Rude Awakening

Rude Awakening

A Chapter by Idiotekque
"

The surface proves to be a nasty wake up call ...

"

Chapter Two

 

A clatter of boots echoed upwards through the stairwell, each following closely in step with the next. The movement was purposeful; not carelessly loud, but not slow either. We needed to get out of here"that much was clear. Where to? Hadn’t gotten that far yet.

 

“Hey…” Tyr turned to me as we moved quickly up the flights. “Once we get up there, things might get hot. Try to keep your head down, okay?”

 

She didn’t have to tell me twice. The girl was probably half my age, but judging from her friends, she knew a thing or two about firing a gun. I was on my feet, but my head was still in a fog. I wasn’t about to bite off more than I could chew, especially when it involved bullets.

 

Finally we came to a door. Alyssa and Tavis shuffled up to its sides, backs against the wall and weapons raised against their chests. A standard breach, I recognized that. Jane turned the handle and kicked the door open, rifle pointed through the doorway, scanning left and right as she moved through. She was clean, efficient. It looked like she had military experience, but I couldn’t think about it for long. Alyssa and Tavis slipped through the doorway, motioning for Tyr and I to follow.  On we go.

 

The facility we were in was incredible; at least it was at one time. As we emerged from the stairwell, light flooded down from above. The place was massive, probably some sort of corporate building in its time, now in shambles. The roof was gone, the marble flooring cracked and mostly covered over by dirt and sand, counters that once housed receptionists and employees in pieces strewn across the floor. Even in its pitiful state, it was pretty impressive. Unfortunately there wasn’t much time to take in the scenery, once we were out in the open we had to move. Fast.

 

“Into the lobby, take positions at the stairs.” Jane commanded, leading the pack.

 

Soon enough we were staring at the massive entry of the complex. Like Jane had said, the lobby ended with a daunting set of stairs, at least 7 meters wide and 20 steps tall. Beyond them I couldn’t see much except the dust veiled beige sky. Besides everyone’s breath and the ghostly howl of sandy gales, it was deathly quiet. Whoever, or whatever was out there, I wasn’t sure I wanted to find out. My grip on the pistol tightened.

 

“Antonio, do you read?” The woman breathed into the radio. She might have been straight-laced about things, but she used his real name, and I could hear the worry buried beneath. I didn’t like where this was going.

 

Neither did anyone else from the look of it. Tavis was keeping up the badass façade, but it didn’t take a detective to see how hard he was sweating. Alyssa’s grip on her weapon was tighter than mine. Little Tyr was trying to look tough, but she was just a kid; a kid with high caliber rifle, but still a kid.

 

A thud sounded from the top of the stairs. Something was thrown; round, but not perfectly round. My first thought was a grenade, but it was big. It bobbled down the stairs unevenly, finally resting at the bottom of the grand entrance. I could tell what it was before it stopped its descent; I felt sick. The mottled blotches of red that it left behind on dirty steps told us what it was"or rather who it was.

 

“No, Tony…” Tyr squeaked, dropping to her knees. My heart ached for the girl, but there was no time.

 

“Schett!” Tavis seethed, barking out some unknown profanity that was easy enough to decipher and rushing up the stairs. Blood had been spilt; only more could come.

 

Jane took a step forward. “Tavis!” It didn’t matter what she said, he was furious.

 

I’m not sure what came over me, but before I could think I found myself bounding up the steps. I was armed, we were under attack. Even if he was an a*s, he didn’t deserve to stand alone against whatever was up there. Who was I? Who knows, but it was time to find out.

 

I’d barely crested the steps when a shot rung out. About 30 paces out someone flopped to the ground, face first into the dirt with a hole in his back. No one ever told Tavis ‘Don’t shoot the messenger.’ I didn’t blame him.

 

“Nice shot.” I nodded, surveying the landscape. He didn’t answer.

 

We were in a city, that much was clear. The beige tone of the sky painted an orangey sepia hue to everything, dull shadows of the tall damaged buildings cast against the ground that was more dust and sand than cement and concrete. Everything was in disrepair, from the once looming skyscrapers that now lay toppled over or worn down from the sands of time, to the rusted out hulls of vehicles that probably hadn’t seen use in decades. I had wondered how long I’d been in cold storage. It wasn’t hard to guess anymore.

 

“I don’t see anyone.” I kept my voice down, half crouched behind a crumbling wall. “Was he it?”

 

The man shook his head, not breaking his gaze from the catastrophic urban landscape. “Doubt it. Scabs run in packs"usually big ones. His friends aren’t far.”

 

Fair enough, it was time to make a stand. As frightening as the situation was, it also helped me kick the mental fog. Jane and Alyssa trotted up behind us, assuming more defensive positions just below the peak of the staircase. The fallen ‘Scab’ as he called it was dressed lightly, with dirty mismatched garments and makeshift armor. A cloak that had covered him had fallen to the side; old and stained; revealing the dead man’s dark flesh. Fashion aside, the outfit would have done well to conceal him were he still alive. His friends probably wouldn’t be easy to find.

 

“Movement to the east!” Alyssa called out, flipping a scope up and squeezing off a burst of automatic fire, then another.

 

It was loud. Before even I could even think to look at what she was firing at, all hell broke loose. Flecks of stone bit into my cheek as the wall beside my head fractured and disintegrated. I dropped to my bottom as Tavis slid into cover while Alyssa and Jane opened up. The air screamed as a myriad shots added their voices to the violent symphony. There were lots of them, and there we were, pinned down as they brought the hammer down on us.

 

“Up top Tavis! You see him?” Jane bellowed over the deafening white noise.

 

The man didn’t say a word, simply bringing his sights to where she indicated and popping off a few rounds. As hectic as it was, I couldn’t curl up in a ball and will it to end. I pressed my back against my cover, finger on the trigger as I looked back over my shoulder and towards the battlefield. Tavis was something else, he picked his shots like was threading the eye of a needle. A figure tumbled groundward out of a high perch, its clothes visibly marked with crimson even from our distance. Another burst from cover, sprinting to another outcropping of safety while firing blindly. My stomach turned as a bullet met its skull, leaving the attacker a lifeless pile in the dirt.

 

“Got one flanking to the west, new guy!” Alyssa yelled in my direction, hammering another clip into her weapon.

 

Awesome, that was me.

 

I thought I could handle things, until of course the sky lit up. I had to do more than hide though. My target was quickly visible as I snuck a peek around the far edge of my little wall, stumbling into cover behind a pile of rubble while fumbling with his gun. He was barely a stone’s throw away from us, but thankfully it looked like his weapon was jammed. As outnumbered as we probably were, our enemies didn’t look very well put together. Jane and her crew were efficient and armed to the teeth. The Scabs looked like they put their equipment together from stuff they got out of garbage cans. Then again, you didn’t find guns in garbage cans.

 

“Frosty!” Alyssa punctuated the command; I needed to wake the hell up.

 

I gripped the pistol with both hands, arcing my view around the wall again and bringing the weapon’s sights with me. The guy wasn’t doing a great job of concealing himself, but I had no idea how good of a shot I was. He was still fumbling with his weapon. He kept shuffling around, revealing way too much of his silhouette past his cover, then scurrying back down to his knees. I had to take a shot before he got his bearings back, or his weapon functional, but I needed a better…

 

Too late.

 

He must have given up on the rifle; he threw it aside, skittering through the dirt and diverting my attention. What was he doing? There was something in his hand now. It didn’t take long to figure out what it was once he brought it to his teeth and bit out a pin. The time to wait was over, he was on his feet, set to toss the unwanted present right at us. I lined up the shot as best I could, squinted a little, and pulled the trigger.

 

“Nice shot.” Tavis growled.

 

A pained scream pierced the air as my shot hit the man in his left shoulder, sending him into a pitiful twirl to the earth. It wasn’t a solid bullet, it was like fire; bright and searing as it flew straight and true into the soft tissue. I could feel the heat lap at my face as the shot went off. What was that? A plume of dirt and debris blasted high into the air from his position a few moments later. I guess that was that.

 

Thankfully the battle had worn down. Tavis and Jane were up on their feet, moving further out and clearing out any hiding places they could find while Alyssa watched their backs. The woman unloaded a few rounds down an alleyway, downing another target before promptly continuing her hunt. It hadn’t been another 30 seconds before the duo were headed back to the girls and I.

 

“Is that all of them?” I cautiously brought myself to my feet.

 

“Probably not, but they wouldn’t dare confront us alone or in small numbers. They’re cowards.” Jane still kept her piece ready. “Dangerous together, not alone.”

 

“Thanks for the assist newbie.” Tavis nodded towards me, tapping the barrel of his rifle to my arm. It was still hot. Ouch?

 

It was nice to see him break down a little bit though. Out of everyone, it looked like he was the only one with something to prove. To someone? To himself? I couldn’t tell yet, and it wasn’t really my business anyways. How often did this sort of field trip happen with these guys?

 

“Alyssa, with me.” Jane sighed, letting her guard up just a bit. “Let’s see if we can pull any ammo off the bodies. I want us out of the ward before nightfall.”

 

Fun job. The two moved off into the city, leaving Tavis and I alone with Tyr. I hadn’t seen her in the action at all. Made sense, but at the same time it made me wonder how she dealt with all of this. Putting bullets in people they didn’t know seemed second nature for Tavis and Alyssa, and they both hardly looked out of their teens. The girl definitely was younger, but she had a mean looking gun in her hands just like the two of them. Was there a difference there?

 

“Hey, you alright?” She caught me in the middle of my thoughts, tapping me on the shoulder while I sat leant up against a pedestal in the center of the complex’s lobby, missing the statue that clearly was once seated upon it.

 

“Yeah, I’m fine. Thanks for asking.” I offered a smile back, thinking on the irony of a kid asking a grown man if he was alright after a gunfight. “How are you holding up?”

 

She stared in thought for a moment, shrugging in response. “We’ve lost friends before…” Her eyes went to the stained sack laid next to the rest of the gear, holding Antonio’s head inside.

 

“I’m sorry. That never gets easier does it?”

 

“No, it doesn’t.” Her words were solemn, but composed. It looked like she knew when to change the subject. “You did good, y’know?”

 

I laughed, crossing my arms and looking up to the hazy sky above. “I’m not sure about that, but at least we’re all in one piece.” My eyes dropped back down to meet hers. “I’m glad you’re okay.”

 

The girl nodded, standing there motionless for a moment before taking a seat on the floor beside me. Her hair was down now, taken out of the ponytail either via movement or of her own accord. It was still short, barely reaching her bare shoulders, exposed by a lightly armored vest and tank-top beneath it. A few smudges of dirt stood out against the tanned skin of her cheeks, but it was hardly noticeable. I thought she might have had Indian descent, but it was hard to say by her looks. The heat was terrible, and it was nearly sundown. All three of my new friends were pretty dark. I felt like a mole. A bearded mole.

 

“This isn’t a nice world, stranger.” She murred softly, her eyes drifting sideways towards me.

 

Her words were full of sorrow, lament. Her eyes were so soft, but it felt like they tore a piece out of me. What was she saying?

 

“Has it ever been?” I murmured, not sure of how to respond to that. Tyr’s comment was probably as accurate as Tavis’ marksmanship. I guess I would have to find out myself.

 

The city was soon full of shadow, the air finally giving way to a slight drop in temperature. Tavis called us up out of the lobby; Jane and Alyssa were back and it was time to move.

 

Hopefully the night would bring a little more comfort than the day had.



© 2011 Idiotekque


Author's Note

Idiotekque
I'm open to criticism as brutally constructive as anyone who knows their stuff is willing to give. I'm a writing student, so I'm looking to refine my work as best I possibly can. Professional criticism is heartily appreciated.

Thanks for reading!

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Good story, though blood and guts action isn't my favorite style of writing, harder to read, but easier to watch as a movie. I just found a few things you might what to look at:

"We needed to get out of here"that much was clear." You have an extra quotation mark between here and that.

"counters that once housed receptionists and employees in pieces strewn across the floor. " this section is a little confusing, are the receptionists and employees pieces or the counters?

"The mottled blotches of red that it left behind on dirty steps told us what it was"or rather who it was." Again the extra quotation mark between was and or. I've noticed this happens when you have a dash, then you copy and paste your story, so I won't mention it again. Just make sure you reread your story after posting it to Writer's Cafe.

"We were in a city, that much was clear." Why is this here? Did he not know he was in a city at the beginning of the story? I see now, I should have read the previous chapter.

"Before even I could even think to look at what she was firing at," Are both of "even"s necessary?

"he picked his shots like was threading the eye of a needle." Either take out the "was" or add he.

"Another burst from cover, sprinting to another outcropping of safety while firing blindly." This sentence is a little confusing, who or what burst from cover, the enemy or the protagonist?

"Awesome, that was me." This sentence was confusing to me, I finally got it, but do you want your reader to work that hard? You might want to rewrite the sentence.

"What was that?" Yes, what was that, you kind of left me wondering.

Keep writing, I expect to see an action movie you have written one day!






Posted 8 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.




Reviews

Thanks for the comments, wegarner. There's a slew of errors throughout this novel, and the points you brought out will be edited in the second draft (this is a first draft).

As for the extra quotation marks, WritersCafe does not support em dashes for some reason, so they break when copied over. This is an issue within all the chapters, and I just haven't taken the time to fix them. Sorry.

As for "We were in a city" you would understand the thought if you read the first chapter.

Thanks for the input!

Posted 8 Years Ago


Good story, though blood and guts action isn't my favorite style of writing, harder to read, but easier to watch as a movie. I just found a few things you might what to look at:

"We needed to get out of here"that much was clear." You have an extra quotation mark between here and that.

"counters that once housed receptionists and employees in pieces strewn across the floor. " this section is a little confusing, are the receptionists and employees pieces or the counters?

"The mottled blotches of red that it left behind on dirty steps told us what it was"or rather who it was." Again the extra quotation mark between was and or. I've noticed this happens when you have a dash, then you copy and paste your story, so I won't mention it again. Just make sure you reread your story after posting it to Writer's Cafe.

"We were in a city, that much was clear." Why is this here? Did he not know he was in a city at the beginning of the story? I see now, I should have read the previous chapter.

"Before even I could even think to look at what she was firing at," Are both of "even"s necessary?

"he picked his shots like was threading the eye of a needle." Either take out the "was" or add he.

"Another burst from cover, sprinting to another outcropping of safety while firing blindly." This sentence is a little confusing, who or what burst from cover, the enemy or the protagonist?

"Awesome, that was me." This sentence was confusing to me, I finally got it, but do you want your reader to work that hard? You might want to rewrite the sentence.

"What was that?" Yes, what was that, you kind of left me wondering.

Keep writing, I expect to see an action movie you have written one day!






Posted 8 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

I don’t have the qualifications as a bona fide writer but as a heavy reader I loved it. Very visual, almost wanting to sneeze from the dust in the written air. I can easily connect with the characters and I love being inside the unknown man’s head.
This is a book I would definably pick up and buy.

Posted 8 Years Ago


Thanks for the comment. There are definitely reasons behind the protagonist's ability, and the reasons will eventually be revealed. A main theme of this story is self-discovery, on a very literal level. The first person perspective lends itself to that journey of discovery.

As for his memory, he obviously knows how to talk, and he isn't completely clueless. He knows he's human, he knows he's on planet Earth and retained his general knowledge, but bits and pieces are jumbled up, mostly related to his personal memory.

Glad you enjoyed it, and I hope you keep reading!

Posted 8 Years Ago


I gotta say I love this chapter. I'm starting to like Tavis as well as the protagonist. Seeing his aim at the fight, I take it he was "one of them" before he lost his memories? I hope so. (It won't make sense otherwise.)
I'm not sure how he'd know anything about Indians when he doesn't even remember his name, but it's not a big problem. I mean, you gotta describe the others sometime. The point of view is fitting and it'll sound weird if not first-pov so I'm not gonna complain.

Posted 8 Years Ago



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Added on December 9, 2011
Last Updated on December 14, 2011
Tags: post-apocalyptic, ruins, architecture, urban, war, warfare, guns, weapons, battle, combat, raiders, scavengers


Author

Idiotekque
Idiotekque

Makawao, HI



About
I'm 20 years old and I'm a writing student living in Hawaii. Writing is my passion, and I'm striving to break into the market doing something I really love. more..

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