For first 4 chapters read below. Chpt 5 is my favourite so far.
For the first time in two weeks, the clone was able to stare down from the platform where she was held each night. Today, for some reason, they had removed the black linen bag from her head. There may be an alternative motive but she was grateful for being able to breathe in the cool desert air at least. Below and directly in front of her vantage point, a few dozen Survivalists mingled in the main open area, whilst others ran from one place or another on some important errand. Her instincts told her something was about to happen and it was no coincidence that she was allowed to watch.
Not knowing if or how long she had before the sack was replaced, she took the opportunity to register her surroundings as much as possible. The fortress was roughly an oval shape with walls climbing up to twenty feet or more. The main staging area was approximately two hundred metre’s in circumference, and approximately thirty metres apart, galvanised ramps stretched awkwardly up to the fortifications which provided access to the four corner towers. Two guards armed with ranged weapons manned each tower with another eight patrolling the walls. She tugged at her restraints but it was no use, her ankles and wrists were clamped with three inch wide iron braces, which were connected to a steel pin bolted to the natural stone face that rose up behind her. Blind folded each night, she was guided up one of the twisted ramps and secured in the same position, arms outstretched with legs pinned together. She wondered if there was a religious motive to keep her in a crucifixion position, or maybe it was just pure sadism, she guessed the latter. Whatever the reason, it pained her greatly, by morning the cramps in her arms, back and legs was almost unbearable, but she refused to show any signs of suffering to her tormentors.
Down to the right of the main area, she saw most of the captured children. Penned into small cages, roughly five feet wide and three feet high, the prisoners were rammed into a tiny space with barely enough room to sit, some of the older, taller children, had to rest with their heads bent forward or to one side. For some unobvious reason two prisoners were separated and had ample room to themselves. I wonder if they hit me more than the others, she thought. To the left of their cages an underground den housed several large dogs that looked like a cross between a blight wolf and coyote. It was hard to judge how many there were as their shaggy bodies were obscured by a metal grille that lay across the top of their enclosure. Just at that moment, a piece of grating bounced up and a large snout baring long fangs pushed through, two handlers armed with spiked whips quickly pounced on the creature, lashing its muzzle until it succumbed and eventually retreated with a whimper.
She noticed the numbers below had swelled past sixty or so and it was if the Survivalists were suddenly appearing out of the walls. She didn’t see it the first time but the fortifications also made up most of the housing for the raiders. Wrecked cars and other large scrap heaps not only made up part of the fortification but acted as sleeping quarters for the residence that lived here. The monstrosity reminded her of a bee hive with a metal comb like structure, which was used to house most of its workers. Her sharp eye counted enough accommodation for approximately half of the population below, so she surmised that additional quarters were concealed somewhere. Her thoughts were cut short as the crowd below started to holler and bang random objects against the metal walls, the thunderous ding reverberated against the ramparts and roared out into the desert sky.
From her restricted position on the wall she heard the shouts from the prisoner before she saw him. Eventually coming into her line of view, two stocky guards ordered the crowd to part as they dragged a shackled man between them, most moved out of the way but a few defiant raiders lashed out with a kick or knee. One of the participants was rewarded with savage hook from the right escort; with a thud he hit the ground unmoving, those closest to him, laughed and immediately used their fellow Survivalist for kicking practice, one whooped with delight as he continued to stamp on his head. The clone shook her head in shock; even throwbacks had a rudimentary level of kinship and loyalty to each other. What she witnessed made her question if she was more human than those below her.
Eventually the guards made it to the centre of the crowd. It was the first time she had a good look at him, immediately her heart sank to the pit of her stomach. “Bullet!” She screamed out, but the man had his back to her and her broken voice failed to reach his ears. Dejected, she hung her head and let the tears stream down her chin. Perhaps I’m wrong she thought, but she was sure it was her beloved. Incapable of brushing the tears from her eyes, she blinked furiously and shook her head so she could focus once more. One guard was busy fending off the rabid crowd whilst the other quickly clamped the prisoner to a metal pole in the centre of the main clearing. She assumed it was the very same one she was tied to each day for her, so called, training sessions. The prisoner’s voice was hoarse from screaming, and what was left of it was drowned out from the deafening ding, but it was obvious the man begged for mercy.
Almost as quickly as the noise had erupted, a hush settled over the crowd. The only sound came from the hounds in their underground enclosure, the handlers now armed with wooden stakes, jabbed at the beasts in what seemed to be an attempt to infuriate them. Enraged by the Survivalists above them, they slammed their backs into the roof of their enclosure, with each blow she could see their matted hair poking through the grilles. She watched the unfolding scene in disgust, such raw hatred and brutality could only be found in humans, and most humans have the nerve to call us clones an abomination, she thought. Strangely no one else seemed to notice the display, the crowd now numbering well over a hundred were too transfixed on something directly below her. Then, as one, they began to chant.
SANDMAN! SANDMAN! SANDMAN! The crowd stomped their feet in time with each other, before long, clouds of dust swirled around the interior of the fortress, fine grit flung up by the human stampede blended with the gusty desert winds. Turning her head, she tried to shield her eyes as she was suddenly struck with a blast of fine sand. By now the crowd had reached fever pitch, some had even climbed the walls in pursuit of an optimum spot. Holding on with one arm, they leaned out attempting to gain a better view, hardly surprised, the clone watched with morbid fascination, as so called comrades and friends resorted to atrocious violence as they tried to compete over the same piece of real estate..
Like a celebrity greeting his fanatical fans, a tall, straight backed man with his arms raised above his head, stepped into her view. He was unusually dressed for a Survivalist, unlike the others who wore trash as much as clothing, he was adorned in what looked like military fatigues right down to his matching cap. In his right hand he carried a long blade, judging from the glint that ran up and down the edge it was obviously well kept and could be an indication that the man was of military training. What the hell is he doing here? Following in roughly two lines, six guards followed to the left and right of him, they also wore fatigues but judging from the cut and the way they fitted, she quickly surmised, that unlike their leader, the uniforms were not specifically tailored for them.
The crowd were reaching fever pitch and for a brief moment, she thought they would turn on each other, already a handful of shoving matches had developed into full fist fights, each accompanied by their own small rabid crowd. The leader, now in the middle of the clearing, motioned for quiet and the frenzy below slowed and finally came to a stand still, combatants dragged themselves off the floor and surprisingly, helped to dust each other off. Their prophet like leader stood there, his arms in the air like some messiah blessing his devoted followers. An uneasy silence was maintained for what felt like minutes, the crowd watched, waiting in anticipation for what was to come.
Then it erupted, with a rhythmic thunderous boom a noise vibrated throughout the fortifications. The beat pulsated up through the railing, across the metal floor and into her legs. The leader roared out and as one the crowd joined with manic fervour. The sound continued and she froze in awe. This was pre fallout music! Although the quality was poor the words started to materialise above the howling guitar and furious drumming. “….DON’T FORGET MY SON...TO...INCLUDE EVERYONE”
The leader started to shuffle his feet in time with the beat, with each rhythmic thump, he moved ever closer towards the prisoner and the pole. “I…TUCK YOU IN…WALKWITHIN” It wasn’t the first time the crowd had heard this song, most had caught up with the words and were happily bellowing them out with insane delight. The prisoner, who had remained strangely quiet until now, lifted his head and twisted his neck to see what was happening behind him. Catching sight of the military style leader and his razor sharp blade, he began throwing his body forward trying to break the shackles that bound him. Their voices swelled up once more in time with the music. “KEEP YOU… FREEFROM SIN.”
The leader now stood in front of the prisoner, his vigilant bodyguards fanned out in a semi circle, watching the crowd for any zealous fan or possible contract killer. As he rocked back and forth to the beat, he raised his sword above the prisoners head. The clone screamed, the man cried and the blade fell. Yet, the prisoner remained unscathed. The Survivalists roared in approval as their chief missed on purpose and pretended to be embarrassed. He put his unarmed hand up to his mouth and looked out to his yelping fans with an exaggerated look of shock. Those closest to him applauded feverishly, the music continued. “SLEEP… WITH ONEEYEOPEN…” The sword fell again and again, each time edging closer to the prisoner. With each failed stroke the crowd laughed, clapped more and sang louder. “GRIPPING YOUR… PILLOW TIGHT!” With small satisfaction she watched the horrified children huddled together in their pens. Even though they are forced to beat me, at least they are not fully corrupted…yet.
“EXIT LIGHT!” This time the blade didn’t miss. The prisoner screamed in pain as the blade dug deep into his thigh. The clone still unsure if the man tied to the post was Bullet dropped her head in despair and this time she didn’t try to blink her tears away. “ENTER NIGHT!” Another roar and she heard him scream once more, unable to watch, she knew he had been cut again. “TAKE MY HAND!” There were two more screams, the second substantially weaker than the first. Raising her head, she forced herself to watch, she must know if it was her adored Bullet or not. Her swollen red eyes widened in disbelief. Unshackled, the man very much alive but severely hamstrung, was being dragged by two handlers towards an open hole above the enraged hounds.
Venom pumped through her veins, the raw hatred that swelled in her chest, actually surprised her. She could only think of murder, although it really wasn’t, what she wanted was a cure. The only option left for these cursed creatures was complete and utter extermination. Their presence, even in the wastelands, was a virus that needed to be eradicated, forever. Even if one was left, it would be a like a cancer untreated and it would eventually spread, suffocating the land and those on it. Steeled by her resolve, she forced herself to watch, she welcomed the hatred now and the scene unfolding in front of her only fuelled her loathing. “WE'RE…OFF TO NEVER NEVER-LAND!”
The man finally succumbed and ceased struggling. She watched as they dragged him by the heels towards the raised grate, his boots had only reached the edge, when three large jaws locked on to his feet. Like a loaded spring suddenly released, the rest of him flew down into the hole. Savage sounds erupted from the enclosure, grilles bounced up and down as the creatures underneath fought over, what must be a rare meal…or not. Survivalist not wanting to miss the entertainment leapt off walls and rushed to the pits edge. The clone watched, numb to the core she kept her eyes on the sickening spectacle, remember this, she told herself. Remember…
The sounds of the death had stopped along with the pre fallout music. The leader had the crowd under control once more. Addressing them she could hear his voice but they were too far away to understand their meaning. On a few occasions the crowd would whistle and cheer in response to something he had said. Then she noticed something, the odd one or two survivalists were staring at her. More turned around and it wasn’t long before the one hundred strong crowd, all pointed at her position. The leader still facing the crowd started to turn slowly around, just as he came face on, he slowly raised his left arm and pointed straight at her, shouting to the heavens he punched the air with his right fist, and then the crowd went wild with euphoria.