Waking Other Lives

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Chapter 48: Not Again!

Where would I go, what would I do? I was confused with all the information, and the pulse was silent.

“Why don’t you stay with us girl, at least till the morning? Tomorrow is a good day to start afresh,” the woman said, seeing the confusion reflected on my face.

That sounded like the best plan for now. They had the fire, and there was strength in numbers in case the dragons came for us. I took the first watch as I had gotten some sleep already, apparently long before it was due. Looking at the starless sky was weird, the blackness of the sky seemed infinite, without depth, outright scary without the millions of stars probing and illuminating its secrets. I fed the fire using the pile of dry twigs they’d gathered, and I simply enjoyed watching the flames cast their light in the darkness. I woke up George as we’d agreed when my time was up, and I moved closer to the fire and closed my eyes, seeking answers from the morning to come. Sleep evaded me, and I turned this way and that way, finding the cold unpleasant despite the fire. I had no notion of the time and the darkness seemed to stretch everywhere, enveloping us all. I felt suffocated, the feeling of panic was always there, beneath the surface, it felt like I was in a dark and endless tunnel, probing, feeling my way around, seeking the exit which did not seem to exist. I abhorred the dark, and this universe. The mission ahead weighed heavy on me, and I did not remember when my eyes felt heavy, but I finally fell asleep.

I was going to cry in joy when I first felt the sun rays glitter upon my face, its warmth touching my skin. Was this the day of the sun? What a treat! I got up immediately, soaking in the sun as though it had not been one day, but ages since I’ve been deprived of its light and warmth. I was exuberantly happy, there was a light at the end of the tunnel, and I could and would live for the days of the sun in here. Everything seemed to have woken up in nature, the trees stretching and bending their branches to saturate the sun, birds, reptiles, squirrels coming out of their hiding places to hunt for food. The universe which had been gloomy, inanimate, and silent the day before seemed to have come alive, now swarming with life and activity.

“You see, it’s a good day child,” the woman said. “We’ll make use of it, till it lasts, which unfortunately will not be long. Tomorrow we’ll be in darkness again”.

“We are heading for the east, there is a larger human sanctuary over there. You are free to join us if you want”, George said. “But, we are leaving in a few minutes, so you need to be ready if you want to tag along.”

“Okay,” I said, expecting the rush of the beat any minute now in objection, but it didn’t happen. So, that was good, then.

Walking in the sun was a joy, I savored every minute of it, taking off the heavy clothes I had stolen from the poor dead woman. I didn’t even think of complaining when it became too hot in the afternoon, and the clothes I was carrying became a drag, thirst now becoming an issue. We didn’t stop until we came across a river, its edges wide yet shallow, and I drank its water heartily to quench my thirst, washing my face and arms in vigor.

“Do the dragons come out at night?” I asked, not having spotted any danger so far. This group of seven people though was treading cautiously, and remained alert. Only a few in the group had guns though, the remaining individuals remained in the center, making sure they didn’t fall behind.

“No, I wish. Though, they love hunting more at night, they kill and burn at day time, too, not that we can differentiate day and night in most days, now. But, these parts are relatively dragon free, at least for a few more hours of walking. This territory is not one of their regular nesting places,” George replied.”

“Then why don’t you live in these parts?” I asked.

“Oh, child, it’s because these are the hiding places of the bandits,” the woman explained.

“Bandits?”

“Yes. The humans with the sophisticated guns. They kill, and steal, and take everything you have along these routes. They have become as dangerous as the dragons, but dying at their hands is much quicker, if you know what I mean.”

“How lovely,” I murmured. The choice was between whether the bandits or the dragons would kill me before I completed the mission. We were back on our feet again, hurrying to get out of the bandit territory before it was night. After hours of walking, we finally came to a stop.

“We need to camp here, we will not build a fire, ” George said.

We cuddled next to one another, preserving heat. Though soon all were snoring, I gazed at the stars for a long time, just admiring their beauty and light, until I could no longer keep my eyes open. And, I slept with a heavy heart, knowing full well, I’d wake up to darkness yet again.

“Wake up beauties,” I heard someone laugh, as I was nudged harshly in the ribs.

“What is going on?” I murmured, still sleepy. It was all dark except for the torches. Torches? What the hell? Where had they come from? There were at least twenty people with torches in their hands. My eyes looked frantically to find George who was supposed to be on morning watch duty, but he was held by two gunmen, while others were holding their weapons at us, ready to shoot.

“Now, we are screwed.” the woman said.

“Bandits?” I asked, but she didn’t have to answer. I already knew.

“Everyone up,” one of them said. “C’mon, sleeping time is over, I will not repeat myself. You either follow us nice and fast, or I will shoot you right in the head, and will leave your body for the dragons to feast upon,” he said, winking at me.

They tied us to one another like slaves, and we walked in one line under the light of the torches until we came to a largely hidden cave, and we walked right into the bandits’ dwelling. There were all in all seventy or seventy-five of them, holding scary machine guns, all dressed in black. They had cans of food, dried meat, and fruits stored in crude shelves they had built on cave walls.

“Why did you bring them here, you were supposed to kill all, but her,” I heard him say. And, of course I knew. History was repeating itself, whether it be universe one or two, some things never changed.

“Hi, Baran. Of course, it had to be you,” I said. “What’s up? ”

“Sierra, you’ve scared the hell out of me. Don’t ever do that again, do you hear me?”

“Do what?” I asked, utterly frustrated. I didn’t have time to deal with Baran right now.

“Leave me because we had a fight. Are you forgetting the dragons, baby? They could have killed you.”

“Are you with these vermin?” George spat his words out.

“It seems so,” I said in defeat. “Let them go on their way, they are harmless,” I said to Baran.

“Baby, we can’t just let people go, you know that. There has to be an order to the way we do things here.”

“Oh, C’mon, what order are you talking about for God’s sake? We are in a messed up world, with the dragons hunting us down, and the sun dying on us, and you are worried over the stupid mafia kingdom you built in a cave? Seriously, let them go and I’ll stay.”

“Of course you will. Sierra, I will not tolerate defiance, if you leave me ever again, I will not be responsible from my actions. Just saying. Now, as an act of good faith, I will let them go, but don’t you dictate my actions, ever again. I have kept us alive until this point, and I will keep doing it. But, not if I forgive every trespassing soul. We need to feed ourselves, and with so little of what remains in this world, we need to kill to get to that food, do you hear me? It’s aneverybody for oneselfkind of world now.”

“Fine, now let them go,” I said, and he nodded his head to his men. I didn’t have any time to spend correcting the order of things in this universe, I knew too well by now that nothing in it was real.

“Where did you get that coat from?” Baran asked, perplexed, his eyebrows making an angry arch over his eyes.

“From a corpse. They were laid on the ground, so many of them.”

“You went to the dragon territory?” he snapped. “What were you thinking?” he yelled.

“Apparently, I wasn’t,” I murmured.

“There will be no more of this nonsense, Sierra. You and I are tied to one another, in an irrevocable way. You better come to accept it.”

I was beginning to suspect that. This was all too much coincidental.

“By the way, your sister was worried about you,” he said.

“My sister?” I inquired. I didn’t have a sister. Who was he talking about?

The suddenly beating pulse alerted me to the way of things. “Where is she now?” I asked.

“Right here, Sierra,” she said as she made her way to the front. “How could you leave me like this, I thought something happened to you,” she said, rubbing away her tears, all of which had to be fake.

Things were getting worse by the minute.

My sister was no other than Abby.

How was I expected to complete the mission with the witch breathing on my neck every minute?

Shit, shit! I was so doomed.

“Hello Abby, long time no see,” I said, unable to believe my bad luck. I crossed my arms over my chest to hide the beating pulse, it would not do to show her I already had the piece of her sister’s heart.

“Indeed,” she said. “I’ll make sure you do not disappear on us again, sister,” she said. And, she smiled coyly as if she meant every word.

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