Forge Netting 18: Further Down The Road

‘Who’s that fucking mess over there?’

‘No one knows his name.’

‘No one knows his name? Bullshit. Has anyone asked him?’

‘No, why would anyone ask him?’

‘To find out. It’s the way that one gains information … by asking questions.’

He was in a bad way: his teeth were rotten, his nails broken, his hair was long and bedraggled. He was little more than skin bone, and it was like he had barely hung onto his humanity and was still engaged in the fight. He didn’t look like he was going to win.

‘I’m going to go and ask him.’

‘Why fuck with a rabid dog? Seems like an unwise idea, Hester.’

‘Maybe, but sometimes unwise ideas are the best, Feldman.’

‘But look at him – he doesn’t look like he is able to remember much.’

‘Sure, I see that, but I am curious, and that curiosity needs to be satisfied.

She walked over to the man and she placed her hand on his shoulder.

‘Hello, friend, how are you? I wasjust wondering what your name was.’

He looked up at her, dark circles under his bloodshot eyes.

‘Can I tell you? Not sure. Am I safe? Am I finally safe? Did they leave me alone after all? Did they stop their looking? Been hiding for so long. Can I tell the girl? Sure, why not? What can she do with it? Been so long now, what can she do with it? Ruebeau – that’s my name; Ruebeau.’

She stumbled backwards – she had stumbled on a rabid dog. Everyone knew that name – and everyone had been talking about him for a long time – how he had disappeared and forsaken the world he cursed. A liar and a cheat with no memory who then remembered and then ran away. How long had they been looking for him and how long he had been hidden out here? Ten years? Had to be.

When he saw the reaction he knew he was in trouble – should have kept his mouth shut; time to run again; time to get well away from here and hidden. He ws out the door before she had gathered her wits enough to process what she had just found out, and by then it was too late.


Forge Netting 17: No More Wail

He was wondering why he had made that decision to help that man since the moment he made it. Jonas was not a lucky man and he still blamed his mother for the unlucky name. Was he capable of making a sane decision? He had to wonder some days.

The man he had rescued was not someone who wanted to resurrect the old world; he was not someone who revelled in the new world – the man he had saved wished to be nothing anywhere … a blankness. He was the source point so they said (Jonas always had his ear to the ground, even in the old days), and he really came across like an avatar for that state. When one looked at Ruebeau one could quite easily ask the question, would this man have been as he was even without the drug? Could this man have caused the disease having never been injected? The questions seemed legitimate; the answers, even if not conclusive, would be interesting.

Jonas knew that the Engineer was after him now, and he knew that questions had been asked by the other groups too: a troika of control freaks. The Engineer was an idealist; Spitz was a realist; and the others were good old Capitalist dinosaurs who, like cockroaches, would survive any apocalypse to carry on building their mountain of shit.

Avatars of the new world versus avatars of the old world and none of them more qualified than the other. They were clowns who had no real notion of what had happened; less of an idea why it happened; and not the faintest clue of what it meant. Did Jonas really see things that they – they who were in power and had advantageous positions of elevation above the playing field – did not see?

He might slip the net if they found what they were looking for – if they found Ruebeau. Something told Jonas that Ruebeau wasn’t that great at thinking on his feet; if he had managed to stay hidden for this long it was by pure luck and not much else. Jonas figured he could backtrack and find the man and bring him in for the only reward that was of any value to him: to be off the hook with all these ruthless bastards who were as hot on his heels as the real target.