‘FreeSpace’:offers 3 post slots to creatives for mini- projects or the specific showcasing of material in a more in-depth manner. The slots can be taken up in a cluster or spread across a number of months >>>
Featuring first time writer:
and her novel
Humanity: The fall follows the story of Charlie who, after surviving a biological terror attack, must face the horrors of the world left behind. Starving and alone she finds herself teetering on the edge of survival she soon realises that the evil lurking in the darkness is far worse than anyone could have imagined. The deadly pathogen and war torn streets drive Charlie into the arms of ex-solider Gabriel. But the sanctuary he offers her soon turns into twisted prison threatening to destroy the last remnant of humanity the pair find themselves at a crossroads. band together and start anew or succumb to the evil that pollutes the air. With the pair fighting to stay alive in a harsh world the people they encounter and the places they go will change their lives forever.
I have really enjoyed writing Humanity and as a first time writer I hope you will enjoy reading my work as much as I have enjoyed writing. If you stick with it and find the time to read the completed book I hope you will stay tuned in order to check out the next book in the Humanity story line. Thank you for taking the time to read this twist on the supernatural / thriller genre.
In the mirror stands a young girl. Her plain features compliment the mousey blonde hair that falls just below her shoulders. Her cobalt eyes widen with fear as she stares into the blackness. She is searching for something. If it were not for the layer of dirt clinging to her tiny frame, her ghostly reflection would appear to glow. Memories threaten to drown her as she draws a line in the dust at her feet. Long ago this room had been furnished with beautiful furniture, now all that remained was her mother’s dressing mirror. Something enters the room. It watches her from the shadows, lurking in the darkest corner out of sight. By the time she spots the disfigured creature, it’s too late. It tears through her flesh; there is nothing she can do to stop the vile poison flooding her veins. As the life flows from her body darkness takes her, the image of her attackers grey eyes becomes her last.
Charlie wakes from her nightmare gasping for air but as the fear begins to pass the realisation hits her, the nightmares are real. Fear is good, it reminds her that she is still alive. She braces herself as the truck speeds over a broken road but the military vehicle offers little protection from anything, especially the cold. Through holes in the ruddy green tarp the sky is still dark, yet in the distance streaks of light start to crawl out from under the night sky. Watching as the icy landscape begins to reveal itself she reminds herself that the view beyond the truck is not the same as the world she grew up in.
The rush hour is dead and the streets no longer slumber in peaceful bliss, they are barren. Survivors hide in the shadow of the old world, and hiding in their homes they wait to feel Death trace his cold finger down their spines. The cold air makes Charlie shiver but tucking her legs into her chest does little to bring warmth back into her body. There is just enough light to make out the sunken faces of the men and women sat beside her. An old man sat in the corner nursing a burnt patch of flesh on his bony arm whilst the woman next to him dressed a weeping welt with a dirty rag. As she turned back to the hole in the tarp she almost missed it; a child dressed in rags that had been quietly tucked away inside it’s mothers coat.
Since the war children had become a rare sight and so for once the sight of others had become a pleasant one. The smell of dead flesh had become so commonplace that Charlie had stopped noticing it. But whether or not that was a good thing she was yet to decide. When the world fell apart, widespread panic and uncontrollable riots sent those graced with the gift of common sense running out of the cities before the government could prohibit public travel. Others armed themselves and stayed to fight but most gave up hope and sat in their homes waiting for the end.
For a short time chaos ran rampant through the streets, but then the bombs fell. Shops were ransacked, men killed, women and children raped, but it didn’t last long, if the war hadn’t killed them then the radiation would. Then something strange happened. Those who didn’t die from the radiation began to change. Some, like Charlie, found that their DNA had developed a protective layer against the radiation; preventing the absorption of further radiation. Others weren’t so lucky. The radiation poisoned both the body and mind of those who failed to evolve, their bodies became contorted and their minds bent by evil. They are consumed by an insatiable hunger, a hunger so powerful the need to kill and eat overrides all else. Survivors banded together to defend strongholds in the country, isolating themselves from the mutants but those who remained in the cities died. When people tried to escape the renegades harsh slave like treatment they were shot, or worse.
The world was a harsh wasteland where survival was measured in minutes until out of the darkness a guiding force appeared to guide survivors into the light. The militia. After securing an ex-military camp they set up their own society and in return for work you were given food and protection, the perfect society. Or so she thought. “How many others like us do you think there are?” “Sorry?” She turned to face the man sitting next to her “Survivors – how many do you think are left out there?” His voice was low, aware of those surrounding him. “I don’t know.” Since losing her parents, Charlie had made a point of involving herself with people as little as possible. Her compassion for humankind had fallen since the war; the eyeless faces of dead children in mass graves still haunted her dreams.
For now her only concern was joining the militia and securing her own survival, other people would only drag her down. As another cold wind tore through the truck bed she shivered. The man beside her began to unzip his coat “Here, take this.” “I’m fine, really” In a world where rape, kidnapping and murder had become a favourite pass time it was hard to trust anyone, especially men. It hadn’t taken long to learn that these days nothing came without a price. Even before the war. “We’ll be at the station soon, give it back then if you want but I don’t need it. No strings attached I promise.” Despite feeling uncomfortable taking things from strangers Charlie was beginning to turn blue. So taking the coat she slipping her arms into the warm fur lining and began to wonder how long it had been since she’d felt this warm. Pulling the zipper all the way up her neck she breathed in the stranger’s musky scent. Kindness did not come easily these days, she would have to get used to it. Leaning back into the truck’s metal bench she tried to push her dark memories aside and image what the militia’s camp looked like. Was it really as safe as the rumours suggested? But it would be a while before she found out, they hadn’t lasted this long without precautions and there were many stations she had to pass through before being admitted to the main compound. The truck came to a sudden stop displacing Charlie from her seat. As people scrambled to get their belongings, the tarp flaps were thrown open by two men holding rifles.
One of the last people to climb from the truck, Charlie joined the line survivors as they began walking towards a make shift bubble dome. “What’s your name kid?” looking up from the dead trampled grass she realised that the man from the truck was now trudging alongside her. Unlike the other’s his eyes were full of life, as if the war hadn’t tainted him. “Charlie” the word barely escaped her lips, it was silly but her name was all that remained of her past life. Names were precious they had power. “Keep the coat Charlie, was nice to meet you.” As he strode up to the dome she watched as he shook hands with the solider at the door. To her surprise, he was lead behind the dome rather than going through it like the rest of them. Keeping her head down she entered the dome, as she risked a glance to her left she noticed that thw walls were orange and stamped with black hazard signs. Something she hadn’t seen since the beginning of the war. Up ahead the corridor split in two, men went left and women went right.
When they entered the next room some of the women laughed while others cried, Charlie gasped. Showers. The women began to strip and wash themselves with soap under the lukewarm water. It was a procedure designed to remove any irradiated particles clinging to their bodies; not that anyone noticed it was the first shower any one had seen in months and a welcome reprieve from the dark muddy waters in the lakes. In the old world being, naked around strangers would have made her feel uncomfortable; but the emaciated bodies served as a cold reminder of how the world had changed. Once washed the women were given new clothes, rather old clothes that had been salvaged from the dead. Despite new clothes, Charlie made sure to pick up her old ones, especially the strangers coat. The thought of a shower must have reignited some essence of humanity in the survivors because for once nothing had been stolen or fought over. Once dressed the men and women were reunited.
As they moved through the orange dome they came upon a woman holding a clipboard who began asking the name, age and previous occupation of everyone who had gone through the decontamination process. “So Charlie, you’re seventeen years old and were applying for nursing school? Sorry to keep you waiting but it’s important to keep track of who enters our Compound.” The woman must have asked these questions hundreds of times, she seemed bored and her voice had that static secretarial edge. “If you’d like to return to your vehicle the convoy will be moving on to the second check point in a few minutes.” Climbing back into the truck Charlie took up her old seat. Counting the faces around her, she realised that someone was missing. The man who’d given her his coat had not returned and not being one to waste things, she zipped herself back in the sweet smelling coat. When the last person got back into the already cramped truck the engine roared into life making Charlie jump. After only a year of wandering lifeless roads and empty skies, technology had made her jumpy.
As the dull sun reached its height in the murky sky, it suddenly hit Charlie that she had been travelling for days. Exhausted and cold the little food she’d had did little to fill the empty hole in the pit of her stomach but the prospect of real food at Compound was enough to keep her clinging on to life. With nothing else to do until reaching the next checkpoint she looked out across the dreary landscape, it seemed to go on forever. Most trees had withered and died in the fallout; but hardier trees like conifers had survived, yet in this part of the country they were few and far between. The remaining grass was brown and dying and she struggled to recall the colours of her favourite flowers. It seemed as if nothing had survived the falling ash and toxic rain. How she had survived this, long was a mystery but with the day dragging on Charlie tried not to think dark thoughts and soon found herself slipping back into a deep sleep, unaware of the crying baby still tucked into its mothers arms. >>>>
Shannon will be sharing more of The fall with us in her other 2 posts. Looking forward to it! >>>
You can find more about Shannon and her work here:
If you would like to take up our FreeSpace opportunity please do get in contact via the comment box on any of our posts or pages or via @ArtiPeep. You’d be more than welcome! >>>>