Just realized I've been on this site for 4 years yesterday. In other news, we have the latest edition of the Writers Guild!
This week we have @jonny_anonymous debuting a new series which he is calling Nuclear Winter: A Soldiers Tale.
So click the spoiler reveal button and read Nuclear Winter: A Soldiers Tale #1!
If you didn't know any different then this place would almost look the same, well that's what I tell myself anyway. You look around and see trees and hills all covered in a layer of white. It's only till you notice that all the trees are stone now and the white isn't snow anymore. That's when you remember the world has already ended, it just doesn't know it yet...
I slow my pace so the ash doesn't crunch under my feet. This is the first time I've seen any sign of Big Bugs in these woods for weeks now. I don't know if they're dying out or if they have some sort of migration period, but I don't plan on letting it get away. The tracks seem to be heading northwest along the ridge. I follow it for what feels like half an hour; it's hard to tell time these days. I'm getting close now. I can hear it scurrying between the petrified trees. I flank to its left. There is only one but it's a good size: around five meters long. I need to stay away from those mandibles. I adjust my scarf so I'm not breathing in any ash, crouch on one knee, take aim with my bow at the beast's eyes and pray. The arrow bounces harmlessly of the Big Bug's shell -- sh*t! I drop the bow and fling myself out of the way as the shrieking monster leaps at me. I thought I'd cleared it until I felt its tail whip round and slam into my back sending me crashing in to the petrified trees. I got to my feet just as the Big Bug rushed me again, grabbing me around the waist with it's massive mandibles. I'm stronger than most but these beasts can cut a man in half with there jaws so I needed to get out of this quick. I grabbed the dagger strapped to my left leg and jabbed it in to one of it's eyes; it let out another bone shattering shriek and dropped me. I was now raised on its back legs trying to claw at its own face; I lept on to its back and jammed my dagger back in to it's eye, forcing it all the way down and in to its brain to put the beast out of its misery. Looks like there will be dinner tonight after all.
By the time I made it back to the bunker, the sun had already started to set. I needed to cover my tracks and check my traps before it got too cold and too dangerous to be out in the open, but before I could leave gunfire split the silence; not just any gunfire either: that was a Pym Rifle. I'd know that sound anywhere. It must be a gang of bandits raiding a trader or something. Not my problem... hm...but it sounds far too close far comfort. Damn it! I thought I wasn't going to do this anymore. I grabbed my bow and knife and followed the gunshots.
It wasn't long until I found them. A group of four: two boys and two girls. I couldn't remember the last time I seen anybody that young, none of them looked a day over 15. The girl with the Pym Rifle was screaming at the others to run as she laid down covering fire. From my vantage point atop of a petrified tree I could see the bandits: five armed with old AKs and axes, taking cover behind the rocks. I dropped down behind the girl. She doesn’t hear me until I want her to. She lets out a gasp as and goes to lift her weapon but I disarm her before she pulls the trigger.
I cut her off, "Listen, get your people and head straight south through the forest. Do NOT deviate from the route! The moss only grows on the north side of the trees. That's how you keep your bearings. Eventually you'll find a stone bunker, do NOT try and open it; just wait for me there." She nods then starts to leave. "Wait! Take the gun, I won't need it." She stares for a second then nods again and runs.
I cover my self in ash. Once the firing stops I don’t have to wait long until the bandits come to me. I let three of them pass then cut the last two off from the pack. Grabbing the rear man and snapping his neck then rushing to next man with my knife out and slipping it between his ribs, I cover his mouth as he goes down. It takes a few minutes before they realize they're a few men short.
I hear them talk as I stalk them.
"Uh Danik, I can't see the Levin brothers, they're uh...gone," the little man at the rear whimpers.
The oldest looking of the three shouts, "Dammit! We've been flanked! Peel off to the left! We'll ambush the somb!tch!"
That would have been a sound plan but this is my forest and nobody goes anywhere I don't want them to. The little man gets caught in a snare trap. I put an arrow in him to stop him from screaming but I leave him hanging; could do with more Big Bug bait.
The older man stops dead in his tracks, "Dammit, Sven! Don't move! This place is rigged!"
But Sven brakes and runs, a crash is heard, then a whimper, then silence.
The man lifts his axe and shouts, "Show yours selves goddammit!'
I do as he asks. now that I see him closer I can see that he's old, but not as old as I am. I can tell by the way he holds himself he was in the military before the world ended. Sent to hunt me? Unlikely. One man wouldn't be enough. The man named Danik says nothing, spits, then lunges at me with his axe. I duck it and throw an uppercut at the same time breaking the shaft of the axe. Danik bellows and tries to club me with what's left of the axe head but I grab his arm and twist hard till I hear the sound of snapping tendons. Then, as he screams in pain, I punch him hard in the throat, he coughs once and then drops The fight is over in seconds.
I make my way back to the bunker in darkness. I need to get everybody inside as fast as I can. The coldness can kill and there is worse things in these stone woods than Big Bugs and bandits. When I enter the clearing I see the group of kids huddled around a fire.
"What the hell are you doing, trying to attract more trouble? Put that fire out!"
"Oh my god, it is him! We've been looking for you everywhere, Captain!" one of the boys says.
"Look, I don't know what your talking about, but I'm not what your looking for!"
The girl with the Pym Rifle stands up and takes her hood down. She has long red hair, it reminds me of someone I used to know.
"Sir, we've been looking for you and we've brought you something. Peter, give it to him."
The small boy with the black hair named Peter stands up and rummages through there kit. He lifts out a large object rapped in a brown sheet and my hearts starts to beat faster when I see the shape of it. NO! It cant be! The boy holds it up and lets the sheet drop. The red and blue paint has weathered and peeled of with age revealing the pristine dull grey metal beneath. The stars still standing out like the first day I seen it.
"Captain, we have brought you your shield."