“I don’t really care,” Cam said.
His voice was youthful. It swept upwards to a positive tone, and there was a hint of laughter at the very end.
“What do you mean?” Darron asked.
This one’s voice was older than his years. There were no lines on Darron’s face, but in his voice there was the wear of life.
“I mean I don’t care. Not really. It’s hard to explain,” Cam shrugged.
The man was tied to the support post in the tent, with his hands bound behind his back. Outside, at least six armed men caroused around the campfire.
“They’re going to kill you!” Darron yelled in a whisper, “And not quickly, either.
“I’ve escaped worse,” Cam told him.
“What!?” he exclaimed, “You’re just gonna walk the fuck out of here?”
“I mean, yeah,” Cam said.
Darron simply leaned back, sitting with his arm up on his bent knee. He looked away and huffed.
Without a word, Cam began to stretch his arms backwards. They lifted behind his back until there was a sound.
Darron pulled away. Cam’s arms fell like noodles.
“Did you just…”
“Yeah. I’ve done it before,” he interrupted, gritting his teeth through pain.
His arms were pointed up almost like he was getting ready to take a nap. The bulge around his shoulders said otherwise. He went to his right side, worming his way up the post, and then dropped his weight onto his shoulder.
His shoulder popped back into place. He twisted to the other side, moving his head around the post and slammed the other shoulder back.
When he sat up the post was in front of him. He turned his attention to his bound hands.
“What are you?” Darron asked in horror.
“Well, I’ve been around for a while. I was around before the nukes,” Cam said.
“Before the…” Darron’s eyes shot open, “That was three hundred years ago.”
“I’ve since lost count,” Cam studied the ropes.
He began to bite at them. Darron realized that his teeth were immaculate. They were dazzling white. Most people lost half their teeth by the age of twenty. Toothbrushes weren’t exactly a priority anymore.
“Your teeth…” Darron started.
“Yeah. I got this nanite treatment before the missile exchange. My dad was a senator. He made me do it,” Cam went back to biting at the rope.
“Little robots all over me and inside me. They fix me up and keep me in this youthful state you see before me,” Cam smiled.
“You’re three hundred years old?”
“I already told you. I don’t know anymore.”
“So you survived the chaos. You survived the violence, and the plagues, and the radiation,” Darron counted on his fingers.
“I’m bored,” Cam stared into space.
“Three hundred years, man. I’ve done a lot. Experienced a lot.”
“But you’re here. You’re living right now. You’re trying to escape. You’re trying to live.”
“I guess I am,” Cam chuckled, “I kind of like watching the world change.”
“Wait. You know things! You know about the world the way it was before! You can help!” Darron had to fight to keep his voice down.
“Things change. But I’ve seen what you’re talking about. If I help, then people don’t learn.”
“What? You can help everyone!”
“What makes you think I haven’t tried?”
Darron watched the man bit through the ropes on his wrist. Red lines of irritation disappeared over the course of seconds.
“The nanites heal you,” Darron said.
“Darron. I think you’re going to do great things. I look forward to seeing how you change things.”
Cam stood up in the tent, fully mobile.
“Help me get out of here,” Darron pleaded.
It was a feeling he had. That this man had the power to save him, or at least tell him more.
“I feel like that would upset balances. No one learns when things are done for them. I’ll see you later,” Cam saluted.
He stepped out of the tent with a sweeping motion. Darron poked his head out to watch him.
Cam was seen immediately. The men were surprised, and the man used this moment of hesitation with brutal efficiency. He kicked the burning embers from the fire into one of the men’s face.
This one screamed; clutching at his face as Cam slid up to him with the grace of a mongoose. He put the man in between himself and the guns pointed at him.
With one hand he moved the poor soul, and with the other he grabbed at his shield’s weapon. Machinegun fire erupted from the camp. Two men went down as tents rattled with activity.
In the dusty cloud of action Cam was gone.
Darron sat down in his tent, staring into space. Outside the leader yelled epithets. He commanded his men to pursue. He berated the burned man, and when it was apparent that this ageless figure was lost, he fired his weapon into the darkness.