E L I T E -- SNEAK PEAK

Sneak peak for the 2nd book of the DROPS series... can be read stand-alone! If this gets enough ~love~ I'll probably write the whole book, as of now it's more of a brain-child idea so LIKE/FAVORITE/COMMENT IF YOU LIKE IT SO I POST MORE


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1. 1.1--Lonely, Lovely Child

Among a world turned to Hell, a seven-year-old girl walked through a destroyed town, its buildings still smoldering, the smell of rot still lingering in the air. The girl, an angel fallen from Heaven, took small, delicate steps, her tiny feet moving gently over layers of ash and rubble. As she walked, she hummed a tune; not one she'd heard before, just one she made up in her head. Her soft, sweet voice echoed through the vacant town as she walked through. The sun rising behind her gave the illusion that she, herself, was bringing light through this desolate town; it was as if the sun was on a wagon, and she was towing it behind her. 

The girl looked out of place in the remnants of this city; her angelic face was too youthful, her eyes too bright, her body too small and her clothes too clean. 

She shouldn't have been there. 

Yet she walked through anyways, her blonde ponytail blowing around in the wind. She frowned as a strand of hair got in her face, annoyingly brushing against her cheek. She huffed and pushed her hair back, behind her shoulder, and went on humming her happy tune. 

Her melody carried throughout the town, through the crumbling buildings, over the glass on the ground, and to the hiding boy. 

The girl walked around, occasionally entering a promising building that didn't look too damaged in the hopes she'd find some goodies; that's what her mother told her to do, anyway. Go through the town, and bring back anything that can be useful. So, that's how the girl who shouldn't have been there ended up in the dark, broken town. 

As she entered one of the sturdier-looking buildings, her tune carried throughout the halls and made its way to the ears of the boy. Hearing the sound of a human's voice brought him from his space, huddled in the corner, down a flight of broken stairs, and wandering into the entrance room. 

By the time he made his way downstairs, the little girl had disappeared. He could still hear her tune, however, as she hummed and skipped down the street. He exited his building--the first time he'd done so in a while--and walked into the middle of the street. The girl didn't notice him, despite the crunching of debris being disturbed under his small feet. 

The boy watched her for a while; her blonde hair dancing in the wind, her white shirt that's clean despite the filth around her, her delicate feet and her happy melody. 

"Hello?" He called out. His voice was small and child-like... The boy, too, shouldn't have been there. Their youth made them appear out of place in their environment, though the boy seemed less so than the angelic little girl. His face was dirtied, his clothes were tattered. He was skinny and bony, and his skin and lips were dry. 

The girl turned around and cocked her head to the side, eyeing the boy up and down. She walked towards him with her careful feet, stopping only when they stood face to face. She stood a couple inches taller than him. Her warm, brown eyes met his sharp blue ones. The curves on her face were gradual, her features seemingly blending into one another. Soft, glowing, and baby-like. Everything about him was angular. His face was hard and chiseled despite his youth, shaped by hunger and sleep deprivation. They stood like that for a few moments, making intense eye contact as each one tried to size the other up. 

"I'm Julia," the little girl finally spoke. Her voice was as lovely as her gentle features; soft and smooth, like the feeling of silk between gentle fingertips. 

"I'm Jason," the boy replied. His voice, despite the youthful tones, was scratchy from a throat lacking water. 

"Do you wanna come with me?" Julia asked; they were too young for formalities. She skipped right to the important information; no filter. 

"Where?" 

"To my mama and brother." 

The boy shrugged. "Okay," he said. 

"Where's your mama?" Julia asked. 

The little boy pouted. "Dead." 

The girl nodded. She knew she should feel sad for the boy--She'd been sad when she lost her Papa--but she was too young to express her sympathy accurately. "Okay, so you can come with me to my mama." 

She reached out and grabbed the boys hand and tugged him back down the road where she came from. Her feet landed softly; his steps were like stomps, trudging along. 

"Shh!" The girl warned him, irritated by his loud footsteps. "The people are sleeping." 

The boy looked around, a confused look painted on his face; he'd been in that town for several weeks, and he hadn't seen any other people. Especially not sleeping people. "There's nobody here." 

The girl looked at him with baby brown eyes. "The people that used to live here. They're asleep." 

The boy frowned. "They're dead," he protested. "How can they be sleeping? Sleeping is only for alive people." 

The girl rolled her eyes, annoyed by his lack of creativity. "I think they're sleeping," she argued, pouting. They continued walking in silence; Jason tried to make his footsteps quieter. They walked for quite a while, exiting the town and then walking for another thirty minutes out into the surrounding forest. The forest was mostly dead, which was why Jason had never ventured there; the dead trees looked like yelling people. It was too scary. Julia, however, lead him directly into the forest. After another twenty or so minutes of walking through dead trees, Jason noticed the leaves on the trees are green. The trees were looking more alive. The sound was sporadic, but he even thought he could hear the occasional flap of a bird's wings or a rustle in the bushes. 

What is this place? He thought, wondering how he never found it before. It was much more pleasant there than it was in the dead town. 

The children's youth made it possible for them to continue on for quite a ways before beginning to feel exhausted; by the time they did, Jason could see something that caught the sun's rays, glinting at him through the trees. A car, maybe. A truck? 

Julia led him directly to the vehicle; a pickup truck. As they neared, Julia walked past her brother, Tyler, who was a young child even smaller than her. At just three years old, he toddled around, tending to whatever chores their mother had asked him to do. 

"Mama!" Julia called, searching around the truck for her mother. 

"Yes, honey?" A short blonde woman appeared from behind the truck. She frowned when she saw Jason. 

"Who's this?" She asked her daughter. 

"This is Jason," Julia said. Jason smiled an awkward, crooked smile, but he was almost tempted to hide behind the little girl. The mother's scrutinizing stare was making him feel uneasy. "You told me to find useful things in the town; I found him." 

"Well, then, nice to meet you, Jason," the woman said, pasting a kind smile on her weathered face. "My name is Annie." 

"Hi, Annie," Jason said nervously, shuffling his feet. He held his hands behind his back, wringing out his fingers. 

Annie turned to her daughter. "Julia, sweetie, why don't you get some food and water for Jason?" Julia nodded, and eagerly skipped off. She climbed into the back of the pickup truck and reappeared several minutes later with her arms full of things. 

Jason's mouth began to water at the sight of all she had; all the food and drink. She carried it to him, teetering slightly as she tried to balance her overloaded arms. 

"Here ya go," she said, offering the load to him. He smiled, and took the water bottle she's holding, along with an apple, a tin of canned tuna, and a protein bar. She smiled a wide, toothy grin, showing her missing front teeth, and returned the rest of the stuff to the back of the truck. 

"Okay, Julia, go help Tyler with his chores. I'm gonna talk to Jason, 'kay?" 

"Okay, Mama." Jason watched as the joyous little girl skipped off and joined the curly-haired toddler. He observed them sorting leaves into two different bins; why, Jason didn't know. 

"Jason?" Annie asked, kneeling next to him. "Why don't you start eating?" 

Jason nodded, eagerly unscrewing the lid from the water bottle and gulping down the cool liquid quickly. Drops of water spilled down his chin and wet his tattered shirt. After he'd filled his belly with water, he chomped into the apple. The juice from the apple also dripped down his chin. Annie looked at him as he ate, perplexed. His messy eating habits revealed one thing; he was young. Too young. 

"Honey... Where are your parents?" 

Jason shrugged. "I don't have a daddy. My mommy's dead." 

"I'm sorry, sweetie. How long ago did she die?" 

Jason frowned, then began counting on his fingers. After a few more minutes of struggling with counting, he coughed lightly. "I'm sorry," he said. "I don't know." 

"It's okay, honey. You've been living on your own?" 

The little boy nodded; Annie felt a tightness in her chest. This boy couldn't've been much older than her own daughter, and the thought of her daughter alone in that terrible town broke her heart. She couldn't've bear to leave her children alone. 

"Well, Jason... Do you want to stay with us? I can take care of you," Annie offered. The look on the boy's face was unreadable. "We have food and water, and... I can teach you how to survive." 

At the last bit, Jason's eyes perked up. "How to live on my own? Like a grown-up?" 

Annie chuckled. "Well, not quite yet, but yes. Whatever you want to learn, I can teach you. You'll be safe." 

Safe. That's not something Jason had felt in quite a while. 

He looked at the nice lady and nodded, his eyes still wide with confusion. He hadn't seen people in a really long time. Were they all this nice? 

She smiled and drew him into a hug. At first, he tensed up at her touch, but overcame it and threw his thin, wiry arms around her neck. It was his natural instinct, to shudder at the feeling of someone's body on his; the warmth of another's skin was unnatural and strange. 

"Why don't we get you some clean clothes?" 

Jason nodded eagerly at that suggestion; his current shirt was falling off of him in tatters. She led him to the back of the pickup truck, and his mouth fell open when he sees how many things they had; they had rope and weapons and food and lots and lots of water.

She digs around and pulls out a shirt. He took off his own shirt, exposing his bruised, skinny body and his showing ribs. He tried to pull the shirt over his head, but it was too small. 

"Yeah, I figured Julia's shirt would be too small for you." 

Despite the boy being skin and bones, and that he was shorter than her, the petite girl was still slimmer. 

She went back into the bin with the clothing and pulled out another shirt. "This'll be too big, dear, but it should be okay until we can get you something better." 

Jason pulled this shirt on over his head; it was Annie's. It fell to his knees, and the short sleeves went down to just past his elbows, but it was a shirt. There weren't any holes in it. There was no blood. 

He nodded. "Thank you," he said politely. 

Annie ruffled his hair. "Of course. And you keep that water bottle, okay?" She nodded towards the water bottle he drank out of earlier. He nodded again. "If you go over to Julia and Tyler, Julia'll show you what to do." 

The boy nodded again and walked over to the blonde-haired girl and curly-haired boy. "Annie said you could teach me," Jason said vaguely, nodding towards whatever chore Julia and Tyler were working on. 

"Okay," Julia said. "But I just finished. Wanna help me check the traps?" 

Jason looked perplexed. "The traps?" 

"Rabbit traps, in the woods." 

His sharp blue eyes widened, like a deer in headlights. "There are rabbits?" 

Julia laughed. "Of course there are! They're kinda hard to catch sometimes, though. But they're yummy." 

The curly-haired little boy sticks out his tongue. "Yuch." He makes a grotesque face. 

"He doesn't like rabbit," Julia explained unnecessarily. "Let's go!" 

The pair walked off into the woods, occasionally stopping to catch a trap. Jason didn't do much; he just watched in wonder at how much the girl knew, how much she had. 

It was certainly more than he'd had in a while. He counted on his fingers as they visited traps, keeping his fingers stuck out as they walked. Seven. Eight. Nine traps. 

On the tenth trap, Jason was perplexed by the furry creature hanging lifelessly from the trap. He knew what it was, despite having never seen one before. 

"A rabbit," Julia told him, pointing to the thing. 

"It's dead?" 

"I think so," the blonde-haired girl said. She walked closer to the trap and prodded the animal lightly. She breathed out a sigh of relief when it didn't move. "It's dead. I hate it when Mama makes me kill them." 

Jason's crystal blue eyes widened. "Kill it?" 

"Before we cook it," she said simply. "But I don't like doing it." 

He saw her point. He wouldn't want to kill something, either. He'd never done it before. He'd seen it, but of course, he'd never done it. He didn't like it when people killed things. 

Julia untied the lifeless rabbit from its trap with quick, deft fingers. "Here," she said, holding the animal out towards the boy. "Can you hold this?" 

He nodded, took the furry thing and watched in silence as Julia reset the trap. 

"Come on," she gestured him to follow her as she moved on to the next trap. Jason frowned as he realized he couldn't count on his fingers while holding the rabbit; besides, they were at eleven. He gave up and simply followed, amazed at the assuredness with which the girl carried out her every action. 

On the thirteenth trap, the pair found another rabbit. 

"Wanna untie this one?" Julia offered. Jason nodded eagerly. 

Julia, noticing the excited twinkle in Jason's sharp eyes, was happy to share her wealth of knowledge. 

She wanted to teach him everything; she wanted to protect him from the harsh world she found him in. 

They lived in a harsh, cruel world. They shouldn't have been there. 

Despite that, they both were. 

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