If you’re local to Berkshire, there are some exciting free events happening for young writers and readers at our local libraries.
Read on… Continue reading
If you’re local to Berkshire, there are some exciting free events happening for young writers and readers at our local libraries.
Read on… Continue reading
A flu pandemic has wiped out most of the adult population, leaving communities across the world fighting for food and survival. A new regime has risen from the hysteria, known as SG16. Their militia have their objectives: to find a cure for the new world and arrest all vagrants outside the safety zones. The only way to do that is to find a survivor who holds the gene that can fight against the flu virus; an infected survivor with the right antibodies. James, Chelsea and their baby might just hold the cure that everyone is looking for. But there are no guarantees on their survival under SG16’s rule. Can they stay hidden long enough to find an escape? It all depends on the cure!
Previously on The Cure:
Beth reminisced over their initial meeting and Chelsea’s labour. The fear of being caught had held them all in a state of tension under the hot summer sun. Beth’s skills as a young midwife only extended far enough to help her friend deliver the baby safely.
James watched in awe as his baby entered their chaotic world. He was only sixteen and felt like a child himself, but circumstances had made him grow up quick. With only a third of the world’s population left alive and most of them children, it meant as soon as you hit your teenage years, you were considered a man.
The flu pandemic that had swept from one nation to another favoured children as its killer messenger and made sure every family received a visit. Adults had no immunity to the new strain and most died, only a few remaining to tell the tale. The government had tried to vaccinate everyone with little to no effect on the virus. Those scientists left to investigate new vaccines were quickly quarantined in a safe location. Everyone else was left vulnerable. It was almost laughable to think that the third world war had come in the form of sickness. Large nations had been left bereft of power and food supplies as their workers dropped like flies.
Beth, acting as midwife, pulled at the remaining delivery from Chelsea’s body, watching carefully for excess bleeding and checking the blob of placenta and tubes were all there. She grimly poked and prodded Chelsea’s abdomen for signs of hardness and grunted in satisfaction, turning her attention to the small squiggling body lying on her lap wrapped in a semi-clean blue cardigan. She was beautiful and the midwife sighed in appreciation for new life. Her young face had severe lines and scars from previous battles fought for survival. She knew what hell lay in store for this little girl lying so innocently in her arms and enjoyed the moment of pure innocence in front of her.
James cleared his throat and tried to speak but the tears fell freely down his grimy face and his big blue eyes watched his daughter and her mother. The world pressed down on him as the sun bore into his skull through his long, greasy blonde hair. He held his hands out to the Beth, the teenage midwife, hoping she wouldn’t refuse to give him his child. Past memories of asking for something and being hit flashed through his mind and he automatically put his hands down again as though already chastised.
The baby hiccupped ad started bawling her eyes out, giving both youths a fright. They looked at each other and the tenseness in their faces disappeared for an instant, laughter gurgling up and breaking out into the silence of the day. Beth gently handed her over to James, smiling and giggling in response to his laughing smile. They had done it. They had brought this little child into the world. It might not be a perfect world, but at least it was theirs for the time being.
As soon as he held her James could feel her cuddling into his warmth and she starting sucking her little fingers, hoping for nourishment.
“What are we going to do for food Beth?” he asked. “Is it safe to wake Chels up to feed the baby? Will she be able to feed her?”
“I don’t think we should leave here just yet. Not while Chelsea is recovering. We’d better find shelter though. This sun is shit -hot and I’m burning. Chelsea looks like she’s tanning in Poole” she giggled, looking down at her friend.
Her smile slipped as she fumbled to find a pulse. She frowned and put her hand on Chelsea’s ankle. The pulse was there, but it was thready. Suddenly, a deep sigh escaped from the sleeping form, allaying any further fears the two might have had about her well being. Aching from her cramped position, Beth got up and stretched her back, exposing her flat torso and long brown legs covered by a pair of tattered shorts and converse shoes that had seen better days. Once stretched out, her blouse back in place over her tummy, she looked down once again at her friend and made a decision.
“Jamie, you have to find somewhere safe for us tonight to light a fire. Food is a bonus, but safety first yeah?”
James nodded his head twice and gently placed the baby back down on the mattress next to her sleeping mother. Beth gingerly picked up the bowl of entrails left from the birth and thought of how some cultures ate them for good health. She cringed inside and thought of digging a hole so as not to attract any wild animals to them. Decision made, she put the bowl and blood soaked rags to one side, whilst she shook out the only blanket they had that didn’t smell like shit and dust. Gently, she covered mother and child and went off to the right, crossed the road and found a patch of ground that looked soft and easy to dig. Finding an old broken off bumper helped her dig the hole faster and in no time the rags, bowl and entrails were buried. She shifted the dirt until the area looked undisturbed and scampered back across the road to find Chelsea groaning and waking up.
“Hey, how are you?” she said, kneeling next to her friend, wiping away the damp hair stuck to her face.
“Hmm, thirsty” croaked Chelsea. She glanced to her right and saw the baby dozing off in the sun, still sucking her little fingers contentedly. “How long have I been out? Is she ok Bee?”
“Yeah, all’s well. You haven’t been out for long but we are going to have to move soon or else you’re both going to faint in this sun.” She handed Chelsea her bottle of water. “Here. Drink this.”
Chelsea drank deep and long and gasped at the end, like a swimmer after a race. She smiled and reached over to hug her friend as tight as she could. “Thank you Bee. I know how dangerous this is for you. I promise, once we are set up, you can go back okay?”
“Do you see me complaining girl?” Beth asked, all her attitude showing as she put her hands on her hips and swayed her head like a cobra. She giggled and kissed Chelsea on the head. “Don’t you want to hold her Chels?” She glanced at the baby.
The peaceful afternoon was punctured by a gut curdling scream and two shots fired soon after. Both girls’ searched around to see how close the danger was and instinct took over. Chelsea lifted her child close, making sure not to disturb her sleep. Any noise would alert whoever was out there and their lives would be over. Beth grabbed the blanket and bags lying close to the dirty mattress, ready to go in an instant. She helped her small, frail friend up and together they quietly made their way to the left, to some outlying buildings that joined onto the garages at the front.
Only the noise of the incessant buzzing flies and squawking magpies, disturbed by the shots could be heard. The air felt still, as though the hunters were waiting for them to make a wrong move. The buildings were battered and ruined but some still had rooms with doors and a roof or ceiling. Beth and Chelsea made their way over rubble and general debri blocking their safe passage and making a silent escape almost impossible.
Once in the corner of one of the remaining rooms which looked as if it might have been an office with its flat carpeting and littered desks, they sat and watched for signs of movement outside. The baby stirred and started whimpering. Beth frowned and growled at Chelsea to whip out her breast and start feeding her. Chelsea blushed deeply but didn’t argue, slowly lifting her red floral blouse and putting the baby against her soft, warm skin. Without hesitation the baby searched out the areola and suckled happily, grabbing as much skin around the breast as she could hold.
Chelsea wanted to giggle and cry at the same time but knew better than to utter a sound that might give them away. Her blood went cold. Footsteps crunched outside. Closer. They came, voices drifting incoherently. The crunching stopped and someone swore loudly, slapping the person next to them who yelped and swore back. They sounded young but both girls knew how dangerous the younger ones could be. Youth was not something that stopped the darkness that had enveloped their world. Ten year olds, even eight year olds were not above raping and murdering, just for entertainment.
The crunching steps sounded again and moved on past the buildings and back towards the garages and main road. It must have been a hunting party. There were many in the area as it was considered no man’s land – the area between quarantine zones and ORCs (Orphans Relocation Camps). Both held terrors for children and families left behind, but no man’s land was treacherous for hunting parties looking for food and nik-naks that could be sold on the black market. Any living soul found wandering would either be killed by hunting parties thinking they were competition or would be captured and sent to the zones.
The girls heard a car revving its engine and screeching its tyres as it headed off down the road, probably leaving a cloud of dust to filter down as a remnant of their departure. Sighs of relief escaped their compressed lips and each turned to smile at the other.
“There you are!” a voice boomed.
They screamed with fright, struggling to stand to fight for survival.
Hi again and welcome to Book Tuesday.
This week I will be featuring the start of an idea that came to me whilst writing Deception. The plot is simple and has probably been used a few too many times; hence the reason I never bothered following through with this story. Anyway, I was going through my files and stumbled upon it again, so I decided to give you a taster. It’s about a group of teenagers that have survived a flu pandemic. One of the teens was pregnant at the time and will play a key role in the future plot.
Tell me what you think and if you would like me to continue the story each week (similar to what I did with Cecil The Bully). As always, thanks for reading and giving your feedback. I appreciate it.
The sun crept over the horizon and slowly lit the valley below. Trees turned their leaves to the warmth and the fog that had engulfed the night rose to meet the morning light. James turned under the covers and stretched his young body to its full length. He knew he was tall for his age and used it to his advantage with the girls and sports coaches. Everyone seemed to like his sense of humour and devil-may-care attitude, but deep down he knew the truth. Scratch a little below the surface and you found a scared little boy whose dad had left when he was four and a mother with relationship issues to say the least. He had to use his height to push out unwelcome male visitors who thought a night cap included a one night stand.
Everything in Jame’s world had alway had some sort of balance. Making sure his school life was bearable against Mom’s “friends” who liked to visit late at night; balancing friendships with the guys against girls who wanted him for his social status and feigned confidence. That was until Chelsea arrived at the school. She was different, so original to the churned out sheep that circulated the dating scene. Her hair shone bright in the sun and she wasn’t afraid to braid it. Soft patterns and little clips made her look angelic and his heart melted at the sight of her. She was shy and seemed to enjoy hanging out with the nerds in the library. It gave him an excuse to update his knowledge on reference books and fiction titles as he sauntered along the narrow aisles,, watching her laugh and use her hands to gesture at every conversation. She liked to chew on the tip of her ponytail and twirled it in her long fingers, caressing her hair whilst she chatted.
Yes James could feel the uncontrollable adrenalin rush through his body at the thought of Chelsea. If only she would notice him! Her bright blue eyes secretly followed him and she wondered when he would get up the courage to approach her. A girl had to be careful not to give one guy too much attention, especially in a new school. Everyone was a stranger but wanted to be a friend. It took time to find the real thing amongst the fakers who wanted the skinny on a girl’s past. Chelsea knew the drill. She had moved around so much with her dad being in the army, she felt that this was the norm. Find a few easy friends, no-one too intense and wait out another year of school in a strange town. Soon enough she would be packed up and moved to another place, maybe country to continue her studies amongst strangers. Army brats knew how to take care of themselves, even if it felt endlessly tiring and terrifying to meet new kids and maintain temporary friendships.
“Hi!” a deep voice said behind her. She spun around, surprised out if her internal monologue. It was James, tall, handsome with long blonde hair and dark eyes that didn’t quite match his fair skin and hair.
“Hi yourself ,” Chelsea replied, smiling at his awkward stance and twisting her braided hair around nervous fingers. “Aren’t you in my library club?”
“Yeah! Uh, so I was wondering, what are you doing after the sponsored walk next week? A group of us are thinking of going into town and getting something to eat.”
“Okay. Yeah that sounds good thanks. Can I invite some of my friends from library too?”
“Yes sure.” James shifted his weight from one foot to the other, looking awkward and out of place amongst the other teenagers with their noses buried in books. “Okay I will see you after the walk on Friday then!” he smiled and walked off into the crowd of teens trying to escape through the library doors as the bell rang to announce the change of lessons.
That had been weeks, no months ago. A lifetime ago.
The baby wailed and everyone cringed in fear. The patrols had been cruising past more frequently and if they didn’t do something to quiet it down, they would be found. It was early evening but it had been raining for most of the day, the coldness seeping through their dirty layers of clothing. Beth stood up and stretched her stiff joints, hearing her back crack into place. The scarf covering her frizzy black hair was the brightest thing on her and could be seen more clearly than the dark velvet coat and grey skinny jeans that covered her thin body. She reached out to take the baby from its dozing mother. The movement woke her, her startling blue eyes showing fear until they focused on Beth’s dark arms pulling the baby from her clutches.
“Don’t worry. I’ll take her for a while,” Beth whispered as she gently plucked the baby out of Chelsea’s weakening grip. The little bundle wriggled and made a loud burp which cracked the three gaunt faces around the fire and gave them something to smile about for a moment. “Better in than out, as Shrek would say!” Beth smiled. The baby smiled back at her and wriggled some more, getting on with her own business in the already full nappy.
Their hiding place was not much. After leaving the buildings behind and following the long road through the farmlands, they had happened upon a barn that was still full of hay. It was warm enough when dry but the drips and drops of water seeped through cracks in the corrugated roof, making slush puddles on the dirt floor and wetting the hay to the point of stinking rot. No-one complained because they all knew the consequences of getting caught by the SX16 squad. Death would be welcome in comparison.
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