|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|
When we finally reach Snowflake, Arizona, Gem is asleep, sprawled in the back seat, Argon has a scowl that I almost think is permanent, and I'm ready to go.
"Okay," I say. "So, what's the plan?"
"I was thinking," Argon begins, "what if you pretend to be my wife, and Gemma is our child? I bet that could work. People are getting married and having kids much earlier now, besides, Gemma is small enough to pass for a four or five-year old, and you look mature enough to be maybe sixteen or seventeen."
"I'm almost sixteen," I inform him.
"Okay, that doesn't really matter. Are you okay with pretending to be my wife? We'll be in the market for a slave."
"Okay, sure. One thing, though. What are we going to buy back my brother and sister with?"
"We aren't. I know where they keep the kids before they sell them. We could sneak in and find them."
"Sounds like an okay plan. I just wish things woulda happened the way they were supposed to." I hear him mutter something that sounds like, "But then we wouldn't have met." I pull up in front of an old Wally World, Argon's instructions, and wake Gem. She's slept since before we left Colorado. I think we were around Pueblo.
"Where are we?" she asks sleepily.
"Snowflake," I tell her, picking her up. We follow Argon into the store. At the entrance I lose him, though. I stand there, like an idiot, thinking how stupid I was to trust some random guy, when he comes walking up to us.
"Here," he hands me a few pieces of ugly, dull gray cloth.
"What's this?" I stare at the cloth in my hand.
"Two cloaks and two dresses," he says, pulling on a jacket made of the same hideous material. "The bigger items are for you and the others are for her," he inclines his head at Gem.
"Alright," I say, putting Gem down, I pull the dress over her head and the clothes she's already wearing, then I tie cloak under her chin.
"'S itchy," Gem mumbles. She takes forever to wake up.
"I know, honey, and you'll be able to take it off soon." I pull my own dress over my head and clothes, put the cloak on, tie it under my own chin, pull my hood up, and then do the same to Gem's. "Now where to?" I ask, looking around the store for the first time. This is like some kind of market place, it seems. People bustle around booths, merchants call out their wares, customers come and go as they please.
"To the desert," Argon says and starts back for my pick up. I sigh, take Gem's hand and then follow him. I assume he'll give me instructions once we're all in the vehicle.
We drive to the middle of friggin' nowhere. Another hour of sitting in my pick up. Oh, how fun it is... NOT! Oh, well. My leg is falling asleep and I'm about to get very... ticked off, when I see it. It looks kinda like a Revolutionary War fort. I point and Argon nods. That's where we're going. Three minutes later, I pull to a stop between a hippie van and a little sports car. We all climb out, and I tell Gem that we have to pretend that I'm her mom and Argon's her dad. She nods, finally awake. I take her hand and follow Argon towards the gate.
"How are we supposed to act?" I whisper.
"Treat her the way you always do, and," pause as he thinks, " here." He holds out his hand to me. I take it. A memory rises up behind my eyes. Bromine and I, holding hands as we walk barefoot in the lush, green grass toward the pond that all of us kids would swim in. We sit, hand in hand, by the shore of the minnow pond, Ankaa and Gemma run and jump in the water, Boron and Florine are avoiding each other, they just got in a fight and broke up for the fourth time in six weeks. I want to pull back. Want to run in the other direction. But I don't. I can't, not if I ever want to see my siblings again.
"Let's go. Before they sell them," I say. He leads Gem and I towards the gate.
"Malp you?" a pretty Hispanic girl, standing at the gate asks.
"Yes," says Argon. "We are here to buy." The girl nods and steps aside. We enter. "Let me do all the talking, okay?" Argon whispers close to my ear and I feel the fabric of my cloak move. I glare. "The men rule this new world. It's almost like the 1800's again."
"Oh, whatever," I say, a bit snappishly.
"Watch your tone. Women are now just objects. They aren't supposed to fend for themselves anymore," Argon whispers. "Now giggle like I said something flirty, okay?" I giggle. It feels weird in my throat, probably because I never laugh or giggle anymore.
We walk around the encampment, Gem and I are silent and Argon does all the talking and greeting. We walk up to an adobe building with no windows. A man stands there, gun in hand and a sword at his hip.
"What're you lot doin' here?" he growls. "Not goin' ta stir up trouble, are ya?"
"No, sir," Argon says. "Just here looking for a good slave. Mind if we take a look?"
"Ma orders are to not let anybody in," the man points the gun at Argon's chest.
"What if I gave you different orders?" Argon says. "You know who I am. You know why I'm here. Something of mine has been taken, and I wish to reclaim it. Let me enter or I'll be forced to do something rash."
"Stay back, Argon."
"You see this pretty girl here?" Argon asks, gesturing at me. "She's not just a beautiful face. She can fight as well if not better than any man I've ever known. Her family is in there and if you don't let us in, you'll be dead in a minute."
"I don't believe you," the man says. Argon looks at me then. I sigh.
"Sorry it have to come to this," I say. "I really do wish you would have just let us in." Then I pull out my favorite throwing knife. I raise it to throw, and catch Argon's eye. He gives me a look that says, "Just prove how good an aim you are. Don't kill him." So, I throw my knife. It hits the wall, and just barely nicks the man's ear.
"Okay, okay," he says. "Go in. 'N here's your knife, lil' lady." He hands my knife back to me. We enter the building, me first, then Gem, and finally, after stopping to threaten the man by the door, Argon. What I see makes me want to cry, scream in frustration, and murder all the people who did this. The walls are lined with dog crates. I stand there, open-mouthed, trying to think of how I'm going to get everybody in there out of this place. Gem takes a step forward, her hand slipping out of my grip.
"Gem, get back here," I hiss at her.
"Boron?" is all she says, as she walks closer to one of the crates. "Ankaa!" I rush forward. The next thing I know, we're kneeling on the floor, in front of two crates. Ankaa pressing her face against the bars. "Let them out, Lithium! Let them out!" Gemma squeals. I pull a pin out of my hair, may bangs falling in my face, and go to work on the lock on Ankaa's cage. A few seconds later, it pops open and I swing the door out of the way. Gem and I grab her, hug her. I have my little sister back.
"Where's Boron?" I ask her. She points to a crate a few feet away. It's bigger than her's was. I put her, gently, on the dirt floor of the building and rush over to pick his lock. When he stands next to me, I decide it's time to leave. I don't want to leave all these other kids, but I don't have much choice. We're running low on time, and we have to get out of here. A bell clangs and I see Argon stiffen. "What was that?" I ask, looking across the room at him.
"They're about to start selling slaves," he says. "Their going to be coming to get these kids..."
"Da-ang it!" I was that close to cussing in front of my little sisters. "We gotta get outa here."
"No," Argon says. "That would be a stupid idea. We hide in here and wait until they leave." So we all find dark places to hide; behind huge boxes of food, under tables with table clothes on them, in the dark side of a bookshelf. I clutch An and Gem. We're hiding under the table with a table-cloth that touches the floor. I didn't see where Boron or Argon went (their about the same size), all I know is that one of them is behind food boxes and the other is in the pitch-black of a bookshelf. I hear foot-steps and hold the girls closer, Gem burying her head in my shoulder and Ankaa taking a hissing breath. Mens' voices, the metallic clanking of padlocks being unlocked, children squawking. Nobody seems to notice that Boron and Ankaa aren't in their cages. I hear a door close and moments later, the tablecloth is whipped aside. I gasp, pushing the girls behind me, only to realize that it's just Argon.
"Come on," he says. "They'll be back soon. If we wanna leave, now is the time to do it." He grabs my wrist and pulls me out from under the table, the girls scrambling behind.
"I assume you've got some brilliant plan worked out?" I say, staring him down with a cold expression.
"See those shackles over there?" he points to the wall, which is lined with them. I nod. "The key is right here," he holds up a single key on a ring. "I snagged it off the guard when he walked by me." So it was Argon who hid behind the bookcase. "Anyhow. We shackle you siblings, and pretend we bought them. Sound good?"
"It's not going to work," I say.
"Why's that?" Argon asks.
"We all look too much alike," Boron says.
Argon groans. "That's true. I suppose you've got a better plan?"
"I got a little something," I say. When everyone looks at me I continue. "You saw how they could walk up on the top of the wall, like in a castle?" Argon and Boron nod. "Well, there's that ledge; to, ya know, keep people from falling over the side? Why don't we just climb up on the wall and crawl till we're close to the exit?"
"That's a good idea," Argon says, "but they have guards up there."
"So we take down any poor fellow who happens upon us," Boron says. "Lithi here's one of the best archers I've ever known. We'll be okay. Besides, what other choice've we got."
"Do we have," I automatically correct him. I'm rewarded with one of his "seriously" looks. "Let's get a move on, then. I don't like waiting around forever."
"She is a very impatient person," Boron says. "Then again, you've been traveling with her for a while, huh?"
"Since we left Colorado Springs, back in Colorado," Argon says. "And yes, I've noticed that she's not very patient." I make a face at him and then walk out the door, Ankaa and Gemma on my heels. Once the boys have joined us, we head for the wall. There's a maintenance ladder leading up to the wall, so we sneak up to it and crawl along the wall. A man comes around the corner.
Well that was messy. First that guy came and then everybody freaked. I shot the dude and when he fell over the edge of the wall this huge uproar started. Apparently the guards don't just fall over the edge very often. So we all jumped up and ran off. We ended up getting in the pick up with me in the driver's seat; Boron, Ankaa, and Gemma in the back seat; and Argon in the front passenger's. I took off as fast as the truck would go, Boron and the girls hit the floor 'cause a bullet hit the rear windshield and I ended up reopening my own bullet wound. Anywho, we are now driving as fast as this stupid truck will go. Not to mention that we're running low on gas and might have to wonder in the Arizona desert for forty years. It doesn't matter, though. None of it does. I have my siblings back.
"You're bleeding," Gemma says.
"I know. It's where that one Crypt guy shot me."
"Crypt?" Boron looks at me through the rear view mirror.
"Yeah. We ran into a little trouble on the way here. It paid off. I mean, I've got you guys back, don't I?"
"Yes, you do."
We drive for another hour before something dings and I realize that the gas is finally almost gone. "Are we almost there?" I ask.
"No," Argon tells me.
"We're going to be screwed here pretty soon, then."
"I know. We'll have to sleep in the desert. It's a day's worth of walking and the sun's almost down."
"How much more twisting and turning? Seriously. I don't think they can track us so well anymore."
"Like I said," Argon says, there's no patience in his voice, "it's a day's worth of walking. To Snowflake. That's going in a straight shot." I sigh. "Keep driving until the gas goes out. After we have nothing left, we can go north, by-pass Snowflake this time and head straight for the Springs again."
"Well we're going to have to split up before that," I say.
"What do you mean? There's safety in numbers. The more people there are, the safer we are," Argon says.
"Yes but, we're going to our country house. We have friends that live there and we'll meet up with them. You can come with us if you want but everybody has to pitch in. Gemma will be taking care of the rabbits, Ankaa washes dishes, Boron constructs-"
"He fixes the place up and if we need new buildings, he makes those. Bromine-"
"Bromine? Like the element?" Argon interrupts again. I glare at him.
"Yes. His mom and my dad were friends... Before they both disappeared, that is."
"He's like us. I have to explain this to you."
"His twin sister's name is Florine," Boron speaks up. "To this day, I've never seen a girl so beautiful."
"That's because they're all dead, now. They didn't know how to fend for themselves so they starved. Florine and Bromine know how," I say. "Anyway, I hunt, Florine cooks - she makes this really good spaghetti - and Bromine takes care of the animals, well I guess we all kinda do."
"That makes two more," Argon says. "that means there's only four left."
"Four what left?" I ask.
"Of us. Those of us that are named after elements." I stare at him. "I told you I have to explain - watch out for that cactus. All of us; you, me, Boron, Florine, Bromine; we're all supposed to be the leaders. Of the new world that is. We're all supposed to unite and lead the world to peace or something. My father wasn't clear on the details."
"And there are four others? Where are they?"
"I don't know. Before my father disappeared, he only told me I had to find the others. He gave me names. Lithium, Boron, Florine, Bromine, Polonium, Titanium, Selenium, and Radium."
"Great. I don't want any part of this. I just want to go home. See my... friends."
"You mean you want to see Bromine." Boron says.
"And Flo," I answer. Boron makes an mm-hmm-ing noise. "Oh, just shut up," I say, looking like a tomato. "Nobody asked you." About ten minutes later we run out of fuel.
"Well, looks like we're hitch hiking from here," Argon says. We climb out, and I build a campfire. Boron goes off to find some plants. Ten minutes later he comes back.
"You look like a porcupine!" Gemma says. When I look up, I realize it's true.
"Wha'd you do?" I ask. "Did you get so lonely and wanted a kiss so bad that you kissed a cactus?"
"Ha. Ha. You're so funny. No. I tripped and landed on some."
"Come here," I sigh. "Let's get your quills removed." Half an hour later, Boron is no longer a porcupine, and I'm hunting for something, anything, to cook for dinner. Ten minutes after I leave, I come back with nothing but dessert rat. No, not desert rat, but dessert. As in, what comes after the meal. So I crack open a couple cans of beans with my handy-dandy Swiss Army knife and set them close to the fire. After we chow those down, I skewer some dessert rats and we roast 'em.
"No. Ain't no friggin' way you're gonna get me to eat that," Ankaa says. She's been so quiet here lately that I almost forgot we got her back. Shame on me, I know, but when you're trying to provide for four hungry kids, plus yourself, you tend to forget things... and sometimes one of those things is your little sister that you would die for. Yeah. I'm awful.
"If you don't want it, you don't have to eat it," I tell her. "But you're not getting another can of beans. Or anything else. We have to ration our food."
"I'm okay. It's only a few hours till breakfast," I look into her eyes.
"I'm cold," Gemma says.
"Hmmm. We might have to sleep in the pick up tonight," I say. Boron and Argon nod.
Gemma, my own little bottomless pit finishes her dessert rat and asks for another one. I give her Ankaa's, since the child is so dang picky. After dinner, we all climb into the pick up bed. Well except Argon. He says he prefers to sleep inside. After An and Gem are asleep, Boron and I stare up at the stars.
"Who is he?" Boron asks.
"Who is who?"
"That blonde kid. Argon, or something."
"I don't know," I say. "When we needed him, he came. He keeps saying how his father knew Dad." I sigh. "He says there's more of us kids named after elements."
"I know," Boron says. "I was in the back seat when he said so."
"Oh, I forgot."
"Why do you trust him so much?"
"What is this? Twenty questions?" I demand.
"Yes. Now answer."
"I don't know, okay? It's just that he helped us when nobody else would. He helped us save you."
"Lithium, we can't keep him."
"What is he now? A stray dog? Besides, I have no intention to let him stick around. I say we get him back to Colorado and then ditch him."
"Why take him that far?"
"I owe him. You owe him."
"I owe him nothing. And it will stay that way."
"Boron," I say, as calmly as I can. "You do owe him. I never would have found you or Ankaa without him." Boron's silent - for a moment.
"How are we going to get there?"
"We're going to walk. We have to."
"I know that. I meant, how are we going to find our way?"
"I don't know. I suppose we'll do what we always do. Wing it." He's quiet for a while more. "Boron, we'll find a way. We always do."
"I guess," he says, but he doesn't sound convinced. "Good night, Lithi."
"Good night, Boron." After a few minutes, I can hear him snoring. I'm so tired, but sleep won't come. Gemma rolls over, away from my protective arms. Now I can get up and walk around without disturbing anybody. I climb out of the pick up bed and start walking. I go down over a ridge and sit on a dusty rock. After a while of looking up at the sky, I hear footsteps. I pull out my knife, stand up, prepare to attack, and... stop.
"Ty," I hear a high-pitched, female voice hiss. "Where are we going now?"
"I don't know, Poly!" a boy snaps.
"You don't have to yell at me. Besides, if you don't know where to go let me take the lead."
"I'm not letting my little sister, who is just as lost as I am, take us anywhere. Got it, Polonium?" the boy snaps again.
"Titanium, quit yelling at me," the girl wines.
"Stop it, you two," I hear another female voice.
"Nobody asked you, Lottie," Titanium says.
"You know what?" I hear the girl they called Lottie say. "I don't have to put up with this. If I remember correctly, I was the one who got us out of that place."
"Yes, but you're younger than both of us," Polonium says. Wait. Polonium. Isn't that an element? And now that I think of it, so is Titanium. And weren't those the names Argon gave earlier? But he didn't say anything about a Lottie. I have to say something. Those kids are still fighting, so I shove my knife back in my boot and climb back up the ridge.
"Poly quit-" A blonde girl with big green eyes stares at me.
"Who are you?" says blonde boy with the same green eyes as the first girl, and since he's the only boy here I'm assuming that he's Titanium.
"I'm Lithium. Hi Titanium."
"How do you-"
"Come on, Ty!" snaps the other girl. She has blonde hair, as well, but her eyes are a pretty brown. "She was down there the whole time. She heard us calling each other by name. She knows my name is Polonium, and she know's our little sister's name is Charlotte. Well maybe not Charlotte, but she knows we call her Lottie."
"You lot lost?" I ask.
"Yes," Polonium says at the same time Titanium says, "No."
"Obviously, I know you're lost. There's a group of us traveling to Colorado together. You all are welcome to join us. Safety in numbers, ya know?"
"Let's go with them," Charlotte, the girl with the green eyes cries.
"No," Titanium says.
"Why not?" Polonium asks, not snapping this time.
"I'll bet they have food," Charlotte says.
"Face it, Ty," Polonium says. "You're outnumbered."
"Fine. But when this backfires-"
"I'm not going to kill you in your sleep. Come on. I just wanna help." I do want to help. Myself. If I bring these kids to Argon, maybe he'll leave me and my family alone.
"Okay," Titanium says.
"Follow me," I smile. Lottie walks with me, the other two lagging behind.