A/N: This is a book that I am almost done writing. You'll have to excuse the writing in this. At the time, I hadn't developed my skills, so this is kind of rough. The quality is much better in later chapters. If enough people want to see more of this, I might put up a few more chapters, but no more than five. You asked for it, so here it is. :D
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I woke up suddenly and Zach was standing over me in the dark. Zach was the only other person that I knew of, that survived the nuclear attack. After bombing, everyone but me, Ashley Brooke, a 16-year-old at the time, left to search for survivors. They didn't realize that the fallout would kill them. I lived off my family's farm, when no one came back. A few months later a boy, we were both 17 at that point, appeared on the farm, from out of nowhere. He had come from another town. I still have no idea how he made it past the radiation. By the time he got here, his clothing was torn and frayed from wear. I invited him to live with me in my house, down the hall from me. He accepted. Over the past few months, we became friends. He was extremely attractive, so of course, I started to have feelings for him. He had black messy hair that always fell in his eyes. He was tall and had a tan, strong body that I saw when, on hot days, he took off his shirt. His eyes were intense and almost black. When he stared into my eyes, I felt like he was looking into my soul. Now, those same eyes, held my gaze, and I couldn't look away. Still sleepy, I tried to sit up, but something was holding me down. As I once again attempted to get up, I realized that Zach's hands were pinning my shoulders down.
"Could you stop screwing around and let me get up?" I muttered sleepily, letting my head fall back. My eyelids fluttered as the weight of sleep deprivation pulled them down. I struggled to keep them open.
His hands left my shoulders and instead rested on either side of my head. "I can't sleep," he whispered in my ear. A chill ran down my spine, and electricity ran through my veins. I could barely breathe when his lips were so close to me. "I can't stop thinking about you Ashley." His voice saying my name made me breathless.
I closed my eyes as my vision started to blur. I tried to wake up, but I was exhausted after today's work in the fields. I felt my comforter being lifted, and the mattress shifted underneath me. A warm body pressed against me. I forced my eyes open, but my head fell back as I fought sleep.
Less than a few seconds later, I was completely awake. His hands were just below my stomach, trying to unbutton my shorts. I immediately pushed his hands away, but his body pressed against mine, and arms wrapped around me. I wasn't sure whether or not the incident had just happened.
I began to relax once again as he muttered an apology. His fingers pulled my chin up so that he could kiss me. His lips were soft, warm, and comforting. His warm breath in my mouth made me drowsy. It gave the kiss a very dream-like quality.
The soft kiss became more energetic, mostly on his part. There was definitely hesitation on my side as he started to pull up my tang top. "It's okay," he whispered in my ear. "I won't hurt you. I promise..."
He dropped my tang top to the floor. Almost the second it hit the ground, he was pulling off my shorts. I had this awful feeling in the pit of my stomach that if I didn't stop him soon, something I would regret later would happen. "I think we should stop," I whispered.
"It's okay, it's okay. Everything will be alright," he promised. I got that sick feeling in my gut again. Most of my clothes were scattered around the room at this point. He started pulling off his own baggy shorts, but at that moment, I realized they weren't shorts. They were boxers.
I gasped as he started groping at my waist. He started trying to pull off my underwear. "We're not doing this," I said, completely awake and full of authority. "You need to get out of my room." He didn't pause for one second, or move one inch away from me. I was frozen in fear. He slipped my underwear off and tossed them on the floor. I tried to control my breathing. He was pulling my knees up and apart, and I was trying to push him away. He pushed back, holding me to the mattress by my wrists. My heart was pounding.
"What the hell do you think you're doing?!" I screamed at him. He didn't answer, but instead, forced my mouth against his own. I started screaming as I realized this nightmare was reality.
"It's okay," he whispered in my ear, holding me down as I tried to hit him, tried to kick him, and did everything that I could, to try and get him off of me.
"Please don't. Zach! What are you doing?! Why are you doing this to me?! Please! Please don't do this to me!" I whispered, trying to make him hear me. His eyes softened, but I could tell that it didn't change a thing. If anything, it made it worse.
"I won't hurt you. I promise," he said soothingly. My stomach churned.
"Please," I whispered. "Please don't."
He kissed me again and this time I screamed in pain. He pushed himself into me harder. Again and again I tried to force him off of me. I cried agony filled tears. I screamed and begged for him to stop but he never did...
About an hour later, he laid next to me. Tears were still streaming down my face. I was exhausted, and even if I could find the strength to try and leave him, he would just push or pull me back down. All I could do was ask, "Why?" over and over. He never answered.
I curled up in a ball, as far away from him as possible, and cried myself to sleep.
I woke up as he was getting dressed. I tried to sit up but it hurt too much. Tears started streaming down my face. "Why?… How could you? How could you do that to me?!" I screamed at him.
He walked over to my side. He was wearing a pair of old jeans. He held my face in his hands as I tried to pull away, gasping in pain. My tears were still flowing as he kissed my forehead and said, "You'll be okay…"
He turned and walked out the door. He was probably leaving to work in the field. After sitting there, resting, staring at the ceiling, for about half an hour, I sat up.
I took a deep breath. My muscles screamed in response to any movement. I managed to pull some clothes on. I took small steps, having to stop with each.
I looked out of the window. I saw him in the field and hate washed over me. Slowly, I made my way to the bathroom, where I had a body-length mirror.
I looked at my reflection. I took a deep breath and held it. Both my body and my mind were screaming. My body was covered in dark bruises. I let out the air, wrapping my arms around myself in response to the pain. The darkest of the bruises were on my wrists and sides.
I sat down on the cold floor and stared at my reflection. I felt broken, betrayed. I don't know how long I sat there. It could have been five minutes or even an hour.
I heard the front door downstairs shut and, a few seconds later, footsteps coming up the stairs. I heard Zach walk into my room. He walked around my room for a few seconds, and then came out and walked into the bathroom. He stopped behind me.
I didn't look at him as I calmly said, "Get out of my house Zach. I don't care where you go. I couldn't care less if you died. Just get out and don't come back…"
"I'm sorry about last night," he said smoothing out my hair. I grabbed his hands and pushed them away while he tried to hold onto them.
"Don't touch me. Get away from me. Stay away from me," I said turning and looking up at him. My eyes and face were still red.
He sat down and looked at me through the mirror. He turned to me and said, "Ashley, I didn't mean to-"
"Rape me? No. You knew exactly what you were doing Zach," I said turning away from him. "You were my friend. I trusted you. You told me you wouldn't hurt me. You promised me. You hurt me in more ways than one and now I can barely move because the pain is too much."
"How can I make it up to you?" he asked.
"YOU CAN'T!" I yelled at him, tears starting up again. "You can't make it up to me Zach. You raped me." I said a little softer.
"I'm sorry," he said. He stared into my eyes and I glared back.
"No. You're not," I said. "If you were sorry, you wouldn't have done it in the first place." I stood up, wrapping my arms around my sides, gasping in pain. He reached out to help me but I stopped him.
I pulled a small blanket off the bed. I wrapped it around myself and went outside. I grabbed wood from the pile and took it to the pit. I grabbed the flint and a knife and started a fire.
After I got it going for a while, I went inside, put the blanket down, and got the frying pan. I put seed out for the chickens and collected the eggs. I set the eggs down near the fire, and then went to the barn to feed the rest of the animals and collect the milk.
When I got back, Zach was sitting by the fire. "We should talk," he said, eating some eggs he had cooked while I was gone.
"There's nothing to talk about," I said trying not to clutch my sides as I leaned over to set the bucket of milk down. As I sat down, I gasped in pain.
"Are you feeling any better?" he asked, noting my arms wrapped around my body. The way he asked the question made me angry. He acted as if I was getting over the flu or something.
"What do you think?!" I snapped at him.
"We should really talk about this," he said, taking a bite of his food. He was so calm, revulsion swept through me. I stood up ignoring the pain. Apparently, he had no guilt what so ever.
"Fine! You really want to talk? I liked you… I liked you a lot. And then you screwed it all up…You had me before last night," I yelled looking into those coal-black eyes. "…But you lost me when you did that."
"I still like you…" he said.
"Well I don't like you anymore. And just so you know, for now on, I'll be sleeping with a pistol under my pillow."
I looked at my watch. It was four forty-five; I had slept in late, and for a good reason. "You say you don't care about me anymore?" he asked.
"I don't," I answered matter-of-factly, standing up and turning to walk away.
He stood and came up behind me. He turned me around and kissed me. I pushed him away. This time, holding my face in his hands, he forced his lips against mine, and didn't let me pull away. I could feel his warm breath in my mouth and it nauseated me. His lips moved against mine for what seemed like hours, which in reality was only a few seconds. His fingers twisted into my hair causing me to gasp in pain. I could feel the smile on his lips.
He had one hand under my chin, keeping it up. The other was on the back of my neck, holding me there. I tried to push him away but he held me tightly, not letting me escape.
Every time I tried to speak or, more likely, to yell, he'd stop my protest with a deeper kiss, giving me no room to speak. I gagged as his tongue slipped into my mouth. I tried to make my body dead weight, but he supported all of me easily, using the chance to pull me closer to him, so that there wasn't one inch of space between us.
I kicked him and that seemed to work. He loosened his grip just long enough for me to get away. I ran to the house, glancing over my shoulder every step of the way, and up to my room. I pulled the gun out of my closet and loaded it.
With the gun aimed at the door, I sat on my bed for an hour and a half. I listened for footsteps, the creak of a floorboard, anything, sitting motionless the whole time. At that point, I felt it safe to assume that he wasn't going to come after me. I was completely stiff, and had to work hard to relax myself.
I tucked the gun into the back of my shorts and walked out of my bedroom. I didn't feel safe there anymore. Before the bombing, my parents and I were arguing over whether or not I could have a lock on my bedroom door. The only door inside the house that had a lock was my parents' room. I hadn't been in there since the day they left.
I couldn't stay in my room. With no lock on my door, I wasn't safe. I walked down to the door at the end of the hall. I stopped in front of it, unable to make myself open it. Several times, I reached for the doorknob only to pull my hand back.
I heard a floorboard creak behind me. In half a second, I had my gun out and was facing Zach with it in the shooting position.
He sarcastically put his hands up. "You were serious about the gun?" he asked. He looked me up and down. I was wearing jean cut-off shorts and a black tank top. I wore my long, dark-brown hair, down. My blue eyes were watching his every move with a piercing glare. My lip was split and my pale face was covered in dirt.
Every slight move he made, my gun followed. "The gun," he said looking me up and down again," is kind of hot," He took a step forward.
I pulled back the hammer. All I had to do was pull the trigger and it would shoot. For once, I felt in control of what was happening. I dropped my head to one side as if I were saying 'I dare you to take another step'.
"You won't shoot me," he said shaking his head. I could almost see him smiling.
"If you want to know for sure just take another step and see what happens." I waited for him to move.
A moment later, with a sure smile he took a step forward. Without hesitation, I shot him in the shoulder. For some reason, I didn't want to kill him. No matter what happened, I didn't want to kill him and that scared me.
"You-" he started. He grimaced and looked down at his shoulder in disbelief. Blood started trickling out of the wound. "Ashley," he said touching the blood, voice and face drenched in fear. "You shot me." It almost sounded like a question. His eyes looked panicked. "Help me!" he yelled at me. He stepped towards me with an outreached hand.
I pulled back the hammer again. "I told you I'd shoot and I did. You take another step…and I will kill you," I said.
He dropped down to his knees and said, "I'm sorry. I really truly am sorry."
"Sorry isn't good enough!" I yelled at him. "You can't take back what you did and you can't make it up to me!"
"Are you going to just let me die?" I highly doubted someone could die from a wound that small. "You're seriously not going to help me?" He was starting to freak out.
"It scares me to have you this close to me, and you think I'm going to help you?" I said. "You've already proven to me that I can't trust you…twice. How do I know that you won't take the gun from me…or that you won't try to repeat what happened last night?…….I can't be sure of anything for now on." I paused for a few minutes. If I helped him, it would probably be the stupidest thing I've ever done. If I didn't help him, I'd be disappointed in myself. "If you want my help, you won't make a single move from now until I'm done. Got it?" I asked.
He nodded his head. "Good," I said, "Stay here." I tucked my gun into the back of my shorts and stepped around him.
When I came back, I had: a sterilized needle and thread, antiseptic, sterilized tweezers, peroxide, latex gloves, and bandage wrap.
He started to stand up. "Sit," I said, pushing him down.
"Ow!" he said grabbing his shoulder. "That hurt!"
"Good, you deserve it. Turn your head to the side," I said. I put on the latex gloves. I got the tweezers and started poking around in the wound.
I found the bullet and pulled it out. He sucked in air and grimaced. "You think that hurts? Let's put the peroxide on, shall we?" I said smirking.
I grabbed the peroxide bottle and opened it. I poured it on the wound slowly. He screamed in pain as it bubbled and fizzed. "Stop whining" I said. I knew it hurt and I was actually putting him through more pain then I needed to, but this was just one of the things I could do to him, so I did it.
I grabbed the needle and thread. Just as I was about to make the first stitch, he grabbed my wrist. I looked down at his hand, then back to his face. I tensed, ready to pull my gun out with my other hand.
"Why didn't you kill me? You had plenty of chances," he said. He let go of my wrist. I yanked it back and hesitantly made the first stitch.
"Because," I said, "Despite everything…I don't want to kill you."
I continued stitching. "Why?" he asked. "Why don't you want to kill me?" The idea seemed impossible to him, which made me feel better, not okay, but better. At least he knew what he did was wrong.
I paused wondering if I should answer. "I'm afraid to be alone with you, but I'm also afraid to be completely alone again," I said. I hadn't realized the reason until now. "Before you showed up that day, I was about to go crazy. With no one to talk to with nothing to make one day different from another….I can't go back to that, I just can't."
I finished stitching him up and snipped the string. I poured antiseptic over it and wrapped the bandage around it. "Well," I said. "It should be okay. The bandage needs to be changed once a day. Don't take it off and don't get it wet," I said. All he did was nod.
I rose to my feet but paused before I walked away. "I'm moving into my parents' room, since it's the only room with a lock on the door. And I better not catch you anywhere near that room…ever." I turned away and walked to my room, pondering why I didn't just kill him. I went through our conversation in my head and realized what I said was true. I didn't want to be alone, even if the person that was here with me is the last person I wanted to be with.
I opened my bedroom door and walked in, closing the door behind me, wishing I had a lock to turn, too. I started going through my closet, looking for things to take to my mom and dad's room. It was hard enough on me, taking their room, knowing they weren't coming back… that no one was coming back.
I started making a pile of things on my bed. As I was feeling on the top shelf of my closet, I found the Bible my parents had given me a couple years back. I opened it to the back of the front cover, and read the writing there as I have, so many times before. I whispered my mom's carefully written words there to myself…
Dear Ashley, you've grown up so fast. As much as I want you to be, you're not my little girl in pigtails anymore. Soon you'll be taking on the world yourself, but I want you to know that I love you, and that I will always be here for you…
I slammed the Bible shut and threw it at the wall, breaking the mirror, tears escaping though I fought them back. Through my sobbing I managed to say, "You lied…Why did you leave?…………now I'm alone."
I realized I hadn't touched that Bible or been to the church since the first day bombing had started. I looked at my watch as I stood up and walked out of the room, leaving the pile on the bed where it stood.
I ignored my bike, which was leaning against the barn door, and started making the mile walk to the church. This town wasn't that big, maybe three or four miles across. I looked at the now forever darkened, uninhabited houses of my friends and family, remembering how it used to be walking down this street at night during the summer.
People used to have campfires right in front of their houses, and the younger kids would be playing hide-and-seek in the dark, especially in the cornfields. I smiled at the memory, and then almost broke down again when I realized that would never happen again.
I turned onto the last street and caught sight of the church. I slowed my pace as I came up to the big wooden doors in the front. I hesitated then pulled on them, but they didn't move an inch. They were locked of course. I stepped over to one of the windows, on either side of the doors, crusted with sand and dirt that the wind had plastered onto them.
I worked for a minute on one of them until I had cleaned off a big enough section to see through. I peered in, through the area I had cleared off, into the oldest and largest building in this ancient town, but it was too dark inside for me to make out anything. I stepped away from the window.
I walked around the building until I found a side door that wasn't locked. When I finally did, I walked into the pitch-black open room. As my eyes adjusted, I was able to make out the rows of seats. I stood there for a moment, soaking in the darkness and silence. There were no whooper wills calling, no crickets chirping, no wind, just black silence. Yet the silence was louder then my screaming mind, calming me, making me forget, even if just for a few seconds.
Faint moonlight drifted in through the windows in the ceiling. The dull, silvery glow rested on the old wooden cross on the wall, at the front of the room. I walked up to it, and then sat, folding my legs beneath me. Then I began to pray aloud…
"God…do you even exist? Are you there?……" I called to the great empty room, "I came here to find answers, but I'm only finding more questions……First of all, why?…How could you do this?…And if you didn't cause this; how could you just let it happen?…Aren't you supposed to be watching over us; do you even care…How could you let my friends, my family, my parents, go looking for survivors when you knew that they weren't coming back…Zach and I can't be the only one's left, can we? And that brings me to one of the main reasons I came here…How could you let me start to fall for Zach, get close to him…when he was going to rape me…How could you let me truly believe I was the only one left, give me Zach, and then let this happen…You're supposed to watch over us, take care of us, but instead, you let us fight and kill one another. You let us build bombs, make threats, and see through with them. And most importantly, you let mothers, children, and all the other innocent people die. You aren't here, you don't care, you left me…"
I hadn't realized I was crying until I had to wipe the tears away to see clearly. I sat there for another moment in silence, then stood up and walked home.
When I got to the house, it was dark except for a single candle burning in Zach's room. It flickered out and the curtains moved slightly as I walked inside. I made my way upstairs, to the door at the end of the hall and once again stood in front of it, unable to move.
I forced myself to reach for the doorknob, reminding myself that this was for my safety, and that I couldn't just put it off. When I touched the handle, my mother's face flashed before my eyes. I choked back a sob and opened the door. I got the candle I had grabbed on my way upstairs, and lit it.
I stepped into the room I had avoided for the past year. I set the candle down. My fingers brushed against the cedar chest and mahogany dresser against the wall. I stopped to pick up my mother's silver brush and mirror, setting them down carefully when I was done examining each one.
The next thing my fingers touched was my mother's jewelry box. The tinkling melody played while my fingertips touched her white gold earrings, her silver bracelet, and a picture of her younger self and a toddler in her arms smiling, showing her a shell she had picked up. I closed the lid as the melody slowed and came to a stop, the final note hanging in the air.
I moved everything off my bed and into my mom and dad's room. Next to the bed was a picture of my dad, my mom, and me, during our summer vacation two years ago. I blew out the candle and collapsed onto the bed. I could have fallen asleep right then and there; the only reason I got up to lock the door was the fear in my heart.
I groaned, standing up. Already half asleep I locked the door and as I walked back to the bed I glanced back, double-checking. I sighed in relief as I sunk back into the bed.
I kicked off my shoes and pulled my hair back into a ponytail. I didn't even bother to change out of my clothes. I was so tired. I pulled the covers over me and waited for my eyes to adjust to the dark. When they did, I looked over at the picture on the nightstand and whispered, "Good night mom and dad…"
A/N: I didn't realize that if I published as a book I couldn't post chapters, so I'm re-publishing it as a novel, what it truly is :D