Journal of Maxwell Robinsion
"S-s-so tell me what's worse, being held at gunpoint or having a bullet in the cerebellum?'
"Killing me proves difficult, doesn't it?"
"K-killing you will be the easy part."
I've discovered a few fascinating things during my relatively brief existence. Fear, I've discovered is a wonderful motivator.
"You realize that if I'm dead, we can't be friends?"
"You... Y-you haven't answered my question yet!"
"Well I suppose it depends, really. How likely am I to be shot?"
For a moment, her gaze faltered; it was all I needed. Deftly, I pulled the gun straight from her hands and discharged it into the treetops.
Something else I realized is that Jo, my best friend since childhood, has the somewhat normal tendency to stutter whenever she's afraid of something. Right now, it seems to be losing me.
"You said you wouldn't leave me" she said softly. "Why'd you go away, Max? You lef- you left me for days!"
"Jo, I went away for fifteen minutes to find firewood."
Maybe you'll want to know more about me. Well, honestly, there isn't much to tell. I was born in Markonis, spent a few years between nannies. When I was of age, I got shipped off to boarding school. I suppose you could say I've had an average childhood thus far. Average seeing as my father was the leader of our country. Pretty normal, knowing he wanted nothing to do with me. I guess I'm just like all the others, homeless now after the invasion. The boarding school was burned to the ground by the Paxcatian drones, and I barely escaped with my life. My possessions, any trace of my old life, that's gone now.
I guess Jo lost more. She lost her sanity.
For a while, we wandered. We dodged the drones and avoided becoming slaves, and eventually, we found a small camp. We found friends, allies, people who'd avoided becoming slaves.
I found a purpose.
"A-are you mad with me?"
I dropped the pistol into the dead leaves below. I hugged her, holding her quaking form close. She'd grown awfully skinny. Her dark brown skin seemed to swallow the setting sun's orange glow.
"Jo? Where did you get the gun?"
"I found it."
"Just where exactly did you find it?"
"Isn't it r-really obvious?"
"No, you're not making it so."
"It was underneath Mr. Sere's pillow.
"What were you doing there?"
"I'm not sure. myself."
"Can I have it back now?"
"You have to give it back to Casey, Jo."
I picked up the gun and handed it back to her, albeit slowly. It was an old fashioned weapon, a rather elegant weapon that looked out of place with our utilitarian, makeshift lasers, our electrical weapons, so unpolished. It was nearly a pretty thing to look at, with its silvery, simple surfaces. It almost seemed ornate, the ax of a wealthy executioner.
"I'll give it back, Max. I promise."
I nodded as we made our way back to the camp.
"So why did you take me out here, anyway?" She'd recommended we take a walk; she usually only does this when there's something she needs to tell me.
"Because Mr. Sere has a message for you" she said.
"Oh? What is it?"
"That you'll be going on a very, very special mission."
Jo stopped suddenly. Her mood, upbeat, cheerful moments ago, suddenly seemed to collapse to the forest floor.
"It's a long trip, far away. You might not return."
"And I take it that he-"
"He didn't invite me."
"Then I'm not going."
"I think we both know why I'm not going with you."
"And that's exactly why I'm staying here with you."
"Max, I'm afraid for you but... But I've been thinking. It's selfish of me to keep you here. Markonis- the real Markonis- needs you. I'm afraid for everybody."
We trod towards the camp in silence for a while. There really wasn't much more to be added.
As I've said before, fear is one of the, if not the best motivator of all. It was enough to make Jo walk into camp, and enough to make her approach Mr. Sere.
It was enough to make her point the pistol at Mr. Sere, to make her offer him one last choice.
"Take me away from here. Far away from Max, far away from it all, take me back home" she yelled.
This was the last I heard from her. I came running to find her, only to discover her limp in Mr. Sere's arms.
"She fainted" he explained quickly. I trusted that she had. Mr. Sere slung her over his shoulder and carried her away, into the brig. I caught a glimpse of a smile on her face. Our brig, our improvised prison, is essentially a big, plastic box on the end of our convoy. We've never had to use it before.
Later that night, Mr. Sere took me aside. He explained to me everything I knew: Jo wasn't stable, and for the sake of our ultimate goal, he thought it'd be best if I went away for awhile.
I cried a little after that conversation. We both understood what Jo did. She was afraid, not for herself but for everyone around us and she knew just what I could do, what I needed to do. She understood. She just needed to get me away, and she found out how to do it.
She's the best friend I've ever had.
I'm about to go off to Paxcatia now, as you may surmise, and I've said goodbye to Jo for what may be the last time. She kept telling me not to worry, she kept begging me not to be scared for her. She promised that we'd be together again, soon. I think she was right, and I suppose she's in good hands, but I don't think I'll ever stop fearing for her. I guess it's because we're almost siblings, and I can't stand the thought of being away from her for so long...
"Hey, do you remember that game we used to play?" she asked me shortly before my leaving from within her plastic prison.
"The one with the rich grandmother, she died and left clues to her fortune."
I smiled a little; that scenario was pretty much the product of our upbringing here in Markonis.
"Yes, I remember, her name was Evelyn."
"You do remember" Jo beamed.
"Remember how we tried to organize a-"
Mr. Sere cut me off. It was time to go. Right now, I'm sitting on a fallen log with my comrades. We're about to sneak across an ocean, and quite frankly I have no idea when I'll be able to write again. If there's one thing I do know for certain, however, it's that I'm going to see Jo again, and secretly, I'm proud of her. She made a dangerous, foolish decision.
It was the right one.
Alright, I finished another short story in Markonis, sort of a prequel to the next chapter (still a WIP!).
This story was actually a very clever analogy for something. I don't like to refer to my own work so haughtily, but today I'll make an exception. Will people understand what else this story means? Here's hoping.