A short one shot story at about 2,600 words.
This story was inspired by a vivid movie-like dream I had.
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Siblings at the Apocalypse
Out in the middle of nowhere lives a family of three.
At one time they were a happy family of four, but after loosing her mother the girl's father became withdrawn from the world, they moved to seclusion and lived out simple lives on their large piece of property away from prying eyes. Their father became an eccentric, anti-government, or rather anti-civilization, and his mannerisms rubbed off on his children as they became his fellow preppers... little did they know as children that their father's actions would be such a saving grace.
Ever since 'the world went to shit' the three of them have been living successfully at their stronghold, they have not left for well over a year now, not since the "infected" incident began and apocalypse followed. Of the two siblings the sister is in her late teens, her brother is in his late twenties. The three are very skilled and resourceful, the fact they lived in the middle of no-mans-land prior to the pandemic and had fortified their property against intruders gave them a head start for survival.
One evening a huge herd of infected attacked, they broke through their defenses and despite the skill of the group the family of three were quickly overwhelmed. The dad is eventually killed by the ravenous creatures which could once be called human.
The siblings are almost killed, but are saved by a huge group of heavily armed roughneck strangers led by a young feisty young woman. The strangers were tracking and hunting the herd of infected, on active duty as part of their colony, and happened upon the attack in time to spare the sibling pair.
Before any thanks can be given though the siblings find themselves bound and blindfolded. After saving the siblings the strangers take them by force to join their colony, they had lost two members to the hunt and needed to restock with a few able bodies, and the sibling pair is skilled and thus are a prime catch.
After more than a full day the pair was unbound, as their eyes adjusted to the light they found themselves in the shadow of a huge wall, they were then forcefully led inside. Despite being incredibly reluctant to comply with their captive intake into the colony, the pair still could not deny the fact that compared to their home in the woods, life in this place appears to be that of sitting in the lap of luxury. They were also sorely outnumbered and had been given a pretty good look at how extensive this places security is... it felt like a smart choice to give in to their captors, at least for now. To their surprise they were led to a vacant hut nestled in the rocky cliff face, the small home was already comfortably furnished. Most of the group escorting them left, the remaining person offered them various options of positions within the group to uphold. They were told that once brought into the colony the only way out is death, but then they are promised that as long as they follow the rules and remain useful they will be able to live here in relative safety and comfort.
The siblings soon find that much of the colony members are a blood thirsty bunch, they relish in killing, blood sports and public execution spur their enthusiasm... the colony is rough, unruly, and issues more often than not are solved with violence... but the colony is also safe and fortified against the horror plaguing the outside world, women and children live here freed from their fears of the infected, food and resources are shared evenly, not even the leader hoards goods, and people within the colony are hard working, brutally honest and form strong bonds.
The colony settlement is built along a network of jagged cliffs with boardwalks reached only by ladders, even if there was a breach of the surrounding wall the infected would have a hard time getting up to the settlements. Below and around the back are fields worked for produce and livestock. The back end of the property is still mostly wild allowing deer and other hunting game to wander through, and that area in turn is backed by a raging river which serves as natural protection from the infected and as a further food source for fish and water foul.
After some digging the ever curious sister managed to learn that the family of the colony leader has owned this place for generations and learned that likewise the wall has stood for generations. She learned that this chunk of land was originally walled up in preparation to build a secret prison during war times but the project was abandoned. She also learned that prior to the world going to shit this man must have been seen as even more of a nut job prepper than her own father.
The sister quickly discovers that the same chick who was leading their group of saviors is close to her in age, that they are both skilled snipers, and she too only has an older brother remaining of her family. The sister and this fellow female sniper soon form a firm friendship. As time passes the sister builds a strong social network, the place is rough but she quickly adapts and quickly gains respect from the colony leader through her skill with a gun, taking up watchtower duty to snipe off infected's heads.
The brother however remains a bit of an outsider, namely because he chose field work which keeps him on the secluded side of the colony tending crops and livestock from dawn to dusk. His skills as a hunter and tracker would be better suited to the recon group, namely with how easily he can evade pursuers, even their own father praised his skill at 'vanishing into the thin air' But he likes the solitary feel of farm work, and he is more than okay with being a loner... all he needs in this world is his sister, besides, he knows that building strong bonds at this point would only prove to be painful... and he already feels guilty for the eventual pain which will haunt his sister...
The colony does not have much of a legal system and allows its members to work things out amongst themselves... but what few rules do exist are upheld fiercely and to the death if need be. The people within manage themselves well enough, even if it feels primitive at times. And while violence within the colony is tolerated killing is not, at least not without good reason... and within this colony there is a reason for death the leader holds unfairly high above all else; Anyone within the colony who is deemed useless or a waste of their limited resources will not be tolerated and thus is 'put down' Of the people not tolerated the terminally ill are at the top of his list... and their method of 'euthanasia' is less than humane... the tortuous act is held as a spectator sport for the more bloodthirsty people of the colony.
The sister is gripped with fear as they learn this by witnessing someone being 'put down' ... The sister has good reason to be horrified by the event they had witnessed... she did not loose her mother at such a young age to an accident, or murder, she lost her mother to cancer... and the disease striking at a young age has proven to be hereditary.
Her brother has cancer.
The brother was diagnosed just before the world went to shit, he only learned that the growth was cancerous, he never learned the nature of the cancer he was harboring and was unable to get any treatment due to the apocalypse happening that same week...
The growth has spread since then, and he has been coughing for a few months now. The cough started just before they joined the colony, and it has been worsening, the brother is concerned that the chronic cough is a sign the cancer has spread to his lungs...
The brother when he was a small child watched his kind and loving mother struggle, suffer, and waste away, despite this he has managed to stay strong even whilst knowing his future is likely short and bleak... and until now he has been prepared for what the future might bring him... but knowing what the colony would do if they found out about his terminal condition is a gruesome situation he never could have imagined he would face.
The colony eventually gets suspicious due to his cough worsening to the point that you can't help but notice it, and the increase in coughing soon was followed by him becoming short of breath as he worked the fields... His sister, despterate to him safe, tries to lay blame on allergies but to an outsider the brother's decline in health was more obvious than they realized.
Eventually the colony leader does some snooping and tracks down a former neighbor who lived near the siblings before they moved, the neighbor unwittingly snitches about their mom and her long struggle with cancer.
The sister comes home from her duties on the watchtower to learn that the colony leader is after her brother... she races to find him and spots him sprinting across one of the many fields he works, a good fifteen men in hot pursuit. The front of the pack gets him into a stranglehold but he slips out, dodging another grasp he manages to get some distance between himself and his pursuers and heads into the overgrown edge of the colony that lines the river. The brother just barely escapes as he manages to throw them off his trail. By the end of the day he leaves them all stumped, true to his craft he seems to vanish into thin air.
Late that night the brother and sister track each other down under the river's docks; the underside of the dock of the lake back on their property had always stood as an emergency meet up point and, true to their bond, they both guessed the other would use the colony docks the same.
The sister wants to leave the colony and begins to work out a plan... but her brother cuts her off, he says she is better off staying at the colony, the place in some ways is terrible but the pros outweigh the cons, she has built a strong support system through her friends and even the leader values her skills, she has a solid place within the colony and her best chance for survival is with the colony... they can't just go back home and the two of them would die trying to start over on their own.
She says she does not care, they must leave, she does not want them to kill him... it is then that she is shocked as her brother reveals that he agrees with the colony.
He agees that he is a waste of the ever limited food and resources which can be used on the long-lived, on someone with a future, on a child... he feels he won't even last the rest of the year... he reveals to her that breathing has become painful and he has been coughing blood for the last week...
For a moment things are quiet between them, her mute with shock and him quiet with calm resolve... he finally speaks up again, his voice steady and soothing. He reasons with her how even if the colony left him alone he does not want to suffer like their mother... that there is no way the colony will leave him alone, they won't stop until he's dead... but if he is going to be killed he wants to die merciful, with a clean shot... "Don't let me be tortured to death..."
Before what he is saying can sink in the two are caught, suddenly ambushed and pinned down by a huge mob led by the colony leader.
They begin to take him away, the brother struggling to free himself, the more brutish bunch reveling the fact they get another bloody show so soon.
As they drag her brother away she struggles against her captors and calls out to the colony leader at the back of the crowd. Before she can even comprehend her own words she blurts out "Let me kill him." everything goes quiet, all eyes on her. She pauses for a moment and tries not to choke on sickening words as she continues, saying that it can still be an entertaining show, let her further prove her skill as a sniper... with a single shot from as far away as they demand she can make a clean kill.
The leader just stares at her for a moment, after a thoughtful pause the leader tells her that she only gets one shot, and if she misses her brother's heart he will be put down the traditional way. The leader asks if she agrees to these terms.
She looks back at her brother who is still in the vice grip of his captors. His expression is torn, in his eyes she can see that he is both distraught at the thought of her going though with this... and thankful that she has given him this chance...
A lump forms in her throat and pressure grips at her chest as her own conflicting emotions of pain, guilt, sadness, love, and resolve hit her all at once.
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I really debated on ending it there… I have a full ending… but I also like leaving the ending unresolved...
This story concept came to me through a rather vivid dream, I have these “story” dreams from time to time, not I nor anyone I know is in them, and they have nothing to do with my life, instead I am watching a character story unfold… it is seriously like my brain is giving me a private movie show... And in this case I woke up vividly remembering it.
Also I hope I did not offend anyone utilizing the element of cancer from my dream. I have not personally had cancer but have had it affect, and kill, people I cared about… I have personally seen how weak it can make someone, how painful it can be, and how hard it is to go through… it’s a terrible terrible thing.
My grandmother, aunt and mother have all had breast cancer, it is hereditary and I expect to have it in my life time. Also while I was in the 4th grade, my science teacher, one of those awesome teachers everyone loves, was fighting her third bout of cancer. After a while a second teacher came in to sit in on the class preparing to take over when her fight would become too serious to come to school and I remember the day she thanked us for not noticing she was wearing a wig… by the time I left the 5th grade she had lost her battle with cancer.
My dream for whatever reason wanted to give me a story about siblings surviving the end of the world, not being torn away from each other by zombies and the apocalypse but rather by questionable human law and cancer…
And it and it seemed like a unique enough story worthy plot, a bit of a twist on the whole survive the end of the world story-base that is so popular these days (I’m not complaining, I like said stories… and man am I behind on Walking Dead, I left off at when they left the farm) I mean, I have yet to see this plot set into place yet *shrugs