The Crawl

The Wilds

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a part of The Crawl, by MysterySnail.

You have left the city.

MysterySnail holds sovereignty over The Wilds, giving them the ability to make limited changes.
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479 readers have visited The Crawl since MysterySnail created it.

Setting

Outside of any city, in a rural setting. There may be fields, old country roads, and a few houses.

The Wilds

You have left the city.

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The Wilds is a part of The Crawl.

1 Characters Here

Decklan [1] A morally-unsound bandit reject.

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Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Decklan

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It's been so long since mother told me what the stars looked like. A shimmering blanket wrapped around our world, she said. At night, past the coin of the moon, you could just look up, and there they'd be, shining down and illuminating the earth's face. She told me about a band that wrapped around the sky, like a belt, but I don't remember the name. Now, you can't even go outside after the sun is gone. She said it was our fault, but I still don't know what she means.

The orange sun scalded the earth like a wave, sending shimmers across the broken, crumbling asphalt. The yellow lines down the middle of the road had worn away and brushed off over the years, and an old sedan sat, slanted, on the edge of the barrier, rusting. The tires had been stolen, the windows broken, and the interior gutted. A few birds fluttered about inside, enjoying the shade from the boiling eye in the sky. The heat was intense in the afternoon, and more so in the empty, overgrown fields. In the distance, the highway lead straight to the city, like a river running into nettles. The northbound highway was littered with wreckage - barricades, old signs, cars. It was nearly silent, save for the small mutterings of small animals and the wind in a few sparse trees. The grass was knee-high, overtaking houses and old cars and forcing itself through sidewalks and pavement alike. The wind carried over it like ripples on an ocean. The heat was blistering as the sun baked the earth, seeming to suck the moisture out of the air.

Decklan didn't take solace in the silence.

He was jogging - moving quickly was the best way to stay alive. A light satchel, roughed up and torn in places, bounced on his back as he made his way through the suburb. Old houses stared at him with dead, windowless eyes, and he could feel the gaze of hungry beasts hiding from the sun's sweltering burn. His own skin was deeply freckled and tanned from countless days. His hair was cropped, shaggy and greasy, plastered to his head. One half shaven, the other trailing in short, thick braids that bounced on his shoulder. His lips were cracked and dry, parched and dehydrated. His clothing was simple rags, baring skin to the unyeilding heat of the sun. The clatter of metal on asphalt behind him made him pick up his pace - it was likely a bird taking off, or a car finally rusting to pieces, but he didn't stop to look back. His boots ground into the crumbling road, the treads wearing out over the last few months of moving constantly. Cities were dangerous, and he knew better, but he had no choice.

Buildings always held beasts, hiding from the sun's grimace in the dark. Cities held people - looters, rapers, theives, bandits, or cannibals. But he was so desperate, so low on supplies. So thirsty.

Another rustle from the brush, only a moment after the clatter. The brunette produced from his sagging leather belt a long icepick and a slightly rusted, hardly sharp machete. He rounded to the noise, only to come face-to-face with a coyote.

Over the decades, large animals had become so rare, in some places, they were fables. The coyote was slender, and so skinny that its ribs stuck out like spines from it's chest. Fur was falling out in patches, and it's eyes were milky and rolling. Mouth open, frothing slightly, and nose dryer than the pavement. It was snarling and rolling back and forth, rabid and starved. The omega stumbled out of the brush, before sprinting at Decklan. The man leapt aside, nearly losing his footing. A bite from the animal could end his life in a few short hours. He swung outward with the machete, landing a long, deep gash down the animal's thigh. It didn't even respond, only turned, limping, to lunge at him with both forepaws out. His feet failed him, and he fell under the beast's lashing head. Filthy claws ripped open the right side of his face, and he let out a yelping cry. The flesh ripped aside as the grimy claws made their way off of his face, and the coyote reached down to snap at his throat. Despite the blood pooling in his fading vision, Decklan drove the icepick through the beast's eye, killing it. The furry mass twitched and seized as he shoved the coyote off of him and staggered to his feet, one hand cupping the right side of his face, now mutilated.

He was groaning, dropping his bag to the ground and blindly fishing through it for precious cloth strips to keep his face together until he would stop for the night. Around and around his head. He had no water to rinse the wound with. Decklan padded scraps of fabric onto the eye socket, in between layers of bandaging, and only stopped when the moist warmth stopped seeping through. He sobbed dryly, shallow breaths escaping his cracking lips. A migraine was splitting his head. He sat back on his heels, holding the bag between his knees, wiping blood from his left eye. his vision was dark, and the sun was setting fast.

It was about half an hour before he could force himself to stand, and pull the icepick from the beast's head. He had to find shelter, or face death with the setting sun.

...

It was late afternoon by the time Decklan was immersed in the cement jungle of the city. He knew how to take cover for the night, and was looking for shelter. He had sped up his jogging until he was glistening with sweat, sore, and aching all over from tremors.

The traveler finally felt his knees tremble from exhaustion, and his head spun. He tore the plywood off the nearest entryway and pushed the door open with his shoulder, out of breath. A boarded-up building with red spray painting usually was empty. He closed the busted door behind himself, shaking the torch from his belt to produce light. The corner store was empty - if it hadn't eben, something likely would have charged to meet him. With the remains of trembling strength he shoved the heavy metal shelving units in front of the door, effectively barricading himself in. The windows had been boarded up years before. Although the wood had rotten away in some spots, some previous tenant had covered the holes with black plastic. He slumped down behind the counter, next to a rusted cash register. He slid his backpack onto his lap, and passed out from the dehydration.