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End of Year News (December 2017)

Thu Dec 28, 2017 3:57 am by Adrian

(It's been one year since I made a news thread, oops)

Merry Christmas/Festivus/whatever holiday you do or do not celebrate!

2017 was a pretty busy year IRL for most of us - according to forum statistics, our busiest month was in June with 1671 total posts, meaning our post rate has been a little …

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Forum Bug

Wed Dec 28, 2016 3:18 am by Adrian

Hi all,

We're aware of a peculiar forum glitch that's causing some subforums to be locked.

Due to the lateness at this time, it might be a while before the glitch can be remedied, because despite my best efforts and as far as I can tell, everything seems to be working fine admin-side. It may have …

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Comments: 1

Discord News/Update Test

Thu Dec 08, 2016 1:35 am by Adrian

Just a news, update test. Trying to get this thing to work.

Comments: 0


Ithaca in the Rapture

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Ithaca in the Rapture

Post by ~Dylan Battle~ on Mon Aug 13, 2018 2:52 am

Hi everyone, it's me, Dylan (Capricorn, Scorpio Moon, Aquarius Ascendidng) anyways, it's been centuries(?) since I've been logged onto this site. When I joined it I was literally 12 years old (yes, you read that correctly, I was 12) well now I'm in college, I graduated early, and I've been doing a lot of meditating and soul searching, and I wanted to come back here and end things on a right note. Most of the Originals from here came from the RPG section on the forum of a game called Wizard101, the most popular RPG there was called Camp Half-Blood. But the admins at W101 forum were wack and they decided to take out there time and money and design an actually amazing and authentic site for writers where we could honestly do whatever we wanted to as long as we weren't hurting anybody. I sure did a hell of a lot of writing on this site, I enjoyed it so much, but I think that I was too young and still growing mentally to actually be involved in this site. This site helped me when I was depressed through middle school, it strengthened my writing skills so that I was able to take harder classes earlier on. It was a site that kept me grounded for the longest time, and I'm truly thankful for the memories of people that have come and gone from this site. So anyways, I'm famous for leaving things unfinished here (it's almost like it's my signature move or something) and when I look back at some of the writing on here, I cringe so badly.

So I have a little something for you guys.

It's a story very very near and dear to my heart and I have been working on it since the Obama Administration ended. It's a story about a three girls in a very peculiar situation, there's hot guys, drama, and my favorite thing, a deep dark secret.

Right now I'm eight HUGE chapters deep and I would love for you guys to give me any sort of input or if you just want to let me know if I should keep posting here let me know!

Before I go, I just wanted to let anyone know if you were wondering if I ever finished ANF, I did. It's riddled with typos, so I made a sequel to it called As Dawn Breaks, if you want the books just let me know and I'll share a google doc with you for absolutely free haha.

Okay, without further ado (on another post) I present to you, my baby Ithaca in the Rapture

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Chapters 1-4

Post by ~Dylan Battle~ on Mon Aug 13, 2018 2:54 am

Chapter 1: My Fiction

We lived about an hour away from the city, where the trees were marked with words by man but memories by animals. You could see on the road it's history, every pothole, crack, and stain held jokes, lies, and stolen dreams. The roads talked more than the moon, but the moon was alive in the sky, as it danced across millions of envious stars. The dirt had grown fond of the roads leading up to Ithaca Ranch, even in the snow, the dirt was still thick and rife with rich soil. Manny and I could bury bottles in the dirt, and we'd find them each Summer. They were our history, like the roads, and the trees, and the dirt. The bottles held everything from souvenirs to papers.

Every few years or so, before Manny grew up and had responsibilities, we'd hold a fire talk, out in the green by the big pond. But as the bottles became more numerous, and fires became more of a party item than a family get together, I hated the fire talk.

Oh, but I'd kill for one now.

I miss Manny, and Papa, and Mom, and Uncle Pete. I miss Davis and his fake stories, I miss Keith and his wife and how they used to bring gold nuggets for me to grovel over. They're all gone now, all of them.

So I live, about an hour from the city. And with me now is the Devil’s group. Of which I am forced to comfort, of which I am forced to feed, because the city they come from is gone now. The boys, oddly enough, were much more trouble than the girls. The boys had their games, their bows, and they also had their time. The girls didn't have time, they had only a few minutes each day where they were alone with themselves.

Before the evacuation, no one was worried about time. We all had time, the roads had time, the trees had time, the bottles and the dirt all had time. There was nothing wrong with wasting it. Nothing wrong with lying awake just to think about love, nothing wrong with dangling off a tree and living life upside down. Now, there was no time, it disappeared, like the people. It wasn't alive anymore, it was dead. Time was Fiction.

So I was alone, an hour away from the city, with the boys and the girls, and I didn't have time, I didn't have the fire talk, I didn't have the bottles. But what did I have? I guess I could try and find out, if I can remember, a time just slightly before all my time slipped away.



Chapter 2: My Time

She was alive, and she hadn't been alive in about two months. We had to replace her heart, and her metals grew weak in the cold nights that overtook Montana. She didn't like to wake up either, she needed to be convinced, convinced that she would be put to use.

Papa had been working on her for three weeks, so that I could go out to the city again.

Papa was an oak tree, dark and dirty, but old and wise, and he had food in his stomach that could last him until the rapture. He didn't talk as much as he sang, and he smoked like it was healing. Papa wore denim jeans and grey suspenders, suspenders Mom bought him after he got out of the hospital. He had probably a hundred different plaid shirts, last time he trimmed his beard, the roads were dirt and he was sixteen.

Papa worked on Juniper like a preacher worked the pulpit. He prayed over those vents like they needed saving from damnation. He stitched that leather like the binding of a bible. He knew what he was doing, more than me. I could stand over the car and watch, didn't understand much of it. But he did.

“Turn it over.” He called from behind the hood.

I turned the key into the ignition, praying like I still believed in God. A hum rose from the engine and relief overflowed my body.

Papa laughed deep, he waved for me to turn it off.

“It's got ‘bout a pint of oil and a quarter of gas in there. Put some more in it before you go, and ya better be back before the stars come out.” He said.

I nodded. “Yessir.”

Papa said he only needed one son, but God gave him two so he adopted a girl to buffer.

“Try not to get caught up in them boy troubles. Next one that comes up here asking you on a date is getting hung up on that wall right by the dining table.”

I chuckled. “Yessir.”

“And once you get into the city, no speeding, I still got tickets to pay from a July and spiritually I ain't even willin’ to pay ‘em.”

“I'll drive slow.”

He huffed. “Don't drive slow. I didn't raise no grandma I raised a Thoroughbred.”

Papa tossed me my leather jacket on the toolbox and dusted off his hands.

“You enjoy yourself now.”

I slid back into the driver’s seat. The old black muscle car rang back to life. She was alive again. I ran my fingers across the mahogany dashboard, feeling out the detail.

“Okay Juniper, lets get outta here.” I whispered.

I put the car into reverse, hit the gas and slid out into the dirt. I could see Papa in the rear view, he was smiling, that meant he was happy.

I'm glad I still remember that. Him being happy.

I took off that day, never truly returning to the same place again.

Chapter 3: My Mistake

They didn't know what to call it. And by they, I mean the people in my head. You can't call it what everyone else called it, bullets don't fly by themselves, gas doesn't mix like that naturally, life doesn't end that quickly. Not like what I saw, not like what they saw.

The horns were of the angels, every blare and bugle killed my system. I felt my body shake and my ears swell and my eyes dry up. I felt the earth beneath me crumble and the lights in the sky shatter. Juniper knew it before me, as I left that place.

I can't remember much about that day, at least not right now. But I can remember the cars and the faces in which followed me home. There was an old van, dark and fortified, it rode well, inside it was eight. The driver, a stern young man named Oliver. He drove faster than even I, never letting off the gas except to stop for the other cars.

The third car, a beautiful green pickup truck suffered bullet holes and broken windows, but it held five, two in the front, three in the bed. Of those five, four of them held more than enough guns for the moment.

The last one we stopped for was smaller, a Jeep, and it wasn't filled to the brim, nor did it carry guns, but in the back seat were three children, in the front, Molli and Enoch, and they were both more dead than alive.

We landed ourselves back in the ruff of Ithaca ranch, right before the midnight stars revealed themselves in the sky. Right there, once the dust had settled and the bodies had grown accustomed to the well water and picking their food from the vineyard, is when I clearly remember. Where everything within me felt the most alive, though I had no time.

Where my mistakes held weight.

Chapter 4: My Great Room

Old but new at the same time, the air held light dulled out by the sunshine that we were getting. They had been here, asking questions, for around a week. There were three couches, green and grey and cold but warm when you laid on them. An old fur rug where the kids liked to play on, you couldn’t leave the kids alone for too long, especially Cecile. You can’t leave Cecile alone for long or she’ll go looking for you. A checkerboarded banana looking beast that was Papa’s reading chair held no person. That was one of the only rules I ever really enforced, nobody can sit on papa’s reading chair. The second floor could be reached from the Great Room, up two sets of criss crossed stairs held a loft living room. That had been turned into a bit of a camping center, sleeping bags, water flasks, and old board games replaced what was once a television and living area.

But down in the Great Room, that’s where I was as clear as day.

I hadn’t slept in five days, Cecile was on my arms, she liked to stay on my arms and sleep. She wasn’t much of a problem, her one year old self was like a soft toy bear, she had hair that laid low on her filled cheeks and a small freckled nose. She didn’t move much when she slept, so I’d pat her on the back to make sure she got a little exercise.

Bear and Molli were talking on the couch, near papa’s sitting chair. It was still early and I hadn’t gotten used to the fact that kids I didn’t know were so close to his chair.

“What are y’all talking about?” I asked.

Bear wasn’t going to talk, for as long as I’ve known him, he doesn’t like to talk. But he’ll stand there, with a stone, peppered face, darkened by heritage and hair thick and curly. I always think of him in the likes of his father, who looked more like an ancient forest spirit than Uldritch’s Junior College President. He stood back, arms crossed. Molli knew when to chime in.

“We need to set up perimeter, you’ve got road criss crossing this patch for miles.” Molli said.

She called eighty acres of land a patch.

“Who do you think’s gonna get in?” I asked.

Bear gave a dead laugh, Molli elbowed him softly and started walking towards the front door.

“We can’t talk here, the kids will hear.” Molli warned.

We made ourselves kept in the dirt road which led to the barn. I wondered for a moment why we didn’t take the buggies, but we didn’t need to waste gas. Did we even have gas? That’s a thought, a thought I never worried about so much before.

“They change so quick, you never know where they’re coming from. At first it was the city, easy targets, lots of people. More damage that way, but that’s just one way. They’ll try the trees next, coming over the fences if we don’t build ‘em up fast enough.” Molli said.

I looked to the trees, tall and dark and heavy. Those trees were hard to climb, I made sure of that.

“They can only get so far, Ryan's up in the birds nest, Talia’s good with a rifle as well.” I reminded them.

“You think they won't pick them off just as quick.” Bear said.

I didn't like him, not in this moment.

“There are only so many of us good enough to shoot the bark off a tree without hurting anything else, Bear. Skies get dark- there's no telling what'll happen.” I said.

I felt for my dagger. It was still there.

“About the night, I still feel like they can see us.” Molli said.

I pondered the thought, turned full circle, checking out the area around the main house, even the sky.

“You think they've been flying over?” I said.

Bear shrugs. “ We don't know anything, that's why we want to set up perimeters.”

I pointed to a road adjacent to us, it led so far out it bent under the horizon with the trees.

“Do you know how long that road will take to set up whatever sort of half-assed perimeter you think is going to keep out well read, highly trained soldiers? Cecile will be near graduating age by that time.”

“So you're just saying leave us out in the open?”

I shook my head, “No.”

I started walking back to the main house. “We’ll do it like the ancients did, we’ll build an island.”

I looked at my watch, “Oliver’s making potatoes and greens tonight, we’ll talk in the morning. We don't need anyone throwin’ up.”



It wasn’t exactly prominent, it was subtle. It didn’t like to be noticed, but if you looked for it Lord knows you’ll find it.

For the boys, it wasn’t much of worry, still scary, still painful. The first wave is the hardest, takes everything out of them, the moisture, the air, the color (both within the eyes and within the skin.) But they seem to get over it, like a bad fever and a few good days worth of soup and cough syrup, the mutation seems to quickly settle into the host. The next few waves are much more subtle, the pain is still bad but bearable, the fevers are more tolerant, you get used to the dullness of vision. After about a month, life resumes, work, play, everything, it’s just a little different now.

The first wave, we called it “Settling” was happening to about four of our boys, Robert, he was never good in school but he could do math in his head without a fuss, he was sweating through his clothes. We put him up in the second house, where we use to keep the cousins when they came over. The boys nicknamed it the Hospital, no one goes in there except the boys. Robert hates the hospital, says it smells like old socks and antifreeze.

Next to Robert, in age not in brains, was Sid, Sid hated anything to do with school, so as soon as he had the opportunity to never touch books again, he took fast to woodwork and hunting. The funny thing was, we didn't really need to hunt, and the big kids did much of the wood chopping and fire starting. Sid loved to watch me make shelves and fashion together primitive medicine. He didn't talk much, which worried me, because I'd always find him getting into some mess before I heard about it. Sid started Settling a few days earlier, and no one knew when it surfaced because he had been out in the forest trapping rabbits. He came back with a heavy rash on both arms and was immediately sentenced to the Hospital.

The twins, which looked nothing alike, Joe and Henry, hated the Settling. They were complete drama queens, screaming, crying, the whole nine yards. Out of all the boys, the twins had been the most outspoken, some would even say they instigated the idea of the Hospital. They brought in the book shelves, board games, alleged alcohol, and fixed together bunk beds.

As you can see, the first wave isn't too much for the boys, as far as I'm concerned, it's never too much for them. But we feel sympathy for them, not for the sickness but for what it does after it's settled in.

Before the Settling, the immune system in boys is steady, but after it's been ravished by the disease, immunity to anything except the common cold is anything but existent. There's a decrease in appetite, loss of vision, and a fifty percent chance of sterilization. So yes, we feel sorry for the boys, and we give them their own house, because most of them won't make it to thirty.

As soon as they get out of the hospital, it’s right back to work, fortunately, there are a variety of things the boys are able to do. Plates need washing every hour, floors need sweeping, horses need hay and brushing, cows need feeding, chickens, so and so forth. The ranch has a way of keeping everyone occupied, there’s not enough time in the day to get into too much trouble.

It’s been like this for maybe three months, the coming and going of the boys from the Hospital, the otherwise quiet of the ranch, the awkwardness of adolescence bleached by abrupt adulthood. It’s a schedule, you clock in and you clock out, but every once in a while, there’s a problem with my boys.

I hate when there’s a problem with my boys.



The goal was to get some sleep, I haven’t gotten much sleep since the Stone Ages, but after dinner, the time between moon and sun is smashed together. I’m always tired nowadays, and I was particularly tired when Finn, one of my older Boys, woke me from my slumber.

“Bear needs you, something's wrong at the Hospital. One of the boys isn’t breathing right.” He said.

“Why didn’t Bear come up here?” I asked.

Finn appeared to shrug.

I let out of drugged cough and grabbed a jacket and first aid kit.

The tredge to the Hospital from the Main House takes maybe fifteen minutes. Long enough for me to realize how cold it was getting. Winter had settled in, the grass was starting to frost over, the trees were gettin rich in dead color, and the skies were clear, but no heat.

I know I shouldn’t have been thinking about it, but I was worried about the amount of wood I’d need to account for, how many coats could we get made in time for the heavy snow, god damn, how much food do we need to bring in from storage, who’s gonna check on the animals when it’s blizzarding?

Winter’s coming, my boys are sick, the girls … we haven’t even gotten to them yet.

“Do you wanna come in?” Finn asked. He didn’t know what he was saying, I could see it in his eyes.

I shook my head, “Ask Bear what he needs.”

Finn nodded and went inside. I waited out there, under the dim light of an old, chipped paint guest house.

Soon enough, Bear appeared, looking like the usual, unhappy and solemn.

“I think he’s gonna die.” Bear said.

At first I didn’t process it, die? That word was weird now, nobody dies on my ranch. Especially not my boys, my boys work, and they eat, they play, they laugh, they don’t die. Bear didn’t know what he was talkin’ bout, right?

“What do you mean?” I asked.

Bear gave me a sideways glance, he thought I was dumb.

“His lungs are closin’ up. His breath is shallow, he’s not eating. He’s barely responding to voices, sound. He’s dyin’, Ithaca.” Bear elaborated.

I shook my head. “He’ll be fine, they get through, they always get through.”

Bear shook his head. “Did you bring a first aid kit?”

I nodded and gave Bear the kit. Shit, my hands were shaking.

“I’m gonna bring him some vitamins, I’ll bring him some tea.” I said.

“He won’t drink it.”

“Why, Bear?”

“Because he can’t, Ithaca.”

He reached me.

Bear was the only one willing to do it, reach me. He didn’t care about my feelings, my walls were transparent to him. He could see right through me. I hated it, and in some ways, since he was the instrument that amplified my bad qualities, I hated him.

Bear sighed, “You can come by in the mor-”

I walked away.



There were people asleep in my Great Room, space wasn’t necessarily available. But because everyone was always tired, there was no problem with me turning on a reading lamp and sitting in papa’s chair.

It was the only place I felt sane, where nostalgia didn’t feel bad. Memories flooded like pounding water on the Pacific Coast on this chair. It was a lighthouse, a greeting place for lost captains and empty souls. It had a light, blinding and powerful but filled with home.

Here in this chair, I could remember, about what happened to them.

I’ve come to call it the Rapture.


Last edited by ~Dylan Battle~ on Mon Aug 13, 2018 2:17 pm; edited 2 times in total

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~Dylan Battle~
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Join date : 2013-12-08
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Chapter 5

Post by ~Dylan Battle~ on Mon Aug 13, 2018 2:57 am

Chapter 5: My Rapture

There’s a saying that my papa used to say, big things are little things that talk too much.

It wasn’t a virus that killed my town, though that was part of it.

It wasn’t the government that killed my town, though that was a part of it.

It wasn’t the quarantine, it wasn’t the killing, it wasn’t the decompsure of society.

It wasn’t turning on the news everyday to another riot, it wasn’t watching martial law being passed and curfew drawn out. It wasn’t the assassination of President after President, it wasn’t the destruction of the food systems in America, it wasn’t the brief black out that darkened the country for ten days.

It was the people.

The Rapture happened like any other day, on a Tuesday.

And it came without warning, and without a sound.

I was falling in love, actually.

Key word: falling.



Bear had told me that his parents wouldn’t be home during lunch.

In fact, they were out of town on some sort of family business.

I told Bear that today was the day, we’d been dating for around a year, and around here a year makes a difference, everything makes a difference. Green towns were becoming a lot less real, more fictitious in nature, everything seemed to be getting a bit fake. The streets seemed synthetic, the paint on the houses seemed plastic, the trees seemed to be barcoded.

And it swelled the days before the Rapture, relationships seemed to be superficial.

But Bear wasn’t superficial to me.

He held tales in his head of curls, memories that would take the whole thousand years to extract. His eyes were rounder back then, filled with sunlight and novocaine. His skin was dry, but when I touched it I felt softer, more awake, more feminine. I liked it, the way he smelled, especially when I was close to him, running my lips softly against his neck, like fresh strawberries and honey.

We weren’t anywhere near finished, clothes were on the ground, hair tasseled, and skin contact had been made, but the horns had other plans. God took the innocence away from me in a manor less holy and more primal.

“Are those rapture horns?” He whispered.

“Probably a misfire.” I said.

They blew again, loud, low, and ominous.

“No, it’s not a misfire.” He said, looking to the windows.

The birds were flying away.

“Maybe it’s test day.” I said.

He didn’t look back at me. “Two means test day, three means it’s real.”

So I waited.

And he waited.

For one.

For two.

And then silence.

But alas, they blared again.

Bear rolled off me quickly, putting his clothes on so fast they might’ve been backwards. I sighed, maybe it wasn’t the right reaction to the Rapture, but it was my reaction.

“There are some guns in my dad’s safe.” Bear said, lacing up his boots.

“You guys preppers?” I asked.

Bear looked back at me for a fleeting moment. “Ithaca, everyone’s a prepper in Uldritch.”

I threw my shirt back on and pulled my hair back into a ponytail. Then I followed Bear downstairs.

Now that I think about it, Bear’s how was small, sure it was big for a house in Uldrich, but nothing like I was used too. He had so many pictures on those walls, of him, his brothers, his parents. Trophies hung on the fireplace, you could smell the cooking from last night, I feel like that was the last day he was alive in that sense. His family was in that house, spiritually. He left it that day.

Bear loaded up pretty heavily on guns, he had a share of rifles, semis, and he even gave me a pistol.

“You know how to shoot?” He asked.

I chuckled. “Bear, it’s Uldritch, everyone knows how to shoot.”

Bear didn’t laugh, he wasn’t in the mood to laugh.

Before the Rapture, Bear had a beautiful pickup truck, dark green, shiny, he kept it in real good condition, said it was just to impress pretty girls. I think I loved Bear’s truck more than Bear did.

We rode that green truck all the way down to Uldritch Charter School, where the Twins were, Bear’s brothers. The whole drive I couldn't feel anything. In my memory I still remember the unnatural silence of the streets, the cars and store windows empty. Bikes left vacant on sidewalks and the vanishing faces of mothers hiding in backyards.

How did we even drive down the street? Maybe we were speeding, god’s honest, I don’t know.

That silence changed quickly when we pulled up to the middle school. It was surrounded in vans, the sound of helicopters hit my ear drums with prejudice. The fear that ran threw my spine as Bear quickly veered into the opposing street to get out the view of the EGs was paralleled to none.

“They’re packing up the kids.” Bear said.

I fixed my gun. “Guess they wanted to get the schools first.”

Bear drove the truck straight off the road and into the cover of bushes and trees. The school was diagonal us, across some streets and houses.

“We have to move, fast.” Bear said.

I grabbed his arm. “Bear.”

“What, Ithaca?”

“You’re moving too fast.” I said.

He looked at me, with humanity, and then he blinked and that left him. He pulled his arm away from mine.

“Let’s go.”

We crouched out of the truck, grabbing two rifles, one for me and one for him. Then we made our way across the bush, covered by the trees. Sure enough, kids were being lead out at gunpoint with hands behind their heads, into black armored vans.

I screwed a scope onto the rifle, and peered through.

I could’ve counted about nine or ten vans. Three of them still being loaded onto. I checked for curly heads, so many kids, so many lives being taken away.

But I found them, God was I relieved.

“Right there, second van to the end.” I whispered.

Bear peered over with his own rifle. “Shit.”

“I can pick them off, but you’ve gotta be fast about it.”

Bear looked at me with wild disbelief. “Doubtful you can.”

I didn’t entertain him.

I readied my shot. “You’ve got one chance, Bear. That’s it.”

“Okay.”

“I’ll give you thirty seconds.”

I could hear Bear take a deep sigh. What he was doing was beyond biblical. One wrong move, one trip, one mistake, he was dead. Everyone was dead.

The leaves moved, and Bear was gone, running wildly to the second van which held his brothers. Two EGs were closing it up.

I breathed in, relaxed my grip.

One shot.

The EG to the left drops.

Another shot.

The EG to the right drops.

Bear is no longer there at that point, he’s ballistic. We had no plan, no drawn up tactics, no strategy. But did Bear care? No.

He ripped open the driver’s seat and set two shots into the cabin. He dragged out one EG, and brought the van into drive.

The van wasn’t one minute mobile before several rounds of automatic gunfire was heard.

I ducked, where was it coming from?

I had no vision where I was perched, vans blocked everything. But I could see heads, bobbing, dropping, and sometimes exploding with blood.

There was someone attacking the EGs.

From the corner of my eye, I saw uniforms, unmarked.

A blonde with a machine gun was reeking havoc. From what I was seeing, it seemed unrealistic, everything about her screamed cheerleader, maybe miss teen USA, but not trained Navy SEAL.

Behind her a man began chucking smoke grenades at the vans. I knew him, I swore I knew him.

They needed help.

Bear pulled up dangerously close to my person, if he was a feet to the right I would’ve been dead.

I got up, Bear rolled down the window.

“Someone’s shooting the EGs down.”

“I know, it’s Molli, her brothers in the back.” Bear said.

I pointed to the other guy. “And who’s he.”

Bear peered out the window. “Oh my God, that’s Oliver.”

They were winning, at least for a few moments, but the EGs were vicious in number, and Molli and Oliver were being flanked.

“I gotta go help them.” I said.

“Ithaca, you’ll die.” Bear yelled.

I threw him a look. “We’re already dead, Teddy.”

Bear glared at me, he hated that I was right.

“I have to get them out of here.” Bear urged me.

I nodded. “Come back if you can.”

I dropped my rifle and pulled out my pistol. The level of stupidity had been dulled out by the adrenaline running through my body.

I pulled the trigger.

Over and over again.

Some of the bullets missed of course, but the ones that hit hit hard.

I ran as fast as I could to where Molli and Oliver were stuck, rolling behind an old Honda.

Molli turned, gun pointed at me in exasperation.

“Ithaca?” Molli said.

I nodded. “Your brother’s safe. He’s heading to a safe spot with Bear.”

Molli ducked behind the car, bullets rang loud and heavy through it’s windows.

“They’ve already taken a few hundred kids out of Uldritch. Elementary’s gone.” Molli said.

“We can still fend them off.” I assured her.

She knew what I was saying. Death was next to me, peering over my shoulder, and I pretended not to notice.

She nodded. “It was fun, I guess.”

We resurfaced, firing hard into smoke, but bullets aren’t heat seeking.

“I can’t see-”

I didn’t finish that sentence, a sting ripped through my left side. Cold, then warm, then tense and painful. I looked down.

I collapsed, Oliver crouched over me.

“Molli, she’s shot!” He yelled.

Molli didn’t look, she kept firing. She was the best shot in Uldritch, probably because she never looked away.

I heard a big commotion, pandemonium came next.

Screams were heard as some sort of car which I could not see ran straight into the flanks of EGs. I turned to Molli, she looked away.

“Drag her! Quick! Drag her, Oliver!” Molli screamed.




Death is kind of like sleep nowadays, it’s a distraction, not an escape.

I awoke to dim skies, cold feet, and a sore back.

My nightmare had ended.

I think I fell asleep on Papa’s chair, it wasn’t comfortable but it was home.

I went outside, it was getting colder, but the air smelled good, like fresh barbeque. I had forgotten, for a brief and rather pleasant moment, that death had made its way back into my Ranch.

Death was not welcome here.

“He’s gone.” Bear said.

I turned to him, he looked grey. I wanted to feel sorry for him, the way he looked at his hands, dried and cold. He was breaking, and he was trying to do it in the privacy of the dawn.

“You know, if I was just fast enough.” Bear whispered.

“He wasn’t immune, Bear.”

“So, the cure would’ve helped him. It would’ve made him better.”

Bear turned to the fields. “He’d be getting ready to turn over soil right now.”

I turned to him, I could feel his pain, the vibration of negative emotion took hold of me. In his presence I was overcome with grief, he made me feel it.

“He’d be waking up from a good dream, about a pretty girl in Uldritch. Maybe fighting with someone in the hospital over video game time. He’d be thinking about books maybe, working on his literacy. He’d be waking up right now, Ithy.”

Bear turned to me, there were those eyes, round and filled with tears.

I hugged him, hard, let him bury his face deep in my chest. I could feel the warmth of the tears, they warmed a cold and dried up part of myself. His humanity grounded me, it touched me.

I could feel him, more divided than ever, but at the same time, more whole.

After a while, Bear let up.

“Your jacket.” He said, sniffling.

I looked down, there was a puddle where nothing should’ve been.

I took it off. “Put it in the wash for me, meet me back here in thirty minutes, we’ve got plans.”

Bear took the coat. He looked at me again.

“You’re not cold?” He asked.

I shook my head. “Not anymore, Teddy.”

He grinned, first time in months.

I waved my hand. “Go on, Bear.”

He nodded, and he went.


Last edited by ~Dylan Battle~ on Mon Aug 13, 2018 2:13 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Chapter 6

Post by ~Dylan Battle~ on Mon Aug 13, 2018 2:59 am

Chapter 6: My Plan

There were some things that I had not yet seen, bugs in the dirt, the birds calling for something, I was mute to it, blind to it. No one, not in biase nor neutrality, cared to have warned me of the snakes and dangerous predators which roamed my ranch.

It's true what they say, ignorance is bliss.

But ignorance did not stop me from my plans.

I laid it out flat on the porch, tacked a few points in which needed elaboration. The map had been hand drawn by me, when I couldn't sleep I worked on it. The nightmares were my caffeine, my adderall, they dosed me with a sense of urgency, because we didn't have time anymore.

Around this map sat Bear, Molli, Oliver, and John.

I don't think I've described John yet, John was strong, somehow retaining that strength even through the Rapture. He was around twenty maybe, he attended the Junior College maybe thirty minutes left of Uldritch.

I liked John, he never gave me any fuss, not like the rest of them. He was different, quiet but awake. He felt constant while the others swayed left and right depending on the wind.

“We've got maybe fourty good people that can build traps. We can break them down into groups. Everybody's tired around here, but I think we can get it all done in about two weeks if we work five day shifts.” I explained.

“One group has to work twice.” John said.

“Yeah I'll be doing that, I've got some time before I do inventory, I'll go out there in the morning.”

Oliver cleared his throat. “You shouldn't be alone out there, I'll help you.”

Bear looked at Oliver in the most peculiar way, there was a territory in his mind, perimeters had been set and Oliver set off one of his alarms.

Sure it might be childish of me to think that way, Oliver doesn’t like me, at least not in that way. Sure he was around the same age as me, maybe a year off, he was maybe an inch taller than Bear. In fact, thinking back about it, Bear and Oliver might’ve been hard to tell apart, except for the freckles.

“I’ll go too, not losing much sleep waking up before dawn. Boys keep me up coughing and all.” Bear said.

I nodded. “Okay. Well that takes the first thing off the list.”

I crossed my boots and sighed. “We need to talk about guns storage. We can’t have all of them up in the Main House. If a raid comes in it’s gonna sweep the exterior houses first. The smokehouse, the barns, the Second House and the Cottage all need arms.”

Molli shrugged, “So what’s the plan?”

“We’re gonna start marking boxes, an ‘X’ means weapons. We’ll store them around inside each of the buildings. I’ll tell the Bosses about them, we’re gonna use two locks, don’t want the kids gettin’ into them.” I said.

“What if it’s a hurry?” Bear said.

“Huh?”

“What if there’s a rush and one of the kids needs a gun. They don’t know the codes to the locks.”

“There are axes everywhere.” I said. “Use an axe.”

Though the question was simple to me, maybe it wasn’t to Bear. He furrowed his brows and turned away. Sometimes these boys think they can ask blunt questions without blunt answers.

“Alright, third thing. I’m setting up watch guards. The girls can do that.” I said.

“Why not the boys.” Asked John.

“Boys got enough to do with chopping down wood for the traps and fixing up broken things. The girls can handle a rifle, and they won’t shoot at things just because they move or make noises.”

“Boys’ll do the same.” Oliver interjected.

I shrugged. “I’m sure the boys can do it, Oliver. But this isn’t tryouts, this is game day. EGs come over those trees or through those forests, and they see girls, they’re shooting to tranquilize. Those are the baby makers, the healers. You set boys out there, the immunes, the ticking time bombs, they're shooting to kill.”

“So we're not setting watch guards, we’re setting up bait.” Molli said.

I didn't like the way she said that, there was a sour truth behind those words. You don't go on a suicide mission to die. You go on a suicide mission to establish aggression.

I sat back. “If it makes you feel any better, I'm on the Watch too.”

They all sat quietly, deleted from the conversation, staring at the floorboards. Their minds, taken back to the Rapture.

“Look, this isn't fun, none of this is fun. I'm not trying to be Stalin, this isn't World War Two, this is our lives, our community. We are responsible for fifty lives, fifty. Everyday, when these people wake up and get to work, they are taking a risk. Everyday when the boots get strapped on and the boys go up in those watchtowers, they're taking risks. Lucky for them, they have someone to rely on, they have people who have convinced them that this Ranch is safe.” I said.

I paused, letting it settle.

“We don't have that luxury.” I continued.

Oliver laughed. It was quiet chuckle, and his head turned away quickly.

I blinked, “Did I say something funny, Oliver?”

“What?”

“Did I say something funny?”

Oliver’s smile disappeared, he was annoyed, irritated, and so was I.

“I wasn't trying to be disrespectful-”

I stood up. “I don't care if you weren't trying to be disrespectful, you were! Last night, a Jerry died, did you know about that?”

He nodded, his eyes averted from me.

“Do you think that's funny, Oliver.” I asked.

He blew air from his nose. “No.”

“Speak up!” I yelled.

“No.” He said louder.

I took myself a brief moment. The devil had reached into my soul and tugged. Oliver had put out a cigarette in a forest that hadn't seen water in a century.

I sat back down.

“I'm not trying to be rude but; I'm not in the best mood today.” I said.

“Ithaca, nobodies in a good mood today.” Molli sighed.

I looked up at her, around at them. They were feeling it too.

“Lady is cooking breakfast today. Eat up, we've got work to do.”

I rose up and left.



Winter was coming too fast.

And by too fast I meant at anytime this year. I hadn’t taken enough inventory yet.

I’d made my way past the vegetables, into the sparse fruits that we had managed to get growing. I kept a clipboard with me, writing everything down as I went along.

But for reasons unknown to me, I could never be left alone. Not even while making sure everyone had enough food to stay alive.

“Hey, Ithaca.” Enoch said.

His voice sounded so new, like it had not been registered in my brain yet. It was an odd voice, unique and different from any other I had heard before. I would say because it had a different signature, a different pattern, a different story.

I looked up from my clipboard. “Hey Noch.”

He was gentle on the eyes even after all these years. His hair had greyed, even though he wasn’t but a few months older than me. The cheeks that were once filled with fat and fun had been starved, they now held deep jowls. Scars lined his face, his eyes greyed. But even then, I must admit, he looked next to God.

“Ford’s coming down. I just wanted to say hi.” He said.

I cleared my throat, taking back to my inventory.

“How’s the hospital doin’, Noch?” I asked.

I was building a wall, sure, but that wall was there for a reason.

“The boys are doing fine. Girls, too, Molli’s been real keen on me making sure the girls are healthy.”

“Healthy?” I repeated.

That word, it didn’t exist anymore.

“Yeah, healthy.”

There was silence for a moment, my pencil moved, my mind moved. Everything around us moved and made noise, the wind, the bugs, the dirt, my boots, the sky, the aching of metal fences. Everything except our voices, they had been domesticated.

“What’s going on, Enoch?” I asked.

I looked back up at him, he wasn’t much minding me.

“There’s side effects and symptoms I didn’t see back in the Crazy House. Things going on with the boys that haven’t happened before. Something's changing.” He answered.

I nodded.

Composure, I think I was keeping composure.

“We have guns, aimed at us. All around.” I confided.

I looked around, so did Enoch.

I pointed to the trees, “You step past a certain point, there’ll be a bullet or syringe coming through you in a second flat.”

Enoch, “Whatcha tryin’ to say, Ithy?”

I tallied some numbers. “I used to think this place was a safe haven. A home, if not for me, for someone else. You know that, hell, you know everything about me.”

“Even more.”

I smirked. “Enoch, this place isn’t a safe haven right now, it’s a prison and a concentration camp.”

Enoch let me continue, he dug his boots into the dirt quietly.

“You come up those roads, don’t even bother looking back, it’s gone. There ain’t nowhere else for us to go.”

Enoch smiled weakly, “You think you’re as bad as the EGs?”

I shrugged. “At this point- god strike me down, I am an EG.”

Enoch turned around, looked up at the skies, which were still young in the day.

“It’s beautiful,” He said. “The way the horizon bends. You’ve got all these pretty colors, and they only last for a few minutes at a time. Always changin’, always shiftin’. They don’t care about disappearing, hell, they don’t care about being seen. But we like them, and we think they’re beautiful, and you know why, Ithaca?”

I sighed, looking up at the sky too. “Why, Noch?”

“Because we were lucky to see them exist at all.”

He began walking away towards the Hospital. “Cecile has been asking for you. Might wanna stop by and see your girl.”

Even as he walked away, the light around him bent, his soul was simply amplified by his very nature.

I knew Enoch, more than Enoch knew Enoch, but that boy had a way with life. It was like he had some guide that I couldn’t find for myself.

But, hey, Enoch seems to only look at the pictures.

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Chapter 7

Post by ~Dylan Battle~ on Mon Aug 13, 2018 3:00 am

Chapter 7: My Girl

She had green eyes, stared too long into them, you’d be in a lush forest. Her hair was brown and curly, just like her dad’s. She wasn’t meant to be here, she didn’t ask for it. She was forced here, by wicked hands and awful antics.

But oh how good things come from impure thoughts.

She was walking before I knew it, waddling from place to place. She didn’t get too far, a quick thinker.

But every once in a while, she’d fall asleep in my arms. Her small lungs, rising and falling, her snoring like pattling rain. She deserved the world, but she settled for the Ranch.

A knock came from the door, I was in my papa’s office, sorting through files with one hand. Cecile rested in the other, she was getting heavier every day, which was good. Very good.

“Come in.” I said.

Enter Ford, a ginger, a college kid, friend of Olivers who appeared sometime around the first months. I didn’t know him that well, only knew that he was a good shot and didn’t mind freezing his toes off for hours in the cold up on the watchtower.

“Am I bothering you?” Ford whispered.

“No, come in. Just watch your step, Cecile’s got toys all over the floor.”

“I wanted to talk to you about the Ranch.” Ford whispered.

“What’s wrong with it. You don’t have to whisper Ford, Cecile can sleep through a hurricane.”

“Well, we haven’t seen any EG activity for a long while, which is good. Borders are fine. I’ve walked the roads maybe five times this week, everything’s green.”

I nodded. “And?”

Ford didn’t want to talk to me. For some reason, I think he was afraid, whether it was of me or what he had heard of me I’m not sure. All I know is that he doesn’t get his words out around me, and on the off chance he does, they’re wrong.

“I think we’re losing our immunity.” Ford spilled.

I blinked, “That’s not possible. Just because one boy died doesn’t mean we’re all gonna die once another one starts Settling.”

He shook his head. “The patterns are off, in the Hospital. I know you can’t go in there, have the Big Kids talked to you?”

“Bear and Enoch, yes.” I said.

“Did they say anything about changes in symptoms, pattern disruptions? The disease is pretty cut and dry.”

“Everyone responds differently to the disease, Ford, especially the boys. Enoch said there were some changes, but variation does not equal mutation.”

“I’m worried that the Girls are gonna start Settling, just like the Boys.”

I chuckled in disbelief. “Ford, that’s not genetically possible. The disease targets Boys and Girls at the DNA level, it’s hereditary. The only way girls would settle is if they came in contact with the Boys during the height of Settling.”

“Which is happening to four-”

He stopped himself.

“Which is happening to three boys now. But what if the Settling doesn’t stop there, what if it just stops showing symptoms?”

What was he playing at?

“I think the Settling is changing, it’s killing boys now. And if the disease can’t kill them, it’s going to make them walking cesspools.” Ford elaborated.

“Do you have any proof.”

“In Green Towns, we were all marked on our twelfth birthday, that’s when the sickness sets in.”

I nodded. “Blood turns deep blue until the Settling’s over.”

“I Settled ten years ago.” Ford said.

Ford rolls up his sleeves.

Low and behold, the veins in his forearm pulsated with deep blue blood, visible to the naked eye.

“I’m Settling again.”

I jumped up out of my seat. Clutching Cecile hard in fright. Damn, she started crying, I scared her.

“Why the hell did you sit in her with me! With Cecile!” I yelled.

“I thought you were a Neutral.”

“I am a Neutral. Cecile isn’t! You know exposure only takes a few hours.”

Ford backs up, very far into the back of the room, hands up.

I rocked Cecile, shushing her, trying to get her to calm down.

“What I’m trying to say is that there’s something going on in the Ranch.”

“Shh, Cile, shhh, mommy’s got you.”

“And if we don’t do something about it, Cecile isn’t going to live past five.”

“Get out, now!”

Ford left proper, closing the door behind him.

Cecile’s tears were wiped away with my thumb. I wish I could make her feel safe, but how do I make her feel safe when I don’t feel safe.

Damn this world.

I’m tired of fixing problems.





It was getting dark out here by the roads. Breath crystallized in the air as I measured my steps, placing marked rocks in the crushed fallen leaves. The air seemed foreign, it went through my bones like lukewarm coffee, I didn’t like it.

I heard footsteps running up towards me, it was a soft and steady pattern so I didn’t feel that alarmed. It was strange though, that I didn’t turn around, I guess I wasn’t particularly in the mood to do so that day.

Again, no one could leave me alone for more than a moment.

“Ithaca.” Oliver called.

I looked over my shoulder, he was in his workout gear, it doesn’t take much to stay fit here, why burn off the extra calories?

“Are you jogging?” I asked.

He wasn’t out of breath, no sweat beads or colored cheeks.

“I like to run the perimeter, this one of the only roads you kept open.” He said.

I nodded. “Don’t run too far, you’ll be shot.”

He waved away the comment, “While I’m here, I probably should apologize.”

“About what?”

“About what I said during the morning meeting. I’m sorry.”

I walked a few steps. “... 1,2,3”

I placed a rock down. “Don’t be sorry Oliver.”

“Don’t be sorry.” I responded.

“I’m just glad that you’re doing better this week.”

He confused me, I stopped, maybe one or two feet from the next rock.

“What do you mean better?”

He looked surprised, and off put. Like I had just given him an answer to his question, a question that he had long wanted to know.

“You told me not to tell you.”

“Then don’t tell me.”

One, two. What in the world was he talking about?

Damn I lost count.

“Do you have anywhere else to be Oliver?” I said.

He put his hands in his pockets, letting out puffs of crystallized air.

“I just want you to know you can talk to me. Seriously.” He said.

I blinked rapidly. “Okay, thanks I guess.”

He turned and began running back down the road. He looked back though, as he disappeared over the hill.

Oh my, what had Mollie gotten me into?


Last edited by ~Dylan Battle~ on Tue Aug 28, 2018 12:46 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Chapter 8

Post by ~Dylan Battle~ on Mon Aug 13, 2018 3:02 am

Chapter 8: Her Strangers

She had her way with words, her earthly vibe, partially burned by the fire that had taken her away from memory. And she didn’t care much for what people thought anymore. She wore her green jackets, hair down and pressed. Boots, those boots, worn through but she’d stitched them back up to working condition.

She didn’t like me much, I assume because she didn’t know me, there was a refraction in her kaleidoscope mind that betrayed me.

Bear sat in a chair outside the hospital. He sipped a warm, beer, tired and frictionless, he was ghost in this chapter.

“Hey, Teddy.”

He looked up, squinting his eyes. “Mollie?”

I smiled, “It’s getting late, aren’t you cold?”

“No.”

His fingers dragged against the wood of his armrest. I saw it on him, a grey aura of despair.

“Do you wanna talk about it?”

He shrugged. “I don’t know if I should with you, Mollie.”

I smirked “It’s about Ithaca, isn’t it?”

I pulled up a metal chair and sat close to him. He looked at me, like one might look at an old painting hung up on a palace wall. I was an abstract painting to him, you have to find the meaning in those by yourself.

“Tell me, what did she do?”

“Were you at the meeting this morning?”

I nodded.

“I think that there’s something going on with her and Oliver. I don’t know yet, but you were talking to Oliver last week. Do you know what’s going on?”

“You know I can’t say everything, Teddy. I’m like the therapist around here. I’m a walking confidentiality agreement.”

He nods, its a pitiful nod, he takes another swig.

I sigh, “I’ll try to talk to her. Look, Teddy, I see where you’re coming from. You’re lonely, she’s the only one you’ve got. But she’s done with Enoch, and if Oliver’s getting involved, it’s only a while before he’s in the same boat.”

“Can you-”

“Sorry Teddy, I have to get going. She doesn’t like me sitting around, I’ve got work to do.”

“Okay, take care Mollie.”

I rise up, “Hey one more thing.”

He looks at me.

“You’re never gonna win her back if you don’t tell her the truth.”

He nodded. “I’ll keep that in mind.”



Ithaca liked to plan, that was her thing, that was what she was good at. She could measure, survey or analyze just about anything. Pick it apart just as fast. And she had it cut so good that you never needed to think about cutting it twice again.

But she never did the cutting herself.

Nah, she always had someone else to deal with all that. Sure, she was a clean shot, get her far away enough and she could clip the skin off an apple through a tin can. But upclose, in the heat, in the smoke, when the dust is in your lungs and your eyes are burning. When you can feel the pain of muscles aching for mercy, she wasn’t that good. Not as good as me.

That’s why I like my smokehouse, with the Girls.

Charli, she didn’t talk much, red head, really pretty, if it weren’t for the freckles I could mistake her for Ford’s sister. She could clean a knife so well the metal shined with a sting. She had started on some old dusty bowheads that we’d brought in the first month, whenever that was. She had these white gloves, looked like golf gloves, they were always clean. They were soft too, she never let me wear ‘em, though I don’t mind.

Gina could filet a pig into Sunday dinner at a Texas style restaurant any day of the week with nothing more than a razor. She was my modification technician, any kind of scope, hilt or belt that needed fixing, she could do it. I love Gina, she reminded me of Fridays with the girls. Not these Girls, the ones I had back in Uldritch, but that’s for another time.

Ithaca didn’t bother us in the smokehouse, she didn’t talk to the Girls much either, ‘cept Cecille. God bless that child’s heart, she’s got Ulysses S. Grant for a mother.

What did I do? Oh, I played with the chemicals, made bullets, that was my thing. Bullets and bombs. That’s what I learned growin’ up. Though I probably won’t touch on that anymore. No, no more.

“Cases.” Gina said.

I turned round. “What?”

“Cases, we need to get these bullets some cases.”

“A good old box will do. We’re not goin’ into town for another day or so. We should be alright.”

“But what about the work Ithaca’s got us doing. Fixing up barriers.” Gina asked.

I blew raspberries as I took apart a handgun. “We’ll leave a bit late.”

“That’s not safe in the slightest.” Charli said.

“Look, I know it’s not. But y’all said that you needed medicine, supplies, things we can’t make or fix up here on the Ranch. We have to go down to Uldritch.” I said.

I put away my tools. “Y’all be too fixed up in fear. Trying to figure out what that girl wants, hell she doesn’t even know what she wants. Try running a refugee camp after your family’s been murdered.”

The girls looked down, I sighed, seeing the dust settle into the burnt wood.

“We don’t have much time here. Maybe two more weeks before the snow’ll be so high the horses won’t come out to graze. Now I’m fine going by myself, I’ll strap on a Colt and my machete, put some fuel in Juniper and head out. But I know that’s not what anyone wants. So are y’all comin’ or not?”

They thought in silence, communicating with each other through their eyes. Charlie sighed.

“You’ve gotta tell Ithaca.” She warned.

I shrugged. “If that’s what y’all want.”



Ithaca never got her hands dirty with peels. Potatoes, carrots, all done by me. Lucy didn’t let Ithaca up in the kitchen much, said she didn’t want her spreading germs with the uncooked food. I think it’s just because she brings down the mood.

I was getting my hands dirty. Tonight was a good night, there aren’t many like those anymore. The nights we are used to are sleepless ones, where nothing good is expected but you still hope for the best.

There was a knock on the the threshold.

It was Ithaca, she looked better, even though she never smiled. Her hair, cut to the shoulders and wavy, her plaid shirts and denim. She was her father’s daughter alright.

“Can I talk to you for a moment?” She said.

I nodded and turned to Lucy. “I’ll be back.”

We exited the main house and made ourselves comfortable on the porch. It was chilly out there, it smelled good though. The way the air usually changes during the fall, I loved that smell.

“What are you planning on doing, Mollie?” Asked Ithaca.

“I need some things, and I’m not gonna find them around the acres-”

“So you’re just gonna go on some sort of store run?”

I shook my head. “No, Ithaca.”

“Why do you always make things so difficult? I’m trying to keep these kids safe.”

“From what?”

The spell hit, a dry one, cold and uncomfortable. I was instantly transported to a place of fury, and in ironic retrospect, a place of absolute clarity.

I continued. “I know what you’re up to. You and Enoch? Both of you, and I know what you’re trying to fix.”

“Weigh your next words very carefully.”

“You’re running test on these kids. Trying to see how to find some sort of vaccine? You said it yourself, Ithaca, go to far off these yards and the EGs will dose you dead.”

Ithaca rose up in rage, as if to strike me.

I rose up as well.

“You can’t touch me, Ithaca. And you can’t touch these kids, neither.”

Her eyes volley back and forth. Her lungs full of oxygenated flames.

I continued, “We’re gonna get some things in Uldritch, and if these kids find somewhere better to be, so be it. I’m not gonna have them waiting around like mice in a maze for some Research Camp teacher’s pet to ruin them.”

“They’ll be killed if you take them off anywhere.” She repeated.

“They’ll be killed if I don’t.”

I walked past her, “I got supper to make.”



Four winters pass, and I am alive again.

I hated the way he made poetry move like that. The way he could paint pictures with little words, evoke emotions I never thought could be experienced simultaneously. He had these subtle antique novelties to him.

Guess when everyone gets a little sad they become a poet.

I made myself a bowl of potato soup and walked clear out the dining room. There was something wrong about being in the house. Something wrong with ceilings and confined spaces, it just bugged me the wrong way.

I made my way out the house, across a maze of stone paths, and down a little hidden road, into familiar trees. Into a canopy of dark christmas lights, I made myself familiar with the lighting situation, turning on a generator hidden under heavy duty tarps. The lights came on, creamy soft lights. They shined across a dirty makeshift bench, a tent covered with fishnets, and a fire pit.

I dusted off the furnishings, removed the fishnets off the tent, pulled out a few more blankets which sat inside. I started a fire in the firepit, and sat down. I pulled out some poetry from my lockbox, all of it written on mix-matched paper, dirty, disgusting, but still divine.

Four Winters, by John King

Trees settle where I’m from
The sunset is standstill and timeless
It ages, just like soft skin
Winters are good where I’m from
They bring much needed rest
They bring much needed sleep

I was taken away from those trees
The standstill sunsets
My life ages, like soft skin
My lungs become flame
My eyes become heavy rivers
My life is quiet, and bleak
It is filled with cherry blossoms
Drenched in green blood

I am aware of how long I have been away
Four winters have passed
Four years, long and cold
Frost covers my lips
And I am a hollow shell
I am a hollow moon

Take me away from here,
If you can
They kill me
With everything but the physical
They have taken me away from those trees
The standstill sunsets
My life ages, like soft skin

Four winters have passed
And I am alive again

I hear his breathing.

“You kept that? After all this time.” John said.

He looked like christmas morning, hair that greyed much too early for his age sat flat and pushed back on his crown. There was a scar across his left cheek, it was heavy and red. He had plenty of scars in other places, those he hid in his jackets, under heavy pants, and in the deep recesses of his mind.

“You were always such a poet. Even in there.” I smiled.

He sat down next to me, the bench made an awful noise as he rested his back on the uneven wood. His presence made me weak, whether that was good or bad, I hadn’t the slightest clue. He was a mechanical energy I couldn’t dare figure out the instructions to.

“They can take a lot from you in there, a lot. What they can’t take is your thoughts.”

His voice was timber, matching the crackling of the fire, broken and aching but oh so alive.

I brushed my hair out my eyes, sitting up. “They can take those too.”

His hands made his way closer to me, and I wanted to pull away.

I did, I should’ve.

“You know what you’re risking?” I told him.

He smiled, it was a tired grin, filled with years of personal history.

“We’re already dead, Mollie.”

He laced his fingers with mine, his hands felt cold and aching. But it had the opposite effect, it warmed mine.

“I’m heading out, in the morning. With Charli and Gina. We need supplies.”

“You think that’s a good idea?”

“I think it’s the only idea. I heard what happened.”

I leaned into his arms, which opened like gates, his God accepting mine, for whatever terrible sins I had committed before the Father.

“This whole world went up in flames. Long before the Rapture.” I continued.

“You could argue that, but there’s always something to look forward to.”

“Like what?”

“Hot summer nights, laughing, running in the forest. Jumping into waterfalls, a bath.”

“Simple beauties.”

“That’s what we can afford right now, and that’s okay.”

I looked up at him as his eyes wandered across the dancing flames of the fire.

He sighed, “You have to keep yourself alive. Because one day, you’ll miss this. These ‘simple beauties’ as you say.”

“How?”

“Realize you’re gonna see the sun coming up until the day you die. And realize that it’ll keep coming up, even after you’re gone. Even after I’m gone.”

“There’s always tonight though, I guess.”

The stars gleamed through the net of christmas lights. The fire cracked and the wind danced, and the bugs tickled our noses.

“Yeah, there’s always tonight.”

Always.



The coals had dried up and what flames had been were now ghosts left in smoke. A simple rain had poured over us, but our cold blooded bodies had made ourselves familiar in the tent with old shirts as pillows.

My body woke me up with the sun still rising. A glimmering hue of blue alarmed me of the long and most likely testing day ahead of me. My body ached, for what reason I had no clue, no simple idea. There were so many different animals running around at my head that day, I couldn’t collect all of it together.

Lists, I should make lists.

That’s what Ithaca would tell me. She’d make lists for the supplies, she’d measure the gas, she’d calculate the hours it take to get to and from, she would’ve figured all of that out such a long time ago, maybe 3 days in advance even, she was the type to take care of things by herself.

Lists, who needs them when you can just play it by ear.

I laced up my boots and let John sleep the rest of the morning off, God knows he’s seen more demons than mine.

I made myself familiar with the path back to the Great House. The rocks, the trees, all of it had a different feeling in this crisp and cool morning light. The way the blues of the sky detailed the trees and hollowed out the reality of isolation was divine. I could feel at ease on this path, free on this path.

If only for a moment.

Bear had showed up, his body becoming more and more apparent. He was underdressed for this weather. Sweat glistened and cooled down his cinnamon brown skin. His scars moved and flowed against his back muscles as he chopped firewood a few meters off the beaten path. His breaths of air were plumes of spoke, which held volume, fire, and anxiety.

“Teddy?”

He turned around, he was so violently boyish, his body was too well adapted to this environment. He looked like the forest, smelled like the forest, talked the forest did. He was it’s child, it’s embodiment. The birds would sing to him in his sleep and he would wake up to the slow lull of cicadas, and a not a moment’s worry would flash his lips.

No, the anxiety that abounded inside of him was not from the Gods above or from nature’s bidding. Those were things that loved him , those were things that cared for his soul like a mother to an older child. His dangers came from man, from the gun wounds that decorated his shoulders, from the deep scars that knives and syringes had made their signatures on. His mind was so transparent, mapped out for me and only me but so well damaged it might as well have been burned along with his future.

“Heading out?” He said. His chest rising and falling, rising and falling …

I nodded. “I suppose you’ve heard.”

“Gina told me.”

I pointed to the cut wood pile. “Why are you chopping more wood, we have enough to last for a good two weeks?”

“The Hospital needs it. Round this time the sick boys start to catch fevers, and I don’t want a repeat.”

I don’t want a repeat.

“About that-”

He shook his head, licking the sweat from his lips. “Don’t.”

We stood there for a few moments. Plumes of fire from our lungs made for visual silence.

“It’s cold, you should be wearing a shirt.”

“The sooner I get used to the cold, the better.”

“Not everyone is Immune, Bear.”

“But everyone is adaptable.”

There it was, a clash. If this were a sword fight, sparks would be flying.

“You treat these kids like they’re God’s chosen. You can build walls all you want, feed them, isolate them, make sure they keep running until they run right into the ground. But we all know how this plays out. It’s not a matter of if anymore it’s a matter of when.”

“You don’t think I know that, Molli? You of all people.”

The scars, they seemed to glow red in my hallucinating brain.

“Look, I know what they did to you. I know what they did to us, but we can’t stop fighting the war just because we lost the battle. It isn’t that easy.”

“They raped me.”

Silence.

He let go of his axe, his breaths even out but they were shaking all the same.

“Sure I told you about the experiments. We all went through them, the shots, the stress testing, the poisons the supposed antidotes. They strap us up to tables and medicate us while they tear through our insides like cadavers but somehow that wasn’t enough for me.”

“Teddy-”

“Do you know why I’m immune? I don’t. All I know is that one moment I was strapped down to a table and raped, over and over again. Drugged, raped, drugged, raped, drugged, raped. They couldn’t find the antidote, but they could make antidote babies.”

“I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be sorry. They did it to you too, Ithaca.”

“Don’t call me that.”

“What? It’s the truth. Just because you went through research camp with a family and came out with a mental disorder doesn’t give you the damn right to march around here like you’re two people.”

Heat rose from my body, I didn’t feel my feet move but I knew I was getting closer to him as every word escaped his damned lips.

“My name is Molli Burke.” I said.

He looked me dead in the eyes. “Your name is Itha-”

My hands moved faster than I could think, one grabbing his mangled hair and the other grabbing his back as I swung around him. With passion, I swung his skull right into the nestled corner of the chopping block.

He tried to move but I had him pinned. I wasn’t feeling, wasn’t knowing, only reacting.

Another blow to his temple. His hair becoming warm and bloody in between my fingers, harder to grasp onto.

I threw him down, docking my fist into his nose, left hook, right hook, left hook, right hook.

He was gone now, his eyes rolling endlessly towards up.

My hands moved again, without my mind to stop them. To a dagger against my thigh. I unsheathed it, as I rose up for the kill a hand of God stopped me.

“Molli!” John shouted.

I struggled with him, turning against him, I let go of the dagger for only a moment. The momentum threw him back, long enough for me to heel kick him right in the chin.

I picked up the dagger, my vision now a blurry and broken extension of my reality. In that moment there was no sin, no evil, no right and no wrong, there was only an electric current of revenge running through my body.

John had done nothing to deserve my wrath, absolutely nothing. Neither did, Bear, to be honest, but they didn’t need to be, all they needed to do was set off those circuits in my kaleidoscope mind.

This is how I justified my actions.

I picked up that dagger with intention to kill John, to drive it right through his brain and rip it out only to turn around and finish my job with Bear.

But I stopped myself, no she stopped me.

Right then and right there.

I felt my soul become cold and hollow, and in a moment's notice, I was gone from my body.

No longer able to justify my actions.


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Hi everyone, I'm still working on Chapter 9, thoughts so far? Post 'em. If you guys like it I'll post more here.

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Re: Ithaca in the Rapture

Post by Athena Lionheart on Wed Aug 15, 2018 11:59 pm

Hey Dylan, I've read through what you've got so far. You've got a great knack for picking out details and establishing a voice. However, I think the emphasis on voice is also holding you back, particularly in a setting that's not intuitive. I'm having a hard time understanding the conflict and world. Could just be poor reading comprehension on my end, but I've doubled back quite a bit and I still feel like I have only a vague sense of what's going on. If you keep updating, though, I'll keep checking in.

Also, am I right in saying your main character is supposed to have Dissociative Identity Disorder? That's the sense I'm getting from it all, but I don't want to misinterpret you.

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Re: Ithaca in the Rapture

Post by ~Dylan Battle~ on Thu Aug 16, 2018 1:33 am

Hi Athena, yes you're correct in your assumption that the character is suffering from DID, it's been vague so far as a result of that. I don't know if that's a good choice anymore as obviously I don't want the story to be too hard to follow. Chapter 9 is definitely more expositional in it's explanation of place and time because we begin to come into the Host of this character who has to catch up with everything that's been going on.

Is the commentary too confusing to follow? I genuinely want to know so that I can spruce it up.

Thank you! Very Happy

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Re: Ithaca in the Rapture

Post by Athena Lionheart on Thu Aug 16, 2018 9:26 am

I think what you're aiming for can be accomplished with a PoV character who has DID, but I'd personally consider switching (heh) either to third person, marking who's conscious in each section, or making it all the first person of one of the alters. The last one in particular could be really interesting; you could go with the host, trying to keep track of everything that's going on when they're losing time, writing notes and speculating (which gives you a lot of excuse to bring in more exposition) or an alter who's often aware of what the host is doing even when they're not fronting and can commentate from there (Dissociative barriers can sometimes be more akin to one-way glass). Sticking to only one alter could open a lot of doors. That's a lot to change, though, so it might be easier just to mark who's who for now and save the big revisions for a rewrite.

If the PoV was easier to track and you added something like an attention-grabbing prologue that sets the stage (perhaps in the form of a news article or something otherwise trying to objectively analyze the situation, even if they're uncertain), that would help immensely, I think. The reader would know what things to look out for and the vagueness would then be correctly attributed to the MC.

Anyways, I ramble, and, if you've got me monologuing, that means I'm intrigued. I'm looking forward to seeing more!

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Re: Ithaca in the Rapture

Post by ~Dylan Battle~ on Thu Aug 16, 2018 7:01 pm

Okay really good to know, I think I'll start making the PoV a bit more obvious from now on until I actually finish the story. Thank you so much!

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