APAGear II Archives Volume 1, Number 1 December, 1998


Forced Isolation

Part One

Lloyd D. "Jesster" Jessee

Tears created streaks on their journey down Leeza's face.

She wiped her face as she tried to stop the sobbing that seemed to shake her frame.

'They might hear' she thought to herself, quickly looking around, as if someone might have heard her thoughts.

She tried adjusting the two bundles she was carrying. There seemed no way to carry them both with out risking dropping one or the other. One was held firmly to her breast while the other was often moved from one position to another.

It looked clear on the street, though she could not see if anyone was hiding in the wreckage.

Smoke from the scattered fires burned her eyes as she tried to see thru the twisted metal and plastic that had been two cars. Trying to see if anyone was hiding there, waiting to steal from her.

She looked around to all the obvious hiding places one more time, then tried to run while crouched, but almost dropped that which she held to her chest. She slowed some and straightened up some, but kept going.

Just as she made the alleyway across the street, she tripped on something. She twisted and fell on her knees and one elbow, adding to the cuts and scraps already there.

Leeza scrambled up, dropping the contents of the second bundle with several thuds. Food and water. She tried to push them back in the flimsy bag they had just escaped from but seemed to avoid her one handed attempts. She finally got them in the bag and hurried over behind the pile of trash and debris.

She waited, making sure no one was coming after her or had been attracted by the noise.

The bundle she clutched to her wiggled and made a high pitched whimper. Albain was awake and not happy about it. She quickly put down the food and water and pushed back the blanket from his head.

His tiny eyes opened, bright blue eyes that melted the tired and worry in his mothers face.

Leeza looked at him with a half smile growing to full, when a noise, a pebble or rock skittering across the street, caused her face to form a grim mask of fear and paranoia.

She quickly dug into her pockets, pulling out small bottle. She didn't like what she was about to do, but Albain would give them away. She deftly gave him the medicine, which he eagerly consumed.

The red liquid was not the food or water he expected and almost immediately his eyelids drooped, as if weighted down.

She quickly covered her sleeping son and looked around one more time. She could not find the source of the noise, but her mind tried to generate all kinds of images for her.

Hungry, dirty men with knives in their hands, blood and other gore dried on hands, mouth and knives alike. She shook her head, trying to dislodge the images her tired and stressed mind was supplying.

Everything seemed fine until yesterday.

Then the news was confirmed.

In their small farming and mining community, no one could have made it back to the star port in time to leave on the last shuttles. Even without that, none here had the rank, power nor money to be aboard the last way back to Earth.

That seemed to drive everyone mad. First, everyone was trying to horde any supplies they could get. This seemed to drive those who didn't have anything to looting, stealing, and...murder.

Leeza tried to shake herself away from remembering, the images played out in her tired mind, foggy and blurry, but still they played on.

Leeza's husband thought people would come to their senses and just said they should stay at home, keep the doors and windows locked and it would pass.

Then late last night someone had knocked on their door, after dark, claiming to be a neighbor three doors down. They had wanted to borrow a few things, nothing major, just a few things.

But their had been their neighbor and three others, all crowded around the door. Mekkel had then told Leeza to help him move the couch infront of the door. The knocking became pounding which in turn changed to a ramming that seemed it would eventually pull the door free from the wall.

The couch seemed to absorb the force of the blows coming from the door. Albain cried at the noise.

After only 10 minutes from the first knock, those on the other side of the door left, promising to return to get what they were hoarding.

Mekkel moved furniture in front of all the doors and even some of the windows on the ground floor.

Leeza almost felt safe until she saw a house burning down the street.

"What do we do if someone sets the place on fire? how will we get out?" she asked of Mekkel in a near panic.

Mekkel pointed to a window he had not covered, "That is how we will leave, if need be. We will be ok, they will pick on easier prey..."

Leeza was saved from her own memories by another sound. Some noise near the alley's entrance to the road. Was she being followed? It sounded like a boot scraping the street.

She picked up the food and water and tried to hurry down the alley, trying not to make any sound and looking behind her every ten seconds.

She was looking behind her when she tripped yet again. She didn't fall, but she did collect a few more scraps and bruises for her every growing collection on her elbows and knees.

The sky was slowly darkening. The day seemed to have lasted an eternity, but the thought of the long, cold night, alone, outside, scared Leeza to near hysteria. Her eyes rolled at the setting sun.

She was near a half burned house, the cheap plastic of parts of the building had melted into chard pool on one side, still emiting smoke that burned the eyes and throat.

As Leeza watched the building, to try to catch someone moving around inside, her mind drifted to back...

"...they will pick on easier prey than us, dear. I will make sure you and Albain are safe, ok?" Mekkel said, not only to comfort his wife, but himself.

Leeza fed and changed Albain as Mekkel put to buckets of water in the middle of the room.

Mekkel was cleaning his old rifle when there was a noise from the back door, like someone trying the handle.

Leeza and Mekkel looked at each other silently.

The noise came again, then someone called out "Anyone in there? I would like to trade."

Just as Mekkel opened his mouth to reply, someone tried the front door.

Mekkel was trying to put the rifle back together, but his hands where shaking. "Go away!"

The response was a heavy thunk on the front door. Sticking out of the door on the inside was a triangle of metal. Leeza's mind supplied the rest of the axe stuck thru her front door.

"Just hand out food and water and everything will be fine." said a sly sounding voice from the otherside. "We will get it sooner or later, might as well give it too us now."

Mekkel, who now had the rifle together, was now fumbling with trying to load it. "Just leave us alone or else." Mekkel shouted in a unsure voice.

"Oh yeah, like what?" laughed the sly voice.

Mekkel got a round into the old weapon, pointed it at the door and pulled the trigger.

The loud report in the inclosed room had the baby screaming.

The cursing being shouted on the other side of the door was clear, due to the fist size hole.

"Leave!" Shouted Mekkel as Leeza tried to comfort Albain. "Go AWAY!"

"That's it, you are dead. Do you HEAR in there? You ALL ARE DEAD!"

Leeza was once again drawn back to the Now by noise, but this time a low hum or buzz. She could not find the source, until she looked up to see a lone crabfly flying towards a shape that she did not want to think about.

The remains of the building must be empty, as it was almost dark now and she still had not seen anyone move in, around or out of it.

Leeza planned her route to the building several times and finally started. She avoided the pools of melted plastic, their heat could be felt, even at a distance. She took her time, trying to keep from alerting anyone of her presence. She stopped several times, listening and looking, but in the failing light, her eyes were becoming less and less useful.

She finally made it inside the building, to find the remains of a kitchen. Leeza went thru a doorway, to find the living room. All four of its walls were there, even if one looked like it was drooping.

Leeza put her back against a wall and slowly slid to the floor.

To Be Continued...

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APAGear II Archives Volume 1, Number 1 December, 1998