Day 8

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I slept in today. It’s my day off and I needed the rest. My face is swollen from the beating those bastards gave me yesterday. Every wound stings painfully and I’m sure the bruises are probably a bright purple. I think some of the bruises might be filled with pus; it wouldn’t surprise me if they were infected, but I don’t want to risk draining the boils with an unsanitary needle and infecting them more. I’ll just try to keep it as clean as possible and hope for the best. I’m actually kind of glad I don’t have a mirror to see myself in. I’d probably scare myself and I don’t scare easy.

I decided that I couldn’t sit around feeling sorry for myself and being lazy all day so I fired up my computer and worked from home again. I really can’t afford to rest. I’m completely focused on getting promotions right now. It’s the only way I can help revive Riverview and avenge the deaths of my family.

My head started to pound after a few hours of typing up practice drills. I glanced over at my little boombox and gave an involuntary groan. My body was screaming at me to take a day to rest after the abuse it had suffered yesterday, but I shook my head. No. I have to push through the pain, I told myself. I limped over to the boombox and turned it on, forcing my muscles to flex and loosen in my usual routine. I pushed myself beyond what I probably should have, but I felt accomplished after my workout. I felt like there was no pain too great for me to conquer. That’s exactly the attitude I need to help rebuild this barren, dead town.

I ended my day by lying in bed and brushing up on my mechanical skill. I quickly realized what an idiot I am when I read Chapter Three: Do It Yourself and read that I’ll learn best by actually doing what the book tells me and tinkering with household objects. I would have smacked my forehead if it wasn’t swollen to twice its normal size.

At least I know now, but I still feel like a moron…

Day 9

My boss, Sherman Bagley is definitely not a criminal in disguise. I walked in to work today… well, more like limped. He took one look at me and was immediately tending to me.

“Jesus, Killara! What the hell happened to you?” he demanded from me, helping me to sit down.

“Vita Alto’s mob came for their Protection Tax… I fought. They won… assholes.” I muttered darkly. Sherman scowled and nodded at me.

“They came to my house last night, too. I wanted to pound the brain matter out of their heads, but my girlfriend, Ruby, was way too eager to hand them our hard-earned money. I was furious with her,” he grumbled, taking out some gauze and proceeding to wrap up the worst spots on my face.

“She was probably too scared to fight,” I said thickly through a layer of gauze.

“She wasn’t. She just didn’t care,” he told me, but then gave me an awkward look and chuckled “Sorry, I shouldn’t be telling my employees about my problems with my girlfriend. There’s just not many people around to vent to anymore, you know?” I nodded. I knew exactly what he meant. It was so lonely in my house. I’d spent my entire life with two talkative parents and an active little brother; in college, I’d had a whole floor full of rambunctious young adults. Now I was always alone. Being completely and hopelessly alone is a horrible feeling. “You know, fighting those guys on your own was pretty brave. In fact, I’ve come to notice that you’re a very brave recruit. Maybe the bravest on the base,” he told me. “How would you like to be promoted to Squad Leader?”

“I’d like that, Sir,” I smiled. He just waved a hand impatiently.

“You can call me Sherman from now on. Just don’t tell the other recruits or they’ll think I’m picking favourites,” he told me. I promised him I wouldn’t.

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I realized I had a lot of money stashed away from all my promotions, even with Vita’s Protection Tax draining my funds. I thought having a car would probably be useful for getting around town safely. Luckily, Sherman had an old car he didn’t want anymore and gave it to me. Otherwise, I’d have to steal a car and I’m no thug. It’s not the best car, but it will get me from Point A to Point B safely, which is all I really want it for. I parked it under my house, because of the ridiculous building laws City Hall’s put in place. I put a large stone fence around it and sealed it with a barbed wire gate so no one can steal it.

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Despite the crummy pain in my face, I felt good enough to tinker around with my toilet and work out, though I kind of overdid it. It’s like 5:00am now and I’m just going to bed. For once, I’m actually glad I have the day off tomorrow.

Day 10

I feel like a lazy slob. I slept until 2:30pm. I never sleep that late. I didn’t have time to do anything other than eat and work out. I felt so bad about sleeping so long that I decided to work out straight until my carpool arrived this next morning. I can hear the car honking from the road right now.

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I have to go. Later.

Day 11

Work was exhausting. Sherman was really understanding. He’s very nice. For a high-ranking military official, he sure can be gentle. It was like he was following me around all day because he was worried about me. It was weird, but kind of nice, too. It’s been a while since I felt like someone cared for my well-being.

At lunch, he pulled me aside and told me that I was only an inch away from my next promotion. I’m really glad I’m advancing so quickly, but sometimes I worry that I’m only getting promoted because Sherman knows I’m trying to rebuild Riverview and he’s “helping” me by giving me promotions I don’t really deserve. I guess all I can do is keep working my best and hope that it’s enough to actually earn these promotions I’m getting.

Anyway, after work, I went straight to bed. I was about to collapse in my front yard which is a very dangerous thing to do. I just made it to my bed before my body shut down on me. It was a really good sleep; well, as good as it can be on my rickety old bedframe with its thin, worn out mattress.

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Although keeping this diary is keeping me sane and convincing me that all my efforts are worth it, it frustrates me that I waste so much time writing in it that I could be using to work out or tinker, which is what I’m going to do now.

Day 12

It was my day off today. It was kind of nice to get some time to clean, even though staying at home drives me nuts. I like to work. It gives me a purpose and goals to strive for and achieve Without it, I just don’t know what to do with myself. It’s not a pleasant feeling.

I kind of missed Sherman today. I’ve gotten used to chatting with him at work and don’t tell anyone this, but I also kind of enjoy it when he fusses over me and worries about me. I know… it’s embarrassing that such an independant, strong woman would enjoy being taken care of, but it’s a nice change from what I’m used to.

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I decided to do something useful with myself and tinker with my toilet, but ended up breaking the damn thing. I actually wasn’t all that angry. It gave me a chance to practice my handiness skill even more.

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I worked out as usual before bed, but for some reason, I just couldn’t sleep tonight, even though I should have been tired after pushing myself. I ended up rummaging through my bookshelf and finding this dusty old trashy novel called A Magnetic Attraction. I sighed to myself; I can’t stand all that mushy romance garbage. That stuff doesn’t really exist, so why should I read about it and get my hopes up that it does only to be disappointed and unhappy in life? Heh… did I mention my major was Women’s Studies in college? Maybe it’s a little obvious.

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I read a few chapters before bed and it was okay, I guess. I’ll admit, my heart felt a little warm reading about the mushier stuff. Sometimes I wonder if that kind of love really exists, but I don’t think so. My parents always got along and were always there for each other and listened to each other, but it always seemed to me like they were living with their best friend, rather than their spouse. Maybe that’s what love is; someone you think of as a best friend and can live with until you die, but all these movies and books make it seem like it’s more than just that.

Geeze, what the hell am I doing sitting here pondering about love of all the things I could be worrying about right now? I think it’s time to throw A Magnetic Attraction in the trash.

Maybe now I’ll get some sleep.

Day 13

Sherman promoted me again. I’m a Flight Officer now. I’ve decided to stop worrying about gaining promotions I didn’t earn and just work my heart out every day.

He also told me he got married to Ruby. Well, more like unofficially called her his wife since City Hall’s too corrupted and demolished to carry out proper, official weddings. His name is Sherman Broke-Bagley now. I was kind of surprised, because he doesn’t seem happy with her. He explained it all to me in his office when he promoted me. I still remember the conversation.

“Oh, by the way Killara, I married Ruby last night,” he told me. I blinked in surprise.

“Oh, really? Well… congratulations,” I told him. He sighed and leaned back in his chair.

“I know Ruby and I have been having problems lately, but I can’t just leave her. She’s not physically strong; someone would hurt her. Even though we might not be perfect for each other, I’m all she has and she’s all I have. Does that even make any sense?” he sighed. I nodded.

“I think so, Sir,” I said. Sometimes I still find it hard to quit the habit of calling him “Sir”. He chuckled and stood up to clap me on the shoulder.

“You’re easy to talk to, Killara. Thanks,” he smiled before he walked out of the room, leaving me with a very strange, achy feeling in my chest. It was kind of warm, but kind of painful, too. I can’t quite explain it or why I felt it.

I came home and tinkered with my sink. At first, I was afraid I was going to break it like I broke my toilet, but I think I actually made it unbreakable. No matter how many times I whack it with a wrench, it doesn’t even dent. I think I’m getting handier.

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Suddenly, my phone rang and I jumped. My phone never rings. I actually forget I own a phone most of the time. I answered it and it was Sherman.

“Killara, hey,” his friendly voice reached my ear. “I just thought I’d call to see how you’re doing and how your face is healing up,” he said. I smiled softly to myself. He was really that worried about me?

“Oh, I think it’s healing fine. It hardly hurts anymore and I’m pretty sure the swelling’s gone down. I don’t have a mirror, though so it’s hard to tell. I usually just inspect the injuries in the reflection off the spooons in the Mess Hall,” I chuckled.

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Sherman and I ended up talking for a long time. I was smiling when I got off the phone. He told me to call him tomorrow. It’s my day off and I think it’s his day off, too, so I hope we’ll get to talk for a long time. He’s enjoyable company.

Day 14

I didn’t call Sherman right away today. I didn’t want to seem too eager. Now that I think back, I realize that’s stupid. I sound like my old friends in high school who waited all day to call their date from the night before because they didn’t want to seem desperate. Why was I worried about that?

I spent most of the day tinkering and working out like I always do. At around 7:00pm, I picked up the phone and dialed Sherman’s number. I was nervous for some reason and felt ridiculous for feeling so breathless and shaky. Maybe I’m getting sick from all the grime my body’s accumulated. His wife answered the phone.

“Hi, is Sherman home?” I asked.

“Uh, yes he is. May I ask who’s calling?” Ruby demanded a little suspiciously.

“Killara Burnum,” I answered. There was a long pause on the other line.

“Oh…” was all she said, then I heard her shout for Sherman. “Sherman! There’s a woman named Killara on the phone for you!” She didn’t sound pleased.

“Hey Killara! I’m sorry about Ruby. She’s in a bad mood today,” he told me, but I still think her bad mood had something to do with a strange woman calling her husband at night. I guess that would probably make my hair stand on end, too.

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Sherman and I talked well into the night. I said goodnight to him and was about to hang up when he interrupted me.

“Killara… you’re a really good friend. I feel like I can really talk to you. I wish there was a way we could get together outside of work… you know… like normal friends,” he laughed. I laughed, too.

“Well, I have a car. I can pick you up and take you to my place or we can stay at your place and do something. To be honest, I don’t want to risk getting jumped while we’re in town. I’d like to at least let the injuries from my last fight heal before getting into another one,” I joked. Sherman laughed, too.

“Sounds like a good plan. Ruby doesn’t really like visitors, but is it okay if we get together at your place after work tomorrow?” he asked. I had a feeling Ruby just didn’t like female visitors from the way she spoke to me on the phone.

I told him I’d pick him up at his house after I got home, so he could change at his house first, then said goodnight and hung up.

My good mood was quickly dried up by a knocking on my door. I knew who it was already; the mob for this week’s Protection Tax. I had debated about trying to fight again, but I remembered the threat the man who held the knife to my throat uttered to me and decided against it. It wasn’t worth that. Nothing was. I grabbed the money I had set away for the mob and slipped it under the smallest of cracks beneath the door. “Here’s your damn money. Now get the hell off my property or I will fight again!” I threatened.

“That won’t be necessary, Miss Burnum. We have what we came for. We’ll see you again next week. Good evening,” the man with the oily voice chuckled. I heard three sets of footsteps shuffle down the stairs and away from my shelter. Breathing a sigh of mingled relief and outraged fury, I flopped onto my bed and reached for this diary to record everything.

I think I’ll go to sleep now and focus on seeing Sherman tomorrow. That will cheer me up and hopefully keep the nightmares away.

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