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Out on a Limb

Post Apocalyptic Dystopia

By Miah CrosbyPublished 3 years ago 8 min read

Monica sat motionless in an oak tree as she watched two men pass below. From her vantage point she saw that the men were dragging a deer. She’d seen these two often lately but like most people, they’d not seen her. Most people had formed groups that now lived behind protected walls and rarely ventured out, some like the two arguing over who had to clean the deer, lived off to themselves. These people were not normally a problem, but they could be dangerous.

The year was 2040, the country had been America. Sickness, political unrest and an economic collapse had turned the once great nation into a shadow of its glory days. The rich had scrambled to try and leave on the day that the country fell apart, but the rest of the world quickly blocked all flights and shut the doors to the “American refugees.”

When Monica’s college closed the campus, she found herself loading everything into her car alone, her parents had died the year before in the first wave of the chimera33 pandemic now leaving her with nowhere to go. People flocked to help centers, but their food banks quickly became empty. People rioting in the streets were not stopped, because there were no more operators taking 911 calls and no cops to send out. Monica sat in her car, knowing that she had to escape the city. The farther into the countryside she drove the less chaotic the scenes became, but nonetheless it was far from peaceful. Women with guns glared at her from their former tranquil porches. Men filled pickup truck beds with the produce being hauled from fields and taken back to their homes to stockpile. One boy sat on a pile of potatoes. Monica felt safe stopping to ask him a question, “What’s the situation like out here.” She was shocked when the boy pointed a .22 rifle at her and informed her that, “my daddy said to watch the food, and not let anyone take it so move on lady and don’t talk to no one else cause they’ll shoot quicker than me.” So, she did just that. She drove until her car’s gas light blinked on. By this point she’d drove down a tiny dirt road into the woods so far that she’d not seen a house, let alone a person for hours. Her first night in this scary new world was spent locked inside her car. The small heart shaped locket around her neck that had been her mother’s became a worry stone as her thumb rubbed at it until she fell asleep.

When she awoke the sounds of happy birds almost made her forget the whole word had imploded on itself. Blinking the sleep from her eyes she sat up to face reality. She had two cases of water and an extensive camping supply box. Monica had been in school as a mycology student. She also had an interest in all thing’s nature. She’d often spent her weekends camping alone in search of mushrooms. Her family had always teased her about her love for primitive skills. “If the world ever goes to crap, I’ll be the one laughing.” She’d often said. Those words echoed in her mind and the thought of being all alone now left her feeling sad.

As weeks rolled by, she saw no one until late one afternoon when she heard shots being fired. She scrambled up the nearest tree so quickly she impressed herself. Sitting twenty feet up in the massive tree she observed two women yelling. Apparently, the gunshot was them killing the man who had been guiding them to a ‘safe place’. “We can find our own way, he ain’t putting his hands on us again.” Monica longed to tell them she was there but remained hidden. The two talking of heading to a safe place sparked her interest but quickly she became aware that more people were likely to pass this way if such a place really existed beyond the woods. It was then she made several life choices, 1. She’d never join these ‘safe places’ she’d read to many post-apocalyptic books and knew that those places were breeding grounds for trouble, and 2. She had to keep hidden from travelers.

She turned her efforts into building her home in the treetops. Monica kept on high alert and stayed hidden whenever she heard people. She took her cues from the birds, they often heard the people approaching before she could, when the birds took to the trees so did she.

It wasn’t long before her shelter was complete. She had made a cute fairy style cottage from branches, moss and the supplies she had. This new elevated life gave her the first sense of security she’d had since all this started.

Monica’s knowledge of mushrooms and wild edibles meant she was rarely hungry. Cooking in the trees was a tad more difficult but she’d felt to exposed cooking by the riverbanks. She used ropes to lift a large stone into her cottage that would become her hearthstone. she made a stove pipe that forced the billowing smoke to escape far above the canopy to keep her hidden.

She estimated that she’d been living this way for three years when the loud men with the deer set up camp uncomfortably close to her. She’d had people stop and camp for a few days before, she’d enjoyed the thrill of sneaking in from above and Listening to their conversations. However, these men had been here for four weeks and she desperately needed them gone. They hunted without thought and a clean respectful kill wasn’t a part of their style. Yes, these men had to go Monica thought. That night a young woman came towards the two men’s campfire. Monica couldn’t help but watch in fear at the woman’s approach, the hair on the back of her neck stood up. The woman introduced herself. “I’m sorry to intrude, but I’ve walked such a long way and smelled your dinner. May I join you?” The two men fumbled around and awkwardly offered her a seat. She’d talked herself into a free meal, but Monica sensed all was not as it seemed. The woman stood and took the men’s cups filling them with a red liquid from a hip flask that she pulled from her pocket. “This my good men, is the last of my wine. I want you to have it in payment for your hospitality.” The two men took the cups, chuckling as they gulped it. Almost instantaneously the two men fell backwards from the stumps they were sitting on. Monica thought they were dead at first but soon the two men were snoring. The woman began stealing everything that could be useful from the two men’s camp. Monica understood that trouble could come wrapped in a harmless package and that’s exactly what this woman had been. The larger of the men unexpectedly woke up and before Monica could cover her ears the thief was shot dead. While whatever the woman had given them to make them sleep had been quick acting it was not long lasting, and the man’s large size must have made it ineffective. Within five minutes the other man was also awake.

From the other direction Monica heard a faint sound that she swore was a voice. She turned just in time to see a girl, no more than eight years old. Quickly putting two and two together Monica knew this child belonged to the thief and was now alone. Sadly, in that moment the men also turned and locked eyes on the child. Moving surprisingly fast for someone his size the larger man ran and grabbed the child. He slammed her down into a camp chair. The two men began to talk about what to do with the child, ‘just leave her.’ Or ‘shoot her’ Were among the ideas until one of them suggested they sell the child to the big farm at the safe city. “They buy kids and work them till they die.” Monica’s stomach turned at the thought of this. She’d heard lots about how the world had dissolved into insanity, but she’d not heard of this. She knew she couldn’t let these men follow through with their plan. She watched as the two men tied the child up. The child didn’t struggle. It was obvious that the child had grown up in this unpredictable world and the horror was normal for her.

Soon The two men fell asleep in earnest. She muttered nervously to herself as she put the rope around her chest to climb down to the ground when she had an idea. Just drop the rope around the trembling child and hoist her up. Monica reached into her pocket and pulled out acorns she had gathered to make flour from and began tossing them at the child. At first the child ignored the acorns but soon agitated by the acorn assault she looked around for the source. Hope flashed across the child’s face when she saw her and as Monica placed her fingers to her lips to say ‘shh’ the child obeyed. Slowly Monica lowered the rope down. The child reached her arms up as the rope slid around her body. Quickly Monica pulled with all her strength and the child was in her arms. She took the child back to her treetop home. After finding out that the child’s name was Kitty, they both settled down for an uneasy night’s sleep.

Monica was happy to find the men and their camp had disappeared by first light the next day. She knew she couldn’t take the child to a safe city, not with people being worked to death. So, she accepted the child as her responsibility. Upon talking to Kitty, she learned that the sickness that had started all this had mutated again. Chimera33 had swept through in waves killing many people but Kitty said the last mutation made people die quickly and horribly. She said it took out her whole block in two days with the exception of a neighbor and her. “We have been on our way to the safe city ever since” she said, while munching on a bowl of dried chanterelle mushrooms that sat on the little table between them. Monica feared a new wave of people heading through seeking the safe city. She also was concerned about people unknowingly walking into a work camp where they could be viewed as expendable slaves.

She went to work making signs. ‘Caution chimera33 Quarantine zone’ and many more signs like this were made and she and Kitty spent the next week posting them in the woods surrounding her cottage. She also added signs that said, ‘Safe City contaminated turn back’. It may be an odd gesture of humanity to warn others of a danger with a lie, but it was her only way of protecting herself and others. Monica hadn’t realized how lonely she’d been until she was surrounded with the busyness of Kitty. Her days were filled teaching Kitty how to climb, and forage. together they collected and stored food for the winter that was coming. The girls sometimes saw and heard travelers below reading their signs and to their relief the people changed course. They hoped that one day they’d hear that order had been restored and the world could become a safe space again but until that happens, they knew that they had each other and that was good enough.

Sci Fi

About the Creator

Miah Crosby

I am a mother to three kids. As a high school drop out I never felt qualified enough to pursue writing, but with the encouragement of my tribe I'm stepping out of my comfort zone and sharing a hidden passion.

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Reader insights

Outstanding

Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

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  1. Compelling and original writing

    Creative use of language & vocab

  2. Easy to read and follow

    Well-structured & engaging content

  3. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

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Comments (1)

  • ThatWriterWoman2 years ago

    Oh this story was great! Well done! The tension when rescuing Kitty! The relief when she was pulled away into the treetops! What a literary treat!

Miah CrosbyWritten by Miah Crosby

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