Story day! This is shorter than the last (about 18800 words in fact) and is a semi-sequel to Circumnavigate. I say semi because it occurs in the same post-apocalypse and around a similar time frame. Overall however, I think its a very different story. It did change quite a bit from the original outline I did. In fact, I rewrote the entire opening. I didn’t like it. It didn’t do what I wanted and I may yet post that original version of the opening just because why not. But for now enjoy What Remains.
The cannibals have attacked again. Seven people are dead as a result. Dennis Waites, head of the patrol squads for Haven, a community built in the west of the Chihuahua region of what remains of Mexico, has just arrived. He knows what he’s going to find but he feels the need to see it with his own eyes none the less.
He passes people but pays no mind to any of them, including members of his own patrol squads. He already has the report. It was handed to him by Callum Steele, his old friend and second in command. But even if he hadn’t already been briefed he’d know what to expect as he walks through the first wide open door of the cabin.
The door is made of simple straight lengths of wood nailed to horizontal braces. This cabin is much like all the others, expect this is one that lies on the edge of Haven. Many call it a town, but the reality is that it is more like a community. It has no defences to speak of and some of the cabins are beyond what you would call the edge of the town.
Dennis, referred to as Den by everyone, had urged the residents to relocate and move closer to the majority of the buildings that make up Haven, but his words had fallen on stubborn ears. He couldn’t say he blamed them. They’d built these cabins themselves and carved their lives out of the land they reside on, but that doesn’t make it any easier to face.
He knows who did this. It’s been happening for the last few months and no matter what he does he can’t stop it. The area that his patrol squads have to cover is simply to vast of their numbers. If this was before the sea levels had risen to swallow much of the worlds landmasses maybe it would be different. He doesn’t know though. And that is not the world he lives or was born into. He doesn’t remember the world before the flood waters killed billions of people. It happened before he was born, but he knows the older citizens of the town remember. They barely speak of the world as it had been up until fifty years ago. He understands that it must cause them pain. What humanity had achieved was truly spectacular and to see where they are now must be soul destroying, he thinks as he casts his eyes round the open space of the cabin.
The furniture is splattered with blood and shreds of flesh. He can smell the blood and gore but he’s used to it now. He hadn’t been when this had first started happening. Back then he was sure the attacks were the result of some wild animal desperate for food, maybe a bear. Later they learned how wrong they were when a young girl survived an attack, barely. She didn’t survive long, sadly. Her wounds were just too severe for her life to be saved, but before she’d died the girl, Jessica, had managed to tell them that the attackers had been people. They looked crazed, she’d said. Their skin was pale, too pale, almost like that of a corpse, with lacerations across their faces. She didn’t know if they were self-inflicted or not, but they were jagged she said. Though, they didn’t speak. Not a single word. Instead, they just seemed to growl at one another as though they spoke some primitive language.
“Bastards.” Den says to himself as he wanders the single storey cabin taking note of the carnage.
This land had been the property of Samuel Wilbert his wife Cheryl, her parents and their three children. None of them had survived and were it not for them knowing who occupied this and the cabin next door, which belonged to Cheryl’s parents, they would have no way of knowing how many had died here tonight.
Den hears a number of patrol guards gagging. He understands why, the smell is horrific. It’s a smell that can only be found when acts of sheer brutality have been performed. It makes his blood boil. His fists are clenched tightly at his sides. He can’t show how soaked with rage he is with all these people around. But it doesn’t change the fact that he is. He wonders whether he should just order some of the patrol members to set fire to the cabins.
He doesn’t have to see the scene in the other cabin. He knows it will be exactly the same. No what he knows he has to do now is go see the town elder, Enrique Powers. He has to urge him to allow a squad to venture out in search of these cannibals and their camp and put an end to this madness. Preferably, before it happens again.
At first the attacks had been few and far between. Seemingly they had been at random, but now they’ve become nightly and the toll is rising as a result steeply as a result. Whole households are being slaughtered and Enrique won’t allow him to do a thing. But I’ll give the elder one more chance before I’ll do what I must, he thinks as he leaves the cabin, his head forward as he marches back toward the bulk of the buildings which are nestled closely together. If only they’d listened, Den thinks.
The cool night air is doing nothing to quell his determination that this cannot be allowed to continue no matter what reasons Enrique offers. Den can still see the blood and shreds of flesh littered about the cabin as he crosses street after street. The candle lights that are used as street lights do little to keep back the darkness in a world that no longer has electricity to keep it lit no matter the hour or light level.