Lucy hummed happily as she watched the sunset, swinging her legs off the roof of the two-story laundromat. It truly was a beautiful sight, such as it was with the ring of debris that we used to call the moon encircling the planet with a pink and blue backdrop. It wasn’t hard to imagine being on another planet. Sometimes, she wished she was, especially after what they did. What we did. First came the disagreements between governments followed by acts of terrorism. Wars followed soon after which of course escalated by nuclear proportions. The Americans reignited their plan to bomb the moon as a show of strength and well… they did it. Lucy swept her blonde hair out of her eyes and tucked it back behind her ears as her gaze swept across the tall buildings and skyscrapers that had been reclaimed by nature. Every now and then gunshots would echo through the streets. They didn’t make her jump anymore. Not for a long time. As she continued to look over the streets she spotted two distant figures, sprinting in her direction. The gunshots grew louder, as did the yelling. Lucy swung her legs back over the ledge and ran towards the trapdoor that led back inside the laundromat. Flinging it open, Lucy ignored the ladder and dropped straight to the floor of the second story, her heavy, steel-capped boots thudding on the ground as she landed. The young Latino man, sitting upright on a mattress on the floor and reading an old magazine turned sharply to look at her.“Jose, I need you,” Lucy said hurriedly.
Jose was already climbing to his feet, somehow a gun already in his hand.
Seeing him nod, Lucy ran down the stairs to the bottom floor.
There wasn’t much to the ground floor, containing mostly old washing machines and driers but it served as a sort of common room for the group. Lucy grabbed two pistols from the gun rack mounted on the wall.
“Maize, you up for saving some people?”
The tall brunette sitting on top of a washing machine stopped twirling her knives as she slid to her feet.
“Do I get to kill someone?” Maize answered.
Lucy cocked her head to the side as she answered.
“Uh I guess.”
“Then don’t waste time asking and let’s go,” Maize said as she walked briskly to take the lead past Lucy and Jose, who had already swapped his smaller gun for a shotgun off the gun rack.
“Hey Mathew, close the door behind us,” Lucy asked the man sitting in the corner talking to a tall, thin girl with shoulder length, curly blonde hair.
Lucy unbolted the front door and Maize and Jose charged outside as she followed behind, the door slamming shut behind her. She heard the bolt of the door slide across as she ducked for cover behind a barb wire topped barricade with Jose and Maize.
“So who are we taking out?” Maize asked as she peeped over the barrier.
“The two blondes running towards us?” Maize added. “Or the group running after them?”
Lucy took a quick look over the barrier.
“The group running after them,” she answered.
Jose looked over the barrier and then up at the sky.
“It’s a beautiful night to die,” he said looking at the two girls.
“God your morbid,” Maize scoffed before continuing. “Alright look, I’ll take the left and Jose, you take the right.”
Jose nodded in acknowledgement.
“Lucy, we’ll try to box the group in so you can lead the blondies to you.”
Before she had a chance to say anything, Jose and Maize split up on either side of the barricade and ran with their heads ducked low to either side of the street. The group was so close by now the wayward bullets were striking the ground around Lucy. She slowly stuck her head up to peer over the barricade when a stray bullet struck the barricade, sending chunks of concrete and dust into her face.
“So this is what I get for trying to help people,” Lucy muttered to herself as she rubbed her eyes trying to clear the dust from them.
Crawling on all fours to the edge of the barricade and looked around it and down the street.
The two blondes, now distinguishable as a man and woman were mere metres away and Maize and Jose were directing the attacking group’s fire.
Lucy stuck her head around the corner and called out, signalling with her hand.
“Hey, over here.”
The two blondes ducked low as they ran through the series of barricades towards Lucy.
“Thank you,” the male said, taking a deep breath between words.
“Not a problem,” Lucy smiled at them both. They were like a male and female version of the same person.
“We ran out of ammo,” the female added also huffing heavily.
Before Lucy could respond, she heard Jose cry out in pain and curse loudly.
“Crap,” Maize yelled.
Lucy could hear her grunt as she threw her knives aggressively.
“Lucy we need you,” Maize called out between her knife throws.
“How many knives do you have to bring to a gunfight for it to be a fair fight?” The female blonde asked semi-rhetorically.
“It’s not the knives they should be worried about,” Lucy answered, taking a deep breath in and exhaling.
As the two blondes looked at each other, Lucy spun around the barricade and rose to her feet firing both guns blindly in the direction of what was left of the group. Through mostly sheer luck, Lucy took out the remaining three attackers and looked at Maize.
“What the hell kind of shooting was that?” Maize called at her as she walked briskly over to Jose who was slumped on the ground, both hands covering the bullet wound on his thigh that was turning his camo pants red.
“That’s why I brought two guns,” Lucy smirked as she too walked over to Jose.
“Show me,” Maize said sternly to Jose.
Jose lifted his hands and blood flowed from his wound. Maize grabbed his hands and pushed them back onto his leg.
“It’s just a graze but you’ll still need stitches,” Maize said as she threw Jose’s arm over her shoulders to help him to his feet.
The trio were halfway back to the barricades when the male blonde yelled out to them from behind the barricade as he pointed at them.
They spun around to face a survivor of the attacking group holding what looked like a rocket launcher.
“This… is for my friends,” he spat through a bloody mouth as he hoisted the rocket launcher onto his shoulder.
Lucy raised her twin guns and Maize pulled a knife from her back pocket with her free hand but before they could fire or throw a knife they heard a gunshot from behind them. A bullet whizzed past Lucy’s head, so close it flicked her hair and the man holding the rocket launcher fell over backwards with a hole in the middle of his forehead.
Once again the trio spun around.
“The name’s Axel,” said a tall, bearded man. He looked like a movie star and walked like one too. His face was ruggedly handsome but grizzled with grey hairs speckled throughout his perfectly groomed dark hair and beard.
“I couldn’t let you risk your lives to save two others and then get blown up because of it,” he added in a husky voice.
“So you thought you’d swoop in and save the day,” Maize responded.
Lucy wasn’t looking but she swore she could feel the eye roll in Maize’s voice as she replied.
“Yeah why not,” he answered smiling. “Nothing wrong with being a hero every now and again,” Axel chuckled.
“How about I help you ladies get GI Jose inside.”
Axel walked over to them and Maize helped swing Jose’s arm over Axel’s shoulders and stepped back. Lucy looked at Maize with a raised eyebrow.
“What?” Maize shrugged. “If I don’t have to carry him then I ain’t going to.”
Lucy shook her head as she lead the way back to the door of their shelter, nodding to the two blondes to follow her as she passed them. She knocked on the door three times and waited. A section at eye level slid across to reveal Mathew’s green eyes. He nodded, and unbolted the door, pulling it open for the group to enter.
As the group entered, Mathew stepped aside to let them pass before closing and bolting the door. The curly haired blonde rushed up to meet the newcomers.
“Hi, I’m Ila,” she said loudly and cheerily in Axel’s face.
“Axel,” he introduced himself as he leant back slightly away from Ila.
“Personal space,” Mathew suggested to Ila, hinting at a previous conversation on the subject.
“Right,” Ila smiled taking a step back.
“Oh my god, what happened to your leg?” Ila squeaked as she noticed all the blood on Jose.
“It’s just a scratch,” Jose answered as he smiled.
“Just over there,” Jose added to Axel, pointing to a chair to their right.
Axel helped Jose to the seat he pointed out as Ila moved onto the two blondes.
“Hi, I’m Ila,” she repeated to them both.
Seemingly dismissive of Ila’ upfront behaviour, they responded as if her introduction was completely normal.
“My name is Ashley,” the male blonde responded with a smile.
“My name is also Ashley,” the female added, also smiling.
“We’re twins,” male Ashley smiled at Ila like she was a child, despite her being a teenager.
“I wouldn’t have guessed,” Maize said sarcastically in a monotone voice as she brushed past everyone to sit on her favourite washing machine.
Everyone sat down except for Ila who was insistent on introducing everyone.
“In case anyone new didn’t hear my name is Ila...”
“We all heard the first time you said it,” Maize interrupted without looking at her.
“Yes, well anyways the guy in the camo pants and tank top is Jose.”
“Huh, what a guess,” Axel laughed elbowing Jose on the arm.
“You call me GI Jose again I’ll shoot you in the foot.”
Axel saluted and slumped back in his chair, letting Ila continue.
“The man in the corner is Mathew, I’m sure he would like to pray for you guys like he does for us.”
Maize scoffed and Ila looked at Maize.
“This is Maisy,” Ila said pointing to Maize. “She’s my best friend.”
“Call me Maisy again and I’ll rip out you’re larynx,” Maize warned.
Ila’s smile faltered but didn’t fade. Male Ashley who had sat beside Mathew leant in towards him.
“What’s a larynx,” he whispered.
Mathew didn’t speak but he tapped a finger to his throat.
“Friendly,” male Ashley said sitting back up straight.
Ila paused for a moment after Maize’s retort before looking back at the group.
“She likes knives,” she added with a smile.
“And lastly the girl over the by the medicine is Lucy, she’s who led some of us out to save you.”
“Thank you, Lucy,” female Ashley said to her.
“And to Maize, Jose and Axel,” male Ashley added.
“You’re welcome,” Lucy responded as she walked over to Jose to help with his leg.
“Now that that’s all done can we eat,” Maize said, sounding impatient. “I’m literally starving.”
“I’m not sure we have enough food for everyone,” Mathew said calmly.
“No offense,” he added looking at the newcomers.
Female Ashley was the first to respond.
“None taken, Ashley and I would be more than happy to help with supplies until we move on.”
“I know of a place that has what we need,” Axel chimed in. “There’s a compound just north of here, all the supplies and food we could ever want.”
“I know the place,” Jose replied, wincing as Lucy stitched his thigh. “I’m not sure that’s a good idea, the place is pretty well protected” he added.
“Look GI Jo...” Axel hesitated before continuing. “Jose... with me, you, captain miss-a-lot and black widow over there we can sneak in and out.”
Axel smiled, showing teeth through his greying beard. “With great risks come great rewards.”
“I also don’t think insulting us is the best way to convince us,” Lucy added.
She noticed her voice was slightly louder than normal and trailed off. She didn’t like people making fun of her shooting except perhaps Maize because well... she was Maize.
“I thought it was funny,” Maize added looking up at Lucy and then Axel. She looked back down and laughed under breath. “Miss-a-lot… it’s funny.”
“We’ll sleep on it and decide as a group,” Lucy spoke firmly at Axel, wrapping a dressing around Jose’s injured leg.
Without saying a word Axel just smiled and nodded that he understood.
Lucy looked at Axel and the twins when she spoke again.
“You’re welcome to sleep anywhere you like in this room, I’ll head upstairs and grab some blankets and we’ll settle in for dinner.”
“Finally,” Maize said loudly over the twins “thank you.”
“I’ve been eyeing off that can of spaghetti for the last fifteen minutes.”
Over the following week, Axel’s idea sounded more and more like a good idea, especially since they were down to the last few cans of tinned baked beans. Against Lucy’s better judgement the group decided to go ahead with Axel’s plan. Wait for darkness, sneak in, steal food and ammo and sneak out. No killing, no fighting. Just in and out.
Leaving Ila and Mathew behind the group made their move through the streets. They moved slowly in the almost pitch-black night towards the glow from the generator-run lights of the compound that was visible over the tops of the nearby buildings. When the compound’s gate was in sight, Axel held up his hand to stop everyone behind him.
“Alright everyone, here’s the plan, ” he whispered.
“Jose and I will cut to the right to create a diversion while Maize, Lucy and the twins, you run around to the left and wait for our diversion to cut through the chain link fence to get inside.”
“What’s the diversion?” Male Ashley asked.
“Oh you’ll know,” Axel smirked as he pulled out a grenade from his pocket.
“Nice,” Jose muttered softly, eyeing the grenade.
“Alright let’s move, heads low and we’ll meet up inside,” Axel finished up before jogging in a ducked position towards the right of the compound, Jose following close behind.
“Since when do we follow his orders?” Lucy asked dryly, her eyebrows creased in a frown.
“Since he’s helping us get food,” Maize added as she made her move to the left of the compound, followed by the rest of the group. Reaching the fence, Lucy peeked around the edge of a dumpster that was pushed up against it where she had a clear view of where Axel and Jose were hiding. Suddenly there was a whisper from behind Lucy.
“Ah for god’s sake,” Maize struggled to contain her yell as a whisper as Lucy heard her jump.
Lucy spun around to see Maize holding a knife to Ila’s throat.
“Don’t you ever” Maize paused to let her words sink in. “Ever sneak up behind me again.”
“But I have to tell you something… it’s about Axel”.
“Can’t it wait?” Maize asked as Lucy turned back to look at Jose and Alex and in that moment, she saw exactly what Ila was going to say.
Jose and Axel were both standing, Axel a few feet behind. He rolled his grenade along the ground towards the fence but raised a pistol to the back of Jose’s head. The second the grenade went off, Axel pulled the trigger. Jose slumped to the ground and Axel ran towards the compound. Suddenly illuminated by a flood lights, the group stood to their feet from a crouched position. They were surrounded and well and truly outnumbered.
“Axel killed Jose,” Lucy said softly to Maize as the group huddled together. Maize looked around at the circle of masked gunmen forming a human wall. There wasn’t any way out.
Two of the gunmen stepped apart and Axel stepped between them.
“You son of a…” Maize started but Axel interrupted.
“Language Maisy,” Axel was practically beaming.
Lucy heard Maize hiss softly as Axel held his arms out to indicate around him.
“Just because it’s the end of the world doesn’t mean we have to be uncivilized.”
“So what’s this all about?” Lucy asked loudly. She tried to sound as brave as she could but her voice was shaking.
“Food,” Axel suggested, shrugging. “Survival, human nature, take your pick.”
Axel began to pace slowly, turning every few steps.
“The more people there are the faster the food will run out,” he added with a shrug.
“So you’ll just kill everyone?” Ila asked through her sobs.
“Humans have been doing this for millennia,” Axel’s raised voice echoed around them.
“We’ve been killing people to get what we want since the beginning, long before those idiots decided to blow the moon up,” Axel huffed in agitation.
“Speaking of what people want, how do you want to go out?” Axel offered, holding a grenade in one hand and a gun in the other.
“Screw yourself,” Maize hissed at Axel through her teeth.
“Fair enough,” Axel chuckled raising his gun and fired.
Ila dropped to the ground, slumping over Maize’s feet.
Maize didn’t open her mouth but Lucy could hear her scream through clenched teeth. She looked at Lucy, her eyes shining as they began to well up. Maize opened her mouth to take a deep breath and looked at the sky.
“It’s a beautiful night to die,” Maize said softly and hurled the knife she had concealed in her sleeve.
Lucy watched Axel fall backwards, only the hilt of the knife visible in his forehead and closed her eyes as every gun pointed in their direction fired all at once. There was no pain that accompanied the noise. Lucy didn’t even notice she was on her back until she opened her eyes, one last time. On the backdrop of a clear, yet star-speckled sky, the belt of moon rocks circled the planet, softly glinting from the light of the sun on the opposite side of the world. Lucy once again imagined she was on another planet.
“It really is Maize,” she whispered with a laboured breath. “It really is”.
Did you enjoy my story? Please let me know what you think by leaving a review! Thanks, Nathan Joel PhillipsWrite a Review