Writing Challenge: Burn Runners Concept

So I know I am pretty late, as the first post from this writing challenge was 3 weeks ago. I had this one ready last week but Ben said some of my imagery was a bit more obvious than I wanted. This is part of what I one day plan to make into a novel. Either including this or just using this general concept.

I know I need to be more consistent with these posts in order for the challenge to make sense. I will work on not allowing there to be so much time between them.

Please also remember that this writing challenge is to help me get back into the flow of writing so be gentle, it’s not my best work.

Burn Runners

She spit quickly, and then took a deep shuddering breath. She wiped her mouth and pulled her hand away. The slow shaking began to pick up the pace as she looked at the mass of red liquid. She wasn’t sure if it was that or the surge in the taste of copper that would make her throw up first. She only had the grim satisfaction that at least some of the blood on her hands belonged to the bastards that had jumped her.

There was a good chance they hadn’t known who or what she was when they ambushed her. She could only hope that was the case; it would keep them from digging around too much. No, they had probably seen what seemed to be a scared and weak scavenger and thought to either get their kicks with her body or a meal. When she had defended herself they apparently weren’t prepared for the violence she would use. Three of them lay dead in the sand outside of the building, none of them completely intact.

“Fuck!” she thought as she leaned her head against the wall behind her. She needed to think quickly, needed to come up with a plan. In truth, she was just so pissed off at herself though. They had warned her, begged her to bring back up, this mission was going to be dangerous. Instead, she had persisted in her belief that she could work alone, that she needed to.

“Where is she?” she heard a harsh voice call out.

Instantly her hands were on the small light she carried with her, turning it off. She forced as much of her body as she could in the crevice of the collapsed building as she could. It was just dark and dangerous enough that they might not poke around. Of course, it wasn’t comforting that she left a trail of red liquid leading right to her.

She knew she wasn’t going to survive, right now that was not her priority. Keeping the goods, she carried in the backpack that she had stored in a hole was all she cared about. If they found, her she would die before she told them where it was, and that death would not be pleasant.

In her mind, she began to chant the oath that she took, the one that all Burn Runners took.

Burn Runners will always protect their cargo. They were trusted with something precious, and they will die before it falls into the wrong hands. There is nothing a Burn Runner should consider off limits to get their cargo where it is meant to go.

Burn Runners have no loyalty other than their runs. They serve the purpose of connecting and rebuilding the settlements. Their lives, their relationships, their health, their happiness, is all forfeit to their duty.

Burn Runners must always be swift and must always observe. They must learn the ruins and the people that occupy them. They must be able to report anything and everything. They are the only true connection to the outside world.

Burn Runners wear their marks with pride.

Somewhere in reciting the oath in her head, she had passed out. When she woke with a start she sat up too fast and nearly crashed into the ruins of the building she had taken refuge in. Her bleeding had slowed, but she looked down at how dark her clothing was and realized that it was not exactly a good sign.

The wounds had needed to be treated, not just her slowly bleeding out while she was unconscious. She took a moment and listened carefully. After a few minutes passed, she decided if the people that had wounded her were around they were doing a good job of keeping quiet. She rolled out of the nook she had herself in and then paused for another moment. Nothing.

She moved slowly and paused to listen after every few steps; doing this she eventually made her way to the bag she had been carrying and stored. For a moment she considered the bag and her oath. Healing herself was not part of the oath, but at this point, she was certain she couldn’t get to next settlement without doing so. As long as she only used a few supplies, it should be within the bounds of her oath. Lose a few bandages or on an entire supply? The choice came easily when she thought of it that way. She grabbed a few syringes and quickly located the worst of her wounds. There was a gunshot in her side that seemed to the biggest cause of problems, and she injected herself with half of one syringe. The other half went to the gunshot in her left leg; she needed to be able to run, now more than ever.

Her arm was broken, but the medicine wouldn’t help that, and she was sure she could finish the path with it in its current state. She leaned back and allowed the drugs to flow through her bloodstream. When they had a chance to settle she put up the unused syringes and grabbed bandages, she quickly and carefully wrapped what she could before putting her left arm in a sling. She was more liberal with her use of bandages. They could be cleaned and reused; the medicine was the only thing in her kit that could not be replaced.

She pulled out her Burn Runner manual, a bottle of water, and a food bar. She turned to the map of her current route and backed tracked to where she was ambushed. From there she considered which routes they most likely knew. Before moving on, she took out a pen and marked where she had been attacked, which routes she thought had been discovered, and which route she planned on taking. She crawled over to the blood trail she had left and dipped her fingers in it. She made a few notes on the wall close to where she had hidden her body. Stopping to mark the route would slow her down, but she had to warn them.

Burn runners must always be swift and must always observe. They must learn the ruins and the people that occupy them. They must be able to report anything and everything. They are the only actual connection to the outside world.

The runners that followed and replaced her would need to know that there were unfriendly settlements on this trail and be prepared for that. She dug through the pack one more time and found her can of spray paint. It was nearly empty she would have to be careful with which spot she picked to mark. She put the light back on her shirt, but kept it off and moved forward.

When she crawled out of the worst part of the ruins of the building she paused and breathed. No noise. She quickly painted a mark on the wall pointing into where she had hidden. It would take them time to find the exact location, but it was enough of a clue to get them started.

She crouched down and moved slowly through the ruins. Both her wounds and her instincts burned. Burn Runners did not like to move slow, they had long distances to cover, with limited supplies and time. The end of her journey would be even worse because she was very rapidly losing her life. Still, she needed to get out of this building safely before she could go with her natural instinct. She kept to the shadows and ducked under as much of the ruins as she could. She never moved further than a few feet without stopping and listening. If she met them again not only would they rush the end of her life, but she would never be able to hide her supplies.

Her stops were few. She needed to leave marks for other runners. She knew the risk that these marks could be found by those that wounded her, but the end goal would be in their code, and she hoped that those outside of the settlements involved with Burn Runners would never be able to translate them.

The building was broken and the air stale. She wondered how it managed to stand as tall as it did. Most of what seemed like support beams were either completely broken or seemed to hardly hang on. The only movement in the air was due to her kicking up dust, which was far from pleasant. There was no life here; there never would be again.

She reached a point where the sun overhead began to cast the few rays it could into the building, lighting her way. It would make her an easier target but would allow her to see her stalkers more quickly. The fact that they had gotten the jump on her was a mistake and one that she would not allow to happen again. She had one more chance, and she would not fail.

As she moved through, she eventually saw a poster and stopped. It had been defaced and faded with time, but she could see there was a flag. It wasn’t one of the flags that the Burn Runners carried, nor did it belong to any settlement she had seen, Slowly her hand reached out and touched it. The blend of colors struck a cord with her, a memory from so long ago that she could barely tap into. The flag was upside down from what she could tell. It wouldn’t do her any good to ask questions. Very few that had been adults when things shifted were still alive, those that were had long since lost their minds. Her eyes slowly looked over the poster, and she wondered. She searched for words that she once overheard.

The defaced flag seemed so ugly to her. Far more ugly than the scars that the atmosphere had caused her. She shook her head and tried to bring herself back to the reality she lived in and not the distant memories of people that had long passed. She was born in this world; it would not do to dwell on the ramblings of those from before. She had something precious to deliver and very little time to do so. She wasn’t sure if the flag and the people it represented were guilty for the world she now lived in or not. It honestly didn’t matter either way.

It took her far less time to reach the hole she was looking for to exit the building. The moment she crossed through she examined the situation. It was an empty field which was dangerous but meant she could run. The clouds, debris, and smog served the Burn Runners well. Sunset would start soon and when it did it would become much harder to see, so she needed to move quickly. She turned back to the wall and marked it as she had with her blood. A code for them to understand what had happened.

She had a good two to four hours of running ahead of her, and she needed to sprint as much of it as she could. No one could sustain that. Certainly, not a belly and leg shot Burn Runner on their last life. Still.

Burn Runners will always protect their cargo. They were trusted with something precious, and they will die before it falls into the wrong hands. There is nothing a Burn Runner should consider off limits to get their cargo where it is meant to go.

She took one last breath before she ran.

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