2050: Arc 1 Read Count : 23

Category : Books-Fiction

Sub Category : Adventure
I ran and I ran. but there was seemingly nowhere to run off to. I could hear my mother's afraid voice somewhere in the distance. But where? It was night by now and I had no clue where I was going. The sounds of gunfire far off flood my ears. There were screams far off as well. I cover my ears and huddle in a little ball in the corner of the alleyway. My mother's voice was getting closer. So I called out. I couldn't tell if it was in my head or if it was the alley but my voice seemingly echoed. Like I was somewhere deep, or far, and I couldn't do anything. The moment I left the alleyway, I was done for. In the dark, the army nor the volunteers could tell the difference. 
So I stayed huddled. Cold, and wet, with the stench of weeks old food. Somehow, I was getting sleepy. In such a cold and dark place. How could one get sleepy? I remember being able to sleep anywhere but this seems to be a bit much. I sure hope Mom was safe. but in this chaos, I'm not so sure. I'll go looking for her in the morning. Or when I wake up. I'm sure no one will come looking for a teenage girl in an alleyway. Not that they would be looking for one in the first place.
+
Later, I woke up cold, damp, and miserable. I stood up with a slight headache and congestion in my nose. Where the hell did I end up this time? As my eyes adjusted and the blurriness disappearing I could see tall, concrete buildings to my left and right. The alleyway. Wasn't there something important? Oh right, my mother. But at the moment, I feel at ease. As if everything is alright. why am I not worrying? I should right? My mother is gone and I'm sleeping in an alley. That's a disaster. I'm sure.
I stepped out of the alley, questions in my head, when an awful stench wafted past my nose. Something rotting. I cover my nose and slowly peek out of the alleyway. There were crashed cars and fire as normal. But what caught me off guard were the dead bodies of the Volunteers. guns still in their hands. I look to my right and there was nothing. Just bullet casings and a single bloodied helmet from the military. I almost puke but swallow it. My mother taught me better. "She said mourning the deaths of those you don't know is the biggest waste of time"
I can't help but feel sympathy for them. But then again they are the reason Helevi is in ruins at the moment. I step over to the military helmet. I pick it up and dust it off, before tying one of the neck-straps with a  small rope to my belt strap. Could sell for money. I then continue walking on the sidewalk. Dodging the broken flaming cars and building rubble. My first objective should be finding Mother. I know she wouldn't abandon me so easily. My eyes drifted to the rooftops. She taught me how to navigate the towers of yesterday. It was fun though I fell many times. I didn't see her up there though. I tried the Walkie-Talkie I had. But it was water damaged. In frustration, I threw it to the ground. This was stupid. If I had any shred of reason she probably would be dead. That fight was pretty brutal. But still, I need something to hang on to.
I grabbed the tiny radio by the antenna and look at it dangling. When did we get this? a couple of years ago? When was the last time I even saw a functioning vehicle or a fully stocked store? When wasn't there a time when buildings weren't collapsing and the military had to drop supplies to people? I can't remember. After blindly walking for a while I find myself grasping at my stomach as it aches for food. That's when I heard the plane. Another airdrop? It doesn't sound like a military plane. The engine wasn't as deep and thunderous as the transport planes. Could it be?
My eyes quickly drift over to the direction where the outskirts of town were. There was a small rugged airport out there for plane enthusiasts. A dirt runway. But to think someone got something working...
My suspicions were confirmed when a single tiny scrawny plane slowly drifted into the runway with a few crates strapped to its sides. Someone got a plane working. They must have food of sorts. I bet those crates are the food. I almost slobbered on myself. I slap myself. I can't let hunger control me. With a bit of struggle I ran and climbed up a small gas station overlooking the airport. The plane was gone. Probably in one of the hangars. There were people now moving the crates into a building. It was just over the barbed wire fence and from here I could probably jump past and into it. I pondered the idea of taking some food to keep me going and just leaving. they won't know right?
I waited for them to leave while I was raking some confidence. I had always eaten stolen food. I didn't feel guilt. But I never stole the food myself. It was my mother who took that chance. Is that why I feel like something will go terribly wrong? My stomach reasoned otherwise, steeling my resolve. But they were just standing there. Talking probably. My hand hovered over the small baseball bat tied to my waste. It clunked against the helmet creating a nice metal ring. I could, but I had never swung one at a person. Much less have been in a fight. But before I decided to go at them they disappeared into a small building near where the crates. They left them out. Probably seeing if they have space? 
Well here goes nothing. What do I have to lose? My life? It already fell apart when 2049 rolled around. With a  single leap, I was in the air. But a gust of wind kicked me to the side. I wasn't going to make it. I tuck my legs in to try and get them over the barbs, but my pant leg caught on one. Pulling me straight into the fence. The force got my leg free and I hit my head on the hard-packed dirt. I yelped and quickly grab my head. With my headache, it made the pain worse.
I shut myself up. An awkward silence replied. Tears streamed down my cheek as I tried to hold back the sound. They heard. They definitely did. I scramble for the crates. Quick. I gotta grab something. Enough energy to run. But sadly. all there was in the crates were just bullets upon bullets. Where did they find them? 
The doorknob nearby was turning I almost screamed. My heart was jumping. Jumping... I look up. There was a small overhang. If I could. I back away and run to the wall. I plant my foot on it and pus myself towards the overhang. I grabbed onto it and pulled myself up once they opened the door. A tall, brawny man accompanied by a confident-looking woman walked out. 
"The stupid door and its locking on its own." The woman said with a sigh. She looked at the crates and closed the one I opened. I held a hand over my mouth as I peeked over. The adrenaline hadn't worn out yet.
"So did you hear a 'someone' or a rat?" The woman said with a laugh. the man rubbed the back of his head.
"I swore I heard a bang on the fence. As if someone ran into it. Couldn't have been a rat." He looked defeated and faced the fence.
"Look if someone wanted to attack they wouldn't hightail it after they found the motherload of gunpowder. Anyone would've taken one good look and attempt to beat the shit out of us for it. You know how hard it is to even find bullets?" The woman kept scolding but the man stayed silent. He then said something that almost made me scream.
"Look on the overhang." He said. Quiet. But menacing. I was very sure that he could grab my head with one hand and kill me. I very quickly crawled quietly away from the edge of the overhang. He looked this way. I could almost see his gaze cutting the air.
"The overhang? Why there? Who would even hide up there? It's covered in bird shit about 3 inches deep." Her voice had a hint of humor. Freaked I quickly look at my hands. it was true. they were covered in complete white. I almost shrieked. I silently cursed myself. But I was so scared I hadn't noticed. Luckily the ocean was nearby. I could wash off there. So no food. I would have to come back later clean. When they disappeared back inside the building after some more banter I dropped to the ground. My shoes made a disgusting squelch noise. I cursed under my breath and checked the other crate. There was some food. Some simple MREs and granola bars. I stuffed them into the upsidown helmet and ran over to the beach. I had to climb onto one of the hangars and hop over the fence. But I made it to the white sands eventually. Very quickly I stripped to my underwear and threw the infested clothing near the water. I had taken my belongings and food out beforehand. I crouched near my clothes and washed them off. The bird crap was dry so it wasn't easy to wash out. But once it turned sundown I was sitting watching the sunset with my clothes drying off on the fence while I was eating dried berries from a package.
It was serene. I had calmed down and I thoughts about mother had faded. It was almost normal. Besides the fact that I was cold again. The sea wind was cold. Though it was supposed to be summer. The weather here isn't consistent with the seasons. Because we have large mountains with a large sweltering desert behind them and an ocean that goes on for miles. I'm surprised that the Disunited Empires would even settle a colony out here. 
I went to go check on my clothes. With a full stomach, I could probably fall asleep. The sand here was actually very fine and soft. After grabbing and changing into my clothes I settled on the beach near a bush that blocked me from the airport. They had working lights here. Which is rare and a sign of luxury. I could possibly join them. But I had just stolen food from them. In my thoughts, I drifted away. Into the clutches of sleep.

+++++

When I awoke I was greeted by a sea turtle. I screamed and almost kicked it away in surprise. But realizing it was a turtle I just laugh at my fit. I rub the sand out of my hair and sit up. I grabbed a granola bar from the helmet and ate it as I stared at the airport. I resolved to check this place out and leeching off of their profits. They have plenty to spare. After watching them for an hour I realized that they send out two people in the airplane and gather supplies from an abandoned military outpost. Daring, but reckless. They figured out how to get electricity on by using the solar panels just down the runway. After a long wait, I counted 5 faces walking around the outpost. Counting the two who flew off.
I had found a small crashed stunt plane near one of the hangars. It rests in the sand with a small wing that I can use as a ramp to lead inside. I jumped in and landed on gravel. Slowly creeping over into one of the two semi-circle hangars I concluded that one person was working on the solar panels, probably cleaning them, and two were in the base. I slipped into the hangar and saw that this one was empty. I walked over to the other one and ran into a person. He was around my age and lanky. He looked like he was working on an engine of sorts because of the soot on his face. I quickly took out my bat and stepped away. He stepped away and aimed a wrench at me.
"Who the hell are you!" He yelled. I flinched. He was loud enough for the solar panel person to start run over.
"The person who broke your legs!" despite what I said, I aimed for the arm with the wrench. As I expected he moved his legs away so I caught him off guard. In a quick move, I had him pinned to the ground. Adrenaline had taken over. He wasn't dead just knocked out. I had to move quickly. I am so glad Mother taught me how to fight. I quickly jumped up and grabbed a small A.C unit outside of the hangar and leaped over the fence. I got over and landed on the plane wing. But it was slippery so I slid into the broken cockpit. My foot caught on a smoldered seatbelt strap. I sprained my ankle trying to force it out and I yelped in pain. Mission abort plan failed!
As expected the person working on the solar panels brought the other two that were in the building. The burly man and confident woman looked at me with distrust but disappointment as I crawled in the sand. But I musted up enough to scrambled off on three legs. They were surprised that I could move so quickly and very soon I made it to the bush. Pretty sure they didn't see me. Stupid useless ankle.
I heard rustling nearby. Like someone pushing aside branches. I laid still. I saw a tall girl walk past the bush and towards the beach. She turned and saw me. Our eyes met and we were silent for a moment. Before she screamed out.
"Hey, I found the dude over here!" I heard hurried footsteps. Well, my life is over. I knew that something bad was going to come out of this. Out of pain and exhaustion, I quickly gave up and waited for death to come.
+
"Hey wake up." Cold water splashed on my face. I quickly woke up and found I was tied to a chair. My bat and helmet were gone. I was in a concrete room with a dim light. The confident woman was standing in front of me with a bucket and the brawny man was standing in front of the stairs. I looked over to my right and there were two men leaning against the walls that look also around my age. So young yet accomplishing so much. One of them had a bandage on their arm. The one I fought. I internally apologized to him. Then the girl who found me was repairing a water pipe. Probably the one cleaning the solar panels. I sighed. Wasn't I supposed to be dead by now?
"Hello, white hair. What are you 50?" She leaned in close and I headbutt her. Sure I had stock white hair but that joke is a bit too far. For me at least. Probably because I heard it so much. Those same exact words. To either me or my mom. We both had white hair and red eyes. Though my eyes were a brighter red. 
She recoiled and held her forehead. The brawny man was walking over but she stopped him.
"No Mitch. it's just a slight bruise. Alright, you sure are feisty. what's an albino like you running around near our hangars? You saw the plane I'm guessing?" I give a nod.
"You came for..." She gave a hand motion. She wanted me to speak. I refuse to speak to my captor. They'll probably get tired of me and either kill me or throw me out.
After a moment of silence, she had gotten tired. "At least say sorry to Kyle. You broke his arm and wrist with that homerun of yours. She pointed at him and he turned away. I look off to the side to show I had no intention of saying sorry. My stomach rang out wanting food. With a grumble, her face found a new light.
"Oh, you were hungry. Well if you speak up and ask we can give you some" Someone opened their mouth in protest but she shushed them. I turned to them and I felt my eye twitch. The nerve of them. I grit my teeth and tried to fight back the hunger. I took one long blink and gave in.
"What the hell do you want then?" I say. trying to be as blunt as possible. I don't want to open up to them. Strangers are enemies. Always. First and Foremost. I should try and get out. But seeing the situation I might have to comply. Though I hate being bossed around.
"Oh, you have a high-pitched voice, so you're a girl, right? Unless you're younger than you look." I look at her with a bored look.
"Oh, I'm flattered," I reply with a sarcastic tone. I do look like a boy. it doesn't bother me. 
"Well. What's your name? Mine is Shirley." She held her hand out. Realizing that I can't she ordered Kyle to come and untie me. I was with some hesitation and no intent on making it a comfortable session. I pulled my hands away with rope marks on the wrists and scrapes. I rub them and wince.
"Call me Teselia" I give Shirley my last name. Why are they being so friendly? Well, Shirley at least. I know Kyle hates my guts and the others have no trust in me but are just putting up with it for... what reason?
I opened my mouth to ask her a question but she shut me up. 
"Look we aren't going to get anywhere with you being so hostile. We'll continue once you have settled in" I immediately stand up and protest.
"You expect me to stay? I only came to steal some food and go. So either punish me or I'll be on my way. Keep my bat for all I care." I got up to start walking. Though I doubt they would let me go so easily. Which it turns out was true. Because I was blocked by the brawny man with a single push. I almost fell to the ground but caught myself.
"Look how about you spend one day with us and you find out how much better it is with us rather than out there," Shirley said the others blindly agreed. At this point, there's no reasoning. I am in a bad position to be making demands. Along with the fact that I was hungry as hell. 
"Fine. Don't make me regret it though. Where's the food?" I ask because I had given up at this point. I'll sneak out the next morning. Possibly tonight. No way I was staying with these guys. Shirley gestured over Kyle and another person called Mike. 
"These two will show you around. Mitch and I have some talking to do." With that, I was ushered out of the room as the brawny dude named Mitch walked over to Shirley. Once we were up the steps we stepped into a hallway. Mike led me while Kyle stood behind me. When I turned back he was a cautious distance apart. I wouldn't blame him.
"So Teselia, that's your name, right? What an exotic name... Where you from? You native?" Mike tried to get a conversation going. He stopped somewhere near what I think is a recreation room and a bedroom.
"Yes. I was born in Helevi in 2034. What you're not native?" I cross my arms and look at him.. Scanning him. He seems friendly enough. Kyle just stands back doing the same to me. I just want to punch him again, just because he hasn't talked at all, which is making me uneasy, and because he has a punchable face. 
"Kyle and I were born around a year earlier in U.P.A. We were on a trip here because Pacific climate equals best beach weather!" Mike's voice enthusiastically reaches a higher decibel than I thought was impossible for someone of his stature.
"Everyone comes for the same reason. Just wait until June rolls around. The desert heat transfers over and scorches everything." I told him, succumbing to the pleasant aura he was emitting. It almost made me forget the fact that he and his group kidnapped me. I forced the smile appearing on my face to go away. It's obvious he's trying to warm me up. Make me want to stay more. I can see all of your tricks.
"But it is June. Did you forget what month it was?" Embarrassment flooded my face and I could hear a snicker from Kyle. I quickly turn around and sock him in his face. He goes down without a fight.
"So... What do we do with him?" I ask. looking back at Mike who's enthusiasm has all but faded. 
"You'll find food in the recreation room in the fridge. Just sit in there while we get your stuff situated." He quickly disappears with an unconscious Kyle and an unpleasant sense of fear. I just shrug, calling it a job well done, and enter the recreation room to get some food.

+++++

I had entered the recreation room with my hopes down. What could these people possibly have? But then I remember the plane and the crates full of ammo with the Hlevian army seal on it. I looked around at the recreation room. The electricity was on here. That I knew from day one. But the question was how much energy did they have? As I stared at a row of arcade machines on one wall and a large flat screen T.V on the other. I realized that they had a lot. A lot of electricity. 
I stared enamored by the sleekness of the television and the beeps and boops of the arcade machines. With their colorful art on the sides. I almost have forgotten that this was in the middle of a civil war rebellion thingy. No one actually knows anymore. All hope was lost when the U.P.A, arguably the strongest and most influential nation on Earth at the moment, stopped sending military personnel and supply drops for citizens. By that point, everyone either was hiding, fled, or had turned to join the Army or Volunteers.
Still. I only counted, maybe twenty solar panels. All the size of maybe a tall door. That wasn't enough to power this right? More questions started to float over. How the hell did they get solar panels? Or a functional plane? Hell even fuel? I scratched my head in disbelief as I open the refrigerator in the little kitchenette at the edge of the room. There were things such as canned food and the works. But I also saw some rare things. Like fresh fruit and vegetables and some packaged meat. I think I see eggs back there.
I grab one of the ravioli cans and eat its contents. Cold. With my bare hands. They didn't have gas to run the stove. I know they didn't. Helevi didn't have much of the stuff anyway before this societal collapse. I enjoyed it though. It had a taste and that was a one-up from stale loaves of bread and beef jerky. As I was eating the door opened. In came a happy Mike and a bruised up Kyle. I looked at Kyle and Kyle looked at me. He turned away. Probably intimidation I guess. Mike walks over with a look that can only be described as a disappointment. Like when your child does something unprivileged.
"Why are you eating it with your hands? And isn't it cold?" Mike walks over. Crossing his arms and shaking his head. I just stare at him. Who does he think he is? I can already tell he is going to try and scold me. 
"What do you have a problem with it?" I ask. I then tilt my head slightly before grabbing another handful. Making sure he watched every bit of it. I'll eat how I want to eat.
Mike just crossed his arms and chuckled. He then grabbed a jug of propane and put it to the side of the stove. Before connecting it with a tube. He then turned on the stove. I could see that there were burners just under them. I could almost see the fires lick up from under the small, almost drain looking tops. 
"Tada!" He presented. I was impressed. Propane was one of the commodities not many have to relish in anymore. I'm surprised they even have this stuff, along with my suspicion. Though I let it go. 
"So. I'm still going to eat it cold," I said, though I wanted to heat it up now. And I'm pretty sure Mike knew that. Because he dramatically placed his own can of ravioli on the stove. He looked at me and smiled warmly. Damnnit. He was so good at convincing people. I'm glad I'm very stubborn then.
I turned the other way and continued eating. When I finished he took his can off of the stove. It smelled great. I wasn't going to lie. He even had pepper to pour on it. Something that I hadn't had in forever. Looking at it made my mouth water. But I wasn't going to give in. These guys kidnapped me. I bet they're being nice just to get further under my skin when they begin to torture me. Thinking about it now made me shiver a bit. That would hurt me physically and mentally.
Now It may be harsh to be judging them this hard. But I tried to steal off of them and they have the right to punish me for it. Which I know they are. Which I'm going to leave before that happens. I begin to leave the room. I'm leaving now. I have to. I also have to find my mother. She would know what to do. She could very easily wipe this outpost out with just a brick. Yet I'm here running. I hear Mike walking over as I open the door. Kyle placed a hand on my wrist. I shook it off and looked over to him. He let go quickly.
"Teselia? C'mon look we did tie you to a chair but seriously." A rustle of clothing and footsteps. Mike was coming over. I opened the door and cold air blasted in my face. Air conditioning. Because of course, they would. I replied to Mike.
"And I tried to steal from you. The tieing me up to a chair made sense. But providing me with hospitality doesn't." I walked into the hallway trying hard not to turn around. Hurried steps. He was catching up. The door outside is just there.
"But it was good hospitality right?" Miles appeared in front of me and blocked my path.
"Yeah. It was. Can I go ahead and leave now?" I ask. I take another step and there is soreness in my ankle. I groan and push forward. He chuckles.
"The painkillers coming off? The sprained ankle is going to bite you. The Army and Volunteers will have a fun time playing kickball with you.
I grip my hands into a fist. I wanted to punch him though he was right. If I fight him now I might get enough adrenaline in me to get me out of here. I turn around ready to hit him but he's gone. I turn back around and he is blocking the door. At this point, I should just give up. I'm not going today. Maybe tomorrow.
"Fine. I'll stay." I say begrudgingly He hops up and down with joy. Too much. At first, his face changed from disbelief. Or I believe so. Like someone's facade was fading. It was probably my imagination anyways.
"So does that mean you trust us now?" He leans over to me and smiles. I whack him on the face with the back of my hand. He instantly pulls back and grabs at his face.
"What was that for?" I turn around. It was my time to smile.
"Well, you better get used to it." I cross my hands and chuckle a bit. For some reason, it feels nice here. Maybe because the adrenaline just got running after I hit him. Or I was just particularly weird for liking violence. Well, it was the first thing I resorted to when things get wrong. Whenever things go wrong the bat is pulled out. I only pulled it out to actually fight once and I own. But I didn't run fast enough.
Kyle scoffs. "And that's what you get Mike." He snickers and I cross my arms.
"Well, you're face is looking kinda bland over there Kyle? How about a red stream flowing from your nose?" He stuttered before looking away and scooting away.He began to play one fo the arcade machines. Awkwardly. I don't think I can keep up this aggressive mood. Sure my frustration has kept me going. They kidnapped me! But that was fading. With the pleasant feel of this room. Besides Kyle. I have no idea what's with him.
"So you ready to see your room? Mike saunters over here. He makes an effort to stay away from my hands. He walks over to the door and opens it for me.
"Yeah. Let's see it." I was sort of excited to see what the bedrooms looked like. They were probably just as grand as the recreation room. I think I might be sad about leaving this place. To be extra sure I won't have regrets I'll slash the plane's tires and whack their solar panels with the bat. For good measure. It might get them chasing after me, but when my leg heals I will be a parkour master. No one can catch up to me. Well besides mother. I don't have any idea how long she's been doing this for.
Mike nods and walks out. I follow with Kyle on my tail. We don't walk far, and we make it back to the basement. Where I was tied up. I crept down, but it was changed. There were carpets over the floors, my hat on a rack, and all of my stuff hanging out of a duffel bag over in the corner. With a bed in place of the chair. I almost cried with excitement. This looked so cozy. Even though its a basement. I realize I had been acting excited and whacked both Kyle and Mike before grunting.
"That settles it. I'll just sleep on the roof" I folded my arms and turned the other way. 
"What? With all of the bird doo-key and crap? Come on this mattress even has springs. I bet you haven't slept on one of those." He jumps onto something and I can hear springs jumping up and down. I turn around and its the mattress. It looked so comfortable. I just couldn't help myself. 
"Fine. I'll sleep here. But never again." I walk over and shove Mike off of the bed. There was a blanket on the bed so I hopped on and threw it over me. turning away from them. I settled into the bed. It was comfortable as I imagined. This was much better than the sand, Which was the best place to sleep before I found this place. This further steeled my resolve, not to leave. but I had to. To find Mother.
"So you do like it?" Mike asks. His voice over my head. 
"Only if you leave. I have my bat right there you know." I could almost hear Kyle flinch. He grabs Mike and pulls him out of the room. Turning off the electricity and closing the door. I sigh and let myself have a rest.

+++++


When I woke up I wasn't sore. Which was a first. My body wasn't too cold or too hot and my clothes weren't nibbled on by rats. I was in a bed instead. It was warm. Comfortable and soft too. My head laid on a pillow. I didn't want to get up. Its been so long since I've been this comfortable. But then my mind jolted. My consciousness and senses finally synced and I sit myself up quickly. Throwing the blanket off of me. I need to leave this place. Definitely. These captors are going to torture me or something.
I shook my head. For some reason, my senses were saying to stay here. With a comfortable bed and electricity. But I was stubborn. I know they were going to do something. I just needed to wait. Which I wasn't going to. That would be stupid. I'll climb the fence first thing. But first food. I was getting out of bed when I heard the basement door open. Light peered down into the dark room until the room wasn't dark anymore. The hum of electricity filled the room as the lights turned on and flushed the room in a brilliant white. It was Shirley. She stood with a look of accomplishment at the foot of the stairs. I step out and run through the duffel bag that was lying on the floor. My bat, The army helmet I planned to sell. Along with some other miscellaneous items. I grabbed the helmet. The blood had dried on its dark green grenade textured dome. I felt its texture before clipping it to my belt. then taking my belt and the harness I made for it and clipping it to my waist. I get up and stretch and realize Shirley has still been standing there. With the smile on her face. I sigh and walk over to her.
"You want something from me right? The helmet? My bat?" I scan her. She just scratches the back of her head.
"Your company. Everyone wants to know you and want you to eat breakfast with them." That baffled me. But When thinking about what they would want to know about me I stopped. I thought I only showed them a hard exterior. A stubborn harsh one. Had I slipped in my persona? I'm pretty sure that Kyle what's his face already views me as the violent one anyways. I cross my arms and tilt my head. I've been crossing my arms a lot since coming here. I think I have dents along my arms since they fall into place so easily.
"You mean everyone wants to see me? Even Kyle? You know the dude's arm that was broken because of me?" I push my way past. I was looking forward to having more food but I resolved myself to go off on my own. I wasn't going to attach myself to these people no longer. I have to find Mother so we can, do whatever we were doing before. As I was making my way up the steps she grabs my wrist. I was tempted to shake her away and run, but I don't want another abort plan failing on me. I stood and listened.
"Look I know we got on a rough start. tying you up to a chair and-"
"And I tried to steal from you. Only natural you would punish me. What's your point?" I was morbidly curious. Why was she trying so hard to be, what my friend? Impossible. That's utterly ridiculous. She stood quietly. I turned around and looked at her face. It was darkened. She was hiding something. I most certainly knew it. I poke her on the forehead. Putting force in it so she would fall if she didn't catch herself. She gripped harder on my arm as she yelped and fell. She pulled herself up. Her face was back to its bright self.
"I was just hoping that maybe you could stay and help us? We need more people to help run this place and-"
"Looks like you guys got everything covered though. So I'll be taking my leave."
"No No! the thing is. We need another scout. Someone to keep watch. Look you can leave if you want but if you stay with us we can help supply you with what you need." She said this with a sort of franticness. I pondered it. If I helped them maybe I could steal the plane and fly away from here. I sighed and looked over at her. Before walking up the steps.
"Where's everyone eating?" I could almost hear her excitement. Shirley quickly pushed past me and started hopping over to the recreation room. 
"They are all in here. C'mon let's go!" She then opened the room and walked in. I just stood by the door to the basement. I sighed and shook my head. This was stupid. But what other chance I got. I should give up on my mom. Chances are she already got out or she is dead. More and more people are climbing up the buildings after they realize they are safer up high rather than low on the streets. I remember when mom and I ran into a large group of people climbing up a rooftop. They said they only did it since the streets downtown are flooded with mines. The poor people. I remember how weary they were. With bruises all over. They must've fallen. Either they weren't used to free-running and climbing or the children were a hassle to bring up. I don't know where that group went but I hope they are okay. With a deep breath, I stepped into the recreation room. Everyone was seated at a table, all eating what looked like eggs and bacon. Along with a lot of pancakes. Kyle quickly scarfed down his meal trying not to pay attention to me. Mitch was just greeting and pulling out a chair for Shirley, Mike was eating a stack of pancakes and talking with solar panel girl. Which I think don't think I got around to figuring out her name. But after listening for a  bit I can grasp its something Ruslian. Somewhere in the northern part of the world with the biggest land territory. Word is their country is ever-expanding into Eorupe. 
I quietly made my way over to my seat and sat down. I rested my head in my hands and looked around. Soon the conversations stopped and all attention was on me. It made me sort of queasy. I looked around.
"So what's with me now? You all want something? I gave you a chance before when I asked," I looked over to them. Kyle flinched, solar Ruslian panel girl looked the other way. Mike and Shirley smiled and Mitch just scanned me with a cautious eye. Shirley was the first to speak.
"Well the whole reason I brought you here was because we wanted to learn more about you. Right guys?" Her reply was a bunch of stark and bland agreements. Kyle just nodded but it seemed more like he was nodding to the fact that he might die. I might make it come true.
"You just want me to dump everything? It's going to take more than asking." I leaned back and stole a pancake from Mike. He looked sad but just nodded. I chewed on it waiting for my answer. Eyeing Shirley.
"Why don't we play a game then? Everyone will say a thing they've done and we'll go around. IFfyou can't think of anything in twenty seconds. you're skipped. Seem simple?" Everyone mumbled in agreement. But I just keep leaning in the chair. If I was, to be honest, I wasn't half interested in them. But these pancakes are the blast. I think I've eaten three of Mike's. He won't mind.
"Except Teselia can't be skipped." I almost fall back. But if I can't be skipped then I could keep the game going forever and I couldn't bear sitting here with them. Its just who has more patience. Shirley smirks and I wish I could punch her in the face right now. I tilt my head.
"But then can't I keep the game running for a long time?" Shirley puts a finger up to me.
"Then we can ask you questions. For every question, you answer you get a pancake." She waves one of the pancake up. They were bribing me with food. My stomach was still hungry and my taste buds were craving for the soft sweet bread and syrup. How wouldn't I give in? I groaned and sit up.
"Fine, fine alright. Who's asking first?" I look at each and every one of them. They all looked amongst themselves until Kyle sighs.
"How the hell did you get so good at fighting?" It was an honest question that deserves an honest answer.
"My mother trained me when society collapsed. Next." I rested my cheek on my hand and leaned on my elbows. This is going to be a boring and long breakfast. But I got a pancake so I don't mind. I chew on it as the next question come in.
"How old?" Shirley asks. Mike jumped in.
"She's 16 I believe. She said she was born on the island in 2034." I look over to Mike and watch as he gets a pancake. I snatch it when he wasn't looking.
"Okay so... You planning on staying here?" It was solar panel girl. I scratch my head then shrugged. I honestly didn't know. but a shrug won't be a good enough answer. I don't want to stay here but at the same time, I do.
"Well so far you guy's are charming me..." Another pancake. I'm like a vending machine. Spitting out whatever they want for their 'money'. If you consider pancakes money. Which right now my stomach perceives as money right now.
Mike leans over the table and whispers to Mitch and he nods. He looks over to me. His face has a scar over his eye.
"Ever had a relationship?" He asks. Though it looked like he didn't. I look over to Mike and Kyle was beating him on the head. Mike just gives me a thumbs up and I tilt my head in confusion.
"Well. No, and I don't plan on being in any. I doubt you guy's care since you don't have to do the whole survival thing." I greedily grab another pancake and eat it.
"Well if you stayed with us maybe you could. Trust me its a beautiful thing. Mitch and Shirley are together and Koro and I are too." He chuckles and grabs solar panel girl by the shoulder and pulls her in. They giggle. Mitch and Shirley just look at each other and Kyle seems to become even more lonely. Ah I as see what they want me to do. And it pains me to think about it.

+++++

I look over at Kyle. I scanned him even harder. staring into him with intensity. After determining what I want I point to him. He flinches and looks the other way and whispers angrily to Mike. 
"So you want me to find another girl for Kyle? How sorry. I don't think there would be anyone interested. much less anyone that's his age and still walking around." When a teenage girl pops up in my head I think of them running around in little groups and trying to be better than everyone else. Those types of people tended to die first. But then there's me. The sad little exception.
Shirley and Mike burst out laughing and Koro snickers. Mitch looks at me with worry. Confused and embarrassed I put my finger down and tap the table. Drawing out my frustration. Shirley was the first to stop laughing.
"I'm sorry but I think you got it wrong because I thou-" Kyle quickly covers her mouth and speaks up.
"No-no you didn't think anything!" I didn't expect much attention. Me tapping the table turned from fast and frustrated taps to slow boring ones. They kept fighting more a bit before Mike leans in. He could only get out the word Kyle before he was sent flying through the room. Kyle had punched him with his right arm. Sad how that's the one I had broken. He pulls back and grabs at the bandages. Yep, that's gonna hurt. I wonder what's got his adrenaline coursing through him. I sit up and start to leave.
"Well alright. You guys can have fun doing whatever you're doing. Thanks for the pancakes." I waved and started to walk out of the door before Mitch grabbed me. I just gave up. I couldn't get his grip off of me even if I was chock full of adrenaline and a weapon. He just felt, sort of experienced in a way. 
"Well, Teselia?" Shirley walks over. Mike in tow. They had a feel to them. They were plotting something. I wasn't liking where this was going.
"Take Kyle to the basement while Mitch and Mike fly out to the military outpost and get some more medical supplies. Also, I'm sure you have some amount of experience in dealing with injuries. being out in the city and all." Shirley pats my shoulder and turns me around. I was tired and just wanted to go be away from them. But now I was being tasked to watching over Kyle. The man-baby that had gone down in a single strike. I've seen people his age drop from two stories with a broken foot and still walk just fine. 
"And why me? I'm pretty sure Koro would be up for the job." I say. I tried shaking off Mitch. No luck.
"Because Koro has to clean the solar panels." Mike juts in.
"What about you Shirley?" I tilt my head. "What's keeping you from doing this job?"
Shirley just laughs and I shake my head. I'm definitely leaving these nut jobs tomorrow. She looks at me and smiles. "Because I'm the leader and you're supposed to do what I tell you to." She sounded confident in herself. A bit too much. I just wanted to hit her right on the side of her face with a bat. But if I did Mitch would clock me so hard I would be choking on Mars.
"Fine. Sure. I'll watch over the man-baby. Will you let me go now?" Mitch lets me go and I quickly walk over to Kyle. Who is sitting on the table wincing at the pain in his arm. I grab him by the wrist. and pull him. I made sure it wasn't the injured arm. I pull him through the small crowd that gathered near the door and walk out. Kyle was yelping at me to let him go and that his arm was hurting. But I didn't stop until he was sitting on the bed I slept in. I sat by a nearby chair and looked at his arm. It was true I knew some medical things. I read some books on it I had found when mom and I raided an infirmary. He would need something to keep him from moving his arm. Unnecessary pain my mother called it. She told me that if something was healing I didn't need a reminder, I would need to keep it from crying in pain to let it heal. She said something like, the cells that are screaming aren't working. She said a lot of things. Now I can't tell if she actually said it or I just thought she said it. I scoured the basement floor looking for something to be used as a split before I found a wood plank that would be good. I could hear Kyle grumbling to himself just as I heard the plane engine start-up and go.
"Alright. I don't have any painkillers. So this will hurt. If you say anything about the pain I'll make something else hurt more. Or knock you out. Either one is fine with me." I stand up examining the plank. It was going to poke him in the arm but that would be better than the pain I bet. I would put this in between his elbow to keep it from moving. Since I was sure that was where it's broken. I would wrap the bandaged around it to help it stay in place. I was sure this would help somehow.
"Why can't you be a bit nicer? Always so violent." I heard Kyle say in the back. I turn to him while holding the plank and he flinched. I watched the way I was holding it. I think it made it looked like I was going to hit him with it.
"Because outside isn't nice. I'm pretty sure you wouldn't know because you lived in a utopia before coming to this hell hole. I bet you haven't experienced pain before." I walk over to the bed. Pulling up a chair and sitting in front of Kyle. Why do I have to fix his arm up? Then again Shirley insisted I do it. I looked him in the eyes wondering if he had the same plotting eyes they have. But I only saw a look of wonder. With a hint of fear. Though I saw the latter first.
"I have before!" He became suddenly defensive. I quickly fixed that behavior with a tug on the bandages. Prompting him to yelp and pull back.
"I've fallen off of a bike before-"
"And I've fallen down a building before. got up with a bloodied head and a splitting headache, but I walked home anyways. I don't see your point." I said right after him. He was annoying me.
"You hit me with a metal bat!" He kept going.
"I'll do it again!" I ended the conversation there. I kept unraveling the bandages and he stayed quiet. I could see his gaze looking at the metal bat. I put the bandages down and tapped it.
"I would be glad to anyways." I pulled it out and weighed it. Looking at it before looking at him. I chuckled at his reaction. Pure anticipation. He probably believed I would. Before he could figure out what I had done I put the bat down and straightened his arm. Which was a bit out of shape. He cried out very loud but I kept going. I quickly put the wooden plank in his elbow and kept it straightened. He was crying and tears were flowing down and hitting my arm. I wrapped up his arm in bandages and gave him a little tap on his face. I pulled it back and wiped the tears on my shirt. I cut a useless section off of the bandage and handed it to him. 
"Impromptu tissue. Blow your nose." I stood up. Called it a job well done. Before pulling the chair back to its position near the wall and sitting on it. Watching Kyle and gauging him. I'm sure I caused him pain he wouldn't forget or get over for a long, long time. Shirley popped down an hour later to check up on us. I looked at her and said hi coolly as Kyle lays on the bed crying to himself, while his arm twitches. Probably trying to curl in. But it was straight as I could get it. Shirley seemed disappointed about something. I just lounged about.
"So, what did you do to him. It looks like you broke him rather than heal him." I just shrug and point to the crevice under my elbow.
"I just put a small wooden board here and tied it in place to keep his arm from curling in and causing more pain. Though his arm was bent the wrong wat slightly so I had to push it in place." There was a rustling behind me. Kyle getting up. 
"Yeah and that hurt! Ouch." More rustling. Probably him laying back down.
"So, did you guys talk at all? Or was it mostly action?" she walked down and looked me over. 
"It was more of the latter." Shirley sighs at this and ushers me out. I get up and leave the room. Shirley stays down in the basement. I shrug to myself and wonder. The same thought floated around in my head. Would I stay with them? I'm not too sure. But for some reason, it feels better staying here rather than the times I was with mom. But it's only a matter of time before they get raided by either the Military or Volunteers.
"Who's the Volunteers?" I hear a voice over to my right. I look over and find myself near the rows of solar panels with Koro. Who has a towel. I must've been thinking aloud.
"You mean you don't know?" I tilt my head and walk over. Looking at the solar panels a bit closer and wanting a conversation. Nothing else to do.
"No, I don't. No one ever really comes down here to the outskirts of town. If they did Mitch takes care of them very quickly." She smiles warmly and continues wiping seagull feces off of the blue exterior of the panel.
"Volunteers are a sort of volunteer army. Hence the name. They rose up when the Military prevented protests over the state of Helevi. Then things escalated from there. Now there is a full-blown civil war thingy and it doesn't look like either side is winning." Koro nods and walks over to the next one. I follow.
"Well it sounds like your country is in ruins now doesn't it?" It's my turn to nod now. I shove a hand in my pocket and use the other one to elaborate.
"Well ever since the U.P.A stopped helping out the Hlevian army the Volunteers started to gain an upper hand. The civilian population is decimated and now everyone is out for themselves. I don't even know what's with this island anymore." I scratch my head before shoving the other hand in my pocket.
"Well, it seems like so. Anyways Shirley called me and told me to tell you to go to her." Confused I was about to ask her how but then she taps at her ear. A small little earplug. I shake my head. I'm not even surprised anymore.

+++++

Koro leads the way as I trudged along. The plane was here, probably got back from its trip earlier. Mike and Kyle were talking with one another. Kyle looked at me and dodged my eyes. Mitch chuckled and playfully knocked him on the arm. Which was the wrong decision because he got tripped up by Kyle. Koro giggled and I just sigh disappointingly. If only I was able to goof off like this before. Maybe I wouldn't be so harsh. But then again, I would end up like them. Eugh.
Koro and I entered the stairwell to the control tower. It wasn't too tall but it was the tallest thing around. We walked up for a while before reaching the top. The computers and screens that usually dot the sides are gone, probably scrapped, with there being a long table and a couple of chairs instead. With a map of the city splayed out on it. Mitch and Shirley were looking it over. Koro steps in front of me.
"I have brought Teselia as you asked." She straightens up as if she were proud of herself. 
"Excellent, you can go now Koro." Shirley waves her off dismissively and leans back in her chair. She seemed particularly tired. Which didn't line up with her usual energetic self. Mitch seemed more tired than usual as well. Koro hopped off and I could hear her steps descending. I was a bit concerned now. Something seemed wrong. I fought my urge to sit down and stood near the edge of the staircase.
"So what is it you want from me?" I cross my arms and tap my forearm. I was about to go check out the hangars and being called around was starting to annoy me.
Shirley groans and leans back. She pulls out a radio and plugs it in nearby. It cackles for a bit as Mitch turns the dials. A clear voice rings out. It had a sort of accent to it. Lritish accent. I sit down intrigued and listen. The voice with the sort of twang to it was a tone I hadn't heard in a long time. 
"Today we will be announcing the state of a pacific island that had one rightfully belong to the queen. The desert nation of Helevi has descended in chaos as the U.P.A stops sending foreign aid. The Hlevian government issued out an order to get any civilian onto military dreadnaughts for evacuation to an island belonging to Lritain, The queen has decided to issue a warning. Any Hlevian faces on the isle will result in military action, as for the reason, Hlevian refugees are unneeded in Lritain and failure to understand that is an act of defiance to the crown." I was fully intrigued now. The voice started talking about other things but that one tidbit scared me. Shirley took the radio and started turning dials.
"That was from yesterday. Here is the broadcast from Helevi."
Some more cackling and white noise from the radio. Before a voice with a blunt and arduous tone. Hlevian. He spoke. "Today the leader has issued the order to tell everyone to head to port Ultivam for evacuation. The first boats will land on the nearby Lritain isle of Van Taliworth at 1200 tomorrow. We have received a warning but we will get our civilians to safety. May you have a nice day. Goodbye." The broadcast was about to loop over before Shirley had unplugged it. She planted the radion on the floor and stared me over. Resting her head in both of her hands. Each cheek gets a palm. I had started to let my mind wander. Had civilians already landed on that island? If so had the Lritish already landed here on Helevi? I wouldn't want to think of the consequences. The problem with this whole thing is that the Hlevian government is sending the civilian population on a dreadnaught. The strongest military ship alive, built but the hands of Helevi. So there would be action. I bite my nails and think. With three armies fighting on the same island, I looked down at the map. This was bad. We were in the Hlevian capital of Brunsland. Our airport was on the outskirts of there and the closest city is the biggest port of Helevi, Watlerville. If the Lritish land there, which they are, we were on the biggest road leading to there. We would be in the crossfire. I look up with a worried face. Mitch and Shirley nod.
"So wait a minute. We are going to be in the crossfire of two armies, with a naval battle between the world's strongest fleets here?" I pointed at our location on the map. 
"We're sitting ducks out here? What are we supposed to do?" A debate was going on in my mind. If I wanted to keep myself alive I could leave now. But now I have sort of established a connection with these people. Leaving them for dead would feel wrong. This is what I get for not leaving earlier.
"Well. Mitch and I have been going through everything, and we've decided there would be one thing that might keep us safe." Shirley choked up and smacked the table. Mitch placed a hand on her back.
"We're going to steal a dreadnaught." The proposition held up in the air for a bit. Before I just stood up. Impossible. How in the hell would we steal a Dreadnaught? Was she setting us up for death? There are only two sides that possess Dreadnaughts. Helevi and the Volunteers. Lritain won't be landing soon and stealing from the Army is a death sentence. I push my chair into the table. Standing up will draw out my shock. I almost laughed at it. It seemed so ludicrous.
"Look I know it sounds hysterical. I know. But I see it as we either get shot waiting for it to happen or we get shot trying. I would like the latter, wouldn't you?" She had propped up her feet on the table. Mitch had pulled out a cigar. I thought about it. I would too. But it's almost certain we'll die. Something popped up in my head. "Why can't we run off?" 
Mitch leans forward and takes out small army toys. He placed them surrounding us. With three different colors. There was a large green force from port Watlerville. Lritain. There were some yellow figures near the capital, with some others sitting up near the mountain region. The Volunteers. The Army stated that they had taken refuge up there. The last force was a large number of red troops. Some placed in the capital, but a lot of them on the way to Watlerville. I chuckled at my disbelief. "Lemme guess. These are your estimates for where the forces are?" I look it over again before shaking my head. That radio must've been hella useful.
"If we were to pack up minimal supplies and head out the next morning it is guessed that we would be surrounded at all sides. But Mitch, show her." Mitch grunts and nods. Before taking out a couple of toys from a popular naval strategy board game. They each had a flag with color on them. Green, Yellow, and Red. He placed two green ones at the port and the last green near the capital. The one yellow one near the mountains in the river that leads to the capital, and finally four green ones at the capital and four extra ones scattered around the island. "Deployment of Dreadnaughts."
They seriously had everything down pat. I'm surprised they were able to get everything ready in such a short amount of time. 
"So we're heading to steal the yellow one on the river of Bruns. Right?" I looked at it and nodded. It was crazy but it seemed better than just letting everything fall apart willingly. I had wandered over to a window and opened it. I leaned out and looked over at the ocean. I could see lights just past the horizon. Either reflections from the waves or my imagination thinking they were ships. At least I hope it was my imagination. "Correct." I heard Shirley's voice ring out.
"Does everyone else know?" I turn my head to look at her. She was mumbling with Mitch and moving around the toy soldiers and ships. She shakes her head. "Was only planning on telling you. Since it's just going to be you and Mitch. Though I might need Kyle to tag along." I just sighed. Of course. Leave the others behind. It seemed plausible. But two people and one injured? It might be better to leave Kyle behind.
"You aren't leaving?" Shirley's voice rang out an hour later. I jolter and found myself leaning over the edge looking at the ocean. At the horizon, small black dots appear with a shimmer accompanying them. Lights, not reflections. They must've landed the ships on the island. I turn around and saw Shirley and Mitch looking at me. I shake my head as I start to take my leave.
"Yeah. Just letting it sink in. We moving tomorrow?" I start down the steps.
"Bingo!" Shirley overenthusiastically makes a finger gun and pretends to shoot it. The gesture seemed forced. But I let her have it. I shove my hands in my pockets and start to leave. Tomorrow was going to be different. I was hoping I would be enjoying this place more before I left. I still have the rest of the day though.
+----+
With that we have reached the conclusion for Arc 1.
of Course, if you have any suggestions or thoughts, feel free to comment.
But otherwise, this has been a lousy tribute, from me to you.
Regards from a cardboard box.

[Posting from Wattpad.com]

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