With Or Without You
Some people have the will to live. Some don’t. It’s a hard pill to swallow when those you thought did turn out to not. When the bombs dropped on that Tuesday morning, we all got to find out who was who. In that first hour was when 80% of the populace dropped, either from the bomb impacting, the resultant damage to the cities, or from not being willing to live in a world so irreparably changed.
The rest of us, we formed packs. Bands of people sticking together to find food and places to sleep. Groups to protect us from the more violent and unrestrained. Each of those groups had its own makeup, own identities. Our group was decent. Sure, we had a few of those macho men who thought they would be the kings of the new world. That changed, though, the second one of them lost his guts on a wrought-iron fence after falling from a second story window.
Those first couple weeks were an adjustment. You couldn’t just find what you wanted when you wanted. You learned to scavenge and loot. Houses that were empty were fair game. You’d have to fight off animals and other raiders. Sometimes you’d win and leave with your treasure. Sometimes you’d lose and bury another friend. But you got used to it after a while and routines set in.
It was when The Lady came upon our group that things went upside-down. She was pretty and entitled and knew how to throw her weight around. She came with a retinue of desperate and lonely men, aching to take their places at her side. She would toy with them, choose one, make him her lover, and then toss him aside. More often than not, there would be bodies left behind from the more despondent of the discarded.
We were suspicious at first. Why would you not be? Someone who treated people like disposable playthings didn’t particularly inspire trust in most of us. We had a shortage of everything. Why throw away people when we need everyone we can get? It made no sense and made us nervous.
She talked to us, though. Talked to me, specifically. She explained that she never demanded anything of these men and that she never promised them anything. All she did was exist. It wasn’t her fault that they went overboard. And it made sense. Of course it did. She couldn’t be blamed for the choices they made.
My other group members didn’t like this. They said she was manipulating me, using mind tricks on me. They didn’t know what they were saying. They didn’t know her like I did. They were jealous that she liked spending time with me and that took away time for themselves. It was so obvious. So clear to me.
We’re leaving soon, she and I. The others have told me not to go, but my mind is made up. She’s promised that I’ll be the man by her side. Her king.
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Here is where I''ll post random stories that aren't, as of yet, in a larger book. Call it a free ride into the mouth of madness, yo.