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Aberrant: Dead Rising - Man for the Job [Complete]

z-Jules WhiteElk

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Jules walked easily through the refuge, her head high. It wasn't from any high spirits, though; it was because she was peering around, seeking something - well, someone, but she was starting with where he was supposed to be. She figured that she'd have an easier time of finding him if she looked for his trucks or his people.

She was right; she saw the big green trucks before she saw the tents that had been loaned his people. They were looking for more permanent housing for them, but that meant either building something or displacing someone. Right this second, neither was an option. Besides, Jules wasn't sure that the scientists from Roff weren't going to move themselves to Albright's, which made sense. She rather hoped to move Albright up here; it'd be safer than remaining so close to Dallas. But if they did move, she wanted a chance to cajole one of their team to stay. Henry had told her Walker was an employee as well as a friend, so maybe if she convinced Walker to remain here, the scientists would, too. And they needed scientists, if they had a hope in hell of getting rid of the zombies.

"Hey!" Jules grinned as Henry came bolting up to her, a wide grin on his face. She knew that part of his happiness at seeing her was because he liked her. She was okay with that; he didn't have a shot in hell with her, but then no one did, really. She was just too empty inside to have room for someone else right now. But it was nice to see him smile like that when he saw her.

"Hey, Henry," she said with a smile. It didn't reach her eyes, but like most guys, Henry didn't notice. "How are things?"

"Be nice if we had a building, but other than that, it's good," Henry replied, meeting her eyes. He might like her, but he never leered at her body, at least not when she was paying attention.

"I'm working on it," Jules said, and she was. Getting them a permanent place required some careful work, and that took time. "Say, is Walker about?"

Henry's face fell a bit. "Sure," he said, "I think he's over there."

"Thanks," Jules said, glancing the direction he'd pointed in. She took in his disappointment and said, "Up for chess when I'm done talking?"

Henry perked up. "Yeah!" he said easily. "Sounds great."

"Cool," Jules said, nodding. "Back in a bit." Turning, she ambled toward Walker. She was careful to make noise, and to stop before she could be seen as threatening. Walker didn't seem to be the type to take being surprised well. "Hey, Walker. Have a couple of minutes?"

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There is a widely held belief that all humans possess only five normal senses. This is, of course, pure nonsense. Any fully functioning, healthy human being possesses at least eleven distinct senses. In addition to the typically listed five senses, all humans also possess, in no particular order: nociception (pain receptors), thermoception (tempurature differences), proprioception, (the relation of parts of the body to each other), equilibrioception (balance), the sense of time, and magnetoception (direction sense - almost nonexistent in most humans). However, experts disagree on how exactly to define a 'sense', so in the end, it may well turn out that we possess even more than that.

John William Walker, however, was not a normal, fully functioning, healthy human being. All eleven of his normal senses were significantly more developed than any normal person's. This was especially true of his senses of sight, smell, sound, and (most especially) of touch. As the months since the plague had passed, his senses had only seemed to grow more acute, along with his ability to use them, and in recent months he had begun to sense things outside of the normal, human frame of reference.

Walker now possessed twelve distinct senses. In addition to the eleven human senses listed above, Walker also possessed a 'Pressure Sense', not unlike most kinds of fish and many types of arthropods. Spread throughout the normal hairs of his body were setae, modified hair-like bristles (virtually indistinguishable from normal human hair) that were sensitive to even minute changes in air pressure and shifts in air current. This ability allowed Walker to mainain a near-constant awareness of the world all around him, without regard to which direction he was facing, how dark or light it was, or how noisy it was. He could even tell how high above sea level he was right at that moment, standing at the southern edge of a landlocked state like Oklahoma.

Because of this newest, and strangest of his twelve senses, Walker had been aware of Jule's approach long before she'd thought to start making noise so as not to sneak up on him. Even so, he waited until she'd addressed him before turning around slowly and facing her. He regarding her for a moment before answering her question in his strained, whispery voice.

"Sure. Got all the time in the world", he said. Then he quirked an eyebrow and waited for her to continue.

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"You might want to get your whiteboard," Jules said easily. She'd very intentionally not tried to reclaim it from him that first night. No one else was using it, and it seemed cruel to not let him use it. "Or not. I can do all the talking, if you'd like."

She sat down, waiting if he choose to get the whiteboard. When they were both settled and ready, she started. "Well, I've heard from the Roff survivers that you were a guard there. The fact that you saved a bunch of them tells me your talents support you being a good one.

"I don't know what you know, but Morgan... Fox is seeking my help with running this place. Part of that is security, naturally, which you've seen first-hand. I'm looking to beef up security, and you've probably guessed where this is going now," she said. "I need to know what you want to stay here and work for us, so that we can start to work out some kind of arrangement."

She watched him not move, not do anything, and wondered what he really was. Could he be considered human anymore? Or did having too many arms mean he was something else now? She'd have to ask him, what he thought, if she could do it without insulting him.

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Walker listened to her carefully, and then thought about his answer for a moment. Which of course meant that he stood there without moving while she wondered what was going on in his head. Finally, he reached for the whiteboard with that alien grace of his, and began to write on it.

When he finished writing, he spun it around and handed it to Jules. It said:

*I'm not sure what they told you. The Docs exaggerate sometimes. But the truth is, I'm not sure I want to do any more security work. At least not the sort that means I have to stand on top of a wall for hours everyday.

Years ago, I was a Navy SEAL, so I have combat training. After that, I was an outdoor guide, so I know how to survive in the wild. As a hobby, I've been practicing leather-working and other basic trade skills for years, so I can do that. Security work, though - I just stumbled into it at Roff. I have no training, and I didn't particularly like the work.

While I'm here, I'd be willing to lend a hand if there's ever any danger, though.*

Walker waited while Jules read, and when she was done, she found him looking down at her with a questioning look on his face. He was waiting to hear her response.

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Jules nodded slowly as she read. She could understand his sentiment. While many were happy here, some were here because they had to be. This place was safe, but it wasn't for everyone, and Walker had a choice; he could leave and would probably survive out there. Even with his weirdness, he would likely be welcomed anywhere he went.

Which was her point at this moment, pretty much exactly.

"I'd like to change that 'while I'm here' into something more permanent," she said simply. She didn't know if blunt honesty or flattery was the way to go, so she tried both. "If you don't want standard guard duty, that can be arranged. Even if you hung around waiting for the next attack, I'd consider you to worth a reasonable price. Hell, James' job around here seems to be making the occasional raid and keeping Violet out of trouble, as near as I can tell, and he's somehow a benefit to the community.

"And that's my point," she continued, plucking up a bit the new, green grass that was just starting to come up. Her fingers began to weave it together idly as she laid out her thoughts to him. "This place is a community. It needs things. Security is only one. Your other skills will be just as needed as we run out of canned food and unraided Wal-marts.

"We need yours friends, the scientists, too, and I think they want to remain close to you," Jules added as tiny white flowers joined the green grass in a verdant chain. "We're going to need them to fix this world, and they need a safe place to do that. I believe that this is that safe place. Whatever rolled over Roff will choke on the amassed power that we have here. Had my family... were they alive, I would place their best bet on longevity here. This place is the foundation of a new world."

She paused in her weaving, her hands going still as she focused her attention on him. "I want you to stay and help us. I'll entertain conditions and concessions that aren't unethical. What will convince you it's in your best interest to remain?"

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Walker listened as Jules spoke her mind, and when she was finished he thought about his answer before committing it to the whiteboard. After a moment's thought, he sighed and started writing. The sigh was the most unconsciously human-like gesture Jules had seen him make so far.

Once he finished writing, the whiteboard said:

*I don't think we're going about this right. I know you're trying to offer me a deal, but you haven't told me what you want in return yet. And don't tell me you just want me to stay - people don't offer 'conditions' or 'concessions' to someone who's just another 'helpful soul'.

You wouldn't offer a special deal unless you wanted special services in return.

What is it you expect me to do for you, Jules?*

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"I want you to dedicate yourself toward rebuilding the world, through the vision I have," she said simply. "We have a chance to build something here that will change our world for the better. I want you to stay here, to bleed for it, to live for it. I won't ask you to die for it, because I don't need people to die. I need them to live.

"I want you to serve as a forward scout for us, warning us of approaching danger before it comes into our valley and fucks with us. I want you to teach our kids to survive in a world where they can't buy what they need off the rack." Her braid came around and connected to itself in a little daisy chain.

"I could go on and on and tell you exactly why I think we need you. It really comes down to the fact that you have skills we need. I'm asking you to be a guard - a scout, more specifically, and a teacher."

She tilted her head and handed him the braided grass. "My mother knew the old ways, how to make things from natural sources. She's dead now. We need you, Walker."

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Walker took the grass and actually smiled back. Actually smiled! It wasn't a grin or a laugh, but it was a facial expression, at least. That had to count for something. He held the woven grass in one hand and looked at it for a long moment, and then he looked back at Jules and whispered, "Ok."

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