Out Of Zion's Hill

It is the Apocalypse and Earth is a dangerous place. Everyone is united under the Trinity that rules over all: the Emperor, the God and the Prophet, who protect everyone from the many perils that now run riot.

Only a few people refuse to succumb to their rule. These are a murderous gang of terrorists, known as the Apocalypse Apostles. They are convicted of every crime there is, including the worst crime of all: Christianity.

Luke, a fifteen year-old boy, lives in the IROC, a special society centred in Paris. When the entire IROC is brutally destroyed, Luke and a small gang of other teenagers are kidnapped by the Apostles. They think they have been handed a death sentence.

But the Apostles have a secret. In fact, everyone and everything has a secret or two up their sleeves at the End of the World...

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3. Chapter 2

CHAPTER TWO

Luke stumbled inside the archway set with gleaming red stones. He was still thinking about Christians. He was so lost in thought that he didn’t remember the stone door until he walked slap bang into it. The blow jarred his broken nose, but the splint held firm.

“Idiot,” muttered Luke. Then, raising his voice, he shouted, “Let me in! It’s Luke.”

A small slit opened in the stone. Two intent brown eyes peered out.

“Password?”

“Hugo…”

“Sorry, I have to ask, Luke, sir. It’s the rules.”

“But you change the passwords weekly.”

“That’s in the rules as well.”

Luke sighed. He rolled back his eyes. What was the last password… oh yeah, that was it.

“Jam tarts.”

The eyes disappeared, and the door slid open.

“Pass, friend.”

Luke strode in. Hugo, a small boy with a wild mop of mousey brown hair, looked timidly up at him. Hugo was the Ruby Colony’s head servant. This meant that he wasn’t a full member of the Ruby Colony yet, but he was going to become one as soon as he was old enough. You had to be over twelve to be a member of a Colony. Hugo was eleven, so he was most senior amongst the servants, and often worked as doorkeeper.

“You really don’t have to stick to the password. Jude’s an utter retard.”

“He makes me. Last time I let someone in without it, he threw the week’s supply of grapes at me.”

“Did they hurt?”

“No.”

“Well it wasn’t really all that bad then, was it?”

“No, but it was a terrible waste of food.”

“Since when did Jude care about wasting food?”

“You’ve got a point there, sir. All the same…”

“By the way, why are the passwords always something to do with desserts?”

“Mr Jude likes desserts, sir.”

“Boy!”

Luke groaned. Jude came striding onto the scene superiorly. Jude was the second assistant to the deputy member of the Ruby Colony’s IROC team. Luke thought that this was a bad choice, and had his suspicions that Jude had bribed the principal member for the Ruby Colony for a seat. He had a swelled head already, and his membership to the IROC had given him a real ego. As far as everyone was concerned, he was a snooty twerp, swanning around in his smartly ironed red robes, barking at people, and giving orders as if the entire world revolved around him.

“Stop gossiping in porches and get back to your job. And you, Luke…”

He turned to him with his nose in the air, with his “I’m better than you and you know it” look plastered all over his face.

“Take that water to the supply room immediately. Do you want it to evaporate?”

“Do it yourself!” snapped Luke.

“You got it.”

“So, I’ve done my share.”

“Are you refusing me?” Jude’s face went pale, and he leered unpleasantly. He practised for hours to perfect this trick. He thought it made him look scary and powerful, but everyone else thought it made him look like he was about to be sick. “I am a fully fledged member of the IROC, and you will do as I say!”

“And you will do what I say,” a quiet, but firm voice said from behind Jude.

Jude spun round in terror, and Luke looked pleased as Sam came trudging out of the dark passage. Sam was Jude’s senior, the aforementioned deputy member. He was a fat boy with sleepy eyes. He trudged around, making a real dog’s dinner of his robes, stained with old food and mud. He seemed to be incapable of running anywhere, except when the kitchens made banana mousse. He never seemed to brush his hair, which stuck up everywhere like an insane hedgehog. He was a genius at designing practical jokes, and had the best sense of humour since Laurel and Hardy. He also happened to be Luke’s best friend.

“Sir!” Jude snapped smartly to attention. Luke knew this was all just show. Jude hated Sam. It was said that he used a photograph of Sam’s face for a dartboard. “I was just telling Luke to take our water supplies to the store room, sir!”

“Haven’t you got legs?”

Jude seemed stumped.

“Yes sir. But he brought the water, sir.”

“So what?”

“Well… well… well…”

“Stop pretending to be a policeman talking about holes, Jude, and take that water where it belongs.”

“Yessir!”

Jude grabbed Luke’s bag and crept rather than walked past Sam. When he was well out of earshot, Sam smiled at Luke.

“There,” he said, “goes a prime example of a git.”

Luke laughed. Sam hated Jude as much as Jude hated him. He had once sent a letter to Jude, claiming to be from Lord Alex, informing him that he was charged with treason. “Yeah.”

“Now, what happened to you? There are bloodstains covering your hair and clothes, and you are covered in mud and slime as well as blood. What on earth does this all mean?”

“I was attacked by Sordidus.”

“Funny Sordidus to steal all your water, break your nose and cover you in blood and then fix you up and give you a whole new pack. So who…?”

“Believe it or not, it was a Christian.”

“WHAT!!!!!!?????”

“Yeah, I know, mate.”

“A Christian! Why on earth???”

“Did he fix me up? Doesn’t like a damaged meal, most likely. Was going to ask me a question when the Soldiers turned up. Invite me home for dinner, like as not.”

“A Christian. A Christian??? A…”

“Christian!” Hugo had overheard.

“Don’t listen, mate,” Sam told him kindly. “It’s not a pretty subject.”

“But.. but.. but…”

“Calm down, Hugo. No one’s going to eat you.”

“Not helpful, mate,” growled Sam.

“Are you sure?” stammered Hugo.

“We promise.”

“Come on. Let’s go to my room. We can talk it over.”

*************

Sam was one of the very few people who had his own room. Most others had to sleep in beds salvaged from an old hospital in a large area that had once been a subway, with hissing pipes, and so much creaking from the disintegrating city above that it was nearly always impossible to get to sleep. The beds were often infested with lice, and very commonly someone forgot to take the sheets down to the wash (usually when it was Luke’s turn). Occasionally the laundry was slow so people had to share a bed. The current record was twelve to a bed. But, being a member of the IROC, naturally, Sam couldn’t sleep with everyone else.

“So, what’s this? A Christian in the IROC?”

“Yeah. I know.”

Sam picked up his copy of the Sartuat and leafed through it.

“In the book of Falsity, it gives an entire list of things the Christians are.“

“I know.”

“Murderers, thieves, adulterers, idolisers, cannibals, arsonists and evil… and that’s just the first verse.”

“I know.”

“And there’s one here? In the middle of Paris?”

“Yep. It’s unbelievable.”

Sam whistled. A slow, long whistle that either happened when he was about to say something serious, or he was stumped for words. In this case, it was the former.

“I thought the IROC had sorted that. I thought we’d done it ages ago. It would seem we never followed it up. I’m going to have a few words to say at the next council meeting.”

“Maybe your plan ran out of funding or workforce, or whatever.”

“No. The IROC always makes decisions that don’t involve money. The IROC don’t have any money. All savings accounts were wiped in the Beginning of the End. All the money we have is what the Prophet gives us, or what we brought with us. And we don’t have a workforce. Both suggestions are impossible. So what…?”

He broke off as he suddenly noticed something. Namely a drop in temperature. Then a sudden fog. Hugo screamed.

And something else moaned.

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