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Nightmares

This is a Dystopia Rising Fan Fiction. Please enjoy responsibly.

The scream would have not only woken the baby and her husband, but likely drawn attention from anything lurking in the dark outside of the old building known as Homestead. Instead a lifetime of habit, in a world full of things that wanted to eat you or kill you, made Bonnie cover her mouth with her hand and bite down on her tongue as she came awake from the nightmare. The pain brought her quickly to wakefulness and so only a small amount of sound escaped her throat, to be caught by her hand.

The pillow was wet with tears shed in her sleep. Even now the image of a blade slicing through the back of her husband, Johnnie, began to fade. The terror and anger of the dream left her trembling, the fading vision of his body crumpling to the ground and blood flowing freely. A spray of arterial blood splattering the front of a blue jumpsuit, the killer slowly turning towards her. But the face and image fades even as she tries to remember who the killer was.

Still curled in the crook of her arm, in peaceful sleep, lies her baby. A child she has no memory of carrying or bearing, but she has no doubt in the pit of her stomach is hers. The scabs that cover half of the otherwise cherub-like face denote her Retrograde heritage, but her skin has a pink flush that most don't. Flashes of faces she has seen since stumbling from the morgue go through her head, people telling her stories of things she has done, but no full memories.

Slowly she lifts her head towards the door which remains firmly closed and locked. Then turns her eyes to the back facing her in the bed. It isn't Johnnie, he is off with his crew earning his pay and doing good work for the Black Rose for several months, but Zeke James. The name and site makes her heart flutter, but again she has only a flash of a smile, a blade sliding across her palm, tears rolling down his cheeks as he pulls a bundle from behind his shield. All the memories of the building of what became a marriage, between Johnnie, Zeke, and herself, are gone.

As she focuses on the anger of that loss it helps to still the trembling and stop the tears. This time her nightmare didn't wake her other husband from his needed sleep. It had been a hard evening with numerous difficult zombies and a troupe of raiders moving through the area, needing all the armed forces that the tiny community of Cascadia Rendezvous could call up. It hadn't been pretty, but no one had died tonight except in her dreams.

Carefully she resettled the baby Pink in the bed and slid out. Drenched in sweat she was in need of a breath of fresh air, and maybe to splash some water on her face. That meant a quick trot across the hundred or so feet to the tavern. Quietly she slipped her armor on over her night clothes, her thick boots, and belted the machete to her waist. The clink of metal on metal caused Zeke to shift slightly and make to softest groans in his sleep and so Bonnie stilled, waiting to see if he would wake or if he was deep enough asleep for her to slip from the room. Ever since Johnnie had left on duty he had not wanted to let her out of his sight. In some ways she felt the same, but tonight she needed the darkness and cold of winter and to be alone with her thoughts. On silent feet she slipped through the inner door into the rest of Homestead. A pale white glow came from beside the front door and she silently cursed herself for forgetting about the talented guardian known as Thor. Of course he would be watching the door for any trouble after a night like this.

"Evening Bonnie," He whispered among the soft sounds of sleeping coming from those of the Sound Supply who had remained in The Rend while Habib, Maybel, and some others had gone to work trade deals between meets. A loud snort announced Reggie's presence as well as the sound of him rolling over.

"Hello, Thor. I need a breath of air and a trot to the tavern," Bonnie said once the distance between them was but a foot, so as not to wake or attract any undue attention.

"Mmmmm," She didn't like the thoughtful look he gave her as he considered her words, or the glance to the closed door she had left behind her. "Zeke?"

"Asleep and Pink too," The need for fresh air was pressing and the jitters of the nightmare began to press in on her again. "Please, I won't go wandering, but I need to step outside for air. And Zeke is exhausted and needs his rest, and you have to stay here to watch. I'm not helpless," Wheedling had always been a useful skill back home in Shanghai, but she was still trying to get to know (re-know) Thor and the rest.

The young man with white streaks in his long brown-black hair leaned back, frowning faintly in the glow from his arm. "There and back. Ten minutes or I wake Zeke."

Bonnie sighed louder than she meant too and rolled her eyes. "Twenty, I need to deal with...female things," That usually worked on most men and it seemed to have at least a slight effect on Thor, his nose twitching slightly. "All right, go. But I'll be counting and watching," He said, scanning outside the door carefully before opening it for Bonnie.

She almost flew out into the cold bite of winter. The air was moist, but not raining, and a few clouds scuttled across the star spotted sky. Somewhere the moon cast enough light she could easily see her way without the headlamp. Keeping her steps quick she moved away from Homestead, not wanting to draw attention to the outwardly ramshackle building. Then she slowed her steps as she got closer to the tavern, its inside dark but for a candle or two left burning. She slipped around the side to the privies and stood just outside listening to the night, letting the darkness wash over her, staring at the sky and breathing in the cold crisp air.

Try though she might the details of the nightmare, which she was sure was an important memory, kept slipping through her fingers. Dark figures surrounded her and Johnnie, but the attack was sudden amidst talking. A sense of betrayal washed over her and she kept trying to remember the face of his killer. The more she tried the more the dream slipped through her fingers and she growled with frustration. A growl answered hers in return.

As she turned she drew the machete and scanned the darkness around her, searching for the growl that had not been hers. Movement in the bushes a hundred or so feet off, but no moaning, still left too many options to choose from. And a run for Homestead would mean a fight for people who were mostly exhausted and needed sleep, including her husband and the youngest member of The Rend. Slowly she started to back away from the sound, around the back of the tavern, keeping her eyes moving to try and catch a glimpse of the originator. More indistinct movement, at least three vaguely humanoid figures, now seemed to be stalking towards her. "Fuck," She said quietly under her breath and turned to make a run around the tavern. With a steep incline into woods and nettles to her right and the barricaded back door of the Tavern to her left, she was somewhat trapped between the two groups.

Bonnie had never focused on fighting. She had always focused on being able to get away or trick her foes into getting themselves in trouble. Sure she could shout, bring Thor running, but if she could outsmart these raiders it would restore something she knew she had lost in her time being manipulated by the Gravemind. So the battle began and she feinted towards the two with a wide slash, making them jump back. The sound of running feet told her she had only seconds to get a clear path for a run up the hill to Calvinwood and better cover, or towards the Fisher Kings Grotto.

Licking her lips she spat at the two blocking her way on the right, "It's just a jump to the left!" Then she slashed again, from the right this side in an effort to make them leap away...to the left. It worked. "And a step to the right," She said with a little more pep, before using her long legs and taking a large step right and running past the nearest. He managed to bring a swing down on the back of her armor, but it bore the brunt as she kept on running.

Long legs and knowing shadows and the best hiding places along these trails allowed her to get a lead on the small pack of raiders. As she began to head up the incline towards Calvinwood and Castle Timberline, she changed her mind. Leaping over a fallen tree and crashing through the brush, she burst out onto the path leading to the Fisher Kings Grotto. Grumbled gibberish and shouting behind her caused a grim smile to cross her face. The gravel crunched under her feet and she bore sharply right towards the old covered area, with its cracked concrete and rusted metal roof. Water sat in pools on the hard ground and bushes had crept in over generations to partially reclaim in. A path wound around some bushes and towards the Hedons camp and, eventually, to Calvinwood and the trail back down to the Tavern and Homestead.

Despite this she heard the crash and crunch of feet and yelling of awful things to be done to her as she fled. Her breath was beginning to catch now, her heart pounding, and her steps slowing. The trail leading up to the Hedonites seemed much longer than previous times she had walked this way, and that is when the raider in the lead caught her.

He caught her by the long braid she kept her hair in. A breeze or her run had flung it out behind her and he yanked her back with a nasty cackle. Now she did let out a scream, but it was short and sharp, full of pain and not meant to carry far. He tried to bring his blade to her throat but she pushed his arm away, and they rolled on the trail. One hand held tight to her braid, the other to his own weapon while she was free to use one hand and the machete. An elbow to his gut knocked the breath from him and allowed her just enough space to get the machete between his fingers and her head. It slid easily through her red hair, freeing her from his grasp.

With a lurch she was on her feet, and turned to bring her weapon down on his several times as he struggled to try and regain his own footing. As his pack began to catch up she kicked his body back down the trail to tumble on them, and took off again. Already she could hear those who had been sleeping in the wooden shacks near the Hedonites rousing to the noise of her tussle. As she ran past she spat out the words, "Raiders up the back trail!" And kept on going. Her head felt lighter, the wind certainly ruffled her hair but in a very different manner. This time she reached the trail heading back down to the tavern and Homestead and slid into deep shadows where she could catch her breath.

The whole thing hadn't taken more than fifteen minutes or so, she was pretty certain. What wasn't certain was whether she could simply slip back inside and into bed without causing a fuss...she did smell of raider blood and was filthy. If she appeared safe and sound to Thor, peering from the windows of Homestead, she might get another few minutes to wash up in the kitchen of the Tavern.

There was the clash of weapons up the trail as others, more capable warriors, came to take care of the small raider pack on the trail. With a deep breath and keeping herself cloaked in the darkness she let the downward slope of the hill ease her into a loping run down and around the back side of the tavern. No other raiders were in sight and so she slid right back to where she had been standing before by the privies. Quickly she wiped her sword clean with the rag she kept in her armor just for that, then sheathed it. Then she stepped out into full view of the window from which Thor watched. She couldn't see his glow from here, but she knew he could see her.

As she walked towards the front of the tavern, non-nonchalantly, she held up one hand with fingers spread and pointed inside the empty Muddy Foot. Hopefully he would understand and not wake Zeke so she could wash the blood from her hands and face, and get as much off her actual armor before it got gross as she could. She pumped freezing water into the sink of the kitchen and shivered as she washed her hands and face, neck and used the rag to get the worst bits of gore off her armor. Finally she took a moment to run a hand through her hair, testing to see just how much she had lost.

Bonnie wasn't exactly vain, but she did take pride in the long wavy red hair that she could show off when she pleased. Keeping it in a braid kept it from getting all over the place, but now...there wasn't even enough for a tiny pony tail. It would need more careful attention with a pair of sheers in the morning with light and mirrors, and boy would she have some questions to answer.

As the adrenaline began to drain from her system she began to feel tired once again. She drained the water from the sink and left the kitchen, the tavern, and with a careful glance around outside made her way across the hundred or so feet to the front door of Homestead. The door opened and Thor raised a brow, looking her up and down in the pale moonlight. "What did you do?" He asked in a hushed whisper as he stepped aside to let her in. "I told you, I had some female stuff to take care of," She replied quietly, already unbuckling her machete and heading for her families small room. Thor snorted and she was pretty sure he didn't believe her, but for her hair she looked unharmed so she doubted he would push the matter.

Quickly she opened the door, slipped in, and turned to close it quietly behind her. As she turned around to behind stripping off her armor she froze. Zeke was sitting up, pulling on his boots and looking as pleased as when he got interrupted making moonshine. "Heh...hi, honey?"

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