Dear Diary,

 Dear Diary,

Sorry I haven’t been able to write recently, things have been sort of crazy. I’m also sorry I can’t put an exact date on this entry. The guys and I, minus Tilden (more on that later), have been traveling nonstop since we found a ex-Phoenix man called Tino and a kid. Yeah, a real kid! I can’t remember the last time I saw one. He can’t be more than a two years old. We thought he was human at first, but he’s got to be some kind of weird human/worm hybrid thing. He’s got this big, gray tongue that’s definitely not normal, and he can talk. Anyway, Damek hit Tino over the head, and we got the hell out of there with the baby.

That baby’s priceless, so we decided to go upriver to potentially trade him for something useful…like metal, glass, good cloth, or a good time. But the kid would not fucking shut up when we were in the boat. Tilden held him over the water and threatened to dunk him if he didn’t keep quiet, but we had to tell Tilden to knock it off. He was pretty rough with the baby, holding him by his limbs and whatnot. Probably due to the fact that he had a feeling it was different…or maybe it was his ulcer. Well, if the crying and pissed off German in the boat weren’t bad enough, it started raining while we were still rowing.

We had to assemble a temporary camp with what we had with us and what we could find in the forest. We fed the kid and talked about potential trade value. Someone pulled out booze after we’d set up to go with dinner. I watched as the kid went out to wash himself and get something to drink. He’s strange; I never would’ve thought a kid so young to be capable of that. I fell asleep after drinking too much.

awoke when someone tripped over me, and Iriarte yelled that the kid had run off into the forest. I don’t know what drove me to go in after him, in the dark. Maybe it was how valuable he was or maybe he was starting to grow on me in a weird way. But it’s not as if I could see. I was running blind. But I claimed that I found him, then due to some amount of luck, I tripped and swug my arms reflexively around the kid.

While carrying him to the camp, I rubbed his back, mumbling aloud how us guys were totally inept at taking care of kids. We didn’t have any experience. Poor thing crawled next to me to sleep for the rest of the night.

Tilden died the next day. Hacked up blood, collapsed. There’s not a lot we could do. Kaliq and Damek laid him down and tilted his head to the side. Iriarte got some water. I took the kid away from Tilden and all that blood, thinking that a kid shouldn’t be subject to something like that. That’s when he started talking. It was weird. The toddlers I knew weren’t ever able to talk like that. He just didn’t know a few words. This kid could hold an entire conversation and actually could think for himself. He’d suggested that we get some worms to heal Tilden, like before. But I knew better.

That kid though…I just couldn’t get my head around what he…it…was. He started crying when I asked about Tino. I called the Phoenix guy a traitor to the human race, then told the kid he may not be valuable. He said otherwise, but we’ll see.

When I went back to the camp, Tilden was dead. I wasn’t surprised, but the guys and I sure were sad. I shed a few tears while we buried him. Each one of us, Damek, Irirate, Kaliq, and I said a few words about him before we left his body for good.

Didn’t pay much attention to the kid when we got back to the boat. I just wanted to get out of there. Now, we’re still in the middle of the river, but we know where we’re going.

-Galt



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