Just beyond the edge of the woods was the notorious Spike Lake, the primary source of nourishment for the Red Village. It, along with every other body of water, became contaminated during the “big flux.” The terrible incident transformed the waters into a thick freakishly blue liquid with an alluringly sweet smell.
Plants and animals died in great numbers. It didn’t take very long before the land became void of them. The villagers saw the effect it held and were scared off from the lake. Some resorted to eating whatever was lying around though it was all dead. They soon joined the casualties as well. The toxic that lingered in the remains killed them too.
Spike Lake was the bane of their existence. Everyone was suffering from severe starvation and dehydration which claimed the lives of many. A few of the remaining survivors resorted to cannibalism. They traveled the fallen lands preying on occasional survivors including other cannibals.
The Red Village is nestled discretely in the thick of the woods and all of the rooftops are lower than the trees. This keeps them safe and hidden from any outside threats. They have always been ignorant to the condition of the world beyond their home. The population dwindled dangerously and there were very few survivors out there. Humans were an endangered species. In fact the Red Village was the biggest of all the survivalist camps with only twelve people.
The camp used to be bigger but many of them starved or dehydrated. A small group of foolish youth couldn’t resist the calls of temptation. They drank of the sweet poison and it eviscerated them in front of everyone’s bare eyes…no one dared to drink of it again.
A man and his mother sit on the edge of Spike Lake. Their bodies are worn thin from starvation and they can think of nothing more than to drink.
“I’m going to do it mother.” The man told his sickly mother.
“That’s fools talk John!” She rocked back and forth.
John sighed and then it was silent. The longer he held his gaze with the waters, the more he heard the voices in his head; the Whispers. Everyone told him to ignore when they urged him to give into temptation because doing so would obviously mean death.
A branch from the tree next to them broke off and fell into the “God-awful gunk” as John’s mother called it. It sent a small wave up onto the edge, drenching the two.
The mother automatically stood up and danced about in an attempt to dry herself of the gunk. John, on the other hand, couldn’t stand anymore. The Whispers were louder than ever and the water…delicious. Before he realized it he had thrown himself into the lake, completely taken over by his instincts.
John ignored his mother’s frantic calls and gorged himself of the sweet nectar. He cared not of what became of him for the future.
The waters softly caressed him and swirled about the planes of his body. He sunk lower into the lake and soon felt dry. His mind tossed and turned violently and he blacked out.
When he regained consciousness he was dry and laying on his back. He felt sharp objects digging into his skin. Drearily his eyes dredged open. The sunlight pained them as if he hadn’t seen in years. As they slowly adjusted he saw the silhouettes of what seemed to be seven people standing around him.
“He’s finally coming around. Thank God he drank the serum.” A man with glasses said as he shook a dirty bottle with freakishly blue water in it, Spike Water?
The small crowd stepped over to another person on John’s left. While they wrestled with the individual John was still in disillusion.
Where am I? John thought to himself. He sat up in place and looked around. No woods were visible as far as the eye could see, only an urban metropolis. This wasn’t the Red Village but someplace new.
Around him on the ground were the other villagers but they weren’t awake. In fact they seemed to be in a coma-like sleep. Big baskets of fruits, vegetables, meats, and bottled water were placed around the bodies. Have I died and I gone to heaven?
He tried to stand up and stumbled into the man with the glasses, almost knocking the bottle from his hand.
“Hey watch where you’re going! We’re trying to save lives here!”
He stood slumped over in place and his legs wobbled threateningly. Acclimation was in progress.
“Sorry…” he said weakly.
As John edged around the small group of saviors he caught a glimpse of their faces. They were the foolish youth who drank of Spike’s waters but they looked far from eviscerated. The damned kids looked better than John!
His eyes drifted down to the victim. It was his mother. The man with the glasses tried to force the mother to drink of the life-saving serum. She pursed her lips and clenched her teeth to block their attempts.
“You can’t tempt me! I’d rather succumb to the starving death clawing at my stomach than drink that God-awful gunk!” Tears rolled down her age-worn face.
“She hasn’t eaten in a very long time. She has to drink the serum now or else…”
John ripped the bottle from the man’s hand and dropped to his mother’s side. He shoved the bottle into her mouth as she opened it to speak again. She flailed her limbs in protest knocking the bottle from his hands. The serum spilled all over the street. She choked up what John did manage to get into her mouth and it ran down the sides of her mouth.
“Mom–” he started to sob violently. The little saviors surrounded John and held him back. He fought hard to break away from them as he was overtaken by tears.
He watched as she groaned out in pain. She writhed on the ground and saliva ran down the sides of her face. And the ghost left her frail frame.
WK Freely, 2007
This was the first short story I ever wrote! Back when I was totally obsessed with adjectives and deathly afraid of commas! I could easily rewrite the tale, but it serves as a reminder of how art is best when raw. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it all those years ago.