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The Fiery Death of a Burned Man's Lover

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Two people walked down the dusty, ruined road, passing through the destroyed town. Back before the nuclear Armageddon that had destroyed this place, it’d probably been bustling. Now it was nothing but ruins, a ghost of the past.

The woman, a courier named Nellie, grinned. “This looks unscavenged! I don’t even see any graffiti here,” she exclaimed, looking back at her partner, Joshua.

Joshua frowned. “We should still not drop our guard,” he warned. “This place looks abandoned but there are many hiding places for anything that wants us dead.”

“Well, hopefully my Pip-Boy will let me know,” Nellie grinned, then pointed at a derelict building with boarded up windows and a rusted sign that read ‘Drumlin Diner’. “Look, an old diner! Let’s go see if there’s any food!”

Joshua stopped, and crossed his arms. “Noelia, please, be careful.”

“I will!” She skipped over to the door, then pouted. “Aww, boarded up. But that’s not gonna stop me!” Nellie grabbed the planks and ripped them off. Despite having very low use of her left hand she was still very strong. Joshua raised an eyebrow as he walked over.

The former Legate looked around. This town was so quiet… there weren’t any birds flying around or other signs of life. He wondered why, but was snapped out of his thoughts by Nellie yelling in glee. Joshua turned back just to see her boots disappearing into the hole she’d made. “Noelia!”

“What?”

“Be careful.”

“I will. Promise,” she replied, then stood. “Mmm… tastes like gas.”

“Gas?”

“Yeah, the flammable shit,” Nellie said as she tried the lights. “Why did I expect the lights to work?”

“Why did you?”

“Guess I got used to Vegas.”

Joshua crouched down and looked in through the hole. “Where even are you?”

“Near the kitchen door!” came the response. Nellie pushed the door open and frowned. “You know, despite the horrible time I had at Big MT, that nightstalker experiment accident comes in handy.”

“I can hardly hear you,” Joshua said in some annoyance. “Noelia, please, get out of there. I don’t think it’s safe.”

“Relax, Joshy,” she laughed. “I’m fine. I’m a tough cookie—oh shit.”

“Noelia!?”

“There’s a fucking scorpion!” she screamed as she whipped out the pistol he’d given her. “Get away from me!”

Nellie pulled the trigger on the pistol after aiming it. Joshua yelled. “Noelia, wait--!”

He was nearly blown over by the force of the explosion that occurred. He twisted his face away, throwing his arms up in front of his eyes until the explosion settled.

But the heat he could feel...

Joshua pulled his arms away from his face only to see the raging inferno inside the building. He couldn’t see Nellie either, which made him panic.

“Noelia!” he yelled in desperation. “Noelia! Are you alright!? Noelia!”

“Joshua!!” Nellie screamed back. Her voice… it was full of fear, full of pain and suffering.

Joshua tried to get the door open, but the wooden panelling barred his way. He could feel the heat on the other side, and it terrified him. Joshua despised—no, was afraid of—fire now, but he had to try get to Nellie.

Nellie herself tried to drag herself back to the door, to the outside world. Her entire body was on fire, and it hurt like hell. ‘Well, now I know what Joshua felt like,’ she thought feebly.

Joshua managed to wrench the door open, which made flames leap out at him. He leaped out of the way until they subsided a bit and ran over. “Noelia!”

In response, a shaky hand reached out. The charred skin made him feel sick to the stomach, but he reached out to it in a futile attempt to grab it.

He just managed to touch the fingers when the hand was engulfed in fire, and he was forced back. “Noelia! No…!”