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Authors: Red Harvey

A Gray Life: a novel

A Gray Life

by

Red Harvey

* * * * *

PUBLISHED BY:

By
Nuff Said Publishing

A
Gray Life:

Copyright © 2014
by Red Harvey

-
From one short story a novel was born. As for my inspiration for the rest of the story, thanks, Sean.-

Nuff
Said Publishing

Published on
Amazon.com at the request of the author

Atlanta, Ga

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.

A
GRAY LIFE

Copyright 2
014 by Red Harvey

Cover ar
t by Red Harvey.

1
: The Boy in the Basement

July 3rd....
?

Light from the window always wakes me up too early in the morning. The window looks small
, and it’s the only one down here, but when the sun rises, it shines a huge patch of sunlight right onto my bed pallet. I had to choose the spot where the sun would hit 
perfectly
(in case you didn’t realize it, dear journal, that’s me being sarcastic). I feel like I’m still waking up early for school, even though I don’t have to. There’s no reason to wake up early anymore. Hardly any reason to wake up at all.

I should
’ve chosen a spot by the wall, away from the sunlight. Then, I’d escape the notice of Him altogether. But then I’d be too close to the Wasters, and while I know they’re human, I couldn’t stomach sleeping by them. Some of them sleep in their own shi--, um, filth. Others don’t bother to wear any clothes, and you can see it all. Now, I’ll admit, I may’ve had a fascination with the naked human body at one point, but after seeing the Wasters naked day in and day out, my fascination died a slow and painful death.

A mean part of me wishes He would put them in a separate room, like the unfinished room next to the kill room. It has a door, and they could all do whatever they wanted in there, not bothering us regular folk. Still, that would be wrong because they are living and breathing people. Living and breathing for the moment.

I hope Erin doesn’t ever try and read this. I wonder what she would think of me, or if she would agree with me on some points.

Stupid window!
Light’s in my eyes. I’m gonna try and get some more sleep. Here’s to hopin’.

* * * *

July 7th (still guessing)

Ah, Fridays are the worst. When school, homework, and after school activities filled my weekdays, I couldn’t wait for Friday to come.
For a break from all the 
stuff
. Now, I dread Fridays. Every day down here is horrible, but Fridays are particularly gruesome.

The Man calls ‘em T
GIF’s, except he adds an extra
F
when he says it aloud. Which he does, often: “Thank God It’s Fuckin’ Friday!”

May not seem right, but I know the general mechanics
which involve, well, I’ll just say fubbing. Fubbing must be a gritty business, especially the way The Man goes about it. He always begins Fridays by rounding up all the able-bodied women here in the basement (three total, but at one point, there were six), and taking them into the kill room, only, he doesn’t kill the women. Whatever happens in there, I hear screams, groans, and slaps.

A
s the women leave the room, it's hard not to stare, even though I don’t want to. I want to ask what happened to them, what He made them do, but I don’t need to ask. Not really.

My stomach flip-flops at the sight of their bruised, bloody, and crying messes, but there’s nothing I can do to help them, nothing I can do to stop Him. Once, after the end of a
Fubbing Friday session, I caught a glimpse of The Man in the kill room with the door open, naked and smiling as he cleaned off the twisted end of a wire hanger. Thinking about what he could have done with it made the slop I had for breakfast come up in a hurry.

It doesn’t have to be Friday for The Man to feel like taking advantage. Most other days, He’ll come downstairs, put the girls in a row, and play
eenie-meenie-minie-mo. While He sings the song aloud, pointing from girl to girl, I can see the tension in their shoulders. Each fall of His fingers is like the point of a knife, and when it finally stops, someone gets hurt. Yesterday, His finger stopped on Erin. She closed her eyes, sighed deep, and followed Him for the zillionth time.

She’s stopped talking about killing herself, and I’m relieved. It’s hard trying to watch someone all the time, making sure they don’t make good on their most gruesome promise. For a whole week, I didn’t sleep. Well, hardly. I stayed up, near tears, hoping for the daylight to filter through the window, hoping for the daylight to finally come and make everything better.

It’s been a few days, and Erin’s eating again. She even smiled at me yesterday, and when I told her a joke I overheard from Gabriella, she laughed.

“What do you call a camel with no humps?”

I could tell Erin didn’t wanna answer me, but she did anyway.

“What?” she asked.

“Humphrey.”

Her slow build-up of laughter
lifted me up, and while I felt like crying (the kind of crying where you’re choking on snot), I laughed too. For a long time, I laughed.

Erin doesn’t cry herself to sleep anymore. She says when she’s alone with
Him, she closes her eyes and thinks of the trip we took to Destin Beach. The water was so blue you could see your toes wiggling around in the sandbar. I think of that too when I’m sad. Thinking of Mom and Dad is too painful. It’s only been….Jesus, they’ve been dead for….three months….which means, we’ve been down here for about five.

Five months living like this. Wow, time really flies when you’re miserable.

* * * *

July 9th

It’s been one of those days. You know, those days when you sit back, remember your old life and think, how did I get here? My main concern in life used to be when the next issue of
Amazing Stories
would come out. Now, my old life seems full of details which never mattered, a far-away dream I can’t catch up to. I'm a twelve-year-old boy, and I eat from a trough.

Some of the Wasters linger there, deciding if they should eat today, or skip another meal. Wasn’t always this bad, but I know The Man
is running low on supplies. We enjoyed a few burgers, back in the beginning.

When I say "we", I mean me and my sister, Erin. She’s seventeen and boy-crazy,
a fact that doesn’t matter when you’re stuck in a basement. Being around each other day in and day out should have made us closer, and it has, sort of. Once you see someone take a shit in a corner, a wall comes down between you. Shit is (was) a word on Mom’s blacklist, but I still use it anyway. More so, these days.

Don’t know why I’m bothering to write
stuff down. No, I do know. It’s boring sitting here on my bed pallet, playing solitaire over and over, or shuffling between here and the bathroom just for something to do. Writing makes things a bit more normal, less scary. Doesn’t lessen the people in the back starving to death, or drown out Erin’s screams from the kill room.

I used to want to be a writer, back when we
were all living on The Outside. When the world was sane, I read all the paperbacks I could get my hands on, generally science fiction and horror. Even if I had those books with me here, I wouldn’t read them. Don’t really need them when there’s horror here and Outside. But, I’m lucky The Man up and gave me these composition books yesterday. He came downstairs, whistling, and He tossed these books at me without saying anything. I’m gonna fill these babies up. All I got is time, and Erin.

Besides Erin, I
 
had
 my parents. And school. And friends. And a life.

Middle school
was the tits. Haha, tits. My friend Gary used the phrase on the daily. I wonder if he says anything anymore. While being forced to wake up every morning for school, I hadn’t thought so. All I thought about was fitting in, and catching Ashley Heard’s attention. I thought about touching her dark, shining curtain of hair every time I saw it fall across her perfect, dark-skinned face. She wasn’t one of the popular girls; my crush wasn't that cliché. But she was beautiful. Outright talking to her turned my tongue to lead, but I slowly moved past the can-I-borrow-a-pencil phase.

My mom, aware of my crush, offered me advice to progress things. C
arry her books. Girls love that stuff.

Only, Ashley didn’t let me carry her books. She laughed when I offered, but she let me walk next to her on the way to class
. Pre-algebra, English, and Biology became my favorite classes, because she sat next to me during. At lunch, we sat and talked about the TV we watched the night before, or our latest book finds. We talked about anything and everything, to feel more mature, adult, and cool with each other. Gary always made fun of the small gap in her front teeth, but to me, the imperfection added to her beauty. She had this thing where she ran into walls and stuff, another point Gary poked fun at. Her corny jokes, gap teeth, and clumsiness were part of her, and she was just what the tailor trimmed to me.

O
ne day, she stopped coming to school. She wasn’t the first kid to do that, but when her absence stretched from two days, to five and onward, it killed me.

Fewer
and fewer kids showed up for school. The riots and fires started around that time.

Just as our neighbors and friends had, my parents packed up all we could fit into our car and headed for a less populated area.

****

2
: Ashley Heard

Ashley Heard thought diaries were for lame-
os. Only people who didn’t have real friends to talk to would be desperate enough to jot down their daily gripes on paper. A journal? That was a diary for lame-o guys.

She tossed the pink notebook her father had given to her into the back of the car.

“Hey!” Stephen Heard noticed her actions through the rearview mirror. “Didn’t like your gift?”

No shit, Sherlock.

“Diaries aren’t for me, Dad.”

“Gloria bought it for you.”

Then I definitely don’t want it.

After a few silent intervals, Stephen said, “Today was your last day.”

She set up her music device, half-listening to her father.

“What?”

“I packed a few bags for you, but you can finish when we get home.”

“Why?”

“You know why.”

Even though she
did indeed know why, Ashley hated her father’s plan of desertion. Today had been her last day of school? He could have told her earlier. Then she could have told certain people goodbye. Certain cuties who didn’t laugh at her when she ran her face into the flag-pole. She might never see him again.

“Dad, can’t I go one more day? Please? I wanna say bye to my friends!”

“No time, sweetheart.” Stephen was turning the car onto the street where their apartment was. “I bought the plane tickets.”

“But why?”

He avoided her by pretending to focus on the road. “I’ll tell you when we get home.”

“Tell me now, D
ad.”

Ashley used the daughter-end of their
family dynamic to pull information from her father. She used her serious tone for many a thing, usually to get more allowance money to buy books.

Stephen sighed. “Grandma and Grandpa…”

“Yes?”

“They’re dead.”

Tears, hot and blinding, flooded her eyes.

They couldn’t be dead. Dead happened to everyone else, not to their family. They couldn’t be
gone, it wasn’t possible, it wasn’t right. Maybe if she knew all the facts, she could set her father straight.

“They were murdered last night, i
n their apartment. Looks like the god damn maid did it. Jesus Christ.” Her dad gulped back tears. “She stripped their apartment bare, cleaned out the safe, too.”

They arrived at the underground parking lot attached to their building. Before showing the attendant his ID, Stephen wiped his
eyes.

“Ya alright, Mr. Heard?”
Benny, a security guard for the last two years, prided himself on knowing the tenant’s business.

“Fine, Benny.”
Her father lied.

“Go on through, Mr. Heard.” Pity colored Benny’s ruddy face as he waved
them on through.

“What is happening?” Ashley asked
in between sniffles of her own.

It
was a question she heard from adults, but it was only now
she
 felt its weight. Things had been happening for a couple of years, bad things. Hearing about disappearances, murders, rapes on the news shocked her at first, but after a few years of hearing the same drivel, the crimes faded into the background, part of everyone else’s life.

Grandma and Pop-Pop were dead.
Murdered. Her father wanted to do the popular thing of fleeing the city, but unlike most, Stephen Heard possessed the finances to escape the country.

“We’re going to Grandma and Pop-Pop’s house in Bath.”

Ashley was numb. They visited the English city twice every year, and when she played with the neighbor kids around her age, they marveled at her accent, dark hair, and mullato skin tone. One boy told her she looked and sounded like a fine bint, whatever that meant.

“For h
ow long?” She could see him in the rear-view mirror, squirming under her scrutiny.

“Um…”

“Dad?” He didn’t answer any of her questions directly. Being a kid sucked.

“We’re not coming back to the city, Ashley.
Too dangerous.”

Ashley said nothing.
Her entire fate changed in minutes. Her grandparents died, she had to move to another country, and it was the last day she would see her friends, her room, her life.

Stephen parked the car and got out.

“C’mon, let’s go upstairs and finish packing.”

For
many reasons, Ashley didn’t move.

A tap o
n the car window made her jump.

“Get out. Let’s go, honey.”

Grief and shock forced her to obey. She got out of the car, and almost called out to her father that she’d forgotten her backpack. Then she remembered she didn’t need it. Her homework assignments needn’t be completed and turned in. Just like she wouldn’t see Pop-Pop’s handsome smile again. Seeing a foot in front of her took effort thanks to the waterfall of tears.

Briefly, she wondered if she would start school in England.
Maybe school attendance slipped worldwide?

Who the hell cares? I’ll probably
end up murdered anyway.

The elevator took them to their penthouse apartment. As her father unlocked the apartment door, Ashley
heard things moving around inside.

“Who’s here?” S
he wanted to believe her father’s girlfriend wasn’t inside their home, but the odds weren’t in her favor.

“It’s G
loria.” He pushed his glasses further up his face, a sign of his nervousness.

“Ugh.”

“Be nice.”

Stephen opened the door and Gloria
swarmed him like a puppy waiting all day for its owner.


Stephen, I was worried.” She kissed him on the face, again and again.

Ashley cleared her throat. “Can you
wait until I’m out of the room at least?”

Two
deliberate pecks later, and Gloria quit. “Sorry, I just love your dad so much.”

They had only been together for
four months. Ashley didn’t know how Gloria could feel complete adoration for her father in such a short span.

“Yeah, love his money.” Ashley grumbled.

“Excuse me, young lady?” Gloria’s eyes narrowed and Ashley worried she underestimated how dangerous Gloria could be.

“Nothing.
I have to…go pack.”

Halfway to her room, Gloria stopped her by saying, “Put your bags by the door next to mine and your dad’s when you’re done.”

“Why are you going?” Rude was Ashley’s middle name.

Gloria turned to Stephen, who looked embarrassed. “She is being disrespectful again.” He shrugged. “Stephen, say something to her.”

Goaded into action, Ashley’s father took her gently by the arm to her room. Before he closed the door, his daughter made sure to loudly protest, “Dad, please, not her!”

Gloria huffed and puffed around the house after hearing that. She waited while they
their chat. In the meantime, she double-checked her bags, making sure she had the essentials. She had never been to England or anywhere really, and she couldn’t wait to get there. Gloria always knew getting her tits done would pay off someday.

Two years before, she
had been a grad student, waitressing her way through school. Studying hadn’t gotten her anything but a hefty amount of student loans, which she couldn’t afford to pay back. A friend of hers dated an older man, a rich man, and he took care of her. In exchange for an easy life, her friend did certain things, but Gloria wasn’t above faking an orgasm or too. Gloria the student was tired, and she wanted to be taken care of too. When she went for something, or someone, she took her job seriously. She got highlights in her hair, toned her body, and got a breast enhancement. All of her hard work paid off, and Stephen took care of her.

While st
uffing extra thongs into her bag, she frowned. What was taking Stephen so long? If Ashley was her daughter, she would have backhanded her and have done with it. The little bitch always tried to subvert her. Stephen’s daughter was the downside to his wealth and big cock. Without the alluring combo of big bucks and big penis, she would’ve left him long ago.

In the midst of loathing a twelve-year old girl, Gloria failed to notice
the rattling of the front doorknob.

In Ashley’s room, Stephen
sought to calm down his daughter. Nothing he tried worked. She threw things into her suitcase, stomping around her room in pre-teen angst.

“She’s barely older than me!”

They had the argument before, many times.

“She’s twice your age.” Stephen said.

“Yeah, and you’re three times my age.”

“No surprise there.”

Ashley felt frustrated beyond belief. She didn’t understand her father. His parents had just been murdered, things were falling apart on a nationwide scale, and he worried about his casual girlfriend. She wished he would save his concerns for the big-picture kinda stuff.

Man, I’m so wise. If only dad knew as much as I did
, she thought.

Ashley tried to tell him.

“Things are going all wrong in the world. We should hold on to what’s real, what we care about. Not her.”

Stephen thought for a moment. “I can’t leave her.”

“Why not? You don’t love her.”

True
. What Stephen felt for Gloria wasn’t love. Though educated, she certainly never let her smarts show. What did show were her huge breasts, and Stephen’s hands got sweaty just thinking about them. All breasts aside, he couldn’t leave her behind. He felt responsible for her, like he would a child. Hell, she nearly was a child, and it would be wrong to leave her in the wild to die.

Ashley’s father never got the opportunity to confirm o
r deny his feelings. Footsteps too heavy to belong to 105-pound Gloria echoed out in the hallway.

“Who are you?” They heard Gloria ask. Then, she
screamed.

“What---?” Ashley began, but Stephen cut
her off.

“Go in the hide-away.”

She didn’t listen. Ashley was watching her father. He removed a picture frame from her wall. The frame hid a small door, or what looked like a door. It was as big as her father’s hand, which he used to depress against the opening. A click, and the door came down vertically. Inside was dark, but she saw what he pulled out: a handgun.

The escalation in violence prompted many
self-proclaimed pacifists to buy guns. Her father had been against using weapons of any kind, but his stance changed over the years. Ashley was sure her dad had never fired one, but she knew he joined in the buying craze.

Still, it shocked her to know he kept a gun
“In my room?”

Stephen concentrated on checking the gun’s chamber.
“One in every room of the apartment, sweetie. I’m glad I did it. Now, go to your hide-away.”

By
hide-away
, Stephen meant the built-in niche in Ashley’s closet. He built a door to cover it, with clothes hung in front of it. The seam of the door barely showed.  

Ashley climbed into her hide-away. Before she closed the door, her father
gave her a warning to not come out until he came and got her. He also informed her of the gun in a locked drawer of his desk.


In case you need one.” He reasoned.

He close
d the door to her hide-away, his face tense with fear and purpose. Ashley would remember the look for years after, and she would draw on it for strength.

In the dark of the hide-away, Ashley
crouched and waited. She overheard different voices shouting and laughing in the hallway. There was also grunting, and some cheering, the sound of Gloria crying. Ashley didn’t think anything good was happening to her.

Then, her father’s voice cut clearly thr
ough all the noise. A gun cocked. Silence. Stephen spoke, telling the men to leave. The front door creaked open, but sounds of a struggle quickened Ashley’s breath. Her father cried out, and the strangers laughed.

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