Fallout: Mile High
"Doc" Hawkeye Blake
A jester in the wasteland.
Hawkeye Blake is a man of the land. The grounds he walks are familiar to him: the grounds walked by his ancestors both in this post-apocalyptic wasteland and in the world before the bombs known as the Black Hills. Blake read in a rare, wonderfully preserved pre-war book that they were once named for the rich, dark life which covered them. The people still call them the Black Hills, but now they are charred and dead, just like the rest of it.
Orphaned as a teen, Blake was thrust from what little protection his family offered. Relying on scavenged scraps and their devotion to one another was not an easy life, but it was a life full of purpose. That gone, Blake was forced into the wasteland furnace created by the atomic fires. Surviving on the land the way the ancient ones did was difficult at first, but Blake found it less so after a while. Nights were cold and lonely, and hope and food was scarce. When he could, he found work as a doctor’s assistant in settlements or, when desperate, with Raiders.
He met pure spirits in the eyes of children, and monsters in the maws of men. He knew wealth and poverty and hunger and satisfaction. He knew death. And he knew love, for a time. How they came to be in his life is inconsequential, but their departure left him a hollow man. What joy he knew, creating hope and life in a scorched and dead world, has now evaporated. It has been replaced by acrimony and cynicism. He continues to survive because it is what one does; it is what he was taught.
Before they were taken from him, Blake had found his love and needed to provide what stability he could for the child. Raider work was dangerous and brutal, but Blake knew he could get by as a doctor’s assistant and remain safe, tending to wounds when needed. After asking around in a dark bar in a settlement, Blake found out exactly how one gets recruited to the Raider ranks. It seemed easy enough, but he almost fucked it up from the beginning.
He met with a heavy set man named Mills, one of old muscle who seemed to never lack for food in this picked-over, dead land. Mills, it turned out, was a recruiter for the Plainswalker raiders, a nomadic caravan of raiders who roamed the land, looting and pillaging. Blake would be able to stay here, but have to tend to the wounded in the area whenever they were near. It seemed reasonable enough, and the pay was promising, but then Mills had said there was a final test.
“A test?” Blake repeated.
“Yeah, something like that”, Mills had said, then grinned as he pulled a large knife from his belt in a flourish, thrusting it into the side of one of the two men flanking him.
“Save his life, or you die too.”
The man stumbled forward, clutching at the protruding knife while casting frantic glances at Blake and Mills, then fell to the floor, screaming.
“Fucks’ sake!” Blake shouted, running for the man. “Hold him down, I need to extract the blade and get pressure on the wound. You! Get me some towels or rags – anything absorbent. We have to stop this bleeding.”
Mills moved to brace the man’s arms against the rug with his knees as the other man came in with gray, dingy rags.
“Surround the blade with the rags, and as soon as I pull it out, push on the wound. Ready?” With that, Blake slid the blade from the man, who howled with pain. “Move, move”, Blake said, replacing the other man’s hold on the rags. “It’s clean, and I don’t think you hit any organs.”
“’Course not”, Mills replied off-handedly.
“Get my bag, there should be a sewing kit in there. This shouldn’t be too bad to sew up, do you have any meds to keep away infection?”
“I do, but what kind of doc are you if the patient has to bring his own medications? Like I said, he dies, you die.”
“Wonderful”, Blake muttered, threading a needle with a silk thread. “Well, keep it clean and I’ll give you what I’ve got, but it means I have less for the next guy. At least Chuckles here got me those towels fast, I think I kept all the blood off of your rug.”
Mills started at that. “Blood on the rug? Man’s bleedin’ like a pig and your worried about blood on the rug?”
Blake shrugged, sparing a moment from his needlework to look around. “I don’t know, it really ties the room together”.
At that, Mills was in an uproar. “Blood on the rug! Boy, that is just too funny! Ties the room together! Hah! What a pisser!”
what a pisser indeed, Blake thought.
Suffice to say, the stabbed man lived, and Blake went on to work for the Raiders for a number of years until he had secure walls, food, and wanted for nothing. He had his own animals and fields, and could live off the land and provide for his family for the foreseeable future. So he decided to tender his resignation with the Plainswalker raiders.
That day, Blake learned an important lesson: Raiders are very possessive of their medical staff, and the Plainswalkers were dismayed by his decision to leave. They were so distraught, in fact, they issued a bounty on his head… after discovering the 2 dead raiders they sent to assassinate him and his family.
The evening was dark, quiet. Mel was in the kitchen, softly grinding the stunted grain which miraculously fought its way up through the cracked soil. Jake, the boy, said he was getting more wood from the side of the house, something Blake should have done earlier, but didn’t.
he could be alive if not for that
The boy went, and as the heavy metal door scraped shut, Blake suddenly heard a cry of alarm. Gunshots followed. Screams. Then silence. Blake was armed and ready by then, looking out into the night through the peepholes he had cut into the building’s thick walls. A still darkness enveloped the land, and Blake saw the moon’s thin reflection glistening from a wet, pooling mass just outside the door. His breath caught in his throat and he reflexively shut his eyes, knowing the boy was dead.
he could be alive
Melanie, sweet, innocent Melanie who was never made for this world, saw Blake’s face and knew. And just as he couldn’t hide the shame and anguish in that moment, neither could she control her own maternal grief nor her actions as she sprinted to the door in a mad haze. How she opened it so quickly, Blake would never know. His shouts seemed muted, his movements as though through molasses. He was maybe five feet from her – within reach, almost – when she tore open the last bulwark between them and the intruders. Instantly, bullets ripped through her torso, carrying with them bits of blood, tissue and cloth, which splattered against their small table. She looked down and fell to her knees, her ferocity replaced by confusion. She turned and looked at Blake, and in that moment she was beautiful. Beautiful and fatally broken – the small light in the kitchen casting a glow across her auburn hair; stirred motes of dust glinting in the cascade. He saw sorrow in her eyes, and then the bullet entered her skull. When it exited, it took with it half of her face, and what was once his reason for existing crumpled in a heap on the floor in front of him.
they died for your sins
Blake doesn’t really know what happened next. A haze of grief and red hot anger filled his vision, and when it cleared, he stood in the fields around his house over the bodies of two men who worked for his former employer. In that moment, Blake was surprised to find a distinct clarity. He understood that these men were here for him, and there would be more. Raiders are never at a loss for members, as the world is never at a loss for desperate, hungry men. They would never stop. Blake walked back to his house, and looked at the tableau in his front door. The boy, headed to the woodpile, didn’t make it but a few feet from the door before his body fell. The woman, her frame partially hidden, lie crumpled between the boy and where Blake once was, torn between devotions.
why didn’t I bring in wood earlier?
the boy should never have been out here
she should never have been out here
what a stupid thing to die for
And then Blake began to laugh. A few, quick exhales at first, but before long, his chuckles and chortles grew and his grief and pain was erupting from his throat in monstrous, woeful cackles. He had to laugh, the world was just too funny.
i’m like jesus, alive and on the cross, in a dead world
What a pisser.
Blake had worked his way around to the small building adjacent to his home, where he kept an ancient 1,110 cc Shadow he had found, then hidden from his Raider employers, as well as an emergency flee kit. The engine was modified to run on a small nuclear fuel cell, and might get him as far as the Rockies, if he was lucky.
With that last thought, chuckles began to arise in his chest, and by the time he had hit the highway, they were roars of laughter.
Lucky, indeed.The familiar horizon of the Blackened Hills behind him as he’s pulled over, away from immediate danger, Blake reaches into a sidesaddle and takes out a small jar, covered in burlap and tied with string. Uncapping the jar and eating the wild mushrooms found inside, mushrooms used by his people for centuries to find truth in the darkness, Blake starts his motorcycle. The pungent taste in his mouth, the increasing roar of the engine and the wind in his hair envelop him as he looks ahead and leaves behind everything he’s ever known.
Blake has not been seen in the Black Hills since.