30 NOV 2016
(( OOC Note: BGM [Nine Inch Nails – The Day the World Went Away (Still)] ))
She came back. Suz came back! She really, really came back.
Suzanne Sherman is… 32 now, I think. A few months older than me. She’s a police officer from Scotland, like legit from Glasgow and all that. Top of her classes. A really fuckin’ good cop. All-star cop. I guess they were doing some kind of ‘exchange’ program or whatever and she’d been transferred to San Diego when shit went down. I, uh. Well, I haven’t actually said this to anyone on the island or ever written it down, but I did some really bad shit when the infections first hit. Like, really bad shit. I guess you could say I’d fantasized for decades about the end of the world as we knew it, and when it finally happened I went whole hog on the crazy…
So to make a long story short, I basically got myself to APB tier within the first month. Society was fucking crumbling, and fast. But the police were still around. Early on the Infected were pretty easy for them to keep down but with California’s strict-ass firearms laws… Well, you can imagine the virus spread real fast among an unarmed populace. It only took about a week before things got to be way too much for them to handle. But a few good souls, they stuck through. Suzanne Sherman was one of them. And she hunted me down hard. Let’s just say I’m not really an expert criminal. She had me dead to rights when some crazy shit went down with Infected barging through the front window of the store where she’d cornered me. We shot our way out and ran like hell; called all kinds of attention to ourselves; used up pretty much all the ammunition the two of us were carrying combined; ended up on the outskirts of the town. I talked her into leaving with me, convinced her there was no point in staying.
Thank god I did. She’s an amazing fighter, and in way better shape than me. Like, hey, not for nothing, I’m a competent fighter… But that’s where it stops. I don’t have her training or her experience in actual combat, though being as she’s European and I’m a lifelong gun nut I’ve got her on that. We made it to Arklay on a boat, but decided after a month or two that being stuck there forever wasn’t such a good plan. So we set out, just the two of us, and did a hell of a lot of wandering: a year’s worth of just fuckin’ wandering. Good times, bad times, times of plenty, times of starvation. We made it as far east as the Mississippi River around Kansas City, Missouri, and decided to turn back.
We returned to Arklay… Hell, almost exactly a year ago at this point actually. That was when I made Head Chef at Sam ‘n Ella’s, and had this kind of turn-smile-shift-repeat life that was… I mean, it was all right. We rented out an apartment at the Eights, things were going so effin’ well. I guess it’s important to note we were never really, like, a couple or anything. Not in the intimate sense. We were total besties: we’d shared meals, beds, stuck it out for each other through thick and thin but I guess we never really connected in that way… Not for lack of trying on my part, admittedly. I’m as wanton as any other man but respect’s respect. Not to say I didn’t get lucky every now and again, but yeah. Our relationship was just never about that.
For over a year, Suz was the most consistent part of my life. The only consistent part of my life, in fact. Words cannot properly express how much that means in a world where everything is just a heartbeat away from being gone forever. So… You can imagine how heartbreaking it was to wake up one day and find that she’d vanished. No note, no keepsakes, nothin’ – she just up and vanished. I lingered around town for a while but eventually made up my mind and returned to the wasteland to find her. I didn’t have any clues to go off or anything, mostly spent the better part of six months going from place to place we’d visited before and asking if people had seen her.
Before that, I had Suz to travel with. I’d never really traveled on my own before. It wasn’t impossible, I made it work… But shit, it was pretty humbling to stagger into an occupied house with your gun holstered and your hands up and literally beg for food. Or to be on the hard losing end of a fight ’cause you don’t have a supersoldier ex-cop to back you up. Or just to have someone – anyone – to talk to. Or sit around a fire with. Or be wet and cold and miserable and shivering with. Guess it made me realize a lot of things about my past that I’d just kind of been blocking out. Bad things I’ve done to good people, for reasons I thought were meaningful but which were just … Well, whatever.
So I guess the party line is Suz is back in town now. I haven’t bothered asking her what happened or where she went, I guess my head’s still spinning from having her around again. She seems pretty happy and healthy – other than some bruised ribs from a tussle with a few guys at a gas station – so I’m not gonna ask too many questions. When I first came back to Arklay I didn’t intend to stay more than a couple of days while I got my arm treated and had some fair recovery. Between this and the very special gal heading the Arklay Express, not to mention the Diner being in good shape, there are now all sorts of reasons for me to stick around. So I’m thinking, yeah. I’m finally back.