Author: Toboe217 PM
We remember the day the world ended. Half the population died, the rest mutated. The children survived, cursed themselves, gifted. Welcome to the fight.Rated: Fiction T - English - Horror - Words: 33 - Reviews: 2 - Follows: 1 - Published: 10-03-12 - id: 3062753
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
It started as it usually did, with Lis sitting in the front seat of the car, feeling weak.
Then again, it wasn't really starting. They were all fighting again, shouting and brandishing weapons. There was always some sort of dispute; over food ration, violence, who should drive, whether or not they could out-pace the Wolves, or if Lis should step up for another massacre.
This time it was about James, the nine-year old who had been driving earlier today and crashed, and whether or not he should be executed.
James, whose legs where shattered and broken beyond repair, was lying on the floor and trying not to cry out in agony. His eyes were watering, as if he was fighting back tears.
But - Lis noted - he wasn't crying for his mother. He never knew her.
The battle was raging because Jams' elder sister was fighting for his life, unsuccessfully. The girl, Katie, was arguing with Glass.
She may as well shout at all a wall.
"You can't kill him!"
"Give me one reason why not." Glass crossed his arm and stared down at her with an expression of bored irritation. Most other kids hung back, heads bowed, refusing to get involved. They all knew it was pointless, they knew the rules. James' legs were shattered, he'd never walk again. He was now a burden.
Lis took a sweeping look around the landscape; of the dark red sky and the crumbling buildings. She looked at the barren soil and the rotting, mutated corpses of the inhumane creatures that she had killed earlier. She looked at the collection of scared children, all of whom were in their early teens. She looked to the large truck that held the dwindling remains of food. They could not afford any burdens.
So Glass wanted to execute him.
"There's no point in feeding a mouth that can't fight, drive or do anything useful," Glass snapped. "There are around twenty kids here, kids I have to feed and protect, and I can't do that if I have to play nursemaid."
Katie's eyes turned in desperation to the ginger-haired boy who was sitting next to James. Smiling nervously, Paddy has first attempted to help James before he was told not to waste resources.
"Paddy could..." Katie let the thought die on her lips. Paddy's job was to stoop bleeding, fight infection, reattach limbs and close scars. He saved lives when a chunk of flesh was torn away and eaten, when a hand was bitten off during a desperate struggle. He had gained the nickname 'Saver'. He was not a nursemaid, just a kid with an unnaturally good ability at keeping the living alive.
But he was a sweet kid.
"I can try to help him," Paddy offered helpfully.
Glass glared at him. "He's shattered beyond repair. Nothing short of a goddamn miracle will save him!"
A slight murmur ran through the crowd.
Lis was biting back a sadistic smirk.
Around ten years ago, this was not an issue. The very idea of sacrificing a fellow human being would have been treated as horrific. And now, well, this was the fifth time Lis could remember this happening.
Then again, around ten years there were still adults to make the decisions. Back then, there were still adults to cook and work and keep the kids safe until they were ready to face the world.
Then everything changed.
Suddenly, a memory, Lis remembered a pale face and screaming. She could vaguely remember something clawing at her, grabbing something cold and hard, she remembered a sickening thud and the impact running through her whole, tiny body.
She remembered the voice, "do you still dream about killing animals, Melissa?"
"No, Doc, I dream about killing you..."
Lis snapped back to reality, back to the fighting. But Katie had nothing to say and Glass had won before it started.
"He was only protecting..."
Glass slapped her, hard. A short, incredibly skinny kid with white skin and black hair took a few steps away from the crowd. A few people shot angry glances in his direction, then immediately regretted it.
"Alphie keeps us alive," Glass practically growled. "You know that."
Katie lowered her head in shame.
"You know that, we all know that." Glass took a step towards her, grabbed her and lifted her by the neck of her t-shirt. Katie let out a gasp. Everyone shuffled uncomfortably. Glass was a bully, but he kept them all alive.
As did Alphie.
"Alphie senses them, he senses the things that chase us night and day and would happily rip the flesh from our bones. The Wolves; the creatures that were human until ten years ago."
Glass tossed Katie to the ground and spat near her.
"Alphie senses them; we always keep ahead and try to avoid the fights. You know damn well Katie; they would slaughter us if they had the chance."
Katie just gasped for air and shuddered.
"One life is irrelevant, if your brother's death means that we all get a better chance of survival, so be it, Lis!" he shouted.
But Lis was still feeling unwell. She felt her body protest as she tried to stand up. She slumped in the seat.
"Why not?" Glass bellowed at her. The crowd of kids winced.
"I'm still feeling weak from saving you all earlier!"
Glass had no response, of course. Alphie had been asleep and unable to sense the pack; the Wolves had jumped the kids as they drove through the crumbling remains of a small town. James had swerved the car to avoid a large one, and crashed. His legs had been shattered; the front passenger had been killed instantly, while the two passengers in the back seats had lived.
The dead girl had been buried, rather than becoming food for the Wolves.
Despite the burning hunger the kids all felt, no-one was desperate enough to touch the corpse. A successfully exploration of an old warehouse had found a few crates of tinned food a few days earlier. There wasn't enough to go around, there never was, but he kids were no longer starving.
They all knew that pain.
Glass muttered something quietly, and then drew a knife from the thick belt he was wearing. James let out a moan, Katie let out a hysterical sob.
But then a voice spoke out, "I have an idea."
Glass froze and turned to look at Ponytail. Ponytail was one of the older kids, medium height and very thin with pale skin and long blond hair pulled back in a ponytail. He had long since forgotten his name, but 'Ponytail' felt apt.
"How old is James?" Ponytail asked. Lis smiled slyly; always the voice of reason, that boy. Rather effeminate and clumsy, always funny and making the younger kids laugh with silly plays and funny voices, with long hair and odd shoes passed the point where most kids bothered with shoes, but always the voice of reason.
"Nearly ten, I think," Katie whispered, the resolve gone from her voice.
Lis felt a twinge of annoyance at the whining little runt. She debated whether she could kill her and get away with it.
"Then listen to this," Ponytail turned to face Glass, who seemed to shrink back. "Wait until he Turns, when he turns ten years old, and if he survives, who knows? He may grow new legs and save us all."
Glass looked from James to Ponytail; the latter had his hands in his pockets with a look of boredom on his face.
Lis smiled; always looking so cool and yet respected. Everyone knew that Glass listened to Ponytail; the voice of reason.
And he was right. Around the time a kid turned ten - birthdays had ceased to mean anything, so no-one knew the exact date - they underwent the Turning. If they fought, they survived. Some died; some started to change into Wolves and were immediately killed, and the rest lived.
And some who lived changed as well.
Lis remembered the girl who changed a few years back. She seemed fine at first, but one week later she went to pick up a crate and somehow threw herself through the air. She smashed into a tall building, shattered her spine, and then fell. Her brains splattered the pavement and attracted all the Wolves in the nearly area.
It was a bloodbath, Lis remembered that much. Paddy was kept busy for days, and at least two kids died. One went missing, but they found a chewed stump of what they assumed was his arm a few days later.
Gruesome, Lis thought, and laughed silently.
She continued to watch everyone else talking, but with less anger than before. Glass had obviously decided to listen to Ponytail.
Lis found herself watching him again. There was something fascinating about him.
Suddenly, a memory:
The middle aged doctor was looking at her again. "What did you dream about yesterday, Melissa?"
Lis sat watching Ponytail. She was glad her Turning had made her emotionally immune to everything. She just sat and watched the boy, feeling nothing.