Monday, August 6, 2012

In Which I Give You a Sample

When I first said I was going to slow down my writing on my blog back a few months ago, one of the reasons I gave was so I could focus more on my efforts towards my short stories and novel ideas. I haven't made as much headway as I would have liked, but any progress is better than none at all. 

In the world of fiction these days, end-of-the-world apocalypse stories are everywhere. As a (sort-of) writer, I understand the appeal of the setting. You can pick how the world as you see it ends, and focus on your own rag-tag group of people as they struggle to survive in a world without rules. There are so many possibilities, and I held off on trying to write my own until I was sure I could put something together that is unique enough to stand out from the rest.

Like so many authors, I got my inspiration (at long last) from music. Specifically, A Perfect Circle. See if you can guess which one.

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The ironic thing about how Old America came to collapse is that everyone had seen it all happen before. Through the myriad of books and movies about the seemingly inevitable apocalypse that permeated popular culture, these things that were read or watched as entertainment before everything went to Hell, the majority of Old America failed to see it coming. Looking back on it now, the warning signs were painfully obvious, yet the foundation of government and justice that our country was built upon and that had survived for almost three hundred years crumbled from the inside out.

It doesn't matter now how it began. There could be fingers pointed in a multitude of directions, blame placed upon a veritable laundry list of people in varying ranks of government who failed to act or understand the brevity of the situation that quickly spiraled out of control. What matters is that the government lost control of its people. The history books (if there ever will be such a thing again) would tell you that there was an uprising, a collective surge of energy from underground anti-government movements, and these people suddenly found themselves with the upper hand. Everything fell down around them like a house of cards shortly after, and now there is no government, no law and no order. Most importantly, there is no constant control to protect the innocent and put away the guilty. There is only people struggling to survive in a desolate world of hate and destruction.

If anyone had paid attention, all those books and movies would have prepared them for the inevitable division of our species into the fundamental groups that would make up our new society. Preparedness aside, the irony of it all extends into the new set of demographics to the point of being absurdly cliche. There are no whites or blacks or Hispanics. There are no upper, middle, or lower classes. There are no suburbanites or city dwellers. There is only the good people and the bad people.

Whatever good people remain in our continent call themselves the New Americans. They are people who have found others they trust enough to help protect their group, and they know first hand the truth in the old adage that there is strength in numbers. They find whatever food and water and medical supplies they can, and try to stay hidden from those who have chosen to take the path of violence.

As another painful cliche, the bad call themselves Renegades. They pillage and kill, stealing food and shelter without morals or remorse or consequence. There are rumors of cannibalism and human sacrifice, echoing the traits of their primitive ancestors that have surfaced in our ravaged, lawless world. Like so many before them they use violence as a method of control, forcing submission and allegiance under the threat of horrible torture, mutilation, or death.

I know these things because of what my father has told me. I was young when this all began and don’t remember much of it. If my nightmares are an indication of why that is, my subconscious must have blocked out that which was the worst of what I saw. My clearest memories of that time are of great fires and rioting crowds. I have a precious few of time spent with my family before all of this happened, before my mother and sister were lost.

My family is now only my father and I. My mother and my sister are gone. My father hasn’t told me what happened to them. A quiet rage comes upon him every time I ask, and without answering he leaves the room to go sit alone. One day when I asked he said that he'd tell me the full story when I got older. That was two years ago at least. I am almost nineteen years old now, and with the rest of my lineage gone to ashes with the rest of the world, I am left to honor my father's discretion and let him decide the timing.

We belong to a small group of New Americans. Other than my father and I, there are six others with us in an abandoned house on the outskirts of what used to be Portland, Maine. It sits upon a hill that provides a view of the surrounding neighborhood, and gives us the advantage of seeing those approaching from the horizon. There was a time where constant watch was held to ensure that we would be ready if the Renegades came, their war drums heralding their approach, but the world around us has been largely silent.

Last night, for the first time in thirteen months, we heard the drums.

The Renegades are coming.

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(Click here for a link to the song.)

Anyone interested for more?

Happy Monday, folks.