Turf Wars

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
after a forgotten SF disaster, a small bands of survivors form dispersed communities on a ruined earth. the story chronicles the struggles of one community (a turf) and their search for their forgotten past.

Submitted: December 30, 2010

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Submitted: December 30, 2010

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[single event from the story]

Dappled in the evening sun, Blaine ran through the forest. A steady, familiar jog; weapon in hand and a live feed on his tracking shades. He had been at it since morning, and he knew exactly where he was. Several other members of the species had taken a similar route. But this particular one had better stamina than the others.

The forest sank into a gloomy twilight, and the xenoform was nowhere within shooting range. The thermal image on his shades showed an anomaly three hundred feet ahead, maybe further. Quite likely, he had lost the prey long ago, and the anomaly was only a small animal, not worth the effort hunting.

He stood for a while in the forest. The air was damp and still, the thick vegetation swamped him. He inhaled deeply, but claustrophobia choked him up. He was about to turn back, when the thermal anomaly moved in an odd pattern. Characteristic motion of the xenoform, when excited.

Without hesitation, he sprinted forward. That was one hell of an excited alien. He could nab this xenoform, no problem, with some nice extras.

Closer, closer, closer…WHUMP!

Blaine was stunned for a moment. He laid face down in complete darkness. A moist smell filled his nostrils. His shades went dead. Slowly, he gathered that he had fallen into a pit. A rather deep one, judging from the painful impact.

He got to his knees with excruciating effort. Nothing seemed to be broken, except his shades, which meant no communications. His weapon was nowhere nearby. He looked up. The canopy seemed miles away, and the gibbous moon was distant.

Deep shit, indeed.

He stood up and ran his hands over the surrounding walls. Smooth earth, hardly a crack or crevice. Someone had dug this pit by mechanical means. There was a stake portruding from the top of the pit, probably for the rope ladder.

Soils crumbled under his fingers and boots as he tried to climb the wall. He attempted several other sites, but the soil could not hold his weight. Frustrated, he sat down, considering his options.

His eyes gradually adjusted to the darkness.Up ahead, the pit extended into some kind of tunnel. He couldn’t get out until someone passed by the pit, and there was no saying when that would happen. He might as well get into the tunnel and find another way out.

He took a few tentative steps forward. The ground was soft with moisture, but firm. His boots sank into irregularities at intervals—probably footprints. Someone had taken this route previously, and the fact gave him confidence.

As he walked, the tunnel grew narrower and lower, forcing him to crouch, and then to crawl. In the absence of moonlight, the tunnel was pitch black. The darkness and stale air closed in on Blaine like a thick blanket.

He crawled for an indefinite period of time, nauseated from the sensation of being trapped. The tunnel widened again, and he stoodup on cramped legs. There was a faint yellow light in the distance.

It was a circular light on a metal surface, set into the soil. The metal was rusted and mossy, but he could make out a single door, large enough for one person. He pulled on the latch. The door opened reluctantly, its hinges moving like arthritic joints.

A warm, dry smell washed over him. He gasped in surprise.

A lived-in room, illuminated by a naked bulb, complete with a battered desk, a chair and an old sofa. Posters lined the walls, and video discs were stacked on the desk and floors. There was even a small fridge tucked in one corner. Several kitchen appliances stood on an upturned crate. Most surprising of all, a computer sat on the desk. It was an ugly contraption assembled from salvaged parts, but if it worked, it was incredibly valuable.

The shape and material of the room reminded him of a photo he had seen: a train carriage. Freight train, probably. Still intact in its underground station.

Someone had taken pains to hide his private dungeon from the turf.

Blaine couldn’t help but grin. This was pure luxury. He headed for the fridge, yanking the door open, and peered in.

Water in a glass evian bottle; a collection of decade-old candies; vintage wine; fresh fruit, berries and tubers; a hunk of roasted meat.

He took out the meat in its tupperware container. Where the hell did this guy find tupperware? Either he was one hell of a salvager, or he had come across an intact supermarket. No one in the turf had ever found a fully stocked supermarket, or even a convenience store. Maybe the xenoforms had beat them to it long ago.

Xenoforms did consume human food and use human tools, and they often stole valuables from the turf. The storage facilities had to be guarded twenty four hours a day. Even then, thefts still occurred.

He looked amongst the appliances until he found a microwave. There was a socket-like contraption of some kind, and he switched it on. The microwave worked perfectly. He wondered where the power supply was coming from. Rabbit, he decided, as he bit into the meat.

As he sat chewing, he mentally rehearsed telling Tyne about the dungeon. He imagined Tyne’s facial expression—the disapproving frown softening into a fatherly pride. And most important of all, Delaney, his dear, sweet Delaney, her cold green eyes defrosting, her thin lips parting in admiration, and then those lips pressing against his…

This was worth way more than the stupid xenoform he had been chasing all day. Maybe the xenoform was some kind of spiritual guide. This was his destiny, his moment of glory.

Something in the posters disturbed him. He wiped his mouth, stood up, and walked right up to the wall.

At first glance, the pictures were garden-variety pornography. No doubt looted, but carefully cleaned and tacked onto the walls. On closer look, he realized that the women were not adults at all, but children and young teenagers.

He sneered. So this is how the jackass gets his kicks. A righteous anger rose in him, only to be nudged aside by a crafty idea.

He rummaged through the piles of videos, opened drawers, overturned crates, looked under the battered sofa. Finally, a haircomb fell out of a magazine. It was the only personal article in the entire room.

Fortunately, there were hair strands caught in the teeth. Despite his meticulous housekeeping, the owner had completely forgotten about one small thing. That was enough to blow his silly hideout.

Blaine held the comb under the light, and inspected the hair. Its characteristics were unmistakable.

“Knew you were trouble, you creepy bastard,” he muttered, with some pride at his detective skills.

That was all he needed to get everything he wanted. Almost everything. He shoved the comb into his belt compartment.

In his mind, a different plan formed. Now he wouldn’t need to report to Ira. He just needed to see the comb’s owner. Only the two of them, a private negotiation. The end result was the same—making himself irresistible to Delaney.

What a fantastic, fantastic find, he thought, smiling to himself. A warm glow spread from his body to his fingertips.

He opened a bottle of wine and drank to his own success. He hated the taste of wine, but he thought the gesture would be appropriate.

The liquid was noxious stuff. He slammed down the bottle in disgust.

He walked quickly across the carriage, impatient to leave. His foot caught on something, and he nearly fell.

Cursing, he crouched down to find the object. A semicircular ring rising vertically from the ground, a handle for some sort of trapdoor. Hooking his finger in the ring, he pulled.

A stench hit him, sending him reeling. Rot and decay filled his nostrils. He doubled over and retched.

He had never smelled anything so awful in his entire life. This was worse than rancid meat left in abandoned camps. Much, much worse.

When he recovered himself, he crawled back reluctantly to the trapdoor. Even as he held his breath and covered his nose, the odor seeped through his fingers.

He peered over the edge, and immediately regretted it.

Even with the pallor and disfigurement, the body was unmistakable. The corpse laid naked, legs splayed, arms thrown apart. The eyes had been stitched shut, and the mouth was parted in anguish. Injuries mottled the child’s body.

“Kasumi,” he rasped.

Something in his chest twisted, and tears filled his eyes.

“My god, oh my god, Kasumi…what happened to you? What happened here? What did he do?…”

[[Cut scene to reiko and noel peacefully conversing back at the community. Indication of time passed.]]

Cold, humid air washed over Blaine when he unlatched the door. The faint sounds of morning creatures broke the enclosed silence. His eyes were swollen from crying, and his head pounded mercilessly.

He looked straight ahead, where a patch of sunlight marked the other end of the tunnel.

Standing at the doorway, his mind went blank. For a second he was puzzled at his situation. Then his knees buckled, and he crumpled to the ground, sobbing.

He counted to ten. At nine and a half, he stood up. Like a wound-up toy, he began to walk down the tunnel.

The sunlight was blinding. Heat burned his skin and parched his throat.

He had left the forest behind him long ago, and now shuffled his way down the clearing.

The derelict hotel loomed ahead. Chunks of mossy plaster littered the surrounding area. Even stripped of its rotting façade, the hotel was one hell of a fleabag.

At the entrance, Blaine was greeted by a swarm of gnats. He hardly noticed them.

He parted his chapped lips to speak into the intercom. No words came, and he tried again.

“Blaine Bridgewater,” he rasped. “Did anyone miss me?”

A hiss of static, and then a cheerful voice: “Hey, B.B.! Been out all night? Hope your girl was as fine as mine!”

“I need to see Tyne.”

“Hey, hey, what’s the rush? It’s Sunday afternoon! ”

“Regan. Open the gate. I need to see Tyne.”

“Whatever you say. Let me get dressed first. Unless you would rather I didn’t.”

Blaine crouched on the ground. Thirst and hunger were catching up with him, the sensations forming a vortex of pain in his head.

The gates opened with a clang and squeal.

“My god, B.B., you look like hell,” Regan said.

Blaine looked up to see Regan dressed in a prussian silk robe, with a blonde woman clinging to his arm.

“He’s underage right? So cute, but illegal.” The woman crooned.

“It’s illegal for you to be here,” Blaine shot back.

“It’s ok, B, we were just in my room.” Regan put a finger to his lips. “Don’t tell Tyne ok? Get in.”

Blaine stood up and swayed on his feet. Regan rushed forward to catch him.

“I’m fine. Just go back to your room. I need to see Tyne alone,” Blaine said irritably.

“I’ll be there if you need anything,” Regan said, his eyes dark with concern.

Blaine nodded, pushing past the woman. The musty smell of the hotel was almost welcoming.

[TBC....]


© Copyright 2018 CJ Tyrone. All rights reserved.

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