Short Story by: Genevieve The Red Witch
it all started with a music festival, the music rang through my head and shook my chest. it was about noon when it happened. I was sitting under one of the only trees on the grounds. the sky turned bright red, I checked my phone for the time thinking the sun was setting. meteors began falling, bright yellow streaks across the bright red sky. I stood up, curious of what was going on I walked to the edge of the hill. military convoys began lining the street below the hill. another bright yellow light exploded through the red sky, all the meteors changed course and were sucked into it. I walked down the hill and hid behind a large green armored truck, I peek over the hood just as the moon was sucked towards the bright yellow light. the ocean rises towards the moon that's spinning infinitely faster than normal. suddenly, I'm blinded by a bright white light, I duck down unable to see. the floor began to shake. I slid under the truck and my eyes finally adjusted. looking out, I see huge machines marching across the beach, shooting anything that moved. I then hear a plane fly overhead. everything was silent, no one screaming, the machines weren't even shooting. then I hit the retainer wall, the truck slid with me, the force of the blast knocked me unconscious.
when I woke up everything was dark. the moon was back in its original position but the ocean had receded much further than the beach. I thought everything was fine until I climbed out from under the melted remains of the truck. I looked around at absolute nothingness, the buildings that were once standing had all crumbled, no plants, no animals, I heard no one from the festival. I climbed to the top of the hill where it was. the amphitheater was even gone. with a better vantage point, I thought I would be able to see lights from a city but it was absolute darkness. no street lights, no cars driving. it was getting cold at that point. walking down to where the merchandise tables were I was hoping to find a sweater or blanket, nothing. a zippo lighter survived but that was it. I waited until morning to walk home.
it's been seven years since then. I was seventeen. the blast slightly blinded my left eye turning it a pale ash gold. my hair is white now because of the sun, everyone I knew is gone. I found a large dog, he follows me around, I named him Jovi. I sometimes find clusters of people living in abandoned buildings that werent destroyed by the blasts. twice a month, those machines search for people left over from the original attack. I still don't know who attacked us, I've never seen them. I've seen convoys of soldiers but never their faces. there aren't plants anymore, it's like death valley everywhere. if it rains plants sprout up but they don't last long. all the rivers and lakes dried. the ocean is still there but you can't exactly farm or cook with ocean water. it's rare if I see a green belt but when I do I fill my packs full of water.
I don't know why I wander around. maybe deep down I'm hoping to see my brother again, or my friends maybe. anyone I know would be nice, hell someone who doesn't try to kill me would be nice. I've learned how to fight and shoot a gun, it's needed with the way everything is. I got into a fight once before this happened, I felt horrible after, I had to numb myself of that feeling to survive.
I get to the top of a dune and see a building slightly leaning over into the sand. a vegas hotel it looked like, or just a casino in general. as I reach the other side of the dune Jovi tugs my coat.
"oh, what you scardy dog" I joke "it's a building, let's go find food".
Jovi whimpers but follows me. as we get closer to the building I hear people arguing. spinning my gun from my back to my front and cautiously step towards the building. the doors burst open, a group of angry people throwing a man out. he stands up and glares at me, his eyes glow bright orange. Jovi snarles at him as he passes.
"miss?" a man from the group calls out "need a place to sleep?"
"we'll see," I say walking toward them
"fair enough" he chuckles
I walk through the doors, the building was gutted and makeshift rooms were everywhere. the only light was from the windows that were tinted like old limos. I place my things away from everyone, the building was cool because of the sand all around it. as I situate my belongings, a small child walks over to me with a tray of food.
"my daddy told me to bring this to you, he's the cook." she smiles a toothless smile
"thank you" I smile back
"what's your puppies name?" she asks
"like the singer?"
"I'm surprised you know that"
"when the solar panels work we listen to music" she smiles big
"well then. I need to get me one of those"
"I'll ask my daddy!" she runs off
"I was kidding!" I call after her
a few minutes later an older man with salt and pepper hair walks over just as I'm finishing my food.
"what's your name darlin?" he says with a southern twang
"Leda" I reply
"Leda, nice name. Kimmi says you want a solar panel"
"I was joking really. I miss listening to music, though"
"may I ask, where were you the day it happened?"
"the strike zone, at the hard rock festival"
"oh dear god child, how did you survive?"
"I'm like a cat, I have nine lives" I wink "I hid under an armored hummer, that essentially melted around me"
"well, glad you're still with us kiddo. your pups name is Jovi huh?" he asks
"yeah, Bon Jovi and Fleetwood mac were my favorite"
"know how to fix solar panels?" he jokes
"we had some before the raid, I can try" I reply
"well come on then, before the sun goes down"
he takes me up the leaning stairwell and onto the roof. I walk over to the panels and look them over. they were actually still intact, some of the bolts were just loose. I look around and see an old maintenance nook. pulling open the rusted door I see a bag on a shelf. walking back out I rummage through the bag finding leftover bolts for the panels. twisting the bolts into place as far as my fingers would allow a generator turned on below us. I pull the panels into position to catch the last sunlight of the day.
"you did it, kid! good job" he exclaims
"someone's going to have to come up here and adjust them during the day to get the most power from them. the mechanism to turn them by itself is broken" I smile
as we walk back down the stairs the lights begin to turn on. I hear cheering as we reach the door to the main lobby. as we walk through the doors the music turns on, Jovi jumps around happy to see me again. I sit against the wall watching everyone happily bounce around to the ever changing music.
"move, this is my spot" a grumpy man's voice growls
"is that right?" I say
"yeah so move" he snaps
"Jake! leave her be she fixed our solar panels" the salt and pepper haired man yells
"you know this is my spot, Bo. you really think this ex emo kid can watch for soldiers?"
"come over here Leda" Bo waves me over
I glare at him and pick up my things. Jovi growls and follows behind me.
"so your names Bo huh?" I laugh
"sorry darlin, did I not tell you my name?" he smiles
"its ok, I didn't think to ask. no big deal" I chuckle
setting up my stuff again aginst the opposite wall I sit there while Kimmi plays with Jovi. Cher comes on the speakers. Bo reaches out his hand to me, pulling me to my feet he pulls and pushes my arms shimmying my shoulders. the music stops as the sun goes down. everyone settles down into their piles of blankets for the night. not used to the sounds of so many people I lay there awake. as the week goes on I get used to the noises and finally sleep through the night. half way through the second week I get antsy. I'm not used to sitting in one place for so long. with the building fully charged by the solar panels everyone decided to keep the music playing all night. unsure of if I should go, I packed my things and sat watching everyone happily dancing and eating. the hair on Jovi's back stands on end, he stands in front of me just as the doors to the building slam open and soldiers filter in shooting their guns randomly. grabbing my things I dart for the stairs, Jovi follows behind me but then grabs my coat. turning around I see Bo and Kimmi slammed to the ground. Kimmi ripped from his arms. angry, I flip my gun over my shoulder and shoot the soldiers holding them down. all the soldiers turn towards me, I stand there and look around while Jovi grabs Kimmi. when she grabs my hand I pull her against me and run toward the stairs. out of nowhere a huge wall of a man barrels at me tackling me to the ground, I smack my head against a pipe sticking out of the wall. Jovi tries biting him but is kicked away. I can't move, the man picks me up and throws me over his shoulder. the sun blinds me as he carries me to the truck with everyone else.
slamming me down into the bed of the truck I hit the wound in my head again knocking me unconscious. I wake a few hours later to a sight of twenty soldiers sitting on the benches around me. I scramble to my knees and crawl to the back of the truck. the soldiers jolt towards me as if I was going to jump out of a fast moving truck. I sat in the corner away from them against the tailgate weighing my options. under one of the benches, i see my gun and coat but not my packs. quickly I snatch the coat and gun and dive over the tailgate of the truck. worst idea ever! I slam into the sand, sliding into a rock the breath is knocked out of me. before I could even regain myself the truck donuts and comes back toward me. I run to the top of a dune but I'm swallowed by an old wooden covering. I fall for what seems like ever until I land on cold hard ground. I pull myself out of view of the hole so the soldiers couldn't find me and pass out. I wake to a dark sky, Jovi somehow found me and was curled up around my head. Jovi happily jumps up and licks my face as I try to sit up, he then nudges my back trying to help me up. everything hurts, my hair is matted with blood, my ribs are probably broken and I don't even want to know the status of my legs after falling down that hole. I sit there against the rock wall wondering how Jovi even made it down here. Jovi disappears for a few minutes but comes back with an extremely old can of beans.
"thank you, Jovi, but this can't be edible, plus I have nothing to open it with"
he sneezes at me and runs back the same way again. a few minutes pass again until he comes back happily wagging his tail. he just barks at me.
more barking. I roll my eyes and try to get up. Jovi pulling on my shirt.
"well hang on you mangy dog, unlike you, I fell down here"
slowly getting up I stumble through the dark grasping for anything to hold me up. I touch the opposite wall, a mine? well, that was a vegas hotel, there are mines all over the place out here. I gingerly touch the walls as Jovi runs up ahead of me come back and nudges me forward. I see the moon shining through the end of the tunnel. just as I reach the opening, my legs give out. Jovi tries pulling on my shirt again.
"I can't Jovi, let's rest here ok?"
Jovi didn't listen, he ran across the sand. the moonlit him up all the way across to the mountains. seconds later the light of a fire illuminates a crevasse. I watch as the torch comes across the sand. I got more and more nervous as they got closer, as they come up the hill I raise my gun. a dirty toothless man comes over the hill. he smiles at me with a look in his eye I can't describe. he took one step towards me and I cocked my gun. Jovi's ears drop, the hair on his back stands on end and the man gets closer me. the man reaches for my gun, instinctively my finger pulls the trigger shooting him in the head. I glare at Jovi and try to stand.
"and you thought he was nice enough to bring back to me?"
I search the man for anything I could use. he had a map of all the dunes so I stuff it in my pocket. I slowly walk to where the man came out of the mountain, I follow the crevasse until it opens to an oasis. a waterfall gently falls, fruit and vegetable plants cover the ground, fresh rabbits skinned by a burning fire. I plop down next to the fire and grab one of the rabbits. I eat as much as my stomach could hold and toss the other rabbit to Jovi. I pull the map from my pocket and look it over. the map shows buildings under the dunes. folding the map again I pull myself to the tent the man left behind. Jovi followed me in with his ears still laying flat.
"thank you for trying to help, Jovi," I say patting his head
he curls up around my head and sighs. I lay there listening to the only water I've heard in seven years. it puts me to sleep quickly. I wake to Jovi playing in the waterfall, the sun barely rising.
I sit up making the blanket slip down, my shirt was gone and my chest was wrapped in bandages. I crawl out of the tent with my gun in my hand. a man sat over by the fire pit. I cock the gun and
side step toward him.
"you shot my father you know," he says not even looking at me
"you should have seen how he looked at me"
"I can imagine, he was a dirty of pervert."
"where's my shirt?"
"hanging over there. and don't worry I just wrapped your wound"
"thanks, i guess"
"no problem, now where's my father's map"
"I need it to get supplies"
"what do I care if you need supplies?"
"I know you don't but if you try to take it from me I'll shoot you just like your father"
"I'll go get what I need and bring it back."
"a random woman from the desert and I'm supposed to trust you?"
"you bandaged me up"
"that doesn't mean I trust you"
I just look at him out of the corner of my eye. I never take my eyes off him as I grab my shirt and some fruit to eat.
"what happened to your eye anyway? is it blind?"
"I was at the main blast by the beach, and its partially blind."
"wow. never met someone who survived the main blast"
"not many have"
"it was the biggest bomb, everyone was disintegrated"
"when are you going to show me these buildings? I would like to move on before the sun sets"
"we'll leave when I'm ready" he snaps
I walk over to Jovi and sit next to the waterfall. I sit there for hours while the man walks around doing chores.
"let's go" he snaps as it hits noon
I hand him the map and follow behind him with my hand on my gun. we follow along the mountains until we hit the dunes on the map. he walks to the first biggest dune and starts digging into it. I walk over to help him dig, we finally hit the glass doors of the building. he pries the door open and walks in. it was a military supply store, packs line the walls, boxes of rations stacked behind the counter. I walk over to the packs and grab the biggest one I could carry. the man stands by the door watching me as I grab things I needed. suddenly he walks to the back of the store and returns with another pack.
"it's for the dog, he can carry some of your food and some water. he's big enough anyway"
"his name is Jovi, and thank you" I huff
I walk over to the boxes of rations and fill my back with a years worth of food. as I look around for other things I needed I see a box marked "dog". I walk over and open it its full of dehydrated dog food. I stuff as much as Jovi could carry into his pack and clip it on him. he licks my face as I lean over him to latch the back latch. I smile at him and get whatever else I needed before looking at the man again.
"would be nice"
"there's an old leather store next door"
"it'll last longer than fabric and you might be hot but you won't burn"
"fine," I say waiting by the glass doors.
I follow him to the next dune and help him dig the doors free.
"go to the top of the other one and kick sand down to cover the doors"
"yeah," I say walking to the top of the dune.
I rummage through the store and get a new coat, a few new shirts and a new pair of pants. stuffing them into my pack the man stands there looking at me.
"what?" I growl
"nothing, making sure you don't try to turn on me since you did grab two huge knives"
"you showed me these places, I'm not going to hurt you," I say zipping up my pack.
the man disappears to the back of the store and doesn't return for a long while. I begin to leave just as he runs out of the back room. he hands me a shoe box.
"yours look torn up"
he returns to the back for a few minutes. coming back with another pair of sturdy boots he ties them to my pack. I thank him and Jovi and I leave just as the sun sets.
© Copyright 2017 Genevieve The Red Witch. All rights reserved.