The survivors huddled around the fire, times had not been easy since The Incident. The group had been on the road for two years already and were getting tired of their endless struggle; they had heard the rumour that up north the city of Graduation was a full of food, jobs and warmth. Many felt that Graduation was their only hope and at their current pace only about a year of travel away. It would be a hard year, but the survivors were no strangers to hardship. In fact, they had really only survived on their journey because of the skills of their leader, Veronica Tutor, an ex software engineer who always carried a small black box with her everywhere she went. Veronica was had a strange attachment to the box, which she affectionately called Pulse, and would sneak a look at it when she thought nobody was looking. Pulse’s purpose was unknown to the rest of the group but would measurement, collection, analyse the status of the survivors and report stats on them back to Veronica. Using this information she would know which survivors would and wouldn’t make it to Graduation, she would leave those with no hope behind and give those who needed it a push to carry on. This would mean that precious resources would not be wasted on the doomed.
The death of David earlier in the week had come as a shock to the group. He had gone out looking for food with Veronica and didn’t come back. Veronica who was usually calm in these situations had been visibly shaken all week.
“That bloody box!”
Screamed Veronica, throwing it in to the fire.
“I dragged David across three counties and every morning he’d say he wasn’t getting up. I would check Pulse, and it would say he could make it, that he had it in him to get to Graduation. Knowing that he could do it I’d convince him. Or push him. Or I’d carry him, if I had to. Until that day, while looting for food in an abandoned computer lab a few Java assignments caught us unaware and cornered us. They forced us to the roof. And when they kept coming… I… I couldn’t make him jump. I couldn’t throw him. So I tried something else. I told him he could have what he bloody wanted and I left him there as I jumped to the next building over by myself. I left him to fail those bloody assignments when I knew he could make it. Its been killing me all week, Pulse told me he could survive and I let him go. But I finally realised that I’d put him on a forced march through hell, when all he really wanted was for me to let him go.”