This is a short that I had written for a forum writing assignemnt. We do this monthly, basing the assignment on a theme. The theme for this particular entry was "survival." You can read other entries at the following link 
PLEASE NOTE: This FF is rated M for mature content and has scenes of a suggested graphic nature.
Sera's Cold Decree Edit
In an undisclosed town, sometime after E-Day...
It was a mid-Bloom day in the tattered streets of what was once a small subdivision for a industrial community next to the Hemmingway Imulsion Refinery, now abandoned, left with decaying buildings with their foundations leaning from an old emergence hole nearby. Weeds took root from the cracks in the pavement streets, while sidewalks were overrun with grass runners. Wildlife took refuge wherever they could, using the abandoned homes for nests and hives. Even the feral vegetation climbed up the brick walls and fences, while ivy vines seeped into the cracks in windows and made the sheetrock ceiling their haven. Bees took to the open garages while the hornets made their nests under the overhang of the porches, increasing in population as the years went by, getting ready for the Frost.
The sky was an overcast of a layered haze of lackluster colors, from a deep crimson red to chisel brown, while a soft breeze felt cool to the touch, but the dry dismal climate was still warm. Although the festering haze filtered the direct sunlight, keeping the afterglow brown and shady, the rays of the sun would still seep through the layers of muck-like clouds.
But life went on where others have perished, making the most of the new climate that was corrupted by the schemes of men. After the events that followed the Hammer of Dawn Offensive, many native plants shriveled and died while new plants took refuge. Where some of the native birds and insects have died out, a more adapting species would flourish in it‘s place. It was the way of the order of things, the survival of the fittest, regardless of whatever calamity has scorched Sera’s breast.
Walking along the now quiet, weed infested sidewalk, was someone keeping a low profile with their head covered in a dark, baggy hoodie while the bottom hemline of their pants hung loosely over their scuffed boots. A medium-sized dog was also walking along on the sidewalk, his gray hair scruffy and matted while his long, flimsy tail had a kink at the end. His tongue jostled over his bottom jaw and his ears were lying flaccid along his head. The two looked as if they had been trekking for some time now, both slender in build and slightly lethargic.
The hooded figure's pants were frayed along the knees and side seams, suggesting long-term wear without wash for long periods of time. It was obvious that the hoodie was too oversized for the person wearing it, but it did the job of keeping the person covered. Strapped along his back was a pack of some kind, made of leather with an empty water bottle tied to the side, dangling freely.
It hadn’t rained in months, nor sprinkled or hailed. The tanks and ponds have since dried up, inch by inch, leaving only stagnant puddles of muddy water that is constantly being fought over by crows and buzzards. Feral livestock have since perished, their carcasses left rotting along the side of the cracked roads while dry tolerant vegetation took over. The only access to clean, drinkable water was from the wells or taps, but even that wasn‘t entirely reliable. The local waste/water treatment plant had been left inactive for at least three years, ever since the Locusts came and demolished the inhabitants of a town nearby. The water towers have also been left without management, leaving the water levels to dry up and therefore causing the water pressure to subside. Getting reliable water from the tap was not going to be an easy task.
Coming to a well-to-do dwelling made of rosy-colored brick and hardy plank, seemed to be a good place to start looking for water, so the duo walked up to a house through the weed infested lawn and over a broken branch from a dying oak tree still standing in the yard. Coming to the door, the glass window already had a hole in it.
Did someone already come in here, he pondered.
Peering through what was left of the glass, the two waited outside for a moment to listen for any movement in the house. The last thing they wanted to run into was a pack of Wretches roosting in the dwelling…or even worse, some hoodlum, booze-ridden Stranded who would love to ransack any trespassers of their snack packs and ammunitions. In this case, the two only had jerky strips, bazil nuts, and a Snub pistol he managed to remove from another Stranded that was lying dead in a ditch along the way in-town.
Keeping an ear to the door, the hooded figure reached through the broken glass to carefully check to see if the door was locked. Meandering along the frame from the inside, the hand came to the bolt lock. Carefully turning the deadbolt knob, he managed to loosen the door that was being held only by the latch bolt. Meandering his hand back out, he turned the knob to open the door and then gently pushed it open. The dog panted vigorously, wagging his tail to the unfamiliar scents coming from inside the house.
Stepping into the house, an abrupt whiff of the stale, pungent air that had been festering inside the house hit his nostrils. The figure cringed at first, bringing his hand to his face,
“Ugh…” he groaned.
Meandering around the dangling strings of cobwebs that hung from the ceiling, he looked to his side to find that which he had been seeking; a drinking water dispenser with a five gallon bottle only a third full. Moving past the dusty cobwebs to get a better look, the figure couldn’t believe his eyes as he removed the hood from his head, revealing a head of disheveled, long blonde hair that was damp from sweating underneath the fleece hoodie. The dog whined, exchanging glances with the young man as his parched mouth was still panting for just a drop of something to drink.
Moving toward the dispenser, the young man pulled out his empty bottle with his hand, trembling slightly from long-term dehydration, steadily removing the cap. Shortly after removing the lid, he pressed down on the stiff lever several times before the dispenser was able to release the water from the contents of the five gallon bottle. It took a few moments for the dispenser to pump the water evenly, but his patience finally paid off as the cool, clean water entered the bottle with ease, it’s fresh ozone scent enticing his senses as the dog whined on and off, wagging his tail at the sight of water being fed from the nozzle. After partially filling the bottle, the young man brought the bottle to his dry mouth and washed it all down, guzzling the water that ran into his eager mouth. He bent the lever back down as water ran freely from the dispenser to the floor, allowing the dog to lick the contents, free flowing from the nozzle.
After guzzling down the water in his bottle, he put it back under the dispenser to fill it up again, but this time, filling it to the top to reserve for later. The dog was still busy lapping the excess water on the floor, licking up every drop his tired, parched tongue could muster.
Shortly after the young man placed the bottle back onto his pack, the dog suddenly lifted his head, alerted to the noises coming from the outside as his ears perked up. It wasn’t long before the young man could hear the faint noise of voices; human voices. Oh no…
Tip toeing towards the door, in which he forgot to close behind him, he knelt down next to the door frame to peer out toward the street, scanning for the source of some audible rambling, coming from what sounded like a man babbling.
“The fuck yer doin?” the young man could barely audibly hear the commotion coming from the debris littered street across the lawn of the house. Peering past the broken tree branch that laid sappily on the yellow, unkempt lawn, he noticed what looked like a confrontation between two Stranded men. One wore a dark-pea coat, with what appeared to be a bandolier that ran across his chest and looped over his back, filled with rifle rounds. His pants and leg armor resembled that of a Gears’…maybe he stole them from a corpse.
It wasn’t uncommon for Stranded to steal armaments from the bodies of dead soldiers whenever they got the chance. It wasn’t about honor or decorum, it was about survival, and most everyone figured that anyone weaponless were better off dead.
“Hey…the hell ya doin?” the young man could hear the other man in the raggedy trench coat, slur, “…I said, what da fuck are ya doin?”
The other man with the bandolier across his chest stood his ground as the other staggered with a hand on what appeared to be a holster, leaning on one side as his feet dragged along the concrete road. It was obvious he wasn’t coherent, but whether it was from the afternoon festive booze or the dry, afternoon heat was uncertain. The slurring man had a bandage wrapped around his head with a crusty, brown stain, from what looked like dried blood, smeared along the forehead. His clammy, long salt and pepper, colored hair hung underneath the bandage while his fraying trench coat hung below his knees. He continued to stagger forward as the other stood in his place in the face-off, not moving a single inch, not even to gesture.
“You better give me back my moonshine, ya hear me?” the raggedy man slurred again, staggering even slower now while he slowly clutched his head, teetering as he swayed from side to side. Yea, he’s drunk off his ass.
Unbeknownst to him, another man one with a white bandana wrapped on his head, was sneaking up from behind with a shotgun in hand. Watching the scene unfold, the young man sat in hiding as he observed the raggedy man get bludgeoned from behind, knocked onto the ground as the man with the bandolier joined in, the two taking turns beating on the drunkards’ head with the stocks of their guns. After several minutes of just senselessly beating the man until he laid still, his head now unrecognizable between the loose bandage, hair, and crimson paste, the two men knelt down to rummage through his coat, pulling out ammo clips, cigarettes, and a clear bag of what looked like to be tobacco.
“Awe, yea…this old geezers’ got some good shit…” one of them blurted out.
It took a few minutes but eventually the men ceased in removing any more contraband from the old man’s flaccid body, only to get back up and continue on their away, leaving him in the middle of the street, bloodied and unmoving. The younger man sat still for a moment, hesitantly waiting to make sure the two men were long gone, before taking his turn to see if they left anything behind. From the distance, he could see a bottle nestled in the old man’s coat pocket.
As the minutes passed, the younger man carefully got up and walked out onto the patchy lawn, meandering around the dead branch toward the weed, infested sidewalk. The dog stayed and resumed lapping up the rest of the water that spilled onto the floor.
The young man continued to walk out into the street, moving closer to the old man still lying on the road, motionless with only the soft breeze stirring the rags that were wrapped on his body. The younger man scanned around, keeping a wary eye just in case the two men were ever to return. Although he had the Snub pistol nestled in the holster strapped around his waist, under his oversized hoodie, he had never had to use it.
Would I be able to shoot somebody with it if I had to, he pondered. Yes…yes I would, but only if it was a matter of survival, he reasoned to himself.
He had spent the past few months reasoning to himself, recalling the first time he had to steal, because it was for the sake of survival. He could recall the first time he had to barter, because it was all about survival. Would killing somebody be any different?
Glancing at the old man, still lying still on the slab while blood ran freely down the pavement and into the curb nearby from his open head, the younger man felt a cringe in his gut before turning away.
Shit…they really fucked this poor dude up.
Salvaging his stomach, he returned his gaze to the old drunkard, looking carefully around the man’s clammy hair and the fracture in his head that could be seen past the already blood-soaked bandage. Slowly meandering the old man’s body, he caught a sight of the clear bottle he noticed earlier, that just so happened to have a colorless liquid inside…water. He felt it was just his luck to find two sources of water in one day, the most he had seen in over a week. The younger man knelt down over the body, catching a whiff of the foul stench that was coming from the old man’s body odor, but nevertheless, he kept his fix on the prize; the water bottle that was nestled in the old man’s side pocket. Reaching down to pull the bottle from the coat, he finally managed to get it loose and take the bottle out, when suddenly he felt something slam along the back of his head.
Falling forward, the young man hit the ground onto his outstretched hands, bracing himself for the impact. Colliding into the pavement, he stirred up the dirt, creating a dusty haze all around him. Lifting his aching head, he caught a brief glimpse as to what it was that had just struck him, and it was that same man; the man with the bandolier, standing over him with a rifle in his hand.
The man didn’t hesitate as he kicked the young man in the gut, consequently knocking the air out him, another means to enable him along with his already, throbbing head. By now, he was immobile, his diaphragm cramping so hard that it made it hard to breath, but with each struggling gasp of air, his head would throb even more.
“…and you thought I didn’t notice you hidin’ back there, did ya?” the man with the bandolier growled. He leaned over to yank the strap to young man’s backpack off, “…let’s see what ya got in there.”
Removing the pack from the young man’s cramping body, the man with the bandolier shoved him back down. Within a few more seconds, the other man, the one with the white bandana, joined him, looking down at the younger man lying on his stomach, coughing and gagging. The man with the white bandana started to laugh,
“Hehe, that’s two in one day,” he snickered, …“damn…he looks kinda pretty don’cha think Derelick?” he sneered as his eyes were following the young man’s backside, “…I bet his ass would feel warm and tight…like a girls’ pussy, if ya ask me.”
The young man was desperately trying to find his pistol underneath his hoodie, but without warning, the man with the bandana quickly knelt down to grab the younger man by the hair on his head, lifting him up as he tightened his fingers around the blonde strands. The young man yelped each time the other man yanked.
“Mmmm…that’s a nice lookin’ head of hair you got dere, boy,” the man with the bandana purred, “…hey Derelick, how’d bout we have a quickie?”
The man with the bandolier didn’t turn his head to acknowledge him as he mumbled lowly,
“Shit Snipe…just…make it quick. And give me the water bottle when your done.”
“Sure thing,” the one he called Snipe, snickered.
Turning around so he wouldn’t watch, the man with the bandolier, only known as Derelick, stood there, rummaging through the younger man’s backpack, ignoring the commotion coming from the younger man as Snipe slugged him some more to keep him dazed. Derelick could hear the young man whimper in pain, but the groans for pity didn’t seem to faze him. Turning the dazed, young man onto his stomach, Snipe shoved his face to the ground, fastening the younger man’s wrists behind his back with a roll of duct tape he had in his pack before taking out his knife and cutting off his loosened belt. He then yanked the younger man’s pants down, and ripped into his already holy underwear to reveal a pale, skinny buttocks.
“Awe man, dis boy’s got a skinny ass…”
“Beggars can’t be choosers! Just hurry up and poke him…we need to get outta here before dark,” Derelick griped as he resumed searching through the young man‘s pack.
With that said, Snipe didn’t waste any time to unhinge his belt before loosening his fatigues that he too probably stole from a dead Gear. Derelick continued to look through the backpack, pulling out a piece of jerky, all the while he was tuning out the commotion from behind.
“Hey, don’t you shit on me, boy!” Derelick could hear Snipe yell over the younger man‘s bellowing, hitting him again to get his point across.
It was apparent that they had done this numerous times before, whether it be man, woman, beast, or God knows what. There was no laws, much less a sheriff to enforce them, or a magistrate to indict those who broke them. It wasn’t about principles, it was about survival, in it‘s most primeval state, whether it be at it’s best, or it’s worst. To kill and maim, or be killed and maimed…principles and morality be damned.
As the howling from the younger man started to subside, Derelick shuddered slightly as he could hear Snipe let out a bellowing grunt, the signal that meant Snipe was finished. Still looking through the bag, Derelick yelled out before looking over his shoulder.
“There’s some food in here. Enough to last us for a day, so ya better shut him up, quick!”
Shortly later, a shot rang out from behind Derelick as the grisly groaning coming from the young man came to an end, and all was quiet. Derelick looked over his shoulder again and noticed Snipe standing over the man with the muzzle of his Boltok pointed at him, smoke seeping form the barrel. Snipe looked up at Derelick to flash him a mocking grin,
“He’s still pretty warm, if ya wanna have a go?” Snipe suggested, but Derelick just returned a look of foul displacency.
“Just because I allow you to get your rocks off doesn’t mean I’m gonna join in…stupid shit!”
“Hey, beggars can’t be choosers, remember! Ain’t no woman or child within miles of here.”
“Shut up and zip up your pants. I don’t wanna be lookin’ at yer dingy all day,” Derelick growled back.
“Alright, alright…” Snipe grumbled as he knelt back down to resume buttoning up his fatigues.
Just as Snipe was pulling his pants above his hip, a shot rang out as a zip suddenly went past him, feeling a sudden splash of warmth spatter onto his face. The sudden noise startled Snipe, so much that he tripped over the young man’s dead body, falling over with his pants hung around his pelvis.
Falling face first onto the ground, Snipe was in a panic, trying move with his pants restricting his legs. He couldn’t see past the blood that was seeping into his eyes; oh fuck, I’ve been shot, but he couldn’t feel any entry wounds. Trying to pull himself together despite the blood splattered on his face and his pants now hanging around his thighs, he reached around aimlessly, trying to find his gun that he had a dropped from the startling noise.
“Derelick man…where the fuck are you?” he yelled out. There was no answer, only the sounds of footsteps inevitably coming closer…and closer.
“Ooman down,” a bellowing, gurgling roar could be heard, oh shit!
The sound of a Locusts’ grinding voice stirred turmoil into Snipe’s gut. Terrified, Snipe frantically reached around, scanning for whatever he could find, only to stumble across his partner’s headless corpse. Oh God…
After getting an eyeful of Derelick’s partial head that was folded over his neck, the inevitable shock hit him like a wrecking ball. Within seconds, he lost control of his bowels, defecating himself before what was to happen next. It wasn’t long before he caught a glimpse of the oncoming Locust, charging in quickly to bludgeon him on the head with the butt of his Hammerburst assault rifle. The world suddenly went into a spin, pictures blacking in and out before Snipe plummeted down onto his back, feeling his head hit the course pavement. Feeling a sudden weight placed upon his chest, he lifted his blood-filled eyes, only to see his Locust assailant, with his heavy boot placed over his chest to keep him down, pressing hard against his sternum.
“Here…” the Locust bellowed out. Others soon joined him, including the sniper who took out Derelick, whom was lying dead next to him. Moving in one at a time, the four Locusts made haste, grunting and snarling, rummaging through the other bodies for armaments. Snipe could barely see one of the Locusts’ pulling up the young man’s body, taking out a Snub pistol from underneath the hoodie, and then tossed the flaccid body to the side.
Snipe redirected his frail sight to the oncoming Locust with no chest armor. Despite his blood-filled eyes, he could see, up close, the Locusts’ riggid, scaly hide, littered with scars. His face was chiseled and his eyes, yellow and fierce, glaring directly into Snipe‘s, scared-shitless façade. As the Grenadier Locust pulled out a massive knife, Snipe could only watch in horror as the Grenadier meandered around his assailant, whose massive boot was still planted on his chest. Watching the burly beast kneel down with the knife in hand, Snipe’s sight started to falter under the haze of the mid-afternoon sun…and then the Grenadier went to work.
At first, Snipe wailed to the sharp, piercing cramp in his gut, occasionally getting a glimpse of the knife shearing his stomach, stretching across his abdomen. As the Grenadier continued, he could feel the contortions of the pulling of his innards, witnessing them being yanked and tossed to the side like trash. Snipe groaned as they cut and pulled, all the while he was still conscience, still coherent to what was going on, wailing in agony until one of the Locusts got tired of listening to Snipe’s bellowing, and took the Snub pistol to his head to pull the trigger. Shortly after the shot entered Snipe’s head, his legs twitched a few times, letting out a gurgling groan before his body went still. The Grenadier resumed disemboweling him, until the cavity was empty of its contents, ready to be hung and dried. After several days of trekking from town to town, with no fresh cattle or animals in sight, the Locusts had finally found something to eat for the night.
Tying both Snipe’s and Derelick’s legs and arms together, the Locusts pulled up their bodies to carry them away, over to a place to camp for the evening, before the Kryll come out to feed. It was an endless circle, to search, exterminate, kill, and then hide away, until the next day to start the process all over again. But as food and people were becoming scarce, each day was getting harder, as the Locust Horde now scavenge to survive.
Leaving the vicinity, the Locusts left behind the bodies of the foul-scented drunkard and the young man, lying in the middle of the street. Nearby, the young man’s scruffy dog came out from the house, shortly after the Locusts left, sniffing the air as the dog meandered around the debris that was scattered around the street. Finally coming to the partially naked body of the young man, with his cranial matter scattered all over the pavement, the dog looked up with his ears perked, searching for anything that may be nearby. With no immediate threat to be had, the dog took a moment to thoroughly sniff along the young man’s corpse, until at last, it was safe, and then he took a bite.