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Island Gothic

06 January 201907:30PMtravel

You leave The Settlement, through gates designed to keep the wildlife out. Past the turbine hill and the brine lakes, past the bore fields and the fire trails, there are only hills and scrub, punctuated by occasional glades of gnarled, parched trees.

You go on foot, or on a bike. You take only what you can carry, including water for the day. There is no fresh water outside The Settlement. Only the Rangers, working for the Authority, have access to motor vehicles.

You pause to take a break, sweating inside your helmet and protective clothing. You reach into your pack, past the mask and breathing tube you carry just in case you need them, and take a swig from your precious water supply. You take a look around, reflecting on what brought you to this place.

Once, the island was a prison, and then a military base. Now, the centre of the island is a Research Area - although if you ask the folks around you, they'd be hard pressed to tell you what that research actually is. Other than that, The Island is occupied only by transient visitors - travellers, like you - living off desalinated water and food shipped from elsewhere at great cost, bunking in basic accommodations repurposed from another era, searching for... something that escapes definition, but that might just bring you peace.

Because despite decades of habitation - or perhaps thanks to it - they say there's things to discover at the heart of the Island. That, after all, is what dragged you away from the Settlement.

Sometimes, the Guides - not part of the Authority, but with its permission - lead expeditions into the research area at the centre of the island. Or out through the tunnels, part of the disused military installation, under the island. You, though, prefer to strike out on their own, seeking parts of the Island none have yet found.

Youths, in particular, will find an isolated beach somewhere to drink and party - but if the Rangers find them, the full wrath of the Authority will be brought down on them - and the may find themselves kicked off the Island for good. You were one of them, once, but now you find yourself looking for something different.

Something screeches in the distance, something winged and hungry, breaking your reverie. You should keep moving. Staying in one place too long was a good way to have your provisions stolen by scavengers.

You'd taken shelter under an ancient rust-coloured structure, seeking shade, seeking any respite from the scorching temperatures. You step back out on to the road as others come to claim your place. Heat waves rise off the tarmac as the sun scours the landscape - and yet you are thankful to be here. After all, they say things are even worse back on the Mainland...

definitely a hellscape

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