Miscellaneous Fluff

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Basic Information

I thought it might be nice/useful to have a page where we can gather together assorted fluff set in the world of PARPG. Short stories, 'historical' texts, personal records - writing that probably wouldn't appear in-game, but that helps establish (and play with) the sense of tone, adding detail, adding character... A kind of bank that established writers can use for inspiration and exploration, and that newcomers can use as a handy introduction to the game's fiction.

Too Many Shells

The wanderer sings as he trudges. The butt of his rusted shotgun resting in the crook of his shoulder, knocking with every step against the collar of his tattered coat. His face raw and bruised from the icy wind, his red-flecked eyes set in a constant squint against the blinding, sunlit snow.

He mounts the sunken iron fence in one leap and drops easily down on the other side, still singing. Singing to keep his spirits up; singing to give his weary feet rhythm. Singing to drive back the loneliness of the empty, one-note landscape,

"I'm on my way home..."

His boot sinks a little too far in; a pothole, and freezing snow spills inside, making him swear and shiver.

"I left three days ago, and no-one seems to know I'm gone..."

He halts on the crest of the hill. To the south, endless pine forests stretch out beneath the devastated skeletons of electric pylons. To the north, there's only the driving mists. The sky is swelling with white, fit to burst. It will snow soon. And the tent, stuffed into his backpack, is in serious need of repair.

"Junkie walking through the twilight," he hums, through his yellowing, gritted teeth, "junkie walking through the twilight...I'm on my way home..."

There are three white, lumpen figures stood in the field below.

With caution, he approaches. Lifting the shotgun out of its shoulder-strap.

"Hang on to your rosary beads...Close your eyes, to watch me die..."

The snowmen gaze back at him. Their eyes and mouths are marked out with pebbles; their noses formed from broken scraps of iron. The tallest has already begun to tilt.

He glances down, noting the three sets of footprints in the snow - two adults, and a child - stumbling south-east, towards the safety of the trees. One of the adults has attempted to clumsily wipe out the tracks.

"I'm on my way home..."

A single pillar of smoke rises over the pines.

It takes him four shells. He'd hoped for less.

But he misses with his first shot and his second isn't enough to halt the father, who keeps stumbling up the side of the ridge, ungainly and absurd, clutching his brutalised shoulder with one hand and shaking his carving knife with another. The wanderer reloads - the spent shells popping out in a hiss of smoke - and fires again. The father's thrown back down the slope. His body doesn't stop sliding until it reaches the bottom.

The mother stares at him, unmoving, but she goes down easy.

And then there's only the little boy, who dashes madly out from the little camp as the wanderer reaches the bottom of the ridge, before finally ducking behind a fallen trunk twenty feet away.

The wanderer makes a barking sound at him, threatening to approach, until the boy scurries further away, retreating through the pines and out of sight. The wanderer tells himself that the boy will most likely head instinctively back up the way he came - through the fields, then north, back into the wilderness.

It's just as well; he's spent too many shells already.

The wanderer returns to the camp, ducking under the rough tarpaulin. An iron pot is bubbling, full of a sweet-smelling, thick liquid, over a small flame. Ignoring it for the moment, he begins to search through the sack that's been dumped on the ground. Taking inventory of five cigarettes, a faded, unopened can of tuna, and a sheaf of old Swedish banknotes, he stuffs these inside his coat. He leaves the child's action figurine inside, untouched.

Then, wrapping himself tightly in the thick fur blanket, he returns his attention to the stew. The words of the old song begin to strain up, unconsciously, from between his lips. And he smiles.

"Home is where the hatred i-i-i-is...home is filled with pain...and it...might not be such a bad idea...if I never, never went home again."

It's just beginning to snow.

Helsinki Cabaret Song

I kissed a man in Oslo,

Who said he loved me true,

They caught him in the wild,

Weeping like a child,

And cooked him in their stew.

I kissed a man in Stockholm,

Who said he'd never leave,

They caught him in the bars

With a gold watch up his arse

And shot him as a thief.

I kissed a man in Helsinki,

Who said I was his queen,

He was full of love and charm,

With a rifle under one arm,

All the ladies found him keen.

Oh, I kiss my man in Helsinki,

As he goes to work each night.

When he's gunned down a sled,

He'll come back to me in bed,

And bring me something bright.

Adolf's One-Hand-While-Running-From-Something Guide to Surviving in the Ruins of Scandinavia During a Nuclear Winter (Title Under Review)

Hi there, reader. I'm Adolf Ehrnrooth, and before you ask, no, that's not my real name. I come to you today to provide you with my short list of interesting and essential survival tips for surviving the harsh winters and harsher inhabitants of what is left of Scandinavia.

If you have picked this up and are reading it while sipping down a cold whiskey, put the pamphlet down; you don't need it. If you are, indeed, running from something dangerous, keep right on reading. The colour-coded pictures should help direct you to each of the common dangers (Note to Self: Hire Artist for Pictures).

1: Bears

  • Don't eat polar bear livers. They are very bad for you. Expect headaches, nausea, and loss of hair. Also, horrible death.
  • Don't fight bears alone. They're bigger, stronger, faster and hardier than you are. If you must fight them, do it in a group.
  • Bear cubs are not cute. They are tiny, growling alarms that tell mother bear exactly where you are, and she's not far away.
  • You can't outrun them. If it attacks, take your own life. It's not much, but it's better than having your limbs ripped off. Alternatively, saw off your arm. Bears love arms.

2: Snow

  • As my mother always used to say: If it's white, that's alright. If it's yella', avoid it. She wasn't very good at rhyming.
  • Snow is cold. So cold, it can freeze water. 80% of the average human is water, so snow can freeze 80% of you. That's everything up to your neck. Warm it up in a pan first.
  • Snow is a useful preservative. Food will get dug up by bears pretty quickly though, so make sure it's well defended or hidden first.

3: Cities

  • Cities are mostly empty now. Don't go into one unless you have to. Occasionally nice things are left lying around, but don't bet on it.
  • Crumbling architecture can fall at any time, killing you instantly or trapping you until a bear comes and tears your limbs off. Look to the sky.
  • Animals have reclaimed some cities. Be aware of a sudden bear attack.

4:Villages and Towns

  • These hardy farming folk will do anything to protect themselves and their kin. Don't cross them, or you'll be crossing ALL of them.
  • Most of them will have somewhere to bed down for the night. If you can provide your own bedding, they might even let you have unused space for free!
  • Muck in with the townsfolk. Not only does it earn you their respect, but there are perks to civilised living.

5: Vehicles

  • Some younger people might not remember the heyday of machines. You're unlikely to see a tank, or even a car, but occasionally they'll turn up. Try to avoid them.
  • If you are engaged in an unfriendly scenario with a vehicle, try to stay outdoors. Most modern structures are too flimsy to withstand ramming attempts.
  • Some people shun the use of melee weapons. With enough forewarning, avoiding a speeding vehicle isn't terribly difficult. Slash and smash any exposed tires, wiring or piping.
  • Vehicles are, in general, even faster than bears. If you can set the two against each other in deadly combat, sit back with a cantina of whiskey and watch.

This is the end of Adolf's One-Hand-While-Running-From-Something Guide to Surviving in the Ruins of Scandinavia During a Nuclear Winter, Pamphlet 1. If this hasn't solved your problem, why not try one of my other works?

The Cache

My left goggle is cracked from where he struck me. The splinters of blinding light force me to keep one eye constantly closed.

My coat is ripped in two places. Once, on the sleeve, from where he tried to prevent me from leaving. Once, on the tail, from when I tripped in the snow and trod on it. Beneath the sleeve, my wrist is numb with the cold.

My hiking pole is bent from where I struck him. With every step, it bends a little further beneath my weight.

The blizzard is endless.

He said, I'm going to change. It's all going to change.

He said, I know I can be hard to live with. But when spring comes, we'll plant potatoes. The ice will thaw. There's been a lot of ice in my heart, darling, but it's all going to thaw.

He said, go south, you bitch, and leave me behind? Leave me here to die alone?

I have only one mitten. My right hand, wrapped tightly in the knotted cloth of my scarf, no longer hurts. I don't want to look at it. I don't want to see if the fingers are turning black.

The blizzard is endless, and covers all tracks.

Before the winter came - the true winter, hell outside and purgatory within - I buried a cache under the old monument, on the rise of Refuge Hill. Fish, and tins of soup and stew and beans, and the kroner I stole from him while he slept. I told myself that when I left him, when the spring came and the ice thawed, I'd make my way to the cache. Get to Mosjoen with the huskies and the sled. Find work, and travel south. Outrun the snow; outrun him.

But the ice never thawed, the huskies are loose, and I cannot find my way.

I don't think the blow to the head was enough to kill him. I think I heard him shrieking as I ran. Unless it was the wind. The wind's eternal shrieking.

A pile of stones, three feet high. A monument to Oskar Bersvendsen, who claimed to have brought back civilisation to the wilds. And, beneath the stones, on the southern side, I'll find my cache.

Unless the snow has buried it.

I keep walking. It's no longer certain how much the fingers of my right hand are capable of moving.

He grabbed the reins of the sled and called me a devil. A monster. How dare I leave him. Who did I think I was?

And in his trembling hand he held his grandfather's old revolver.

I don't know if he'd have used it on me. Even as he swung it down towards my head, even as he cocked it, I think he was acting out an old game of his. Exerting control, he called it.

I can still hear him shrieking.

The hiking pole bends; I'm almost carried over with it.

And then it snaps.

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