Aug 2, 2017
Randomly rolling on the encounter gave the idea for this encounter.
Using the two sticks I found in the woods as walking sticks, I keep heading towards the small town to reclaim some plexiglass plates we can use for windows on shelters at the Flat Tops. With the dust storm and a few casualties behind me, I try to move cautiously. Running headlong through a thick cloud of dust provides cover that’s much better than just strolling through the woods. Never know who (or what) you’ll come across out here.
Awareness Check: B: 8+2, R: 8 Crit Success
Looking up ahead I see what at first I think is a stray wisp of dust still settling from the storm, but just to be sure, I decide to stop and watch for a while. That dust is not settling. It’s going up. That means someone has set-up a campfire out here and doesn’t mind broadcasting their position. Noticing it this early, I have a good chance of sneaking up on whoever it is.
Stealth Check: B: 3+2, R: 5 Fail
Moving along quietly, I inch my way towards the fire. I get within 100 yards or so and feel pretty good that I’m not going to be seen. It looks like it’s just one person sitting around a campfire cooking some… SNAP! Drat. I knew I should have left those two sticks behind.
“Come on out now. I aint’ gonna hur’ chya,” calls out a decidedly elderly voice. Probably a woman? I can handle an old lady. Confident, I stride forward the rest of the distance to her little encampment. The first thing I notice is that she’s cooking some meat over the fire. Now meat is hard to come by these days, so I’ll happily share the fire a bit with her if she’ll offer me a meal out of it. The second thing I notice is that the meat must be fresh. There’s a lot of blood on the ground on the other side of the fire and two piles of carcass: one wrapped in leather must be the good stuff (maybe she’s salted it already?) and the other mostly bone and gristle. Looks like it could have been a deer maybe. I don’t see any recognizable bones right away.
“There you are now. I was a’ thinkin’ you was all lonesome like tho’ you makes enough noise to scare off my next meal,” she says pointing to a fallen log near the fire pit. I sit where indicated and try size up what I’m dealing with. Old lady or not, she could still kill me if I’m not careful. She looks to be upper 60’s or lower 70’s, but age is a deceptive thing out in the loss. Her clothes are made of pure leather, and recently made at that. Must be one of the benefits of actually being able to scare up some game now and again. She has a huge knife that she’s cleaning as the meat cooks.
“Now that’s a knife!” I say appreciatively. Believe or not, Crocodile Dundee is a good way to judge someone’s age out here. The reference is lost on people outside of a ten year age gap. I can tell by the slight turn in her pony-tailed, curly gray locks and wrinkled crow’s feet that she doesn’t get the joke. She thinks it’s a genuine compliment. She must really be in her 60’s. It’s not a trick of the Loss.
“Thank’ee, young man. Would you care to share a meal of venison with an ole woman?” she asks while passing me a jug.
I stop to think just a bit more. How in the world is a crazy old lady still alive out here on her own. There has to be more than meets the eye.
Awareness Check: B: 3+2, R: 4 Pass (See a different jug.)
Hold the phone. (Do people still say that out here where phones are a distant relic of the past? I guess I do.) Why is she giving me a different jug than the one she’s using?
To not raise her suspicions, I take the jug. “I’d love to. Thanks!” I respond. I fake drink the jug pressing the liquid against my lips and tongue, but not letting it all the way in my mouth. After a couple of fake swallows, I set the jug down beside me. I need to figure this out fast or I could be in trouble. This is looking like a set-up.
“What’s a kindly elder citizen doing out here by herself?” I ask her.
“Citizen!” she scoffs with a bit of a cackle. “Well, I guess we’s are all citizens of where we’s are. I’m a hunter by trade. Taxidermist, actually, when I were a real citizen, and nowadays I finds I’m best at hunting alone.”
“Out getting a score of leather to sell to a local enclave? If so, I might be able to point you in a friendly direction.”
“Mayhap you can. Mayhap you can. But youse is a lonesome too, yes?” she inquires with just a little twinkle in her eye. I knew it. Nothing can ever go right. You can’t just sit down and enjoy a meal with a fellow human anymore. The proverbial stuff always has to hit the fan. I have to figure out her play. I’m noticing now that my lips are starting to tingle ever so slightly, so I take a good look at the details again.
Awareness: B: 1+2, R: 6 Fail (Don’t recognize the meat.)
Looks like no other footprints around the camp. The hunting thing certainly looks legit. (The meat is starting to smell good!) She knows her way around that knife. Maybe it is on the up and up?
“Like you, I work best on my own. Quicker, more efficient, and safer. Seems like everyone I’m around ends up dead,” I tell her as I swing my rifle over into my lap and start cleaning it. She seems to notice my not-so-subtle hint, raising a wizened eyebrow. She nods her head and begins to season the meat over the fire.
Awareness: B: 1+2, R: 1 Crit Fail (Don’t see the different spices added to different parts of the meat.)
Man, that meat looks good. My stomach growls in anticipation. We sit in semi-companionable silence for the next couple of minutes, and then she gets up with her knife in hand. I slam my rifle’s action back in place at the same time just to let her know my guard is still up. She smiles, cuts off a piece of meat from over the fire putting it on a thick leaf, and sets her knife down. “Just a meal together,” she says. “It’s a rare thing these days.”
She hands me the meat on the leaf. I take a big whiff of the meat before eating it. My lips are still tingling, so there was definitely something in the jug, but it could be inadvertent.
Awareness: B: 4+2, R: 1 Pass (Recognize the meat.)
Close up this meat doesn’t smell like any meat I’ve ever had. In fact, it kind of smells like burnt hair. “Ah!” I yell, throwing down the meat. “You’re a cannibal!”
I pull up my rifle and get her in my sights, backing away slowly. Why hasn’t she made a move for her knife?
“WHOOO-WEE-WEE!” she whistles shrilly.
Awareness: B: 5+2, R: 6 Pass (Hear something behind me)
From behind me, I hear a rustle in the leaves and a growl.
1 shamble away a bedraggled wolf parts the bushes and looks at me. It’s matted and bloody gray fur can’t hide the tendrils of black ooze coagulating on its sides and a wound above one eye. Outnumbered. Time to get out of here. I fire at the wolf.
Shoot: B: 9+2, R: 8 Pass (Spend extra charge for one more damage, so 10 damage to chest of the wolf.)
The blighted wolf drops a few feet in front of me. With my attention focused on the wolf, I would have missed the knife coming at me from the old lady, but her howl of rage tipped me off, so I try to dodge.
Athletics: B: 1+2, B: 5 Fail (1 damage to chest)
I try to dodge the knife, but end up taking a grazing slice to my chest. I swing the butt of my rifle at her, trying to knock her down.
Melee: B: 6, R: 7 Fail
But she dodges out of the way. She comes at me again with the knife, this time raised for a killing blow.
Athletics: B: 4+2, R: 10 Fail (4 damage to head)
The blade slashes into my face. I scream in agony and realize I need to get some distance between us fast. I just full out run from this old lady. Yup. Coward. The question is does it do any good? I turn to look behind and realize that the old woman can’t keep up with my speed, but she can throw the knife.
Athletics: B: 3+2, R: 6 Fail (3 damage to the chest)
The knife cuts into the side of my chest and bounces into the underbrush. That’s it. I’m mad now. I raise my rifle up and fire in a rage. (Burn two humanity for additional +2)
Shoot: B: 6+4, R: 4 Pass (Spend 4 more bullets to finish her off)
With a hailstorm of bullets, she goes down with a leg wound. The shock of it almost too much, but at least I’m alive.
Self-Control: B: 8+2, R: 6 Pass
She was a cannibal! She was going to eat me! Of course I had to put her down. There was no other way.
Once her movement stops and I’ve staunched the flow of blood on my face and chest, I decide to check her body. Who knows? She may have bounty.
2 bounty? For this permanent scar on my face? Well, then I’m taking the knife too. And my two sticks. The same sticks got me into this mess in the first place. I’m selling her knife and using this bounty to buy a first aid kit.