Right, so this story is more or less about hopelessness and weariness and those themes... Well. This story isn't for kids. It's like the anti-Trix. I'm going to stop talking now and just say that blood is involved. So, uh, yeah.
Oh, hey, also if anyone cares, I listened to this the whole time I wrote it, so it should give you a general 'vibe' for the piece. Where Did You Sleep Last Night?- Nirvana
Pokemon Capture: Joltik
Needed Characters: 10000
Actual Characters: 11696
The sun beats down on them until it feels like a physical force, pushing on their backs, burning their skin brown, and watching them, a bright yellow eye against the pale sky. Their feet are blistered, they are emaciated and weary, and the sand seeps into their clothing, rubbing their skin raw. But they are alive and to them, that is all that matters. That is all that has ever mattered. The road before them (black, with the asphalt cracked open like scars) stretches to the horizon and it shimmers in the heat. On their backs is everything they own; a change of clothes, some food, canteens, weapons, only the bare essentials. The desert is all around them, vast, endless, deadly. When they walk, they don’t think. It’s easier that way. Step, step, step.
They are young, but they are also old, older than the world they live in. They were born in the Before world, a time when the desert was still plains and mountains and valleys. Back when the sky was still blue and when winter still came. The endless summer has bleached their hair blonde. They don’t remember the original colors and it is irrelevant. It will not help them survive. It does not matter. They don’t know where they’re going. The man tells her they are going in the direction of the ocean. This is probably a lie. Lies breed hope and hope gives life. As long as they live, then they are okay. Step, step, step.
Their eyes search the road ahead of them. They are looking out for anything that is not sand: buildings, other people, landmarks… monsters. The Now world is filled with monsters and they have seen them. Things with pointy teeth and tentacles and beautiful, angelic faces. They have heard people say that the world they live in now is a punishment from God. They live in Hell. They live in Purgatory. The rumors are not important. What is important is that they keep the guns by their sides ready, so that they can kill whatever tries to kill them. Kill or be killed, that’s the law of the jungle. (Hahaha, what jungle? Can you say irony? Can ya, fella?)
“I’m thirsty,” she says, and the words come from behind lips that are cracked so bad that they bleed when they move. Her throat burns. Words aren’t cheap. “Soon?”
“Mmm,” he responds. He doesn’t want his lips to bleed. The taste of hot, salty iron in his mouth would make him sick to his stomach. Vomiting would be a terrible waste of fluid. Step, step, step.
So she falls silent and instead brushes against him to comfort herself. It works. Sort of. They’re both sweaty and haven’t bathed in weeks (months?) and their hair is tangled and long and matted. They are scratched and burned and scarred. She thinks he’s beautiful. He doesn’t think very much anymore. How many miles do they cover in a day? They don’t know. There’s no way to measure time or space except the place of the sun in the sky, and that’s rather inaccurate anymore. The atmosphere has gone hazy and plays tricks on the eyes. So they just walk.
Finally, eventually, the man stops in the road. It’s been hours (or minutes? Or days? How often does the sun really set now?) since the girl asked for water. The man sees something more interesting in the road ahead. By the side of the road is a barn, or what was once a barn. It’s a building (part of the roof is caved in, but what would they need it for? In case of rain? Hahahaha) with faded red paint and alongside it is a pile of wood and rusted metal, what was probably once a farm house. The barn must have been made of sturdier material. He looks into her eyes (green, calculating) and she knows that they can drink when they get there. The sun is finally going down and shelter would be good. God only knows (and even He probably doesn’t) what would be lurking after dark. They walk a little faster. Step, step, step.
When they step into the shade of the barn, they sigh and slump a little. They drop their bags in the corner, but keep a close eye on them. They collapse to the floor and let their eyes go out of focus for a while. They don’t sleep. That would be too dangerous. But they let their consciousness fade until it is just a gentle awareness of their surroundings. They don’t come back to their full senses until the heat of the day begins to fade away into night and then they sit up. They make a fire, because the flame will not attract attention from inside the barn. They feel safe doing it.
The day is burning hot. The night is freezing cold. Few stars are visible any longer and they are so far away that the light from them illuminates nothing. The moon always appears to be stained yellow, like a tooth before a cavity grows. The girl drinks half of a canteen before the man stops her. They need to have enough to last them until they find more water. Then they eat. A few pieces of bread they found, some strips of meat. For sleep they have a watch system worked out. So the girl curls into the man’s arms and sleeps while he stares at the fire, not thinking about anything. They keep the cold from eating into each other. The man lets her sleep for longer than he said he would. In her sleep she still looks young. She still looks twenty, the age she should be, instead of the hundreds of years that have gone by in her head. He is about to wake her when he hears a noise. It isn’t much, but in the New world, the night is always silent, unless something is outside making noise. He shakes her and holds a finger to her lips. Not that he needs to. She knows to be quiet. He reaches for his pistol and she follows suit. She looks at him questioningly, but he doesn’t answer. They crouch in the darkness like wolves. The New world has made them animals.
There is a scream and people begin dropping from the ceiling. Their faces are painted different colors, though red is predominant. They are dressed mostly in rags. They carry long, sharp knives. The fire attracted attention after all. There are about ten of them and then the man begins firing. He looks almost bored, though sweat pours down his face and his heart is pounding. The girl has killed before, but as the shapes flow out of the dark she panics and backs into a corner. In the light of the fire, the painted men look like demons. Then a real monster shows up.
A man jumps from the hole in the roof with a face painted like a skull. He carries with him a… thing. It is hard to tell what it is at first and then she sees that it has too many legs and eyes. The eyes are pale blue and stare at her and it is yellow and fuzzy. It looks almost cute. Or it would except for the huge mandibles that are opening and closing as it looks at her and the fact that its body is crackling with (lightning?) something that she can’t identify. It jumps from the man’s arms and lands… somewhere. She screams and screams and screams. And starts firing. The back of the man’s skull opens up (or is that just the paint? Hahaha) and the men yell out in pain and fear. She half closes her eyes and she keeps firing until the gun clicks. There are no bullets left. They are all dead, except for one man who lies at her feet. His face is painted maroon and when he looks up at her, there is no guilt or fear in his eyes. Only hate. She knows what to do, though. She pulls her own small knife from her pocket. He squirms a little as she slices his throat open and the blood pours out, seeping into her shoes. She sits down, exhausted. The man is still up and looking hesitantly at the bodies.
“Come to bed,” she tells him, “the meat will keep until morning. It’s cold enough.”
So he climbs next to her and then on top of her and they are both shaking and covered in blood. But it doesn’t matter as they meet in the darkness and the fire still shines and the New world has made them into-
Monsters, she thinks suddenly, coming to the conclusion as she sees the yellow spider twitching helplessly in a corner. One of its legs is on the other side of the room. Then the thought is gone and the rest of the night is gone.
That night after he climbs off of her and goes to sleep, she sits awake, thinking about the Before world. She is haunted by the memories of a house collapsing inward on itself like a dying star and of a sky that has been set on fire. All around her is screaming and the sound of blood. She had lain in the ruins of her home, protected from the shrapnel and flames by the very things that trapped her. She screamed and cried until it became only mewling and then rasping. The white walls of her house curled over the ruins like a flap of skin over an open wound.
She lived twelve years in the Before world and eight in the New world. He found her, trapped under boards and pulled her free, even though she was useless. So she limped after him like a stray dog, hoping that he would lead her somewhere better. Like the ocean that didn’t exist. Like somewhere where rain still fell. Sometimes she half believes that she invented the idea of snow, so she has to ask him. Seven years older, she trusted him and in the end, he was better than nothing.
The cold changes to heat as the sun rises, coloring the sand red like (blood?) apples. Those are something else she has a vague memory of. They were red and… sweet? Sour? It doesn’t matter, they’re gone in the Now world. She goes outside while he prepares the bodies, even though she killed some of them. She knew she was being soft, but… Finally, he comes out and they start walking again.
“We need more ammunition,” he tells her, “The men didn’t have any, which is why they used knives.” So she knows they’ll have to try a raid. And maybe they’ll die, but they’ll die for sure without ammunition. There are hardly any bullets left.
The sun is overhead of them when the sand around them turns dark. A shadow hangs over them. They get chills, because nothing blocks out the sun except…
“Run,” he whispers, and they do, but there’s nowhere to run to.
The monster screeches and it falls from the sky, like a stone. Its skin is dark grey and the girl can smell it. It smells like rotting flesh and burnt hair and she screams with it. It flaps its great wings as it dives towards them and the man stops running and shoots towards it. It cries out and falls to the ground as bullet holes fill its leathery wings. The girl turns and sees a mouth full of teeth and red eyes. The man is firing still, but then with one clawed foot it reaches forward and slices at his hand and he yells and drops the gun. The girl stares with wide eyes, but grabs it and aims… How many bullets are left? Any?
Its head (horns like the devil hahaha) is in her sights and then she pulls the trigger. It gives out one more dying scream and falls backward. She watches as it dies, making sure, then approaches the man. She falls to his side. His shirt is soaked with blood where the monster’s talons dug into him. She looks at it again and it reminds her of something she saw in a book in the Before world. A dinosaur. With wings. She holds his hand and it tightens around hers. He looks up at her and blinks and tries to say something, but instead coughs up blood. She wraps her arms around him and prays to some God that she forgot that he stays warm and soft and breathing.
So he dies in the middle of the road, covered in his own blood and the blood of ten men and the blood of a creature that has no right to exist. And she cries because now she only needs water for her and this is all she can give him. She cries until her head aches and then she takes the gun that she dropped to the ground and looks at it. There is one bullet left inside. She is shaking and her hands seem so terribly tiny against his (body) chest and as they hold the gun she wonders. She's so damn tired.
Lies breed hope.
Hope gives life.
But there are no lies out here, only the truth, as harsh as the sun’s rays.
She holds the gun to her chest, curls up beside him, and tries to decide.