A/N: So. This is my first ever English-written story, so there's a possibility that I've made some mistakes in terms of the grammatical tense. If you see any mistakes, please, please point them out to me. I've let several people read this before posting and I do know how to use Word's spell checker, but you can never be too sure.
Hopefully this warning hasn't scared you off and you're still reading, if so: thanks!
What I value even more than compliments, is constructive criticism, so please R&R~!
A fire burns today
Of blasphemy and genocide
The sirens of decay
Will infiltrate the inside
(East Jesus Nowhere – Green Day)
The first thing I noticed when I woke up was the same gray, metallic ceiling I see every single day. There are dents in them, made by the previous owner of my room. Supposedly, he got crazy. Imagine that.
There are 18 dents in total, I've counted them all. Sometimes I think about matching the walls with the ceiling, but Chris – our Overseer – made it perfectly clear that wasn't accepted. I may be bored with my life at the age of 17, but I'm not suicidal.
My heart skipped a beat when the intercom announced breakfast, like it does every day. What doesn't happen everyday is a raid. With Vault 7 being one of the few places where survivors from the atomic war live, Raiders are desperate to help themselves to our supplies. Every once in a while there's a breach, which causes the alarms to go off. The only thing more horrible than that sound, are the cold faces of those Raiders and the sickening sound of bullets piercing through body parts. And the blood…
I gave myself a mental shake and put on my Vault 7 jumpsuit. They're not comfortable at all, but every resident is supposed to wear one, just another rule. Like not making dents in the walls, or obeying the intercoms.
Breakfast was served in the dining area, a large, gray room with gray stools and - you guessed it - gray tables. Even the counter and bar were gray. A few posters decorate the walls, pictures of people smiling, being all happy-family-ish, but it just made the room look even more depressing.
Another depressing fact: the room wasn't even close to being filled. Chris tries to get the residents to have more babies (yes, I know how fucked up that sounds), but for some reason families never have more than two children.
Right now, me and Nelson are the only kids our age. Which is good because I won't have to worry about being forced to have children. And it's bad because the prospect of not having sex anytime soon (or eventually having to have sex with Nelson's sister) isn't very appealing. Not that she's bad looking – actually, she's quite pretty, but being Nelson's little sister and me having seen her in diapers just doesn't do it for me.
Already losing my appetite, I sat next to Nelson, who was shoving food in his mouth. Everybody said we made an odd pair: me being fairly - ok, incredibly - talented with Guns and such, and Nelson being more of a computer geek. To magnify his image even more, he wears a pair of thick glasses, which are barely visible behind his thick black hair, and always carries around a notebook and pen.
'Hey man, what's for breakfast?'
Nelson stopped a second to look at me and pointed at his plate. 'Geez, I know I'm the one wearing glasses, but sometimes I think you could use one as well.'
Staring at his plate, I could barely make out some bits of bacon along with a yellow goo-ish substance. I definitely lost the rest of my appetite. Just when I was getting ready to stand up, my mother arrived, holding two steaming hot plates. 'Where do you think you're going, Clay? You know you need to eat well in case of an attack.'
Rolling my eyes, I took the plate and tried to swallow the stuff as soon as it entered my mouth. Yep, definitely tastes as bad as it looks.
'So Clay, what's your day like today?' Nelson asked, wiping his mouth clean with a napkin.
I gave out a snort. 'What d'you think? Cleanup duty and after that Tinkering class. Followed by Gun practice and then, of course Science class.' I made a face. 'And last but not least, work in the supply room.'
Nelson nodded. 'Right, I still don't get why you have to take Science class, everybody knows you suck at it.' 'Yeah? Well, at least I didn't almost shoot myself while cleaning my gun,' I shot back. So, yeah, the morning went by as usual.
The figure approached me fast and unpredictable.
'You will not escape me!' it shouted, coming at me with an unidentified object.
Adrenaline shot through my body as I aimed for its head and was just about to pull the trigger, when someone tapped me on the shoulder. I cursed as I fired the gun, missing my target by far.
Standing there was Nelsons younger sister, Eve. 'Jesus Eve, you nearly gave me a heart attack. Hasn't anyone ever told you not to sneak up on people when they're holding a gun?'
The robotic target stopped right in front of me, and a big "YOU LOSE" sign appeared on its "face".
Eve's big, innocent brown eyes looked up at me apologetic. 'Sorry Clay, it's just, Chris asked me to get you asap,' she looked at the sign. 'Look at the bright side, at least this'll probably mean you get to skip Science class. And you missing a target means somebody else might actually have a shot – no pun intended - to win this year's Gun Master Award.'
I grinned at her. 'You're right about Science, but there's no way I'm giving up my title. Anyway, what does Chris want?'
Eve shrugged. 'Not sure, he just told me to get you. I offered to get my brother instead, but he specifically asked for you, sorry.'
I shook my head. 'Nah, it's fine, thanks Eve.'
'Sure, later Clay' she winked at me and walked away.
As I was packing my stuff, I wondered what Chris could possibly want. I wasn't the only one who noticed that he kept out of my way. Except for the usual yelling at me for flooding the toilets or picking his locks, he never paid much attention to me. So for him to send out a request to meet him, when I did none of the above, was strange to say the least.
Upon arrival I heard two voices arguing, so, naturally, I did what any boy my age would do: eavesdrop.
'He's just a boy!' the female voice said, or rather, almost shrieked. Mom? Why was my mom in Chris' office?
'You know very well that he's no longer just a boy' I could almost see him make quotation marks in the air with his big hands. 'He's seventeen for crying out loud, and you know the rules. With the limited number of residents we need every man we can get. All boys need to help out when they are fourteen, you know this.' He paused to calm his voice. 'I've been bending the rules long enough for you, Jennifer. Don't think you'll get a special treatment, just because of what happened..'
I could hear my mother gasp and that's when I decided it was time to interfere, so I knocked on the door as I entered.
'Am I interrupting something?' I could see the tears in my mothers eyes, threatening to come out. She quickly turned her head. I raised my eyebrow.
'No, of course not,' Chris said amicably. 'Thank you for coming, Clay. As you may have noticed, every night when you go to sleep, a team of men guard our entrance.' His voice was accusing, like it was my fault I needed the sleep. 'Even your friend Nelson helps out.
'I tried to hide my smile. Being protected by Nelson didn't make me feel a whole lot safer. While he's a genius with any computer, fighting just isn't his thing.
'You can smile all you want, Clay, but it's about time you start doing your part to keep this society safe.'
Up until now, my mother had remained quiet, but his last comment made her snap. 'Excuse me, Chris, but you shouldn´t to talk to my son like that. If I remember clearly, it was MY boy who helped diminish the last threat. MY boy who saved your ass, so you might want to tone down a bit.' Her voice was like acid, and I had to keep my mouth from falling open. This was a side I've never ever seen from her. Realizing her outburst, she shut her mouth again, but her eyes were spewing fire.
'I think you need to leave, Ms McCally. Now.' Chris said through gritted teeth and without another word, my mother turned and marched out.
As soon as she had left the room, the tension dropped from Chris' face. 'So, where were we,' he beamed. 'Ah, yes, watchmen duty. As you can see, I've added this to your schedule. With your perfect aim, I'm sure the people will feel and be a lot safer.'
He handed me my new schedule and I was happy to see that I was excused from Science class. That happiness didn't last long, however, 'cause I noticed that I had to play watchmen for five hours a day. 'What?' I yelled out. 'Five extra hours? There hasn't been a breach in months! You know, I do like my sleep.'
Chris just stared at me with his small, gray eyes. 'I've never heard Nelson about a five hour watchmen duty.'
'Yes, well, Mr. Jemm helps out in other areas, more suited for his talents. As you may recall, he was the one who fixed up Rosie, so you can have nice, nutritious meals again. And he still fills his one hour per day quota. ' He was referring to the Mr. Gutsy robot named Rosie. The robot broke down a couple of weeks ago, which meant we had to eat canned, raw food. I wanted to argue with him that these 'nice nutritious meals' were actually more like 'disgusting Brahmin feces', but decided not to.
'Now, if there's nothing else…' Chris hinted. I got the hint and stood up, holding my new schedule. 'Don't be late tonight,' he said with a dismissive gesture. I got up and left, fighting the urge to give him the finger.