Tag Archives: war

Survival. Short Story.

Vincent walked through the scattered corpses, around them dying fires were smouldering, a thick haze filled the air. He didn’t pause or look at their faces, it was better not to know. When it had began all those long months before he had seen his first dead body, it haunted his dreams, but these bodies were nothing now, just part of the backdrop. It had been a teenage boy who was running just ahead of him when one of the monsters grabbed him. Vincent hadn’t paused, hadn’t stopped, he just kept running, it was the only thing he could do. He made it another twenty steps before something sailed over his head and landed in front of him with a heavy thud. It was the body of the boy, his head ripped from his shoulders, a gaping hole where his stomach should have been. Vincent had been sure he was next, kept expecting something to grab him but nothing did. That night the scene played over and over again in his dreams, the boys body crashing in front of him. When Vincent finally woke from his nightmare he’d just enough time to turn and vomit onto the ground beside him rather than over himself. How many people had he seen killed since? How many bodies? It was an endless parade of death and destruction. He’d seen people torn limb from limb, screaming all the while, he’d seen people killed in the blink of an eye, a giant stone falling from above and crushing them. He’d seen buildings collapse and burst into flames and somehow he’d managed to survive it all.

Vincent kept walking as the military moved in, this was the truly dangerous part. If they noticed him, noticed that he was broad shouldered, that he was still strong, he would face a seemingly simple choice, join the army or die. The truth of the matter was it would be a death sentence regardless of how he chose. The army had been throwing men at the things since it began and still they kept coming. It was all humanity could do to stay ahead of them. He ducked into a dark and half collapsed alleyway, two children, a boy and a girl, were picking through rubble, the girl glared at him as he past while the boy kept rummaging. Vincent kept them in sight until he rounded the corner, it was always better to have your guard up around the kids, they tended to move in packs and didn’t mind using the knives they liked to carry. He moved through an old apartment building, it was leaning drunkenly against its neighbour, looking as though it would collapse any moment. As he moved through what was once the lobby he could hear the noise of people above him, those too stupid or too poor to go anywhere else. Not him, so far the only thing keeping him alive was being on the move. He’d met plenty of people in the last city who told him it was safe, that he should stay, find somewhere and hunker down until it was all over. Three weeks ago it had been destroyed entirely, last he heard there was nothing left but a smoking crater. He picked his way over bits of concrete and rubbish, it looked like someone had attempted to move it all to the side but had given up partway through. Vincent paused at the front of the building, looking out at the rubble strewn street, people were already coming out to scavenge after the last attack, some were crying and shouting as they dug, but most worked silently, looking for food or anything valuable. At one end of the street stood a tall, gangly boy in a green, ill-fitting uniform, it looked as though he had borrowed the clothes from his father and the tightly gripped gun was almost comically oversized, he had wide, staring eyes that were starkly white against his grey, dust covered skin, Vincent guessed he couldn’t be older than thirteen. Vincent stepped from the building and headed off in the other direction keeping himself hunched over, the kid wasn’t exactly threatening but when dealing with someone that young, that untrained and that scared, you never really knew what you were getting into. Somewhere to his left there came a deep, throaty cry and Vincent froze, already people were beginning to scatter, someone ran past him, knocking him down as they went. Vincent scrambled to his feet and started running.

Vincent watched the city burn, people streamed past him in a steady flow, he could still make out people fleeing the city, dark shapes lit only by the leaping flames behind them. The gunfire had stopped, the army had abandoned they city around the time Vincent had made it to the outskirts. Vincent turned from the city and started walking again, he had lingered too long here, growing complacent, he needed to keep moving, needed to stay ahead of the things. Some people were talking, but most trudged forward with their heads down, many of them carried nothing having no time to grab any of their meagre belongings.

Vincent stopped and sat against some rocks. His feet were tired and sore, around him he could smell food cooking over the campfires that dotted the area, his stomach grumbled sullenly. He hadn’t eaten since the day before, but he had gone longer without food. He had been moving with the others from the city and they swarmed across the countryside, picking everything clean. He didn’t know where he was heading, he wasn’t sure if anyone really knew or if they were just following the signs to the next city. A small family huddled around a fire nearby, he watched as the mother passed food to her children, the mother looked up and caught his eye, he saw a flash of fear and she moved closer to her children, Vincent looked away. He wouldn’t take their food, he wasn’t a thief and he wasn’t that desperate, not yet. He stood from the rock and started walking again, ignoring the protesting pain in his feet. If he kept following like this he’d never get anywhere, he’d just be another desperate refugee, penned into a resettlement camp or conscripted. Besides, there was safety in numbers, but it could also attract the wrong kind of attention, all those people, weak and frightened, would make easy pickings for anyone or anything that decided to come along. Vincent spotted an apple on the ground, a glint of green that had mostly been buried in muck, he pulled it out of the mud and quickly wiped it down, the green skin was smooth and unbroken, though he knew he’d have eaten it even if it was half rotted. Vincent ate it quickly, trickles of juice running down the side of his mouth, already things were looking up.

A Better Life. Short Story.

Went out for my friend’s birthday on Saturday, was really nice. Ate at a tapas place (first time having tapas I might add) and it was all pretty delicious. I made her whiskey marshmallows for her present (vanilla too, should the whiskey ones fail to work) and they went over quite well. They had the taste of whiskey without any alcohol burn, there wasn’t a lot of whiskey in the batch, but I was worried that the flavour might end up a bit off, but they were tasty.

Ended up meeting up with another friend of mine and continuing the night out, it was unexpected but really fun, if not slightly surreal at points.

Really nice night over all.

On with the show!

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Frank moved slowly through the night, not that anyone could hear him over that racket, but it still paid to be careful. He tried not to think of what happened here earlier as the mud gently sucked at his feet, trying to trip him up and pull him down. Around him were the low sounds of moans and the occasional piercing scream. The screamers never lasted long, starting strong then winding down as they finally died. Hands occasionally shot out of the darkness, gripping at his ankles with startling strength, the owner begging for help, he shook them off as best he could and kept going. He couldn’t help any of them. Not now. They were taking a break for now, but soon they would start up again, moving through the battlefield and dispatching any of the survivors. Somewhere to his right someone called out softly for water, over and over again, a maddening refrain, another whimpered for his mother. Frank ignored it all.
It was a suicide mission, it was crazy, but it was his only shot. Really, it was the only chance anyone had. He wasn’t the first to try this, nor would he be the last. No one knew if the others made it, no one would know if he made it. He hoped that he would see some of his friends again. Not just the ones that tried this, others who he hadn’t seen since the start of the war. The early days had been bloody, emotional, these days it was all methodical, cold. The army marched through lands, killing all the men, sometimes killing the women. Children were left to starve or were sold off as slaves. There was some amnesty in the beginning, they’d let people join them, offer sanctuary in return for lower social status or payments, but those days were gone. Too many joined with promises of loyalty only to try and destroy the army from within. There was no mercy now. However, if you could cross the lines you could try to blend in, there were so many displaced by the war that one more wouldn’t stand out. Frank knew that if he could just get across he’d be safe. There was nothing for him here anymore, nothing but death. His sister had run away a few months into the war, herself and a young man disappeared in the night, he expected her to elope, after all she was impulsive and their parents were refusing to give permission for her to wed the young man. No one had heard from them since. His mother had died of a sickness that had swept through the town and his father had decided to go off and fight in the war. Frank had pleaded with his father, begged him not to throw his life away, but his father still left. After that Frank did odd jobs about the place, kept himself fed and warm, but the fighting was getting worse, not better. The army was never going to stop, it would march over them all someday. So he did the only thing he could think of, he sold the house and left. He didn’t get much for it, not much at all, but it was more than he expected. He didn’t think anyone would even buy it and he’d just have to abandon it, after all, didn’t everyone know that the army would arrive eventually and probably raze the town? So he made his way towards the fighting, travelling at night and very, very carefully.
He heard the battle from miles away, the roar of guns and cannons. He had heard rumours and stories of how the army worked, they crippled the army and allowed those who were strong enough to move flee. Once the exodus occurred, they’d roll over the battleground like a wave, destroying anything and anyone that was left. This was the perfect place to cross, they wouldn’t expect anyone to be coming towards them, not after a battle, no one would be suicidal enough to try it. There was less risk of him running into a patrol than if he tried to go around. They wouldn’t spot him in the darkness, wouldn’t hear him over the noise of the dying. They would be camping nearby, but not close enough to see him. Once he was through the lines he could find somewhere and camp for a few days. Then he’d find somewhere to set up a life. Somewhere away from the fighting and death, somewhere that would finally be safe.

 

As he picked his way across he tried not to pay attention to the bodies around him, it was dark and easy to believe they were just mounds of muck or old logs. He never looked close enough to see if they were moving. Some of them were small, no doubt young teens who had gotten caught up on one side or the other. Off to the far left he could see a faint glow above the trees, where camp was made and where the soldiers now sat around fires, eating and drinking. The thought of food made his stomach roll. The only smell here was of death, blood and muck and faeces all mixed into one horrifying stench.
Finally, after what felt like days the bodies started to thin out, before he was stepping across something every few seconds, picking his way through, but now he could go around most of it. Soon he’d hit the trees then he’d be gone.

 

At the tree line he paused for a moment, breathing out his fear. He just had to go a little further, that was all. Listening carefully, he began to move through the trees.
It was dawn when he came to the river, there he stripped and bathed, washing the filth from his body and clothes, letting it all flow downriver. He lay out in the sun, clothes drying on rocks nearby. He dozed for a little while and when he woke everything was dry. He dressed and, smiling, he set off up river, towards a new life.