“What do I remember from the world blowing up in our faces? What do I remember? The first thing that told us it was happening was the sudden sound of airplane turbines. Airplane turbines that never turned off. They just go on and on as if some psycho has forgotten how to turn them off, but still remembers how to fuel them. Why won’t they stop? WHY WON’T THEY STOP?” the woman on the plasma screen said on a permanent loop. Hollywood had kept its desire for the fucked up and the exploitable. Even their belief in the power of fame couldn’t stop them from deteriorating to the ravaged bunch of animals. Somehow the fucked up tape kept playing on its loop, but with the volume turned up it somehow managed to block out the sound of what she described as an airplane turbine. I’d seen an airplane once. It was in a book that my mum burned for warmth, cooking something we caught hours earlier to eat. Unfortunately, the fire and the stench brought the Raptors after us. I’d escaped without a wound. Mum escaped with all but one limb. A tree branch had taken its place for two months. Then the Raptors got her too.
“Turn that shit off, Crim,” Pal said, running his hand over his machete blade that he was cleaning. I scoffed and turned the television up. The sharp, metallic clanging of a blade hitting the cold, concrete floor was loud enough to cause me to jump despite the volume of both the whirling and the woman’s nearly constantly screaming. I turned in time to see his boots before only the turbine-like noise was left.
“Fuck you,” I grumbled, adjusting my knick-knacks. Ignoring me, Pal’s footsteps walked off into what might have been a kitchen-area. Of course we converted it into a fire-pit to ward off the Raptors. Fire was the only thing we had to protect ourselves. Since I knew that if I turned on the Picture Set Pal would send me to the crow’s nest to watch for Raptors as they approach the side of our make-shift fortress that was unprotected, I got up and went to the window. A figure was running towards our home. Grabbing my binoculars from around my neck, held by a leather strap made from the skin of the first Raptor I killed, I watched the red headed man who could have been my brother run towards us. Behind him a dark-haired, light skinned man ran with his long hair bouncing with each stride. Pulling my face away, I picked up my handgun and holstered it before turning to Pal.
“Hey, Pal. Ken’s back,” I said.
“Someone is with him.”
“What?” Pal roared, jumping into the room and running out the door that headed to the scaffolding that he uses to target practise. He followed it down to the ground with me on his heels. The man stopped a foot behind Ken when he stopped at the borders to our territory.
“What’s wrong?” Ken asked.
“Why is there someone with you?”
“He needs help.”
“You know we can’t afford another mouth. Kern, this is the third time you’ve done this. We can’t keep doing this, Ken,” Pal said, starting his long speech that he’s been practising since he was elected leader by those who were left after the last leader went insane. I allowed my eyes to move to the new arrival. Somewhere in the speech Ken introduced him as Dav. His eyes met mine, but he averted his eyes first, seeming surprised by my green eyes. People claimed I was half Raptor.
I allowed myself to view the surroundings where old, junk vehicles sat rusted and unworkable. My boots brushed against the paper left in the street from the mass chaos that the mobs created. I heard a clink of two pebbles hitting each other and looked back at Dav kicking the rocks around. My eyes caught his foot hitting a rock that zoomed through the window of a junked up Cadillac. Loud, piercing wails caused me to jump a foot off the ground. Pal cursed, pulling his weapon from his belt. I followed suit, as did Ken. Dav stared at us.
We waited, silent with only the constant sound that had been there for as long as I could imagine. A good five minutes later we heard the tale-tell sound of a Raptor Horde, a loud scream, much like a baby crying for his mother. Ken grabbed Dav’s arm and threw him between the three of us as we turned to a position much like the mother triceratops circling the babies to protect them from enemies. The first Raptor crested the hill with a baby-like roar before rushing towards us.
Raptors are monsters that had been human once. Their eyes are emerald green and very humanoid. Their teeth are sharpened from cannibalistic tendencies over the generations and their fingernails have sharpened and lengthened to a deadly point. Their legs have mutated to look like the velociraptors from the books I read as a child right before we burned them. The Raptors didn’t wear clothing and their nude flesh were dark brown from the sun.
“How many do y think, Pal?”
“A good two, maybe three hundred.”
“I don’t think I have that many rounds on me, Pal,” I said, taking aim at the first one rushing directly at me.
“That doesn’t matter. Kill enough of ’em and they’ll run.”
“How much will be enough?”
“I don’t know,” Pal admitted. I shot the one I’d been aiming at, killing it. Two replaced it. I missed the next one I aimed at. The gunfire went on until every single gun we had clicked that it was empty. Three of mine laid at my feet and my fourth went empty in my hand. A ring of Raptors stood around us, in a circle. The stare down initiated , no one moved. We stayed like that until Dav, the stranger, jumped in front of me with a mallet and aimed at the first Raptor he saw, beating the living shit out of it. Once it was dead, he stood huffing over its body and looking up at the Horde as if asking who was next. The Raptors looked at each other confused before looking the corpse of the creature left. Dav started towards them, swinging the mallet wide. They turned and ran back the way they came. Pal stepped up to the corpse and prodded it with the butt of his gun.
“What’d you wanna do with it?” Ken asked.
“Can’t leave it here. The Raptors’ll return for the feast. Skin the legs and throw the rest of it to the dogs,” Pal said, turning to Dav. “Have you done that before?”
Ken picked up the corpse and carried it to the fenced in area towards the side of our fortress. Dav and Pal stared at each other for what seemed like forever.
“Believe it or not, that was our initiation. I guess you don’t have to prove yourself,” Pal said, grinning. Dav responded in kind and the two them started for the building. Pal mentioned a tour or something like that. I allowed my view to go back to the landscape and sighed.