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October 25, 2012
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"Come over here! Look, look!"
Her twin brother was full of energy that day, spent leaping and climbing about the scrapyard they often played in. She was scarcely six years old, with scant more than a year on her sibling. Yet by the way they behaved, she was easily two years older than him. She was the tough one, she was the smart one, and she was the one who led. He was just the nice one.
They were taking in the sights with a level of naivety and innocence that they took for granted. This was because their parents had done the impossible and sheltered them from the harshness of the world, a world where most people had been forced into adulthood by the time they hit puberty. Credit was truly due to their parents, particularly their mother. They of course loved their mother dearly for all that she did for them.
This particular day, they weren't playing pretend as they sometimes did. No, today they were just looking around the scrapyard at the bottom of the Commons for things which looked interesting. Their parents told them to stay out of the scrapyard, but as is often the case with children this made them want to go there all the more. They didn't understand that the scrapyard was where the synths tossed trash for the people who lived in the commons to use without compacting it or anything. They didn't understand the dangers posed by haphazardly piled scrap.
And indeed it seemed that he had found something. Climbing the rolling hills of rust, she came over but was not sure what he was talking about. Curious, she asked him, "What is it?"
"Look!" said the boy, pointing towards to ground at the foot of a particularly large mound of scrap. She knelt down and looked, and saw a small, bright yellow object on the ground. She didn't recognize it, but she knew in that instant that it was one of the most beautiful things she had ever seen. It was made of countless tiny yellow slivers, far more than she could ever hope to count.
Not wanting to appear ignorant to her brother, she decided that it was the first thing that came to mind: a flower. She'd heard stories from her mother, and if a flower was supposed to be prettier than anything in the whole world, this was surely it.
She was right, though it was only a lucky guess. But despite the fact that she didn't know, she declared to her brother in the most coolly confident voice she could muster, "Well this is a flower.  Duh."
His eyes lit up as he pleaded, "Tell me more!"
Her brother looked at her in wonder as she began to spout everything she could recall from her mother's stories or make up from her imagination. It was one of the best times she ever had; the two of them simply sitting there in the dirt, far at the bottom of the commons, surrounded by jagged metal and ruined chunks of concrete and whatever else people had tossed there.
And as she picked up more and more energy and walked about, she stepped up onto the heap of trash nearby. But she felt a shifting of weight, and just like that a miniature landslide swept down and covered—destroyed—the flower which would never be seen again. As she landed, she became aware of a jagged spike of metal protruding from her side, slick with blood. Her blood. And in that instant, her brother cried in the most frantic voice he could muster, "Enna!"
That was the last time they had played in the junkyard.

The girl named Enna shot up into an upright position and immediately reached for her side, but felt nothing. Of course she wasn't injured. She had even had that dream before, enough to know that it wasn't real. But she had also lived through that moment, and for that reason it was always particularly terrifying and real to her. Additionally, it marked the point when her life began a downwards spiral which had continued through the present. So the rush of fear-induced adrenaline was perfectly justified both physically and emotionally.
Yet mentally, she could not come to terms with it. She forced herself to calm down, forced herself to take long, deep breaths. Fear had no place in her heart right now. She was strong; she had to be strong. Weak people died all the time and she damned well didn't intend to become part that uncountable statistic.
And as her heart stopped pounding, she turned her attention to the room and found that there was no one else there. She was quite alone, and some part of her found relief in that fact. She also seemed to be unharmed and in good health, and she was vaguely aware of how differently things could have gone. She was still a little tired, and might not recover fully for another day or so after the grueling trials that the past few days had brought her. She had always been something of a fighter, not giving in, but she had passed her limit earlier in the week, when…she brushed the thought aside, refusing to deal with it.
Instead, she turned to looking around the room, simply taking in its shape, its walls, and the basic furniture within. The walls were unpainted drywall. There were a few holes that had been patched with cement and mesh. The frame of the bed she sat on was sturdy looking, if somewhat plain, and a strange chunk of circuitry rested on the nearby bedside table; what it came from or what purpose it served was beyond her. A shelf unit stood at the far end of the room, next to a closet with a plated door. Altogether, while the furnishings were rather basic, they were also functional and well-kept. But more importantly, what was in the closet? It seemed a bit excessive as was, and she wondered what lay behind. Perhaps he was actually a mass murderer?
The answer was not what she expected, though she wasn't quite sure what she had expected in the first place. He had managed to build a shower inside, and had a "water heater" which was a setup derived from a pot and burner but clearly a great deal more sophisticated. Most people had some manner of bath and running cold water, but he had clearly gone to a great deal of trouble to set this up. His ingenuity shone it that moment, and she realized that the man who had saved her was a clicker. That might just be the stroke of luck she needed.
That aside, hopefully he wouldn't mind if she used it. She badly needed to bathe, after all the running she had been doing.
There was an instructional notice attached, and it said that the first step was to open the gas valve while pressing the igniter button. The second step was simply to wait. The water took a little more than ten minutes to heat, at which point a small green LED lit up so as to let her know that it was ready. So she washed herself, taking care to be as quick and efficient as possible.
And somehow, as she once again dressed herself, she noticed entirely out of the blue that she didn't have her pack anymore. Given that she had still had it the night before, she could only think of one place where it could be. THAT man had it; the one who lived in the room just down the hall. She wasn't sure she had the means to get it back.
No, she definitely had something. She slid her hand into the shoulder of her patchwork jacket, reaching into a hidden pocket which was imperceptible without the most exhaustive of searching. Out of it she drew a four-inch long spike of rebar which had been sharpened and thinned down. She knew how to use it, though deep down she wished she didn't. Slowly, silently, she slipped through the door with her shiv at the ready, and she crept down the hall and glanced into the room she had barely escaped from the night before.
It was empty. She didn't know where the man was, but thankfully he wasn't here. At the same time, she could tell from across the room that her pack was. She could only hope that He hadn't ravaged it before he went. Though in truth, she cared very little for most of the contents, valuable though they were. The only thing she cared about was the small Bronze box which had been given to her by her mother. With her mother dead now, that box was all Enna had to remember her by.
And as she rifled through the sack, her heart sunk. It was gone; and with it, any hope of finally getting into it and finding out what lay inside disappeared. And so she began plotting as to how she could get it back.
Second installment of "The Humanist." I'm still editing it, but it's mostly done now. Main thing is, I can't help but feel that there's something missing and I don't really know what.

6. All lists start with 6, for some reason.
7. I should probably come up with a better title for this series.
8. I might in fact come up with a better title for this installment, at that. It's nice, but I was originally going to go for using all "-ing" verbs as titles and I'm not sure I'm ready to give up on that quite yet. Possible title suggestions? Let me know.
9. In case it wasn't obvious enough, this is the second chapter, and there was a prologue. Not reading those before you read this is a bad idea.

Prologue: [link]

Chapter 1: [link]

Chapter 3: [link]
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