MoboReader> Sci-fi > The Taàr (Dystopia #01)

   Chapter 3 THE QUAIL CALL

The Taàr (Dystopia #01) By John A. Bonello Characters: 6659

Updated: 2018-02-08 12:02


Darkness gave way to a harsh first light of dawn. The temple doors came open once more to let out the scavenging bands on their way back to the zones.

The boy walked out with his eight companions, heading east, towards the same area they had been working in for the past weeks. When Rorik was still alive he used to be the leader of the Younglings, a name they gave to themselves for being one of the youngest groups of their clan. After Rorik died, Edgar replaced him as leader but no new member joined their ranks.

The boy never talked much, less so early in the morning, so he kept to himself and started counting his own steps. It was a trick Rorik had thought him to make the road seem a little less long. It was also a way to distract himself, to ensure his mind didn't start pondering his misfortunes. If he stopped counting he would seep instantly into a darkness that mirrored the emptiness and absence of life around him.

Behind him, his friends were laughing, picking on each other, teasing one another. Sometimes he envied their ability to find happiness in all their strife. How did they do it? He was the youngest of the younglings, but sometimes it seemed to him that he alone understood the seriousness of life, as if the others did not see the death, the destruction, the sadness around them.

He didn't want to be drawn in by the darkness of those thoughts. He did not want to contemplate alternatives. But he had stopped counting, and did not resume. So instead, he visualised the great map that Sal had pinned to a wall in the temple. It was made of a thick material, like plastic but tougher, that preserved it well. Rorik used to say that the map had been originally found by their father when he was still very young. Day after day, the old Taàr updated the map with little tin flags cut out from used food cans. Blue marked the spots where food was found, red where searches were fruitless.

With the exception of the house he found the day before and a handful

re in an adrenalin frenzy, breathing hard from the struggle. He moved closer to the two strangers, sprawled on the ground.

Until then, he had never believed the people of the tower were real, had never thought he would live to see one of them. When he was younger, he believed the ghost stories. Later, he decided the sightings reported by some of his kin were in fact the Baron's people. But now there they were, two strange beings, two aliens in their strange gear, the faces inside the glass white and plump, clean shaven. So different.

As he stared, Sal's words echoed inside his skull. Do not approach them. Hide. But curiosity had the better of him. He stared. He studied them, the pained looks, the strange colour of their eyes. Behind him, his friends had calmed down and were now discussing what they should do. Tie them up, someone said, leave them there, the dogs and the rats would take care of the rest. Someone else suggested they should take them back to the temple and let Sal decide. The latter argument won the favour of the majority.

They tied their hands and three of them stood guard while the others went down inside a house to bring out what Dalin and Pat had found earlier. After this task was done, they started walking back to the temple, the two prisoners now silent and subdued between them.

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