Authors: Simone Pond
A Short Story
VOICES OF THE APOCALYPSE SERIES
By Simone Pond
Copyright © 2015 Simone Pond
All rights reserved.
This short story was inspired by the New Agenda book series, which currently includes The City Center, The New Agenda and The Mainframe, and The Torrent is coming soon.
There are ten stories in the Voices of the Apocalypse Series. For more information, visit:
Mona Hendricks turned down Critter Holt for a movie date, he decided it was time to walk away for a little while. The determined scamp had finally reached his limit on the rejection meter. The one-sided love affair started twelve years earlier on the first day of kindergarten, when Mona, the redheaded firecracker, took his bag of apple slices and ran around the playground taunting him. Throughout elementary school and junior high, Critter pined after Mona like a thirsty dog, only to be denied any water. When they got to high school, Mona joined the cheerleading squad and Critter hung around a more edgy crowd that liked to skateboard and laugh at cheerleaders. Critter watched from a distance as Mona chased her dreams of being the most popular and prettiest girl in school. She dated good-looking guys with bad attitudes. He figured by the time she was finished with the idiot squad, she’d be ready for a guy of substance. Eventually the obsession with Mona faded into the background, like the soft droning of a foghorn. He trusted she’d come around––when the moment was right.
During senior year, the Repatterning laws were getting worse. Critter figured the Planners were moving their plan into the final phases. He’d been paying attention to what had been happening around the world and in his small town of Arvada, Colorado. Businesses had been closing, television networks were going black, and the Planners had shut down the Internet. While most people ignored what was happening around them, Critter was well aware of the madness infecting the country. The “sheeple” easily adapted to the new laws, but Critter wasn’t the type of guy who’d fall for anything––with the exception of Mona Hendricks. His grandparents had escaped from East Germany decades earlier and often warned him that freedom was a precarious commodity. Every day he noticed one more freedom being removed from the equation. He wanted to do something about it and stand up to the Planners.
“They just pile distractions upon distractions to keep us further from the truth,” he told his buddies.
The motley group of scrappy teens would nod in agreement, though they didn’t fully comprehend Critter’s rants.
“If people spent more time studying reality instead of immersing themselves in this
, things might not be as bad as they are.”
The day he received his letter about the mandated Executive Order of Conscription, he knew the situation was too far gone to fix. He laughed and tore up the notice. He wasn’t going to show up at some office in downtown Denver to be shipped off to fight in some fictitious war. He wasn’t a fool. That’s when he began making a plan for his escape. He got his buddies on board and they started packing their bug-out bags, which included the following items:
1) Water, hydro flow filter, and straw filter
2) Backpack, vacuum-packed meals, and protein bars
3) Boots, a pair of long pants, two pairs of socks, two shirts, protective jacket, long underwear, ten bandanas
4) Tarp, sleeping bag, and sleeping pad
5) First-aid kit
6) A firesteel and scraper, along with ten boxes of wooden matches
7) Mini-propane stove, small pot, foldable utensils, portable lantern, and extra battery packs
8) Infantry knife, Kahr CM9 semi-automatic with ten boxes of ammo
Classmates teased them for their outlandish paranoia and labeled them The Preppers, which was supposed to be an insult, but Critter wore the name with pride. One day all of their liberties would be wiped clean, and they’d be living in a prison state. He went out of his way to ensure he’d be prepared for that day. And when the day came and all of Arvada was crumbling down, Mona would want a man with a plan. Critter had a plan all right. A solid one. He’d swoop in and save the day. Now all he had to do was wait for the right moment.
Critter skateboarded down the bumpy suburban street on his way to school on that crisp Tuesday morning. He sensed the right moment was inching its way closer to fruition. It was “Senior Week” and there had been a bunch of pep rallies and lots of excitement about the upcoming senior prom. Critter didn’t give a rat’s ass about any of it. He thought it was one big ruse to keep the students pre-occupied and far away from the truth. The only reason he bothered going to school was to keep an eye on Mona. Someone had to because Tim Daniels, the special prick of a lacrosse player she had been dating for the last three months, wasn’t going to do it.
A car pulled up behind Critter, almost nicking his skateboard.
“Get out of the road, dickweed!”
Since upper class wealthy types were the only people who could afford gas, Critter suspected it was good old Tim Daniels. He’d been driving Mona to school the last few months and dropping her off late at night. Critter stood in the middle of the road and stared up at the sky, stretching out his arms and breathing in the cool morning air.
“Glorious day today,” he said to the sky.
“Move it, Prepper!” Tim yelled, pressing down on the horn.
Tim drove a bright red 1965 Mustang Convertible. Though the car was sixty-three years old, the thing was in mint condition and shined like a waxy apple. Mona sat in the passenger seat, wrapping a pastel pink scarf around her head to keep her long red hair in place. After all, it was “Senior Week” and she had appearances to keep up. Critter did not. He removed his Rockies baseball cap and turned around to get a good look at Tim’s annoyed face. He enjoyed egging on anyone from the idiot squad.
“You think I’m afraid of your punk ass? I’ll run you down, Prepper fag,” Tim shouted over the revving engine.
“You don’t have the guts,” Critter said.
“You little son-of-a-bitch,” Tim yelled, revving the engine some more.
“Oh, stop it, Tim.” Mona swatted his broad shoulder like a mother would do if her son were acting up. She looked at Critter and smiled. “Hiya, Critter.”
“S’up,” he said with a wide grin.
“Just heading to school. Big day today. Pep rally and all,” she said.
Critter wasn’t sure, but he could’ve sworn Mona’s cheeks blushed.
“Cool.” He ignored Tim, who was turning shades of purple.
“Wanna ride?” she asked.
“What? No way. No Prepper is getting in my ride,” Tim shouted.
“I wouldn’t get in that car if it were heading to the Promised Land.” Critter put his cap back on and moved off to the side to let them drive by.
“Screw you, Prepper.” Tim spat a loogie toward Critter, which fortunately missed him.
“Idiot,” Critter mumbled, watching as they sped off down the road.
Tim and his lacrosse buddies could laugh themselves empty over Critter being a Prepper. But while they were being shipped off to the gas chambers, or wherever that phony war was sending them, Critter would be living somewhere safely tucked away in the Rocky Mountains––with Mona. He was a man with a plan.
In the gymnasium, Critter spotted his fellow rapscallions. John, Trevor, and Dave were perched in the last row of the bleachers, keeping their distance from the other students. They had a running joke that stupidity was contagious. Critter sat next to Trevor.
“You might need this.” Trevor passed him a flask.
“Where’d you get booze?” Critter took a nip. It had been months since they had access to any alcohol and he had forgotten the burn. He coughed, handing back the flask.
“Snuck into the principal’s office. Keeps a secret stash in his bottom left drawer.” Trevor winked.
Trevor had been to the principal’s office so often that he had every inch of the place memorized. Critter looked down the bleachers to the freshly waxed floors, where the cheerleaders, in their yellow and blue uniforms, were lining up to start the rally of balderdash. Mona stood smack dab in the middle of the pack, shining brighter than any of the other girls. Her crystal blue eyes gleamed like Venus on a clear night. She glanced up toward the back row and caught a quick glimpse of Critter. He noticed a flash of relief spread across her porcelain white face. She turned away, flipping her hair over her shoulder, and smiled to the audience of excited seniors.
“She just gets hotter, doesn’t she?” Trevor said, nudging Critter.
“Yeah, I suppose she does.” Critter took another sip from the flask and leaned back against the cinderblock wall. As much as he tried to blot out Mona, she was always right there in front of him. He relaxed as the heat of vodka burned through his veins.
“Too bad she’s a cheerleader,” Trevor said.
He didn’t respond because he knew Trevor was testing him. Critter had sworn to his buddies that he had moved on, but they knew he was shackled to Mona; she was the air he breathed. They all knew it, but they’d never acknowledge it.
“Did you get your bags to the meeting place?” Critter asked, changing the subject.
“Yep. Over the weekend. It was tough, carrying that bag on my board.”
“It’s good practice,” Critter said.
“Also, John and I spent Sunday night siphoning gas like a couple of crack whores sucking dick. We’ve got plenty of gas to get us to the San Juans.”
“Cool. What about Dave?”
“You don’t know?”
“Dave ain’t goin’ no more,” Trevor said.
“What?” Critter looked down the row at Dave. “Hey, Dave, come here,” he called over.
Dave waddled down the row and squeezed in next to Critter, his chubby legs pressing against him. “What’s up?”
“What’s this bullshit about you not coming?”
“I can’t. My dad found my draft notice in the trash, and now he’s got me on lock-down. Says he’s takin’ me to Denver if he has to drag me. It’s my turn to serve our country.”
“Not possible. You gotta come with us. One for all, man.” Critter held out his fist.
Dave reluctantly bumped his fist on top of Critter’s but didn’t seem very committed to the cause. “I don’t know, dude. Look at me; I’m in no condition to survive in the wilderness.”
Trevor laughed. “He’s got that right. You should’ve seen him trying to ride his bike and balance his bag. Fell down, like, twenty times.”
“Cool your jets, man.” Critter glared at Trevor. “Dave’s had a rough year.”
Down below, the cheerleading squad started shouting motivational words and the audience cheered back. It was too loud to continue the conversation.
“You’re coming, dude,” Critter yelled to Dave over the ruckus.
Dave went back to his spot on the bleachers, shoving John over a bit to make some space. At one point, Dave had been the best skater of the crew, but when his mom got sick and died earlier that year, he put on a bunch of weight and gave his skateboard to Trevor. He had given up on living, but Critter had been trying to convince him that he’d start to feel better once they got to the woods. Once they all got away from the Repatterning.
Critter tried to be casual about looking at the gymnasium floor. He didn’t want to seem too eager. He watched Mona bouncing up and down, clapping and smiling. The light from inside of her beamed throughout the entire place. Critter felt his heart leap upwards, like when he performed a Caballerial. He caught Mona glancing up at him between cheers, and he pretended not to notice.
After a few announcements from Vice Principal Alberts, the students filed out of the gymnasium. Most of the students didn’t bother heading back to class; instead they left campus and headed to the lake, where they’d party until someone got hurt. Critter had zero desire to hang with the idiot squad, so he went to English class and sat in his usual spot in the back of the room. Attendance was spotty and Mr. Chader decided to let the students spend the hour doing some creative writing in their digi-pads. Critter had been using his creative writing time to make copious notes for his escape plan, making sure he had thought out every detail. He was reviewing his notes when Mona showed up to class about ten minutes late, apologizing to the teacher. Mr. Chader nodded, pointed to an empty seat next to Critter, and instructed her to do some creative writing––if she wasn’t too tired from all the bouncing around. Critter smiled at that comment.