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Fr Pat O'Brien

I pray for you, for what good it will do

0 · 253 views · located in Virginia

a character in “The Walking Dead: Survivor Chronicles”, as played by Faith Fanon

Description

Image

Name: Father Pat O’Brien

Age: 59

Hometown: Rockaway Beach, Queens, New York

Sexual Orientation: Celibate. Straight. Whatever the Church calls it now.

Occupation: Priest. Do you become a former priest when your flock has
been transformed into demons from the mouth of Hell?

Looks:
Fr Pat is 5’11” and 160 pounds. His clothes hang loosely on him, as he has lost a lot of weight since the outbreak began, but also filled out some muscle as he revives from a sedentary life. He has a thinning shock of grey hair and a deeply wrinkled face. One of his watery blue eyes is permanently bloodshot following a blow to the head, which has affected the sight in that eye.

Clothing:
He wears his priest’s clothes – black shirt, black slacks and good, solid black leather brogues – and still wears his dog collar, despite his faith being shaken by the outbreak. Incongruously, he also wears a thick leather motorcycle jacket and a motorcycle helmet, which he has used to dispatch more than one Walker.

Personality

Personality:
In ways that the other Survivors perhaps cannot understand, Fr Pat is a desperate man. He has lost the faith which had sustained him for half a century. As a result, and also because of the outbreak, he isn’t sure whether he wants to live, or wants to die, and fears that his entire life’s purpose has been, at best, meaningless. This manifests itself in occasional deeply black moods, where Fr Pat seems not just unwilling, but also unable, to speak or move.

At other times, he is caring towards his younger companions, trying to boost their spirits with a kindly word. They, not he, are the future, he tells himself, and does his utmost to ease the burdens of the group’s natural leaders in particular.

Equipment

Weapons:
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When Fr Pat and several colleagues finally decided to fight their way out of their barricaded church, the only weapons available to them were the ornaments and relics of worship. Fr Pat tore leather covers from Bibles and wrapped them around the base of a 4’ long metal crucifix. One of the arms has since broken off, the other has snapped to a jagged 4” spike, leaving Fr Pat with a formidable club/ax combo.

He also has a Raven Arms MP-25 – the classic ‘Saturday Night Special’ – with just one .25 ACP round in the chamber. Fr Pat held the barrel of that pistol in his mouth many times as he struggled with his conscience and his faith, but not once since the outbreak.

Equipment:
In a backpack, Fr Pat currently carries a bottle of water, two tins of beans, a bar of chocolate, a first aid kit, a penknife (too small to make a weapon), a crucifix and, even though it's for a different denomination, a Gideon Bible.

History

History:
Fr Pat joined the priesthood as a 17-year-old in Kerry, Ireland, and took up the parish based around St Genevieve’s (known to the Irish-American locals as St Jenny’s) at the age of 29.

He lived a simple, satisfying life tending to his flock until, one day 10 years ago, a teenage boy told him during Confession that he’d been repeatedly raped by an older man. Although the boy didn’t specify, Fr Pat was almost certain from some of the details that the boy was referring to the Bishop. After days of agonized deliberation, Fr Pat took his suspicions to the Bishop’s senior, the Cardinal. The Cardinal lambasted Fr Pat for breaking the sanctity of the Confessional, and removed him from frontline clerical duties. Not only was he taken from his flock, some suspected his removal was for wrongdoing of his own.

Barred from doing what he loved, Fr Pat spent years wrestling with his conscience and his failure to report his suspicions to the police. Wracked with guilt, he spent the last five years in a whiskey bottle. As he drank, he began to doubt whether such a travesty of justice could occur if was, in fact, a Father watching over all. When he heard of the victim’s suicide, Fr Pat’s faith and mind both cracked; he emerged from his tiny living quarters at the back of St Jenny’s one Sunday morning and burst into the back of the church, fully intent on exposing the Bishop and the Cardinal in the middle of Mass.

But instead of the packed congregation, Fr Pat found himself staring down the barrel of a shotgun. He closed his eyes, heard a click, and then a crunch, as Fr Joseph’s shotgun somehow jammed. After cleaning himself up, Fr Pat listened in horror as Fr Joseph and Fr Arnold explained the outbreak to him. They successfully barricaded themselves in St Jenny’s for two weeks, arguing whether to stay put or follow the last advice for the Church hierarchy and make for the appointed clerical stronghold, the Cathedral of St Thomas More in Arlington, Virginia.

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Family:
A brother and his family back in Ireland, fate unknown

Other: We are the Walking Dead.

So begins...

Fr Pat O'Brien's Story

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It had seemed so obvious when he'd argued it with them as the howls of the Dead rang around St Jenny's. Thomas More was a stone's throw from the Pentagon, and a second stone's throw from the White House itself. It wasn't just modern folklore, surely both buildings were fortified with secret bunkers and arsenals of the best weaponry, not to mention trained personell, and Andrews Field Air Force Base was nearby. So the Church hierarchy must have nominated the cathedral as part of a joint plan with the government, and would be protected.

Every night they consulted Fr Joseph's map and tried to guess where the Dead would have congregated. But the further south they travelled, the further inland they were forced by hoards of the Dead. They'd become separated from Fr Arnold in the escape from Philadelphia; it had been a mistake to try and force a way through it. They'd cut cross-country to avoid the seething mass of the Dead that jammed Route 95, then stole a rowboat at Holtwood and let the Susquehannock River carry them into Chesapeake Bay. They made fast progress through the northern half of the bay, although they were reminded to be on their guard when their passage took them right above the head of one of the Dead, submerged in the bay's shallow waters.

Stopping for a night on Hart-Miller State Island, Fr Pat and Fr Joseph met a group of survivors, three men, two women and a little boy. After sharing their food and fire, both groups turned in. Fr Joseph knelt to pray; Fr Pat did not, but watched his friend and envied his unshaken faith. By the light of the embers of the fire, Fr Pat saw two of the men creeping up behind Fr Joseph. Shouting out a warning, he rolled onto his back to look behind him, which is why the blow from the man behind him only glanced across his temple, rather than break his skull. The scream, crack and gurgle from behind him told him Fr Joseph had not been so lucky. Fr Pat flailed out blindly with his club and stumbled to the rowboat and pushed out noisily. He heard the crack of a gunshot, but no more; his assailants had only wanted their food, most of which he'd left behind, along with the map.

Fr Pat drifted down the bay for much of the next day, mooring at Chesapeake Beach after passing below the Bay Bridge, and making camp. Recalling Fr Joseph's map, he set off northwest the next morning, keeping an eye out for humans as much as for the Dead. His heart lifted when he came to the eastern end of Pennsylvania Avenue - he was on the road to the White House and he'd seen just two of the Dead! But his brief spark of optimism waned as he followed the road west - he had to strike down four of the Dead, all in military uniform, and his old shoulders were aching. Then he caught sight of Andrews Field, and he sank to his knees. The military base milled with thousands of the dead. He knew then that all of Washington had been over-run - there was nothing left alive further into the city to attract this huge hoard away from where they had died.

Wiping tears from his eyes, Fr Pat headed south, through fields and nature parks so untouched he could almost forget the Dead had risen, until he came to the Potomac. The Harry Nice Bridge was jammed, and Fr Pat could see the Dead wandering aimlessly between the cars, even some Dead trapped inside them. Gritting his teeth, Fr Pat climbed onto the struts of the bridge below road level and inched his way across its kilometre-long span. Occasionally one of the Dead would spot him and throw itself off the bridge at him, passing him with a growl and landing with a splash into the Potomac. Night was falling and every muscle and joint in Fr Pat's old body was aching, by the time he finished his climb and set foot in Virginia.

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He heard the noise long before he crested a hill and caught sight of it. Even so, nothing, not even the rattle of automatic gunfire and the unending, grating howls of the Dead, could have painted the picture that confronted Fr Pat across the meandering Rappahannock River. Against the kilometres of chain-link fence that enclosed the vast training grounds of Fort AP Hill, a thousands-strong herd of the Dead churned and moaned, trying to reach the soldiers behind, who were methodically spraying machinegun fire at head height. No wonder he hadn't encountered any of the Dead since the Harry Nice Bridge; they were all here.

Dumbfounded by the scale of the hoard, Fr Pat watched as the slain bodies piled up in front of the fence. The creatures mindlessly trod other Dead into the ground, grabbing higher and higher at the chain-link fence as the bodies began to form a ramp. Commanding officers behind the fence shouted contradictory orders at their men: Aim higher, maintain fire at head-height level. At several points, the ramps reached the top of the fence, and the Dead began falling into the enclosure. About a kilometre to the west, a section of the fence simply caved in under the weight of bodies, and the Dead flooded in, pushed in by the surge behind them and packed thick enough to simply trample over the soldiers. Across the front line, panic ensued. Some soldiers fled, throwing down their weapons. Others attempted to stand their ground and were overwhelmed.

Fr Pat only snapped out of his horrified reverie when the entire herd had entered the military base. He would have to find another way round; the bridge at Port Royal was too close to Fort AP Hill. He closed the visor on his motorcycle helmet, shouldered his club, and set off south-east down the banks of the Rappahannock, looking for a shallow spot to ford.

About ten kilometres along the bank, where the river made a sharp U-bend, Fr Pat found a row boat and crossed the slow current leisurely. After disembarking, he sat on the little spit of land, letting his trousers dry in the sun and the aches subside in his back. A couple of birds sang in nearby trees - always a good sign that the Dead were far away - and Fr Pat could scarcely reconcile the serenity of this moment with the monstrosity he had witnessed at Fort AP Hill. Even from a mile away, he had heard the dying soldiers' screams, smelt the smoke from their gunfire, a sharp, burnt smell that cut through the rancid, rotting scent of the Dead. The worst thing had been the cacophany of groans from the herd. In individual cases, that sound was a terrifying alert that shocked every nerve, set the pulse racing. But collectively, and prolonged, as it had been at the chain-link perimeter, it sounded like the collected souls of centuries of damnation were calling out from Hell. For the first time since he had escaped St Jenny's, Fr Pat took his crucifix in his hands and knelt. But nothing came to drown out the memory of that call of the damned, nothing but two birds singing.

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The birds' evening song drew to a close as Fr Pat rose from his knees, leaning heavily on a tree. Anger burned within him. Not anger at his God, for he wasn't sure any more if there even was such a thing, or, if there was, if He ever listened. No, Fr Pat's anger was at himself, anger and shame. Somehow he was more disturbed by the devastation of his faith than at the devastation that had been wrought on the living. Could his faith be so weak? He'd been taught, as a teenager in the seminary, to resist demons' tests of his faith. He hadn't expected to come face to face with them. Then the Cardinal's cold, arrongant sneer rose before his eyes and Fr Pat remembered that demons came in all shapes and sizes. He had lost his faith that day, the day evil had risen in the living, not the day the Dead had risen from their graves.

He stretched his back and looked around for a safe place to sleep. The sparse trees would provide little cover, and he had spied no buildings before dusk had fallen. The narrow spit of land meant the Dead could only approach from one direction, meaning a watch would be easy, but sleep would be as elusive as if he was on an exposed hilltop. There were no fallen trees to pile into a makeshift barricade. Fr Pat's eyes fell on the rowboat in which he had crossed the river. Its mooring rope was about 20 feet long. Piling his meagre possessions into the boat, he tied one end of the rope to the nearest sturdy tree to the bank, and pushed out into the current. It wouldn't stop the Dead wading out to him, but the current would slow them, their noise would wake him, and the depth of the river - he estimated it at over five feet this far from the bank - would hamper their attempts to grab him. It would even present their heads at a level that would save him hoisting his heavy club far above his head.

He took off his helmet and stashed it at the foot of the boat, stretched his length out as best he could and lay his club across him. The silence and the undulation of the river soon rocked him into an uneasy sleep.

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Character Portrait: Fr Pat O'Brien Character Portrait: Randal Fergason
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He hadn't smelled a cooked meal since the night Fr Joseph had been killed. He had eaten cold from tins since. So when the smell of cooking fish wafted down the river, Fr Pat sat bolt upright, setting his little boat rocking from side to side. Setting his club by his side, he waited til the boat settled, then knelt up, looking upriver to the source of the smell.

Squinting, he looked up river. At first, the unaccustomed darkness of the post-outbreak world was all he saw. Then, a flash, which died, then grew into a flickering glow. Someone had lit a fire. Fr Pat sat back into his boat and pondered the development. Was the firestarter reckless in setting up such a beacon, or confident of their safety, with the river on one side, perhaps protected on the other side by one of the thickets of trees that dotted the river bank? Most likely, anyone who could light a fire knew what they were doing. You had to, to survive this long. Secondly, was the fire-starter hostile or friendly?

Instinctively, Fr Pat crossed himself, drew his motorcycle helmet over his head, and unshipped his oars. If he kept his distance and kept his head down, perhaps he could figure out who had made camp so close to his own resting place. He lowered the oars and slowly drew closer to the fire.

From 30 feet, Fr Pat could make out a man of average height and build moving around the fire, occasionally tending to a pot in its midst, occasionally looking around his surroundings, presumably for wandering Dead. He wondered how desperate the man must have been to light a fire out in the wilderness, tree cover or no, especially when he was alone. It could draw the Dead from miles around, if any had avoided being drawn to Fort AP Hill.

Fr Pat's knew his faith hung by a thread, but it would take a lot more to drive out his Christian compassion. Lying in the bottom of the boat, just his helmet poking above the side, he croaked out a shouted whisper: 'On the bank, you there.' He hadn't spoken in days. He scooped a handful of water from the river, drank, and cleared his throat. 'On the bank. Hello? Are ye alright over there?'

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As he sat lazily staring into the darkness he sighed heavily. On the verge of passing out he could barely keep his eyes open when he heard something. He tried to make it out but he couldn't even think straight. He'd probably have let it go if he hadn't heard it again. The words came to him muffled through the fog that was his thoughts. Words. The single thought broke through and he snapped awake.

Stumbling to his feet he could feel the adrenaline already beginning to well within him. It had been weeks since he'd seen another living human. Gripping his weapon, he licked his suddenly dry lips as he squinted into the darkness scanning the land. Seeing nothing he was puzzled for a moment before he turned towards the water. There a shadowy figure stood from what he could only assume was a small boat. He reached up with his free hand and rubbed his eyes to be sure there was really something there as he took a few steps towards it. As his eyes adjusted further he could tell there wasn't anyone standing in the boat but something was indeed there. Words, he thought again.

"Hel- Hello!?" He half shouted into the darkness before saying in a much lower tone, "Am I going crazy?" He stood there silently afterword staring towards the boat. Had he really heard something? Maybe he'd been awake to long. These sort of thoughts ran through his head a mile a minutes as the seconds passed.

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The man on the bank called back hesitantly, and Fr Pat made up his mind. The man sounded surprised and cautious, and was definitely alone. He didn't appear aggressive, and a quick chinwag on the bank with him couldn't hurt. The idea of another travelling companion, or even just five minutes in the presence of anything but his own thoughts, was deeply attractive. He could always leave again if things turned sour, Fr Pat reasoned. He would stay close to his boat. He patted his little pistol in his pocket for the first time in days, just to be sure.

'I'm coming in,' he called to the man on the bank. 'Okay with you?' He sat up and poled his boat through the current slowly, rather than turning his back on the man to row. Better safe than sorry. As his boat bumped the bank, he got a better view of the man; hat and beard, a red shirt, about his own height. He seemed dazed, as if he'd just woken up. Fr Pat pulled off his motorcycle helmet and held his palms out to the man as he sat in his boat. 'See? No guns. Can you put your weapon down?'

Fr Pat pulled himself out of the boat and the two eyed each other warily. 'I'm Pat,' he said. 'I saw your fire from the other bank. What you cooking there?'

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His heart jumped as he heard the man speak again. He situated his grip on his weapon suddenly having second thoughts about the whole situation. What if the man was a murderer and tried to fight him. In his current state Randal didn't think he could do more then a few swings and they sure wouldn't be very coordinated. But he silently watched as the man slowly came forward in the boat until it had hit the shore. The man would then show his hands and claim to have no weapons. Randal sure didn't trust him but he didn't have a choice the decision had been made when he first spoke.

After slowly lowering his weapon and loosening his grip he eyed the man taking in his features now that he was clearly illuminated by the glow of the fire. He noticed the Jacket first and then realized the man was wearing all black but you could tell he'd been traveling for a time. He was definitely older then Randal but he wasn't really sure how much. Most of the very few people he had met since this started looked rather ragged to begin with. After the man introduced himself as Pat and explained why he'd happened upon him the two of them were just left silently staring at one another.

"Tuna. I have another can." Randal had decided to trust the man for at least the night. He knew it was much safer for him in this condition just having another person nearby. "Name's Randal. Do you have anything to contribute?" His eyes darted to the boat for a second before back to the man. This was going to be a very interesting time if anything.

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'Contribute?' Fr Pat repeated. For so long, he'd thought he'd spent his life contributing, to his parishoners' spiritual and emotional well-being. Their physical well-being too, when St Jenny's held soup kitchens and charity drives. The idea that he helped and healed had been core to his identity for as long as he could remember, and now the very foundations of his way of life had been torn asunder. And not by the rise of the Dead.

'Contribute. Yes, contribute,' he replied, snapping out of his reverie. He yanked up his pack from where it lay next to his club in the boat and pulled a tin of beans from it. 'We could cook these up along your tuna?' He paused momentarily, then reached back into his back. 'And then, how bout some of this?' He waved a 100g bar of chocolate. 'Been saving it for a special occasion. Finding a fire and a friend is as special as it gets these days, I guess.'

Fr Pat hunkered down next to the fire, on the side closest to the riverbank, and nestled the now open tin of beans into the fire. There was no feeling of danger from Randal - in fact the bearded man appeared as glad to see Fr Pat as Fr Pat was to see him. Although he seemed in general good shape and was uninjured as far as Fr Pat could see, Randal seemed exhausted. Perhaps the richness of chocolate and a good night's sleep would set him straight.

'So have you come far at all, Randal?' Fr Pat asked. 'Did you see that herd up at Fort AP Hill? Terrible business, terrible business altogether. I think the army's losing this fight all over. Man and his machines, hah?' He shook his head. 'I've come down from New York myself. I was a priest there. Lost two friends along the way.

He fell silent again and watched the food cook, leaving it to Randal. It was his fire after all. A branch shifted in the flames spitting up embers and Fr Pat leant back. He realised he'd been dozing. 'Sorry,' she grinned sheepishly at his new companion. 'Old man falling asleep by the fire, just like the good old days. I was going to sleep out on my boat, but it's good to have a fire, isn't it? And I haven't seen any of the Dead down here, they're all up at AP Hill. Will I take the first watch?'

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He watched the man as he seemed to space out some before replying and pulling forth a can of beans. Then he also produced a bar of chocolate and Randal couldn't help but grin. It had been a very long time since he'd had chocolate. \

"Yeah, these days seems like just opening your eyes is as much a curse as a blessing." Randal began the process of creating something delicious for them as he listened to Pat.

"A priest from New York? I was living in Montana when I first found out what was going on." He stopped his train of thought instead deciding to respond to his second question. "I heard a lot of gunfire but for the most part was avoiding it. They are attracted to sound so, it's inevitable that I would get into trouble going towards it."

He paused for a moment tending to the food he was concentrating on. The smell of tuna and baked beans slowly began to permeate the air. His stomach growled intensely again and he spoke to take his mind off of it. "I'm not sure what is going on with the military. I assume many are dead and just as many went home to be with family. Whomever are left probably don't have any serious chain of command outside the base and whatever orders they had last. I'm no expert but it doesn't look like there have been too many organized efforts lately."

He grinned at the thought of them sitting around the fire and all of a sudden helicopters with search lights and men in full uniform coming from all directions to save them from this reality. They'd have to fight off a horde or two just from the noise they made to save them. But they'd do it because it would be awesome. His mind was definitely beginning to wander.

The food finished and he offered the Priest half of everything before saying, "When we are done, you are first watch. At this point, I'm so out of it I would probably fall asleep fighting." And with that he began to eat awaiting his answer and then deciding whether or not to literally curl up and pass out.

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His back was warm. His stomach was full. He'd had a conversation for the first time in days. Fr Pat felt pretty good as he settled down to take the first watch. The chocolate tasted better than he could have imagined it. He nibbled it like a child to make it last.

Behind him, Randal appeared to be settling down to sleep. He'd seemed on the verge of nodding off even as they'd eaten. Now, as Fr Pat sat with his back to the fire so he could watch the approaches on land, he weighed up his new companion. Apart from the tiredness, he appeared to be holding up well - nothing a good night's sleep wouldn't cure. He had adequete supplies, the resourcefulness to light a fire, he appeared in good health, and he'd come all the way from Montana! Anyone who could make that 2,000-mile journey must be a hardy soul indeed. He wondered whether Randal had come all that way by himself, or if he'd made friends along the way. And why hadn't he found anywhere to hole up along the way? He'd paused for thought when he'd mentioned Montana. Some family tragedy, perhaps? Fr Pat resolved to ask him about it tomorrow.

He shifted his weight from one numb buttock to the other. He'd have to let the fire burn down. It was warming, life-affirming, it blocked out the dark, and not just physically, but it was too much of a risk to keep alight all night. Randall's watch would be cold. If every one of the Dead in the area had been drawn to Fort AP Hill, that meant that every one of them would soon start wandering away from Fort AP Hill. That meant the area wasn't safe. Fr Pat shuddered as he recalled the mound of moaning creatures piling up against the fences, then toppling them. Nowhere was safe for very long.

Getting up to stretch his legs, Fr Pat tried to recall Fr Joseph's map. He had been keeping an eye out for a replacement but the only one he'd seen had been in a car just before the Harry Nice bridge, and that car had been home to one of the Dead, forever trapped by its seatbelt, growling as it wore a deep sore across its chest as it struggled to escape. Richmond was the next big urban area due south, he remembered. Then Newport and Norfolk along the coast. No, these cities would all have suffered the same savagry that befell New York and Washington. Perhaps it would be better to head inland, away from cities and roads. Randal would know about this kind of living. Fr Pat resolved to ask him about it tomorrow.

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He was deeply asleep when the priest tried to wake him. At first he didn't respond but soon he roused enough to groggily stare at the thing which had just quickly aroused a deep anger within him. 'Randal, Randal. Sorry, it's almost a sin to wake you, but it's your watch. You okay there? I let the fire burn down, sorry, but better safe than sorry.' The words came slow but he had heard them none the less. Shifting from his sprawled out position he slowly began to raise himself to his feet.

"Understood." He spat them out with a bit of malice but he hoped it wasn't noticed. He didn't mean to be angry it was merely the sheer lack of sleep and seemingly sudden awakening of him after having just fallen asleep. As he stood he surveyed his surroundings looking to the fire he could tell there was definitely going to be some coals he could use. He gazed up at the night's sky and from what he could quickly tell it was close to dawn. He then looked to the tree-line scanning it for movement in the still darkness. During this time his companion was preparing himself for sleep. Randal wouldn't go far as the man had lived up to the trust he'd placed in him and would return the favor.

Stepping a bit of a way from where his pack lay he proceed to do a few stretches to partially prepare himself for the day but to mostly wake himself up. After his morning stretches he moved back to the pack and procured his canteen and took a few sips from it. Setting it down he got out his pot and poured the rest of it into the pot. Moving to the coals he set the pot down beside him and began messing with the coals with one of the partially burned sticks. After preparing it he set the pot on top of them before standing up again.

Moving back to the river he refilled his canteen with the water before moving about the general area of their campsite looking for pretty much anything of use. Twigs, greenery, useful items that may have been coincidentally discard without care and gone unfound and unloved by all until Randal himself mysteriously finds them. But of course he doesn't find anything of the sort and eventually the daylight breaks and he resides himself to whittling away at a few of the nicer sticks he'd found turning most of them into makeshift spears.

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The rising sun woke Fr Pat gently; he flicked open his eyes and drew in a deep breath of fresh air. Perhaps it was a result of sleeping while someone was on watch, but he hadn't had a better night's rest in what felt like years. Someone used watch over you every night, Pat, he mused to himself.

He levered himself upright and stretched, trying to drive the cramps and knots of the night on hard ground from his muscles. Randal had got the fire going again. Fr Pat took up the pot they'd cooked in last night and stomped down to the river's edge. After splashing his face, he filled the pot, and set it over the fire to boil. He took out a couple of strips of jerky from his pack; it wasn't much but, rehydrated and heated, it would make a passable breakfast. He stretched again, looking up at the rising sun and taking in the sounds of river wildlife waking for another day. No matter what happened to humans, Fr Pat mused, there would still be this kind of tranquil beauty. Perhaps there would be more of it in the world now.

He went back to his pack, took out a small item from the bottom, and returned to camp. 'Will you pray with me, Randal?' he asked, hesitantly, holding out his crucifix in two hands to hide the shaking. He hadn't prayed with someone for months. When he, Fr Joeseph and Fr Arnold had been barricaded in St Jenny's, he would stand watch seething as the two younger men communed with God. Out on the road, when it had just been the two of them, he would pretend to be asleep as Fr Joeseph prayed every morning and evening. Why had the impulse come upon him now?

Fr Pat sank to his creaking knees, holding the crucifix in his joined hands. Resisting the temptation to add 'if you're there', he began: 'Lord, thank you for this food we are about to consume.' He had begun simply. Every child in Ireland learned the prayer before meals at the earliest age. 'Thank you for this moment of peace, and help us apperciate the beauty of Your creation. Lord, bless this man Randal, and bless his dear ones. Fr Pat glanced over at Randal, unsure of the man's reaction. It had angered Fr Pat when Fr Joseph and Fr Arnold had prayed for him. Heavenly Father, Bless my friends and Your humble servants, Father Joseph and Father Arnold, and bring them eternal rest by your side. And ... His voice cracked and fell to an almost-whisper. And bless me, Lord, help me with the burdens you have seen fit to place before me. He paused in case Randal wanted to add anything, then lifted the crucifix to his lips. Amen.

He blinked to clear his eyes, and looked around him. The sun was a little higher. Birds twittered nearby and the river flowed slowly. He felt no different to before, except glad that he'd been able to conduct this small act of faith without halting in cynical revulsion. Perhaps that was all that was left. Perhaps it was the start of something new. He shook his head to clear his thoughts, then fished the softened jerky out of the pot. 'Well, I suppose after breakfast, we'd better make a start,' he said. 'Where should we be going?'

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Character Portrait: Fr Pat O'Brien Character Portrait: Randal Fergason
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As the man awoke Randal was working on carving something that didn't resemble a spear. He was intent on his project as Fr Pat moved about going through the motions of his "morning" until he asked him to pray. A smile came to his face as he gave a soft laugh before he stopped what he was doing turning to the man.

"It's been a long time since anyone asked my that."

He nodded to him to begin and watched silently until he mentioned him. His smile faded slowly as he thought about his "loved ones" for the first time in awhile. He'd actually thought about them a few times before since this happened but merely in passing moments. He had no idea if anyone was still alive or if they all were dead. If he had to say he'd guess them for dead.

He wasn't really sad though and this fact he struggled with more then anything. The fact that he didn't really care what had become of them. He'd always considered himself a good man and had tried to help people since coming out of solitude into this.

Noticing that the man had stopped speaking he looked to him before sort of muttering, "Let them not be forgotten." Even though he meant it, it came out almost robotically. Feeling sort of uncomfortable now he stood up and moved about a bit.

"I am on the way to Richmond but I think we should stop at a few of the local homes around here. The two I seen looked pretty lavish and might still have things they couldn't take with them. One of them isn't far from here and we'd be able to get there before dark I'd venture to guess."

With that he fell silent again as he moved to sit where he was before and began whittling at his project again.