Chapter One of an untitled dystopian novel set in the near future. Completely unedited as of yet, so keep that in mind. Just throwing it out there. You can tell me what you think if you want. I would call it rated PG-13 at the least. :)
“Come here girls, I’ll show you how to butcher a chicken,” the man said. A year ago, my children would have run away screaming at the thought. Now, it seems like a perfectly normal skill to learn.
“First thing is to cut the head off,” he says, using an ax and a tree stump to help in his task.
“Ew,” Lily, the younger of my two says at the sight of blood spurting from the neck and the chicken’s head falling to the ground. The man laughs at her revulsion.
He takes the chicken and hangs it by the feet on a fence post. “Next you want to cut the skin away. He proceeds to show the girls this new talent while they pretend to be eager to learn, in actuality hoping they will never have to perform this repulsive task.
I have known the man for approximately three months now, though I have yet to learn his name. He came to our rescue when The Scavengers came for my daughters. I couldn’t tell you what city we were in, but I know we had been there awhile, enjoying the new home we had come across with a well-stocked cupboard and swimming pool. It was always nice to find a house with a water source, be it a pool, a pond, or even a creek, water across the lands shut off for close to six months now.
Usually you hear them coming. They travel in packs of threes, honking horns, peeling out, screaming, raising a ruckus. They must have learned that stealth rather than intimidation makes for easier prey. We were sleeping, together, as we always do. I awoke to a filthy, hand smelling of a combination of nicotine, gasoline, and Vaseline covering my mouth. The girls screamed. The other two grabbed them and started hauling them off. I don’t know what they do to their prisoners, enslave them, rape them, eat them, but I was not going to let them take my girls without a fight.
I clamped down hard with my teeth; my assailant let out a howl and released his grip. I punched him in the balls, as he doubled over I used the palm of my hand to shove his nose into his brain as my husband had taught me ages ago. He collapsed, I don’t know if out of pain or death, but I was not going to stick around to find out. I grabbed my gun from the nightstand drawer, and ran outside.
The other two were almost to their vehicle with my girls, who continued to scream and struggle for liberation. I aimed my gun, but did not have a clear shot. One of them pulled out his own gun. I don’t know what kind, because I really know very little about firearms, having to teach myself to shoot. I just knew his was bigger than mine, and pointed at my head. I closed my eyes, awaiting the blast, praying to a God that I didn’t really believe in anymore, to let them kill my kids quickly. I refused to think of the alternative.
I heard the discharge and waited. I felt nothing. Perhaps there is a God after all. Another discharge. I opened my eyes. My children were running toward me, the two remaining Scavengers on the ground, tops of their heads missing, brains scattered everywhere. I scanned the area trying to locate our savior. He was climbing into a vehicle, a Hummer to be exact, about a block away. He pulled up right behind the Scavenger’s Jeep and began searching its contents, pulling out the things he found useful, loading them into the back of his car.
Wanting to express my thanks, I moved toward him, slowly. Although he saved us, I was still leery of his intentions. These days you can’t be too careful. I took a good look at him. He wore a plain green t-shirt, khaki cargo shorts, wool socks and hiking boots. He had a crazed countenance about him, hair a wild tangled mess, unshaven, dirty. He didn’t stop what he was doing. I practically had to run to keep up as I spoke. “I just wanted to thank you for that. I don’t know what would have happened to us had you not come along.”
He stopped, looked me in the eye. His eyes contradict his appearance. They’re soft, soulful, knowing, yet there are layers of pain and rage that lurk just beyond their deep blue beauty. They give away his age. At first glance I would have thought him ten to fifteen years older than myself, now I would say around the same age, if not a little younger.
He spoke, his voice firm yet understanding. “They would have raped and killed you, and because of the age and sex of your children, they would have used them as breeders.” I shuddered; he continued unpacking the Scavenger’s car, packing his own. I watched.
“Why wouldn’t they have taken me?”
He looked me up and down, and said, “You’re pushing too old to be a breeder, they only take men and boys to work, and you’re much too skinny and muscley to eat.”
“Why would they not want me for their queen,” I said smirking.
“Their queen!” he exclaimed, and then upon realizing I was joking gave a hearty laugh, causing his face to crack, making it seem like he hadn’t laughed in ages. There isn’t much to laugh at anymore.
He finished loading his car, hopped into the driver’s seat, started it up, and rolled the window down. “Bye,” he said, “Thanks for the laugh.”
“Wait, you’re just going to leave? You’re the first person aside from the Scavengers that we’ve seen in months. Let us come with you.”
“No,” he said simply.
I grabbed onto the side of his car and began to cry. “Please,” I said. I did my best, but my girls needed more protection than I could offer. And although I loved them dearly, I craved some adult companionship, someone to talk to about books, music, old movies, or how things were before the world ended. I wanted to hear his story, where he came from, where he’s going, who he’s run into, who he’s lost along the way.
“I’d take you, but the children are too much of a liability. The Scavengers would keep coming.”
“They’re strong; they’ve been through a lot. They know how to shoot a gun. Their dad taught them to fish, if you don’t mind baiting the hooks, they’re still a little squeamish of worms. My older daughter, Sarah, she tells great stories, very entertaining. And Lily, the younger one, she loves to sing, and has the voice of an angel. I’ll cook and clean for you. I’m strong too. I can gather and split wood, and garden, I’m a great gardener.”
He eyed me long and hard, up and down. I’m sure he was pondering what else I would be good for. It gets lonely out here. I can’t say the idea didn’t cross my mind either.
“Fine,” he said, shutting off the Hummer. “Let’s go get you packed.”