All is Well (Sample)

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Action and Adventure  |  House: Booksie Classic
The first chapter of my current work-in-progress, set in a post-apocalyptic wasteland.

Feedback is appreciated.

Submitted: May 27, 2015

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Submitted: May 27, 2015

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All is Well

Sand

 

The sand was in his eyes again. It seemed like it was always somewhere. In his eyes, in his mouth, in his ears, in other unsightly places… it was inescapable.

Of course, it wasn’t merely sand, was it? It was a fine mixture of dust, and debris, and ash, from ruined forests, buildings, and bodies. He was often forcibly reminded of that fact when he tasted the substance.

He gripped his blade tightly as he walked, his eyes stinging. Stopping, he waited for the wind to subside, before briefly removing his goggles and rubbing the grains from his eyes with his filthy hands, blinking a few times, letting his eyes water. He shook his goggles out, and put them back on. His eyes still burned, but at least they weren’t coated in sand anymore. He wasn’t even sure why he kept the goggles at this point; it seemed as though they barely helped at all.

The wind picked up again, blowing sand every which way. He raised his hand against the onslaught of stinging particles, to little avail. He really, really needed to find shelter, and perhaps someone to eat.

He could still see the structures on the horizon, barely any closer than the last time he’d looked. If anything, it looked to be the same distance away that it had been yesterday. It was another ruin of some ancient city, no doubt. A place of commerce, of friendship, of society… he tried to imagine it, clean and gleaming in the sunlight, but couldn’t force himself to do so. It was simply too preposterous a notion.

Looking behind him, he briefly thought of how far he’d come. From the mountains, through the crater with the crumbling structures and the monsters, across the desert, to here… He was scared of what lay ahead of him in the upcoming city. He didn’t want to fight any more monsters. He’d nearly died before, when the skinless one had scratched at him, clawing up his forearm, before he’d put his blade in its softened skull. The fever had taken him then, weakening him for several days that were lost in his memory. He had no idea how he’d survived. He remembered the heat, the fear, the dizziness and confusion… then nothing, before he came to his senses, lying on a heap of charred rubble, covered in blood that he suspected was not his own.

That was about two weeks ago. Now he was in the desert. He had been for eight days, after having taken about four days to claw his way out of the ruins. His arm still burned, and the skin around it had turned a discolored sort of white. Despite the multiple layers of cloth taken from his tattered shirt and wrapped around his wound, the sand still found its way in, as it always did. No doubt that was aiding whatever infection had taken hold of him. He was still plagued by waves of nausea and dizziness once every few hours or so. He’d vomit, if he had anything in his stomach worth parting with.

His thought process revolved around picking one foot up and picking it down in front of him, over and over and over and over again, still persisting after all of the miles that he’d walked. His motivation, for now, was whatever awaited him in the city, hopefully something of value-

Movement.

Behind the crest of one of the dunes to his left. He’d seen a silhouette briefly rise and fall. A shadow, perhaps?... But of what? Of whom?

He lay down on his belly and did not move. He surveyed the dune, unblinking. He saw no movement but the veil of sand being blown from the surface. After several minutes, he relaxed.

“You can stand up,” said a voice. “I know you’re there.”

He froze once again, his eyes locked on the hill of sand. He could not determine where the voice had some from.

“Stand,” said the voice once again. “You’re not even looking in the right spot. If I wanted to kill you, you’d be dead by now. Trust me.”

“No,” he said, his voice hoarse but resonant. He could have sworn that he saw dust expel itself from his lungs as he spoke.

Laughter. “Well, you’re smart; smarter than most. But I’m not going to hurt you. I try not to hurt people.”

“Wrong,” he said. “Everybody hurts everybody.”

“Is that what it’s come to?” the voice asked, still tinged with humor.

“Yes.”

“I’m sorry you feel that way. So, if I come out, you’ll hurt me?”

“… No,” he said hesitantly.

“I thought you said that everybody hurts everybody?” the voice was more serious now.

“I don’t like to hurt things. Unless they hurt me first.”

“Well, like I said, I’m not going to hurt you.”

In his peripheral vision, he saw a figure emerge to his right. He looked quizzically at it. The figure was tall and imposing. It wore a long green jacket that looked to be weather-proof, underneath which were a simple black shirt and grey cargo pants. Its eyes were hidden by bright red reflective goggles. It had ginger hair, long enough to blow freely in the wind.

He relaxed once again, and stood.

“What’s your name?” the figure asked.

He remained silent, not because he was wary, but because he for the life of him couldn’t remember.

“Keeping things close to the chest, are we? Alright, fair enough. My name’s Notch. And no, before you ask- everyone does- my parents didn’t give me this name. That’d be fucking dumb, right? Nah, my name’s Notch because of this…” he pulled aside the collar of his shirt, to reveal his right collarbone underneath. Square in the middle of it was a deep abrasion, which obviously cut into the bone. The skin around the area was white with scar tissue, even though the rest of his skin was quite tan.  “Motherfucker got me with a hatchet, about six months ago. Nearly severed my clavicle clean in two. Good thing I severed his windpipe instead, eh? Anyway, I call myself Notch because, you know, it’s like a notch… Ah, you get it. You’re not stupid.”

The figure, Notch, was certainly friendly.

“Anyway,” Notch said. “I’m assuming that you’re on your way to the city- aahh.”

Notch exhaled sharply as the blade was pushed into his stomach and out of his back, barely missing his spinal cord, and then pulled out after a second.

Notch looked up incredulously. “You… stabbed me.” He clutched the bleeding whole in his gut. Blood seeped between his fingers, dripping down to soak into the sand, staining it crimson. The pain was about to set in. “Oh, god,” he whimpered. “Oh, god, it hurts. Oh, god, oh, fuck, fuck fuck fuck fuck, it hurts!” Notch screamed shrilly.

This time, the blade pierced through his sternum, directly between his two pectoral muscles. This time it didn’t exit through his back, but it did tap his spine. Notch’s scream peaked for second as he convulsed, and then ended, to be replaced by a series of rapid, rasping breaths. Notch fell to the ground, his blood pooling beneath him in the sand, gasping for air, choking on his own blood.

“You, you said…” Notch coughed, sending blood and spittle flying upward. “You said that, that you didn’t hurt anyone…”

He raised his foot and put it on Notch’s forehead.

“Everyone hurts everyone,” he said, and jerked his leg forward, twisting Notch’s head to the side and snapping his neck. The corpse jerked, its legs kicking spastically, before it lay still.

Surveying the body that was once Notch, he had a revelation:

He could remember his name.

His name was Ronan.

And with this came another revelation:

He was very, very hungry.


© Copyright 2020 Ben Holland. All rights reserved.

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