I’m Arianna Fleming and I live in Colony 452 somewhere around where Texas was before the nuclear war. They make us wear white, something to do with nuclear white flashes. Out of all the colors white... Really? Other women say it helps with keeping an eye on our figure, well I lost that about 10 years ago when my body parts started refusing to stay where they were told. This damn jacket always getting stuck; it’s going to save your life out there they say. That’s the truth, random ice storms that appear out of nowhere. The worst thing is the ice surges, one minute you’re walking through flat ground, the next you are ankle deep in bone freezing ice and snow, like a cartoon artist drew it on you. You have about 2 minutes to get into a house before you are a popsicle, yea the jacket helps. No one is sure why this happens, it’s just the way it is in our colony, we don’t have the smartest people here. At this point who cares, we are back in the cave man days trying to survive. I heard there used to be technology and the ability to watch something called a TV where people were entertaining you on a screen for hours at a time. There is none of that anymore. There is nothing anymore, just living, just surviving and helping with the colony.
Suiting up into all this protective crap to go sit on a sled and make sure a storm not coming. That’s my job in the colony and I think some sadistic bastard came up with it because it’s the worst job ever. I’m called a weatherman. That puts me sitting on my sled at the top of a town, which is 50 miles away from base. From here I’m able to see a storm or an ice surge well before it hits the colony. I have to sound the alarm and then ride this rickety sled track all the way back; passing through buildings which are outfitted just in case the storm catches up to me so I can stop in the closest one. That’s how it’s supposed to go anyways, a lot of weathermen die, fly off the tracks or get caught in the storm and some get stuck trying to get through the small slots in the buildings to get to shelter. Imagine an opening 10 in wide, just big enough to slide through and you are in a hurry.
On my way out today, I hear the ice crackle behind me, glancing back about 50 feet is where it starts. I kick the alarm button on my sled, here we go, I pull the lever to speed up. Must be going around 70mph now, damn its cold. I speed up, hitting about 80 mph, should be getting to a house soon. I am going to stay in house 2 I slam on the breaks and jump off the sled and head for the narrow passage leading to the house ripping my jacket in the process. The storm is way too damn close. Something catches my eye on the ground just outside the house, a gold locket I snatch it up and quickly get inside. This place needs some repairs but should hold up through this storm. Great more paperwork I’ll have to do when I get back. I find an old lamp and use the flint I keep in my pocket to light it. The locket I picked up is heart shaped and bent it has the initials C.A. engraved on it. Huh, wonder what it stands for? I slip it into my pocket. Better get some shut eye, I have a long 30-mile hike tomorrow as the bolts on my sled are most likely frozen and won’t hold my weight anymore.
I wake early and come out to everything dripping as the snow and ice melt. Just as I suspected my sled is not going to get me back, I’ll have to leave it. I start the 30-mile hike staying on the tracks in case another storm comes so that I can find shelter quickly. There is a man on the tracks in front of me. Great a freaking traveler just what I need. I can tell by the clothes he is wearing he is a mutant. He can survive the ice surges without taking as many precautions. “What are you doing on the tracks? I could have killed you if I was on my sled and didn’t see you in time.” He doesn’t respond just motions for me to follow him. That’s the thing about mutants some of their brains aren’t quite right from the change in their DNA, guess he can’t talk. They are all nuts if you ask me. I follow the man. These people are usually preppers and might have some extra food. We walk about 2 miles from the tracks and I hear someone yelling “Robert who are you bringing on my land?” I step into the clearing and see the man who was yelling. The man sees my weatherman coat and comes over to me. “Names Nathan, you can stay till dusk then you best be getting on” the man tells me. “Fine, fine I’ll be out then. You got any food, anything I eat I’ll send back up here when I get back to the colony” I say. He ignores me and yells to someone in the distance. An older woman and 2 young girls who can’t be older than 5 and 8 come walking up. “That’s Christina my wife and my girls Chloe and Abigail. You met Robert; he is my help. You go on with Robert, he’ll get you some food.” The man says motioning in the direction Robert has walked off in. I nod to the woman and children “Nice to meet-cha” I say as I follow Robert.
Nathan must be the leader here, which means there must be more people around. Awesome, more paperwork. The food is filling, his place is disgusting though. He has raw meet on table next to me, if I wasn’t so hungry, I would pass but don’t know how long it will talk to get back. This place is weird, I’m going to get out of here ice surges be damned. I walk out of the house and the girls are waiting outside. They start asking me questions about where I am from and what happened. I smile at them and start to answer when their mom says "Girls, leave the weatherman alone." “Y’all better listen to your mom.” I tell them I understand, I am not very nice looking. I take off towards Nathan who is in the green house. “Thanks for your hospitality, think I’m gonna head out. Got a long walk ahead of me. I’ll send you some food in the caravan.” Nathan shakes his head “No you will send me some clothing, couple beers and food.” Damn preppers always asking for more, this man has killed before I can see it in his eyes. If I don’t, he will kill the next weatherman and leave them to rot on the tracks. “Alright” I say shaking my head as he hands me a piece of paper to give to the caravan. This will cost me 3 days wages. This isn’t his first rodeo. His girls run up and hug me. I’m not much on hugs so I shrug them off pretty quick after a pat on the back. “Are you staying for the harvest?” Abigail asks me. “No Abigail I got to get home.” I say to her. Their mother comes out and yanks them away from me. “I told y’all to stay in the house till she leaves” she says ushering them towards the house. “Please don’t hit them, I’m leaving they was just saying bye.” I tell her as I wave at the girls starting my journey.
I’m about 3 miles away when I hear singing. I move closer to the noise, what are they saying? I get closer it’s a child, several children and their mothers. The moms are singing “Bring the children to the gate of god, bringing in the harvest of the earth, the blood of the innocent to renew the birth” What the hell, is this the harvest the girls were talking about? All the sudden I am running back to the house; it is against all of my training but I know something is wrong. I run up on the porch and bang on the door no one comes. I hear the singing again and head toward it. I can see Abigail and Chloe they are being ushered inside a church in front of which there are four rock pillars with bowls of fruit on them, fruit is the most precious commodity we can’t get it because the ice surges wipe them out when we are able to get something to grow. I duck behind a tree and see Nathan and Christine. Christine has tears in her eyes, “I can’t believe they failed I don’t know how many more times I can go through this. Are you sure they won’t survive just because they failed the test?” Nathan holds her hand “You know the rules my love, the fruit is the least painful death we can give them. It’s the 5th year, you have seen it all before.” He rubs her back. I make my way over to the church through the trees, away from the only two people here who know who I am. I slip my jacket off and leave it by a tree just outside the line of light coming from the church.
I make it to the church, there have to be around 100 kids laying on beds in the cells. Blend in, look like you belong, don’t look like you are searching I tell myself. I see Abigail and make my way over to her. She can tell something is wrong. “Hey, I thought you weren’t coming to the harvest.” Abigail says to me her voice small. “Where is Chloe?” I ask her urgency in my voice. “Mom and dad took her to the alter, I don’t like it here. No one will tell me why they are crying and that song is creepy.” Abigail tells me as she moves closer. Her cell isn’t closed, I grab her hand “Come on.” I pull her towards the exit. Walk slow, you’re not doing anything wrong just taking a child to the alter I repeat to myself in my head. I notice Chloe sitting in a chair waiting her turn, if she comes to me, I think I can get them out. I motion to her and catch her eye. Her eyes get wide and I motion for her to come with me. She gets up and walks to me. I take the girls to where I left my jacket and tell them to wait here. “Don’t move I will be right back, stay in the dark and don’t make a sound.” I have no idea why they listened to me but I am so thankful.
I can’t possibly leave the other children to their fate. Everyone is facing the church with their backs to the alters, I make my way over to the alters. I take one of the torches that light the area and use it to pour oil onto the fruit and set it on fire. I make it back to the girls and we head out. I grab my jacket and the locket falls out. Abigail picks it up and looking up at me asks “Why do you have our grandmother’s locket?” We manage to make it safely back to the tracks and Abigail opens the locket revealing a picture of my mothers’ sister. Small world, this is going to be a lot of paperwork…