Jericho

Jericho

A Story by qownsqud
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Kyle is a 15 year-old boy living in Jericho, a young settlement in the Wasteland, 44 years after a nuclear war scorched the world and casted the remains into anarchy

"

 

            Kyle and Marie set themselves up on the roof of the apartment building.  They laid a blanket down, twisted suppressors onto their sniper rifles, and laid down flat on their stomachs as close to the edge as possible.

            What stretched abound below them was ruin.  Debris and ash everywhere, abandoned cars on the streets, personal belongings, other people’s memories, soundless ghosts of a past world.  Entire blocks were annihilated in the detonation, buildings and towers and homes once warm in the winter reduced to pebbles.  Signs of a panicked evacuation, bones of the revenant. Nothing lived here anymore.  

It was a somber view. The world was once so different and it was strange for Kyle to be standing in the remains of something that no longer existed.  Gabriel told him that a long time ago this was a great city so Kyle tried to piece together what it used to be. Could it really have been so beautiful? He could almost see it, great towering creations where the rubble now lies, lights exuding from the sides where rust and fallout now corrode.  Streets filled with millions of people with worries of things that Kyle couldn’t grasp.  But now, here in this bleak and desolate new age, all it was was ruin.   

Where were those worries now?  

Buried beneath the fallout he assumed.

Laurie would have liked it here, she always had a certain obsession with what the world was like before the Reckoning.  She would have liked how quiet it was.  Up here, silence and peace were the same and the world was too far away to be a part of.  Maybe if she started feeling better, he’d bring her.  It would be dangerous of course… but... it would be nice, wouldn’t it?

            “In position,” Marie radioed to Gabriel, jarring Kyle back into reality. 

            “On the move.”

            Embarrassing.  What would Marie say if she caught him daydreaming?  Kyle shook his head vigorously, chasing away the folly.  He wasn’t a boy anymore, but a man grown.

           

 

            From afar, they glassed over them as Gabriel took lead with Cameron close at his side and Olivia and Paul trailing behind guarding the rear.  They started making their way to the hospital, just over a mile north of Kyle’s location.  Kyle kept the binoculars glued to his face, trailing the horizon and the alleyways for signs of movement.  They moved quickly as Marie fed them directions through the radio.

“Heads up, three ferals around the corner,” Kyle said.  Two of them close enough to mimic a conversation, eerily human, the other bent over crawling on all fours.  They dispatched them without trouble.  Kyle spotted a stray approaching from the rear and shot it through the back.  Gabriel threw up a wave in Kyle’s general direction before continuing on.  

            A few more ferals further down, but no people yet.  That was good.  

Four more blocks, maybe less than three quarters of a mile to go.  They came upon the main street, a wide road with two lanes on each side.  Kyle spotted two men standing on the edge of the roof just across, gazing upon the city skyline.  Around their necks were gruesome chains of tethered ears.  “Raiders on the roof Gabriel, standby.” Marie radioed.  Then she turned to him, “You okay taking out the other man?”

Kyle focused his crosshairs on the barren patch of skin in the center of his jet black hair.  “Do I look nervous to you?”

“On my signal then.”

The man was wearing a black leather jacket to keep him warm against the chill.  Faded denim jeans, ragged shirt.  Trembling clouds of breath whispered from his lips.  His face sagged from lack of sleep and grime crusted his skin and the stubble that outlined his jaw.  

“Now.”

Kyle pulled the trigger.  

 

 

They continued to direct them closer and closer into the heart of the city. The process was long and arduous, taking detours to avoid the raiders when possible.  A younger him would have complained.  A few more blocks down, Kyle took out a second man. Then Gabriel’s group crossed the half-mile mark, and the shots weren’t hitting as often for him.  With the range, Kyle stopped picking off threats on the ground sticking to clearer shots on the roofs, leaving the rest to Marie. A little later, the boy killed another man, picking him off before he was able to alert the others and watched the body tumble down the side of the building into the dead overgrown below.

 

 

“Easy Gabriel.  We have potential hostiles up ahead,” Marie radioed as she looked through her scope.  They were less than a hundred yards away from the hospital now, passing through a narrow alley that opened to the street. Kyle shifted his rifle to glass over what Marie had seen.  Two men came out of a small shop at the corner of the street several feet away from Gabriel.  Six more followed them afterwards. “Eight men total.  Heavily armed and carrying packed duffel bags.”

Kyle slowly settled his scope on one of the men’s skull. Long hair peppered black and white slicked back, a burly beard that covered half of his face.  His eyes were grey as stormclouds.  

Harsh static, “Raiders?”

“I can’t see any chains.”

Kyle watched the crosshairs waver slowly on his forehead. They were huddled together as the man seemed to be addressing them.  The distance was great, but they were standing out in the middle of the street and the wind was forgiving.

Steady your aim, slow your breathing.

“We’ll take care of it,” Gabriel’s voice rang with finality. “What happens next is up to them.”  

Kyle rested his finger on the trigger as he waited.   After a momentary discussion, the group of men separated.  They slung their bags over their shoulders and began walking west, away from the building that Gabriel and the others leaned upon hidden by the drapes of shadows with weapons drawn.  Kyle trailed the man still as he walked away, the crosshairs locked on the center of his graying hair.  He wouldn’t miss, he would hit.  He was sure.  He kept his scope centered until the man turned a corner impossible for Kyle to trail any longer.

 

 

When they arrived at the hospital, abandoned and lifeless as the rest of the city, the sun had already set and been replaced by a giant moon speckled by a dusty film. There was a desolate parking lot that surrounded its perimeter littered with charred vehicles and a sign at its entrance covered with graffiti worn and faded.  Kyle squinted from behind his binoculars to make out what the words said:

            Where is the word of God?

            Static followed by Gabriel’s voice.

“We’re in.  It’s going to take us some time to go through the place so sit tight.”

            “Over and out.”

            They relaxed, leaning against the walls as they awaited word. Marie reached into her bag and pulled out two baked potatoes wrapped in rugged tinfoil and handed one to Kyle.  “Here,” she said as she pulled out small packets of salt.

“Thanks.”  He peeled back the aluminum and the skin, salted it then bit into it enjoying the rich flavor.  They sat for a bit, soaking in the languor as they ate.

            “How’s Laurie doing?”

            “Not well.”

            Silence built between them.

    “Don’t worry, we’ll save her.”

            Kyle started shaking his head, “Let’s not do that.”

             “Do what?”

             “You don’t have to tell me everything’s going to be okay.  Save it for the kids.”

              Marie studied the polarizing child before her.  “We’re going to save her Kyle.”

            “You don’t know that.”

            Quiet again, eating away as they awaited news of the pillaging.  After a while, the silence started to become uncomfortable.

            “How’s Davis?”  

            Marie’s face brightened at the mention of her recently adopted son.  

            “He’s been doing really well.  The school’s been great for him.  He’s still having trouble reading, but he’s always spewing off about something new that Russell taught him.”
            “I haven’t seen him around for gun training.”

            She had finished her potato and started fiddling with the tinfoil in her hands, flattening it to a perfect square.  “I don’t think he’s ready for that just yet.  Or if he’ll ever be.”

            “He’s eleven.”

            She started folding the corners, shaping the aluminum, never looking up.  “Exactly.”

           “That’s around the same age that you and Gabriel taught me," Genuine confusion distorted his face. "You’re telling me you think it’s a better idea for Davis to be unprepared?” 

            Marie took her time choosing her words carefully, ““It was a different time then.  We were out here…always.  It was us and the rest of the world trying to kill us.  People, ferals, radiation, food, water, cold, heat.  Have you ever turned to look behind us?  Jericho was built upon a graveyard.  The grim reaper haunts us.  He breathes down our neck and coaxes us along his rocky trail just waiting for us to slip.   But inside, it’s different.  Inside those walls… it’s not quite like that.  And Davis, he’s so sweet and kind.  He’s not like us, he doesn’t deserve this.  Not when he doesn’t have to.”

           “Of course he has to,” Was she crazy? “The walls don’t change anything.  All we did was create a bubble, nothing’s changed.  You think we’re safe?  That Davis is safe?  You’re lying to yourself.  This world stinks, it reeks.  It smells like s**t and it seeps down to my mouth and I can taste how s****y it is.  Safe isn’t permanent.  It’s never permanent.  Maybe it doesn’t even exist.  How could you have forgotten that?  How can you just forget everything, everyone, that we’ve lost?”

She glanced up, hurt. “Kyle… It’s not that I’m forgot… How could you say that? Your mother--” She fell wordless for a moment, her fingers lingering over the foil before she shaping it again. Her hands gave life to wings, “At some point, we have to move forward. We can’t do that stuck in this circle of death and survival.”

He ignored the mention of his mother. “That’s how we live.”

“No.” She didn’t look away this time.  “Kyle, it’s not.  That’s how we get to tomorrow.”

“I don’t see the difference.”

She exhaled long and slow, “Listen, it’s not like I think that the world is just one day going to sprout flowers from the ground.  It’s just… it’s not going to be like this anymore, do you understand?”  He didn’t.  “All dust and ash and suffering.”

Out of an old and obsolete habit Marie found herself looking up at the night sky but there was nothing to see. “I have dreams about it.  I don’t know if that’s good or bad, having these tranquil dreams of better days.  But in them, our walls aren’t needed anymore, we’re knocking them down.  All of us.  And on the other side there are people, thousands of people, waiting for us.  As if they’ve been there all along and we just didn’t know it. They take us to a great mansion and throw us a feast.  And there’s music and dancing and laughter.  Even from you.”  She had a sad smile resting gently on her lips. “Sometimes, we dance until the morning, other times we drink the night away.  Davis is always so tired that he can’t keep his head up and falls asleep on my lap. And when I’m the only one still awake, I’m holding his tiny head staring out the window dreading the sunrise because I know that means this is the end.  I pray, I beg, I sit there for hours.  But it doesn't matter, it always comes.”

Marie set her finished creation down on the ground between them, showcasing an aluminum swan shimmering in the pale moonlight. “The dream doesn’t come every night.  I wish it did.  It’s blissful without nightmares of lost ones and the morning is cruel to wake me from it in exchange for... this.  But tomorrow, just beyond what we can see, the world that I wake to will be better than the one I fell asleep to.  It’s coming, sure as the day.  But we’ll never get there if I’m putting a gun into that sweet boy’s tiny little hand when he can’t even finish reading his first storybook.”

            “When he’s killed will you bury that book with his corpse?”  There was ice in his tone and a fire sparking in his belly.  He couldn’t stop the words from coming out, but he needed her to see.  How could she not see?  

            Marie’s eyes rested on him for several moments, soft and caressing, they slipped through Kyle’s chest and peered into his weary heart, “I won’t insult you by calling you a boy because you aren’t.  You… We, have seen terrible, horrible things.  But you are young.  You are just so very young.  Too young to only see a world in darkness.”

            She picked up the aluminum swan and placed it into her bag.  “It’s on me to get us to tomorrow, and from that point on Davis will live the life that I have seen in my delusions.  I need you to understand that.”

            Kyle crumbled his foil into a ball and tossed it to the side having finished his potato.  “Well it’s foolish.  Foolish and stupid.”

            “Then so be it.”

            Marie watched as Kyle surrendered remaining adamant in his silence, returning to his binoculars to scan the landscape.  She felt pity for the boy burden her heart but made no move to speak again.  They sat quietly for the remainder of the time as they awaited word.  Worry crept in when two hours passed without one, but it was soundless all the same.  They took turns napping, one taking watch as the other rested.  

 

 

By the time Gabriel’s voice called through the radio, nearly three hours had past.  Marie had taken watch.  Kyle couldn’t sleep and lied with his back to her listening to the silence.

“The hospital’s been ravaged… there’s nothing left. We’re going to try the pharmacy a few blocks down.”

Kyle suddenly remembered that Laurie was afraid of heights.  

It was a stupid idea, she wouldn’t like it here.  She’d hate it, absolutely hate it.

“Keep us posted.”

Kyle felt Marie’s watchful eyes.  He didn’t want her to ask him if he was okay so he remained as he was pretending to be asleep, wiping his mind of the clouds.  It was obvious she didn’t believe him, but she said nothing, sitting against the wall staring at the walkie before her.  Something ominous drifted over their heads, but to acknowledge it was to breath it into life.  And so they stayed like that, two figures frozen in the languor; palpable silence, the stillness of a painting.  

 

           

            Almost another hour later, they suddenly heard clamouring coming from below.  Kyle crawled to the edge and peered over the side of the building.  Entering through the front were six men kicking down the front door and making their way inside.  Some were carrying bats and crowbars, others knives and axes, but from Kyle’s distance he couldn’t see any guns.  

“Gabriel.  We have company.  We’re switching locations to the secondary building.”

            A pause.

            “Be careful.  We’ll be back soon.”

            Despite the urgency, they were careful to not leave behind any traces, quickly cleaning the area of leftover casings and stuffing the blanket back into the bag.  When they were sure they had everything packed, they made their way down the fire escape.  

            Once they reached the ground, Marie rested against the wall, just out of sight.  There were two men posted up outside of the apartment building.   Kyle joined her at her side as she slowly pulled her knife from her belt.

            “On my signal.”

 

 

They dragged the bodies wasting several seconds.  It took a combined effort, but they were able to lift both bodies into a nearby dumpster before moving on.

            She turned down another alleyway, switching directions in case they were tailed.  They crossed the street, their footsteps silent and delicate as they snuck past a pack of ferals.  Kyle looked ahead and saw the intended building towering over them only a block away.  A lone feral sat hunched over on the side of the road muttering to itself, the clothes on its back tattered down to rags resembling its rotting skin, and its left arm eroded to nothing but a stump hanging from its shoulder.  

“I’m going to do it.  I’m going to do it tomorrow.”  it would whisper as it fingered the gravel on the street unaware of their presence. “I’m going to look her in the eye and tell her I want a baby.”

Kyle approached it from behind with his knife drawn.  

“Tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow.  What a big day tomorrow.”  

Just beyond what we can see.

They hid the body quickly and left the open, turning into an alley for the comforting dark where they could disappear once more.  Only a few houses down now.  Marie veered left, and at the end of the alley Kyle saw the back door into the building.  

            As they entered the opening and broke their jog, a hand reached out of the darkness and grabbed the back of Marie’s hair, yanking her fiercely to the ground.  Before Kyle could react, he felt his legs kicked out from under him and the ground rushed to meet him, rough and calloused hands pinning his face against the cold tar.

            “Found them.”

 

 

            There were four of them total, three of them dragging crowbars by their sides and bound their wrists with rope.  They bore matching teeth, grinded to sharp and lethal points and matching necklaces with varying numbers of dismembered ears hanging from the chains.  Their ringleader flashed his teeth and Kyle saw the devil.  His shaven bald head gleamed underneath the stars, his face illuminated underneath the moon.  Wielding a heavy black baseball bat, he directed the other men to strip them of their weapons as they were forced to their knees.  One of the men took a liking to Kyle’s M16 rifle, throwing the strap over his shoulder.  They threw the sniper rifles and the rest of their guns into a bag and tossed it to the side.  

            “What do we have here?” The leader asked aloud.

            Kyle immediately started reaching for the knife that he always kept hidden in his boot, but the restraints were proving themselves to be taut.

            “You must have had your fun, sitting on your roof, picking off a bunch of our friends.  Must have thought yourselves to be pretty clever did you now?.”  He spat on the ground next to them.  “Little fuckers.”  

            Kyle could feel the tough leather handle teasing the tips of his fingertips.

            “Now the kid we take back to the camps with us for sure.  Looks to be some meat on his bones.”  He cackled, dark and menacing.  “If not, let’s crack them open and see what marrow we can scrape out.”

            Shut it out. Writhing fingers wrapped around the leather and its cool touch brought him momentary relief.  Its heft was familiar, reliable.  Slowly and ever so carefully, he pulled the handle and the steel crept out.

            “As for the pretty girl here… I’d like to have some fun with you, but who am I to be so selfish?” said the raider as he rested the black lumber on Marie’s shoulder.  She didn’t shy from its touch, glaring up at him in resolute defiance.  From the furthest corner of his eye, Kyle saw that she had found a grasp on her knife and had already begun cutting through her ropes.  

            For a brief moment, they met eyes.

            On your signal then.

“You see... there’s a blood debt to be paid and we want our pound of flesh.”

At the angle his hands were bound, Kyle struggled to cut the restraints. Pathetic.  Any second now Marie was going to break free and here he knelt too weak to free himself, a helpless child that only slowed her down and got himself killed while she was forced to take on all four men alone.

Breathe.

Time was of the essence and left no room for menial self-pity.  He slowed his breathing and sawed away as the marauder wound up, pulling the black maul behind his head, momentarily holding his position coiled like a spring.  

She tensed, about to make her move.

At last! The rope finally started to give way. He squirmed, frantically cutting against the wilting layers of twine.  

Break, damn you.

But she made no signal, she stared at the monster before her, a deep overcast drifting over her eyes as if she was in but a dream.

Kyle stole a glance at her ropes.  Now he couldn’t look away. The knife had slipped from her hand.  There it was inches, maybe even centimeters, from her flailing fingertips scrambling on the ground behind her.  Faceless steel a dark smirk just out of reach.  A sick joke.  He wanted to scream.  

He had to do something.

But what should he do?  

He didn’t know what to do.

There was nothing he could do.

            Something.  Anything.  Just stop sitting here.

            But when he tried to move, he remained as he was.  His knife had stopped cutting away.  He hadn’t even taken his eyes off of Marie’s restraints.

            He willed his body to move but it betrayed him.  He begged and it rejected him.  Fear seeped over him like wet cement turning his limbs to stone.  

            You’re pathetic.

“See you in hell.”

Then the raider unraveled.

He swung a single great swing cutting a broad arc as it whistled in the wind.  There was a sickening crack as the bat connected with Marie’s temple.  Deafening, haunting.   Her skull caved and she keeled over dying almost instantly upon impact, her fingers twitching absently.  

"AAAAAAND THAT'S A HOME RUN BOYS!"

Two others convened on her leaving a single man to watch over Kyle as they beat the lifeless corpse.  Each sharp, horrible thud rang eternally as steel and wood came down in broad heavy swings like that of a woodsman, clanging against flesh and bone, rattling inside his head.   

Marie’s blood reached his knees dampening his pants, warm in the brisk autumn air.

How could he have let this happen?

He could barely make out her face now.  Blood matted her chestnut hair and dripped out from her nose, her ears.  Her once striking eyes.  Shineless emeralds with scarlet nectar oozing from their undersides.  Soulless, depthless, they cut through his chest and pierced his heart.

What would he tell Davis?  That he let his mother die because he was too afraid?

Shock seized him, imprisoned him, phantom shackles clasped around his throat and his breath ceased.  It was heavy.  He felt the urge to vomit but swallowed it down.  And for a few moments, there was nothing.  

Only oblivion.  Vast and forlorn and forever.

You’re too weak, a voice sneered from the darkness.  

Who are you capable of saving?

No one.  He was just a boy.

 


Jeering and ruthless taunting flooded the alleyways, drowning Kyle in their mockery.   Inner demons rose from the shadows of their laughter and sank their claws into his soul and dragged him beneath the dirt.  He could see hell and he could see the devil sitting on his throne of inferno.  Flames everywhere, it charred the brick walls and the black asphalt and the moon in the night sky.

Spent at last, the leader stepped back as the others hacked away, his smooth dome and hideous complexion lucid in the moonlight.  “The girl’s dead.”  He said into his radio between heavy pants.  “We’re taking the kid back to the camp now… tell the rest and start the fire.  We feast tonight.” There was a shudder, one of hunger and excitement. The raider needed to see it.  The tears, the pleas, the fear, complete submission. He felt something stir within him at the thought, and his mouth twisted into a mad, savage smirk, his tongue slithering in the air like a serpent and spit dribbling down his shaven chin.  

But when he turned his head all he could see was scorching rage.  

An involuntary step back.  

What for?  Look at the boy’s face, it was still green with lingering baby fat and acne.  And yet, it shook with hatred, unbridled and unhinged.  He stared upon the child kneeling at his feet and doubt casted him a tall shadow.  Giant, monstrous.  The bloodlust was emanating from him, he could feel it.    Clawing his eyes out, digging through his skull, reaching down his throat to throttle his heart.

He was dangerous.  

He had to kill him now.  

Right now, he had to be killed right now.  He couldn’t live a second longer.

Desperation panicked his hand, and he stepped forward, “Get that kid over he-”

The ropes snapped free.  Seconds too late, time itself engulfed in the inferno for its mockery.

Kyle lept up to his feet and stabbed the man standing watch beside him in the neck, plunging the steel down to the hilt.  He jerked the knife out before he turned and cut a quick corner.  Gunshots erupted and a hail of bullets hit the wall where he once was.  Dust flew into the air, the moonlight glistening off the tiny particles. The raiders gave chase leaving a crimson fountain fading into mist in the boy’s wake.

            Kyle ran, turning other quick corners to maintain the distance between them but taking care to ensure that they still saw him.  The fire consumed him entirely, blinding him with visions of bitter vindication.

He would kill them all for what they did.  

Kyle would scour the ends of this damned earth until they were dead at his feet.  No crevice was safe enough to hide in anymore, no fortress stout enough to defy him.  Marie’s murderer would be the lone survivor.  He would endure and he will know suffering and he will meet vengeance.   

Which should he cut first?  His hands?  

Should he skin his bald scalp?  

The idea soothed him.  He would breathe until he begged, that was certain.  Kyle would hear him snivel and beg for mercy, pleading for death behind a toothless grimace.  He would relish it.  He would bask in his desperation and take a long, relieving piss upon his regret.  Then he would stab the despicable death-worshipper in his black heart and see the color of the devil’s blood.

 

 

There was a parking garage to his left a dozen yards away.  He ran through the entrance and deeper into the darkness before hiding behind a rusty ashen minivan.  He took the opportunity to catch his breath.  

Calm down.  He had to focus.  What would Gabriel do?  He looked around soaking in his surroundings.  The lights on the ceilings had ruptured, the only light the luminescence seeping in through the cracks.  Several cars were spread out throughout the garage, burnt and rusted and ravaged, rubble resting on the few that lined the collapsed walls.  There were three men remaining.  They had taken his guns, his radio, his bag of supplies, and all he had left was his knife.  He had precious seconds to plan his attack.

Too late.  The raiders entered the garage, taking their time as they scanned the dozens of vehicles before them.

The bald raider’s breaths were deep and heavy, “We know you’re in here kid.”

Kyle’s blood boiled at the sound of his voice.  Anger and hate betrayed him now, trembling his hands and quickening his heart.  Could they hear his thundering heartbeat?  They had split up, dividing the floor of the garage into thirds.  But even then, there was no plan, simply separating out of natural instinct, going off in different directions venturing slowly further into the shadows where Kyle belonged.  

What was it that Gabriel liked to say?

Dead men walking.

Kyle moved slowly, his footsteps made no sound, but his heart a booming drum that pounded against his sternum.  He approached the marauder closest, standing to the far right of the parking garage.  Quietly, every movement cautious and painstakingly slow, Kyle closed the distance between them.  He closed his mouth, controlling his breathing through his nose.  

He could smell him now.  A pungent stench of body odor and sin.

When he was close enough to feel the heat radiating from him, Kyle slid the knife into the small of the raider’s back.  There was a soft gasp as the cold steel punctured his heart.  Kyle tried to catch him falling, but the man was too big and the thud was inevitable.  

“What was that?”

The bald marauder started making his way, “Watch my back, don’t let this f*****g kid get to you.” This time he was alert and careful, checking behind each car thoroughly leaving nothing unseen, his black baseball bat at the ready.  Behind a sedan faded and burnt into a dull olive green, the marauder found his companion’s body, his empty eyes staring at the ceiling and a pool of blood widening around him.  And for the first time in a long time, he felt fear poke through the scarlet haze that had so long veiled his mind.

This was no boy.

            Another thud.  He whipped around and saw Kyle standing over the body picking up the rifle that had been taken from him.

            The raider ran, making a break for the refuge of the buildings across the street.

            Kyle cocked the gun as he watched him flee, his bat swinging wildly in his scamper.  His hands were steady now, the shaking ceased.  He took aim at the hairless dome, exhaling slowly, honing in on him as he crossed the street.

            When he was certain the bullet would fly true, he lowered the sights down to his legs.  

            Two shots, one for each.

But before he pulled the trigger, gunshots pierced through the night as the raider’s chest erupted with bullets and he hit the ground with a scream.  

            “We see you.  We’re not going to hurt you but you need to drop the gun.”

            It was a group of six travelers.  At their front was a man with hair peppered black and white and a beard that rivaled Gabriel’s. He was thin from hunger, but he emanated a powerful presence with eyes as grey as stormclouds.  He had his assault rifle aimed at Kyle and his voice was even and calm.  

            Kyle dropped his rifle and stepped out.  

            “It’s just a kid.”  

            Kyle walked out onto the street.  The raider was still alive lying on the road, gasping for air as he desperately tried to stop the bleeding.  Seeing him, breathing, surviving… Kyle had swallowed the sun.   The fire blazed within, melting his organs, snaking out through his pores too great to be confined, roaring for release.

It was here.  He was so close.  

The baseball bat laid a few feet to the raider’s left, still laced with Marie’s blood.  Before he himself even realized, Kyle had started walking towards him.  Rage controlled him.  Rage gave him strength.  The raider started crawling away in fear as Kyle came upon the baseball bat.  

Go on, crawl away little rat.  Scurry as rats do.  

Kyle slid his fingers around the taped handle.  His hands were shaking.  

Focus, it was here.

The moment was upon him.  

The moment was his.  

            “Wait.  Wait just a second,”  he stammered.

            “No.”

And the bat came down in fury and retribution.  The first fell on top of his skull, the crack echoing down the street. The second collapsed his chest.  

And then he was lost.  Scarlet flashes, hollow repetitions.

Embers coursed through his veins.  His arms were on fire, his face, his back, his heart.  Igniting the entire world.

Down it came again. And again.  

Come out.  Come out you coward.

And again.

Come out and show your face.  Reveal to the world what you are. A b*****d maker unwanted by his own … is there any greater shame?  You’re a lie, a deserter.  A pretender.  A plague that poisons in whispers.  A sadistic puppeteer.  I’ve danced your dance and now look upon what you have sowed.  The same strings you used to tether me, you now hang me with.  Get them off, get them off.

And again.

Damn you.  If only you had a soul for me to damn.  If only you had a throat to take this noose from mine.  

And again.

Keep your pity.  

And again.  Rage had become madness and reality itself was slipping.  Death, vengeance, fire.  It was all he saw, all he knew.  Blind wrath cascaded from his hands and delivered justice.  

He would burn it all to the ground.  All of it.

 

 

The group of travelers lowered their guns and watched, frozen by the scene before them, the only sounds that interrupted the languor were the repeating thuds as the bat fell upon the mangled leftovers.

“Drop the bat son.”

Then suddenly, he was tired.  Exhaustion settled into Kyle’s bones, and the effort to swing even once more had become cumbersome.  The bat was an enormous burden, one that he was no longer able to lift.  As the travelers circled around him, he tossed it to the side and gazed upon the remnants as the blood slithered through the asphalt, glistening under the decadent moon.

How about that?  It was red after all.

 

 

           

           

           







           

 

 

© 2016 qownsqud


Author's Note

qownsqud
This is part of a much larger story that I am working on, but this is a big scene that sets the stage for Kyle's character. For a brief setting that I know I didn't explain in great detail: several members of their settlement are sick and they came into the city in order to find medicine.

Please feel free to be critical, my feelings be damned! I am looking for brutal honesty.

What did you think of the dialogue?

What do you think of the overall flow? I feel as though it can be pretty disjointed and have been continuously working on improving it.

What did you think of Kyle's character?

What works and what doesn't?


Thank you for taking the time to read it and I hope you liked it!

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Added on April 1, 2016
Last Updated on April 5, 2016
Tags: post-apocalyptic, nuclear war, survival, fiction, action, science fiction

Author

qownsqud
qownsqud

Pipersville, PA