It's been awhile since I've read anything here. I just hope people here still remember the FoMT game. It looks like a lot of stories here are about the newer games. Not that that's a bad thing. I just hope people actually remember this stuff.
Anyway, this story is about Mineral Town several years after a nuclear holocaust, but you should have already picked that up from the intro under the title. There are going to be quite a few new characters, but most focus will be on the original cast.
This chapter serves as an introduction. I don't explain a whole lot of the situation, but I will eventually. I hate giving away key points of a story, so just keep reading and try to keep everything in mind. This should start to make more sense when I explain things next chapter
DISCLAIMER: I do not own Harvest Moon! But that's a given.
Within yourself deliverance must be searched for, because each man makes his own prison - Edwin Arnold
Among the Mushrooms
Introduction: Day 1575
The alarm clock began its monotonous screech. 6 A.M. had come once again. Jack gave it a hard smack and groggily sat up. He hadn't gotten the quality sleep he had been hoping for. Rubbing his eyes, he stood up and looked at the makeshift 2011 calendar he had on the wall. It was an old calendar from several years ago. The year was wrong, but it gave the correct dates and days of the week. Jack had been writing new numbers in the bottom of the squares. He picked up the pen on his desk and wrote in another number under June 24th.
"Day 1575," he said to himself. It was an ordinary day to many, but to the outsiders, such as himself, it carried much more emotional weight. He stared at the calendar for nearly a minute before letting out a sigh and walking away. There was work that needed done. After putting on a dirty work shirt and jeans, he grabbed his holster and revolver. Never knew when that would be useful.
He left his bedroom and into the common room of his house. Kai and Popuri weren't up yet. Considering the noises they were making the night before, Jack wasn't surprised. He walked over to the fridge and pulled out some eggs and orange juice. It was a simple meal, but it was good enough, given that Jack ate less than ever now days. As he prepared a quick breakfast, he ran through the chores he had to complete today. Nothing on his mental list seemed to difficult. It would just be another day of taking care of his assigned animals and helping the others harvest the rest of the cabbages before taking them into town.
He finished eating his fill of the eggs and left the rest of them on the plate for whoever wanted them. Letting out another yawn, he walked over to Kai and Popuri's room and knocked.
"Rise and shine love birds!" he shouted. He immediately turned around and went to his tool box and grabbed his animal brush and sickle before opening the door. A warm summer breeze blew in. "Another day in paradise," he said glumly.
"You're an asshole, you know that?" Jack turned around and looked at the groggy Kai. He was only wearing boxer shorts, revealing his body which had been built from working the farm.
"Oh good, you're up," Jack said in response, ignoring his housemate's complaint. "You're going to be in charge of the cabbage harvest today, so make sure it gets done by noon or so. I need to get them to mark-"
"You're an asshole," Kai repeated. "Me and Popuri-"
"Get up at the same time as everybody else on this farm," Jack answered in a no nonsense voice. "You've been working here for what, three years? It isn't your day off, so you need to get up on time. I was graceful and gave you ten extra minutes, so shut up and put on some clothes. The cabbages need harvested."
"Sure thing," Kai grunted. Jack heard him call him something else under his breath, but he ignored it. Him and Kai hadn't been as good friends as they used to be, but he was still good at managing the farm's affairs, so it worked out fine.
Jack reached the large bell in front of the worker's house and rang it. He could hear many of them were already up inside, but ringing the bell would get them to work faster. There were about forty of them all together, not including the kids. All of them were castaways that washed up on the beach at one point or another. The house they lived in had been built to shelter them all. It had many bed rooms and one big common room, but it was cramped for the number of people living there.
After the ringing, Jack started towards the horse stable while his sheepdog, Brody, followed. He eagerly barked at his master, ready for the day's work.
"At least somebody on this farm is willing to work," Jack said as he pet his dog on the head. He finally reached the horse stable. There were eleven horses living here now. Six of them were thoroughbreds and the rest were draft horses for pulling carts and plows. Jack noticed as he entered that they already were given their morning feed.
"Oh hi Julie. You're up early," Jack said to one of the farm girls. She was a cute redheaded teen that Jack had put in charge of caring for the horses.
"Hiya Jack," she replied as she continued to brush Kai's horse. "I wanted to finish up with the horses early today. I figured you'd liked that."
"I do. Thanks kiddo," he said in response with a smile as he began to brush down his own horse. He knew that Julie had a small crush on him, but he ignored it, given that he was twelve years her senior. Still, he was glad she wanted to finish her work. He focused back on his horse, Silver. She was a beautiful grey mare that was given to him in his first week as a farmer. That was years ago. 1570 days ago to be exact. Caring for her was one of the only things that calmed his nerves.
After he finished grooming his horse, he headed over to the main barn The workers were already up and grooming their assigned animals. The barn originally held only 16 heads of cattle, but it now had over one hundred and fifty, and each female cow needed brushed and sent to the milker machine. There were also 20 goats, but they were milked by hand. There weren't any sheep anymore in Jack's barn. Barley raised most of the towns sheep along side his cattle. One by one the cattle were fed and brushed before their assigned worker took them to the milker. Everybody was assigned several cows to care for. Flint had even gone through the trouble to make a calendar of when each cow would need to get pregnant so that they could continue the generations with little difficulty.
After spending an hour in the barn working with his animals and monitoring the workers, Jack went back outside to help with the crop watering. There were thousands more crops being grown now. Much more than what he used to grow. The town needed a lot of food to support its population after all.
"Jack, I'm glad I found you," Flint said as he came up to Jack's side. "We need to plow three new rows for the potatoes. You're going to need to get out there and start plowing now.
"Get Jim to do it. I have to-"
"It's Jim's day off," the old man interrupted.
Jack sighed. "Fine, I'll do it myself."
After hooking a draft horse up to the plow, he gave it a light whip and it began to pull as Jack pushed from the other side. As they slowly crossed the field, he slowly looked up at the sky. Cloudless. The only place on earth that wasn't clouded with fallout. And he hated it. As the summer sun beat on his skin, he began thinking "This must be what hell is like. Where it's hot and you realize that you're stuck here for eternity."
Eventually, he finished plowing and the others began to plant more seeds. He then checked up on the swine shack and the poultry building to make sure that work was being done. By the time he finished with his morning chores, it was twelve o'clock. But he wasn't finished yet. Most of the cabbage crop was loaded into the triple cart with two draft horses hooked to the front. The rest would be distributed to the other workers or put in storage. Before going to the cart, Jack stopped by the green house to pick a few flowers that he was growing.
"Thanks for hooking up the carts," Jack called out as he drove of his property. The rest of the day would be easy from this point on. It would be the night that worried him the most.
Going into town on horse was a lot harder now with all the new villagers in town. They clogged the streets as they went about their business, making the trip to the market harder than it needed to be. He eventually reached the supermarket where he tied up his horses outside and went in to find somebody to unload the crops.
"Hey Jack," Karen said cheerfully as she came over and gave him a friendly hug. "Ew, you're all sweaty," she laughed.
"Yup, that's what happens when you work outside," he said. Karen always brightened his mood. He used to like her at one point, but stopped when it became apparent that her relationship with Rick wasn't ending anytime soon. "Hey, I have three carts of cabbages waiting outside."
"Okay, I'll have the boys bring them in," she replied. "It shouldn't take us too long."
"Okay, I'll be back soon for my horses," he said. He left the building and started walking to the hospital. The hospital was filled with doctors now. Originally, it was only Elli and Tim, but now there were quite a few new nurses and doctors of different types living there. Jack walked to the front desk and waited for somebody to show up, but it took a few minutes. They were always busy now.
"Hey Jack, it's good to see you," Elli said as she took her place behind the counter. "I hope I didn't keep you waiting to long. Two people came in today with heat stroke."
"No, no, it's fine," he said as he forced a smile on his face to match Elli's cheery disposition. "I brought you your flowers," he said as he placed the makeshift bouquet in front of her.
"Oh, thank you!" she said as she scooped up the lot and sniffed them. But then she stopped. "This is awkward… I don't have any money on me right now," she said in a soft voice as her cheeks reddened.
"It's fine. Just pay me when you do. I'm in no rush," Jack replied.
"Oh Jack, that's really sweet of you," she responded happily. "I'll make sure Tim gives you a discount on your next check-up or something."
"Sure," he said. "I have to get going. Be seeing you."
As he left the hospital, he looked at his watch. Odds were that the carts had not been unloaded completely yet, so he kept going east until he reached the church. He had grown quite familiar with the building in the last few years, as it had helped him through many difficulties. Carter was inside at the pulpit, mouthing words to the next sermon he would be giving on Sunday. He stopped as Jack entered.
"Oh hello Jack," he said as he left the pulpit.
"Good afternoon Pastor Carter," he replied as he walked up to meet the pastor in the center of the church. "It's a beautiful day outside, no?"
"Oh yes, it is quite lovely. God has given us another beautiful day."
"Yes, well… I brought you this from the farm. We just harvested the cabbages today and I thought you might want one."
"Oh thank you Jack," Carter replied. "Since I don't receive a salary, I thank the goddess that you are so generous."
"Yes, well enjoy. I'm sorry, but I left my horses outside of the market. I'll talk to you later.
"Okay, have a blessed day Jack!"
Jack made it back to the market to find that the vegetables had been completely unloaded. Karen was waiting for him.
"Oh good your back. We're counting them now, and we'll send you a tally and money to the farm by tomorrow morning."
"Okay. Thanks Karen. Tell your folks I said hi."
"Okay, sure… Jack, you seem pretty off today." She stared into his eyes to see if she could figure out was the answer, but he blinked.
"It's nothing. Just this damn heat. I really want to just go home and take a cool shower." It was more than just the heat though…
"Hey Jack, what do you want to order?" Ann asked. She also seemed just as energetic as normal. Everybody seemed that way today. The barroom was filled with people on their lunch break.
"Just a salad and water," he replied. He still wasn't hungry.
"Okay hun, coming right up," she replied before she called back to the kitchen workers what the order was.
"Salad and water? You might as well have just walked in here wearing a skirt," Cliff laughed.
"Hey bro, I'm not hungry. I'm only eating because I have to," he retorted, though he wasn't quite sure why he was bothering, since it was only playful teasing.
"Whatever. Hey Ann! Get Kate Moss here a steak! She's starving herself!" he continued.
"Shut up Cliff," Ann laughed as she brought back Jack's order. "Jack's not a girl. He's just trying not to gain any pants sizes."
"Y'all can go to hell," Jack chuckled slightly as he began to eat.
"What, is it your time of the month?" Cliff asked. Both he and Ann were laughing up a storm over him now.
"Cliff, that was awful. Not even I would go that far!" Ann giggled as she calmed herself down.
"Yeah you would," Jack said back. He still wasn't feeling all that great, even after the laughter.
"Really though Jack, you only had fruit juice the other day for lunch. Are you eating this meagerly everyday?" Cliff questioned.
"I'm doing fine," he lied.
"He didn't ask you if you were doing fine. He asked about how much you're eating. But by you defending yourself by saying your fine, we all know that you're not really fi-"
"I'm gonna stop your game of psychologist there," Jack said, interrupting Ann, "to tell you that I'm just in a pissed off mood and I don't want to talk about it. So please, if you would be so kind…"
Ann left to deal with another diner. Jack felt bad now. Ann was one of his better friends in Mineral Town, and he had just been a complete douche to her. But in his mind, he couldn't understand why nobody understood why he was upset.
"I know what's wrong with you," Cliff said solemnly, breaking the silence between them.
"Oh?" Jack replied. He had just finished his salad and then started drinking the water.
"Yeah, it bothers me too that nobody who was born here gets it," he responded. "That nobody remembers that this is the anniversary of the nuclear strikes."
"Yeah, well they didn't lose the world we did," Jack replied. "Life here has changed her for everybody, but they didn't lose that familiarity."
"True," Cliff responded. Silence overtook the two again.
"Well," Jack said as he stood up and left his payment on the counter. "I have to get a shower and some sleep. Wall duty tonight."
"Again? Why do they have you working double duty all the time?" Cliff questioned.
"Because I don't miss," Jack answered. "Tell Ann I'm sorry for snapping at her. And Cliff?"
"Happy third anniversary."
The alarm clock buzzed again for the second time that day. Jack woke up from his sleep and looked out the window. It was night now. 11:55 PM to be exact. He trudged over to his gun cabinet and pulled out the weapons he needed. The hunting rifle, the bow, and the sniper rifle along with their respective amo. He was truly armed to the teeth. After fastening all his weapons, he walked over to the mirror to fix his hair, but he didn't touch it at all. He just stared at himself in the mirror by the dim light of his lantern. Twenty-six years old, and he already looked as though he could have been ten years older. His eyes were tired looking and several noticeable grey hairs were poking through the brown. On top of that, he was looking a lot thinner. He has been eating a lot less as of late and it really was beginning to show. He sighed, and then realized that he had forgotten his revolver. He saw it sitting on the nightstand in the mirror's reflection. As he picked it up, he heard the his thoughts talking again.
"You should do it now and get it over with."
He looked at the revolver. He could have done it. In theory, it was easy as sin. But he remembered that there were people who depended on him. Not just his friends, but everybody in this town needed him right now.
"Not today," he said to himself, and he put the gun back in its holster. He then looked at his clock again. It now read 12:00 AM.
"Day 1576," he said out loud, and with that, he turned around and headed out of the house to the beach.
Meh, it starts out pretty angst, but it gets better. REVIEW PLEASE! It's really hard to stay motivated with writing a story when nobody responds. I've had a lot of problems with that and past stories.
So yeah, respond. Tell me if you like the premise thus far. Ask questions if you have any. I will answer them in time. And one more important thing. I don't know if any of you are nuclear physicists, but if I make any errors regarding that department, please alert me. I want that to be accurate if I can help it.