I told you I was going to publish faster now.
Yes, this one is only a novella, but still, I’m ramping up to being faster. This is the first in a five-book series I’m working on that seeks to lampoon the Dystopian Fiction genre by taking its tropes and dialing them up to eleven.
It is, admittedly, not a child-friendly book. Not by a long stretch. Content warning for you all.
But, if you like social commentary, very dark comedy, and villain minions that I literally keep getting compliments on whenever I show someone the story (I really didn’t expect them to get the most praise, but I’m not complaining) then come and give it a look.
I mean, you’re likely socially isolating anyway, so why not?
The Downfall of Society Starts Here.
They were serving pills to kids at gunpoint. The pills consisted of a cocktail of cat and dog dander, beeswax, peanut extract, shellfish remnants, and a few other miscellaneous things all ground up and placed within a white capsule too big for the human mouth to easily contain. One of the “they” in question twitched their gun down and up, beckoning, waiting, and the boy in front of the line took the pill and passed it through his teeth without a complaint. He mustered enough spit after several attempts, the pistol’s barrel acting as a great form of incentive for him to produce various liquids and swallowed the lump with a grimace.
The kids behind did not make a sound beyond breathing, and the “they,” the soldiers in blue military jackets with silver buttons, only made occasional sounds while twitching and running spasmodically through a few silent facial reactions incongruous to the current situation. The soldier with the tin of pills flinched and chuckled at something only he was seeing.
Tick tock went the time in the empty, white, underground auditorium, maybe ten minutes at most, a single minute at the smallest, before the boy shuddered. A quick spasm occurred before red marks appeared on his skin. Hives grew around his face and hands. He tried to say something, and his voice choked out compressed words.
A redheaded teenager of thirteen named Alexander, third down in the line, narrowed his eyes and moved a step, a single step, in the direction of the now panicking child, before he found a pistol placed to his right temple and a pair of wild eyes looking at him.
“Not a chance of help. Leave it be,” the soldier said, his left eye twitching. The soldier’s mouth then made a sneer, and he stood up ramrod straight—his arm still holding the gun hard against Alexander’s skin.
Alexander stepped back into the line, and the soldier dropped his pistol to his side, before absentmindedly scratching the edge of his cheek with the barrel.
“Help me…” choked out the kid at the front of the line, before he fell to the ground. His hand went into his pocket, drawing up an injector he’d managed to keep hidden from searches, and tried to get the needle to his thigh.
The man with the pill tin kicked his hand hard, and the injector slid across the ground. Another soldier stomped on it with the flat of his heel several times. The liquid spilled out and leaked on the dirty linoleum floor.
“Don’t take drugs, kids,” all the soldiers said in unison. “Not even once in a while.”
The kid crawled forward, his breath desperate, his fingers dipping into the liquid, drawing it toward his mouth. Another foot came down on his wrist, snapping the fingers. The kid could not cry out: not enough air left in his lungs. He reached out with his other hand before his whole body lurched several times. Silently, all eyes swiveled to the guard who was back to scratching his face, though now with an empty magazine.
“Clean up on aisle blood.”
A glob of spittle leaked from the mouth of the dead boy, and Alexander’s body tensed up with thought. His eyes swiveling around the space toward the other guards, calculations flashing internally. Someone came forward, another soldier, this one wearing a gray jacket with tassels over his breast and golden buttons up his middle, and dragged the corpse off to the side, making sure to fold up his hands. He also moved the eyelids closed.
“Next up! They all come, come one,” the pill holder said.
The next child took one confident step to the guard and grabbed a pill before anyone had a chance to force it into his hands. He was a twelve-year-old named Christopher, and he smiled, the expression reaching all the way up to his bright blue eyes. He popped the capsule into his mouth, straightened his neck to max length, and swallowed. He shook his head back and forth and bounced on his feet with excitement.
After a second, Christopher patted his stomach. “Guess I’m good to go then. Where should I stand?”
The guard twitched hard, the shudder running all the way from his feet inside black pointed shoes to his upper forehead with the thin metallic headband too tight around it. The blue and gray images, visible if you looked closely at his eyes, flashed faster than normal, switching and changing. His hands tightened until his knuckles were white.
“Sir?” Christopher asked.
“Put the alive,” the guard said and pointed to the far-off wall where there was a door currently sealed behind an electronic lock.
Christopher nodded and crossed the room to essentially stand in the corner. He watched what was going on with eager eyes. He smiled again, then forced it away, before it inevitably came back to his sun-kissed features.
“Go to the point,” the soldier said, beckoning to the next person with his gun. At random, his trigger finger jolted but didn’t pull off a shot. Two of the other soldiers, both desperately holding hands yet unaware that they were doing so, let out small laughs in tune with each other. One shook his head as if to say, “oh you,” affectionately.
Alexander, now allowed to move, stepped forward and looked at the pill tin. Gazed at the satin inlay surrounding the little white capsules, the more colorful items inside the pills obvious through the semi-translucent surface. Alexander considered it for a second, reached out like he would imitate the last kid, before turning up his middle finger.
“Yeah, no, not happening.”
The soldier grabbed up a pill and shoved it into Alexander’s face, only for his wrist to twist the wrong way under Alexander’s deft hands. The pill tin fell from his other hand and scattered the white allergens across the ground.
Christopher looked at one pill that rolled by him and scooped it up. He dropped to his knees and went for the next closest, drawing them up against his chest.
“You’re going to die for that, you idiot,” he muttered to himself.
And while Christopher cleaned, Alexander further yanked the soldier’s hand the wrong way and turned him around before kicking at the back of the knee.
“I’m going timber to the tree,” the soldier declared and fell, catching himself with his hands. He rose faster than expected but found his pistol stolen, aimed at his face, and then found himself without a face at all.
The shot scattered the kids like spooked wild animals. The other soldiers shook for a second in confusion and waved their pistol barrels around in search of a target. Any target. One kid fell with his spine severed via bullet, and another hit the wall with an injured leg.
But the random shooting came back to target Alexander, pistols swaying in his general direction. Out of the five present, one soldier did not get a chance to even utter random inane words before his chest popped with blood, the vest underneath not doing enough to stop the shot. He teetered backward, and the other soldiers started concentrating their fire.
Alexander ducked forward and caught the falling man with a jarring impact, propping him over his shoulder, and hoping the combo of ineptitude, that same failed bullet-proof vest, and a bit of human meat would protect him from the hail of shots. He hoped for it very hard.
One soldier went down to Alexander’s next bullet, before another’s eyes glowed with now red and orange light. The images flashing faster and faster over their strained retinas. They let out screams not unlike they were in the middle of surgery without anesthesia. And charged.
While this was going on, Christopher looked back at the sealed door, his hands full of most of the pills, as a light traced the outline of the metal surface, and the lock sputtered with interference. Making sure not to drop his precious pills, he scampered away as the metal door collapsed off its hinges.
Alexander prepared to meet his attacker by pushing his arm up into his dead shield and thinking he could shove the soldier away when they collided. This worked about one-tenth as well as he’d hoped, as all it did was slow them. And only for a few seconds. That soldier’s face twisted into a warped countenance, and he threw his once breathing colleague to the side with one hand and picked up Alexander with the other. The sudden upward force was so hard Alexander dropped his own gun with a clatter that sent an explosion of fear through his stomach.
“Did you pick the wrong day to keep on living?” the soldier said and raised his pistol underneath Alexander’s chin.
Another random spasm bought Alexander a moment as he stared at the tiny images of murder and rape and torture flashing inside the soldier’s eyes. Alexander faced the inevitability of death, mustered something deep, then failed to accept the inevitability of death. Instead, he brought up his hands to pop the eardrums of his captor.
Neither Alexander’s murder, nor the clap of ear doom happened though, as a crackle of fire, automatic rifle fire, again scattered the kids quivering around the room, and dropped the soldier with an explosion of gore across Alexander’s face. He and the corpse tumbled to the ground.
Christopher frowned at the people who entered the room, his frame lightly quivering with not fear, but subtle rage. He gave a disapproving eye to the rough-hewn cloth with many pockets—for ammo or otherwise—and the combat knives and bandannas. Those garish stars and stripes on the bandanas especially irked Christopher.
The man at the front of the interlopers raised his rifle barrel straight up, leaning the butt back on his shoulder as the last of the soldiers died to well-applied gunfire. This man, being the leader of the group, obviously, took stock of the frightened—and some dead—children, and smiled with only one side of his mouth, the grin stretching up to underneath his robotic eye.
“Hello, name’s Kennedy Riptide, and this is perhaps the luckiest day of your little lives.”
Special thanks to: Melissa Potter
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Want to read something longer by me? How about a whole novel!