|The Lithium Chronicles Book 1
Author: fallingstar16 PM
The world has ended. After World War III and the plague, fifteen year old Lithium is forced to fend for herself and her siblings. Colorado Springs is getting too dangerous-the gangs are getting too brave. The Anderson children decide to go to their childhood home in the country. Will they make it? THERE ARE GORY PARTS. Please like me on Facebook at Lithium Anderson :)Rated: Fiction T - English - Adventure - Chapters: 3 - Words: 9,686 - Reviews: 1 - Updated: 01-17-13 - Published: 01-05-13 - id: 3089693
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
"Lithium, go back to bed." I turn away from the window, the chaos outside. The heavy curtains fall shut once again. It's dark inside the appartement. Night time. Ever since the war and the power went out, we've lived in the dark, keeping warm by lighting a fire in the oven and pulling mattresses out on the kitchen floor. I scavenge for food with my older brother and for little sisters.
"Boron, I'm fine," he knows how restless I get at night. He is standing in front of me now. He is handsome, tall and muscular, with black hair and impossibly blue eyes. He looks like Dad did. Before the war, I mean. People tell me that I look like Boron, only with my mother's figure. It's true, I suppose. We do share the same dark hair and blue eyes. Then again, so do our little sisters.
"Ankaa and Gemma are sleeping, you should too." Boron and I were named for elements, my father's doing, and Ankaa and Gemma were named for stars, my mother's wish.
"I can't sleep. What if something happens? The gangs are getting braver, you know. What if they get brave enough to-"
"Stop worrying. It's only going to get you worked up, and you know it. We'll be fine. At least for the night."
"Oh, yeah, 'cause that makes me feel better," I say sarcastically.
"No, what I meant was, we're running low on food. I'll have to go out and search again."
"No way, Jose. I'm the one going tomorrow."
"What if somebody decides to jump you? Huh? What then?" He stubbornly crosses his arms over his broad, muscular chest.
"You know I'm not just some helpless little girl," I say, crossing my arms over my own smaller chest. "I can defend myself just as good as you. Stop worrying about me and get some sleep yourself," I head for the mattresses. I sleep in the same one as Gem, the baby of the family, and until recently, Daddy's little girl. She's six and Ankaa's seven, while Boron and I are seventeen and fifteen. Don't ask me why Mom and Dad suddenly decided to have more kids. They just did. All I know is that Boron, Ankaa, and Gemma are what keeps me going.
"Well then let's all go. Sound good? The girls need to learn how to find food, themselves. We aren't always going to be here to provide for them."
"Might as well teach them where to look now."
I lie down on the mattress next to Gem. She and I have the same face. So does Ankaa. We all look a lot like each other, well besides the age differences and Boron being a boy. I suddenly find it easy to drift into a calm sleep.
In my dream, I see Dad and Mom. It was before Gemma was born, because Mom's still alive. She smiles and hugs me and Boron. Ankaa is only a baby, barely walking. Mom leads all of us out. It's night. The stars are bright out here. No city lights or sounds. We're at the country house. Mom shows us Ursa Major and how it leads us to Polaris. If you don't know what those are, well I hope you never get lost at night. Look 'em up, people. Anyway we stay out all night, watching the sky. It reminds me of A.D. Not what the world is now: A.T.E. After The End.
Daylight breaks and with it, we age. Gemma comes to us, over the lush green hills and Mom leaves, walking to meet Gem. They hold hands for a moment, smiling at each other. Then Mom's head bows and she continues on. Where? I don't know. The sun lights the world, and I watch in awe as we all age. Dad leaves, just as Mom did, walking to the sun set. The darkness covers the valley and we hear wild animals calling back and forth to each other. We run to the house, where we find food, drink, warmth, and safety. I wake up.
When I open my eyes, Gem is looking at me. I hear Ankaa bustling around in the kitchen and Boron sharpening a knife. I sit up and groan. There's light in the appartement. I know what we need to do to survive until the gangs settle down.
"Boron. I need to talk to you." I stand up and walk over to him. My clothes are rumpled and dirty, but I don't have any others to wear.
We walk to one of the bedrooms. It's cold in here. "Yes?" his voice is a rumble.
"The country house! If we go there, we'll have food, and shelter! It's away from the gangs and we'll have space to grow food. It's what we need!" I say excitedly.
"That's a good idea, only, how are we going to get out of the city?" Boron's hands are tight on my shoulders.
"We leave in the dark of the night. You know the gangs are going to get braver soon. They're going to come here and take us. If we don't join them, which we won't, they'll kill us. We have to get out while we can! Let's leave tonight! We can spend the day packing, and getting the girls ready." He stares at me, no, more through me. Looking at something only he can see. Our future? I've heard stories of people developing mutations or powers or whatever, since the power went out and the plague spread.
"Get packing. I'll leave first with Ankaa. Then a while later, you leave with Gemma. Okay?"
"Why do you get to take Ankaa?"
"She's better at archery than I am. I like to fight in hand to hand combat. You and An like a bow and an arrow. Gem and I like knives."
"But I can fight with a knife and a sword, too," I look into his face and see what he means. I can see them coming and protect Gemma better than he can. I've always loved the feel of a bow and arrow. But I like to throw knives too. Boron prefers to use a sword or his bare hands. I've seen it before. We went scavenging before and got attacked. I took down two men at a time with two arrows on my string. But he was taking them on bare handed. Flipping them over his broad, muscular shoulders, and snapping their necks without remorse. The sad, dead look in his eyes when those left alive fled, made me want to cry. There was my big brother, sad only because he had to kill people to protect us.
"I'll go look for food."
"Take An with you. She needs to start taking on some responsibilities." I've always been the fighter in our family. Boron is the one that keeps us together, keeps us organized, our food rationed, the nights each of us takes a shower. He's always putting us first. I'm the protector. I know that he can fend for himself, just as well as I can, but I like to be in the action, getting things done. If anything happened to any of them, even Boron, I would blame myself.
"Okay," he says as he leaves the room. I hear him and Ankaa talking, a shuffling and, finally, the door closing. I pull out a duffel bag and start grabbing clothes, shoes, and weapons. As I pack, I can't help but think of the country house. I wonder if the cute stable boy, Bromine, is a carrier of the plague, if he even survived the war. It's been a couple years since I saw him and his twin sister, Florine, last. Since the last time we were at the country house. I remember of the tears I'd shed when we had to leave and Dad had said that we wouldn't come back for a long time. I cried, not only because I like the country better than the city, but because Bromine and I ended up having a small romance over the summer. That thought makes my mind drift back to our first kiss. I feel my cheeks growing red, then there's a sound and I look up to see Gemma's head peeking around the door.
"Hey, sweetie. What's going on?" I ask, as she comes around the corner.
"Not much. I just don't like being alone." She sighs and plops down on the box spring of the bed.
"I know how you feel, babydoll," I ruffle her dark hair as I walk past to the closet. We're quiet for a while. I finish packing it and head for the kitchen to grab the uncooked rice, canned food, and dry cereals. As soon as I'm in the kitchen, I hear screams. I run to the window. The voice sounds familiar. I pull the curtain aside and peer down into the street. Ankaa and Boron have no weapons and are being dragged away. I rush for the door, not thinking at all. As I reach for the knob, a small, gentle hand is on my arm.
"It's too late," Gemma's clear blue eyes are sad, but hold nothing but truth. Truth. What would I have done? There are at least a dozen of those men who were well fed. We'll have to find some other way to save them. Take their captors by surprize.
"You're right," I say, sinking to my knees and wrapping my arms around her. "But we will get them back. I'm not just going to let them go like that."
"I know. But there's nothing we could've done," her voice is soft, but her words cut like a knife. There's nothing I could've done to protect my family. Of course there's something I could've done. At the very least, I might not have reminded Boron to take An. But if I would have gone, I could have been the only one to be captured. "Don't blame yourself," Gemma rubs my back the way I always do when she's upset.
"Oh, sweetie," I say as I stand. "What are we going to do now?" My head is too cloudy to think straight, or even rationally.
"We're going to track them," she says. This is sad. My six-year-old sister is telling me what we have to do. Maybe my pride is a problem...
"Right," I say. "But we can't leave until after nightfall. We'll have to wait." So that's what we do. Sit around the appartement, stay away from the windows, don't touch the curtains, and wait. I hate every moment of it. I pace, making Gem nervous. We jump at every sound, every floor bord that creeks, every thump that what's left of our neighbors makes.
"It's getting dark," Gemma says, peeking out a crack in the curtains.
"Let's heat out, then," I say, pulling the bag on my shoulder. Once I realized that we might have to run, I switched to two backpacks. Gem carries the lighter one and I have the one with all the cans in it. I pull open the door and, holding a butcher knife in my hand, step out into the hall. I look around. There's nobody out here. I turn back to motion to Gem. She goes pale and points behind me. I turn slowly.
"Hello, beautiful," it's only Jeffory, our neighbor, thank God. He's a tall, burly man, with long almost greenish blonde hair he keeps in dread locks. He's always been kind to us kids. But as I look, I see he's holding a knife that makes mine look like it belongs in the butter.
"Can we help you?" I ask, very politely.
"Actually you can. We need food. You see, we're running low and the gangs are getting too brave for us to go out and get it," he points the knife, no, it's more of a dagger, at my thought.
"Help yourself to what's left in the appartement. We're leaving. We only have enough for us to last a couple days. There's unopened soda in the fridge. Oh, and we still have some of Dad's beers."
"Thank you. I wish you luck. Say, where's the rest of you? Boron and the other little girl?"
"They already left. We're to meet up soon. We best be going." I walk past him, Gem on my heels. I know that Gem doesn't like it when I lie, but what choice did I have? We hurry down the stairs and into the lobby. I walk to the broken window. The place is a dump, the desk's been raided and everything is everywhere. I look out the window. There's nobody on the street. "You have to stay with me. Don't leave my side. I can't lose you, too."
"I won't get lost." She takes my hand. I throw open the door and run like crazy. Gem's fast. She can keep up with me well. I run for a car that probably no longer works. I hide behind it and look for gangs. Still nobody here on the street. I look in window of the car and see keys in the seat. Too easy. Or maybe I'm just paranoid. It doesn't matter. I grab Gem's hand again and run for the next one. I can't track where the gang took Boron and Ankaa. We round a corner and I stop. I pull Gem back behind me. There are seven young men in the middle of the street. One is surrounded by the others and weaponless. They are obviously in a gang. I have a rash thought that it's Boron in the middle. I start towards them, but Gemma holds my hand tighter. She pulls me into the shadows and whispers, "That's not Boron. I can see that this boy's too tall and not as strong-looking." I have to trust her. Her eyesight is much better than mine. I nod and we watch. They beat the boy until he can't stand anymore. He just lies crumpled on the ground as they kick the living daylights out of him. Gemma buries her face in my shoulder, and as much as I want to, I can't pull my eyes away from it. Finally I hear someone say something and they all leave. I get up, pulling Gem into my arms, carrying her. "What are you doing?" she whispers to me.
"He was in that gang," I tell her. "He may know where they took Boron and Ankaa. If I can keep him alive long enough to tell us where they are, then we can get them back and go home." I'm a few feet from the boy now. I can barely see the rise and fall of his chest. His arm is flopped uselessly over his head. I can's see his face, but his hair is like sunlight. How am I supposed to get him somewhere I can get him to talk? Somewhere safe for Gemma and I? That's when I see the cart. It's broken, there's no cart part, only the frame, handle for pushing it, and the wheels, but if I can get him on it, Gem and I can push him away. "Gem, you see that broken cart over there?"
"Yeah," she says slowly.
"Go get it. We're going to put this kid on it and push him somewhere we can be safe. I'll try to keep him alive long enough to find out what we need." The boy on the ground moves and groans. "Hurry," I whisper as she scampers after it. I move the boy's arm away from his face. He is handsome. His face is long and thin, probably with lack of food. His lips are round and his eye lashes are so full and beautiful, that it's really not fair that they aren't on a girl's face.
"Here," Gem pushes the cart up next to me. I pull the boy's arm around my shoulders and wrap my arm around his back. I pull him up onto the cart.
"Get on," I say to Gem. She hesitates. "Hang on," I say, pulling a rope out of her pack. I tie his wrists to the cart. "There. Now you can get on." She climbs on and I start to push the broken cart to what seems to be an old office building.