Maude rubbed absently at the sores forming on her ankles; the fresh red welts were raw and stinging with each breath of warm summer wind that whipped at her legs, sweat formed under the midday sun ran in light trickles down her pale calves angering the weeping blisters further. Maude thought about what her mother might have done to ease the feeling, she might have rubbed some medicated cream onto her ankles though Maude would have protested at length about the smell that seemed to be able to permeate through any dressing and rise above any perfume. When she was smaller her mother might even have blown over the sores the soft wisps of her cooling breath and a wave of her magic wand working its imaginary powers to make everything feel better. Though that seemed like an age ago and during the passing time so many things had changed; her mother was no longer with her, she had perished just a few months past, Maude had watched her die, she had watched her deteriorate from the strong bright eyed woman that she had been to a sallow eyed shadow, thin and weak. Maude had been helpless though she had been so desperate to do something, to save her mother all she could do was sit back and watch as she wasted away. Since then Maude had had to grow-up much quicker than she had planned to, she now had to care for her younger sister Lilly; Lilly was the only living family Maude had left and Maude she and so it was down to Maude to keep the final remnants of the Walker family together and alive which was proving to be a hard feat; Lilly was currently suffering with a chest infection. On an ordinary day, in an ordinary world this would have taken a simple trip to the doctor though getting the appointment would have been fight it still would have been far easier than anything Maude had to do now that things had changed.
In just four months the whole world had devolved, though some might say it had evolved but to Maude as she looked out upon the fields of burning gold and the sky so blood red that it stained the tops of the trees and dripped from their broken branches like rubies, the world had definitely devolved, it had devolved in time, back into history, back into the worst parts that history had to offer. The reason, singular for this de-evolution? October King. When she had first laid eyes upon October Maude though him charming, she wasn’t afraid to admit that she found him attractive. Though he was slightly odd or rather the better word might be eccentric, he was commanding and strong and he had eyes that twinkled as though they held the entire sky of stars, housed them while the sun was shining and when the stars came out to brighten the blackest of night skies, his eyes held the sun burning and bright like they could see the deepest fears, dreams and sins of the soul. She had developed a slight crush on the mysterious man who had kept showing up on billboards, in the headers of websites, in adverts and so had millions. October King was hypnotic, he was charismatic and his voiced commanded the attention of the world.
It had started on a sunny day, Maude remembered seeing his face that morning as she walked to school, that day her socks had been driving her mad they were being defiant, refusing to stay up where they belonged and she had had to continuously stop to pull them back up to where they were supposed to be. She had not made it to school that day and Maude had quickly forgotten all about her unruly socks. Buildings had begun to smoke, to burn fall, explosions rung out in the air casting great plumes of jet black dirty billowing smoke into the sky. Maude had frozen still, unable to move a single step, rubble fell at her feet, dust covered her hair and coated her lungs and nostrils making her cough, making tears stream down over her cheeks. With the explosions came the blood curdling screams, screams that finally jolted Maude free of her frozen stature. When the world began to move again Maude realised that people were running but not just running they were fleeing, women held their screaming babies tightly in their arms, other were shouting down their phones at their loved ones trying to discern if they were okay, if they were alive and finally
Maude too began to run; she began to run in the direction of her home and her mother and younger sister. She did not get there.
Maude had only taken a few fumbled, unsteady, terrified steps when she fell to the floor, she felt the harsh sting of pain flush through her palms and knees and then she felt the tremble first, the vibrate of the earth as it travelled up through her finger tips and then she heard the noise. It began as a din, like a low fog horn sounding across a fog ridden sea and then it grew like the scream of an earth quake shattering glass and hearts; it was the sound of a thousand perfectly polished jack boots marching into the city. Maude did not stand, she felt she didn’t have the time to stand and to run home any more and so she could only scrabbled across the floor like a rodent running from the harsh false torch light of an exterminator in the dead of night. She scurried across the broken road causing the burn of her scraped knees to double in strength, dodging the rubble and abandoned cars, the dropped shopping and forgotten bicycles. She scurried to a large laurel bush, thick and green in the middle of summer and she tucked herself in to it, curling as small as she could, trying to conceal every inch of herself from whatever was causing the rumbling thunder that was rolling across the waste land of London like tumble weeds in the west. As the noise grew in volume Maude clasped her hands over her ears tighter trying in vain to block out the searing terror it produced. She thought about her mother and her sister and she wondered if they were okay, had they perished, had they been taken by whomever was coming, was causing this destruction. Hot, salty tears began rolling down over her dirty cheeks, tears of sadness and fear. As she hid under her bush, her body uncontrollably trembling she sank into a black desperation and Maude tried to convince herself that what she was experiencing was a dream, that soon she would awaken upon hearing her mother’s voice travelling up from the bottom of the stairs. She would then get ready for school choosing not to war the unruly socks and then she would go about her day as normal but this was only a delusion, a wish because with-in the second a pair of sweaty calloused hands wrapped around her ankles and dragged her out from her hiding place.
Though it had seemed like only a few hours had passed since she had been pulled from the safety of her dark, flora scented hideout but it had actually been months and her life had changed so dramatically that Maude was still half convinced that she was dreaming. The men had worked quickly, they had been thousands in number, an army of thousands and that had just been in London. They built camps though that was not what they called them, they had this air of superiority over everyone who did not turn, over those in history that they were mimicking and it was all down to one man, October King. Maude had realised that it was October when she saw the broadcast that went out across the world, the man whom she had though so beautiful yet slightly odd was behind a world of people turning upon each other and though Maude could not believe that one man could be responsible for such anger and destruction she new deep down that the human race was capable of anything from the most purest of good to the most low down, Dirtiest of evil.
When people had first been introduced into the ‘camps’ they had been told it was simply a half way point to their new lives that they would soon come around to this new way of thinking but they had lied. Months had passed and nothing had changed, more people had been piled into the camps and the conditions had deteriorated below those that a cockroach might live in; the camps could have been plucked right from Adolf Hitler’s twisted mind. People were starved, tortured as a form of ‘teaching’ they were chained up and put to work building and clearing the broken down rubbish dump that had been Britain’s most beautiful, famous and loved cities. When she had gotten to the camp Maude had experience only one saving grace, she had been reunited with her mother and sister though this had been a short live happiness. In the camps the younger children had been prime for brainwashing, October King wanted everyone to believe in him, he wanted the world to be his and the people to fall at his feet in and worship him and his way of thinking. The psychological torture had been excruciating though Maude had not been young enough to be taken into the ‘school’ she had seen the children as they passed through the ‘playground’ they were fenced in, housed in the building, kept away from their families this had broken Maude’s mother heart. She had fought for her daughter and this had lead to her death, she was tortured for being so insolent and then out to work. Every night when she lay on the floor of the pit that they called a room, shared with 12 others, she would sob. Maude would lay in her bed wishing that there was something she could do but there was nothing and all she could do was to listen to her mother’s heavy breathing it grew weak and laboured, all she could do was wipe her mother’s fevered forehead with dirty, foul smelling water and all she could do was watch as she died, the guards had paid her no attention as she begged for their help, they had ignored her cried of agony as she hugged her mother’s dead body close until all the heat had diminished and her skin had grown sallow and grey. They had taken the stiff, cold body that had once been Maude’s mother and dumped her into a shallow, watery grave filled with the already rotting corpses of others who had perished.
Maude had mourned her mother in the hours that she had before she had to return to work and to her sister, she did not know what she would tell her, she was only 5 years old and already her whole world had been stripped down to its bare bones. Maude had spent the day desperately trying to form the sentences that would inform Lilly of her mother’s passing but the situation never arrived. In the night after her mother had died Maude had been literally dragged from her sleep by one of the guards and to what they called the ‘infirmary’ but what was known to those who were imprisoned in the camp as the death house. Lilly had been taken ill; she was laid on one of the infested beds, looking smaller than Maude had ever seen her look before; her skin was yellow tinged, feverish and every so often she would cough violently and eventually those coughs began to bring up blood and Lilly quickly fell into a fitful unconsciousness. Maude was at least allowed to sit with her sister for 15 minutes every day, after she had finished the work that had been given to her however when it only seemed that her baby sister was falling further into her sickness just like Maude’s mother had, Maude lashed out though this only brought her more trouble and pain.
As she had sat by her sister’s bed, the few minutes she had left with her quickly running away, Maude clutched her hand and begged her to hold on, demanded that she wake up and then began to cry. What happened next unfolded so quickly that Maude wasn’t sure it had happened until after the fact; the guard walked through the open door,
“Tums up, git up un git out” He spat at her in rough words that Maude could barely comprehend, She stood, her fists clenched at her sides Maude turned slowly, if she’d have been in a cartoon steam would have been shooting from her bright, crimson red ears,
“I have 5 more minutes left” she said forcing the words out through her gritted teeth, this had been the first mistake she had made, talking back to the guards or any who had turned was not accepted and the guard quickly made that known. He balled his own fist and with-in a second of that action he had drawn back his arm and put the whole of his strength into the hit. His fist connected with Maude’s face with a crunch that reverberated around her skull, she felt her nose explode spraying blood over her clothes, his clothes and his face. The force twirled Maude around; it forced her backward and sent her sprawling across her sister’s bed. Maude watched the blood drip from her face and soak into the dirty sheets that were covering Lilly and even though Maude knew that her nose was shattered and likely beyond repair or return to normal she could still smell the thick stench of death that was encroaching upon her sister. This lead to her second fatal move; Maude had never been a violent person, she had never lashed out not even at her mother in a teenage fit and she had certainly never let her emotions rule her actions however the world had changed and so had she, seeing her sister laid in the dirty, festering bed made her blood boil beyond the temperatures of hell. She turned, almost as fast as she had when his fist had connected with her nose, this time it was Maude who had clenched her fist and it was her fist connecting with his face though it did not have even an eight of the effect.
As soon as her fist collided with his cheek his whole demeanour changed, when he had hit her he had had a smirk upon his face, this smirk had fallen, quickly, he looked as though he were made of stone, not a single twitch, nor flinch crossed his face. He grabbed her arm sharply and pulled her from the room, Maude was terrified she knew that something bad was coming to her. He dragged her outside which became literal when he feet fell from beneath her and she lost her balance, he dragged her through the mud twisting her arm to such an angle that Maude was sure it was going to snap. He threw her down into the dirt of an old shed and he held her there with his own weight,
“Ima gonna tech you a lessun you ain’t gonna forgut” he hissed into her ear, he was so close that Maude could smell the thick reek of his breath. He pressed down against her ass he tore at her clothes with his dirty, greasy fingernails, they dug into the skin of Maud’s stomach, tore at the flesh on her thighs. She did not scream out or fight for fear that it might bring more of the guards who would only take as much pleasure in raping her as their comrade did. She bit her tongue as he forced himself into her, his fetid breath burning the skin of her neck, she bit her tongue until she tasted blood as his grunts and rotten exhalations filled her head, until he was done, until it was over. The only saving grace Maude found was that it was over quickly, that the fat sweaty beast of a man had stopped, he rolled off of her, she could smell the filthy stink of his sweat all over her skin, could see the droplets of perspiration on her body. Maude did not move, she lay still, frozen until another man appeared in the doorway, he moved into the room eyeing Maude with lust, she clenched her eyes shut and waited for the disabling feeling of his weight upon her but it never came. She opened her eyes and glanced over at the two men, the second was whispering something, something that made the other grin,
“Git up” he said pulling Maude from the floor, she held her torn clothes closed across her body, “yer sisters croaked” he spat and shoved Maude from the shed. When the words hit her Maude felt numb, she did not cry, or scream or wail, her baby sister was dead and he had found the news amusing and so she did not cry, or scream or wail she walked a few step ahead of him in the direction of the infirmary and then she stopped but not long enough for him to react. She bent quickly and retrieved one of the pick axes that they had been set to labour with that morning, when she saw the axe lying on the floor Maude new that it was simply meant to be. Usually the days working tools had, at the end of zed day, been cleared and locked away to prevent such an event occurring but on that day, the day that her fiver year old sister had died and she had been violently raped, one pick axe had been over looked. She bent, scooped up the axe and quickly turned swinging the pick axe with all of the strength that she had in her body, She screamed every profanity she knew, a vocabulary which had doubled since she had been herded into the camp, as she sank the pick axe into the guards head, the guard who had laughed when he had heard that her sister was dead, the guard who had ravaged her. His skull rang with an audible crack as the iron sank into the soft matter of his pea sized brain, he did not make a sound but fell to the floor in a pile of fat and bone, his eyes wide and his mouth hanging open in shock.
This had been Maude’s third and final fatal action; the guard who had informed them that Lilly had passed away was right next to his friend and now fallen comrade and he too did not stop to grieve, to cry out or scream or wail, he simply pulled the thick bladed, heavy handled knife from his belt, he moved with stealth more than his size should have allowed and he sank the knife into Maude’s stomach. The angle caused the knife to pierce her heart and unlike the guard she had killed Maude had time to react,
“Thank you” she said and spat the blood that had settled on her tongue into his face. In response he twisted the knife and pulled it free from Maude’s body letting her fall to the floor. Before the darkness enveloped her Maude felt his hot breath on her face and though it smelt better the words that it carried were just as rotten,
“Now you can rot in a shit filled grave with your whore mother and you little whiny bitch sister” They were the last words Maude heard before she died.