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   Chapter 42 Surrender

After Grace By MatheusHMacedo Characters: 9870

Updated: 2018-01-05 17:33


The windows were all caked in frost. The summer heat which beat down as I had been tied to the gates outside gave way to the autumn winds, and now, to the winter cold. The goats and pigs had long ago been slaughtered for their meat. In the dark, the only sound was that of people coughing and the clicking of their teeth as they shivered in their bunks. I watched my breath turn to white mist as I tried to sleep in the early dawn hours. Annie stood by the window looking out, a blanket wrapped around her trembling frame, she waited.

"They're coming, " she said, and moved to the center of the granary. Marcus came through the door, he smiled when he saw her but quickly became serious as the man accompanying him followed him inside.

"B Group was able to find a few squirrels, you'll have to share these two, " Marcus said, handing the small animals to Annie.

"Thank you, " she said. He turned to the man standing by the open door. "Can I have a minute?"

"Your mother said--" the man began.

"There's no way out, I'm not going anywhere, " Marcus told him. The man moved outside, closing the door behind him. Marcus rushed to Annie, putting his arms around her. She squeezed him in return. He kissed her. "Here, " he said, pulling seeds and nuts from his jacket. "It's all I have, I'm sorry."

"Don't be, we'd be dead without you, " she told him, as she took the extra food and put it in her pockets. His eyes fell on me as I lay in bed. He and Annie came to my side.

"Mother wants another meeting, " he told me. I nodded and sat up, putting my boots on. "Have you thought any more about what I said?" he asked. "There's no better time then now."

"There's no safe way to go about it, " I told him. "People would die."

"We're dying anyway, " Annie said. "At least this way we'll have a chance."

"I can't, " I told her.

"But, Marcus knows their movements--"

"I can't!" I almost shouted. She grew quiet.

"I'm in, " Vicki said. She walked from the back of the room, shadows clinging to her like veils.

"Tomorrow morning. It's our best bet. Dawn, " Marcus said. She nodded, then looked at me. She watched me the way one watches someone who's dying. I got up and moved to the door, I waited for Marcus. As he began to follow, Annie took his hand and kissed him one last time. She sat down on the bed and watched us leave.

#

"Report, " Mother said. "What's the condition out there?"

"Dire, " I told her.

"We need to prepare." A fire burned hot by her side, I stood in the middle of the room, doing my best not to shake from the cold.

"Prepare?" I asked.

"Storm's coming, scouts tell me it's rolling toward us from the north like white death. We might have another day or two depending on the wind. Don't know how many feet of snow we're gonna get but it's gonna be ugly."

"There's not much we can do, " I said.

"Appreciate the optimism, " she said, moving up to me. "In that case, maybe we can pick off

do and expected that to be it. A community isn't just about people doing their jobs, it's about people doing their jobs because they know it will help everyone. They have to be invested. We all do."

"That's a nice thought, " she said. "But I've never seen it. And I don't think you have either. Or you never would have left your camp in the first place." I turned my eyes to the fire and watched the flames lick at nothing as they slowly began to die away.

"You're right, " I told her, realizing for the first time that what she said was true. "It doesn't exist."

#

The frozen dirt crunched beneath my feet as I was escorted back through frost covered roads. The temperature had fallen far below zero. Aside from the lookouts atop the broken wall on the other side of the compound, me and the two men by my side were the only living souls out in the open air. The heads of those who had fought against them months prior had been spiked all along the road. Most were down to the bone now, unrecognizable. But I still knew which one was Dominic's.

"You know, " one of them said to me as he wiped his runny nose. "One of these days Mother's going to lift the ban, when that happens, I call first turn on you."

"Second, " said the man beside him. I stopped walking. The first man took hold of the gun grip in the waist of his pants.

"Keep moving, " he ordered.

"Why?" I asked. He pulled the gun out.

"What do you mean why, let's go."

"I either starve to death, or live long enough to have you crawling all over me." He aimed the pistol at me. I looked into the hollow barrel, my breathing didn't waver, my eyes stayed open.

"You think you're so tough?" he asked.

"Not tough, " I said. "Just tired." He pushed the gun to my forehead and cocked the hammer. I remembered the terror I had felt when my life had been threatened before, it was gone now.

"Well?" I asked.

"Soon enough, " he said, putting the gun away and pushing me along.

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