Read Apocalypsis: Book 2 (Warpaint) Online
Authors: Elle Casey
Want to get an email when my next book is released?
Sign up here:
Other Books by Elle Casey
War of the Fae: Book One, The Changelings -
War of the Fae: Book Two, Call to Arms
War of the Fae: Book Three, Darkness & Light
War of the Fae: Book Four, New World Order
Clash of the Otherworlds: Book 1, After the Fall
Clash of the Otherworlds: Book 2, Between the Realms
Clash of the Otherworlds: Book 3, Portal Guardians
Apocalypsis: Book 1, Kahayatle
This book is dedicated to Theresa Veraa, superfan speed reader who does her best to keep me on the straight and narrow, much as I might try to resist.
© 2012 Elle Casey, all rights reserved, worldwide. No part of this ebook may be reproduced, uploaded to the Internet, or copied without author permission. The author respectfully asks that you please support artistic expression and help promote anti-piracy efforts by
a copy of this ebook at the author authorized online outlet that serves your country.
Elle Casey thanks you deeply for your understanding and support.
I WOKE UP BEFORE THE sun, unable to ignore the high-pitched buzzing of the mosquitos near my ears anymore. Even in sleep, they managed to annoy me. I still had some bug repellent left, and I had sprayed it on generously just before drifting off; but that didn’t stop their hovering. The first thing I was going to do when I saw one of our indian hosts was ask how they managed to keep them away without the store-bought stuff. The bottle I had wasn’t going to last forever, and living in the Everglades where the mosquitoes outnumbered the humans about eighty billion to one, made the idea of going bare … unbearable. I couldn’t deal with the idea of having escaped the teenage cannibals that were running around in my old neighborhood, only to die from an overdose of mosquito toxin here.
I looked down at the arm that had flung itself across my lap.
My hot German friend who might actually be my boyfriend now. I still wasn’t exactly sure what our relationship was. Last night he kissed me. It had only lasted a moment and didn’t go any further than that, but he’d dropped a lot of hints when we were traveling from central Florida to the Everglades, about maybe us being together someday.
I’d had boyfriends before, but nothing that ended up getting serious or that made me feel more than just a little bummed when they’d decided they’d had enough of my hectic schedule or my interests that weren’t all that girly. I’d learned pretty quickly that not many guys were cool with the idea of a girlfriend who was half their weight but could kick their butts. I’d never dated another krav maga enthusiast. Maybe that was my problem.
That was one thing that made Bodo different. He seemed to get a huge kick out of watching me do my thing. He’d even managed to figure out the best way to calm me down when I was stressed - engaging me in a little fight therapy. I was going to have to get going with the training of Bodo and everyone else here really soon; I couldn’t expect him to keep volunteering to get jabbed and thrown around by me whenever I was cranky. He at least needed to learn how to fight back a little.
I picked his arm up by the wrist and gently moved his arm back over to his mattress, being careful not to wake him. We’d had a hell of a few days getting here, and a full night’s sleep hadn’t been a part of our reality for a long time even before that.
I glanced over at Peter on my other side, noticing that he was still asleep, too. His mouth was hanging open with a glob of drool under it. Buster, my old neighbor’s nearly naked poodle, was sleeping under Peter’s arm, all splayed out on his back, his fuzzy underparts exposed to the world.
I smiled as I stood, thinking about how simple Buster’s life was, trying not to be jealous. All the way down from Orlando to the Everglades he’d ridden in my bike basket, his tongue hanging out in the breeze. On the river, his biggest contribution had been to run back and forth in Peter’s canoe, barking at noises and invisible threats. Now that we were here on the land of the Miccosukee indians, inhabiting one of their chickee huts, he spent his time begging for food scraps, barking at birds, and running around licking ankles. Compared to what I had to do, this was less than nothing.
“You’re up early,” said a voice from outside the hut. It was Kowi, chief of the Miccosukee tribe that had been hosting us for more than a day now, generously feeding and clothing us even though we’d invaded their territory without permission.
I joined him just outside the living area of our hut. It had two parts: the one that held our mattresses and the one that had our pantry and an open space for sitting. “Couldn’t sleep anymore with all the mosquitoes buzzing around,” I explained.
“We’ll get you some smoke sticks. They keep them away pretty good and last all night.”
“Thanks. I’d appreciate it. I’m not a fan of mosquito bites.”
I could see the glow of his white teeth as he smiled. “You picked the wrong place to live if you’re sensitive about that kind of thing.”
“Yeah. Tell me about it.” Unfortunately, mosquitoes, snakes, and alligators were the best reasons I could think of to come here. It meant that the teenagers-turned-cannibals who had moved into my neighborhood and elsewhere would be less likely to follow me and my friends.
“I came to see if you’re ready to talk about schedules. Sounds like we have some meetings ahead of us that you’ll be expected to come to, and some training on your end.”
“Yeah. Believe it or not, my schedule’s open. Last week I was totally booked, but this week? Not so much.”
I could hear the grin in his voice. “Well, that’s convenient. Because I’m pretty sure my friends and I have plans that will keep you busy for … oh … the next year or so.”
I knew he didn’t mean that I could only stay there with them in their swamp for a year, but it did get me thinking about how long I wanted to be here and under what circumstances.
“You know, Kowi, I’m still not really sure who I am here with you guys … who any of us non-indians are. I mean, what our roles are. Maybe we should start with figuring that out.”
“Let’s take a walk. I want to show you something.”
I shrugged. It’s not like I had anything else to do, other than scare up some grub and maybe find some better shoes. Mine were still damp and very smelly, and I’d given up hope of them ever not being disgusting again. I eyed Kowi’s very practical moccasins and wondered what I’d have to do to score a pair of those.
We walked a short distance through the trees, picking our way over interconnected roots of cyprus trees that made small, linked islands all over this part of the Everglades. The tribes call it Kahayatle. Many of the indian kids who live here had recently taken Miccosukee names for themselves, I guess as a sign of respect for the way of life that was keeping them fed, clothed, and safe - unlike many other teens who were starving and dying. The white man’s ways had ended up yielding nothing but desperate kids who had no idea how to survive except by attacking and killing others who were weaker.
I had quickly earned the nickname Nokosi - the Miccosukee word for bear - for being so protective of my friends. Peter, Bodo, and Buster were my newly adopted family members, and even though we’d only known each other for a short while, we were as close as anyone could be in this new world - the one that only had teens living in it anymore. Some strange virus had moved across the globe like an out of control wildfire and wiped out our parents and younger siblings, leaving a few million teenagers to battle over the remaining resources. Survival of the fittest had taken on a whole new meaning for all of us.
I’d fought Kowi and his tribesmen for the right to stay in one of their chickee huts, and I’d fought the chief of the Creek indians to be able to stay in the swamps for as long as I wanted. In exchange for their generosity, I had agreed to train all of them in the martial art that my dad had taught me called krav maga.
They were going to need my skills if my fears ever came true. The cannibals - canners as we called them - were coming. They had already attacked one of the Creek indian sisters not very far from here, cutting off her arm in the process. It was only a matter of time before they arrived in Kahayatle looking for their next meal. It would be my job to get the former members of the Seminole Nation ready to fight back … to fight for their lives.
Our first step was to get them united again. I had my work cut out for me, acting as mediator to two very prideful leaders and many followers, most of whom were related in one way or another but seemed to have some deep-seated rivalries.
Kowi and I came out of the trees that ringed this root-island in time to see the beginning of the sunrise. It was glorious. The sky was lit with peaches, yellows, purples, and blues. I’d never seen anything like it.
“Wow. That’s just … amazing.”
“I know. I like to get up every day and watch it. It keeps me grounded. Sometimes, all day long, I see nothing but ugliness. At least with this, I can start the day with beauty.”
“It kind of makes you think there’s hope. That every day starts with a promise,” I said, not even really thinking about what I was saying.
Kowi turned towards me. I could see the movement out of the corner of my eye, but I stayed facing the glowing orb of the sun that had made it above the horizon. It felt weird, being out here alone with him, the two of us experiencing this poetic moment. His girlfriend would probably want to smash my face if she were here to see it, and who knew what Bodo would think. I still wasn’t sure that I cared
Bodo thought, but I knew I didn’t want any drama with a jealous Coli. She was a cranky wench on her best days. I took a step forward to put more distance between us.
“So what’s the scoop?” I asked. “When do you want to start training?”
“Today. We have a place on drier land we can use. How many can you handle?”
“How many do you have?” I turned to face him so he wouldn’t think I was being rude.
His expression revealed nothing about what he might be feeling. “The Miccosukee have thirty-five guys and twenty girls.”
“What about the others?”
“The Creek? I’m not sure. Probably about the same.”
“Well, that’s way too many to do at once.”
“I figured. So we’ll divide them up. Just tell me how many you can do at a time, whether you want them mixed or guys separate from the girls, and how many sessions you think you can manage in a day. I’m sure it’s very tiring, so if you can only do one or two, that’s fine. We’ll understand.”
I shrugged. Yeah, it was tiring. But here there was food to fuel the calorie burn, and I needed to work hard to get my butt back in shape; I’d gotten lax in the last few months. Living alone in my house, isolated the way I had been, caused me to neglect my training. I was just lucky my dad had ingrained it in my life for so many years before he died. Otherwise, I would have never survived the two canner attacks I’d dealt with before arriving here.
“I’ll work with ten at a time, max. Smaller groups are better and they should always have an even number so everyone can have a partner. Let’s keep the guys and girls separate to start.”
“How many sessions a day can you handle?”