Winters Breath – Part 4

“This him eh?”

I could not see out of my left eye nor talk. Generalis made sure of that. Blood was everywhere, even in my goddamn mouth. Lost some teeth as well and gained a bruised eye in action.

“Yeah, I know he’s not much to look at, but he’s the one whose been causing you so much trouble,” Generalis stated. From what I could see, he was talking to a group of the Hunters inside the courtyard. It was a terrifying sight.

“Why should we buy him and not just take him from you?” One of the Hunters said, his deep voice a combination of grunts followed by a snarl.

Muttering could be heard all around, with agreeance being the frequent sound.

“Better friends than enemies I do dare say. Would it not be better to be trade partners rather than enemies? Imagine the benefit that could be had. I could supply you with stock—”

“But we could just take your “stock” if we so wanted to,” another of the Hunters said, interrupting Generalis. From what I could see, he was pale as the snow surrounding us and wore dark wolf pelts as clothing. He held a spear.

“As I said, allies are better than enemies. Our true value lies in loyalty.”

I scoffed without meaning it. Beautiful lie I thought. I received a backhand by the nearest guard, my ears began ringing in response.

I knew my humour would land me in trouble one day.

“And why here did your little pet have a chuckle? Did he catch you in a lie?” The leader of the Hunters spoke in a sarcastic tone. It was intimidating.

“No, this “pet” is just mentally deranged.” He emphasised the word pet and spat on the floor as he said it.

“We knocked him around too much, and now he’s gone loony. Our bad,” Generalis continued.

All I could taste was the strong flavour of iron mixed with bile within my mouth. It was freezing, and I felt myself shivering, perhaps from a fever or from fears, I was unsure.

With the limited vision I had, I could see individuals facing each other in deathly stances, trying to intimidate the other, a sad image. Before the Change, we were ordinary folk, and now we have become things we were not. Perhaps these beasts were always inside of us, but societies rules kept us in check.

It was a sad sight. Even writers would have a hard time romanticising this scene, I thought.

Now we are abominations, fighting the very last humans for no reason other than want and desires. We could have cooperated with the others and helped one another to rebuild the world, but instead, we chose destruction and death. I know the world will never be the same, it will never heal. Even if the sun slowly becomes stronger again, it will be no use. Our fates are sealed.

I often wondered if it would be a better choice for the world to just die. Maybe it’d save humanity, leaving us a legacy that we could not dampen anymore than we already have.

As I watched these folk continue to argue, with weapons brandished and curses flying sharp at one another, I hoped for an end to the suffering I endured.

I am tired of this all.

Gunfire woke me. My ears were pierced by the echo of the bullets ricocheting off nearby steel. The suffering will not end, but maybe I can outrun it I wishfully thought. Without a second glance, I heaved myself forward between the nearby buildings as my stomach shuttered from losing blood, leaving the conflict in the courtyard behind.

Barking followed me as I dived through the window closest to me, shattering the glass and slicing my arm. I looked up and gasped, my eyes in shock.

A girl sat in the corner.

That girl was Martha.

To read part 3 of Winters Breath, click here!

 

Winters Breath – Part 3

My stomach dropped at the question, and an instant feeling of nausea filled my body. I had only a few moments to answer before they realised something was not right.

“Thomas, how did she die? Where’s her brother?”

I took a deep breath and proceeded to lie through my teeth.

“We were attacked by hunters along a wooded path a few hours from town. We tried to hold our own, but with only one gun, we were soon outnumbered.”

I faked a few tears just to be sure it was believable.

“Drew got impaled by a spear and soon after, out of anger or sadness or maybe both, Martha sacrificed herself and told me to run to tell the tale. They were both heroes, especially Martha.”

Sweat ran down the back of my neck, a warm entity opposing the cold outside. The wind outside rattled against the walls of the building, shrieking at the inhabitants inside, myself included. The fire inside continued to burn, using the pages of books and rubbish as kindle.

“We will remember them and their stories. Do not forget Thomas, you were meant to survive. Their sacrifice will not be in vain.”

He continued,” But I have a question for you. Did you shake the hunters off your trail on the way here?”

“No.”

“And why not?”

“I don’t know. I was scared.”

I fidgeted, playing with my clothes. Perhaps to distract my mind from wandering thoughts. If it’s not one thing, its another. I wish things went my way at least once but alas, that would be called luck and that is something I lack dearly.

I knew I was a piece of shit, but you could not blame me. Survival is key and the state of the world in which it is, only the smart and liars survive. All the others are just awaiting their time to meet their fate. A sad truth.

The man smiled in front of me. It was colder than the ice outside.

“Thomas, what is my name?”

I thought intently. I do not recall him ever telling me his name. He just found me one day sick and knocking on his door, covered in bile and blood. From that day forward I was a member of the town.

“I do not recall. Maybe watching Martha and Drew die has caused me to forget.”

“Generalis. That’s my name. I plan to do what my name intends and protect this town.”

I was now confused and did not understand which direction he wished this conversation to continue to.

Generalis continued,” And due to my job, I have to do what is right. Sometimes even if its hard and I know will weigh upon my conscious.”

In the distance, chanting could be heard, along with the occasional sound of gunfire perpetrating the stillness.

He glanced at the two men standing near him faces covered by rags and goggles, hands upon their rifles, and nodded at each.

“He’s a murderer and a fucking liar. Bring him outside. We have some trading to do.”

To read Part 2 of Winters Breath, click here!

 

 

 

Winters Breath – Part 2

“We’re being followed,” I whispered.

Light snow began to fall, erasing any of the minimal warmth that existed previously. Ice pricked my skin repeatedly, numbing my body.

We had to continue forth and quickly. Otherwise, we would not make it. The village is on the other side of the forest, and it’s our only chance to survive the night.

“Martha keep up, please! You’re falling behind!”

A few yards behind, Martha trudged on with no purpose as shown by her slumped over shoulders. Her brother was dead, and I understood all too well what she was feeling. The loss of a loved one never failed to hurt.

I glanced around, in an almost nervous response to the situation.  The shadows of dangerous things were moving between the trees and thick undergrowth, stalking us.

I looked behind, watching Martha move more slowly than before. Maybe the cold was freezing her alive but she no longer cared. I did.

Sunlight had completely disappeared, with a thick mist forming and slithering its way throughout the forest, obscuring most details a few metres away.

The sound of my heart rattled my head, throbbing with intense pain. I could hardly hear myself think.

In the distance the sound of barking and barbaric chanting echoed, increasing in intensity.

“Hurry up, quickly! You’re going to kill us! They’ll be upon us soon! Please, Martha!” I begged, realising my next decision could prove costly.

I stumbled towards her, reaching for her arm to place over my shoulder. Her arm was freezing and her once blue eyes held no joy, only guilt. I tried to quicken the pace, but with my limited strength and the temperature against us, it would prove quite difficult.

The voices were everywhere, leaving us defenceless and shackling my courage with chains. I did not wish to die and definitely not the way in which the hunters would choose. I did not plan to become a feast for all those abominations of men.

“Martha, I’m sorry.”

I punched her in the ribs, hearing her groan and feeling the warmth of her breath as the air left her lungs.

I began to run, not daring look back. Even as I listened to the dogs dig into her.

To read Part 1 of Winters Breath click here.

 

Winter’s Breath – Part 1

The sun was dying, and we all had given up hope on trying to fix it. The land was cold, grasping life by its hand and pulling into its frozen slumber. Even the animals had gone to sleep, leaving us to starve. It was a cruel world to live in, but yet we tried to survive. We had to. When your life is in danger constantly, you would be amazed at the barbaric manners that are adopted by society. Some humans have even become the beasts that we once hunted, turning those who are weak into prey and stealing their livelihoods, leaving them to starve or even at times, using their body as food.

It had not always been this way. I remember the day I read in the newspaper that the sun had been reported to be dying and that NASA was striving to find a way to solve this issue, even if it meant relocating. It was the first day I cried.  Even the scientists gave up, and now they live with us, in this land we once called Earth, but now it is a wasteland of death and plague and lost hope.

“Martha, you don’t need to look.”

I placed my hand on her shoulder, pulling her away slowly from the grim scene. A boy laid in the snow; dark red blood trickled down the exit wound of where the bullet entered. He was only a child.

“Please, just go!” She screamed, pushing me away repeatedly until I stumbled.

“You need not be here Martha. Please, I’ll look after this.”

“Oh, so you can dig him a grave and just move on like he is nothing but a body filled with flesh. He had a life; he was my brother!” Tears poured down her face, bringing forth her details. She was beautiful and once the happiest lady I knew. Now she was just beautiful and sad, no smile ever painting her face no more.

The sky was grey, dark clouds covering the minimal sunlight with their ruggedness. The night was coming, and the hunters would follow. The weather was dropping quickly also, and if we did not find shelter, we would surely freeze or be killed and eaten. The clock was ticking.