Everyone will find their own place sometime in their life, if they're lucky. An actual, physical location on the Earth, where they feel a certain connection to. Somewhere where they can be with millions of people, or just by themselves, and it wouldn't make a difference either way. Somewhere where they think about this place when they think of peace and happiness, and they see it in their fondest dreams.
Norman had found his place. It was in a structure, one he had never seen anything like before. It was like the structures he saw in the City, but so much smaller. It was as though someone had cut up the structures in the City into a million little pieces and had put this one, single piece in the middle of the forest. It was as though someone had hidden this small, mysterious gem in the middle of no where, just for Norman to find it.
All his life, Norman had lived near the City. He had heard of others like it, with similar services, but it had always been this City that he had located near. His father used to be who he traveled with. They would always locate somewhere new every seasons change. Somewhere closer to the City during the winter, when the days were short and harsh and food was dead or hiding, and somewhere far from the City during the summer, since the days were longer for their travel to the City, and food was easier to find away from anyone.
Norman had spent his entire life in tents. He knew others didn't always live in the tents he had. Some had wood tents, he even met one man who had a metal tent that had a window and sat on metal rods taller than Norman. No, Norman was not unfamiliar with different lifestyles from his own, he had even met one Living that lived in the City once, but never had he seen someone in such a structure like this.
He first saw the structure when he was about thirty. His father had died when Norman was in his teens, and he had been alone ever since. He spent the time alone traveling more frequently, moving from one place to another in less than a week sometimes. It took his mind off of his father's death among other things that troubled him at the time. During one of his travels, he met a girl much younger than himself, probably in her teens, Janis. That's about the same time he found the structure, as well. That's when everything changed.
Janis had a similar life to his own. Her own father had died about ten years ago, when she was a child, and ever since she had traveled alone. She lived in a tent and also avoided growing too permanent or attached to one place. The two even looked similar, despite their age difference. Both Janis and Norman had dark brown, almost black hair, and greyish eyes. Their skin was a light brown, from being tan, dirty, and perhaps a similar ethnic background.
Norman, despite being a man that moved from place to place and rarely came back, was a sentimental man. After the spent some time together, he began to think of her as a little sister of sorts, someone who he had to watch over and protect. He convinced Janis to stay with him, as a sister and brother would stay together in a similar situation.
Norman and Janis traveled around for some time together. They were a good pair, really. Norman was good at making trades with other Living and he was a decent scavenger. Janis was always willing to go into the City, something Norman wasn't, and was a hell of a fighter.
One day when traveling, they stumbled across the structure in the woods. Neither of them had seen anything like it, really. There had been a few things they could maybe relate it to, but it was much bigger than the shacks and tin plated boxes they had seen before. No, this was even bigger than their tents. It reminded them of a tent though, since its floor was dirt and weeds were growing in it. A stone tent, almost. It had a single window, still in tact, unlike many of the other structures Norman had seen.
The stone tent was a dark, well sheltered area. The walls were made of a cool stone, like the stone on the walking paths of the City. Weeds and grasses, along with poison ivy (which was quickly removed), grew inside the stone tent. It was almost always damp in the stone tent, no matter the weather, and a few insects had found it to be home.
A small bench was still in tact in the corner, along with a few artifacts of the world before. One of the artifacts was a liquid in glass which made them sick when they drank it. Another was a cooking pan, similar to one of the ones they had, which they kept. There was a few pieces of things here and there, shattered glass, broken things. One main artifact of the past was then marking on the west wall, one of two hands placed together with the palms touching, fingers pointed to the sky. It was in red paint that had started to chip away, probably from the humidity in the stone tent. Janis swore that the hands used to mean someone wanted mercy, but Norman believed it was some sexual innuendo, since he had heard stories of the people before.
They spent some time in the small stone tent. It was the first time they had both agreed to stay in one place for long.
Even after they met others, like Tanya, Becker, and Simon, Janis' first partner, they stayed there. Well, not there, exactly. Norman hadn't much liked Simon. Simon was a man who would ruin something and smile about it. He convinced Janis to move out to a small clearing nearby, far enough that finding the house wouldn't be wonderfully easy, and to live there.
Tanya was the first one who wanted to leave the area. That's when Janis introduced the idea of growing crops, since then they'd have to stay. Even now, Tanya and Becker continued to grow the crops.
Norman had a connection to this place. It was beautiful. It was isolated. It was a place he could come out and think in, even when it was storming. It was his own safe haven. It also had good memories connected to it. Memories of his time with his sister. He hoped to bring Holden out here one day, when he was older, when he would also understand the sanctity of the stone tent.
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A Traveler's BurdenScience Fiction
Several generations after the fall of society, the infection still runs through the human race. Those infected typically locate near the City, which is where the supplies are. When Norman goes to get supplies, he becomes infected. Now he must live w...