The Crawl

Post-Apocalyptic Earth

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a part of The Crawl, by MysterySnail.

You cannot tell exactly where you are.

MysterySnail holds sovereignty over Post-Apocalyptic Earth, giving them the ability to make limited changes.
112 readers have been here.
485 readers have visited The Crawl since MysterySnail created it.

Setting

All of earth is a wasteland. Clean water is scarce, feral animals are nearby, and there isn't another person for miles. The sun is baking the earth like a crust.

Post-Apocalyptic Earth

You cannot tell exactly where you are.

Minimap

Post-Apocalyptic Earth is a part of The Crawl.

1 Places in Post-Apocalyptic Earth:

4 Characters Here

Decklan O'Connell [2] A morally-unsound bandit reject.
Imogene Wilkerson [1] The curious one, the daydreamer
Dawn Lowrey [1] A climber, a hider, a survivor.
James Rowan Wakefield [0] A smooth-talking faker.

Start Character Here »


Characters Present

Character Portrait: Decklan O'Connell

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The wandered's eyes flickered open as a few small rays of light filtered across the room. He groaned with a raspy release of air. He felts as though his mouth was coated with dust, his head splitting and eyes dry and puffy. He touched the side of his face gingerly - infection had likely set in, and it was hot to the touch. He couldn't afford water to rinse the wound clean, but it crossed his mind as he pulled a waterskin from his backpack and sipped, denying his voracious thirst. His lips were broken and cracking, bleeding at the corners. Decklan forced himself to stand on wavering, shaking legs, briefly enjoying the cool inside of the building. As he approached the windows, he could feel the heat seeping through.

The filthy traveler shook his head, as if trying to clear the fog inside of it, and cleared the shelving from the door. The metal entryway was already warm to the touch from the sun. He pressed his body to the rusting door and forced his way out into the blistering warmth of the sun. In the daylight, the city was hardly threatening. Small birds filled the windows of the adjacent buildings, a rabbit leapt through the overgrown road. If he had been in better shape, it might have been dinner.

Decklan kept moving through the city, if slowly. It was too dangerous to skim buildings alone, in his condition, and he settled for rummaging through the underbrush - small bushes, trees, and tall grass. A broken bottle here, a brick there. It may have been useless, but he had to stay occupied and keep his mind off the pain.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Dawn Lowrey

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#, as written by krashby
Dawn couldn't remember falling asleep. She had barracked the door best she could, pushing a chair under the handle (at first she had attempted to use the desk, but her small and injured frame proved too weak to move anything of any significant weight). Her attempts to rest were all but futile; great as her exhaustion was, the pain from her shoulder and the fear of being found by someone or something out there kept her conscious until the early hours of the morning. But at some point she must have dozed off for here she was, laying on the floor with her head nuzzled into the Frankenstein bag, eyes fluttering open and squinting back shut as the first rays of day's light came filtering into the room.

Dawn had been born with the sun; that was how she had gotten her name. Her mother, Lily Lowrey, used to tell the story often. Lily had gone into labor a month before she was meant to, just as night fell over the wasted earth. With little time to prepare she had locked herself in the nearest shelter she could find, a wooden tool shed which had been looted and abandoned and was missing several planks in its walls, leaving Lilly exposed should anything happen to look within. She had gagged herself with her own shirt so that she could not scream and draw attention when the contractions hit. The growl of Beasts could be heard all through the night; in the occasional moment Lily was even able to glimpse a clawed paw or a mat of fur or a pair of glowing eyes through the slits. But even if she was not attacked and killed before the night was through, what was to become of her baby? How was a child to survive in a world like this? Lily had nearly lost all hope.

But then the morning came. Sunlight spilled out onto the laboring woman's withering body in much the same way that it spilled over her daughter on this day ten years later. The creatures of the night disappeared from it's burning grasp. The light and the warmth it provided fueled in Lily the strength to make her final push.

Lily's baby was premature and scrawny, born into a dirty tool shed with no prenatal care and no medical attention. And yet she was born, not just alive, but healthy. She was a miracle in a world where miracles no longer existed. Lily held her tiny body to her chest and named her Dawn, for the first lights of day which had greeted her into the world. Lily was fueled in that moment with sudden and irrational hope for their future together.

But Lily was dead now. Dawn rose from her place on the floor and looked through the window, alone as she watched the sun rise.

Pain shot through Dawn's shoulder with every movement she made. It had only gotten worse in the night. She could only stand to lift her arm a few inches from her side before the pain grew unbearable. Her mouth was dry, lips cracked and broken, her head spinning and dizzy every time she tried to move.

Oh, but she couldn't stay still. She munched on half a granola bar from her backpack and drained what little remained in her water bottle. Neither did much help. She needed more. She needed food and water and medicine for her pain, and she needed to find a way to fix her shoulder so she could climb again. If not, she was good as dead.

Pulling Frankenstein's remaining strap up around her good shoulder, Dawn pushed aside her poor excuse of a barricade and cautiously entered the hallway. The small girl's face scrunched up as a foul scent hit her. Across from her lay a decaying pile of flesh, barely distinguishable as human. If not the sight of it, the smell was enough to make one sick. Or at least it used to be. Dawn was raised in a world of death and gore and decay, and she barely gave a second glace as she passed the body.

The apartment complex's hallway was ill-lit. Light bulbs hung from the ceiling at regular intervals but were utterly useless. The only light came from the rooms whose doors sat ajar, shinning in from the windows. In some spots there was naught but darkness. She lept from puddle to puddle of light, only able to hope that it was enough to keep the Beasts away. The safest bet would have been to climb down to the ground, but her injury made that impossible.

A sign showed her way to the stairwell, which as luck would have it was located on the outside of the main building. A window was built in every story and provided enough light for Dawn to feel safe. She climbed down the five flights and pushed open a heavy door to the outside world.

Where to search? What in this city had not already been raided or destroyed? But Dawn knew the secrets hidden in the walls of each building. She knew how to search where others would not think, how to find things long lost and missed by bandits. It was the only way she could survive. She set off down the broken street, set in mind to search the first likely building her eyes met. Even this early in the day heat began to burn into her skin. Through the soles of her shoes she could feel the burning asphalt on her feet.

Suddenly, she paused. She could see a person, a man, searching the underbrush some distance from her. Instantly she ducked behind the cover of the nearest building, sliding her head out just a peek to watch him. A bandit? Or on second thought, perhaps not. He appeared to be alone... and injured. Dawn crossed behind the building and up the street on the other side, gaining cover from a closer point to examine the stranger more closely. If only she could watch from above, it would be safer and quicker to escape should she be seen. But in her desperation she chanced herself even closer, hiding under the cover of a shrub. Before long she was trailing him, slipping into the next hiding place when he was looking away and over time closing the distance between them, though she dared not get too close.

The man looked worse for wear; angry red wounds, no more than a day old, shinned bright on his face and could be made out clearly even from this distance. He wore a satchel, and this Dawn's eyes clung to greedily. If she were to move fast enough... oh, but did she dare? In normal circumstances she never would, tending to avoid other people in the rare instances she came across. But now... now she was possibly desperate enough to try.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Imogene Wilkerson

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Imogene’s life had been reduced to little pleasures like playing with pill bugs. She let the little things roll around on the palm of her dirt-caked palm and admired their innumerable little legs. She envied the way they could curl into themselves and hide.

Her existence was a cruel one: scavenging in the wastes all day, barricading herself in the suburbs at night. For all its cruelty, though, Imogene fought hard against boredom. She treasured finding a book over finding a can of beans, just because the book would nourish her for longer. In fact, Imogene had nearly become accustomed to the gnawing hunger in her gut. She could almost ignore it. Almost.

For as long as she could remember, that gnawing hunger had accompanied her. Finding wild berries and cooking up the occasional lanky rabbit was like throwing a bucket of water on a raging wildfire. She became an expert at averting her mind, finding little projects to keep her from the hunger pains. On that particular day, Imogene spotted something that promised to entertain her for months.

A skateboard. The wood was cracked, but it looked ridable. The decrepit wheels needed tightening, and finding a screwdriver was highly improbable. Instead, she jammed a butter knife into the slot to tighten the screws. Working with the skateboard, she sat on the porch of a house she frequented - the house with an attic. The attic door was perfectly camouflaged. She felt safe there. At least, somewhat safe. With her project completed - it seemed sturdy enough to ride now - she watched the sun move across the sky.

You’ve wasted the day, Imogene, griped Rhett.

“Oh please, Rhett. I found water.”

Water, but no food. You didn’t put forth effort today. You’re getting lazy.

“Oh, shut up,” she retorted, dropping the skateboard to the sidewalk. She stepped on the board tentatively, rolling forward only to be stopped by the weeds breaking through the concrete. “This will help me get around quicker. Save some energy.”

You’ll break your neck.

“Every day is a risk. I could be gutted by bandits or mauled by Beasts in the next breath. And you’re complaining about the dangers of a skateboard?”

Imogene laughed as she fell, scraping the palms of her hands. She experimented with the skateboard until the sun was low in the sky, painting the cloudless expanse in hues of tangerine and magenta. Curfew. The Beasts would emerge soon. One whiff of her and she was done for. Once they spotted a human, they didn’t forget. They didn’t give up.

The locks of the home had been destroyed by the pillagers. It was nearly impossible to find a door that locked properly. Imogene had to find other ways to keep the Beasts out. She piled rotting, dusted furniture in front of the door, and then she retreated to the attic. She felt warmth toward the space, and she hoped she could stay this time. All of her other homes didn't last long. Whether by Beast or stranger, her sense of security was always ruined before she could get comfortable.

But she was comfortable in her attic, despite the heat; it became trapped in the attic and threatened to cook her alive. She opened the small window, letting in a warm breeze that did little help. Her pallet was sequestered in the corner. The ratty blankets provided padding against the wooden floor. She eased her tense body down, feeling the familiar ache in her shoulders and back. As the moon found its mount in the star-infested sky, Imogene’s eyes slid closed.

Hours passed, but when her eyes snapped open, it felt like she had just closed them. She waited. The Beasts outside woke her often, but she knew better than to assume nothing was amiss. There was a thud below her. Something was inside. But how?
You forgot to barricade the back door, you imbecile! Rhett's voice was a loud bellow in her head. Her heart lurched, her gut tightened, and a cold sweat sprouted on her forehead. Fight for flight response urged her to make a choice, to do something, but Rhett convinced her to wait.

Terror squeezing the heart in her chest, she waited. The Beasts were hardly intelligent enough to find the attic, much less find their way inside. And yet…

The attic door whined as it was yanked down. It was a person. Questions bombarded her mind. He must’ve been hiding out in the house, waiting for nightfall, she thought.

MOVE! Rhett shouted, snapping her out of it.

She grabbed the skateboard and her well-worn satchel and squirmed out the attic window just as the intruder clambered into the attic, lunging for her. She heard his roar of frustration at watching her tumble onto the roof. Imogene attempted to stand, lost her footing, and fell through the muggy night air. Her back hit the sun-crisped grass, forcing the air from her lungs and a grunt from her throat.

The panic seeped into her slowly. She was paralyzed by fear, lying in the grass, listening to the sounds of the savage world populated with Beasts salivating, waiting to devour her.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Decklan O'Connell

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The day while sliding right out of his fingers, it seemed. Decklan scratched at his face absently before shoving a dumpster away from the walls of a building, into an alleyway. Nothing. He sighed audibly, rubbing his sunburned neck. It had been weeks since he was last in a city, but this one seemed to be devoid of all useful things. Even a rope could be useful. He could feel the wear of wandering and the bite of loneliness as he kept walking down the sidewalk, kicking the occasional pile of refuse out of the way.

Decklan tightened the straps of his bag across his chest, bending down to sift through a few wooden boxes. Nothing. He stood up on creaking knees and let his shoulders sag. Though his vision was impaired, he caught a flash of movement out of the corner of his good eye. He didn't alter his behavior, and kept walking down the street slowly, scanning the ground for anything interesting. However, he now listened very closely - catching a step here, a scuff there, and he was certain after a few minutes that he was being followed. Decklan kept his head down, pulling the machete from his hips slowly, as if he needed it to hack brambles out of his way. He wasn't well-armed, but he was strong, even dehydrated and tired.

The wanderer was momentarily distracted from the pursue, by a painted sign on the canopy above a doorway across the street. He looked over the exterior of the building - it was large, and very tall, but the windows on the bottom floor were boarded up sufficiently, and large red x's patterned the wood. He pounded a fist on the board, letting the thumping sound through the entire floor.

Silence.

After a few moments without a vicious response, Decklan shoved the dull blade of the machete into the jam of the door, ripping off chunks of board and splinters of wood. He landed a solid push from his heel right above the doorjam and the entryway gave with a groan, and slid open. He couldn't read the painted sign above the door, and even if he could, he wouldn't know what the words meant.

The lower floor was mostly empty, and dark without the light from the windows. Decklan let his eyes adjust to the darkness, but stayed within the ray of light shed by the doorway. Stools and chairs littered the floor, and a long counter expanded the back of the room. Behind it, he felt a quiver in his stomach - bottles. Hundreds of bottles. Briefly he thought of drinking himself to death, before pulling the torch from his belt and shaking it quickly to get a better look.

The bar counter was filthy, and so were the bottles, but there they were, unbroken. Cleaner alcohol was useful medically, and it would be a godsend to purge the infection likely growing on his face. To his left, a lower-set area with broken tables, a few splintered chairs, and old plastic electronics. Things were broken from rot, not from intrusion, it appeared. It was rare to find an undisturbed location, even more so in a city. To his right were double doors. The right wing of the room would wait - Decklan skirted the counter and slipped a few small bottles of clear alcohol into his bag, along with what he could salvage behind the counter - cutlery mostly. He resurfaced from the counter and gently, hesitantly pushed his way into the right wing of the floor.

Having never seen a restaurant or kitchen in his life, he was puzzled momentarily by the grimy metal appliances. He didn't let the deduction of his whereabouts linger long, and Decklan was immediately rummaging through drawers and cabinets. In all, he found a large steak knife, a whetting rod, and a can opener. Canned food was almost useless now, and so he left the canopener behind. The knife and whetting rod were as good to find as the alcohol.

It wasn't until Decklan was approaching the doorway that he recalled the tail he'd gained while scavenging, and he hesitated to return outside.