Read Ravaged Land - A Post-Apocalyptic Novel Online
Authors: Kellee L. Greene
Tags: #post apocalyptic - science fiction
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, organizations, places, events and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental.
2015 Kellee L. Greene
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the express written permission of the author.
First Edition December 2015
For B, E and S.
I think I took it all for granted. I had become accustomed to my daily routine and to be totally honest, I liked it. In fact, there was nothing I enjoyed more than sitting still, reading a book, soaking in the bathtub, watching a movie, or other simple things that some people think are monotonous. They are always on the go, scheduling the next event, sending text messages and taking quick showers, but I didn’t mind being slow. I relished it. I thought everyone should take a more leisurely approach to life, what was the rush anyway? Had I been able to see into the future, I may have thought differently. I might have changed how I had lived my life.
There had been something drastically different in the air that afternoon, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on exactly what it was. The whole day had been hot and humid, the weatherman had predicted a thunderstorm, and we were under a tornado watch. My clothes had been soggy from dripping sweat all day in the unpleasant, claustrophobic classrooms they refused to air condition. I had felt gross and was eager to change into something dry, ideally right into my pajamas. This day had been draining, and I was exhausted. Maybe I’d curl up in bed after a cool bath, read a book and listen to the storms pass by. That sounded like heaven.
I wanted to put a name to the smell floating in my nostrils. It was salty and musty, making me think of under-cooked French fries. Both the smell and the feeling in the air had been unsettling and I couldn’t wait to get home. I walked faster hoping I’d beat the rain since my clothes were already wet enough. I crossed my arms in front of me and let my backpack hang off my shoulder as I walked fast with my head down. After the bell had rang letting school out I had practically sprinted out of the building leaving a little earlier than I usually did. Since it had been the last day before summer vacation, everyone else was lingering and making plans for the summer with their friends. They had all apparently been oblivious to that unusual fragrance in the air.
“Have a great summer Roslyn!” A tall girl shouted to me from across the street, waving at me altogether too excitedly as she opened the passenger door of a beat-up blue corvette. I couldn't remember her name, so I smiled awkwardly and waved at her. Then as if I felt weird about my hand up in the air, I dropped it down to gather up my dark blonde hair letting it fall down over my left shoulder.
I was probably about halfway home when I looked up from the sidewalk. Across the street was a boy in my class I didn’t really know, but I recognized him only because he was often the object of discussions I’d overheard the other girls chittering about. He was cute, dark hair, dark eyes but guys like that don’t have an interest in girls like me anyway. He wouldn’t want someone who was as boring and low-key as I was. A boy like that is only interested in the most popular, the most beautiful and the most interesting girls. In front of me was another boy from my class, Ryan I thought, kicking a stone as if it were a soccer ball. Another one of the boys all the girls went crazy over, he was absolutely gorgeous, but he didn’t know it, or at least if he did, he didn’t care.
There was another group somewhere behind me. I could hear them talking, making plans for the night, and next they’d probably plan out the whole summer. After I rolled my eyes, I was hit smack dab in the middle of my forehead by an abnormally large drop of wetness. I wiped my skin dry with the back of my hand and tilted my head upwards. The dark ominous clouds looming ahead traveled at what seemed to be an unrealistic speed. Only moments ago the sun had been shining but now a darkness akin to night was setting in, the feeling made me shiver even in this heat.
I looked to the others to see if anyone else had noticed the extreme raindrops but the boy across the street still had his head down and was even further ahead of me. The other boy, Ryan, who had been in front of me had turned off and was walking into what I assumed was his house.
The drops of water started to fall quicker, each one smacking against my face and the exposed skin of my arms with small but annoying stings. I swung my backpack in front of me to look for something I could put over my head. Before I even got a chance to unzip my pack there was a loud thunk followed by the clanging rattle of a street sign. It had made such an unusual high pitched noise that my ears started to ring.
Another chunk of hail hit the ground a foot in front of me with a thud, crashing so hard it broke into countless smaller pieces on impact. They scattered all around my feet looking like little chips of glass. This was by far the largest and most dangerous hail I’d ever seen in my entire life. Within thirty seconds of each other, another two large pieces fell only a few feet away from me, and thankfully not on my head. How many more of these large ice blocks would fall? These pieces of hail weren’t the small and smooth pebble-like hail I’d seen a hundred times before, instead they were rough and thick, jagged like chipped and broken rocks. I put my backpack over my head hoping it would at least protect me from the falling shards, but in all reality they probably weighed several pounds and the backpack wouldn’t do much of anything to soften the blow.
Down the street a car window shattered with a loud pop and crack. I hadn't been expecting it and I jumped backwards startled by the sudden noise. My house was still a fair distance away, and the hail didn’t seem to be letting up. If anything, it was getting worse. I needed to find a place to hang out temporarily until this lethal storm passed. The girl in the group behind me let out an awful howl. I whipped around to see watery blood streaming down her face. Her crystal blue eyes were wide with surprise. I guessed that she'd been hit by the small chunk of hail that rocked to a stop near her feet. Had it been one of the larger pieces she wouldn’t have been able to let out her painful cry.
The house Ryan had walked into had a covered porch. I called over to the group behind me, pointing as I ran up the walk. “Over here, come this way!” I said, and they followed. I didn’t think he’d mind... considering.
A car barreled down the street and I realized what was about to happen only seconds before it did. The driver didn't have a chance. The girl next to me with the gash in her forehead let out a scream that made my bones ache. It had been like something out of a horror movie. The boulder of hail which had been the size of a large watermelon smashed through the windshield. Copious cracks sprouted out from the hole that had been left by the chunk of hail further weakening the glass. The car slammed into a parked van, and the driver was ejected from his seat. The broken windshield had slowed the drivers exit and his body was sprawled out on the hood of the car like a rag doll. Blood pooled out from his middle and oozed out of his nose and ears. He laid there staring blankly towards me, his body motionless. Oh crap, was he dead?
The boy who had been ahead of me on the other side of the street was running towards the car, but he stopped suddenly when he saw the body spread out on the car. He put his hand on his forehead and then both hands over his eyes. I guessed it had been someone he knew. The winds picked up and the booms from the thunder and lightning shook the earth so much I worried it was an earthquake. It was terrifying.
The tall boy who was with the girl spun her around so she was facing the house and the guy with black hair stood in front of me to block my view since I had been unable to turn myself away from the gruesome scene. The front door to the house flung open, partly from the wind and partly from an aggressive push. The bang startled me and I jumped into the bigger guy grabbing his arm way too tightly.
“You guys have to come with me,” he said. “Please, follow me.” He gestured for us to follow him and it took me a few minutes to understand as my brain hadn't worked the same way it had before seeing the crash. Ryan was trying to get us to go with him somewhere. I caught another glimpse of the guy across the street, he was looking at us, he didn’t say anything he just stood there. The others hadn’t noticed him, I was about to say something when I was jostled by the guy with the black hair whose name I couldn’t recall.
“But—” I managed to eek the word out in an attempt to alert them to the guy across the street.
“Go!” he said, his eyes begging me to make my feet move. And I did. I glanced back after a few steps and he was gone. We followed Ryan like lost puppies. The guy with black hair yelled through the howling winds, “Where are we going?”
We looped around the side of his house going into the backyard, “My grandpa has an underground shelter. We’ll be safe there!” We ran through his backyard jumping over broken tree branches and random things that had blown into his yard— trash bins, a grill, even a little pink tricycle.
“How far?” the tall boy shouted as a brick-sized piece of hail landed about a foot away from him.
“Not far,” Ryan said, “this way!” He weaved between a garage and a small shed and onto the sidewalk of the next block. “That one,” he said pointing to a green house across the street and three houses over.
We splashed through the puddles on the roadway running as fast as we could. A gust of wind almost knocked me off my feet, but somehow I managed to regain my footing without falling or blowing away. I saw a car rolling top to bottom and side to side through the air about a block away and then I noticed the twister that was propelling it. Another gust of wind came and lifted me for a full second off the ground. It happened so fast I wasn’t even sure it had been real or if I was imagining it until I felt a hand grab onto mine pulling me along.
“Here?” I asked when we were in front of the green house.
Ryan turned around the side of the house. Boards from the roof were being lifted off, and the siding was peeling away towards the twister that I could feel was even closer than it had been before. The winds were stronger, and the air was filling with dust and dirt, and it was getting harder to breathe. A large piece of siding from the neighbor’s house zipped past my face and pierced itself into the side of Ryan’s grandpa’s house. It stuck out like an arrow that hit its target. A target that had only been inches from my face. We were finally in his grandpa's backyard when I realized I hadn't been breathing.
Everyone was holding onto one another. I grabbed Ryan’s shirt as he flung open the doors to his grandpa’s underground shelter. We all piled in— the girl with the gash on her head first, then the tall boy, then the pale boy, followed by the one with black hair and then it was my turn. I turned around to help Ryan inside when I saw a tornado weaving back and forth heading right for us. There was a second one the size of a full city block not too far behind it also heading our way. I wanted to scream but instead I gained a burst of extra strength and yanked Ryan inside. Together we pulled as hard as we could to close the doors, but I wasn’t much help with the wind's ever-increasing strength. I could feel myself rising above the ground. My feet were no longer touching the floor, and everything felt like it was moving in slow motion as I was gradually being pulled out of the doorway. Ryan grabbed one leg while the boy with black hair grabbed my other. I felt like an out-of-control kite as they yanked me inside and threw me against the back wall. They hadn’t intended to be rough with me, but they had to act fast so they could get the doors closed before we were all whisked away. The double doors had a huge lock that slid into place, but the wind outside was so strong the doors rattled aggressively, causing them to shake and bow outward.