Thus begins Echoes of Collapse, a science-fiction serial set in a future wasteland, a world where humanity has been ravaged by a viral strain. Few survive, and they are left to continue on with the shreds of civilization, a constant, neverending struggle with every new sunrise.
If you’d like more information, you can find it here. Story below the jump!
Echoes of Collapse: Part I
There was something to be loved about these raiders. Especially the desperate ones, the ones who asked and then cried for help before they came at you. Like they had the rights to make it personal when you told ‘em no. Not much in the way of fighters, this batch, but they managed to keep me entertained. At least the ten or so who made it past the outer wall of the compound.
I’d killed the last two on my own, refusing help from the militia. Up close and personal, the right way, where only knives would do. “Gotta keep the skills sharp,” I always said, and I practiced what I preached. They both went down messily, one after the other. The last one, a tall fellow with a big head and mangy hair, actually tried to fight back, so I gave him the measure of respect he deserved. I killed him quick, a slice across the tendon in his leg and then several jabs to the heart as he fell.
Was cleaning the blood off my knives when one of Hennessey’s boys came to get me, out of breath, like he’d run the whole way.
“Cullen,” the boy said. “Hennessey wants to see you. Right away, too.”
“Course it’s urgent,” I said. When was it not urgent with that man? He was needy, sure enough, but he paid my way, and mostly left me to my own devices, so I holstered my knives and followed the messenger towards the inner wall.
I walked past the bodies that littered the outer district, most of them raiders. They were poorly armed, like most of these types were: a few knives, wooden clubs with rough nails on the ends, even a cheap sword, dull and nicked. Skinny men, and a few women. The stretched skin, the swelled paunches sure signs they were half-starved, maybe even more than that. I felt the slightest touch of guilt, but told myself it weren’t my fault. It wasn’t like we had been the ones doing the raiding.
They died bad, it had to be said. So much screaming and crying when their ends came. It was almost embarrassing. I saw a few of ours mixed in, which, sure, was an awful thing, but really, was dying so bad? Not that I had any intention, mind you, but after the lights are off, who cares? I didn’t imagine I’d give a whirl when my time came.
Led by the messenger, a younger boy barely in his teens, I rounded the inner wall’s thick door and headed towards Hennessey’s shack, which was in the central part of the compound. Huts were strung together here, on both sides of the narrow dirt path, many made of wood, a select few with actual brick, stacked on top of each other with mud and mortar. Shrubs they liked to call gardens grew in patches, scattered between hovels, actual fruit or vegetables a rare enough sight.
The regulars of the compound were still a bit shaken by the suddenness of the attack. Didn’t know why. Seemed to me that we had someone or other barging on what was ours, demanding their piece, pretty regular, so people in here should’ve been pretty used to it. Kids hid in huts, their tiny heads peeking out of doorways, eyes wide. Families and neighbors huddled together in their makeshift homes, some sobbing, others just staring out into space. Hugs, calls for calm and quiet, telling everyone but themselves everything would be just fine. A big waste, if you ask me. Hugs weren’t no good when bad-minded people came at you with equally bad intentions.
Hennessey was still raging when I got to his command shack, shouting obscenities, practically frothing at the mouth, like he’d been bit by the wrong animal. His messenger, smart kid that he was, ran off as soon as he let me inside.
A small lamp lit the interior of the shack, throwing shadows that seemed to run from Hennessey like the kid had. A couple of his lieutenants were already inside: Jones, a tall, thin black man with a shaved head and a notorious temper, and Shae.
Hennessey stopped his tantrum mid-sentence as I stepped fully inside, his eyes full of wild, hot anger. His lieutenants looked at me, Shae with a smirk on her face, like the joke was on me.
It came to me, much later than I would have liked, that I must have deliberately missed looking at one body in particular.
Next entry is HERE!