I sat by the water; my hand digging into the ground until the sand turned wet. In the distance, the city towered over the wasteland. Most of the structures were falling apart. It didn’t matter. The rulers of the city stayed underground until darkness fell. The night belonged to them.
There were times I tried to imagine the city bustling with human activity. I heard the story once. One of the last remaining elders told me on his deathbed. The history of our world had been passed down to him for centuries.
“We could have had it all,” he had whispered in my ear.
I still don’t know what he meant. I’d heard rumors. There were tales of a world filled with humans; practically overflowing with them. There was a time when every person on the planet was oblivious to the dangers hiding in the darkness. They had lived in peace, for the most part. They didn’t fear the night like we do now.
But that had been over a thousand years ago. Things were different now.
I pushed myself up off the sand and stared across the bay. The clouds shifted, casting an ominous shadow on the ground. I tried to ignore it. There were others who believed in omens. I wasn’t one of them. The hunting party left in an hour and it was my first outing as a leader. Though our small island kept us safe, the food sources that once dominated the land had dried up centuries before. Now, we had to access the mainland in order to hunt.
You’d think it was safe during daylight. You’d be wrong. Other humans could be just as dangerous as the monsters hiding in the shadows. My group knew most of the bands that lived around the city but every now and then we ran across a nomadic group. They’d sooner kill you over a deer carcass than work out a deal. I’d learned at a young age to shoot on sight. There was no negotiating in this world.
A low horn bellowed through the woods behind me. It was time to go. I pushed the omen out of my mind and walked up the shore. I squeezed my hands into fists to ward off the shakes that threatened to expose my nerves. Father had picked me for a reason. I couldn’t let him down. We needed food. We needed ammunition. That would be the hard part. There was a facility three miles inland that the vamps used. We’d received a tip from one of the friendlier tribes in the area that they stored all kinds of weapons there that they’d confiscated from humans. We were supposed to meet them in four hours and take the facility together. The back of my head tingled as the omen flitted across my mind. I shut my eyes tight and shook my head. Walking through the woods, I reviewed the plan over and over. I reached the clearing within five minutes and found my party waiting on me.
I tried not to think of the possibility that the facility would be heavily guarded, even in the daylight. The other tribe had staked out the place for weeks but they’d never gotten inside. The vamps could be waiting on a pack of humans to attempt a break-in. As I looked over the small group before me, if we came upon more than three of them, I knew we’d be dead in seconds.
My father watched me closely. He could see me working through the problems of the day and he let me. When I moved toward the group, he handed me a rifle and squeezed my shoulder.
“Are you ready for this, Nadaya?” he asked.
I looked over the group of survivors and wondered who would make it back. My brother stood near the back edge of the group. He stared at the ground; obviously still pissed that Father picked me over him. I shook the thought away. I couldn’t worry about that until later. Clouds above shifted again and their shadows danced across the ground. I ignored them as best I could. Slinging the rifle over my shoulder, I nodded at Father and turned toward the group that I was charged with bringing back home, safe and sound.
“Follow me,” I said. Turning back toward the water and the boat that would take us to shore, I said a silent prayer that Father had made the right decision.
Come get Sloshed at the Speakeasy!
I’m starting a new project so you’ll probably see me playing around with new characters over the next couple of weeks. This is from the perspective of Nadaya, one of my kick-ass main characters.