Creating Worlds Writing Camp Challenge 4


Heyyyy, young bloods! Today I have for you my entry for round 4 of Loren's Creating Worlds Writing Camp. I used all three prompts:




Hope you enjoy. :)

___

"You see, I knew he wasn't listening because he used the word 'indeed' like, five times."

Cass* caught the word 'indeed' as it was about to roll off her tongue and hauled it back into her mouth just in time. Settling instead for an absent nod, she pulled her grey coat tighter around her against the dreary evening chill. Cold, grey wind flew across the landscape, blowing the few hairs that had managed to escape from her brown ponytail into her face. In the distance, thunder roared across the sky, and a flash of white revealed lightning on the horizon. Cass was sure a storm was coming - she could feel it in her bones and see it in the weather.

"He'll have Angel with him," she said, in reply to Sergeant - known to her and only a few others as Colton. Sergeant, Angel - in a revolt this complex and dangerous against a Government this adaptive and skilled, no one was permitted at any time to refer to any other rebels but with code names. Cass's was Citron. "He'll be fine."

"I hope so," muttered Sergeant.

In the distance, thunder boomed.

___

Her real name is Perri. Some call her Angel. Some call her an angel. Some call her the-only-goddamn-girl-in-this-place-with-her-head-screwed-on-straight. But me? I call her Perri. And Perri she is.

And as for me, you ask? To most, I'm known as Tractor. (I know, ultra lame code name, right? I must have been on the naughty list when Sergeant and Citron were handing those out.) But she calls me Nick - when she feels like breaking the rules - for Nick is I and I am Nick. (It's short for Nicoles - but that old name only ever spoke of snooty French ancestors with permanently nasally voices from perpetually clogged noses, so I ditch it most of the time.)

His code name is Alphabet. I don't know his real name - but I really couldn't care less at this point. His name could be Captain Kirk or President Obama and I wouldn't care if he had still been stupid enough to get himself trapped in that Government outpost.

Which Perri and I now had to rescue him from.

I checked the supplies at my hips. Rope - check. Emergency rations - check. (Not that I would eat them anyway unless it came to the literal Apocalypse - who the hell wants to consume 4-year-old beef jerky?) Aaaaaand finally, all my guns, check. (Those are my favorite supplies - but don't tell Perri.)

"Ready?" I asked cheerfully.

She gave me a look of barely tolerating annoyance from under the swoopy bangs that nearly covered her eyes. "I've been so," she replied, in a voice that sounded too melodious and pleasant to the ear to convey anger. But, trust me, it could. "Shall we?"

I nodded cheerfully, and we set out, clinging close to the trees around the outpost, then darting lightning-quick from one to the other, guns out and pointing around, hoping desperately to not be caught. My formerly white, now permanently brown with dirt and wear tennis shoes squelched in the green, wet grass. It had rained very recently, and cold water seeped through the thin soles of my shoes to form pools in the insides, right under my feet, and soak my socks. There were several times when I almost slipped in the grass - one when I was only a few inches from the ground - but Perri caught me every time.

At last, we reached the last tree before a long stretch of open land to the 30-foot-high-gate, then, beyond that, an equally large stretch of land before the front door.

Perri turned to face me, fringe formation loose and tendrilly and broken around her face. "Listen," she said, "we can't use the rope on this one - we'll have to climb."

I glanced over her shoulder at the fence, then shrugged. "Indeed."

If we hadn't been in imminent danger, she would have shrieked in rage, stomped her foot, and herded me out of the room with her gun. As it was, she just sucked in a very long breath, held it for a very long time, and veritably spat it out.

"I'll go, you cover me, then you go and I'll cover you," she continued in a tight voice.

I winked. "Gotcha."

She rolled her eyes and turned back to face the metal-link fence. I raised my gun slowly, scanning warily for places snipers could be.

Barely audible, I whispered, "1, 2, 3."

She was off.

Streaking across the grass like her own little lightning bolt, hair flying straight out behind her, Perri flew towards the gate. I looked from left to right to left to right again anxiously, my head turning sharply and violently, gun always at the ready.

She reached the fence and, without hesitation, leapt up on the fence, which rattled. Ascending faster than a spider monkey at home in the jungle, she eventually reached the top, swung deftly over, and clambered swiftly back down, where she got out her gun and held it ready.

My signal to go.

For as easy as Perri made running as fast as you could across wet grass and ascending then descending a 30-foot-high slippery fence, it was ridiculously hard. Again, I almost slipped about ten times on the slick grass, once having to throw out my arms for balance like a little kid in order to catch myself. When it came to climbing, the metal dug hard and cold into my hands, and I could barely keep a grip, arms trembling from strain and cold almost uncontrollably. When I reached the top, I gasped and willed myself not to look down.

"Tractor!" hissed Perri. "Hustle!"

"If I die, at least I'll go out with a bang," I thought. Squeezing my eyes so tight it hurt, I swung myself over the top of the fence.

The world fell out from under me, and I think I left my stomach somewhere behind.

Panic reared in my chest, and I felt I could barely breathe, shaking, trembling, falling faster than I'd ever moved before, hands desperately scrabbling in a last-bid attempt to -

They slammed into slick metal.

My reflexes weren't fast enough to grab on.

I screeched as the world flew by me faster and faster, my heart long past my throat and nearly out my mouth, hands clawing helplessly at -

Metal.

This time, I was prepared. I grabbed onto it and didn't let go, not even when the shock of stopping so suddenly almost made me lose my grip. My toes quickly scrabbled and secured two footholds. My arms and legs shook so violently I felt like I was having spasms, and it was all I could do to maintain my grip. I slowly leaned my forehead against the fence, the cold, solid metal against my face a relief. Never doing that again, I decided. Not if Citron threatens to hang me up by my bloody feet and skin me alive!

"Nick!" shrieked Perri's voice from not far below me. "Are you okay??" She sounded alarmed - which was rare, for the Angel.

I gasped hoarsely a couple times, my arms still shaking and voice raspy. "Yeah, just as long as any more adventures climbing 30-foot-fences are eradicated from my future."

The relieved smile in her voice was nearly tangible. "Good. I was -" She stopped and cleared her throat. "You'll recover from the shock a lot better on the ground," she said, doing a total 180 from where I'd thought the conversation was going. "Solid earth beneath you. Just climb down, it's not that far, and anyways you'll have to get down eventually and you're horridly vulnerable there. Someone could start shooting - and I could shoot back at them, but you'd barely be able to maneuver away from any bullets that got your way."

I nodded shakily. Perri was right, of course. She most always was.

I willed my limbs to work, and slowly, slowly I clambered down from the fence. When I dropped to the ground, the thump of my sneakers against the wet grass was the most welcome thing I'd ever felt. I could have laid down and rolled in it.

But we had a mission to do.

I took a deep breath, trying to be calm, and checked my supplies. Everything was sealed, so nothing appeared to have fallen out during my fall. A couple containers were dented, though - but I would live.

"Right," I said, the sound coming out quite a bit more forced than I would have liked it to, "Let's go."

Guns out and eyes swiveling back and forth, we sprinted across the giant lawn. I heard Perri panting softly beside me, and as she turned her head sharply this way and that her fringe flopped in and out of her eyes. That was the only impractical thing she ever did - refuse to pin back her fringe. Oh well. She'd evidently been able to see well enough to not nearly fall to her death climbing that damn gate.

We reached the factory, all smokestacks and bad smells and corruption and tyranny. I can't say I wasn't afraid - but I can say I was determined not to be.

"This way," nudged Perri, pulling me to her left. I shrugged and followed. She was the professional here, not me - I would follow her lead and just hope it didn't lead to both of us dead.

But I doubted it would. She was, after all, the Angel.

Perri lead me right up against the filthy walls of the thing, then nodded up.

A window, just low enough for us to pull ourselves in.

Neither of us are particularly tall, but I'm less short by a few inches, so I pulled a pick out of my supplies, reached up, and set to work at the lock, wriggling the bits of metal just right here and there -

This was one of my favorite parts of the job, to be honest. The exhilarating feeling of the thief in the night, the one who can open the doors locked to everyone else, the one who holds the key, the one who has everything in the world at his fingertips if he only cared. The secret that I am to those we target - just a nameless, faceless blur, running away as fast as his legs will allow him.

The lock clicks, and I carefully ease the window inward and open. Good - no creaking, and no friction.

I hoist Perri up, getting some of her freshly-washed hair in my mouth in the process, and the hoist myself up and clamber in myself.

We land lightly in what looks like the abandoned place of a former assembly line.

I wander over to one of the conveyer belts to inspect it.

"NO!" hisses Perri, although it's more of a barely contained shriek.

I stop dead in my tracks, every little hair and cell on my body alert. "What," I ask quietly. Dare I reach for my gun?

"Chemical weapons were made here," came Perri's voice, and I could almost see the disgust dripping from her lips.

I relaxed instantly - no one else was in here with us. Suddenly, I felt very stupid.

"Don't touch anything," Perri continued. "The air is almost certainly poisonous itself - we should be in and out as soon as possible. Remember where Citron told us to go?"

I nodded. Citron may be bossy frequently, but damn if she wasn't good at running secret intelligence. "It's in a secret bunker under the third munitions room."

"Good," nodded Perri. "Munitions is near chemicals."

(Now, I know Perri, and I know she didn't know that for sure. But now was not a time for expressing doubts. And her guess was as good as mine.)

We tip-toed across the floor, careful our wet tennis shoes not squeak on the metal floor. Eventually, we reached the door. I leaned back up against it, and carefully reached out and grasped the cold handle.

We listened.

No sound.

It was probably still mostly abandoned, after all. Only a small outpost.

Even so, I pushed the door open behind my back and then whirled around to face the hallway with Perri, guns out and senses alert.

Nothing.

Okay.

We made our way down several hallways in this manner, hiding and darting and bursting, always ready, always alert. We followed the paths that seemed to smell less and less like chemicals, and soon we had passed out of the chemicals section altogether.

I read the label on a door. "Munitions 2," I read. "Okay, Munitions 3 should be -"

"Right here," whispered Perri, looking at the door beside her.

Cautiously, we entered the way we'd exited the first chemical room, but trying to make a bit less noise.

The door opened, and we burst in.

Nothing.

"Whyyyyyy aren't there guards?" I asked quietly.

"That's not important," hissed Perri. "Well, it could be, but that's not for certain. What is for certain is we need to find Alphabet."

I shook my head and groaned. "Why on earth did I agree to risk my neck for this idiot kid?" I fumed. "Irresponsible enough to get himself captured by only the tiniest forces at the most remote outpost! What the hell," I spun around to face a shocked and pale Perri, "is he even doing in our ranks? I almost died doing this, died, and you know more chances will be coming for that! If the damn kid can't take care of himself, he can rot in Government prison by himself!"

Anger roared through my body hotter than liquid metal, my features ready to explode off my face from the boiling anger. You don't sign up for this thing and expect to have a joyride, to go home and get a girl (or guy, I mean, I would personally go for a guy, but in this situation it's the same fucking difference) and get flower crowns thrown on your head by adoring crowds. This isn't planning dramatic escapes, this is training all day till you can barely walk or stand or lie down or think or anything, this is being cold and wet and tired and hungry 24/7, and this is not being an irresponsible twat!

I shrieked and kicked an empty can.

It flew across the room and landed with a SCREECH

SCRAT

SCREECH

SCRIT

on the floor on the other side of the room.

Perri and I stopped still, listening to the sound echoing into the tall-ceilinged room.

How

Could

I

Have

Been

So

STUPID?!?

My yelling and my screaming and the can - goddamn.

Now they definitely knew we were here.

No sounds came from the corridor - yet.

Yet.

YET.

Yet is the important word here, folks.

But suddenly, a high, scared voice called from somewhere nearby,

"Hello? Is - is anyone there? Hello? Please? PLEASE, SOMEONE HELP!"

Perri gave me a look that said That's our guy.

"Where are you?" she called quietly.

"Right under where you are, I think!" came the voice.

Yes. Now that I thought about it, it was definitely coming from under us.

Perri dropped down on her knees immediately and shooed me away, fingering the floor tile I had just been standing on. "Ah-hah!" she exclaimed, lifting it up.

We both peered down into the hole.

A boy about our age, tall but skinny with an awkwardly huge adam's apple, sat bound to a chair and craning his neck up at us. Littering the small compartment where bloodstains, a couple bones, and plenty of carts of horrible instruments, probes and knives and tweezers and shocking machines, all stained with blood and some - in the case of a couple of knives - freshly lubricated with the red, sticky substance.

I gulped.

"I'll watch, you get him," I told Perri, and she nodded and leapt easily down.

I kept my eyes on all corners of the room and half-listened to their conversation.

"What's your name?" Perri asked gently. Sometimes, Government workers will try to impersonate us to infiltrate us - and you can never be too sure.

"Os - Alphabet!" he exclaimed, cutting himself off. The idiot didn't even know not to say his real name.

"Okay, we're going to get you out," Perri said gently, and quickly set to untying his bonds.

Suddenly, a horrible, deep, cackling, twisted sound echoed up out of the chamber. I glanced down at them, and my jaw almost dropped.

Alphabet was laughing.

But it wasn't a "this-is-so-funny" kind of laugh, or "better-make-the-best-of-the-situation-by-being-humourous" kind of laugh. It was an insane laugh, a smug laugh, the "i-know-something-you-don't" kind of laugh. And those are the most dangerous of all.

"No need to!" he roared suddenly, bent over much as he could with hysterics.

Before Perri or I could say a thing, the doors around me banged open. From each gleamed the eyes and teeth and gun barrels of at least twenty Government soldiers. They all began converging on me.

"You move," one of them yelled, "and I'll push this nice little button I have right here -" he held up a little control " - that will shock everyone in the chamber there - including your pretty little girlfriend."

I had nowhere to go.

I'd been ranting about Alphabet not being cut out for this? He was much more so than either of us.

"Oh," he was chattering madly in the pit, "my dad's in the Government, you know, I'm shocked you didn't suspect my loyalties. Why would you ever want to serve the rebels? We're just kids, we aren't supposed to be heroes! They're twisting us - from what we should be into monsters like you! Of course they knew you were here!" he screamed madly at Perri, who backed away, pale. "Of course they knew where you were at all times. I was just the bait," he continued on, "the bait to lure the Angel."

My mind reeled, and it's a miracle I didn't just collapse and fall into the chamber with them. Once the Government soldiers got close enough which would be just a few seconds I would be grabbed and shot and so would Perri and I didn't know what to do and I was out of options well except that one option but that would never work -

I felt Perri's gaze on the back of my neck. Dreading what I was to see, I looked down.

Perri locked my eyes and made the signal.

The world went black.

___

Cass leaned against the doorframe, peering at the young man inside. He hadn't moved in days, just sat there muttering incoherently to himself, perpetually clinging to his yellow hair. She was worried about him, to say the very least. She was worried about the general moral of the revolutionaries, when they found out they'd lost Angel in the explosion. How Tractor had managed to escape was beyond her, and how they had failed to see Alphabet was a spy was also. They would have to change everyone's code names now. Change the passwords, as well. Erase the old data, commit it to her or Colton or someone else's brain only. Wipe everything prior to a couple days ago clean.

Colton appeared at her side from somewhere, startling her a bit. When she realized it was him, she relaxed.

He peered over her shoulder into the room. "He any better?"

Cass sighed and shook her head. "No, not at all. I'm worried - he's the one who can tell us what happened in there, the full story. And," she added, her voice going softer, "I know he was close to her."

Colton nodded, and the two stood there in silence for a while. Eventually, he said, "I gotta get cracking on those new passwords."

Cass nodded and straightened up too. "I'll help," she said.

Colton agreed silently, and the two walked quietly away from the room.

___

They think they know, don't they?

They think they know what it feels like to know that the entire world is closing in on you and there is absolutely no possible way you can escape, no "at the last minute" "saving the day". There is no way out, this is not the movies, not some sort of romantic action film. There was no way we could get out of there in one piece and so we didn't, we so obviously didn't, but they think they understand that feeling of total helplessness and knowledge where there is not even a glimmer of hope and solely and only dark despair and acceptance circling your soul like an anaconda and crushing it, and they do not.

And they think they understand her death, too.

But they do not.

Oh, it is a MOCKERY of me that they think they do!

For it was not Alphabet that set off the explosion as they so innocently suspect, or Perri herself or the Government soldiers, no.

It was me, horrible me,

Horrible, terrible, abhorrant, abominable me.

I killed my best friend.

I

killed

the Angel.

___

I'M SORRY FOR HOW LONG THAT WAS.

What did you think of it? I don't like it so much as the last one, but I thought it was still pretty good. I could make a story out of this one, too.

(oh and btw, Nick is bi, in case you were confused.)

Namarië,
Ellie

*Don't get your hopes up. It's short for Cassie, not everyone's favorite angel.

2 comments:

  1. Ellie, your post was suggested as one of the most Well-Written story and your story for challenge three was suggested as one of the most interesting stories! https://abarefootgal.wordpress.com/2016/01/05/voting-on-best-of-2015/

    ♥Megan

    ReplyDelete

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