These are my two dreams. I wrote them as exactly as I could.
The market was nothing more than a junkyard managed by a hog of a man who was just as dirty as the things he horded. But junkyards like this generally held some kind of treasure so I always checked them out if I had the time.
As I was digging through things rain had covered with mud, a boy appeared standing over me up on the bank. “What you doing here? We don’t like strangers here.”
No one liked strangers these days. I’d heard it all before, and I agreed. This boy had a mother. I could tell because she made some effort to keep him clean, not easy to do in a world without running water.
I climbed up out of the trench. “You really think you’re big enough to challenge strangers?” Then I spotted a girl darting by being chased by another. “Those your sisters? You protecting your sisters?”
“You stay away from my sisters,” said the boy. He was being admirably tough and very foolish. He was just a kid.
I grabbed him, spun him around, and covered his eyes. “What are you going to do now? You can’t see them. How are you going to protect them if you can’t see them?” And then a real threat came roaring into the yard. I pushed the boy away from me. “Go. Get your sisters inside and hide.” I wasn’t in time though, neither of us were.
The men, there were four of them, snagged the girls like they were rag dolls hanging out on a clothesline. They screamed and struggled, but they were just little things. The boy valiantly threw himself to their defense, but he too was just another rag doll.
The screams tore through me. I knew it well – personally. Where their mom and dad were, I had no idea. Probably out in their fields. You didn’t eat if you didn’t have fields. Even if they were close enough to hear the screams, they were too far away to stop this.
I hefted my club as the memories tore me apart. It was a heavy branch of oak with the perfect fork on the end. Tied in that fork was a rock about the size of my head coincidentally shaped something like a tooth maybe from some dinosaur. It was satisfyingly heavy.
I strode into the house. The boy was sitting up on the counter to my left, pinned there by one of the thugs; tears were streaming down his face. Another was rummaging through the cupboards and shelves to see what he could find. The girls’ screams could be heard from the back of the little house, behind the crude chimney. Good thing it was summer, the fire was cold. The look on the boy’s face was the same look I’d seen in my father’s face when this had happened to me. I wouldn’t let it happen again.
I left the house with my club bloody. The kids were still crying. The men had been quick, but at least the girls knew that their violation had been avenged. My father hadn’t been so lucky. I never knew what information those men had wanted from my father. My violation was his torture. Whatever it was, he sang like a songbird, but it bought neither my reprieve nor his life.
I learned early on that the enemy wasn’t always from the other side. I remember back then. We had all been so arrogant and innocent. While the administration had been sucking the money from the public and locking up our guns for public safety, they had also been bringing the enemy in. It was a subtle and patient project.
Eventually someone, likely one of us, threw the first stone. It really was a stone thrown through a window of the White House. Then the war started. It might have been too soon though, and even though the administration kept throwing money at the issue, it didn’t buy them any favors; they were the first to fall as the White House was ransacked and burned to the ground within the first week. We won that war, but it cost us all of our innocence and a good deal of our honor. Now that the economy had crumbled around our ears, we preyed upon each other.
The first prey was the Muslims, no matter if they were innocent women or children. Next were the Mexicans, even if they’d been Americans for generations. There were others after that, and then the excuses began to grow thin. Now, there were more men like those behind me staining the dirt floor with their blood, just predators who didn’t care who they preyed upon.
I was walking down the road. I was carrying a baby girl on my back. Suddenly a gravitational EMP went off somewhere behind me. Those things have a range of about five miles, and judging by the way I was picked up and hurdled along the road, it was no more than four miles away. Gravitational EMPs are nasty; they pick up anything within their range that’s not nailed down, anything at all, it doesn’t matter the size, and hurdles it by the shortest, straightest, line away. In my case, that meant straight down this road at about six feet off the ground.
I could be carried on this wave rather like a surfer for as long as I stayed on the front or until it ran out of energy. One way or another, I would land sooner or later, and now that I could see a wall up ahead, I hoped it would be sooner.
The stone wall was more a roadblock than an actual wall; it blocked the road with massive sliding doors, but didn’t extend on up out of the arroyo. If I didn’t land soon, I’d be smashed up against that wall.
Land I did, and thankfully it was in the ditch. Both of us lived our impromptu, wingless flight, but not unscathed.
Just as I was climbing to my feet, I spotted a group of people approaching the gate from the far side. Two women and three men came to close the gate.
Still stunned from my recent ordeal, I was speechless. One of the women came up to me and then looked at the baby on my back. “It’s alive, but you might as well kill it. A cut like that, it’ll die of infection soon anyway, and if not the scar will be horrible.”
“You can’t just let her die. She’s just a baby. She’s just a little girl.”
The woman looked at me. All compassion had long since left her eyes. “Why? She’s got no future. None of us do.”
“Because…” And then it occurred to me. I wanted her. I needed her. She was important to me, deep inside. Always, until this moment, she had been something of a burden, an inconvenience, a bit of life to grow up in a dead world. “Because I want her.” Until that moment, I believed I didn’t want her, that I had never wanted her, but now that someone had suggested just tossing her aside like so much unfortunate trash, I knew. She was vital to my own life. And it was a bigger picture too. There was no reason to continue living, to continue fighting, if there was no next generation, no future.
So what do you think? Do I have another book in my future? What would you fill the rest of the details with? What title would you pick?