The Society must continue. You are better than the people who have devastated your outpost. No matter how far the world has gone bad, you will remain faithful to the basic values of respect and decency.
This is what you think while you put the shocker in the bag and the hands up approaching to the sleeping figure in the middle of the street.
Shout a warning to wake him without touching. I mean, could you stand up and shoot you without warning, no? But he does not answer. Heavy sleep, friend. He sleeps deeply. As if it were … yeah, as if it were …
You don’t know what you got first: The awareness you were shouting at a dead man, the pain to the kneel or laughing?
No, you know. The laugh. Laughing crazy and shameless. All around you. They wrap you up as you get to the ground, screaming.
– Have you ever seen someone more stupid, brothers?
– For the Big Grandpa Balls! No brother … never in life! He put out the weapon, PUT OUT, you understand?
– What hole of pus went out? And he’s also dying of thirst! Look at those dry lips, this dies here, as sure as the sun!
– Brothers … we always give a hand to a needy! Strengthen boys, we offer something to drink!
A hot and malodorous liquid floods you. Laughter increases. Your half-haired eyes see only a grin and a hand that supports a shocker to your forehead. Then nothing more.
How long is it? You say two weeks, maybe three. Headaches have diminished, and this allows you to think a little. Think of the huge mess you’ve been knocked out. The first days were just pain. A single point blank shot of a Shocker can’t kill you, but it leaves you stunned for so long. At this time, you have only flashes: you have been tied up, dragged and beaten. Occasionally a bite of raw meat or a drop of water, the minimum to not die. Plant and scream around. And laugh. Those never stopped. But in the end, you came. Well, at least it was a cool place. A hole dug in the ground, a kind of deep and large canal enough to bring about two dozen people. More or less under your conditions. You wonder if even they have been foolishly captured like you, or if they have at least some resistance. Old. Children. Women. Mutants. You are all here, pressed, hungry and cold. For days. Don’t talk each other, no one trusts others. Some people murmur in sleep name that you don’t know and words you don’t understand. Try to think to your house when you got friends and protection, but the only picture that comes to your mind is the mutant, with the chin dirty of your father’s brain. They come to pick you up after another three days. A couple have already died of fatigue, five as if they were. Your jailors give them a look, they agree and break their throats with rusty knives. You feel ashamed of yourself by being happy. Now there may be more food for you. They visit you. Your young body has kept pretty good, they say. You have a chance: you will meet the Uncle and he will decide what to do with you. As they talk to you, they tie you back again. With iron chains this time, heavy as boulders. The sun hurts your eyes and makes you cry. The heat is strong, out there, and the glowing ground when they force you to kneel. Half a dozen of your cell companions have been dragged out and now as you assist your jailor’s judgment.
-Very good, Fresh meat.
Tired, almost a wheeze. You’ve heard so many of them. The climate of Vastness has marked them with its fiery winds. But the tone is that of those who are accustomed to being obeyed: find a little bit of courage and raise your head to see what looks like. Fat. You’ve never seen such an imposing man, you’re sure it must be some kind of mutation. He wears a blood stained overall and his blue eyes stand out in the midst of h beard and his few long hair. Return your gaze, fixing yourself as you fix a steak.
– Good, meat. Here’s how things are: I’m Malcom Jones, of Clan Jones. And you are all mine. My slaves or my meal, this will depend on what I decide.
A man beside you begins to weep.
– The family is expanding, you know? My cousin has found a good girl … make kids like a rat, that’s it! And a couple are also healthy! I’m curious to see how much she will survive, poor girl! Oh … but sorry, I’m wandering. I said, we’re growing in number, so we need people. Both to accompany families in raids and minor jobs. Someone has to skim the beasts and keep the machines running, right? Well, here’s my offer. You join our troop, or our herd … or you cry and ask for pity, and I kill you here and eat raw. Your choice dude.
TO THE NEXT CHAPTER