Story: Pay It Forward by /u/rjacquel


6 years ago

The damp morning air passes through a large school house window

Ryan is quiet sitting at an old teachers desk inside the school, his bag and items strewn in an organized fashion across the class room that he now calls home. The old halls quietly howl as wind passes through them on this cool winter morning. On his desk sits a book, a half empty bottle of cheap Russian whiskey and a few photos of his wife and daughter.

Now that he has been in Severograd for almost a month he feels this place home. The group that calls themselves the Fire Keepers has yet to pay him a visit and he feels that perhaps they are a group that is no longer. The school he now lives in has been searched and searched again, doors barred shut and exit routes planned.

Ryan reaches down and grabs his lukewarm mug of instant coffee and takes a sip

Staring across the classroom Ryan almost forgets what this building was even ment for, as he now simply sees it as his safe haven. People come and go, and as they do he watches over them from his perch making sure that they make safe passage too and from the city. All the while the person being watched has no idea that he is doing so. The lives he has saved, thankless…but he knows what he has done.

Looking down at his book he scribbles down a line or two about his daily requirements for his trip into the city;

  • Wet Stone
  • Rope
  • Duct Tape
  • Whiskey
  • Tea

It reads like an old time grocery list from when he was living back in the normal world. All these things have just become repition to him: wake up, coffee, run to town, come home, watch the roads. He stands up from his desk and brings his coffee over to the broken window and places it on the ledge. Beside the mug are his binoculars, and below that leaning against the wall is a long rifle with a hunting scope.

Peering through the binoculars Ryan catches a glimpse of someone who has started to make their way down the hill and onto the main road from the North of town. He follows them slowly with his eyes, an orange band wrapped around their right arm. He lowers his binoculars and picks up his rifle, scanning the roads and windows ahead of the man. As the man passes the soccer field Ryan reaches up and adjusts his scope;

Click Click

The adjustments are stuck in Ryans head as he has spent countless hours measuring the areas infront of the school. 250m is the number set on the rifle scope, just a few meters farther than the soccer field. The man slows his pace to a gentle jog and begins the scan the windows and allies himself. Dressed in all green except for his glaring orange arm band. The man stops, almost suddenly and swings his shotgun off his back. His posture has become tense and hyper alert, it is clear that something has caught his attention. He turns the dangerous end of his shotgun towards an alley to his left and raises it. Ryan see’s it, through his scope a middle aged woman stumbles out of the darkness between the homes. Her dress torn exposing her decayed breast, her hair matted to her head and her right arm missing below the elbow.

The man shoulders his rifle and grabs a knife from his belt, and standing with the knife ready to strike he waits for her to move in on him. She shuffles across the ground and begins to pick up speed. As she closes the gap the man thrusts the blade toward her skull, the steel of the blade glances off her eye socket and falls from the man’s hand. Stumbling backwards he tries to steady himself against her wait but with the sheer shock of missing the strike weakens his knees and he collapses to the ground with a heap of rotting flesh upon him.

Ryan’s hair stands on end as he watches the woman snap her teeth at the man while he tries to press her head back from his face. Ryan’s hands become slick with sweat as he grips the rifle tighter and shoulders it firmly. The cross hairs of his scope now slowly lowering onto the womans head, the rifle sways with his heartbeat. Gently and slowly he exhales, his finger lightly squeezing the trigger. Ryan feels the trigger give slight resistance as pressure is applied to the firing pin. He pauses and watches the man start to scream and lose his battle, just as the woman raises her head to latch down onto the man’s cheek;


The rifle’s report fills the classroom with a deafening crack, Ryan’s ears ring and throb. Looking back down through his scope quickly, Ryan sees the man laying under the weight of the limp female. Suddenly, there is a rustling struggle from the man as he realizes what has happened. Rolling out from under the woman the man scrambles to grab his knife off the ground. He jumped to his feet and sprinted down the alley out of site.

Ryan places his rifle back on the ledge and takes a deep breath. Turning. he walks back to his desk and sits down. He grabbed his pen and leaned over his book, flipping to a page;

Orange – Unknown

He puts the pen down and looks at the page, upon it a list of arm bands and clothing colors. Beside these colors sits a ledger of how he feels these people fit into the world, ranked in how dangerous he feels they may be. All of these rankings based purely on how these people conduct themselves on the main highway, and determine if it is you he helps… or kills.