“He’ll be here soon.”
“Who is he exactly?”
“How long have you lived here?”
“I know… but I wasn’t working for her yet. I just know he’d show up sometimes.”
“…They call him ”/characters/hatchet" class=“wiki-content-link”>Hatchet… though I think I heard her call him ‘uncle’ one time."
“I thought she didn’t have family?”
“I don’t think he’s really family…”
“What do they do together?”
“I don’t really know. They go out into the wastes overnight.”
“… but what do they do together?”
“It’s her uncle!”
“You said they’re not related!”
“They don’t do that!”
“How do you know! They could be doing anything alone out in the wastes! And think about the books she -”
“Shhh! She’ll hear you!”
Starsky and Hutch glanced over from their not so subtle huddle to try to determine if their boss, Hallux, had overheard their conversation. They were relieved to find that she was characteristically ignoring their presence.
What was uncharacteristic, however, was the fact that the raven-haired woman’s hands were empty, absolutely devoid of one of her special novels. Her dark eyes were staring off into space, her face blank, not even a stray scowl to be seen.
To many this might have been a sign of the apocalypse. On a typical day that person might have been right. But there were two very important reasons this was not the case. Firstly, the apocalypse had already happened and it was unlikely it would happen again so soon. And secondly, it was a special day. As her two medical assistants had been so quietly discussing, it was time for Hatchet’s visit. Hallux always acted strangely leading up to these visits, though no one quite knew why. This was probably because no one had ever bothered to ask her why, but also possibly because she wouldn’t have told them anyway. She had learned very early in her life that pretty much everyone had a tragic backstory, and telling people about it didn’t change anything.
Suddenly the woman’s expression changed, and her head whipped towards the door as if she heard a sound the other two hadn’t. Starsky and Hutch froze, then jumped when Hallux suddenly stood and exited the room without a word.
They two assistants stared at the now empty doorway for a moment before Hutch turned to Starsky, a big grin on her face. "Well, I guess that means I’m in charge!”
“Now wait just a second!”
To everyone working and living at the waystation, noise – even in the early morning – was to be expected. Machines were running constantly, and there were always people awake.
However, some noises in the early morning tended to draw the attention of the security guards. The sound of a lone motorcycle was approaching when there was no report of any returning crew or incoming messenger typically had guns cocked long before the motorcycle came into view.
However, once the leader of the watch – a long time occupant of the Waystation – recognized the man as Hatchet and an order to relax went out. The group went back to their morning preparations, though more than a few curious looks followed the man’s entrance into the Waystation.
The driver of the motorcycle was a man outfitted from head to toe in well crafted if worn leather. His long black hair and sun-dried copper skin seems to simultaneously glisten in and absorb the sunlight. Though there was nothing about him physically that seemed to make him more threatening than anyone else these days, he somehow still had a quality that made the hair on one’s arms stand up, that made it obvious he should not be messed with.
He slowly came to a halt outside of the building that held the infirmary just as Hallux herself came out of the door. His dark brown eyes met her own and the smallest of smiles appeared on both of their faces.
The man dropped his kickstand and got off of his still running motorcycle.
Hallux approached him. "Kpaihàkwinakwsi, Rotag. How are you?.”
“Kpaihàkwinakwsi, Nadie. I’m fine. You?”
“Fine.” There was a long pause as the two simply looked at each other. For the members of the Waystation that had never observed this interaction before – and for some that had – Hallux was almost unrecognizable. Sure her features were the same, but her face was softer, happier, more expressive. She was like a different woman.
After the long moment the man chuckled and patted the rear seat. " Shall we?"
Hallux got on without another word.
They drove for a few hours. Hallux understood the direction they went didn’t really matter. They just needed to find a place that they could be completely alone. That and a place that ‘felt’ right to Hatchet.
Hallux herself didn’t really understand what ‘feeling’ like the right place meant. It probably was similar to how Chepi had been able to ‘feel’ if something felt safe.
In anycase, after hours on the bike in the increasingly intense sun, Hatchet slowly came to a stop. He paused, looking around – though his eyes were not focused on anything – then he flipped his bike off.
The two unpacked the bike silently, but it was not a silence filled with awkwardness. It was the silence of two people who had too much to tell each other and just couldn’t figure out where to start.
Luckily – or perhaps unluckily – the two were here for a purpose.
Very few cultures had survived the end, but the tribe Hallux and Hatchet belonged to happened to have the advantage of being part of one of the oldest cultures in the world [b]before[/b] the fall. In fact, if anything, the fall seemed to have actually strengthened their tribe, as it gave it gave them meaning in a crazy world. It also allowed the tribe an opportunity to really return to its the roots.
Many of these roots had included special ceremonies. Ceremonies which had only become more special with the development of abilities which the ‘elders’ of their tribe had been convinced connected them almost directly with the Maker.
Whether or not any of this “Maker” stuff was real, the ceremonies had been part of Hallux’s childhood. With the end of their tribe, many ceremonies had been lost. The few that had remained were held within Hatchet’s memory, but there was only one that seemed relevant these days. It was why they got together once a year, and the one that helped Hallux feel like she wasn’t completely disconnected from her family.
The two set up the fire, marked the directions and settled in to wait for dark. They finally got around to speaking about what the other had missed during the past year. Hallux learned that Hatchet’s daughter had just turned five. Hallux told him of the recent events that had occured around and in the Waystation.
“Actually…” Hallux was careful of her words. “I would like to include another in the ceremony, if you don’t mind. Her name is… was Diana.” Hallux’ voice was soft, and she looked over at Hatchet.
The older man regarded her with his black eyes, understanding and recognizing the pain that Hallux didn’t want to openly admit, then nodded. Hallux smiled in thanks.
Too soon for their liking the sun set and it was time to light the fire and begin.
As the fire crackled and the smoke lazily spiraled towards the moon, Hatchet began the chant. Hallux soon joined in, and their voices harmonized and vibrated in the darkness. Their words were filled with memories of those they had lost: of the good times, of the bad times, and of a promise.
I will see you all again.