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Hoarse Wishes

2154 A.D.

By Jessica MillerPublished 3 years ago 9 min read
4
Hoarse Wishes
Photo by eberhard grossgasteiger on Unsplash

We have all heard the saying if wishes were horses. In fact, it became incredibly relevant in the year 2130. That was the year that the world went dark. The society we had made for ourselves had finally taken it too far and we paid for our hubris in spades.

No one that’s still alive knows how it started. Who fired first, who was to blame. All we knew was the aftermath that killed billions of us.

It wasn’t overnight. No, we weren’t that lucky. A part of me wishes that it had been the nukes that did us in. That I would have perished in a flash of light and an explosion so strong that I wouldn’t have even had time to know it was over. I didn’t want to be a survivor. I didn’t want to watch the world go down in flames.

But that’s not how it happened. I have been told the story so many times, I might as well have been there. The day started as any other, waking up, getting ready for work, rushing out the door to beat morning traffic...it must seem like a dream to the few survivors left that lived it. A world where convenience was simple, expected and ordinary.

Sometime around 10 am is where everything went wrong. My mother used to tell me she was bathing when the lights went out. When the crash of metal on metal ripped through the walls and screams carried in their wake. Unluckily for her, they lived on a major thoroughfare and the cars smacking into each other was a sound she swore she could hear up until her dying day.

There was no warning. No alarm, no blast of light. There was power and then, as suddenly as the first drop of rain in monsoon season, it was gone. The EMPs destroyed us. Hundreds of thousands were dead in seconds as their cars, their trains, their planes all lost power and crashed. They were the lucky ones.

I won’t go into what happened after. It gives me chills just thinking about the early days, the complete and total lack of humanity that ran through us as we succumbed to our intrinsic need of one thing - survival.

Here in the year 2154, we all know the rules. We all are aware of what is at stake and a very primitive society has began to etch itself again in the survivors. I’m not going to lie and say it’s easy being a woman in this time of might makes right. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve been robbed, sold, and generally beat on. If not for my “status” as a life bearer, I would have been killed many years ago.

I watch myself in the dirty water of the pond that is the center of our, and I use this word sarcastically, settlement. It was my eighteenth birthday. I knew what that meant. I was now a “woman” in the eyes of our loosely run society and it was time for me to be broken in. I prayed for a gentle man but they no longer existed. They died as quickly as they were born. This society only had room for mean. Mean and powerful.

I stared at my dirt encrusted features and wanted to sob. I had spent years building the perfect persona of a filthy, uncouth savage who will knife you as soon as look at you and all it had gotten me was beatings, starvation and absolutely no male attention from anyone. I had thought that was a blessing. Now I knew it for the shortsightedness that it was.

I had no suitor. No readily available male that would scoop me up and make me a “wife”. Not that there was such a thing as marriage anymore. In truth, it would be more like he would be my master. He would be first in my life and I would have to cater to his whims. If he wanted to share me, that was his right. If he wanted another woman to join us, and he was powerful enough, that would happen too.

Of course, most young females these days take their own lives before getting to this situation. Either that, or parents make the decision to abandon their daughters at birth so as to spare them this life. My parents neither wanted me nor loved me enough to make that choice. I was a bartering item to them. They made their lives easier at the expense of mine so they could have what little creature comforts there are these days.

I wished for a different life. I wished to have been born in a different time. I wished to be born male. I wished. Do you know what all those wishes added up to? Exactly. Like the saying goes, if wishes were horses, beggars would ride. Well, that’s exactly what I was. A beggar. And nothing was here to make that any easier.

“It’s time, Jenna. You need to wash before they come for you. You’ll only make it worse for yourself if you make them do it.”

I turned my head and stared at Maddie for a moment before nodding. I began to peel off my clothes when the only prized possession I had fell to the ground between us. I froze for an instant too long, and even though Maddie could be, by the loosest of terms, deemed a friend, she gasped and rushed forward to get it. Terror and fury filled me, and I didn’t hesitate to raise my arm and smack her back into her place. My blow was so strong, and she was so small, that she fell over and cried out in pain.

Bending down, I picked up the one thing my parents had ever given me that meant something and looked around for a place to hide it. My wish journal was the only possession I had managed to hold on to, no matter how many times I had been robbed. The little black book was my only true friend and held all my hopes and dreams of a better life. I would be damned if I let someone take it now.

“How dare you!” Maddie whispered venomously. “Do you know what the chief will do when he finds out you’ve been hoarding paper?”

That’s right. Paper was the new currency. It didn’t matter what was on it. It could be pornography and it would be worth more than a horse. Every page, every single page was a credit. No one wrote anymore. It was considered taboo if you knew how to read or write. Those days were over, and paper was only good for the fibers that made it.

You see, in twenty twenty two, paper had been converted from organic matter, I.e. trees, to inorganic matter. They perfected the process of rendering it into such supple flexibility, that you could not tell the difference between old time paper and inorganic paper.

Before the fall, it was made of steel. But after, well after, it became common to hoard your wealth in a shape that made it look useless. As the process for turning paper into inorganic paper did not require power, a new market was born.

I have no idea where my parents found my journal, who they robbed or killed for it. All I know was at four years old, as they lay dying from rotten meat, they handed it to me and said, “Hide this, Jenna. It is the single thing that might give you a better life.”

Now back then I just loved the shiny pages. As I grew it became more. It became me screaming at an uncaring world. It wasn’t until two weeks ago that I knew what I had. A trader had come in and he carried, not one, not two, but three strands of necklaces made of gold. He surrounded himself with the meanest looking men I had ever seen and no one could get near him to steal his precious items. I heard many whispered arguments from the men in our settlement that he could be killed, but he was no fool. And that was why every one of his guards were equipped with a walking arsenal of knives, whips, and even swords. No one would be robbing him.

But I digress, it was just an instant, but as soon as I saw the way his gold glittered and shone in the sunlight, I knew. I knew how very screwed I was. My precious journal, my most prized possession, was made from gold. I had who knows how much currency on hand and I had never even been aware of its life changing properties.

I began to plan that very night. I needed to find a “husband”. A good man. A faithful and forgiving man who would put me first. Who would love me and protect me and then I could change both of our lives. I was no fool, however. Whoever I chose must also be strong and hopefully, powerful. I was a woman worth a fortune. And if I didn’t want to be killed, I needed to find the most massively powerful male around and make myself available.

If wishes were horses, I thought as I watched all my plans tumble down around me. It was too late, I had erred and I didn’t want to know what they would do to me.

I looked Maddie in the eye and very slowly drew my trusty, rusted and almost useless knife. It didn’t matter what it looked like. It would get the job done. Her maliciously gleeful look faded to terror and as she opened her mouth to scream, I jumped on her.

I made it quick. I didn’t make her suffer. As I pulled away, her life’s blood all over me, I knew I needed to leave now. Right away. I had to vacate this settlement before they began searching for me and found Maddie. Maddie was the chief’s daughter. If they found me now, they wouldn’t kill me quickly. Oh no, I couldn’t even begin to wonder what they would do to me first.

Shaking, scared out of my mind, I pulled on the clothes I had just taken off and made the most heartfelt, most desperate and most impossible wish I ever had. “Please God, please get me out of this.” I whispered hoarsely.

Opening my eyes, I jumped as the trader with the gold necklaces looked back at me from his perch on his horse. His guards surrounded him on their own mounts and watched impassively as he looked me up and down.

Just as I was sure he was about to shout for the village sentries, he bent down and offered me a hand. I stared in shock, my mouth flopping open as disbelief filled me.

“Well, come on woman. I may not be God, but I can most assuredly get you out of here.”

What do you know? Wishes really do come true. But that’s another story...

fantasy
4

About the Creator

Jessica Miller

Where do I start? I have been writing stories my whole life, it feels like. I remember being around 11 when I found books. And it’s all been amazing since then. I get to read, I get to write. I get to see the world through many lenses.

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