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London Exclusion Zone

by Nicholas R Yang 12 months ago in psychological · updated a day ago
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A young woman searches for her lost daughter in a dystopian London. A Deep One Story.

London Exclusion Zone
Photo by Anastasia Taioglou on Unsplash

No one knows where those terrible monsters truly came from. All those nightmares, the stories, and fears humans told each other about.

All those tales of what lurked below that endless deep. The stories of great aquatic beasts and massive sea monsters, all turned out to be true.

Now, so many years later, the Human population has been decimated by famine, war, disease, and those great Deep Ones.

This has brought us to the brink of extinction. Society has all but collapsed, and those of us left are forced to live as scavengers for the last remaining government organisation in existence.

The Far Space Exploration Commission.

Time is short; and while we are locked in a horrifying fight for survival against these nightmare creatures, humans struggle to help FSEC finish their "Space Arc", humanity's only chance to join our sisters and brother in the stars.

"Audrey! Wake up! FSEC wants us to mount up and get ready to head out. You and I are the only ones that can drive this thing."

Audrey awoke from a dead sleep. The world around her was dimly lit and it looked as though the sun hadn't even woken up yet.

She sat up in her bunk and rubbed her green eyes, opening the silver heart-shaped locket that hung from the green metallic bunk rungs at her side.

She smiled, kissing the small picture of her daughter who sat in red-haired pigtails and a School Uniform. She ran her finger over the image, shutting it then wrapping the semi-broken chain around her wrist.

"Bloody FSEC... I left the Military years ago, here they are using me as their own personal Soldier of Fortune. I guess all I did was give up one brass for another." She said to herself, unlocking and popping open the worn black metallic box she kept under her bed.

Inside was where she kept all her possessions. An old Service Rifle, a faded green plate carrier painted with graffiti, brown combat boots, and an oversized black beret from when she served in the British Royal Armoured Corps.

She was one of the few people around this Far Space Exploration Commission-run Refugee Camp called home who had access to FSEC’s military supplies.

A law had been passed a few months back that granted ex Commonwealth and European Union soldiers access to firearms and other military gear alongside the dwindling FSEC Security Forces.

This was good for those people like her and Jack who ran expeditions into the red zones. Those vast sprawls of destroyed and infested, city husks, that people used to call home.

"Audrey! Hurry it up! We want to be in there before the sun rises." Jack’s voice called again.

She picked up the rifle and sat it against the steel bunk,

then pulled her combats out setting them close by with her waterproof gator cuffs on top of their steel toes.

Audrey quickly yanked a dirty pair of worn brown cargo jeans on, slipping a black thermal shirt over her head. She fastened her jeans and pulled up the zipper, pushing her feet into the boots while bending over to attach the gators.

Jack yelled something again, as she hurried. Audrey didn’t hear what he had said,

"Oi! Jack, shut it! I'm coming!" she called back pulling her flannel overshirt on.

She bent over and looped her ratty laces together and pulled them tight, shoving the remaining material into the sides of her gators.

Finally, she slipped the battle-scarred plate carrier over her head, pulling its buckles tight and straightening everything under it.

Audrey cracked her neck, opening one of the various pouches sewn into the webbing, and pulled out a pair of black, fingerless combat gloves.

She proceeded to slam the ammunition pouches across her chest one by one, making sure they were full of extra magazines. Then grabbed her rifle, attaching the sling to a metal carabiner on her shoulder strap.

Audrey reached for her beret, stopping herself and shaking her head.

“Not that one…” she mumbled, irritated.

Instead, she turned and grabbed a white and black FSEC patrol cap that hung off the clothing rack by the door before grabbing at a random cup of someone's coffee, and chugging it down.

She tossed the mug back onto the table, exiting out the carded security door and into the cool morning air. She pulled her greasy ponytail through the snap back, readjusting her weapon.

“Holy...” she said, surprised to see so many armed FSEC Officers standing around the old, beat up, and scratched Bulldog she and Jack had scavenged years ago from an old armour depo.

This morning they seemed to be dressed in slick-looking grey and black urban digicam uniforms. Heavy Plate Carriers and white and black kevlar helmets, FSEC's "World Circumventing Arc" Emblem emblazoned across the centre of their chests. To her surprise, there were very heavily armed.

"Jesus, are we going to war with these things?" Audrey questioned as she passed her angry-looking partner, walking towards the APC.

“London Fields ain't that bad… it’s a yellow zone.” She said entering through the back of the armoured vehicle and sitting in the front seat.

She began to flick various switches causing the old APC to hum and whir to life. Jack followed her through the back and into the passenger seat.

"Ah, well, there's something I didn't tell you, Audrey," Jack said, flicking switches and knobs on his side, testing systems.

"We are actually going beyond the wall today." He ran his hand through his medium-length black hair, coughing a bit. Trying to bury the lede.

Audrey stopped and looked back, seeing one of the FSEC Security Officers dragging in a heavy machine gun to affix to her baby’s turret position on the top.

She started to feel uneasy, looking at Jack with a death stare while she transferred her locket from her wrist onto the driver's wheel and hit the gas. The engine revved angrily.

The Bulldog suddenly roared to life, rumbling under them as she proceeded to double-check everything. Audrey had been taught to obsessively make sure everything was working properly on her trip through training.

The Security Officers finished streaming into the seating area just as she finished triple-checking systems.

“Oi, the door! It’s bloody cold,” she called back irritated.

The rear hatch slammed and latched in response. One of the Officer’s positioned herself behind the big Machine Gun.

"Okay, people. Listen up." Another woman piped up from the crowd of chattering Security Officers.

She was shortish, slender, and stern-looking. Her hair was tied in a tight bun behind her helmet.

"These Scavs have graciously volunteered to transport us into the Exclusion Zone. We don't have many people around that can drive APCs, so it was an offer we couldn't refuse.”

Audrey stared daggers at Jack, unmoving. He shrugged,

“It may offer us some protection from the smaller Scaleys, but those big’uns… Well… Not so much.” The group of officers murmured under their breaths to each other.

“Can it!” She said sharply, the group silenced themselves.

“Now, we need to grab some tech parts from this office block. They look like this.” The FSEC Officers huddled around a small laminated map and torch, obscuring Jack and Audrey's view.

"Jack, what does she mean, volunteered? You told me that we were ordered to go on this mission by FSEC; and beyond the wall?” Audrey questioned her partner, staring straight into his cool grey eyes.

“Audrey, I told them we would go with them because..." Jack proceeded to explain but was interrupted,

"What! Are you mental mate? You went ahead and volunteered us to go into the London Exclusion Zone? We ain't getting out of there alive... I was there when the Scaleys attacked us at the start. They brutalised us and we had a whole army. Remember what happened to us in Manchester Exclusion Zone? That was another great bloody idea of yours.” Audrey interjected,

"Audrey, just hear me out. I got it on good authority that there are pockets of people living in the Underground still. They took shelter from the Monsters when they showed up. What if Adam and Sarah are with them? You said yourself that you never found them... What if your Daughter and Husband are still there?” Jack responded.

Audrey opened the hanging locket touching the cracked and empty side of it. She stared into Sarah's smiling eyes. It had been so long since she saw them.

"Jack. How can you know there are people there still?" She hadn't dared to hope in many years. It was too painful.

“Remember that group of Refugees that came in last week? They said they escaped from the Exclusion Zone’s Underground. Why would they lie about it? I think there are people living there and we need to go and find them. This is the only way to do it. FSEC has that whole side of the continent walled off and secured.”

“Alright Scavs, let’s get this thing moving. We have very little time before the sun rises. You know how to get there from here right?” she ordered Audrey and Jack over her shoulder, looking back down at her notes.

Audrey hesitated a moment before grabbing the pair of goggles she kept in the front seat and pulling them over her head. She thought for a moment longer, then snapped them onto her face and smashed the old Bulldog into gear, frustrated.

“Jack, I will kill you myself if there aren't people in there.” Jack laughed uneasily as she fiddled with a few buttons.

The lights in the APC shut off, leaving nothing but the white hue of the console and the FSEC leader’s head torch. She pushed open the squared driver’s hatch and began to drive.

The group rolled on for about 2 hours, quickly moving across the rough, grassy, terrain and down winding and empty highways that were once full of traffic. It felt like they were the only ones left in the whole of the UK.

Streets had been cleared years ago by the scavengers recruited by FSEC in the early days to help build the Arc’s structure.

Audrey remembered how they worked like ants, tearing everything down of use and transporting it back through what was left of France to Germany, and into where the current launch site of the Space Arc was situated. That had been so long ago.

After a while, the Bulldog slowed down,

“Next stop, London Exclusion Zone. We are at the first gate of Hadrian’s Wall.” Audrey spoke loud so they all could hear,

“So, how do you plan on getting us in?”

The Woman in charge stowed her paperwork and grabbed her rifle, unlatching the rear hatch.

“Just like this.” She replied, stepping out into the brightening world.

She was gone only a few minutes, Audrey watched her walk up to the huge metal gate built into Hadrian’s towering metal walls. She stepped into a doorway on the side, then came back out with a box.

“On through we go. Just drive, Scav. The Gates will open automatically.” the Commander said, standing up in the command hatch, next to the gunner’s turret.

On they drove, through the second wall, and then the third, finally arriving in the old streets of London.

Jack pushed his way back into the seating area, opening the infantry hatches, then looked around in awe at the dark sunken wrecks that were once the tall buildings that stretched across London. Rubble was strewn everywhere and the remains of the dead littered the ground.

“Jesus Christ in heaven... Look at that thing. They’re everywhere up there.” Jack said from his perch, pointing.

The APC slipped slowly past a massive, rusting, supertanker that had become landlocked against a far-off apartment block. Small black specks darted over it like a sea of wriggling mites.

“The question is, why aren’t they on us yet?” the Gunner asked, leaning against her weapon. A few Security Officers popped their heads out and readied weapons.

They continued through the silent streets, everyone seemed on edge. Including Audrey, she felt that something wasn’t right. Her body screamed to turn around and try again another day.

"This is it!” The Commander called uneasily from the command hatch.

The sun began to rise, bringing life to the graveyard city.

Like clockwork, horrific gurgling sounds began to fill the air, like some sort of an oppressive buzzing.

“Alright, everyone out! We have to do this quick!” the Commander called.

The group of Security Officers sprung to life, draining out of the back hatch and hopping through the top. Running into defensive positions around the vehicle.

The group raised their weapons, and a symphony of metal-against-metal echoed through the broken and drowned buildings as they chambered rounds.

“You to Scavs, you have weapons! Get out here and help. They’ll come soon, The quicker we do this, the better.”

Audrey, against her better judgement, yanked the swinging locket from the wheel and slipped it into her pocket. She quickly zipped it up and headed out to join the Security Officers.

Jack just shook his head.

“I can man this machine gun, used to be a Royal Marine. I’ll cover your backs while you go in on this crazy scavenger hunt of yours.”

The Security Officers disappeared into the dark husk of the drowned office highrise.

“Let's get out of here,” Jack said, hopping down from the turret when they were alone.

“Strap yourself in and let's find your daughter. I think I saw a tube entrance a short way back.”

Audrey shook her head.

“Jack, we can’t leave them... they need our help. Humanity needs our help. What if these are the last parts they need for the Arc?”

Audrey pulled the locket from her pocket and opened it to Sarah’s smiling face.

“I can’t leave them, not like I left my family.”

Jack opened his mouth to protest, but without a second thought, Audrey had already wrapped the locket tight around her wrist, taken a deep breath, raised her rifle, and flicked on its tactical torch.

She looked back at Jack a second, he looked at his feet.

Audrey shook her head in disappointment, then began to push into the darkness of the decrepit building.

Her light beam swept left then right, illuminating drowned desks and computer systems. The water was up to her ankles as she moved further forward.

It smelled of mould and dead fish, she knew the monsters were in here somewhere. They took cover in buildings at night and those buildings all smelled the same.

She looked over her shoulder, hoping Jack had a change of heart, but her partner hadn’t followed.

“Damnit, Jack,” Audrey mumbled.

She could hear the security team’s boots squeaking against wet tile from somewhere in the stairwells as she headed up the sunken and tilted staircase.

She shone her flashlight onto the ceiling above, then quickly covered it with her hand, freezing a moment. She began to breath heavily.

Slowly, she backed out of the stairwell and pushed herself against the doorway, out of sight.

The monsters were just as grotesque as she remembered them.

Heads in the shape of a fish, ridged, sharp, spines and claws, with huge bulbous eyes. They looked like some sort of vicious alien life form from some other world, but not.

She continued to back away towards the opening of the office building, having second thoughts.

“Shit... shit, shit.”

Her breathing became ragged as she heard that dreadful clicking from the stirring monsters. Sunbeams began to burn through the darkness from holes, grimy windows, and cracks. They Criss-crossed the building like tiny spotlights.

Gunshots...then yelling? Her eyes grew wide with terror.

“Some rookie blew it...” she thought, horrified.

A sea of blue and green, she fired repeatedly back peddling. Audrey tried desperately to escape the sea of claws and teeth gnashing at her as they drained through the door.

It was too late, heaving piles of flesh and death swept over her, biting and slashing like piranha given a helpless meal.

There was a searing pain in her neck as one of the fish things lept at her and knocked her down into the stale, swampy pool that used to be the floor.

The acrid smell of its breath stung her crying eyes. She felt it yank its claw from her, and then it was gone.

A warm numbing feeling washed over her as life leaked out around her. She opened the locket and smiled at her daughter’s beautiful face for the last time…

This story was kind of a ground workpiece for the world I am trying to build in my mind, I plan on writing a whole series on this.

Yes, it is Lovecraftian in essence, however, I feel that he was onto something with his themes. When you think about it, even nowadays, the Oceans that cover the majority of our planet are widely unstudied. No one knows what could lurk within that endless blue deep.

Maybe Lovecraft was right and Giant Death Gods do actually slumber in vast underwater caves, lording over lost cities and realms.

When I sat down to write this, It was for an “Apocalyptic Wasteland” challenge which I didn’t win. You’ll probably find most of my work within this book is rigid in its word count.

That’s because most of these were written for writing contests with word count restrictions. Some of these may feel like they end abruptly, but that is because of the rules I was constrained to. Granite, I have added to these. Trying to bring them as close to my original vision for them as I can.

The further you go down the rabbit hole that is my work, you’ll find that I really enjoy killing off my main characters.

I find that it incites a visceral reaction within people. Which is what I am going for. After all, writing is about inciting feelings and painting pictures for those reading.

I’ve done this in a lot of my writing because the main characters of shows or stories would always survive, no matter what.

That is not to say every one of my main characters always dies. The trick is to know when these situations call for the killing off of someone that the reader has grown to love and care for.

I think that all these alpha-male-over-coming-all-odds stories are unrealistic. Arnold Schwartzenegger would not be able to beat a highly advanced Alien hunter in the jungle, and I thought it was cheesy to see that.

Predator is a good movie though.

The reality in our world is heroes don’t always survive. More often than not, our heroes die in the end. That’s what makes someone a hero, in most cases.

When these shows and movies like Game Of Thrones or Sinister come out, I find they are more impactful on someone's emotions and feelings.

The Red Wedding was one of the most iconic scenes in modern media history and when I write, I want to capture that type of moment. I want readers to feel that weight hit their chest and feel that shock.

In this next section, we will move forward in my writing journey to more recent endeavours.

psychological

About the author

Nicholas R Yang

An Archaeologist and aspiring Doctor, I am a part-time writer from the East Coast of Canada. Written multiple plays, poems, and short stories.

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