First Taste

high-peaks-1000

As promised here’s a little look at what I’ve got so far.  There is still no title, and please keep in mind that this is an extremely rough first draft; so please excuse any spelling or grammar faux pas.

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If you only saw a picture you would have thought it was just of an ordinary day in what could have been any of a million places that vaguely familiar around the world; the sun rising over an average sized factory on the out skirts of town, a few rolling hills in the distance, and a thin layer of frost still on the ground.  The air was crisp that morning, the wind not quite beginning to stir, you could just see your breath on the air. But this wasn’t anywhere in the world; it was the early morning hours just outside of Charlottesville, Virginia.

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The harsh light of the morning sun rising before her nearly blinded Zoey as she pushed the heavy metal door open; though her eyes instinctively shut she ran forward unwilling to pause even for a second. If the three girls were going to have any chance of escape this was going to be it; she heard the screams alarming her captors of their escape coming from within the warehouse just as the door was closing behind them.  They were lost in their unfamiliar surroundings; running forward as fast as they could trying to get as much distance as possible between themselves and the hell they had just escaped. They were maybe a hundred yards from the building when the door they had just exited from exploded open.  Zoey glanced back over her shoulder just long enough to see men filing out in pursuit of them; she could hear their shouts coming from behind her as she tried to will herself to move faster.

“There!!! There they are, get ’em!!!” the chorus of angry tones rang out behind the girls.

They were headed for the hills that lay before the woods; Zoey’s only hope was if they could run far enough, fast enough maybe the men chasing them would just give up…just keep running she thought, just keep running.

Zoey and Crystal had been spared that first night; Leah hadn’t been so lucky. They had spent almost every minute of the last week barricaded in their dorm room waiting and praying for things to return to normal.

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No one could say for sure what happened; everything just seemed to stop working all at once one day, and as soon as that happened the whole world just seemed to begin to unravel; some people said it was a solar flare, some said it was terrorists hacking into the grid and brining everything down, no one really knew for sure.  The first couple of days were no big deal; there was almost a party atmosphere on the campus.  With no classes going on and with the Fall weather making the loss of AC a more bearable circumstance most of the students just milled around making jokes about what was going on. It wasn’t until the third day stretched into the fourth with no end in sight that you could see panic start to grip the student population.  The vast majority of the students opted to try to make the journey back to their parents…but with gas stations having run dry already most of them did not make it very far.

Christal, Leah, and Zoey were not locals, not even close.  They were all three out-of-state students each from a very different part of the country.  They all knew there would be no shot of finding enough gas to get to any of the homes.  So they decided to band together and headed back up to their seventh floor dorm room; it was on their way back up that they saw their fellow students breaking into the rooms of those that had left.  This hurried them along their way and as they reached their room they wasted no time in locking the door and then blocking it with a dresser, and that is where they stayed for the next week.  On three separate occasions someone tried to open their door, and after each failed attempt they would pile more debris in front of it.  Until finally they were down to one can of tuna, half of a protein bar, and well under half of a bottle of water.  They knew they couldn’t stay put any longer; what they didn’t know was that a truck full of armed men would pull up just as they stepped out of the building.

The plan was to pile into Christal’s car, drive as far west at they had gas to go, and then walk the rest of the way to her Christal’s parents house in Norwich, Ohio. From there they could hopefully get a better sense of what was going on, and come up with a plan to contact Leah’s family New Orleans, and her own family back in Oregon.

The group of men rushed on them from out of nowhere in the early morning darkness; before Zoey and her two friends even reached the bottom step of the stairs that lead up to the C.L. Hurst dormitory building on the east side of campus.  In what seemed like only an instant all three girls had been blindfolded, tied up, and thrown in the back of a pickup truck.  The driver tore off, speeding thru the streets, and banking hard into the turns; the girls were thrown about the back of the truck, crashing into it sides and into each other, bouncing off the hard metal of the truck bed beneath them.

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When she glanced back over her shoulder this time Zoey was struck with a mix of relief and terror.  Most of the men had already given up the chase; this is what Zoey had hoped would happen the men had been drinking heavily the night before, and from what she could see of them they didn’t look to be in the best of shape; but five of the men were still coming, and they had cut the gap nearly in half…and if that wasn’t bad enough Leah was starting to fall behind.

“Leah, come on baby, we have to keep going, you have to run faster, dig deep!!!” Zoey called back to her friend.

Tears were beginning to roll down Leah’s cheeks, “Please don’t leave me, don’t let them get me, don’t let them get me.” she repeated as she tried to keep up with her friends.

Then came the muffled grunt.

This time when Zoey looked back she nearly froze in place.  Leah had tripped, she had just picked herself up and was beginning to run again this time with a noticeable limp; she only made it a few steps before she was overtaken by the men, two of them tackling Leah to the ground.  The scream that came from Leah was beyond one of fear and dread; it came from a deeper more primal place and it made Zoey’s whole body shudder.  The other three men charged past Leah and continued on in Zoey’s direction.

“Zoey, come on!!!”  she heard Christal calling, almost pleading. Zoey felt something break inside of her as she turned and started to run again; leaving her friend behind.

They ran thru the intersection at the end of the street and charged up the hill before them; the men closing in on them, gaining with every step.  Zoey heard the footsteps inching closer, could sense the hands coming from behind, reaching out to grab her….and then she heard the voice, it sounded like his mouth was right next to her ear.

“I’ve got you bitch.”

The hand clamped down on her shoulder like a vice, wrenching her body around and causing her to fall the ground, and as she fell all she could hear was a loud crack, like a single clap of thunder.  When she opened her eyes Zoey expected to see one of the evil men standing over her, but instead all she saw were white clouds in a blue sky.  She looked back down the hill from where they had come, and the other two men that had been chasing her were looking around frantically with guns drawn.  When she looked up the hill she saw Chrisal staring back at her frozen; Zoey quickly got up and ran to her friend.  The two girls stood in place petrified and clinging to each other; unsure of what to do next.  One of the men further down the hill began shooting indiscriminately into the woods; the other turned and pointed his gun in Zoey and Christal’s direction…and then another loud crack, and the man fell to the ground.

It’s not thunder Zoey realized, their shots…someone is shooting.  A third loud crack rang out and the last man pursuing them up the hill dropped to the ground.  Zoey looked to the street where Leah had been overtaken, but she was no longer there; instead she saw her struggling friend disappear as the two men pulled her behind the corner of a nearby building.

“What now?” Christal asked.

“I don’t know.” Zoey truthfully replied.  Was this unseen person trying to help them escape, or would they be shot too if continued further up the hill.

“Come on!”, the voice that shouted at the two girls was deep and a bit gravelly, but where had it come from.  Zoey scanned the tree line along the top of the hill for signs of life but saw nothing, and then there were a series of pops from behind her and the ground around her feet started to explode.  She jumped, dancing in place there next to Christal who was reacting in much the same way.

Zoey looked back down to where she had seen Leah disappear just moments before. The two men that had drug her behind the corner were now joined by their friends, and they were shooting up the hill at the two girls.  Another loud crack rang out and Zoey watched as bits of the corner of the small brick building behind which her friend had disappeared flew off in every direction; the men all dove for cover.

In the brief moment of silence that followed Zoey heard the voice again.

“Come on, get moving, NOW!”, this time she saw him; standing just at the crest of the hill next to a large oak tree waving his arms over his head.  Zoey grabbed Christal by the arm and took off running in his direction; whoever he was he couldn’t be any worse than the guys that were behind them.

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What happens next?  Is this saviour really friend or foe?  And what will happen to Leah?

I can’t tell you because even I don’t know…I haven’t written that part yet.  Be sure to keep checking back for future tidbits, and be sure to check out NaNoWriMo.org.

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