.

He took her hand and she felt a poking, making her jump. Then she realized he had a pen, he was drawing on her hand. Why was he drawing on the back of her hand? Frowning she noticed a series of dots, they looked like a rectangle. Holding the pen out to her he waited for her to take it.

“See the box these dots make up?”

She nodded, completely not understanding what this had to do with walking.

“Using the dots, connect them to each other with straight lines. So, here to here, or here to here, again and again. Doing that, make three triangles inside the box. If you can do that, I’ll let you walk. Still covering your head, but I’ll let you walk.”

She blinked at him, was this some kind of joke?

He looked at her calmly, his expression patient, waiting,

“What?”

“Connect the dots on your hand. You want to make three triangles inside the box.”

She nodded, still confused. Why was he giving her a child’s shapes puzzle? Looking at her hand she made one connection, then another. Then paused. Her mind felt like it was incapable of thought. This was simple, really simple. Yet, for some reason, she could only look at the dots. She felt confused.

She knew what she wanted to do, but she couldn’t think of how to do it. It was simple, but no matter how much she told herself to focus, her brain just felt fuzzy and wouldn’t cooperate. She stared at her hand, trying to force herself to figure it out, until Jim gently took the pen away.

She looked at him confused, why couldn’t she think?

His expression was calm as usual, he allowed an expression of concern to show.

“I also know what combat stress reaction is, or acute stress reaction; same thing, different circumstances. You don’t look good, at all.”

Frowning she tried to think, she knew what that meant, but again, her brain refused to work. Combined with the numbness, she started feeling scared. She could feel frustrated tears forming in her eyes again as she looked up at Jim.

A hand gently brushed across her eyes, wiping the tears away.

“Elizabeth.”

She looked up at him again, he wrapped his hand around her chin, cupping her face and holding it up. He leaned forward so his forehead was against her own, his eyes staring into hers.

“You’re safe, you understand that, right?”

Huh?

“Repeat after me. Hi.”

Was she going insane? Was this real? She felt like she was floating. Hesitantly she repeated what he said. “Hi?” 

He nodded. “Good, now repeat after me again. You are safe. Bad things happened, but you don’t need to worry about them. Everything is going to be fine. You’re going with me somewhere, we’ll be out of here soon. Everything is okay.”

But it’s not… it’s not okay…its far from okay...

She slowly repeated after him, he would speak about two words and pause, letting her catch up.

“Good girl Beth, good job. You have any earplugs on you?” She reached into a pocket of her jacket, holding out a pair of earplugs, and a container of silly putty. “Put those in.”

She rolled the foam and put it into her ears, letting it expand. Rolling the silly putty she then applied it over the foam inserts, filling her outer ear cavity. Looking around, she could barely hear anything at all.

It made the feeling she was watching some kind of movie feel more real. Jim held up a pair of plastic earmuffs, the kind usually used at the range. He carefully put them on her, now she couldn’t hear anything. It helped her feel a bit better. A gentle touch to her nose got her attention, Jim was saying something. She looked at him confused. He tapped her chest, then next to the earmuffs. His mouth moved again. Tapping her ear again he pointed to his mouth as he spoke. She shook her head no, he nodded.

Well…this is weird. Was it a dream? She really hoped it was a dream. That she would wake up and have fallen asleep at her desk, everyone fine. A simple nightmare.

Pulling out a burlap sack, he took her arm and wrapped it around his neck. Holding a rag he indicated he was going to tie it on her face. Some kind of double protection to not see? She nodded, knowing she had no choice. She felt him carefully tie the fabric over her eyes, then the sack over her head. An arm wrapped around her lower back and another under her knees, then she felt herself being lifted off the ground.

Almost as an automatic instinct she wrapped both arms around where she perceived his neck to be and buried her forehead against his chin. Movement hesitated as she did so, once she settled they started moving again.

Why was he doing this? It didn’t make any sense. Was he trying to keep her from seeing or hearing what was happening around them? That seemed rather stupid, she’d already seen a good bit, and she knew what was happening. Was he trying to make her not be so mad at him? If she saw less, did he think she wouldn’t somehow know what was actually happening around her? That it would change her opinion?

Things kept replaying though her head. Talking with him the night before, him being so, normal. Even being sweet. The shouting, the screams from earlier. The panic of being shot at, then thinking that she was clear, that everything would be okay. She’d get away, find her dad.

But the person she’d trusted had betrayed her. Even worse, he was the cause of all of this destruction and death. She couldn’t forgive that. At the same time she felt so confused by his actions towards her. Forcing her into a marriage, but also…was he being nice, or was she going crazy? Was she pretending he was being nice to not completely panic? Nothing made sense.

Still trying to debate what was real, she simply held on as they continued to wherever their destination was.

 

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@Aristocrat

I’m having trouble convincing myself that it’s real… Ashford’s dead… but the people who said it; Lo, Shane, they wouldn’t lie.

Also being captured by those people… the one said he was the one who killed him… I had no idea until he said that, even then I couldn’t believe it. Not until I was bashing a radio around trying to get it to work and I head Lo’s voice, and what she said. Then Shane, backing it up.

It sounds like he tried to make him say something rude about the Queen, and Edwin being Edwin, refused. He was shot in the head. Apparently they tried to get him to give up a lot of intelligence, and again of course, he refused. I think the group is called ‘The Rat Pack’ or something. Not very nice people, although they did let me go without hurting me too badly, or doing any of the worse things they threatened.

I wasn’t sure what to think of this ‘Lord Captain’ that was spoken of when I woke up in camp. Only that whatever my head tried to picture, he was completely not it. I guess I was expecting someone much older, tougher. Not a young man possibly my age, couldn’t have been much older. I was in shock that he was the leader, I also found his title hilarious. His explanation of trying to figure out titles was even more amusing. I later got bored and started re-reading my ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ book. Then I kept screwing up and calling him ‘Lord Commander’ as in the books.

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Much later, Lo’s nickname of ‘Pish-posh’ worked quite well to describe him. Although it means something that is absurd, which in a way can fit. I just described him as posh, upper class, elegant, defined.

He was very polite, kind. Funny. All of the Cavaliers, I don’t know if it’s just them or if it’s actually how people really act…but, they’re hilarious. Very… I can only ever describe them as British, very proper, and posh. Their way of speaking is unlike anything I’ve ever heard, very structured, eloquent. It still comes off as really funny most of the time, because no one speaks like that anymore, at least that I’ve met. Gentleman very much, I have never felt threatened by being with any of them, or alone with any of them. A rarity for a woman around men these days. Well there was that one time Legrand was trying to figure out if I was a threat or not, but I don’t blame him the slightest bit for that.

Edwin Ashford. I always just called him Ashford. I was usually Miss Smith, referring to my maiden name, Elizabeth, Miss Beth, or Miss Elizabeth. It was always formal, yet it didn’t feel that way. I felt close to him, but I think it was more of a way of simply being polite and respectful to someone.

He was from a wealthy family, he liked to travel, and he loved historic castles. I’m glad we got to live in one for a bit, he must have been ecstatic about it. He’d been very privileged and he knew it. Yet he wasn’t spoilt and was very down to earth and on level with everyone else around him. Okay, he was spoilt, but it’s hard to explain. He wasn’t like your whiney child or person at anything that does not go their way, don’t have consequences, can do whatever they want, the kind most people think of when they hear the term.

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He was very mature, and I came to quickly understand why he was the leader. Good head on his shoulders, rational, usually wouldn’t let emotions take over the good of everyone.

He was horrified when I told him how I’d gotten there, my dad, how I ended up with Jim, Jim dying, dad missing. He was more than happy to have me stay on as a doctor as I had nowhere to go.

He was also there when I found out that Jim wasn’t actually dead.  Obviously the situation was incredibly tense, as I was in complete shock to a point I’d actually fainted after realizing who had been in front of me. My body refused to believe it was real and kept putting me into a sort of disassociated shock, while it tried to process the man in front of me was real. Which just appeared to make Jim more mad, as he thought I’d run away from him. The resulting stuttering and inability to think straight, or at all at times, was not on my helpful side.

Ashford from the start tried to protect me, trying to casually toss aside Jim’s sudden attention as Ezekiel brought me inside from the rain and put me on the bed, dazed. He explained I was acting as their doctor, which I was. He threw out a fake name, which Jim’s response to (Is that what she told you? Because that’s not her name…is it Elizabeth?), told me we were on the edge of a knife. It was trying to protect me, but it actually could have made things horribly worse, it almost did. Why would I give a fake name? Unless I was hiding my identity. If I was hiding my identity, I was probably hiding from someone specific or for something associated with my name. Who could I be hiding from? The person I was trying to convince I hadn’t run away from is a good candidate. 

I appreciate his attempt though, even if it failed miserably.

The entire time he was fiercely protective of me, even though I’d only known him a few days. His gun was in his hand the whole time and I was terrified the two were going to shoot each other. Thankfully I managed to talk him into calming a bit and giving us some time to talk, when Jim was running out of patience because Ashford kept interrupting him.

I was thankful that, apparently failing his standards in my apologizing to Jim, more of ‘you’re-making-me-apologize-to-you-for-something-that-wasn’t-my-fault-and-you-are-way-higher-on-the-offending-party-of-who-needs-to-be-giving-an-apology-here, but-fine-I-don’t-want-people-dying.’ Ashford wasn’t having it that apparently my apology needed to be better, probably closer to groveling about it, and made Jim drop the issue pretty quickly. I was very thankful for that.  

Even once I was convinced Jim wasn’t going to hurt me, Ashford was on high alert, and absolutely refused to calm down. Apparently he had a previous not so nice incident involving Jim, not surprising sadly.

Eventually everything calmed and I was allowed to stay with Ashford, oddly. Wasn’t expecting that honestly at all.

Most people knowing that I’m associated with Jim, would probably try to hurt me. It’s happened twice now. Thankfully both times not too bad, guess it helps that hubby doesn’t actually seem to care about me, makes hurting me not really worth anything except wasted energy and supplies.

Ashford absolutely refused to allow any harm to come to me because of something I had no control over. ‘I wouldn’t think of punishing the wife for the husband’s sins.’ Makes him one of the very few really good men out there. Another reason I felt safe with him.

When we had to clarify my relationship to the rest of the group, they went along with it, especially at Ashford’s orders. Even much later when Mr. Peterson, sort of got a very short version of the story, in an extremely distressed mood, flipped out on me, and wanted to hurt me, Ashford refused to let him. Even threatened to lock him in another room until he calmed down. I talked to Ashford about it, and he made sure to talk with Mr. Peterson, to let him know how I’d really ended up in the situation. Thankfully that calmed things. I really like Mr. Peterson, he was under an extreme amount of stress, and we now know probable brain damage. I don’t blame him for the outbursts, he’s sincerely apologized for both of them, and I have no intentions to hold them against him.

Even in hiding, Ashford kept everyone calm and orderly. Although seeing them all in actual civilian clothes for once was rather odd. Even after being badly wounded he kept his humor, kept everyone’s spirits up, kept his men in line, and stubbornly attempted to walk around with me chasing him and trying to make him sit. We compromised, he got to sit outside where others were at the time.

Also him and this other person on paid meds, he threatened to throw Hamlet at them because ‘It’s a big play!’ Or was it King Lear? I’m not sure, but I was almost on the floor from laughing so hard at him. Just the way he spoke had me in almost constant laughter. Very witty.

 

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I have more about him... I just can't bring myself to write it now...

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Edited by RogueSolace

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*Loud gross sobbing.* Long live Lord Aeshfawrd! 

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He would beat his lance corporal if he made a mistake. Yet he still cried for his death! That's the kind of man Ashford was. He will be missed. @Aristocrat

Edited by Uplink

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Cry all you like. Not one of you buggers showed up to Ashfwaard's funeral. ^_^

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@AristocratI had an excuse :P <3 Was there in spirit <3

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