They’re Coming for Me

“It’s too early, I’m not ready for this!”

Tasha looked at me with wet eyes. She was afraid, not angry like me. That’s what happens when you have something worth losing. But if you have nothing, and no one, you get angry.

“Becks, what are we going to do? I’ve seen a few buses drive by with girls inside. They had police escorts. How is this legal?”

“It wouldn’t have been legal a year ago, but since the president declared a state of emergency all bets are off. It looks like the government is using the Gender Flu as an excuse to cancel our civil liberties.”

“But who cares about that, women are dying!”

I was naturally distrustful, it’s a side product of being orphaned at an early age. “You’ve heard what they’re saying on tv, right?  The S.A.F.E program is our best chance for survival and the continuation of the entire female population. But they can’t force us into their stupid slavery program if they can’t catch us. We’re just going to have to be clever and strong. Can you do that Tasha?”

“We aren’t going home?”

“If you go home there will be a bus parked in front of your driveway waiting. Before you even get to say goodbye to your parents those bastards will grab you!”

Tasha sniffed and blinked her eyes. “Right. Do you know anywhere we can hide?”

“There’s a place I know of where a lot of homeless people used to hang out. It’s an entrance to the underground tunnels that run underneath the city. Maybe we can hide there until all this dies down.”

“How are we going to get there without being seen?”

“The best thing we can do is to act casual and try to blend in. If we panic and run we’ll draw attention to ourselves. Here, pull your hoodie up over your head and tuck your hair in, that way it’s harder to tell you’re a girl.”

A police car rolled by us as we walked down the sidewalk with our hands in our pockets. For the first time in my life I felt grateful for my flat chest and lack of curves. Tasha was a little more developed so I had her walk on the other side of me farthest from the street. I resisted the urge to dive down an alleyway every time we saw one of the red buses drive past. The city hurricane warning siren wailed in the distance, a constant reminder that we were being hunted. The sound reverberated inside my skull and added to my natural instinct to flee. I felt Tasha’s hand slip into my own.

When we were finally in sight of Forsyth Park our pace quickened. I felt a small amount of relief until I saw the police blockade on Henry Street. We both stopped, hearts and minds racing in tandem. Tasha looked at me, her pupils had grown so large the normal hazel color of her eyes had vanished. “They’ve already seen us. If we turn around they’ll know we’re trying to avoid them. Keep your head down and stay to the right of me.”

Time moved with agonizing slowness as we walked those few blocks to where the blockade was set. There were two police cars with one officer each, but thankfully, no red bus. We were nearly within earshot of the officers I warned Tasha to keep looking forward and continue walking at a regular speed.

“Hey, you two boys!”

I turned slowly to look at the man who’d spoken to us.

“There’s a rumor about a secret hideout somewhere in this area, possibly underground. We think there might be some females trying to avoid the S.A.F.E protocol by hiding out. Do you know of a place around here like that?”

There was no avoiding it now. As soon as one of us answered him the illusion would be broken. “Get ready to run.”

“Hey, I asked you a question. You deaf or something?” He started walking toward us.

“Tasha do you remember where we used to hang out after school in 8th grade?”

“You mean that closed down café on Wright Square?”

“Yeah. Meet me there and we’ll try to come up with a plan. One, two, three, go!”

I took off running as fast as my thin legs could manage. I suddenly regretted turning down my high school track coaches suggestion to join the school team. I was huffing and and puffing within seconds but sheer terror kept me moving forward.

I took a left and ran down Bull Street as Tasha turned right onto Gaston. She was taking the long way around and I silently hoped she would be able to make it to the café.

“Stop, or I’ll shoot!”

The cops shouted threats behind me as they tried to give chase. I knew they weren’t going to shoot me. Despite the terrible things the government was now allowed to do, females were growing more valuable every day as more of us died. They fired into the air and I stumbled to the ground as if I’d been hit. I took a moment to look behind me and saw that the officer was at least fifty feet back holding his knees and gasping.

I turned down an alley and surprised the old man that ran Angels BBQ. He shouted and jumped out of my way.  As I rounded the corner a red bus was winding around the square. I climbed in through a broken window in what used to be The Wright Square Café.

I heard the bus engine in the distance as it traveled down Bull Street, police sirens joined the sound. An ear piercing scream made the small hairs on my arms stand on end. It was Tasha, they must have her. I got to my feet and started for the window when a hand gripped my shoulder and held me firmly in place.

I turned around to face a middle aged woman with dirty blonde hair and mud on her face. “You can’t help her now. Going out there is suicide.”

My lower lip trembled as the sounds of Tasha’s protests grew fainter. Hot tears stung my eyes and rolled down my cheeks. The fact that I was crying only made me angrier.

“I know,” the woman said and pulled me into a hug.

I had never felt so useless.

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So Much Blood

“So much blood for such a small cut.”

Seaver stood above her with his knife at the ready. It had been a great disappointment that she didn’t fight back. In fact, it made him want to beat her more. She struggled to stand and had made it to her hands and knees when he delivered a swift kick to her middle.

She grunted as all her air was forced from her chest and her body crumpled. She lay on the floor and didn’t move for a long time.  Only the slow rise and fall of her chest proved she was still alive. He surveyed his handiwork.

“Why do you make me do this, Selena?” He crouched down and grabbed a handful of black hair and yanked her head back so she was forced to look at him. Her eyes opened and rolled back in her head like a terrified animal. So much white.

“Don’t you dare pass out on me!” he growled. “Remember that your only purpose in life is to bear my children and you don’t need the use of all your limbs to do that.”

“I’ll try.” she whispered.

“I’m sorry, what was that, Selena?”

“I can do better.”

“You can do better… what?”

“M-master.”

“Finally.” Seaver entangled his hand from her hair and let her head drop. He wiped the blood on his jeans and cursed at the instant stain. “Look what you made me do!”

He balled his fist intent on knocking a few of her teeth down her throat. She didn’t need all of them.

Selena looked up at him with heavily lidded eyes and raised a hand to try and fend off his blow. Her entire body trembled in anticipation of his pounding and his dick grew rock hard looking into her helpless pleading eyes.

“You like beatin’ on ladies, eh? Is that how you get yer jollies ya bastard!”

Seaver whipped around knife in hand. As expected, Agent Shaunessy was the source of the interruption. He was Selena’s guardian but they both knew he didn’t have the authority to intervene.

“Come on, then,” Seaver taunted him.

The man’s face was red to match his flame colored hair. A prominent vein stood out on his for-head announcing his level of fury. He looked like a vanilla version of the Incredible Hulk.

Seaver knew as a client, he was within his rights to handle Selena any way he liked as long as it didn’t interfere with her ability to get pregnant and Agent Shaunessy knew this as well. Seaver threw the knife overhead and it  whipped past the agents head to imbed itself in the wall behind. Agent Shaunessy didn’t bat an eyelash.

“Alright. You’ve had your go fella, now it’s my turn.”

The man was by far the biggest agent Seaver had ever seen and he moved with astonishing speed. Before he had the opportunity to react, the walking wall of a man rammed his shoulder into Seaver’s gut with his full weight behind it. He wrapped his gorilla arms around Seaver’s waist and he landed flat on his back with 300 plus pounds of muscle on top of him.

His first thought was that it hurt to breathe and that meant he likely had at least one broken rib. His second thought was how hysterical he found this situation. Even as Agent Shaunessy set to work pounding his face into an unrecognizable mass of of purple flesh, Seaver continued to laugh. His laugh became a cough as blood streamed into his mouth from the broken ruin that had once been his nose.

“Think it’s funny do ya?” he said between blows. “You won’t be laughing long.”

Seaver turned his head to spit out a tooth and continue to chuckle in between fits of coughing.

 

 

 

 

Diary of a Gatekeeper

This diary entry was found  lying next to the body of Harold Bazemore who died of a self inflicted gunshot wound to the head. How he was able to obtain the handgun is still under investigation.

I stand guard at the entrance way to Tybee Island. I was told it was for their protection but it feels more like the checkpoint serves to keep them inside instead of keeping Rovers out. The girls that pass through my gate get younger every year. It this were fifteen years earlier it would have been considered a crime for a man to touch a girl so young. They pass by me in passenger seats of giant SUV’s driven by their stoic Guardians who seem not to notice the tears that are barely kept at bay within their eyes. These are the lucky ones, the girls that still have a light inside them. They’re alive enough to realize the S.A.F.E system isn’t a way of life.

Our government uses billboards, television advertisements and political speeches to deliver its propaganda. These slogans are meant to keep everyone focused on the goal, “Procreate and Populate.” The repopulation effort is for the benefit of everyone and research or whatever has shown that the S.A.F.E system is the best way to achieve our goal. We’re told it’s for their own good, for the good of the entire nation. In fact this fertility program is necessary for our very survival. Whether or not it’s actually helping remains to be seen.

I know it isn’t helping the girls and the pregnancy rates don’t seem to have improved much. These women – no girls – are taught that everyone must do their “duty,” but they are the only ones suffering this way. Regular citizens have common struggles like not enough fuel credits or fresh produce, but at least our personal lives belong to us. What must it be like to grow up in a world that only sees you for what your body can produce? May God forgive me for saying it but I believe my Olivia was lucky to have been taken by the Gender Flu. As terrible as the wasting sickness was on her it was far better than the slow painful death of the soul that the surviving females now experience.

I shouldn’t be writing down such dangerous ideas but does anyone care what a tired old gatekeeper thinks? I sometimes feel that I have to write down my frustrations or I’ll explode.

Diary of a Gatekeeper

Olivia Bazemore, Age 14

A Warning (Part Two)

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“If you come through that door you won’t get one step further!,” Jeremy promised the intruder. He cocked the shotgun for emphasis so that the person could hear just what kind of firepower they were up against. The house was totally silent with the only noise coming from the howling wind and occasional thunder, so Jeremy’s threat was clearly audible and soon answered.

Two more successive slams against the door proved that the intruder was either crazy or thought himself bullet proof. The last blow splintered the wood in the center. I realized in that moment that if the shotgun missed or somehow misfired I might be standing in a dark room alone with a maniac. My sweaty palm gripped the 9mm and I braced myself for the next blow. When it didn’t come Jeremy backed up and whispered to me, “We’re going through the kitchen and out the garage door entrance. You go first and I’ll follow.”

“Do you have your keys?” I hoped. Jeremy was many things but organized was not one of them.

“Not on me. We just have to make it outside and across the street to a neighbor.” He motioned for me to hurry.

The few steps from the darkened living room the lamp lit kitchen seemed to take forever. I kept waiting to hear the sound of wood cracking and a man bursting through. I couldn’t imagine what kind of person would want to get into our home so badly or why. I got to the kitchen door that opens to the garage and my heart sank. I had let the garage door down that night. We were trapped.

“Goddamn it!” Jeremy swore.

The wind suddenly picked up and I could hear tree branches scraping the sides of house outside as if the atmosphere was reacting to Jeremy’s mood. The unmistakable sound of glass shattering exploded in our ears. A grey and white streak of fur darted by my legs and into the pantry. Davey must have been hiding in the sunroom. Jeremy pointed the shotgun into the air in front of the doorway and inched forward. I used my cell phone light to shine into the room so he could see to aim -although I wasn’t sure what he’d be aiming at. The top half of a tree had fallen against one side and landed on the house bursting several glass windows in the process. A terrible stench like rotting leaves and animal remains came from the direction of the tree. As lighting flashed across the sky I could see muddy rain water streaming in through the new holes in our windows and dirt strew across the floor from where the tree had knocked over several house plants.

Jeremy drew closer to the scene, as if some macabre curiosity forced him forward. I shined the light for him so he wouldn’t be surprised by anything. A pitiful mew came from the direction of the pantry and caught my attention. Davey was blind and terrified by all these unusual sounds and smells. I followed his distress cry. The fact that a defenseless animal depended on me, lessened my fear. I stuffed the gun into the back of my jeans pocket and hoped there was no way it could spontaneously fire.

Jeremy backed up quickly and I could hear the shuffling sound of something following him. “They’re climbing up the tree!”

They are? How many people are trying to break into our house?”

“There aren’t any people.” He said it so quietly I almost didn’t hear before I could ask what he meant he shouted at me.

“There’s no time!” He ran down the hall to the front door. The lock had recently broken and it couldn’t be opened from the inside. “Back up and cover your ears.”

He took aim and fire exploded from the end of the gun. I’d heard it fired before, I’d even shot it, but that was at an outdoor shooting range and I’d been wearing protective headgear. This time there was nothing protecting me. I wasn’t able to plug up my ears while holding the cat and Davey carved bloody grooves into my chest in an attempt to scramble away from me. Hot tears ran down my cheeks. My chest was on fire and my ears rang. Jeremy’s voice was muffled like he was screaming into a pillow but I could tell from his expression that he was yelling at the top of his lungs. He put all his weight into delivering a kick to the front door. I still didn’t know who or what was attacking us but I turned my attention toward the danger. An awful sense of dread filled me as the shadows in the house drew together and formed a shape. The door gave way and opened enough for us to see that something blocked it from opening completely.

“It’s a tree!” Jeremy said. “It’s blocking the fucking door.”

Jeremy cursed and gave up on that plan of escape. He turned to see why I’d gone silent and we faced the nightmare together. The mass of black shadows had the vague outline of a man and it might have been my impaired hearing but it sounded like a growl came from it’s center. I could see Jeremy taking aim from the corner of my eye but he didn’t seem to know where to fire. Something like an arm reached out from the swirling mass and long tendrils flexed in my direction. Davey hissed and took a swipe that passed through the arm but caused it to shrink backward.

“You protect this one?” A thin spidery voice asked. I wasn’t sure if it had been spoken aloud or in my head.

“What?”

When the question was repeated I realized it wasn’t being asked of me at all.

Davey bared his fangs and made the fiercest hiss I’d ever heard before turning around in my arms and burying his furry head against my chest.

“Very well,” the voice said. “We will cause no harm.”

Jeremy relaxed the gun beside me. I held my breath as I watched the shadow man withdraw down the hallway and back out of the destroyed window in the sunroom. When it had fully retreated everything went still.

There was no more monstrous wind causing tree limbs to scrape the sides of the house, and no longer any frustrated rumbling from whatever it was that had been trapped in our basement.

Davey leapt from my arms and ran into the sunroom. We both followed and an instant later the lights flickered back on. The giant maple tree in the back yard had completely blown over and crashed into one side of the house shattering several windows . Glass, and mud covered most of the furniture. The light colored carpet in the room was stained with something black and viscous almost like tar.

“What is that?” Jeremy bent down to inspect the semi gelatinous black blob.

“Don’t touch it!” The evidence left behind still gave no indication of what had climbed the tree into our home.

I stared at my cat, who stared back at me as if he could actually see my face. “What happened here?” I asked as if he had the ability to answer. I wondered what he was thinking about. Somehow I knew there was more going on behind those wide green eyes than I’d ever imagined.

I remembered my phone and retrieved it from my back pocket. “My phone’s working now, I’m going to call the police.”

“And tell them what? We were attacked by a shadow?”

“I want to see something.”

I followed him through the house and into the garage. The door was working now and it lifted with a painful slowness. Most of the streetlights had been knocked down by the insane wind but the light in front of our house blinked slowly as it struggled to hold onto it’s tenuous connection to it’s power source.

The houses around us on all sides were gone. The structures themselves had been flattened as if a tornado had touched down on every single one of our neighbors’ homes. In their place trees had grown in an instant, trees that looked as if they’d stood for a hundred years and would stand for a hundred more.

Jeremy wrapped his thick arms around my waist and pulled me close to him. It was hard for my brain to make sense of what I’d seen. “What happened here?” I whispered into his chest.

“I’m not sure, but I think it was a warning.”

Writing fun with friends

So I’ve got my manuscript with one agent and my first 50 pages with another. Besides that I have queries pending with five others. I’ve done the responsible thing and started the outline for book 2 in my planned dystopian trilogy. I’ll have a more definitive answer the next time someone asks me how long it will take to crank out book number two. In the mean time I decided to give myself a break and play a little game with my writer friends.

I’m not sure what the term is for this but we started with one paragraph previously written as a writing prompt and flipped a coin to see who would continue the story first. The person whose turn it was with the story had 3 days to complete their section. We hadn’t yet determined the exact length of sections, but we did decide that the writer would owe a drink to the other two participants if they didn’t finish on time. I won the coin toss and was given the first opportunity to continue the story. I typically use every excuse in the book not to sit down and write but having a deadline helped me focus. I finished my section with a few hours of receiving the first paragraph and by the end of the night the others had each finished a section as well! Before I knew it the writing was back around to me again.

This exercise has turned out to be the highlight of my day for three entire days. I am delighted every time I open my email and see that the story has gotten a little longer! The first round was not more that a few hundred words each so the story still isn’t very long yet but I’m excited about the SciFi direction it’s heading in. I’ve decided to post a little of it here in hopes that others will enjoy it as well.

Untitled SciFi Adventure by Curt Shannon, Logan Grey and Mary Beecroft

(Round 1)

 

Jessie stood by the open window, bathing in the morning sunlight. Once again I marveled at how settled she appeared, despite all she had been through. She had decided to keep her head shaved after the accident – the scar that ran across her skull from ear to ear still pulsed bright red.

She tapped her long fingers on the window sill, then turned to me, frowning.

“When will they let me out of this place?”

“That depends on you,” I said. “It’s common with a brain injury to lose some short term memory. What do you remember from before?”

She turned to look at me. Her cold blue eyes held me with an intensity that only came with years of training. She had seen horrible things and didn’t want to remember them, that much was certain.

“I don’t trust you. You’re not here to help me. You only want information.”

“And what do you want?” I had been trained in interrogation tactics and knew that I had to find some connection with this woman. It was a difficult task becase there was so little known about her. For instance she had several identities and I wasn’t even sure of her planet of origin.

“Do you have a cigarette?”

I reached into my suit jacket and pulled out a pack of camels that were partly crushed. I  managed to find at least one that wasn’t ruined completely and handed it to her along with a lighter from my pants pocket.

Jessie, if that was her real name, didn’t light the cigarette but tore off the paper instead and poured the tobacco into her mouth as if it were a powdered pixie stick. This action left no doubt in my mind–she was from Mars. I found it interesting that she chose to reveal herself in this way. “I take it you haven’t been on Earth for long?”

“Only for about six months I think. But it’s hard to say for sure.”

“It must have been a terrifying experience, the crash I mean.”

She smiled with one side of her face and showed me a bit of teeth dotted with brown tobacco flakes. “What happened before the crash was much worse.”

I looked away, feigning interest in the soldiers filing past the window. Although it would be a stretch to say I’d grown fond of Jessie, I’d found myself admiring her fortitude. But a Martian — she was a goddamn Martian. Her memory might not have been all there, but apparently she hadn’t forgotten their disgusting habits. I breathed out and turned to her with a much practiced look of concern. Not only was I her psychiatrist, I was her interrogator. I had no choice but to play nice.

“Please start from the beginning. Do you remember why you came to Earth?”

She took her time running her tongue across the front of her teeth. “I’m not a spy,” she said at last.

“I didn’t say you were.”

“I’m also not an idiot.” Her smile was even colder than her eyes. “A face,” she said, shifting her gaze out the window again. “It’s the only thing I clearly remember.”

“Someone you knew?”

She shook her head and brought her arms in tight over her chest. “Not even human.”

“Like in those pictures you’ve been drawing?”

She stepped back, out of the sunlight and into the corner. She ran a hand over her scar. “You people have no end to your questions. All these fucking questions. But no one’s really listening. Why won’t you listen?” I didn’t like the sound of her voice — nervous, desperate. This wasn’t like her.

“I’m listening, Jessie.” I moved toward her and set a hand on her shoulder. “You know you can tell me anything.”

“That face, I didn’t escape it.” She grabbed my hand with a strength that startled me. Her eyes flickered to mine. Up close they seemed more than cold, distant. They were terrified. “It followed me here.”

   I opened my mouth but was interrupted by the shrill cry of the facility’s alarm.

Jessie’s eyes darted to the door. I knew I had to stay calm no matter what.

“It might be a false alarm, like the other times.”

Jessie shook her head and said, “No, it’s different this time.”  Now her voice was calm again. Had she known this was going to happen, some kind of precognition? There was so little I had found out about her since she had arrived.  

She tried to slide off the examining table and stand, but instead collapsed in a heap on the floor. Without gravity adjusters, she couldn’t hold up her weight and certainly couldn’t walk. She tried again to stand, but failed. She cried out, a mixture of pain, frustration, and fear that sounds the same in every species.

I could hear people yelling and running outside, among them Professor Klingor. “Michael, open the door. We have to get her out of here.” But Jessie looked up to me and motioned silence, while Klingor banged on the door incessantly.   

Somehow I knew Jessica was telling the truth. I walked to the metal cabinet at the back of the room and stared into the retina scan lock, waiting anxiously for the recognition protocol to kick in.  It finally did and the cabinet door swung open. With shaking hands I found the grav braclets and tossed them to Jessie. She couldn’t raise her arms fast enough to catch them and they clattered on the floor behind her. She turned and shambled over to them.   

I took out the disruptor and set it to max strength.

At that moment, the alarm abruptly stopped. There was only silence beyond the door. I turned and waited.  Was it my imagination or was something happening to the door? The frame groaned as hinges unbuckled and the blue-gray metal of the door seemed to begin collapsing into itself. And beyond the door, I caught a glimpse…

Jessie was right.  It was different this time.

I was about to fire the disruptor when I heard a cry and the sound of shattered plexiglass behind me.  I turned to see Jessica standing at the now-open window, her hand bleeding, the jagged edges of the double-paned plexiglass security window still falling around her. She kicked at a low-hanging shard of glass and it fell, shattering on the floor.

“How did you…?”

“No time to talk.  Time to run.”  She stepped onto the ledge and adjusted the gravbracelets and floated just outside the window. Without thinking I raced to the window and leapt into her arms.

Please visit Mary Beecroft’s blog for travel adventures and reviews: marybeecroft.wordpress.com.

To find out if Curt Shannon dreams of Electric Sheep please stay tuned.