The Woman and the Ghost

Zombie or Post Apocalyptic themed fiction/stories.

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Ponyboy314
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Re: The Woman and the Ghost

Post by Ponyboy314 » Fri Jan 22, 2010 1:49 pm

Krista, who had leaning back on the couch now slowly leaned forward after Doctor Ness decided to dredge up the person who had given her some of her best and most tragic memories. She figured that this would come up, but she certainly didn’t want to talk about it. Some shrinks had the ability to bring the strongest emotions out of people, and the subject of Arlen Bradford was sure to do that if she went down that road.

“What do you want to know about him? Have you read his service record too?”

“Of course I have. But I never had the pleasure of his company, and as I said before, you can only tell so much from a file that other people wrote. But it doesn’t take a genius to compare your records and see that your problems with following orders began not long after his transfer from Recon to ALERT, and then got a great deal worse after he died.”

Krista looked around the room, trying to avoid eye contact. She didn’t want to talk about this, not at all, and that was all Doctor Ness needed to see to know that this was something that could be beneficial if properly explored.

“Doctor, I’m pretty sure you already know the basics of the story. Hell, everyone in the colony knows about that. Everyone knows what went down and I still catch hell for it. Do we really have to discuss this? What can I tell you that the rumor mill hasn’t already?”

“Krista, you might be the only person who can give me the whole story, and the accurate one. Rumors tend to contain an element of truth even as they get more unbelievable as the story goes around. I wouldn’t mind hearing it from the source. And yes, I know perfectly well what people say around town about it, but I want you to tell me your side of it. I don’t think you really get to do that very often. And if this helps, I’m here to listen. I’m not here to judge you. Just tell me about what he meant to you and how he still affects you.”

Krista was still not willing to jump right in and lay her heart bare to this man, however astute his conclusions had already proven to be. She started slowly, hoping that the story would peter out after a while and she could avoid a meltdown right here in Ness’s office. Of course, once the telling began, it wasn’t easy to stop, and she quickly forgot why she didn’t want to speak about it in the first place.

“When I met Brad…Arlen Bradford, it was when the whole thing was pretty much done. I mean, the street battles between us and them, the mass evacuations, the sky full of airliners, helicopters and all that, no more fires or anything. When we met, the world was done. The government didn’t exist anymore, the TVs and radios weren’t broadcasting, the power was out, the military was gone, it was just a world full of them and people like me stuck right in the middle of it trying to survive. I had been on my own for a couple of weeks, and I looked like hell, stunk to high heaven, and my days were spent looking for a mouthful of something and my nights were hiding in one place or another, trying to sleep while at the same time afraid that those things would find me. That was back in Albuquerque, you understand? The biggest city for hundreds of miles in any direction, half a million people had become almost half a million corpses, half of those still up and moving. I figured that I was the last one. I hadn’t seen anyone in a while, and I had more or less given up on it anyway. I had walked north out of the city, hoping to try to hit the smaller towns where there wouldn’t be that many. Just me and my bat, that was all. I was in Bernalillo, you know the place?”

Doctor Ness just nodded.

“Well, I was breaking into this Starbucks, thinking that I might need to really stay wired up if I wanted to keep outrunning those things, and that’s when I heard the engine. I hadn’t heard a car engine in at least a couple of weeks. But there it was, a Sandoval Country Sheriff’s SUV coming up the road. The driver saw me and pulled in. I thought about running, but I just readied my bat. I didn’t know if he was a rapist or something. But he got out and he was a sheriff’s deputy. He was clean-shaven, his uniform was neat, and he had a gun belt on and a shotgun. I couldn’t believe it. I still can barely believe that he showed up like that. He looked like someone who should have existed a month earlier, but there he was.”

“I presume that this was Arlen Bradford?” Doctor Ness asked, knowing the answer already, but letting Krista feel as though she was actually in control at the moment.

“Yes, that was him. He aimed his shotgun right at me and I thought I was dead, but he quickly pulled it back and told me his name. I told him mine and he said that he had gotten word on a CB that a bunch of survivors were making a go of it south of Albuquerque, and he was heading there. He politely asked me if I wanted to come with him. That was all. I didn’t really believe him, that there was a large group of survivors still out there, but what did I have to lose anymore?”

Doctor Ness kept jotting down notes, nodding as Krista spoke. He believed he was really getting somewhere.


”Brad was…I don’t know how to describe it exactly, a gentleman maybe? He didn’t put the moves on me or anything, didn’t ask if I had a boyfriend when all this began, he just spoke politely as we drove. Asked what I did for a living before it all went to hell, where I went to school, things like that. Didn’t do anything that made my skin crawl on anything like that. He drove all the way around Albuquerque. He knew like I did that no one in their right mind would go in there. He had this duffle bag in the back seat, full of his clothes, toothpaste and things like that. He also had some guns, which he said he had taken from either the armory at his station or the evidence room. He had no trouble giving me one, either. This PPK I have on my belt?” Krista patted her off-duty weapon.

Doctor Ness asked, “He gave you that one? Gave it to you on the trip south?”

“Yes he did. We listened to this MP3 player he plugged into the radio. He just drove, listened to music, and engaged me in conversation. He was young, too. He was only a couple of years older than I was. He had gotten out of the Army and went to the law enforcement academy and by the time he found me, only had three years on the job. He seemed optimistic about what we wound find south of the city.”

“Was that when this colony was being founded?” Doctor Ness asked.

“Yeah. Were you here then?”

“No, I came up later, with that group from Las Cruces, about nine months after they started building the wall.”

“Then you wouldn’t remember what it was like, Doc. We’d been driving for about three and a half hours, because of that large detour we made. By the time we got here, I felt like I’d known him my whole life. Anyway, at that time, this place was just being built. The locals, what few didn’t get the hell out of dodge weeks earlier, took matters into their own hands and began using whatever was lying around to build some kind of perimeter, and as they put the plant in operation, they started building real walls, and we started expanding them all the time, just like we do now. After the few remaining locals started the council to make the laws and all that, we took over this campus and started the Constabulary to keep order and start patrolling outside the walls looking for supplies and other survivors. Of course, that was before we were able to establish the farms we have here now. It was hairy back then, but we made a go of it. Brad and I…we worked at the metal plant making sections of the wall until a few guys from the Constabulary came up to him and suggested he join, since he was a deputy and all that. I joined with him. That’s how that started. But not long after joining the force, we…well…things got serious. We were already living together in this neat little house right by California Road, but we weren’t together really before. We just shacked up because we didn’t want to be alone, but later…we really became an item. After the council formed the Recon and later the ALERT teams, we volunteered for Recon. He was already a corporal and they gave him his own team and let me join it.”

“And this didn’t cause any problems? Dating a coworker?”

“Not at all. If anything, it helped us. We really looked after each other. When the team was put together, we were a really tight gang. He was a good commander, I can tell you that. Really backed us up and got us out of some real shit. Brad…he really knew his stuff. He got himself quite a reputation. You see, he had this way, this thing about him…Brad was able to make just about anyone like him right away without trying. He just had this personality that drew people in. He was really popular on the force, everyone loved him. He had a good sense of humor, he could see the good in anything, and when we managed to bring survivors in, he really knew how to keep them going until we could get them to…you, I guess. He was what my grandpa used to call a ‘shirt off your back’ kind of guy. Everyone was always happy to see him. When the population of this place kept growing those first couple of years, he was one of the best-loved people here. We were a real couple, they said. Everyone thought we were the cutest when we walked around town. Everyone loved Brad. We started talking about…you know…going to that next level.”

Doctor Ness was thoroughly intrigued now. “That being?”

“Well, making it official. Getting married and all that. But we talked the most about having a family. Once things got settled here, that what people really starting doing. When the council opened the schools and the daycare center, and they turned that otherwise unoccupied room at the clinic into the pediatric center…it really made us feel like we had control of our lives, you know? Those things, those stumbling gore-bags out there…they took it all from us. Our homes, our families, our country, our hometowns, our world…and our future. Now, we had everything we needed to really start over, and when we started to see happy couples pushing baby carriages around, we started seeing that we had a future here, and eventually, we’d be able to go outside again and start taking it all back. We hoped that we’d grow old and see another generation take charge and give us our world back. That was…it gave people hope to see children playing in the park and carrying school books. We had a lot of love for each other, Brad and me, so we thought a lot about sharing it, if you know what I mean.”

“I hate to state the obvious, Krista, but it seems like your plans didn’t pan out. May I ask why?”

Krista realized at that moment just how much she had said. She had revealed things that now caused painful memories and, in her mind, were better left unspoken. She was hesitant to go any further.

“Doctor Ness, this is…well, the story really goes downhill from here. I mean, it still hurts to think about it. I don’t know if this is the time and place to relive it.”

“Actually Krista, this is the perfect place to relive it. You’ve gone this far. Let’s go the rest of the way.”

He was good. She had to give him that. His reputation hadn’t been exaggerated in the slightest.

“Well, I don’t really know the best way to describe it…but we…we spent months, at least four or five months trying to, you know, have kids. But nothing happened. I was starting to get really nervous, like maybe the stress of what had happened to us all turned off the plumbing or something. I’ve heard that can happen. Can it?”

“It’s possible, but I’m guessing that it wasn’t the problem here,” Doctor Ness replied.

“No, it sure wasn’t. It got to the point where I’d wake up ever morning pissed as hell that I wasn’t barfing myself silly from morning sickness. We went to the clinic and, well, we didn’t have a fertility specialist, and you know we still don’t, but you didn’t need one for this. He did the whole jerking off in a cup thing and within a few days, we found out that he was shooting blanks. Zero sperm count or something. No kids, no chance. I…overreacted.”

“How did you do that?”

“I wanted kids so badly, Doctor, so badly, do you know what I mean? I so wanted to one day be an old woman in a nice little house without any high walls in sight, watching my grandkids play in a world that we took back. I wanted to see that future and produce some little ones to be part of it. But there I was, twenty-five years old, being told that the love of my life couldn’t give me any. I was…I guess devastated, if that’s the right word. I wasn’t thinking straight, it was like the thing I wanted the most in the world was now gone and I…well I blamed him. I don’t know why, but that’s what I did. I took it almost like a personal betrayal, if you can believe that. I took it all out on him. I wanted kids, he couldn’t do it, and I just lost it. Within a few days of getting the news, I exiled him to the couch. Then I would stay up all night, crying and thinking about what could have been, and when I would be out during the day, I would see happy parents walking their little kids around and I would just fume inside. I mean, they got to experience that, why not me? What I did to Brad…damn, I really wasn’t thinking. What I did…I haven’t forgiven myself yet.”

“Is this what caused your relationship with him to end?”

“Oh yeah, and then some. I couldn’t take it anymore. I told him that we were done and he should grab his shit and get out. He argued, he protested, but I wasn’t listening anymore. He didn’t cry, and after a couple of minutes, he didn’t even put up a fight. He packed and was out. He stayed with a friend of ours from the force for a while. I somehow felt that I’d won, if that makes any sense.”

“Not really. Could you please elaborate?”

“Well, he had taken my chances for having kids away from me, or at least that’s how my brain saw it. Now, I had taken myself away from him. I felt…I don’t know, vindicated? Those things out there took it all away and now I had taken from him all that he still had, believing that he somehow deserved it. I can’t believe I thought that. I really can’t.”

“And according to his service record, he didn’t wait long after your relationship ended to volunteer for ALERT training.”

“No Doc, he sure didn’t. You know those guys…real cowboys. Badass through and through, going out there and doing the shit that would give nightmares to anyone else. They take the fight right out there into their territory…I’ve seen their handiwork so many times…bodies piled up, each with a neat hole in the head, burning in the street…those guys are real ass kickers. It’s also dangerous shit. They really go at it out there. We’ve lost some ALERT people here and there, how could we not? But I heard he had signed up for ALERT and I started thinking about what it meant. This wasn’t recon like what we’d been on together. This wasn’t sneaky-pete, just observing and reporting and all that. This was balls-out war against the dead. I wondered what he was thinking…then I guessed that he had nothing left here. He signed up to go out there and find his own death, or at least that’s what I thought. He ran off to join those guys because there was nothing left for him to lose. He already lost me. The house started seeming really empty. I started to miss him. I would have nightmares about him, face down in the road with a ton of those things eating him…I would wake up screaming and look for him, feeling around the bed in the dark hoping to find him, but of course, I never did. It haunted me, you know? I realized what a terrible decision I’d made. He saved me, save my life and brought me here, and look what I did to him. I took it all away over the most petty of things. I hated myself. I wanted him back. I starting thinking: screw kids. He was all I wanted, and I threw him away. I tried to contact him inside their training compound, but he refused to see me. I left messages. He never responded. He didn’t want anything to do with me anymore, and I don’t blame him, after what I did. All I wanted to do was to find him and make him speak to me, tell him that I was wrong and I was a terrible person and beg him to come home…come back to me…but…I couldn’t get in to see him. After a month and a half, I got the word that he had gotten killed in a training accident. I still don’t even know what really happened to him. Maybe he could have survived it but he gave up because of me? I don’t know. But I tried to get in to see his body, and they didn’t let me. I wasn’t allowed to attend the memorial service. Everyone on the force has a will, it’s required. That’s how we tell others what happens with us and our stuff when we’re gone. He modified his not long after signing up for the Brown Coats. It said that in the event of his death, I would not be allowed to attend any services or anything, and no information or personal effects would be made available to me. Even if he was dead, he didn’t want me around.”

“What happened after his death? What happened to you in the weeks following?”

“Oh, you’re going to love this one, Doc.”
"If you have a milkshake, and I have a milkshake, and there's a straw, there it is, that's a straw...and my straw reaches...acrosssssssss the room, and begins to drink your milkshake. I DRINK YOUR MILKSHAKE! SLURRRP! I DRINK IT UP!

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Re: The Woman and the Ghost

Post by Yeti » Fri Jan 22, 2010 2:26 pm

Tell MOOOOAAAAARRRRR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Yeti

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Re: The Woman and the Ghost

Post by Ponyboy314 » Sat Jan 23, 2010 8:48 am

Krista continued revealing the impact that Arlen Bradford’s death had on her, which was the first time she had spoken aloud to anyone about the matter, as there were few who would have been sympathetic. But she found herself willing to open up to Doctor Ness more and more as the minutes went by.

“When the news hit, it seemed like everything fell apart for me. Everyone turned on me it seemed. It didn’t take long for word to spread all over the place…word about why I dumped him. That was something of an open secret before but now everyone was talking about it. Everyone knew that I was the reason why he ran off to join up with the Brown Coats, but now, everyone was saying that I was the reason he died. He was popular and everyone took it hard. There was practically no one he knew him who didn’t really like him, and now that he was gone, everyone was pointing the finger. We had friends, but now that he was dead, none of them wanted to speak to me or even see me anymore. I heard them whispering as I walked by. Whenever I went out to the bar or something, no one sat anywhere near my table I could always see people pointing and sneering. It was…well, how would that make you feel? On the force, it was worse. Everyone really loved him there, I can tell you that. Our recon team…everyone wanted to be part of that…but one they gave me my stripes and made me a team leader, not many wanted to serve with me. Mostly it was just pointing and whispering, but some actually got in my face and told me plainly that I killed Brad, as sure as I put a gun up his ass and squeezed. A couple even threatened me, though no one ever did anything. Still, I would find notes taped to my locker, calling me a bitch and a cunt, things like that. I dumped him for such a stupid reason, and sent him packing to the Brown Coats, he died in training, and everyone missed him, and they blamed me. It’s that simple. The thing is, no one missed him more than me. I never had the chance to make it right. There’s nothing I wouldn’t have done to have him back, to wake up next to him, to have him hold me on those nights when I wake up crying…but…but I killed him. I don’t know how he really died and no one will tell me anything, but it doesn’t really matter. I killed him. People used to tell me that I was lucky to have him and I should have thanked God everyday for it, and I realized pretty quickly how right they were. It’s been…well, being alone is pretty damned hard. He was always there, but I wanted kids so badly…now I’m never having any and I still don’t have him. You know, I used to get hit on a lot back before all this? And when I threw him out, that started happening again. But I was still broken up over what I did and then when he died, no one would even look at me sideways. It doesn’t seem to matter how horny or desperate, or even how drunk a guy is…they all know what I did and they wouldn’t touch me with a zombie’s hands.”

“That must be hard, an attractive woman your age…” Doctor Ness had taken any emotion out of his voice for that statement, lest she get the wrong idea.

“Oh it sucks. But…they’re right. I deserve this. I killed him. I killed the best man I ever knew, the best man who ever came here. Everyone hates me for it, and I hate myself most of all.”

“When you took command of your team, where did you get your teammates? It doesn’t seem like they shared everyone’s willingness to shun you.”

“We didn’t talk about it much. When they gave me my own team, I met Dizzy, Dana Zachary that is, and she never brought it up. She just did her job and that was that. We were tight, you know? I guess she just didn’t hold it against me. Who knows? Maybe she didn’t like Brad for one reason or another, though I doubt it. David, he was a good guy, Boba…”

“Boba? Which one was he?” Doctor Ness leaned forward, obviously confused.

“Oh, Josh Fetterman. We called him that, you know, Boba Fetterman? You get the reference?”

“Yes, quite clearly now.” The Doc leaned back again.

“But Boba, and Doc Kepford…he was our team medic…they didn’t say much about it. They sometimes talked about him, but they never talked about us, you understand? It seemed like I was lucky enough to get four people, probably the last four in the goddamned colony, that didn’t hate me right off the bat for it all. They did what they were told, we got back every time we went out, we stuck together. Though you yourself said that maybe it was really just because I let them get away with shit and became a party to it myself. Once the bomb was dropped on us, that support, that loyalty…man, they threw it aside like a used fucking tampon. David won’t forgive me losing his badge, not ever. The others…they’ll probably come back to recon sooner or later, maybe in three weeks when this disciplinary period is over. Once Captain Heyward gets his pound of flesh, he’ll probably let them take up their old posts. Me? I don’t know. I’m not even sure if I want to go back anymore.”

“Why is that?”

Krista looked at the wall. She didn’t want to look into Doctor Ness’s eyes for this one. “Because I don’t think I belong there anymore. No place for me I guess. Who would serve with me now? Dizzy, Boba, and Doc wouldn’t, I’m sure, and Dave doesn’t even have that option. And anyway, I already know my freewheeling days are over. Suppose I get my stripes and my old job back? What if anyone they assign to me thinks I’m a pushover because of what we used to do? When we kept going into the red zones…what if I get some people who want to do the same thing? What if that’s the only reason they’d want to serve under me? It’s all just too confusing, too uncertain…I’d rather just avoid the whole thing.”

“Okay, Krista. If you feel that way, what would you do then? Would you stay with Detention?”

“I doubt it. That place is boring as hell. Pushing lunch carts around and cleaning bathrooms and shit…it doesn’t take a badge to do that. Maids do that sort of shit. Small wonder they give me details like that, huh? No one else wants to. Even though they rotated that sort of thing, they sure haven’t since I got there, that’s for sure. Me everyday. If I stay on there when my time is over, what then? Will I go on rotation with everyone else, or to I spend the rest of my career with a scrub brush and a mop in my hands? I don’t know. Maybe I’ll put in for patrol or administration. Not joining horse patrol, that’s for damned sure. I can’t ride one of those things. I suppose I can apply for ALERT, you know? Just to spite people?”

“So back to an earlier topic, Krista. Can we go ahead and just assume that Arlen Bradford’s death was the catalyst for your disciplinary problems?”

“I don’t know. Maybe. Maybe I stopped caring about the rules, because Brad always followed them and look where it got him? Dumped, thrown out of his own house, and into an early grave.”

Doctor Ness leaned forward again. “You didn’t follow the rules, and look where that got you?”

“I know, but I wasn’t thinking about that back then. Hell, I still wasn’t thinking about it a week ago. I’ve really been thinking about it for the last week. I thought that what I did to Brad was the real reason that I got yanked off Recon, that now, Captain Heyward now had a perfect chance to fuck me over. I thought that I was being singled out, but now, I’m not so sure. I don’t know what to think.”

“Supposed you did go back to Recon. Would you revert to old habits or start playing straight?”

“Well, you said so yourself. Look where it all got me? I’m cleaning cells and Dave is God-knows-where doing whatever these days. I would just do what I was supposed to do, if they’d let me. But I don’t think I’ll have the chance.”

“Krista, you still have three weeks to go until your case is reviewed. A lot can happen in that time. You don’t know what’s going to happen, but your actions will at least partially influence it.”

“So Doctor, what do I do?”

“Do what’s right. Not by the rules, but by your conscience. You may find that the two are not mutually exclusive. Don’t let friendship steer you off that course. You might find that friendship is easily cast aside if it was just for personal gain. If your new teammates, should you be assigned to another team, are really your friends and have your back, they won’t push you into operating outside the rules, and if they try to, they’ll understand when you tell them that there can, and will be consequences for such actions.”

“I suppose you’re right, Doctor. I suppose you’re right.”

“I might as well be once in a while.”
"If you have a milkshake, and I have a milkshake, and there's a straw, there it is, that's a straw...and my straw reaches...acrosssssssss the room, and begins to drink your milkshake. I DRINK YOUR MILKSHAKE! SLURRRP! I DRINK IT UP!

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Re: The Woman and the Ghost

Post by Kathy in FL » Sat Jan 23, 2010 12:56 pm

I like the story ... I really do. I haven't had time to tell you how much until now. Thanks for all your work. I wasn't sure I like the main character at first but you developed her quickly and now she has some characteristics that are sympathetic.

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Re: The Woman and the Ghost

Post by Trident » Sun Jan 24, 2010 6:12 pm

Me thinks Ghost is her beau......maybe? Maybe not?
Thanks for a great read.
Look forward to the next chapters.

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Re: The Woman and the Ghost

Post by Wrecking Ball » Sun Jan 24, 2010 10:14 pm

Trident!! OMFG....it soooooooooooooooooooooooooo could be!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Time for MOAR pl0x!
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Finch wrote:i don't keep sharp things near me when my wiener is out of my pants
-Finch, you are a funny man.

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Re: The Woman and the Ghost

Post by Ponyboy314 » Sun Jan 24, 2010 10:48 pm

It had been another week since Krista Showalter’s eye-opening session with Doctor Ness, and despite not wanting to have it at all and her initial belief that shrink visits were for other people but not her, she was especially glad she did. It didn’t do anything to relieve the guilt over Brad’s death or the ridicule she got for it still, but it did help her put her current situation in perspective. She knew that she really deserved this month of punitive service in the Detention Department, but then, she was able to understand that the whole team was punished because the whole team was a party to their debacle in Truth or Consequences. The punishment handed down to David Aquilar was certainly more severe, but the simply truth was that he was guilty of the act that caused him to lose his badge. As much as Krista had blamed herself for that, she was at least able to admit that David was as much a part of his own undoing as she was.

Still, she dwelled on one thing from her visit with Doctor Ness. He had suggested the possibility that her punishment had been fairly light because Captain Heyward might want her back soon, believing that she had the qualities to go far and do good things on the Constabulary as long as she could fly along the straight and narrow. Of course, there was no way to verify this, and it did make sense. Krista was also well aware that making sense and being true were not the same thing.

Her responsibilities had not changed, however. She still took care of the crap details and the others in the Detention Department, especially Sergeant Ryan Theopolis, the Sergeant of the Guard and the guy who really ran the place, always waited until he was in her line of sight before throwing her a contemptuous glance. She had not really gotten used to it in the sixteen months since Brad died, but she was at least able to live with it. Krista gave neither Theopolis nor Lieutenant Heyward any reason to chew her out, and had fully resigned herself to the next month, pushed on by the hope that there was still a light at the end of the thirty-day tunnel that led her back to Recon and possibly her corporal stripes.

It was the evening before a day off that Krista needed to unwind, as the stress of the last two weeks, possibly even the last sixteen months, was wearing her shoulders down. Krista headed out to one of the active bars in the colony, supplied by the local brewers and distilleries, a place called The Union Bar. It was another reference to the hope that one day, perhaps after everyone in the colony was long gone, that the United States would once again exist as something other than a hope and a memory. In the end, the residents of the Duke City Colony needed a reason to keep going, keep working, and keep waking up in the morning. First, it was simply to stay alive. Then, it was to build a life. For some, it had been building a family. After a few years in the colony and the prosperity that it had wrought for itself, the goal towards which everyone was laboring was the idea that their country would rise again. So many never realized how much they loved their country until it was eaten alive before their very eyes, and they wanted it back.

The Union Bar was open for business as it was every night, and Krista walked in with little concern for the fact that she would be drinking alone again, and the only words she was likely to utter would be her order to the bartender.

Krista sat down at a table in the corner and a waitress took her order, showing no sign of resentment towards her customer. Krista ordered a beer, a particularly strong local brew called “Zia” which was already being shipped on the overland trade routes to other colonies and was considered some of the best in existence. It was certainly her favorite, and tonight, she was having more than one.

Krista didn’t wait long before polishing off her first beer and ordering another one. And that one didn’t last long either. She could see it, though, the stares, the gossipers looking over their shoulders, and occasionally, her own last name reached her ears in an unfamiliar voice. Krista didn’t care. She was unwinding and no one was taking that away from her. Well, at least she thought so, and went right on thinking it until someone, clearly obliterated on whatever his own favorite drink was, decided to express a few muddled thoughts that he had so far not really had occasion to voice to Krista. She didn’t even know the man who suddenly manifested himself at her table, but he certainly knew who she was, and of course, the one thing they had in common was that they both missed Brad and blamed her for it.

He was portly and around forty, balding, and drunk as hell. He staggered up to Krista’s table, drunk enough for his walk to resemble that of what lurked outside of the walls. Krista noticed him as he approached, but didn’t say anything or make a move. She kept pounding her beer and steeled herself for what was about to happen.

The drunkard reached her table and slapped his hands down on it for balance. His words sounded as though they were forced to compete with a mouth full of slobber just to escape into the air, which of course they were.

“Hey, you that bitch aren’t you? The one who sent that poor guy Bradford off to his grave, huh?” he said, or slobbered, if one preferred.

“I’m sorry sir, but I don’t know you.” Krista kept her tone even and professional. She knew that whatever happened here, should word get out, and it would, was almost certainly going to come up later as her case was reviewed for possible reassignment to Recon, and she didn’t want to screw that up over this drunk fool.

“You don’t know me? You one of those forgetful bitches, huh? You and Bradford, you were the ones who got me and the wife out of Silver City! Remember that? Hell of a time getting out of there, huh? Your guy used to come see us all the time after that, and you never came with him. Made sure she and I were all right. Good guy, and you went and fucked him over. Happy you bitch? That was a fucked up thing to do.”

“Sir, I apologize, but I don’t think we need to discuss this now.” Krista was still speaking slowly and evenly. She wasn’t escalating things, but she was fairly certain that he would.

“Well we’re gonna! We went to his funeral! Poor guy…never even saw thirty…didn’t get within a couple of years of that…what you did to him…that’s no reason to die…did a real job on him. You should have stuffed your gun in your mouth when he went down. This isn’t any kind of world, I tell you, if he’s dead and you’re alive. You’re a real bitch, you know that?”

“Sir, please return to your own table or leave. You’re causing a disturbance.”

The drunk man quickly grabbed Krista’s table and flipped it over, narrowly missing her foot. He was now raging and ready for a fight. “You want to see a disturbance? Come on, get up! I don’t care if you are a skirt, you’re gonna choke on teeth! Now…”

She didn’t see or hear Ghost come up behind the man. She didn’t even know he was in the place. But Sergeant Ghost seemed to almost materialize out of thin air. In an instant, he was behind the man and grabbing the back of his head. The drunk man suddenly yelped as his head was slammed into the table. He was then released, falling backwards and landing flat on his back. A heavy black combat boot was thumped onto his chest. He looked up and saw the masked face of Ghost. He immediately stopped any attempt at a struggle.

“Sir, no liking someone is no excuse for not being civil. In light of your actions, I am forced to place you under arrest, on the charges of drunk and disorderly, and of threatening a police constable. Please turn over and put your hands behind your head.” The man quickly complied. Ghost slapped cuffs on him before grabbing the radio off his belt. “Patrol, this is Ghost. We have a disturbance at The Union Bar and we need a couple of blues to detain a drunk and rowdy individual. Please respond.”

A voice came back from one of the patrols, promising to be there ASAP.

“Specialist Showalter, may I presume that you are all right?” Ghost said.

“I’m fine. He didn’t lay a hand on me or anything.”

Within on minute, two officers came in and took the man away. Ghost said, before they led the man outside, “Constables, charge this man with one count of threatening a police constable and one of drunk and disorderly. Also, considering the broken bottles on the ground due to his actions, please feel free to tack on another charge, this one: deliberate destruction of personal property. I’ll be available to make a statement about what I have witnessed when your superiors request it. Also, as far as this man’s infractions, every patron or employee in this establishment will confirm what you will find in my report and each is willing to testify to it in court.

Ghost scanned the room, his skull-faced mask hiding his features but his eyes making a particular message especially clear: if called upon to do so, they will speak the truth about what happened. There was a right thing to do and a wrong thing to do, and around Ghost, doing the right thing was advisable.

After the officers led the man outside and hauled him away, Ghost turned back to Krista.

“Specialist, you should perhaps return to your home. I expect that you have had enough excitement for one evening.”

Krista was stunned at what she saw. Ghost had come from nowhere and slammed down hard on this man who threatened to knuckledust with her. She knew Ghost hated her, and for the same reason the drunk man did, so the motivation behind his actions was, at the moment anyone’s guess.

Ghost was never off duty, people said. Although his M4 Carbine and tactical vest were not on him, he was still in his khaki coveralls with his duty belt around his waist. He walked outside and began to walk home, his own plans for an evening of quiet solitude with his favorite beer were already shattered by this man and he wasn’t going to attempt to get them back on track. He heard footsteps coming closer behind him, but didn’t look back to see their source. He didn’t need to be told who it was.

“Specialist Showalter, I suggested that you go home. I cannot pull rank on you and demand it, but I do believe that home is where you should be.” As always, Ghost’s voice was robotic and gravelly.

“Ghost, I think I should thank you.”

“No, perhaps you should not. I know that had you wanted to, you could have put that man on his back for several days, but you restrained yourself. That is admirable. But should this type of occasion happen again, I expect you to remember that you are a police constable and cannot be seen taking no action when a drunk civilian in threatening you.”

“Thank you anyway, Ghost. I can’t believe that you intervened the way you did. I thought you hated me.”

“My regard towards you is not especially positive, Specialist, but that has no bearing on whether or not that man violated the law and needed to be restrained before the matter escalated beyond the point of resolving it without having to reach for my sidearm. He threatened an officer of the law, and that is not done in this colony without a punitive act on our part. I am no fan of yours, but I will not allow such an act to go unpunished. That is all. Good night, Specialist. I wish to go home now and I have already experienced enough of your company as I wish to for the night.”

Krista didn’t say another word. She watched Ghost walk off down the residential street and vanish around a corner.

Krista stood under a street light for a few minutes before deciding to go home herself. This evening had ended on a confusing note, and she wanted to go home and sleep off both the alcohol and confusion.

Indeed, Ghost played by the book, even to the point of hitting people with it.
"If you have a milkshake, and I have a milkshake, and there's a straw, there it is, that's a straw...and my straw reaches...acrosssssssss the room, and begins to drink your milkshake. I DRINK YOUR MILKSHAKE! SLURRRP! I DRINK IT UP!

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Re: The Woman and the Ghost

Post by Trident » Sun Jan 24, 2010 11:11 pm

Ah...quick relief for my hope to see another installment here on your fine story. Thank you kindly, and my your week be wonderously filled with much good and grace. Trident

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Re: The Woman and the Ghost

Post by wyecoyte » Mon Jan 25, 2010 12:36 am

OK I gotta ask the obvious is Ghost really Brad? The stories going good so far. Can't wait for the next portion.

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Re: The Woman and the Ghost

Post by Ponyboy314 » Mon Jan 25, 2010 5:40 am

I guess that I'm the only one who knows that Brad is dead and he actually had a well-attended funeral.
"If you have a milkshake, and I have a milkshake, and there's a straw, there it is, that's a straw...and my straw reaches...acrosssssssss the room, and begins to drink your milkshake. I DRINK YOUR MILKSHAKE! SLURRRP! I DRINK IT UP!

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Re: The Woman and the Ghost

Post by ozwyn » Mon Jan 25, 2010 8:03 am

Ghost is Brad as a sentient zombie.

Ghost goes home at night, duct tapes his body in place and stuff more looted deoderant into the holes of his armpits.

or I could be freaking nuts.

More please?
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Re: The Woman and the Ghost

Post by wyecoyte » Mon Jan 25, 2010 10:17 am

I was just hoping that it was Brad. I know he died in a training accident and had a big funeral. But, I was just hoping that maybe he snapped after what she did to him and that his why Ghost hides his face. Or maybe ghost hides his face because he is disfigured and in his prior life he was treated poorly for his disfugerment by people which is why he is so cold.

Inquiring minds want to know. I know you will get around to filling us in your own time. He has the potential for a kick ass character.

Oh ya and MOAR.

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Re: The Woman and the Ghost

Post by Yeti » Mon Jan 25, 2010 11:16 am

I give credence to the possiblity of Ghost being Bradford.

1. Face hidden
2. He came to being after Bradford's Death. (I think, because so far there is no mention of him pre-Bradford.)
3. Because ya want to mess with us like that. :lol:

Really though I just want MOAR.
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Re: The Woman and the Ghost

Post by Wrecking Ball » Mon Jan 25, 2010 11:50 am

Yea, I don't want to hear "Ghost = Brad", I just want to ponder about who Ghost is under the mask! :)
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Re: The Woman and the Ghost

Post by 6F0 Nick » Mon Jan 25, 2010 12:05 pm

So Ghost is at a bar, plans to enjoy his favorite beer......how does he drink it with the mask on? A straw? That is the only thing I don't get. Other than that, I am seriously enjoying this story. Good work! :mrgreen:
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Re: The Woman and the Ghost

Post by Wrecking Ball » Tue Jan 26, 2010 11:35 am

MOAR please? :(
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Re: The Woman and the Ghost

Post by Ponyboy314 » Tue Jan 26, 2010 2:45 pm

The next day, Krista had more or less put the incident at The Union Bar out of her mind until it was brought back to her by a summon to Lieutenant Heyward’s office.

“Specialist, come in and close the door.” Krista did as she was bidden. “I just received a call from administration. They said that you were involved in an altercation last night at The Union and a civilian was detained on charges of attempted assault on a police constable, as well and drunk and disorderly and willful destruction of property. Is this all true?”

“Yes ma’am, it is.”

“I was also informed that Sergeant Ghost from ALERT was present and detained the assailant, and you are due tomorrow morning at 0930 at the magistrate court to testify. Ghost will also be there, as will half the customers at the bar. Because of this, you will be off tomorrow morning. Please get yourself in here as soon as you’re done at court. That is all. Dismissed.”

Krista went about her day unsurprised that Lieutenant Heyward already knew, as the gossip machine in the colony was almost certainly in full swing and there probably wasn’t a soul in the place who wasn’t talking about it. Once again, some idiot couldn’t cork his mouth and wound up making a public spectacle of himself for getting wasted and saying what the whole of the colony thought. Krista might have been able to content herself by letting it go, and even when the drunkard flipped the table, she had still believed that it could be resolved without the need of handcuffs or physical violence. Of course, the fact that Ghost was on site helped push the issue into the public consciousness. It was a case of one of the most admired people in the colony looking after one of the most disliked, all in the name of the law.

It was another day of the lowliest sort of duties and Krista was by now fully certain that nothing was going to change while her disciplinary period was still going on. But two weeks of the same drudgery had gotten her at least somewhat used to it, and she was sure she could handle the next two weeks.

She had testified the next morning about what had happened, with Ghost also doing so, and a man in full tactical gear and a skull-faced mask testifying at the magistrate court was certainly a sight to behold. Then also was the fact that seven or eight eyewitnesses, including a waitress and a bartender, also had their time on the stand. With a small population, a lot less red tape, and a great deal less concern for politics, race, gender, and childhood traumas than courts had before the end, to say nothing of a much lighter workload for the courts, the man was convicted on all counts by two in the afternoon. He was sentenced to thirty days confinement on the attempted assault charge, an additional ten days on the drunk and disorderly, with the loss of his leisure and recreational privileges for sixty days after that for the property destruction charge (meaning, in essence, that he couldn’t walk into bars, participate in local sporting events, or anything of that sort). Krista was mopping the staff bathrooms when she got the news. Ryan Theopolis had been ordered to inform her, and he clearly hated this one-minute detail. Of course, he would have hoped that the man would have walked. It’s not like he had threatened anyone of significance.

The man who had drunkenly threatened her was now in cell ‘26’ on the upper floor, and he wasted no time in verbally harassing Krista whenever she passed his lunch tray through the small hatch, but she was anything but concerned. Anyone who had fought the dead as much as she had was hardly intimidated by this man, and in any event, she was the one on the outside of the cell. But it was a few days after that when Krista finally got a change in responsibility.

She had been called into Lieutenant Heyward’s office and told bluntly that the cells and bathrooms were as clean as they needed to be and she was now needed for something else. A prisoner was coming in this morning, a particularly rowdy one, and one of her constables was home with a nasty case of the flu, so she was being assigned to help process the new prisoner. Krista hid her elation well. Even though it was hardly exciting work, it was certainly exciting news, as she wouldn’t need yellow rubber gloves for this duty.

Krista didn’t find it hard to guess the nature of the crime. Everyone had heard that the previous morning, some drunk idiot was puking himself silly on a public street and had been asked by two of the patrol officers if they could escort him home. Instead of accepting their offer, he jumped them both and savagely beat one of the officers until the other was able to pry him off and attempt to restrain him. The drunk man then tried to attack the other, who instead drew his collapsible baton and was forced to pound the man within an inch of his life before the assailant stopped. He was arrested of course and the charge was easy to imagine. He had been convicted towards the end of the day and sentenced to three months confinement, with assignment to one of the forced-work details for six months after that. Obviously, it was the most serious crime that had taken place in the colony for a couple of years and he was sentenced accordingly.

Krista was ready to assist in processing the man. She and another constable were waiting near the entrance to the compound when the truck pulled up. Two patrol cops opened the back and half-dragged the struggling man out, and she could see that they certainly did a number on him. However, police brutality was not what it used to be, back before the dead rose and race, wealth, and gender mattered more than the law. In this world, beating on someone without cause could result in receiving a far worse one, as no one wanted their new world tainted by such unsavory types.

The man was led inside and one of the officers handed his case file to Krista. The man’s face looked like a shapeless mass of purple muscle tissue, and he never seemed to stop his struggling.

“Well, this piece of shit is all yours, and you’re welcome to him. No one cares if this dipshit takes a couple of face plants on his way to his new room. Real fuckwad, this one.”

Through a mangled mouth, the man spat on Krista’s face, causing her to draw her baton and go upside his head, hard enough to ring his bell. “Sir, if you don’t start learning to respect authority, your time here is going to be far more unpleasant than it needs to be.”

“Fuck you, pig.”

Krista hit him again, and this time, he shut up quickly. “Three months, huh? Damn. This guy really fucked up.” The man started laughing, at least as much as he could. His eyes, both terribly blackened, bored a hole right through Krista’s, eyes that she now realized that she had seen before. But where?

She looked in his file and it fell to the floor. She had to sit down for a second. She was unable to motivate herself to take care of the transfer of prisoner B-481.

One David Aquilar.
"If you have a milkshake, and I have a milkshake, and there's a straw, there it is, that's a straw...and my straw reaches...acrosssssssss the room, and begins to drink your milkshake. I DRINK YOUR MILKSHAKE! SLURRRP! I DRINK IT UP!

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Re: The Woman and the Ghost

Post by Yeti » Tue Jan 26, 2010 3:23 pm

Ponyboy314 wrote:One David Aquilar.
Rut Ro Shaggy

:shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock:
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Re: The Woman and the Ghost

Post by 6F0 Nick » Tue Jan 26, 2010 3:37 pm

HA! Nice! I hope he escapes and there is some sort of drama with him later....
Maybe a final showdown of sorts.
Good update Ponyboy!
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Re: The Woman and the Ghost

Post by ZMace » Tue Jan 26, 2010 3:59 pm

Nice!
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Re: The Woman and the Ghost

Post by Wrecking Ball » Tue Jan 26, 2010 4:28 pm

Grrrrr......MOAR cliffhanger-type deals = MOAR story needed.......MOAR MOAR MOAR MOAR MOAR!!!!!

EDIT: Pretty please with sugar on top :)
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Re: The Woman and the Ghost

Post by ozwyn » Tue Jan 26, 2010 4:35 pm

oh yeah, this is going to make for a fun therapy session for the heroine.
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Re: The Woman and the Ghost

Post by 6F0 Nick » Tue Jan 26, 2010 4:44 pm

Oh I get it....David is really a reincarnated Bradford....no?
:lol:
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Re: The Woman and the Ghost

Post by Ponyboy314 » Tue Jan 26, 2010 6:45 pm

Krista knew the procedures. Two officers escort prisoners at all times, no exceptions, no questions asked. There was one other constable there to pull the duty, and Aquilar was not being moved without her. She collected herself and began filling out the paperwork to begin her erstwhile teammate’s stay at the Detention Facility. The other constable, a young (younger than her, that is) blonde man with a spiky haircut and an innocent face, one who had not harassed her like so many others had, looked at the file as he forced Aquilar into a seat and told him to stop his squirming unless he wanted to spend the entirety of his sentence unconscious.

“David Ernesto Aquilar…two counts of assault on a police constable, one count drunk and disorderly…hey, I know this name. Showalter? Wasn’t this guy in Recon or something? I knew a guy who was tight with him I think. Heard he got busted off the force. Man, he sure took a hard fall.”

“He was on my team, Fuller. He was bounced out the same day they reassigned me here.”

“Oh yeah, that. Well, never mind that now. Let’s just get his forms filled out after we get him upstairs. Looks like we’re filling number twenty-nine with this guy.”

Krista and Constable Fuller led Aquilar, who had lost his stomach for struggling or lipping off, upstairs and threw him into one of the rooms, removing his cuffs after he finally got on his feet and complied with the command to put his hands through the hatch. Now Aquilar was screaming and shouting again, shouting his hatred for Krista and what she had done to him, blaming her for his long, hard fall from an exalted position on the Constabulary to this new position of being beaten, arrested, and now guarded by that same Constabulary.

Krista found herself spending the afternoon filling out this form or that, some involving Aquilar’s new confinement, others concerning other matters. It was desk work, and some who had served in the field, particularly with Special Teams, considered going back to the Damn Yankees and sitting behind a desk to be the lowest kind of insult. She, however, had suffered a much lower one, being turned into a glorified maid without any actual glory. Desk work was not only a step up from that, it was a leap.

In between one set of forms and another, she got herself some coffee, slamming back one cup and then pouring another. She hadn’t had any coffee on the job since putting the blue back on, since she was always too busy on her hands and knees scrubbing one thing or another, or pushing a lunch cart around. She went back to ‘her’ desk and continued the monotony of paperwork, a monotony that she hoped would continue for the next nine days, and would promptly end the day after that.

Coming up to the desk was Constable Ray Fuller, who had barely had occasion to even speak to her considering her previous assignments at the Detention Facility and now seized the chance.

“So Showalter, I can call you by your first name, right?”

“Sure, if I can call you by yours. But go ahead and shorten Kristiana to Krista.”

“Deal. Anyway, I wanted to ask you something. It might be uncomfortable, but…”

Krista was certain she was about to get hit on. She had forgotten what that felt like, to be wanted, and she immediately focused harder on the task at hand, hoping not to appear needy, and also to hopefully decided what her answer would be if he asked.

“Go ahead and ask, Ray. Being shy around me doesn’t pay off.”

“Okay, I…uh…I wanted to ask what you think of me. I mean…damn, I sound stupid right now, but…”

“Ray, you want to know what I think of you. That simple?”

“Yeah…uh…because…”

“Okay, here it is, Ray. You’re a good-looking guy and you’ve been nice to me, not like all these other assholes. If you’re asking me out, I’ll just go ahead and say yes, and no, I don’t care where we go or what we do. I’d just be happy for the company. It’s been a long time since I’ve been on a date. Is that what you wanted to ask?”

Ray Fuller went beet-red, looking away and mumbling even worse than before. “Oh…crap…I…sorry, sorry to give you that impression. Goddamn, I’m an idiot. I…I wanted to know what you thought about me putting in for Special Teams. I was thinking about joining Recon or Alert, and since you came from there, I was wondering what you thought of my chances. I’m really sorry if you thought…”

“Oh…”

“Krista, I’m really sorry. I’m sorry to make you think that…”

Krista was at red-faced as Ray. She almost buried her face in her paperwork, unable to look at the man she thought would attempt to pull her out of her romantic and social dry spell. “I don’t know, Ray. Apply for it. Go see Captain Heyward and ask him about the qualifications. Put your name in. See if the Lieutenant or Sergeant of the Guard will write you a letter of recommendation. I’m a little detached from it right now.”

“Thanks, I…” Ray Fuller got up and headed off to the bathroom, not coming out for a while. Krista took that second to take a break and headed outside and around the building, sitting on a stone bench and staring at a beautiful blue sky, the kind of sky that could make a person forget that Armageddon had happened a few years earlier and a few hundred yards away was hundreds of miles of a death-filled wasteland. She thought about Recon and how much she missed it, and that she would reapply the second she was allowed, if she was allowed at all. She turned her thoughts to David upstairs, enjoying (or not) his first few hours in his new home, and of Brad of course, who she missed terribly, but she also thought about how he wasn’t coming back and there was no need to feel so alone all the time.

It took the hope of a date request from a totally innocent Raymond Fuller before she realized that she was ready to move on, but needed someone else to hold her hand and guide her there.
"If you have a milkshake, and I have a milkshake, and there's a straw, there it is, that's a straw...and my straw reaches...acrosssssssss the room, and begins to drink your milkshake. I DRINK YOUR MILKSHAKE! SLURRRP! I DRINK IT UP!

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