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Call Me Cruel
Author's note: I wrote this because I wanted to write about the difference between humans and animals.
In the dark they hunt him like a fox, into the night they charge, lights and knifes brandished. What they really want is to feel cold and scared flesh beneath their hands. They can no longer speak, they can only growl and yell. They used to be men, they used to be human; but now they're a mob.
Call me cruel but I have to leave him for dead. Getting in the way of a mob means death, we all know that. Like sharks, once they get the sent of blood it's all hopeless. Welcome to the new world, where only blood and stone remain.
From my tree I watch the mob rush my, the stench of men together hurts my nose. Not to mention their noise. It is not good for a girl to be out alone in the night, it never has been. I have a knife, I have a gun and I'm not afraid to kill. I've seen what color men are inside, I've seen what dead eyes look like and I've heard many a death cry in my sweet sixteen years. I've learned how to kill a man, stay motionless for hours, how to hunt and how to live. I've gained scars, calluses and a cruelty that runs deep within my soul. These days have ripped out my heart and replaced it with a cold stone.
"What are you doing up there?" A voice croons though the dwindling light. I remain motionless, just like my stone heart. I look down in the darkness, and make out the shape of a boy, or young man. I know him, and I know I am his prey. I don't say anything. I've got the advantage when he tries to attack me, I draw my gun. At this range he's as good as dead.
"That is not a very nice thing to do, I was asking a simple question." There is a tone of menace in his crooning voice.
"Get your hands where I can see them." Though the dark my voice is as cold and hard as steel. He places his hands on the trunk of the tree. I'm slightly stuck how. For a moment my mind whirls, then my thoughts become clear and a plan forms in my mind. I swing of a branch with my free hand and plant my shoe in his hand just as hard as I can, he yelps in pain and I swing and get the other hand. While he recoils in pain I tear into the dark wood.
I will have about five minutes before he recovers. In that time I have to have made good distance between us and found a good hiding place with an advantage for killing him, should I need to. I am not afraid to kill, but I am not proud of it either. I will avoid it if I can.
The fading light will conceal me, but it also conceals others. I have almost no chance of picking out anyone in this dark, in this terrine at this speed. My only chance is being so fast they have no chance to aim themselves or their bullets. He will have recovered now, and he'll be furious. I leap into the roots of a tree and plunge into further darkness. I land and skid slightly on some loose rocks. The moon has come out. That will help me see but it will also help others see me.
I try to quiet my pounding heart. He will be somewhere above. He never gives up, he will keep looking for me. I remain completely silent. I should really have killed him back there, I had the perfect opportunity too. But we both know I can't. He is the spit image of a boy I used to be in love with, so therefore I cannot kill him. He knows that, He will take advantage of it as best he can.
I don't really blame him, I would do the same, if I liked to hunt people. Which I don't.
That's why I'm prey.
Spending the night on stones really messes up your back, no matter how many times you do it. I hadn't intended to go to sleep, sleep just crept up on me like a cat in the night and stole conscienceless away. Sleep is a luxury in this new world. I have forgotten how to dream, when I sleep I slip into a pit of relentless black. I wake and look across the inside of the tree. By the dawn's early light the world is a very different place.
The roots are strong enough to hold up the floor of the forrest, allowing a little sun light here and there. The roots have created a small cave, big enough for me to move about in. The sunlight seeps in in golden shafts, making patterns along the floor. The smell of pine fills my lungs, the cool stones press against my back. As the last remnants of sleep leave me, I feel calm. I eventually am able to move. It always takes a while to move after you sleep on the floor, it's as your body has to take some time to recover it's self from sleeping so uncomfortably. I have no idea where that boy went, he doesn't give up easily so I assume he's somewhere near. I don't let myself hope that he's been killed by someone or something. People like him aren't killed, they kill.
That's the rule of the new world, kill or be killed. The rules stop there. There is nothing you're not allowed to do, the world is supposed to be run on the people's good. So the old world was torn apart.
If I had a sense of humor I would be able to laugh at that, but I really don't have a sense of humor. I'm guessing I used to, at some point in my life. I can't remember what it feels like to laugh, it's like I've forgotten how to, just as I've forgotten how to dream. They're not like riding a bike, they're skills once lost are lost forever.
I haven't spoken for a long time, I have a nagging doubt that I won't be able to speak if I try. I have this vision of opening my mouth and only being able to growl or squeak. I've become so like an animal, just as we all have.
It makes me doubt that humans are at all different from animals, I used to think speaking was what made us different. Our love for words, for expressing emotion, speaking because it is beautiful instead of for any practical reason. We don't do that anymore. That was one of the things that was torn away. We have lost the art of words. We have lost the music of spoken words, and the beauty of the written word.
I need to find water. I also need to find food, although the need for water is considerably more urgent. I am always in the need of water, There is not much pure water left. A very long time ago I thought that I would find a good water source then stay there for good. That's impossible. People like me have to keep on moving, I wish that I was not so alone. Things are safer in numbers, people are less likely to prey upon you. All my friends are dead now, that is the ultimate problem with people, they die. In this world they die fast. So in the end all the bring is sadness.
So I live alone.
I sit for a long moment, staring at the patches of sunlight that pattern the floor. I can't quite bring myself to move yet. I am slightly afraid of daylight, it means I'm very conspicuous. I pull myself to my feet and try to peer out into the world. I never want to leave this place. I want to curl up, shrivel and die here. Alone, of my own cause.
As thirst grows within me death sounds pretty sweet. As hunger wages on, death is calming. I finally drag myself to my feet and sigh, then begin to stretch out my aching body. I won't just curl up and die, to die of hunger takes a very long time and is an ugly way to go. I want to wash, I don't want to think about how long it's been since I've washed. I suddenly really, really need to get clean. I scramble out of my hiding place, searching for predators, be they human or animal. Though the forrest I trudge, looking for some kind of clean pool of water.
The day passes by incredibly quickly.
Soon the light begins to fail, and I once again feel nervous. I haven't seen him all day, I don't know if I should take that as a blessing or a curse. The sky is completely dark and the moon has risen before I finally find water. I've found a large clearing with a small lake in the middle, the lake is framed by large and round stones.
I pull of my clothes and conceal them underneath a rock. The moonlight paints the lake silver, and the rocks white. I like moonlight, everything it touches turns silver. As I slip into the water I think of the days people would try and change ordinary things into silver or gold. Those must have been interesting times, I always thought it was a beautiful and ugly cause. I thought it was beautiful, as the cause was a crusade for the beautiful, and I thought it was ugly for the greed that lay behind it. That seems to be the way people work. Beauty is just a mask for something sinister.
The cool water feels unbelievably good against my skin. It rolls off my skin and wets my hair, pulling the dirt and dried blood from me. It's cold but I don't mind it. For the first time in a long, long time I am not afraid. I am comfortable, I am happy. Then a sound erupts across the forrest. My happiness is shattered. I slink over to my clothes and pull them over my body, they stick to my wet skin. I dive behind a clump of rocks and listen, and watch. Waiting, for another noise. No one is completely silent, it's impossible. If someone is out here, they will make some kind of noise and give themselves away.
Who is listening for me? There is someone here, I can feel their presence. I need to know where they are. Then a arm wraps around my neck and squeezes. I fight against the arm it squeezes tighter, choking me.
My gun is ripped from my hand, I try to bite the arm but it moves. I can't breath. My heart pounds. Then | relax and the arm relaxes too. Then I suddenly throw my head backwards, the person behind me lets out a small yelp of pain. I rip off the arm and search for a weapon.
I grab a rock and whirl, on my attacker, ready to club in someone's head. It's him. It's him again. He pounces like a cat at me and tries to get the stone off me, I doge. He stops the rock before it hits his temple, then twists my wrist until I let go of the rock.
My rock hits the other rocks with a crash. His nose is bleeding. I kick him in the stomach but it's like kicking wood, he grabs my ankle. I bend my knee and push him away. He stumbles backwards and draws a small and cruel looking knife. I search wildly for my gun, then draw my own knife.
His eyes are glowing in the darkness, he's grinning. He pounces again, I slash at him, miss his thought and cut his face. He takes a few steps back, rubs his hand in the blood on his cheek and looks at it.
I grip my knife. I can't miss next time. He lunges at me, shoulders headed for my shoulders, I twist to the side. I loose my footing on the loose rocks and he cuts me across the shoulder. Then kicks the back of my knee and makes me fall over backwards.
He cups the back of my head with his hand before I crash into the stones. I slash at him with my knife but he grips my wrist and squeezes until I let go.
"Our blood is the same color, it has the same taste. You and I, we are the same." He whispers as I struggle. A noise from across the clearing makes us both stiffen. Something crawls toward the water. He stands up and drags me by the wrist with him. I try to hit him but he twists my wrist so I stop.
I am distracted by the creature across the way. It's movements are twitchy and strange. I gasp. It's human, that thing is human.
He's dragging me toward it. I pull against him but he's relentless. As we draw closer I get a good look at it. It's a female, with long black and knotty hair. She wears ripped and dirty clothes, and is struggling towards the water. There are cuts and burns all over her body.
A pure terror surges though my veins. I loose my head and begin to struggle, no longer feeling the pain of him squeezing my wrist. I have to get away, I have to run. I will run until I drop. The backs of her ankles are cut, my heart thunders against my ribcage like horses' hooves against the floor.
That's how they imprison people without cadges. It's quite simple, the tendons on the back of the ankles are cut, it makes the person is unable to go anywhere quickly. It means the person is unable to put any weight on their feet, therefore they have to slowly crawl places. That person was some kind of slave.
Slaves are quite common. Although I haven't seen one recently. They are more common in the cities then they are in the country, the rich here like to keep slaves. I imagine it makes them feel important, to treat people worse then dogs. The fact they were there means that their owner can't have been far. That thing, that creature, was soon to die, so their owner will be looking for a new slave. Not me. I will run until I die, rather then be a slave. To be a slave is a slow and disgusting death sentence, slaves are not kept for long here, as it is so easy to find a new one.
It's then I notice that someone is chasing me. I can hear them thundering in the woods behind me. I don't dare to turn to see who it is. That would risk loosing my footing and falling, which would be bad in every way. I increase my speed, but they remain hot on my heels. I have no choice but to continue running.
Then the footsteps stop. I'm confused. Then I understand, they've jumped. Before I hit the ground arms wrap around me and something comes between the floor and me and I'm rolled into a ditch. Mud squelches against my wet skin, making me dirty again.
He smells of mint, this strange boy who hunts me. In the ditch we lie, listening to three men who are hunting us. Together we are prey, once enemies, we are suddenly united. Neither of us breaths, neither of us lives. We are one with the mud we lie in, we are not alive, we are rocks. They are looking for us, they are waiting for a noise, a noise that will give us away. I trust him to be silent. He trusts me to be silent. We are no longer single creatures, we are one. Then they're gone. I'm about to struggle but he seems to read my mind and clamps his hand around my neck and squeezes. He's not tightening any more, he's just gripping my thought so I don't move.
It strikes me for the first time that he actually is human. For some reason that's surprising. In my mind I'd turned him into some kind of sub human creature. As I look into his eyes and he slowly loosens his hand I notice he's a person. I haven't seen humans as people, for a long time. Humans have been separate and strange creatures for a long time.
There is a long silence.
"You got a name?" He says.
"No. Do you?" I answer. He looks me in the eye and smiles.
"Would you like me to give you a name?"
"That depends on what you suggest." I am still aware of the fact he still has his hand around my neck. He looks around
"How about Alaine?" He finally takes his hand off my neck. "Now you give me a name."
"Jonathan? Can I call you that?"
"Yeah. Why not?"
"Get off me." I mutter. He looks me in the eye, then rolls off me. There is a long silence.
"Where are you from?" He asks though the darkness.
"That's like me." He sighs. Then there is another long silence.
"No one is from anywhere anymore." I suddenly notice my hand is gushing blood. I look at it though the darkness. My blood is black in the moonlight. Black blooded means you're cruel, though and through. It means you have no heart. That's me. Black blooded. I turn and glance at Jonathan. The cut on his cheek oozes black blood. He's right. We have the same blood, we are the same. We have no hearts. We have no souls. We are cruel though and though. Call us cruel, but we live. Call us cruel, but we will survive.