As the leader of the Historian Tribe, Sampson liked to take excursions into other territories to find pre-war artifacts, arts, remnants of life before the bombs. Sampson was a man of culture, a rarity among the survivors of the fallout. Abandoned buildings, houses destroyed by the war, old museums, and the like were prime targets for his trips. Though sometimes, Sampson didn’t have a specific place in mind, and just wandered until he found something. Today was one of those days. He had been walking all day, passing plenty of strangers but smiling nonetheless. As the sun descended past the horizon, Sampson ended up in the territory of his former Lake tribe right on the Western shoreline. Looking out toward the lake, he saw the giant Lucky sleeping in the middle of the water. Sampson sat on the shore looking at Lucky, wondering how an alligator ended up in Green Bay with what he’s read about pre-war animal habitats, before he fell asleep.

“Hello? You alive?” An unfamiliar voice woke Sampson from his slumber. He lifts his head up, shaking it groggily. He stares up at the woman who woke him, a young woman with short, blonde hair. “Good, you’re alive at least. So, you alright?”

“Yeah, yeah I’m good.” He stands up, patting the sand off of his pant legs.

“You should be more careful, you know. Falling asleep on the shore here is a bit dangerous, especially with Lucky right out there able to come on shore anytime he wants.”

“Be careful you don’t get targeted for heresy.”

“Ha! Witty, I like it. What’s your name?”

“Sampson, you?”

“Sandy. Found you on my daily run.” She points to a small boat anchored on the shore of the lake. “Wanna hop on and I’ll give you a ride back?”

“Thanks for the offer, but I don’t want the water to mess with my Bat.”

Sandy narrows her eyes a bit, looking Sampson up and down. “Uh, what Bat?”

Quickly staring down at his hip, Sampson realizes his true mistake falling asleep in public. His Bat was gone.

“This area is common stealing grounds for the Scavenger tribe. Since you fell asleep here without knowing that, I’m assuming you’re not from the Lake tribe?”

“Used to be. It’s been a while, though. Years at least. You said Scavenger tribe?”

“Yeah, a lot of the more mutated ones like to stay along the shore. It’s a fast way back to the Mind Zone from here.”

The Mind Zone. He had heard rumors of the place, but never seen it himself. If he believed the rumors, then it was a place where mutated members of the Scavenger tribe attempted to get closer to their supposed psychic abilities. If he didn’t believe the rumors, it was a sad conglomerate of heavily irradiated thieves holding onto one last spark of joy. Either way, if they had taken his Bat, he would see for himself which held true. “Would you be able to bring me to it?”

Sandy looks at Sampson skeptically. “They don’t like us normal folks going into the Mind Zone. You sure you wanna do this?”

“You know how expensive Bats are, right?”

She sighs, and points to the boat. “Yeah, sure. You’re lucky you’re a former Lake tribe guy.” The two of them board the boat and depart from the shore. “It’ll take a while to get across, since we gotta go around back of Lucky.”

“Won’t it be faster to go in front?”

She scoffs. “A faster way to your death, maybe. Lucky has gotten...accustomed to eating people on boats going in front of him. The world’s gone to some weird shit.”

“It wasn’t always like this...” Sampson’s voice trails off, his mind flashing back to the home videos he’s had the privilege of viewing, the artifacts he’s found and placed in the Historian’s archives.

“You alright, dude?”

Sandy’s voice shocks him back into reality. “Sorry, just thinking about life before the war.”

“You don’t look old enough to remember that firsthand.”

“Unfortunately not.”

“Unfortunately? Ah, you’re part of the Historian tribe now, aren’t you?”

“Not just part of, the leader.”

“Really? Is that why you’re wandering around, looking for things from before the war?”

“It’s my pastime. I love learning about what came before us. It gives me a good insight into how things have changed.”

“Why? What's the point of learning about the past when it's useless to us now?”

The question puzzled Sampson, and he contemplated it without giving a response. What was the point of studying the past? Why did Sampson feel such a strong pull toward pre-war life? Was he trying to learn from it? Or did he perhaps find some sort of escapism in the past? As the two remained silent for the rest of the boat ride, Sampson thought about the place his people's history had in a world that had tried to reject it for survival, and came up blank.

It was not until Sandy had dropped him off a mile up shore of the Mind Zone and he trekked his way to it before he would find his answer. There, looking upon the decayed shack guarded by a dense forest, Sampson felt a sense of anxiety fill him. He has never met with a scavenger, and he thinks back to Sandy's comment about how they hate visitors. He gulped, and stepped toward the Mind Zone.

He had breached several lines of trees before a loud cry stopped him in his tracks. He quickly turned to see a man with an enlarged right arm and green spots dotting his face pointing at Sampson, screaming loudly. A few seconds later, a group of scavengers scramble out of the Mind Zone, some holding kukri. Before long, they have Sampson surrounded. "Who are you?! Why have you come?!"

Sampson holds his hands in the air peacefully. "I had a Bat stolen from me while I was sleeping on the Western shore. I want to know if someone here took it."

A few of the scavengers whispered to each other, but most held their gaze. After what felt like an eternity, one of the whispering scavengers, a man with his ring finger missing on both hands and radiation scars covering his arms, steps forward from the pack holding Sampson’s Bat. “I took this from you because I thought you were dead. But you have made a grave mistake coming here, outsider.” The man tosses the Bat on the ground between them, and pulls out two kukri, holding one by the blade. He tosses it handle-first to Sampson, and it lands on the ground before his feet. “You can have it back, when you pay for your crimes!”

He brandishes his remaining kukri and rushes toward Sampson, who falls backward startledly. He quickly reaches out and grabs the kukri on the ground, holding it up above him just as the man tries to bring it down on him. The blades clash, making a clinking sound as the surrounding scavengers cheer. Sampson kicks the man in the rib and sends him sprawling to the ground. They both get up at the same time, and begin circling each other.

“Well, I’m waiting, outsider! Show me what you got!”

Sampson holds up his hands. “I don’t want to fight. I just want to take my Bat and leave.”

The man looks at Sampson’s hands and grins. “Then don’t put up a fight!” He tries to rush forward again, expecting an easy tackle, but Sampson reads him and strafes to the side. As he moves around the man, he slashes at the hand holding the kukri and cuts off his thumb. The man cries in pain and drops the kukri, unable to hold its weight with only three fingers. He clutches his bleeding knuckle with his other hand, and looks up at Sampson. At this point, the cheering has stopped. “Well? Finish it then.”

Sampson looks the man in the eyes and sees no fear. Just acceptance. He drops his own bloodied kukri and steps back. “I’m not here to fight.” He walks over to his Bat and picks it up, turning away from the Mind Zone. The scavengers who had taken up position behind him scurry out of the way, giving him quizzical looks as he passes them. "Sorry for the intrusion." With that, he walked out of the forest, returning to the boat where Sandy sat, waiting.

"You get your Bat back?" He held it up in triumph, and she started untying the ropes that held the boat to a stake on the shore. "Well, let's get out of here." Sampson hopped on board, and Sandy kicked the boat off, starting their journey back to the Western shore. "Not gonna lie, I didn't quite expect you to make it out of that."

"I'm glad I did." Sampson didn't just retrieve his Bat today. He was reminded of the importance of culture. The scavengers, so protective of their land, showed him the answer he was searching for. He didn't want to look for history for escapism, or to learn from it. He sought history because he knew humans deserved more than the wasteland they were born into. They deserved greatness. The type of greatness they had before needless violence had destroyed it all. Sampson reached over and tapped Sandy on the shoulder. "Drop me off somewhere random. I want to search for more."

Though he couldn't see her face, he heard a smile in her voice. "You got it, Historian."