I woke up sore and cold. Taking in my surroundings, I found myself on the tilted floor of a broken wagon. I could sense the mare I bonded with nearby, grazing.

I could also hear the buzzing of a thousand flies greedily devouring the spilled blood and the carcasses I didn't deal with yesterday. I put all the humans in the hole I'd found but the Kongs and horses were left behind.

I was not hurt and there were no insects on me. I climbed out of the wagon bed and stretched out. The soreness faded in record time. Was it my recovery boon? Most probably. I looked around. The stench coming from the dead animals was bad. The broken wagons where exactly where I left them. The weapons and pieces of armor too. Apart from insects, everything was the same. No predators or large scavengers came at night and I had no idea if I should be relieved or worried. I could see that some small carnivores came and took their share of the flesh. The pelt of the Kongs was ruined by small holes. Interesting enough, the cloud of flies was avoiding me.

I went away from the road and sat on a rock. I used precious drinking water to wash my hands and face and also to brush my teeth. I rationed the toothpaste and used almost none. In the cooler bag, I got another burrito and some cereal bars. It felt brand new and not a hundred years old. Silly girl. I took my smartphone and gasped as I checked the time. The device's clock was set to the same time as when I last used it. Time did not pass at all in storage. That was a game-changer. If the food and things I stored wouldn't spoil, I could keep supplies fresh for a very long time. It also meant I could save the food from Earth instead of eating it before spoiling.

I thought of clearing the carcasses of the monsters and horses but they were so big and yucky. I'd steeled myself and half-buried the people because they were people and deserved a proper repose. But I didn't want to mess with that. The carcasses would eventually be cleared out by scavengers. Instead of messing with that, I went back to shoveling dirt and gravel over the place where I dumped the bodies. I got to understand Joe Pesci's gripes on dealing with dead bodies. And I didn't even have to dig the hole. But I had to do it. After I couldn't see any more bodies, I rolled some large rocks on top. Time went by and it was late morning when I finished.

I felt awfully dirty. I was clad in dust and caked blood. As an experiment, I tuned in the tingle for the silicon and willed the element away from me. Violently. In my whole body. To my surprise, a cloud of dust puffed into existence around me and the dust was gone. I felt no exhaustion from using Decompose like that. Could I do it with the caked blood and grime too? Turned out that I could. I focused on the dried blood, sweat and other contaminants on my skin. Then I pushed carbon dioxide out of them. Decompose the organic compounds into carbon dioxide and whatever is left should be gaseous or a salt.

The sensation was if I had just dried myself after bathing in the ocean. Salt stuck to my skin. I still needed a shower. I had to settle for just washing my hands and face. I ate more snacks at breakfast. I had no idea when the food I had was going bad so I had to finish it sooner. I was sure they had food in the wagons.

I had to get out of this place before someone else came around. I checked the crates that were too big or too heavy for storing in plastic bags. Weapons, mostly swords, without scabbards. Arrowheads. Bow staves. Ornate leather belts. Salted jerky. Deer pelts. Barrels of ale and cheap wine. More Lorica Hamata. I took the armors and filled two bags with them. Rummaging through the crate of weapons, I picked a superb longsword. All the weapons were well-crafted but this sword was the best. After searching through the pile of discarded weapons, I found a suitable scabbard. I washed the blood and hung the sword across my back with two of those leather belts.

I also found a saddle and saddlebags in the last wagon, under the driver's seat. Along with a feed bag and a sack of oats. With a thought, I called the mare and she let me put the blankets and saddle on her back. There were a bit and bridle for riding but I felt I didn't need it and she didn't want to wear them. My bond with the mare would be enough. She didn't complain when I slung the feed bag over her head and filled it with oats though.

Maybe it was time for me to eat too. It was past noon already. I got some slices of the meat jerky in the merchant's cargo for lunch. They had small barrels with what passed as drinking water in this place, I guess. I dripped some bleach from my survival kit into the water and stored the barrels. The jerky was gamey and stringy. I didn't know what meat it was but certainly did not match the deer pelts.

After lunch, I tried and stored two of the smaller wine barrels, the ones with the best wine. Feeling I was ready to go, one thought crossed my mind. I couldn't leave the weapons behind like that. What if some bandit group comes across them and suddenly a wave of crime starts? There was absolutely no reason to leave the weapons behind if I could do something to prevent it. And I could.

I went back to the crates and concentrated on the metal. It felt like steel. I tried to find the 'tingle' of iron with Decompose. I held an arrowhead in my hand and focused. A few minutes later and I could feel the iron. I canceled it and took out my frying pan. I hoped it worked otherwise I'd lose a perfectly good Teflon-covered frying pan. I took a bunch of arrowheads and Decomposed the iron out of them and into the frying pan. The metal flowed between my fingers and down into the pan. It was weird feeling the metal flow without heating. I was left with graphite dust and traces of other metals in my hand. I shook the dust off my hand and immediately regretted it.

The metals alloyed with steel are usually very valuable. Chromium, Vanadium... If we were back on Earth. In Here? I had no idea. The stuff I dumped might've been... not valuable? Well, it's done now. Better luck next time. I think I saw a box under one of the benches. Let me check.

With the box to store the unknown materials left after Decompose removed the iron, I kept removing iron from the arrowheads into the frying pan. Once it was full, I stored the pan, leaving behind a disk of pure iron. The metal flowed but didn't melt or heat up. My items wouldn't carry large amounts of material into the storage unless it is a closed container. Interesting. Because the gloves I wore yesterday are probably still caked with blood.

As an experiment, I summoned the gloves on the ground. They repaired themselves but were still caked with blood. I then cut the rubber ring at the wrists, one of the few parts that were not dirty. I stored the rings only. The pieces left behind from the gloves crumbled into a fine dust that vanished in the wind. Interesting. Since the holes caused by yesterday's work were repaired, maybe the glove would regrow from the ring. A clean and perfect glove, please.

Back to the weapons. I kept Decomposing and making the iron disks. Each disk weighed about three to four kilograms. I would only leave after I destroyed all the weapons. It was the sensible thing to do. The morning went away and I had four bags with iron. I broke the bow staves and decided to leave all the rest behind. The next merchant that comes around will have the trouble of removing the carriages out of the way, he should have some reward.

I called the mare and climbed on the saddle. I should give her a name but I couldn't think of any good names. Should I go north or south along this road? I had no idea and both directions seemed nice. South we would return to where these merchants came from. My horse decided on her own when I thought about returning to where she came from. South it was. I glanced back at the broken wagons and the trade goods I was leaving behind. The barrels of ale were too big and the pelts didn't seem that valuable. Should I take the pelts too? I really don't know. But the merchants were carrying luxury goods. The same way they wouldn't be carrying shovelheads, I could assume all packages were valuable.

I'll take the pelts. And I'll also use Decompose on the wagons' frame. If I can break them down enough, it will be easier for whoever comes along to clear the road or at least go around. I got down from my horse as she didn't want to go into the sea of flies. Horses have a natural dislike of flies after all. But the flies part as I go. I can hear the buzzing but no insect comes near me. It's a neat perk if you ask me.

After I made my plan, I followed up. I folded the pelts and bagged them. The barrels, I rolled them to the side of the road. And then I broke down the vehicles. I separated the wheels by Decomposing the axles and set them aside next to the barrels. Spare wheels are useful, I guess. Then I broke the supports and the wagons came apart. I left the planks mostly untouched. Finally, I took some pieces of dried meat with me. I had no certainty I could find food on the road.

I got up on my horse and rode into the sunset. About time too. I grew used to the stench of roadkill but after a breeze brought in a waft of fresh air, oh dear. It was like my nostrils woke up after being a century dead. Terrible pun, I reckon. As I left the scene of carnage behind and the thrill of horseback riding took over me, my mind cleared of all the grim thoughts I was having without even noticing. yes, I looted the dead but I made a vow to give the valuables back to their families if I found them. If I was accused of stealing, I'd show them the footage of the fight. The Kongs did that, not me.

Not exactly into the sunset as the road went north-south but the day would soon be over. I'd spent too much time burying the people and the sun was getting cozy with the horizon. I looked around for a good place to make camp and after some time searching along the road, settled for clearing about a hundred meters from the road.

I didn't feel a single bug bite. The weather was clear and warm so I decided to keep using my tent as a huge bag and just crash in my sleeping bag. I also wanted a bath. I didn't find any water body large enough for bathing and now it was too late. So I laid down the thermal mat and the sleeping bag over it. I changed into the pajamas I died in. They were cleaner than the clothes I was wearing and I didn't want to dirty even more clothes.

I removed the saddles and bagged them. No need to leave them around to be stolen. The horse went on her own but I knew she wouldn't go away from me. I sat and started to write the journal of my otherworld adventures as I remembered the last day of my life on Earth and my first two days in this new world.

Remembering rekindled my feelings. I missed my family, my friends. I hated my former advisor. I realized I was manipulated by Tarhun. He did kill me even though it was because I was in the wrong place at the right time. I didn't even know if the professor also died. For some reason, I 'forgot' to ask. I felt trapped. I shouldn't but I suspected that God did not get me by mistake. He did let slip that I was important.

I took the sandstone tablet with his message. The list of boons I was bestowed. Decompose stood out from the bunch by a large amount. I had power over matter. To decay, separate, purify, and extract compounds. Even metals that were hard to obtain like those flakes of aluminum or other rarer ones. Even the name, Decompose wasn't what I felt from it. It was an adequate name, truly. I didn't feel like I could force a reaction or increase the complexity of the compounds and ores. Only decrease it and purify. If I was allowed to brag a bit on my own journal, a power that matched me. I thought of calling it Chemokinesis but it wasn't what I envisioned for true Chemokinesis. I couldn't synthesize things. So Decompose it is. Maybe I should title my journal as well.

Shaking my silly nerdy thoughts, I stored the laptop, chair, and table. The light was attracting bugs. I dove into my sleeping bag and pulled the zipper up. I was hidden from the road and I sent the mare an order to stay hidden from the road. Nobody would travel at night but we didn't need to expose us.

I shut my eyes and ended my second day. Alone. Vulnerable. But stronger than yesterday.

A note from MDW

Busy little bee.

Sandra, not me.

Looting wagons

for all to see.

About the author


Bio: This space reserved for something smart and witty that leaves the reader mindblown. Aaaaaany time now.... just wait.... (accepting submissions)

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