Fluffy fur, jellybean paws, kitten kisses.
The crystals changed us, the ones who found them. They made us different. They made us strong. They made us dangerous. In a world of sheep we are wolves.
The power they give us is intoxicating. We never take them off, if we did we would lose everything. I held mine tighter as I walked into the building, hiding its glow. We crept over sleeping bodies of citizens of our city.
Being their last hope and them having no idea of the danger they were in put us in a difficult situation.
We walked across the room to the center before we released our crystals. Chanting quiet words we cast the protection spell. They would be safe tonight. We left without a trace. We go from house to house each night casting the protection spells keeping Her out.
Her being the one who uses her powers to kill. Like I said we are powerful, wolves among sheep powerful. With a different spell we could kill all the people in the town, we could make them suffer. We could make each other suffer.
Our band chooses to protect, while She causes chaos.
She didn’t win tonight, and She won’t win tomorrow. We will make sure of it.
Smiles, tears, many happily wedded years.
Human life in the wastelands was fragile, delicate beings trying to scrape enough to survive and avoid the terrible dangers that now roamed freely. Tiny settlements of humans staked out small patches of land trying not to attract the attention of the large predator that were now the top of the food chain.
Humans had become an endangered species on the brink of extinction. The world was pushing them there making them the favorite prey. Humans had little in the way of natural defenses, being caught alone in the wilderness meant death.
There were few to be trusted, everyone out to save their own skin. Large scale fighting only brought more death, but with resources scarce it was hard to resist the urge.
Children died of decease, or were eaten by the monsters that roamed the land, not fast enough to escape the hoards. Parents taught them not to scream, just to run, screaming brought more nightmares, bigger nightmares.
The small settlements did everything they could to save them and still survive. Everything about the world was dangerous now. The event was worse than they had anticipated and even seven generations later humanity still stood on the edge of the knife.
Every attempt to take their world back ended in disaster, massive loss of life and supplies. The world they had once ruled had turned on them. Great cities left in ruin, overrun by the un-dead and wilderness. Humanity knew it had once been great, it hadn’t always been this way, they had read it. The books and stories passed down from generation to generation telling the tale of the rise and fall of humanity.
Many wished they could go back to that time, when the world was connected, not scattered to settlements of five or six struggling to survive. Where food was readily available, when the oceans were able to be crossed and not full of hell beasts. When children could sleep safely at night and play outside. They knew there had been warnings about the outcome. Those that had come before ignored them, leaving their world in ruin.
“Do you think this is going to have a happy ending?” He shouted as they marched through the dust storm.
Wind whipped their clothes, embedding dirt and sand into every crease and fold of clothing. Her heir was a tangled mess and her skin stung from the thousands of particles fired at her from the storm.
“What do you mean? Happy is a retaliative term.” She shouted into the wind.
“Like not total disaster.”
“Which would entail what exactly?”
“I don’t know!” He huffed and walked faster leaving her slightly behind him. “Why are you so infuriating?”
“I’m just trying to understand you.” She muttered too softly to be heard over the storm.
“Hurry up, we don’t want to get separated in this weather.”
She obliged walking faster over the slippery sand to keep up with his long strides. He seemed to never run out of energy while she was getting exhausted from battling the elements and trying to keep her footing.
“What if we can’t find them?” She stumbled over the sand.
“That would be bad.”
“Well us not finding them and then dying would be the worse case. A not happy ending.”
She nodded her understanding, though she doubted he saw it through the storm. The wind seemed to be lightening up a bit, but sandstorms could last for days.
“I see you’re ship!” She pointed excitedly at the hulking metal structure just visible though the blasting sand.
They took off running towards it. He pounded on the hull of the ship until they opened the hatch to let them inside.
“I’m so glad we found you!” He panted shaking sand out of his clothes and hair.
“Did you think we would leave without you?” His captain asked.
“I know you would not leave your first mate behind, we were worried you were also lost in the storm.” She said to the captain.
The captain nodded, “We leave this desert of a planet in fifteen minutes, get to your stations.”
“You’re coming with us, right?” He asked taking her hand in his.
“I cannot, I have to stay here. This is my home.”
“I left my home and I’ve been doing okay.” His smile didn’t reach his eyes.
“Space does not agree with my species. You know this.”
“It would be a happy ending if you did.”
“Is it disaster if I stay here?” Her voice broke on the last word, betraying her.
He touched her cheek. “I would break my heart.”
She sobbed tears running in trails down her dirty face. Her eyes stung from the salt. Leaving her planet would mean death, but staying meant never seeing him again.
“Hey, I didn’t mean to make you cry.” He soothed.
“I cannot go and I cannot stay.”
“Ten minutes.” The captain announced.
“Can you stay here instead?” She pleaded.
“I’ve got to help run the ship.”
“But…” She sighed knowing it was useless to argue with humans, “I need to stay on my own planet.”
He lowered the ramp and she hopped out. She scurried away from the ship to avoid being cooked by the lift off procedure. Once at a safe distance she looked at the majestic ship and waved. dust stuck to the places on her cheeks that were wet from tears. The storm raged around her as she shuffled back to her people.
She pulled the blanket up over her head. She was sweating but still felt chilly. A painful cough erupted from her chest, and snot flowed freely down her face no matter how often she wiped it away. Trying to breath through her mouth she felt her mouth fill with saliva signalling she needed to get to the bucket. The crackers she had managed to choke down came back up along with her cold medicine and all the water she had drank. She shuffled to the bathroom and dumped the bucket in the toilet and rinsed it out. She almost crawled back to bed and curled up her head spinning.
She passed out for a while waking up in the darkness drenched in sweat. She puked in her bucket and fell asleep again almost instantly. She woke up again her throat dry her nose clogged with dried snot. She gulped some water down and tried to clear her nose, which was rather ineffective.
She cleared the sleepers from her eyes and ate a couple crackers. She realized she had to pee and ran to the bathroom before the dizziness could seize her. She shivered without her blankets. After washing her hands she splashed some water on her face washing some of the sweat off of it. She went back to bed.
She managed to keep the crackers down, so she moved up to soup. She made herself a bowl pulling a kitchen chair up to the microwave so she could sit while she waited. She ate it slowly moving to the couch to watch some day time TV. She fell asleep half way through her soup.
She woke up and moved back to her bed when she regained consciousness. The sun woke her up and she went to the kitchen making herself another bowl of soup. She managed to eat the whole thing and stay awake for a couple hours before going back to sleep.
She ate more crackers in the middle of the night. She could finally breathe out of her nose again. She changed her clothes that were starting to smell bad and went back to sleep.
A shower washed the dried sweat off of her. She could breath normally again, and she stayed awake all day. She would be right as rain soon.
Another day of rest and soup she felt just fine. She called her boss letting them know she would be able to return to work tomorrow.
She clenched her fists. There was no way she was going to let this beat her. She had already seen so many people slaughtered at the hands of these monsters, she wasn’t going to let them have her too.
She broke out of cover sprinting as hard as she could, her backpack thumping heavily against her back. She dodged trees and plowed through bushes, hearing their footsteps behind her. She pulled her shotgun off her shoulder and blasted a shot over her shoulder, hoping to slow them down a little.
Her breathing became ragged, she would need to find cover. A quick glance over her shoulder told her they were falling behind. Spotting a cave she darted inside, trying to get control of her breathing so they wouldn’t hear her. She ventured into the darkness, allowing her eyes to adjust, getting away from the entrance of the cave. She stopped listening for breathing, sometimes there were things lurking in the caves that were worse than zombies.
She pulled out the cellphone in her pocket and gave it a shake turning on the flashlight. The towers had been destroyed so there was no cell service. Light reflected off the cave walls, no markings to show anything lived there. With a sigh of relief she shook the flashlight off. She ventured further, she stumbled over something in the darkness. She pulled out her light again, she muffled a scream.
The body had been mostly eaten, its clothes shredded, its head was a bloody smear across the ground. She spotted the culprit, a shotgun and a broken trip wire. She scolded herself for not being more careful. She checked the pockets for anything valuable and came up empty. She shook the light off.
Back at the mouth of the cave she checked for her pursuers. Just the regular cricket and bird noises came back to her ears. She crept out of the cave, keeping low to the ground, after carefully observing her surroundings she stood up. Knowing she needed to get back to the settlement quickly before they caught her scent again she jogged along. A stick cracked behind her and she froze dropping into a crouch. She pulled the pistol out of her bag holding it ready to fire. A deer pranced out across the path and she lowered her weapon. A relief flooded through her and she continued on her way.
She was almost to the settlement, almost to safety when she heard it. The heavy breathing of something charging up to her. It sounded like a great beast, possibly a giant, maybe worse. She broke into a run charging through the remainder of the forest hoping to make it to the safety of the walls before it caught her. She slid through the gate, screaming for them to close it. There was panic, she stood up and brushed herself off looking under the gate she saw it. A huge hulking creature, at least twenty feet tall. It looked like it had been charred, blacked and smoking, she winced as it collided with the gate. The iron held. Its claw scrabbled through the hole in the wood, disemboweling a wayward gate keeper.
The creature roared in despair, she covered her ears against the tremendous noise. It lumbered off no match for the walls and gates. She slumped against the nearest house, trying to avoid the glares from people who blamed her for bringing the creatures so close. It had been her only choice.
Very few people braved the wilderness to bring back supplies, medicine collected from the wasteland settlements, food, everything the city had came from beyond its walls. She dropped of her collected items. She traded meat for supplies she needed, properly mixed medicines, bandages, and ammunition.
The medicine woman needed water from the river outside the walls for her patients. She took the task without question. She checked out the power plant, electricity was still running well. She plugged the phone she carried into one of the outlets and grabbed another fully charged one. Water wasn’t too far away but it was dangerous out there.
She pulled out her hand drawn map, notes about monsters lined the margins. She headed out the side door to the gate. She saw the child before she could fully process what she had seen the zombies appeared. Cursing she ran to the child scooping it up in her arms, it would slow her down greatly but she couldn’t leave it. With her bag and the child she stumbled over rocks and roots.
Panting heavily she fell to her knees. The zombies converged on them devouring everything.