The Fall of Us

©Molly Looby CampNaNoWriMo '14 !

Enter the world of Tye. The Fall has devastated much of the world as we know it but Tye knows nothing else. He and his best friend Eeli are ready to leave their home as soon as they reach thirteen years so that they can be off on their own and be who they want to be and do what they want to do. At last.

Tye and Eeli could never have imagined how dangerous the real world was going to be.

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8. 8

“Tye?” Somefink’s proddin me, wakin me up. My eye lids feel too heavy to open so I just groan an swat at whatever it is. “Tye, git up.”

“No,” I force thru my lips.

“You’ve bin moanin in yer sleep keepin me up. The sun’s gittin high. Come on. We have to move. We’re not sittin round here all day.”

I blink open my eyes to find Eeli neelin next to me.

“Lazy,” she shakes her head. “Always the last to git up.”

I pull myself up an shut my eyes as my head clears the fog of sleep.

“Let’s go.” She jumps up an grabs my arm, pullin me up too.

I sway fer a moment before catchin my balance.

She shoves my rucksack into my grasp an watches as I fumble to git it on my back. I dunno why but it feels like a ton’a bricks have bin put in there since last nite. The muscles in my back an arms protest at the wayte an ache whenever I move but I don’t mention this to Eeli. She’s too buzzin this mornin fer any complainin, that I know.

She hooks her arm round mine an we set off.

“I’ll just jabber away until you wake up properly,” she tells me. “You was asleep fer way too long last nite. Look at the sun.” She points into the sky an I see the sun’s strate up above us, meanin it’s midday already.

“Why dint you wake me?”

“I tried a few times but you weren’t havin none of it.”

“Sorry.”

“S’alrite. I’ll let you off. I took my boots off this mornin. Bad idea. My god, the smell.” She larfs.

“Ew, gross.” I stick my tongue out. “Don’t you be takin them off anywhere near Camrose.”

“I’ll just live in em. How’re yer feet?”

“Heavy an achin. I can feel my heart beat in em.”

“Me too.”

“But the boots are amazin. I ain’t got no blisters or nofink.”

“I just had some red patches here an there but Nat always said us babes post-Fall had walkin feet.”

“Good thing too,” I smile. “We’re probably miles an miles away from Nat an Little Orchard by now.”

“Yeah. I wunder how much they’re missin us.”

I shake my head, a kink in my heart. “I don’t wanna fink about it. I’ll start missin em if I do.”

“Kay,” she takes my good hand all wrapped up in her arm. “So how’s the hand?”

“Still pulsin an hot.”

“Yer skin’s pretty hot actually.”

“I don’t feel too great,” I admit. “I dint want to say noffin when you was gittin me up. You seemed too perky.”

“I’ll be awake an well fer the both of us today then.”

“Fanks.”

We carry on walkin till Eeli desides it’s lunch time. “I ain’t eatin no apples today,” she pulls a face before disappearin off to look fer food.

I drop down on the grass an lay back, shuttin my eyes decidin I don’t feel too hungry anyway, though my stomak is growlin an contortin.

My heart leaps outta my mowf an my eyes snap open.

“Jeez, Tye, it’s only me.”

I let out a huge breath an shut my eyes again.

“You need to stop sleepin, stoopid.”

“I dint know I was asleep.”

She shakes her head. “Excuses. Hold out yer hands.”

I do as she says an she scoops out blackberries from her pocket all gentle as not to squash em an ruin her combats. She pours em into my hands an gives me this huge grin.

“Told ya, no more apples.”

“We’ll git stomak ache if we only eat berries an apples.”

She crosses her arms. “Well I don’t see no chickens round here or noffink. Have the berries or have more apples, not my problem. We’ll git worse stomak ache if we eat noffink an starve.”

I pick at the berries, enjoyin the squish of them in my mowf, the juice splatterin over my tongue. Blackberries ain’t my fayvrit flavour but I’m as sick of apples as Eeli is.

Eeli jumps up once she’s eaten everyfink she brought back. “I fort there was more when I was pickin em.” She goes into my rucksack an pulls out the empty apple juice bottle. “Lucky this has gotta wide top. I’m gonna fill it wiff blackberries. You stay there an try not to doze off again.”

I watch her go again an focus on the clouds in the sky, tryin to make a pattern. I listen to the sounds of the wilderness, the trees an plants swayin the the breeze, the caw of the birds, the buzzin of grasshoppers. My eyes feel all heavy again an I want noffink more than to close my eyes to the briteness of the sun.

I must do cause I wake up to a prod again.

“Kid? You alive, kid?” The voice is gruff an belongs to a fully grown man.

I open my eye an find two men peerin down at me. One’s got long shaggy brown hair to his shouldas an a beard an the other has pale skin an orange hair tied in a pony tail like Renie used to back at Nat’s. I ain’t never seen a boy do it before though.

“What you doin out here, boy?” The brown haired man speaks an it’s the same voice as before.

I sit up, the grogginess heavy in my head. “I guess I was sleepin. I ain’t feelin too good today an I keep fallin asleep. I stopped here to eat some blackberries. There’s a bush over there.” I wave in the general direkshon Eeli had gone, pleadin wiff her to stay there until these men leave. I don’t trust em, though it seems like they was only checkin I weren’t dead.

“Is that rite. Cheers, we’ll check that out. We’ve not had berries fer . . .”

“Weeks,” the orange haired one answers. His voice is much deeper than I expected an I feel a drop of panic hit my stomak.

“So where do you live, kid?” The brown haired man has a kind lookin face so I answer.

“Nowhere at the moment. Just left my childhood home three days ago.”

“You don’t seem old enoff.”

“I turned thirteen years when the sun was at its hottest.”

“No kiddin, my birthday’s when the summer rain pours down. Ain’t that funny?”

It’s not so I don’t know how to reply.

“So you must have some good supplies. Fancy a trade?” He raises his eyebrows an the smile that follows it ain’t like noffink I ever seen but it don’t feel real.

“You got any proper food that ain’t fruit? I’ve got a ton’a apples I’m sick to death of.”

“Yeah we got meat.” He sits hisself down beside me. “But you’ll have to do betteren apples fer a trade. What else you got, boy?”

I shake my head, wishin my heart would keep quiet. “Noffin to trade otheren apples, sorry. We ain’t got much of anyfink.”

“Hold up. We? Who else you travellin wiff?”

I struggle to keep my breaths even an my voice calm. “No one. I’m just so used to other people bein around. I’m from a big family. Don’t waste yer time wiff me, sun’s movin on an all. I’ve eaten all my food an drunk all my water, I’ve got noffink.”

“You mite have somefin we want,” the orange haired man speaks again, crossin his arms but making no move to sit down.

“Easy.” The one sittin next to me gives him a look. “O’course this boy don’t wanna trade. He don’t know us. I’m Bise an this is Roman.”

“Tye.”

“Well, Tye. Roman an I’ve bin travellin these roads a lot longeren you an we can make it worf yer while if we have us a little trade.”

“I’m not lyin to you, I really don’t have noffin.”

“Then you won’t mind us lookin thru yer fings? We mite want somefin. We’re all friends. You wouldn’t mind would ya?”

Rite there in that moment I can’t fink of noffink in my rucksack I don’t want them to find but I don’t want them helpin themselves to my stuff, to all my fings I got in the world. I look over my shoulda to where my rucksack is sittin next to Eeli’s. My throat titens as I face em again, that smile back on Bise’s face as he jumps up.

“Lookey here, Roman.”

Roman’s eyes are on me, fierce blue, much briter than I ever seen. But that smile on his face, turnin up at the corners, twistin his lips into this wrong shape, tells me he don’t smile that often.

I swallow but can’t do noffin about the sweat I feel rollin off my forehead.

“We got ourselves a little liar.” Bise bends down so his nose is closer than any man’s nose has ever bin to my face. “Who you travellin wiff, Tye? What’s so good yer not sharin?”

“My . . . My friend.” I have to force it out my lips. It feels like my tongue don’t wanna talk an I struggle to form the words.

“Why’d you lie?”

“All our stuff is here. It don’t matter who I’m wiff.”

“But it does, boy.”

I look all around me, jumpin from fing to fing, needin to find somefin they mite want. Somefin else, anyfink else.

“See!” I hold my hand up to em, pullin myself up offa the ground. I have to hold my mowf shut a moment as my stomak wants to throw up the noffin in my stomak. “I got bandages. An a little bit of cream too. It’s propa stuff, post-Fall.” There’s noffink fer me to hold onto so I just sway where I stand.

They look at one another, their smiles stickin.

“We don’t want yer crap, little Tye. You’ve intrigued us now. Who’s yer friend?”

“No one.” I shake my head.

“Take us to em.”

“No.”

“No?” Bise narrows his eyes.

I’m hot everywhere an the colours seem too brite all at once an I’m drippin wiff sweat an my stomak’s spinnin an I want to shut my eyes an throw up all at once but I gotta stay focused an keep em from Eeli.

They weren’t gittin Eeli. She weren’t nobody’s to have.

“We could be allies, you an me an Roman an yer friend. We can hunt an have a larf. That sound fun?”

“We’re searchin fer our dreams. We don’t wanna be hunters.”

“We prefer the term Nomads.”

“I ain’t never heard of it.”

“They don’t teach em like they used to.” Bise takes a breath before nockin me to my nees an pinnin both my arms behind my back.

I cry out an wiggle but he’s got me good. I ain’t never bin strong. But especially not today. I can’t catch my breath so I just listen as Bise hisses in my ear. “Yer gonna take us to yer friend.”

“No.”

“Yes you are, Tye, cause yer not stoopid.”

“Maybe I am.” A little smile plays on my face.

Roman holds up his hand an Bise stops talkin. My shoulda blades are forced together an Bise’s nails cut into my skin. I bite my lip as not to call out again. Roman walks over, each footstep quiet an full’a purpose. He reaches me an stares down at me like I’m a bug on the grass. Then he raises his hand an there’s a flame of pain at my cheek, eruptin into pins an needles that are searin hot.

Roman’s fingers curl into a fist.

“Show us yer friend.” Bise tries again.

“No.”

There’s a shock of pain again. My left eye feels like it’s gonna come out it’s pulsin so hard.

“This’ll be over in a mo. Just take us to em.”

“No.”

This time I can’t force down my yelp. I spit blood on the grass, pantin. My lip feels like it’s bin blown up an don’t belong to me.

“Give it up, Tye. We just wanna share.”

I’m wheezin an want noffink more than to drop to my nees but I can’t so I just stare at Roman who’s standin there, fist ready fer the next blow.

“So you gonna tell us now?”

“No,” I whisper.

I don’t see his arm move this time, I just feel the world spinnin an my head is a blast of heat. There’re cuts in my mowf an all I can taste is the tang of blood.

“Not even gonna give us a name?”

Before I can say anyfink I hear a tune carry on the breeze.

You think escape is futile, but just you sit an wayte awhile.”

Roman lowers his fist an Bise loosens his grip.

“Well, who’s this comin then? This yer little friend?”

I try an free my arm but Bise just larfs in my ear. I yank my head away from the sound an the colours of the world git all intense.

Everyfin drops back into sharp focus again as Eeli calls my name.

“Tye, I got as many as I could but there weren’t that many more. It’s not blackberry time, it’s not got cold enoff.”

Roman grins an creeps forward.

“Tye? You asleep again you lazy git?”

“Even better, little Tye.” Bise is breathin all over my neck an I cringe tryin to shake him off. “Yer friend’s a girl.”

Eeli appears in front of us an stops mid-sentence, droppin the berries to the floor. She’s covered in red welts from the brambles an as she takes in the site in front’a her the colour drains from her pale face.

“Well I guess you don’t lie about everyfin, Tye.” Bise pushes me to the ground an stands up. “There are berries.”

I drag myself back onto my nees but Bise just pushes me down again. I hit the floor an my head feels like lava’s pourin into it.

“Tye,” Eeli says, quieter than I ever heard her say anyfin. She takes a breath an stands as tall as she can, lookin between Bise an Roman who are both advancin towards her. “What’ve you done to him? He ain’t done noffink to hurt you! Not one fing!”

“I can see why he kept you a secret.”

Eeli’s eyes find mine an I mowf that I’m sorry.

“Leave us alone, we don’t want no trouble.”

“Tye here seemed to want it. We dint want that to happen but he weren’t spillin about his little friend. An what a fine friend you are.”

I see Eeli’s lips press into a hard line an her chest risin an fallin. I pull the biggest breath into my lungs an push wiff all my mite till I’m on my hands an nees.

“Whaddya want?” Fear slides into her voice an the two men cackle wiff delite.

“We just wanna share, darlin.”

“I ain’t yer darlin. I ain’t anyone’s.”

“Feisty. I like that in a woman. What’s yer name, sweet’art.”

“I ain’t tellin you noffink.”

The two men are mere fingertips from her.

Bise grabs hold of her hand.

“Hey!” Eeli jerks her hand back but he don’t let go.

“Such soft skin.”

“It ain’t!” Eeli’s pitch an volume rises. “It ain’t at all. I’ve worked every day since I can remember. We lived on a farm. My feet smell an everyfin.”

Bise an Roman look at one another.

“Yer a strange little girl, ain’t cha?”

“Essackly. Leave us alone.”

“Or what?”

I’m on my feet now inchin towards them so’s they don’t hear me.

“Or . . .”

“Or noffin. We’ve bin doin this longeren you’ve bin alive, darlin. We just wanted a trade but now you’ve inconvenienced us so we need compensation.”

“Whattcha talkin about? I ain’t never heard them words. We can have a trade. Tye probably said no cause he dint want to deside wiffout me.”

“Is that so?”

Bise turns round an catches me moments from him.

He drops his arm on my shoulda an drags me into the little serkle of people that’s bin made.

“I’m gonna tell you what’s gonna happen next.” Bise looks at each of us an I notice his eyes are a grey-brown colour of the ground in the winter. His voice is soft an low that it almost blurs together. “We’re gonna take those packs o’yers an neither of you are gonna stop us. If you say a word, angel,” he’s lookin at Eeli. “We’ll hit yer boy some more. And you, little Tye, if you so much as move, we’ll do somefin much worse to yer pretty little friend. You got that?”

I just stare at him cause I’m not givin him no reason to touch Eeli. Not on my life was anyone gittin their hands on her.

He lets go’a me. “Alrite then. We’re all clear.” He shouldas Eeli’s rucksack an Roman grabs mine. “Be sure to be nicer to any Nomads you meet round here. We’re not all as friendly as Roman an me.” He puts his hand to his head an flicks it up into the air before they vanish into the distance.

“Oh, Tye!” Eeli’s arms are around my neck an I only just hold the two of us up.

I wrap my arms round her an skweeze tite. “S’okay. I weren’t gonna let em hurt you.”

“Look at you! Yer a complete mess. You let em hurt you, forget about me!”

“S’alrite. I’ll be alrite.”

“You’ll be purple in the mornin.”

“I don’t mind. At least they’re gone now.”

She pulls away to look into my face. “What’re we gonna do, Tye? We ain’t got noffink now.”

“We dint have much before. We’ve still got our jackets an our shoes.”

“Yeah,” she huffs. “Fat lot of good that is. I know I shoulda kept the matches in my pockets.” She scuffs her boot against the ground. “Well at least we got those dusty berries I dropped.”

I larf an reach into my pocket. “An this.” I wave the swift nife at her.

“How’d you do that!” A grin lites up her face an I know we’ll be alrite.

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