Stalk aimlessly wandered the dying shell that was once Manhattan.
The decaying motor vehicles, looming carcasses of long abandoned
buildings, and putrefying, crumbling avenues that had long since lost the
battle to nature (trees sprouting untamed, somehow more wild, menacing then the
groomed plants that had once stood upon the lush green, uniformly cut grass
that had sprouted along the sidewalks of a society long diminished, almost the
makings of myth now) seemed almost a pish posh between apocalyptic fiction and
the reality of a population not destroyed, but eternally reverted to a state of
something not less human, but more human in its state of animosity and self
destruction. In the months that
followed Revelation, people had tried to pick up the blocks of old society,
make something new, maybe even better, by themselves. For themselves.
But something had changed forever in the human animal, something that
could never be undone. Their
security, stability more, had been destroyed. For humans no longer existed in the pursuit of happiness,
but of survival. Stalk had become
one of the first of the new era, one of the blessed not to fully remember the
fantasticalness of the last, and therefore recognize the aggressive,
destructive, and overall evil of the new.
A few hundred yards ahead of him, a scuffle had broken on the street. Fights weren’t uncommon: If they were lucky enough people got drunk, and if they were hungry enough people stole. Nothing personal, but if I want to see tomorrow, and you
won’t give me food willingly, I’m out of options. And so it went.
But the conditions of this fight pulled an emotional cord within Stalk,
and he felt the need to help. He
rushed down the street, finding a youth, maybe even his age, being brutally
attacked by a group of young adults wearing black, clearly members of the
Stalk, quickly realizing he wouldn’t stand a chance against the Manny’s,
thinking quickly, ran into the crowd shouting,
“Takers! Takers on Thirty-fourth Street!” The band was still for a moment, and then (thankfully) began to disperse in groups, people frightfully mumbling to each other as they quickly made their way to various back alleys. Eventually, all that remained was the
kid, barely conscious, trying to stand up, and the man who appeared to have
been leading the assault.
“I know you kid?” He asked gruffly.
“You Knight-affiliated?” He asked, more accusingly than questioningly.
“I’d love to play twenty questions with you under any other circumstance, but I’d suggest running, unless you’re interested in finding out just what happens to
the Taken.” The man growled,
looked from Stalk to the kid, and started walking briskly the other direction. Stalk looked down at the bleeding kid,
starving and probably no older than himself, the Helm tattooed against the dark
skin of his left forearm.
“Can you walk?” Stalk asked wincing. The kid mumbled something
about his leg, and Stalk grabbed his arm and lifted him to his feet. The kid groaned and nearly fell, but
expecting this, he caught him, and helped him limp up the street towards Broadway
and Seventh. It took nearly an
hour to walk five blocks.
Thea had been taking inventory of their supplies when Stalk brought him in. It was incredible the kid was able to stand, much less retain
“Knights?” She asked Stalk, concerned. He nodded. She was reminded as to why they’d left. It was harder, sure. Had to support yourself. Find your own food, protect your own territory. But this was why they would never go back,
why she now had an awful scar on her forearm, choosing it over the permanent
ink that had branded her as one of them.
Beside her Clare tensed.
Stalk led the kid to an old sofa, and he collapsed on it, groaning. Thea allowed herself a shaky breath,
then went to the ‘first aid kit,’ they had put together. She threw a cloth to Clare and told her
to hold it over a nasty gash over kid’s eye.
“Pressure, get that bleeding stopped. Stalk, throw me some water.” Months ago,
they had found boxes of bottled water in an abandoned office, their last
hideout. Still, their supply was
dwindling frightfully low. She
rushed over, and after removing his bloodied shirt, rinsed off what looked to
be the worst of his injuries, a stab wound under his left rib, and a cut that
spread across his chest.
“Do we have any of that vodka?” Stalk handed some to her, and she began pouring it on a cloth and cleaning his
wounds. The kid tensed as the
alcohol began to sting, but eventually lost consciousness.
“How’s that cut doing Clare?”
“The bleedings slowing down a little.”
“Get that bandaged.”
“Are you sure…”
“Yes! Hurry.” She knew it would be the last of the real medical supplies they had raided when they left the Knights, but couldn’t imagine a better use
for them. As she worked, her dark
hair continually fell into her face, her cutting green eyes shining underneath
“What are you looking at?” She asked Stalk as she attempted to stitch the worst of his wounds with string she had
pulled from unsalvageable clothing.
“Watch that needle.” He responded, her hand beginning to shake.
Clare scurried back with the dying roll of skin-colored bandage they had left. It would hardly be enough to even get the worst of his slashes bandaged, but Thea was excellent with them, she knew
from experience. Seven months ago
they had found her, beaten and battered, mumbling to herself, clutching a
picture torn from a magazine labeled “St. Clare of Assisi,” on a bench on the
west side of Central Park. Or so
they said. All she remembered was
waking up in a section of underground subway, a kid, (who she’d later learn was
“Clare’s awake!” As she painfully had come to terms with, she was amnesiac, always frustrated by memories that seemed just
out of reach, flashing like a distant dream she couldn’t quite grasp. Over the months, she had grown to love
her finders as family, though she still yearned to remember who she’d had
before that, where she’d come from.
She stood back and watched with Stalk.
“Where’d she learn to heal like that?” She asked.
“It was one of her jobs in the Knights. She’s always had a knack for it.”
“Think he’ll be alright?”
“He’s in good hands.” Stalk replied, laid back, though still managing to address the seriousness of the situation.
“Why isn’t Dice back?” Clare asked, almost to herself.
“Take one guess.”
Picking targets had become easy with experience. One of the most important criteria was to pick someone in a crowd, even
though it increased your chances of being seen; you blended better, anyone
getting that close to a lone person was instantly suspicious. Dice took these precautions even though
he’d only been caught pick pocketing once, and he’d been able to get by, saying
he’d needed the money for his starving sister.yes""> Despite the United States no longer existing, much less its
mints, currency was still used.
People stick with what they know, and even though it might cause serious
problems in the future, using money that was no longer printed or backed with
any actual economic value, was still working. This was good for Dice and his friends, because to him
nothing came more naturally then stealing; lying being a possible
exception. He’d managed to lift an
I.D. off of a Knight, hastily running off somewhere with a few others, in case
it might come in handy. Other than
that, the streets had been relatively empty, so he’d spent the majority of the
day throwing stones from a rooftop at a statue of Roosevelt across the street.** Eventually, seeing the sun begin to
set, he began heading back to their hideout. They’d been living in the backstage of a small theater on
Broadway, and not only was it more spacious than their last, but, in his
opinion, better hidden. Broadway
had been Dice’s idea, and so far it had worked fairly well. Why were they always hiding? Nine months ago (and it felt like so much longer) Stalk, himself, and
Thea had successfully left the Knights, a feat in itself, and had been narrowly
avoiding their wrath ever since.
Nobody left the Knights: You
joined, you pillaged, and eventually you died. Leaving wasn’t an option. They called it ‘abandoning,’ and if you managed to kill
everyone sent after you, you were granted reinstatement. Otherwise, if they could get you alive,
you were executed. Publicly. As he neared the doors of the theater,
he noticed a slight trail of blood.
He began hurrying, wondering what had happened, and the trail seemed to
grow more and more bloody until he reached backstage.
* The Knights were the ruling gang of Manhattan. In the early years after Revelation, looking for some form of authority, youths and adults of all ethnicity’s and backgrounds had flooded
into gangs created after the bombings, and through vicious wars, one had come
to rule each bureau.
** A favorite past time. Frankie had acquired more than a few chips over the years.
© 2023 Created by Z. Powered by
You need to be a member of Maximum Ride Unofficial Community to add comments!
Join Maximum Ride Unofficial Community