It's time for another Friday foray to a post-apocalyptic city. For those who haven't read the prior installments, you can read the entire story on this PAGE.
Memoirs From the End of the World
After a long moment, RC’s heart seemed to migrate from her throat and back to her chest where it belonged. Should we even try to figure out what that was, or should we just run? she wondered.
Even as that question entered her mind, she began to edge forward, and Alyx was right there beside her. Another yelp of pain met their ears, but it sounded much weaker than the initial cry. This spurred RC to move faster. As she approached the brick fence that ran around the park’s perimeter, she was able to distinguish more voices. Some gleeful, some vicious.
Alyx placed a wavering hand on her back. RC leaned back slightly, feeling reassured by the connection. She gathered her courage and peeked over the top of the fence.
The sight was nothing short of appalling.
A human figure hung by its feet from the monkey bars, held in place by plenty of rope and a generous wad of duct tape. Blood pooled on the ground underneath, all of which flowed freely from a variety of lacerations. Angry red and purple welts made it impossible to distinguish whether the victim was male or female. All RC felt sure of was that this poor person didn’t have long to live. Injuries that severe required treatments well beyond her capabilities.
Standing in a circle around the scene were eight teenagers, each wielding a deadly instrument. One held a heavy wooden club with long nails poking through its surface. The tips of those nails were tinged red with flecks of white, the white undoubtedly representing shreds of flesh that had been torn away. Another held a large red gas can.
“This has gone on long enough,” the boy with the gas can declared. “Let’s finish this.”
“He still didn’t tell us where they are!” a girl holding a hatchet protested.
Gas Can Boy kicked the hanging body. No sound came out. RC squinted to get a better look, and it seemed like the throat had been cut. That injury must have accompanied the last cry she heard.
“I don’t think we’re getting anything out of him now. We’ll find them though. Don’t you worry.”
Who are they looking for? Why? And why resort to such brutality? RC had so many questions, but she didn’t dare voice these questions aloud, much as she wanted to. At least Alyx was there, and as she focused on this thought, he squeezed her hand. His grip threatened to cut off the circulation to her fingers, but she didn’t care about that. Instead, she squeezed back as she willed the horrific images to go away.
Hatchet Girl dutifully stepped forward and, with a couple of hard swings, cut the body loose. It landed with a dull thud on the frozen ground. Gas Can doused the motionless limbs with accelerant. When he seemed satisfied with his work, he waved to the others to step back. Then, brandishing a match, he lit it with a single skillful swipe and let it go.
RC had to hide her face as the flames swelled over the inert form. The snowflakes, growing in size and frequency with each passing minute, dissipated the moment they hit the hot air. The smoke wafted toward them, but RC covered her nose. She didn't want to smell it. She could tolerate a lot, but not this.
Alyx leaned over, so close his breath tickled her ear as he whispered, “We have to get out of here before someone sees us.”
She couldn’t have agreed more. Surely this group wouldn’t hesitate to lash out at anyone if it suited them. RC ducked down behind the wall again, the playground now mercifully obscured from view. “Let’s move,” she whispered back.
They shuffled along the wall, heads low to avoid drawing attention from those on the other side. If they could stay low and carefully make a break toward the shelter of one of the neighboring houses, they’d have a chance.
Unfortunately, their huddled position also left them blind. When Hatchet Girl rounded the corner ahead of them, they all froze. Hatchet Girl looked pale, even green in the face.
Does she regret what she helped her friends do? Did the act of killing get to her? RC wondered. If so, she might let us go . . .
Before RC could think beyond that, Gas Can Boy rounded the corner. He didn’t hesitate. “Hey guys! We have more fodder here!”
Several sets of footsteps followed that call, and RC feared the worst. How could they possibly get out of this one?
Spiked Club Boy hopped the wall, landing just in front of them. He smiled. “Well good. Maybe they can get us what we need.”
“What do you need?” Alyx asked. He put a protective arm out in front of RC, trying to keep her as far from danger as he could.
It was certainly a sweet gesture, but RC knew Alyx couldn’t possibly fight off all of these people. If either of them stood any kind of chance, they’d need to think their way out.
“We work for our overlords,” Spiked Club replied. “We need to know where all the strays are hiding. Too many of them out and about represent a security threat.”
“You’re killing on their command?” RC shook her head. “That doesn’t make sense. Why kill perfectly good breeding stock?”
“If you bring too many rebellious types into the breeding facility, it could sow the seeds of unrest” gas can boy replied. “Can’t have that either. It’s best to eliminate you, and the overlords selected us for that task. We have a certain something that the patrols don’t."
In one swift move, Spiked Club seized RC’s arm and forced her to the ground. Alyx dove forward, but someone seized him from behind and pressed a pocket knife to his throat.
“If you move an inch, you die now,” Gas Can announced with a grin. “Help us and you might live.”
Go to Entry #18
Go to Entry #18