Chapter 4: Help

Chapter 4: Help

A Chapter by Janeece

Scarlet has been taken in by strangers after they saved her life. But everything is not what it seems.


Living in a world where you don't need to be self reliant, don't need to ever be on your own to deal with any problems, really doesn't set you up for a positive outcome in situations like mine. It's taught me to hate being alone. I hate taking care of myself, hate not having anyone to go to, hate not having anyone to complain to. So I settle with complaining to myself, ranting on to the sand filled wind, gusting up the grainy substance into my eyes and mouth, a hidden message for me to shut up.

             The desolate sand is pallid everywhere I look. The sun seems to be soaking up any of the golden colour the dust wears. The little grains imploring for the return of their sandy tone.

             "Why can't we just stay here?" I moan aloud, "No one is coming out here too look for us, there's nothing here." The wind picks up and I cringe, turning my back and guarding my eyes. I untie my sweatshirt and place it around my face, just under my eyes, blocking the vast majority of the inedible dirt. "Right, there's nothing here. That's why we can't stay here." I hit myself in the side of my head, stop arguing with yourself Scarlet, you're not crazy. I try to convince myself that this is normal, if anyone was enduring what I am right now, they'd be doing just the same. Wrong, my conscience speaks up, they wouldn't have been so careless and finished all the water. I have to agree with myself, it was a pretty stupid thing to do. But I would have died if I didn't drink it. And you're not going to die now? I swat the thoughts away mentally, though somewhere in the back of my mind I know I'm right. I am going to die.

     I start with what else I know: I know for a fact that I've been walking for two days, going on three tonight. I don't know if I'm going in the right direction anymore. There's no way for me to be able to tell. Everything is sand. I don't know if anyone will be in the West. I don't know what to ask for when I get there, and I definitely don't know how to get back to Griffin and Fredrick. Well, this is just great. The 'I don't knows' outdo the 'I do knows' by a long shot.

     The lack of things to look at is starting to drive me mad, too. I thought I saw a hovercraft the other day but once I got close, it was gone. Mirage, my memory tells me. All this stupid useless information is doing me no good. My father should've brought me a desert survival book home from work.   


                Daylight wanes and I begin to lead toward the very thing I’ve been avoiding the entire drawling length of today. Nightfall. The thought leaves me maimed and I search for some sense of a placid thought, having no time for the looming anxiety attack.

               The sun begins to descend in the sky beyond the horizon. The sounds of poisonous critters and lethal organisms lurking in the dark beyond what my sense of vision is able to detect, sends my mind and heart into a panicked frenzy. It's not my first night alone, but it's my first night alone after a long day without water and surely not enough nutrition to keep me going. Hysteria begins to settle in as I lay down, my mind playing tricks on me.

             The desert gets surprisingly cool at night, the dense draft causing my bones to rattle. I think about the possibilities of what could happen if I am to die here. Whether it be from malnutrition or the losing of a battle with an animal deadlier than me. Would that be possible with my guns? Catching me in my sleep would put me at a large disadvantage.

             Maybe dying wouldn't be such a bad thing, I'm sure I'm not ready for it, no matter how hard I try to convince myself. I've been made to survive anything, live through the harshest of climates without being emerged in them, fight my way out of heavy violence. So why is my body giving up on me now?

                I attempt to argue with myself until mental fatigue seeps through my brain tissues and prepares me for a deep sleep.


                There's a sharp snap of a nearby twig. The drowsiness clears instantly and I roll onto my feet, running a few meters, driven by adrenaline. I don't even want to look back and figure out who or what caused the sound, just get away from it. I settle down again.

                 The little noises in the night continue to wake me up, several times. Enough that I get nothing close to a good night's sleep. With no energy left to move, I lay there shivering and more frightened than I've ever been.

                Morning sun promises to drench me in my own sweat, leave my burnt skin crusted with my own bodily fluids and sand. I pop my joints out and do a few quick stretches before forcing myself onto my feet and through another day's journey.

              I adjust the bags on my shoulder. I had emptied out most of the meat, leaving only a few pieces of root and berries left. My stomach grumbles, as if to remind me just how stupid that was too. I pause once the wind lets up as much as I know it will and drop down to my knee, swinging one of the bags from my back over my shoulder and onto the ground. I hover over it with my body, limiting the amount of sand that can get inside. I glance up to see the sun is setting, it will be dark soon. Unzipping the front of my pack, I reach inside and feel around for the smooth texture of the leaf, wrapped around my tasteless roots.

               Suddenly there is a shuffle behind me, I hear a deep low rumble and freeze, my hand still deep inside my bag. The sound happens again, only louder now. The distinct sense of hostility growing near. I pull the gun from my belt slowly and risk a glance over my shoulder. The golden fur on it's back seems to ruffle and settle back down, then ruffle again. My instincts tell me not to move. "No animals out here eh, Fredrick?" I mutter breathlessly. I can feel the sweat beading above my eyebrow. This carnivore isn't going to just walk away. I have to act, and quickly.

              I slowly begin to rotate my body to face the large creature, it rumbles again and I take this as a sign to stop, halfway turned. I look up for a moment, careful not to stare it in the eyes. I've read enough books to get that rule down.

               Its heavy paws scrape the sand roughly and I watch it prepare to advance on it's prey. Unfortunately in this case, that' is yours truly.

    I freeze, the predator shifts, confident enough and in the right position to do so. Menacing and proving to me that it has no other goal besides killing me. I see the shine in the large black eyes, beady and round, a sparkling green swimming with its blood thirsty intention. To kill.

   I feel a panic attack seeping in, the white noise buzzing in my ears. This is no time for it to make an appearance! The battle takes so much out of me and I slowly realize the beast isn't going to wait forever. I suppose I should have some sort of natural instinct that could tell me what to do. But in times of such peace and serenity, natural selection has run it's course, leaving no need for the predatory instinct in the human mind. I try to relate to my hunter reflexes, thinking of how I fight. The fluidity of my motions, synchronizing with their messily thrown jabs, counteracted by my confident punches. But there's none of those options now. I know how to fight humans, and is clearly not human.

   I shakily lift the gun and the animal roars in response to the threat, leaping forward in the air. My finger is on the trigger. Pull!, my inner voice bellows at me. But I can't, there's no strength, no pressure available. PULL! Why can't I do it? Where's the trigger? Where's my finger? The two can't seem to find each other, the contact just out of reach. I can see the ferocious beast, a few inches away now, gnashing teeth, ready to rip my fragile face apart.

              The white noise has taken over. That is the only explanation I can think of as I lay on my side. I must be in heaven now, hands clamped over my ears to escape my own tortured screams, as the fangs rip open the paper thin skin coating my throat. There's no pain. I expect an immense amount of pain, followed by the heavy flow of blood, no way to staunch it. Only more pain would follow, as I become a meal for this stealthy predator. Except, I feel nothing.

              Finally a dense ache sinks into my ears. I remove my hands, my eyes shut tight. The soreness in my knees settles in as I realize my bended position.

                 There's a loud ringing in my ears, accompanied with the annoying ache, not exactly excruciating but not something I can just ignore. Then I notice the rise and fall of my own chest and my hands drop to the ground. Feeling around, I recognize the rough sand. I haven't died. I'm right where I was a few moments before I should have.

              I open my eyes to see darkness. But there is a reflection off the back of the creature, revealing it's thick, golden fur. The carcass of the animal, flopped over on it's side, a gun shot in between it's eyes, jaw slack and sharp teeth hanging out. I stare into the monstrous emeralds on the side of its head, pupils fixed in my vulnerable position. I know it's dead but still I scuttle back from the scary sight, my bag hugged into my chest.

              Over the loud ringing in my eardrums I hear a muffled sound, voices. I strain to detect each word, slowly they become clearer.

              "Look at that son, she's even got her own gun." A bright light flashes over my face, hands reaching up to guard my sensitive eyes. "Sorry sweetie," The light goes out and suddenly there's a pair of arms under my own, helping me to my feet. The stranger grabs the bag as well, but not in a threatening matter, just to help relieve my arms of the weight. They step away, giving me my space. My legs tell me to dive forward, snatch my bag back and run. My lack of energy tells me otherwise. I steady myself and search for my words.

             "Why didn't ya shoot him yourself then, huh?" The same ugly voice speaks again, practically perfectly audible. Though I wish it weren't. The voice sounds uneducated and from an old time, with a weird, tangy accent. Not flawless and smooth like Fredrick's, just rough and unpleasant.

  "I-I-" I stutter helplessly.

             "Let's just git ya back inside." They start to walk away from my frozen figure. I rub my arm nervously, unsure of what to do next. My eyes catch the familiar black bag, still in the taller form's grasp. There's no way I'm leaving without it.  "Well you're not going to stand out here so another one-a those big 'ol monsters can bite yer head off, are ya?" These words make me move forward, stepping in beside the two figures, and following them inside.

            I soon learn that inside is a shabby, old cabin. I almost retch in fright when I see the way these people live. Isolation is the thing that frightens me the most but then I take in the structure they inhabit. A house made of a weird substance, but oddly sturdy. It isn't as clean looking as the usual titanium walls, but it seems to do the same job. It isn't the usual ivory my eyes are a custom to, everywhere seems to follow a certain pattern, but not a stylish one. The walls are a sun lit yellow, accompanied with little accents of blue. Blue cabinets, blue drapes, blue couches, but some of the blues are off and it is obvious whoever built the place wasn't very aware, or just didn't care about, the law of stylish. I am directed to sit down on one of the worn down couches, and handed a glass of water. Glass? These people are so painfully outdated.

               "I'm Susan Rogers and this is my son, Jackson." I stop myself from the impolite action of raising an eyebrow. Their names, everything about them is so hopelessly wrong. The wrong time, the wrong place, wrong everything. "And you are?" I don't think this joke is very funny. These people are cruel, getting my hopes up now that they've seen me in the light. Sure, the thought of hiding my identity came to mind at some point during the walk here, but even if I did have the materials to do so, I had no more drive to go forth with the actions.

                 It takes me a few beats to notice that this ugly voiced, wrinkled woman isn't joking. I soon realize that their ignorance to the rest of society will somehow come to an advantage, for me. These desert folk have no idea who I am, no idea that I am a potential life threatening entity, spreading cancer wherever I go. Being out here in the desert must mean more than just dirty accents and shabby houses.

            Maybe it's suspicious that I've taken so long to answer, so I rub my head as if to have some sort of head injury. She falls for this and repeats the question. So I just go with the usual, I lie.

             "Violet," the common name rolls off my tongue. "Violet Rafferdale." I smile genuinely, earning one in return. Jackson bows his head, drawing attention to his silent presence. He has a nice face, round nose in the middle of his oval shaped head, sculpted cheekbones and a strong jaw. His shoulders are broad and his triceps bulge with the natural strength that comes with his seemingly perfect genes. The t-shirt he wears shows off the deep tan he has, dark specks of sun spots scattering the surface, matching the set on his cheeks. His auburn hair hangs in his face, skimming his long thick eyelashes but not going past his ears on the side. It's a rough haircut, clearly done by hand. His thin lips stretch up into a warm smile and he leaves the room, his tall frame creating a quiet and graceful retreat. Jackson's mother smiles at me, a set of broken and stained crooked teeth. Her skin is sagging with time and poor diet, hair thin and graying far too early. She is not grossly overweight, but shedding a few pounds couldn't hurt. I can tell Jackson takes after his father.

             "Well, Violet. I'm sure you can see as well as I that it'd be appropriate for you to stay the night!" She fills up my cup with a nearby glass pitcher and then leaves to the cooking area with it in hand. "Jackson has brought your things to your room. It's just up the stairs, too the left." It takes me a bit to clue in that now is my time to leave. With no intentions to be left alone with her for any longer, I get to my feet, place the glass down on the nearby round table and travel towards the stairs in the left hand corner of the room. They stretch up to another unseen floor. I walk slowly, the old wood creaking under my weight. I worry it'll crack. Then I remind myself of Susan's build and confidently find my way to the stairs, starting to climb up them. I turn to the left at the top to see two doors. My hand rests on the handle of the one closest to me and I open it slowly.

                I find a tall structure that goes to my waist, then a circular bowl on top and a titanium like faucet that leans over it. Beside this is a white hard surface, shaped like a seat with a lid and then a large matching tub, the same faucet inside, along with a similar one above it on the wall, as well. I assume that to be the bed. There's small squares on the floor and walls by the tub, each have the small pattern of a bouquet of flowers on them. Yellow and blue, of course. I turn back to see a reflective surface above the tall structure with the bowl, a mirror. I inspect my simple features.

                A round nose much like Jackson's, though placed a little bit higher on my face. Long, light eyelashes that used to be fairly dark, but with time have been bleached by the sun. My previously perfectly sculpted arched eyebrows above my eyes, although I detect a few stray hairs growing in. I contemplate ripping them out with my fingertips, but know that'll only cause me pain, something I haven't been used to until recently.

              Defined cheekbones, even more defined from my recently changed diet, resting on the outsides of my large, round brown eyes. Freckles sparsely placed along the surface of my previous fair skin, now recovering from it's recent sun burn, and developing into a dark tan. I work my fingers through my messy braid, hair flowing down my shoulders and settling at my hipbones, in frizzy, fiery waves. I scrape the sand from my scalp and feel the contours of my face.

             We've all been trained from birth to like our faces, I suppose. And if that's not the case, your parents will take you in to get it fixed so that you will. DNA can be altered without any threats, to ensure a beautiful baby girl or boy, that doesn't need to dye their hair or colour their eyes or receive any other overly used synthetic material. But to change DNA means that you have to know people. Not just anyone can waltz into a lab and demand a pink eyed, orange haired embryo.

              I'm lucky to have been born with a face that doesn't need construction, although my eyes are a simple brown, I've never been driven to change them. I think it's okay to assume they're not that plain. I never noticed my face's development from chubby cheeks into a slim young woman's face until a boy named Skye Evergreen began to take interest in me. He was just simply beautiful. Rosy cheeks, midnight black hair that looked almost blue in certain lights. His eyes a deep green, matching perfectly with his sur name. He was the only friend I ever really had, then one day his dad got assigned to the South, which is very opposite of where I lived, the North. He left and I never spoke to him again. I guess the memory should make me sad, but it doesn't.

              "I see you've found the washroom." I spin to see Jackson standing in front of me uncomfortably, his hands not quite sure what to do. He fumbles with the seam of his shirt, half smiling.

              "Washroom..?" I ask turning to face him, he nods slowly and looks down, stepping away from the door frame.

             "Your room is over there." He points to the second door and I make a sound of understanding, and then follow his finger. "So, Violet..." He tries to make conversation, following me as I open the door and settle down on the bed. The tacky theme remains. A simple bed with a table beside it and a lamp. Opposite the small window is a long narrow wooden desk. I notice my bags on top of each other in the far corner.

               "Why don't you have an accent?" I ponder, staring at him. He looks up into my eyes for the first time and quickly looks away.

               "Don't know," he shrugs, sitting at the desk. "guess 'cause I wasn't around anyone who talked like that besides my mom and on-" I turn fast to look at him.

            "On what?" He smiles nervously and rises to his feet.

             "Don't you want to know why we live out here? So far from everyone?" I lean forward in interest, encouraging him to continue. "Mom said when dad died she got lost for a little while, wasn't sure what to do with herself. He died in an accident at work, corpse burning, down South," I nod, my lips turning down slightly into a sympathetic frown. "slipped right in with the bodies. I didn't know him very well to be sad about it." He shrugs indifferently, pursing his lips and pushing his hair to the side. "So she, my mom, I mean...she kinda just ended up wandering. Wandering to random places, telling me we needed to find our place. Eventually she stumbled upon this old house while doing work in the wild, she got lost. Almost died from dehydration. She found her way back and insisted we move out here. We don't know what it was for, or why it's still here, but this is our place, and it feels like home to me." I smile at him warmly. I have lots of questions but no energy left to talk to him. He's such a gentle person, someone I'd love to be friends with if our meeting was under any other circumstances.

             "Jackson?" Susan hollers rudely from the hall, as if on cue. "Leave Violet thur, it's time fer bed." He bows his head again and gets to his feet.

              "Evening miss."

               "Night Jack." I don't mean to cut his name short, Jackson is just such a mouthful. Luckily, he doesn't seem to mind. He just smiles, that sheepish smile and exits the room, closing the door behind him.

               I roll over to my other side, reaching the window. A draft gusts in and I gather the blankets up to my chin. My teeth begin to chatter as my stomach grumbles loudly, reminding me of what I was planning to do before I got rudely interrupted by that golden furred killer. I tuck my legs in and rise to a sitting position, swinging my legs over the bed then standing. I stride over to the corner where my bags sit. I almost rip the top open, stuff my hand inside and pull the roots out.

              The taste is bland and unsatisfying. I mindlessly chow back the nearly inedible 'vegetables' and get up to go back to bed. Then I stop, turn on my heel, and go back to my bags. There's something missing... more roots? I shake my head out, positive I had just eaten the last of them. I place my ear to the door, listening out into the hallway. It's empty and silent.

              I open the door slowly and it creaks with old age. Stepping outside, my eyes do full sweeps of the premises. I reach the washroom door and turn the handle. Settling down on the throne, where I assume they relieve themselves, I pull down my worn out previous pants, recently remodeled into a pair of baggy shorts. The hardened dust cracks and falls to the floor. I swear under my breath and try to clean it up when I'm done, failing miserably. My stomach grumbles again once I stand up and a really good idea sneaks into my mind...

            No, my conscience screeches at me, this isn't your house, you can't go snooping around for food. I almost agree, ready to spin around and go back to bed. My stomach speaks again, egging me on, pushing me towards the devil on my shoulder. I tip my toes across the noisy floorboards, pausing every few toes to listen out for movement. The silence pushes me on.

             Once I reach the bottom of the stairs I try to retrace my footsteps, put the room to memory. "Where is their cooking room..." I whisper to myself. I walk away from the room with the tacky couch and drapes, walking down a slimmer hallway. There's a door to my left and I place my hand on it gingerly, biting my lip and adding pressure. It swings open and there's a staircase descending. Plunging down into the deep, black hole doesn't seem like the smartest thing to do, but I can't seem to find the cooking room and�" grrrrummm�"my stomach again, telling me to go ahead. I look around one more time before taking the first step down. There is a small light showing the way down, so I don't break my neck. But beyond that is opaque darkness.

             The last step leaves me on cold, hard ground. I glance back up at the open door at the top of the stairs, leaving it like that in case of a quick escape. Escape? I ask myself, escape from what? I'm not sure, and I don't want to think about it right now in this empty chamber.

I place my hand on the wall, feeling my way around a corner. There's a light only a few feet away, and I can hear distant voices. More than one, conversing about something unknown. It sounds fairly official, I detect no accents. I stumble towards the light, careful not to make any noise. There's a doorway, made of a cage like design, metal links woven together, appearing kind of like a fence. A door that slides in and out of place, but it remains open for the time being. I stand outside the door, peering in through the doorframe, I see a very narrow room. There is a chair facing a wall, the back to me. I can see a plump silhouette perched in the seat. Susan.

             My eyes wander to the wall beside her still form. I step back in shock. Rows and rows of lethal weapons. Some I've seen pictures of, but cannot put to a name. Guns, automatic guns, machine guns, little balls of exploding death, the list goes on. I place my hand over my mouth to stifle a gasp. With the short period of time I've been exposed to them, the killer weapons have started to grow on me. I don't exactly enjoy using them, but having a simple hand gun within arms reach doesn't make me recoil with fear either.

             "She's upstairs a'sleepin." I hear the ugly tone, Susan is talking to someone. But someone who isn't present, someone somewhere else... "Oh, hush will ya. She's not goin neewher, 'n we gat her guns." If I haven't noticed it by now, I now know for sure that these people are not completely isolated from civilization. A viewing box illuminates the room, capturing my attention. "Well ya can get 'er while she's sleepin." The menacing symbol of The Head practically beams at me from the left hand corner of the screen. Lack of food and overwhelming fatigue works as a strong weight, pulling my intelligence down to a minimum. I've never thought of myself as stupid, but it takes a scary amount of time for me to figure out that she is talking about me. And the fact that she has my guns makes my stomach flip.

            There is a regular sitcom replaying, but at the bottom is a dark blue bar, with a familiar name and a strikingly familiar face. The same long red hair, plain brown eyes, Scarlet Pattin...

I step back from the doorway, walking backwards, retreating. I have to get my pack, then I have to leave. I hit a dense, hard wall. My hands feel around to find a rough material, rolling back and forth between my fingers. A sweat-crusted t-shirt. I wheel around to face a broad chest, strong and confident, hands come down on the sides of my arms and I'm lifted off the ground. It all happens so fast, I forget about my usual response of struggle, just staying limp in his strong grip. I can feel the bruises forming beneath his meaty fingers.

I cannot see it, but I hear the scrape of footsteps behind me before the crack of the gun and the last thought I have is wondering what kind of gun it is.

© 2013 Janeece

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Added on March 5, 2013
Last Updated on March 5, 2013
Tags: dystopian, love, romance, sickness, cancer, anxiety, adventure, action, murder, suspense




my name is janeece, i'm 17. i live in canada and i hate how cold it is. i can't wait to get out of here. my passions include writing, musical theatre and fashion. message me, i'm super nice! more..

Prologue: Secrecy Prologue: Secrecy

A Chapter by Janeece