Tag Archive | yr18

Run Away

Fae Apoc, for my Hurt/Comfort card. After And Your Little Friends Too

Odile didn’t trust this whole set-up.

She’d been outvoted, and Callis and Candace had made very good points. They were hungry, they were dirty, and a couple of them had been sick for weeks. They weren’t in great shape. But it was their shape, the shape they’d picked and built and fought for, tooth and claw and knife and gun. There was nobody to tell them what to do, nobody to take out their anger on them. They might not be safe, but they were, well, safer.

But there was an adult with a van, which set off every alarm Odile had, and he wanted to take them somewhere, which set off even more alarms. She stayed near the back, with the little ones who didn’t trust him, either, and the older ones who were as cautious as she was. There was food, but she wanted to wait, to make sure it wasn’t drugged. There were blankets. Blankets could be a trap. There was a smiling adult, not even as tall as Callis, who looked over every one of the children as if he wanted to collect them all.

“Odie?” A toddler, Jenny, tugged on her sleeve. “Odie, hungry.”

Odile swallowed. Nobody was falling asleep; nobody was falling ill. She scooped Jenny up into her arms, noting that she didn’t weigh enough. Had she been this skinny last time Odile picked her up?
She carried Jenny over to the van. The thermoses were full of warm soup, and the man was dishing it out as if he had no fear for his own hunger.

“Just a little for this little one, please.” Odile made herself smile at the man. She didn’t use names. Most of them didn’t. That’s how strangers got you.

“Of course.” He didn’t question her, didn’t press food on her. He filled a small mug with soup and handed it to Odlie, along with a plastic spoon. “Careful, it’s hot.”

“You heard him, sweetie. Little sips, blow on it first.” She talked Jenny through eating the soup, an eye on the stranger the whole time. She didn’t want to trust him. She didn’t want to trust any of this. But she didn’t want to lose her people, either.

She caught his eye; he hadn’t missed her staring at him. “We can leave whenever we want?”

He hesitated, considering his answer. Odile found that interesting. “There will be a chance every day for you to leave when you want. This place, it’s a secure place, so you’d have to be walked out, but I give you my word, if you want to leave, you’ll be walked out within forty-eight hours.”

Odile’s ears popped. She wrinkled her nose at the sudden change in pressure and looked at the man. He seemed sincere. He seemed careful about his sincerity.

“You’re trying to make sure you don’t, uh, you don’t overpromise, aren’t you?”

“Trust is built slowly.” He looked as if he knew that from experience. “I don’t expect you kids to believe me right away. But if I lie to you, you won’t ever believe me again.”

“Smart man.” Odile sipped a little of the soup in Jenny’s bowl, just one spoonful. “Good cook.”
He smiled, like he recognized the challenge there. “A friend of mine made the food. She’s a very good cook, and I’ll pass along the compliment if you don’t come with us. She’ll be pleased to hear it.”

Odile found herself relaxing. She forced herself to stay strong, stay tense. “Good food, too.” She poked at it. “Fresh vegetables. Some sort of meat in the stock.” She gave Jenny back the bowl and got her settled, all while keeping an eye on the man.

He didn’t seem to mind all the scrutiny. “We have a farm, and a garden. We’re way off the beaten path.”

“And you came looking for us.”

There was a pause. The man was considering his answer very carefully. “I came looking for Callis. He is a, uh, well, we have a school, and it survived the, ah.” His voice twisted and turned bitter for a moment. “The ‘Collapse,’ I guess we’re calling it. The school survived mostly intact, and we have all our records. Callis was on our rolls since the day he was born, and so I, well, came looking for him.”

“You spend a lot of time combing the ruins for legacy students?” She’d heard the term in a movie. He looked impressed… and then he looked tired.

“I’ve spent all summer plucking students from the ruins. And… finding the ones that didn’t make it.” His whole body seemed to sag. “It’s not a fun job, but sometimes I get to save someone.”

“And that’s what this is? Saving us?” She was prickly again, looking for the trap.

He didn’t get defensive. That was interesting. “You’re starving, and many of you are ill. Your hide-out is safe as long as you don’t run into anyone as strong as, say, a grown man. What I can give you — what my place and my friends can give you — is a safe place free of predators, food, and a way to start a garden, clothing, and medical care. Callis bargained for an education, including a practical education, for all of you. I can teach you how to fight, or my son; he works well with women warriors. When Callis is done with school, you can stay, or we can help him and you find a new place, a safe place.”

Odile looked at his face, and at the way his shoulders were held, and at his hands. “You’re serious, aren’t you? Just because this school wants Callis, you’re going to give us all a place to live? I mean, nobody does that. Not without wanting something in return.”

He was still again. “You’re children,” he protested, then shook her head, like he knew that was bullshit. “Okay. Here.” He sat down on the back edge of the van, so he was on eye level with her. “When you’re grown and educated, healthy and fed… I’m going to ask you to help me help other people. Other kids, other people who need help. Lots of ways you can do that — be a doctor, be a soldier, be an arbitrator, someone who helps people figure out disputes. And you’ve got a while to figure that out.”

“Grown-ups don’t do this,” Odlie protested. “They don’t. They just, put you in poxes, put you in, you know, where they want you, what they want you.”

The man frowned at her. “Maybe,” he said carefully, “the world changed enough that some grown-ups do. You figure out what you want to do, all of you, and then you can figure out how you can help me. “

Odile took a breath. “You don’t sound like a grown-up.”

He snorted. “Wouldn’t be the first time I’d heard that. We have a deal?”

“You’re gonna make sure we’re safe fed and educated, all of us, until we’re, what, adults?”

“Call it twenty, as near as we can estimate, for the ones that don’t know.

“–and then help us set up again out, somewhere, in the world?”


“And, in turn, you want us to help other… uh. other kids?”

“Other runaways,other refugees, other people who need it.”

She’d never said runaway. None of them did. Say that word and the grown-ups knew you didn’t have anyone. But even as she took a step back, he leaned forward, his voice soft.

“I know runaways. I’ve helped them before. Now, I don’t know if your parents survived this ‘Collapse.’ But if you don’t want to go looking for them, I’m not going to, either.”

She hadn’t seen her parents since something like a year before the world ended. Odile swallowed against something stuck in her throat and nodded. “You–” She coughed, clearing her throat. “You have a deal. I can help other kids, no problem.”

“And I can make sure you’re all fed and sheltered.” He stood and stretched, smirking a little bit at himself. “No problem.”

She still didn’t trust this whole set-up, but Odlie was willing to try.

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1200826.html. You can comment here or there. comment count unavailable

And your Little Friends Too

Written to [personal profile] rix_scaedu‘s prompt

Callis had finally gotten the last of the babies to sleep when someone knocked on the door.

He didn’t so much sigh as slump with his entire body, and even that he only indulged in for a half a breath. He gestured to Mike, nearly as old as he was, and to Candace, who might only be twelve but was murder with a rifle. Odile would have to watch the babies, and then they’d have to go through the whole process of getting them to sleep again. But that was later. Right now, there was the threat at the door.

Callis leaned his body over from the side to peek out the view port. They’d learned that the hard way, in their last hide-out. They’d learned a lot of things the hard way.

A man was standing in front of the peephole, his hands up and empty. “Callis Avondale? I’m just here to talk.”

Callis looked back at Mike and Candace. They were frowning, worried. The babies were stirring. Colby, the youngest, had started crying. If he stood here and shouted through the door, the kids were just going to get worked up. “Stand back and keep your hands where I can see him.”

Candace stepped up into position. Callis might not survive this, but their attacker would last about three seconds after his first strike. He took a breath and another breath and steeled himself, then pushed the door open.

The man standing on the other side was shorter than Callis, but muscular like he’d never missed a meal. His t-shirt was clean and his jeans didn’t have any holes, and neither did his sneakers.


“That’s me.” His skin was itching just standing here, looking at this clean guy with his perfect shoes.

“My name’s Luke Hunting-Hawk. We have a place for you in a school, a safe place with food and water.” His gaze clearly took in Callis’ ripped clothes.

“All of us?”

“All… Your friends?”

“The kids. I’m not going to leave them. They’re just kids. They’ll die out here.”

Luke raised his eyebrows. “You want to bring your friends with you.”

“What, is this sort of exclusive bunker?”

Luke shifted a bit and coughed, looking embarrassed. “You could say that. It’s a school. But I can come up with a safe place for all your friends.”
“But not in the school.” Callis frowned. “That doesn’t seem fair. Who’s going to teach the kids to read and write and hot-wire a car and all the other useful stuff?”

He thought the man might be getting a little exasperated, until his slightly twisted expression settled into a chuckle. “All right. I’ll get your friends set up with a full education, hotwiring included, full meals – and help finding their own place when and if they’re ready to go out on their own, or when you graduate school. In the meantime, would you settle for someplace warm and safe for them while I get you settled in school and make arrangements for them?”

“Just like that?” Callis took a step back. “What’s the catch?”

“The catch is, the school wants you to attend. There’s been a spot reserved for you for a long time. So you come to Addergoole, and your friends are warm and safe.”

Callis huffed quietly. “How do I know I can trust you?”

“I can’t give you any guarantees. But I give you my word that I will help your friends as best as I can, and that you’ll be free to visit them at least, say, once a month.”

The food supply was running low and one of the babies had a bad cough. Callis sighed. “All right. But the ones old enough to understand get to make up their own minds, all right?”

Luke smiled gently. “Of course. There’s a couple thermoses of soup in the van and some blankets; we can get started as soon as you’re ready.”

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1039345.html. You can comment here or there.

Natural Prey

Eamon had made his share of enemies in four years at Addergoole.

Everyone did, he supposed. Everyone got in somebody’s way, everyone pissed someone off. He liked to think that he’d done right, at least. He’d made the bad guys angry, made almost all of the really bad ones somewhere between furious and spitting mad, and generally protected the small, the weak, and those who didn’t know better yet. But that didn’t make him any fewer enemies – that just made the ones he had stronger and more ruthless.

He watched his back his first year out of school. It was 2012, so there was a lot of watching to do, anyway. Watch out for the army, watch out for the monster-hunters. Watch out for the monsters, in at least three varieties. Help who you can.

He was actually pretty good at helping people, too. He was naturally gregarious and made more so by his Change; people liked him. He was a nice puppy. Big, friendly, affable, and nobody really thought too much about how big he was when he was helping them out of a jam. He made a bit of a name for himself – helping people out of difficult situations, playing fireman or EMT or whatever and then moving on while people were still grateful. It was, he hated to admit, fun. People liked him.

By the time he woke up with a splitting headache, he’d actually forgotten all about watching his back from school enemies, and he’d almost forgotten about watching out for the other threats. The world was done ending. It had been a few years.

And he was staring up at someone straddling him, trying desperately to remember how he’d gotten here – and why she was smiling.

My Dungeon & Cave Call is open!

If you’d like to see more of this story, there is SO MUCH more to tell. Just drop a tip in the the tip handcuffs:

Written to [personal profile] kissofjudas‘s prompt

Eamon is a Year 14 Addergoole Student. This is his first appearance.

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/824918.html. You can comment here or there.

D is for Dances Down in that [Dystopic] Underground School

For Rix_Scaedu and Lilfluff‘s prompts.

First Dance, Year Nine.

Everyone seemed so into the dances here.

Back at home, Pania had not been all that big on the whole idea of school dances. Then again, back at home, there had been other things to do, other places to hang out. Here, down in Addergoole, there was the Arcade, and the dances, as far as she could tell.

So she asked a couple questions of older girls – the ones who seemed willing to talk to her, and who seemed like they’d neither tease her mercilessly for asking nor lie to her to see what she showed up in, and she bought a dress from the Store’s rather wide selection of pretty party dresses, and gave in and bought heels to match.

There. I’m not going to be the belle of the ball, but I won’t be the laughingstock, either.

First Dance, Year Eighteen.

Dances. Really.

Lælia’s mum had spoken fondly of such things, from her own days at her alma matter, but Lælia hadn’t reallyexpected them to still be going on.

For one thing, that had been Year One – very nearly two decades ago. For another, that had been Before The End. Lælia didn’t know if they still had dances in normal high schools. She didn’t really know if they still had high school in normal high schools.

All of her friends from Jr. High had moved away when things started getting messy – moved away, or, in more than one case, just vanished. In those cases, Lælia (and everyone else) tried to pretend they’d just moved, too, that Carrie and Leslie were in the same “I don’t know where but Dad says it’s safe” as Jennifer and Tyler.

All her friends had gone away. Lælia had gone to Addergoole.

First Dance, Year Nine.

“A dance?” The lovely man in the velvet tux bowed over Pania’s hand.

“I’d, ah, be honored.” She was pretty sure that was what she was supposed to say. “I’m Pania.”

“Ambrus. Pleased to meet you.” He had the most stunning eyes she had ever seen.

“Me, too.” Smooth. Pania tried not to look like a complete moron as she let the gorgeous guy lead her out onto the floor. “This is louder than I expected.”

“It does that.” He smiled, bowed, and set one hand gently on her waist. “You get used to it after a while.”

“People have been saying that a lot.”

“It is true about any number of things, here.” He stepped in so he was almost against her; he smelled of aftershave, very faintly, and something deep and male. “And it’s true.”

First Dance, Year Eighteen.

Lælia had found a dress at the Store – she’d found dozens, maybe hundreds of dresses at the Store, actually, but one she really liked – and shoes, and all those things her mother had told her you needed for a dance.

She was relieved – and surprised – to find out that her mother’s descriptions of these things had been spot-on. Fancy dresses, guys in tuxes (two girls in tuxes, one guy in a dress, one in a kilt), loud music (most of which Lælia recognized), and booze flowing like water.

“Where do they get all the stuff?” She hadn’t meant to ask it out loud, but, having said it, turned it to a handsome – nearly pretty – black-haired guy standing next to her at the bar.

He smiled, a brilliant thing that made the room brighter. “Magic.” He wiggled his fingers at her, and then turned it into an offer of a hand. “I’m Maleagant.”

“I’m Lælia. And if you tell me it’s magic, I’m willing to believe you.”

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/511092.html. You can comment here or there.

Fashion in Addergoole After the Apocalypse, a series of Vignettes

Just before Year 18

The stores hadn’t gotten any new stock in months, but they were struggling, trying to pretend like nothing was wrong, hoping – like everyone was – that this would blow over soon, that things would go back to normal.

They’d pulled all of last year’s stock, anything they had in their warehouses and back rooms, in a sad attempt to keep things normal.

“Mom, I can’t go to school in last year’s clothes. Everyone’s going to laugh at me.”

“No, they’re not.” Laurelia’s mother was amazingly unsympathetic. “Because the world is ending everywhere, Laurelia, not just here.”

“But these clothes are so… ugh.” She plucked at the tunic-shirt distastefully. The end of the world was being very irritating.

“Then I suggest you learn to sew.”

Just before Year 27
Every piece of clothing Garden owned had been patched at least once. Every piece of clothing everyone she knew owned had been patched at least once. After a while, they’d given up on making clothes look new and had settled for being warm.

Except holiday clothes. Garden still had a skirt where you couldn’t see how they’d altered it and a nice soft sweater where they’d made the darns decorative.

The week before she was supposed to go to Addergoole, her mother pulled out a box Garden had never seen before. “I saved these.” The clothing was soft, clean – new – and smelled of cedar chips and lavender. “It’s not enough for the whole year, but it will get you started. And it looks like I got the size about right.”

Just before Year 37
Moretta’s mother was the seamstress for their town, which gave her a bit of an advantage. Her mother had tried out most of her ideas – how to take three pairs of ruined pants and make one nice pair, how to turn an old, ripped blanket into a jacket, how to make a dress from whatever you had leftover from other projects – using Moretta as a mobile dummy and advertising placard.

In return, Moretta had clothes to pack for Addergoole that looked like clothes. Her mother had dug into an old stash of fabric and spent some time looking at old fashion magazines, and then spent three months sewing. “They’re going to be coming from all over the country. Except Ediana, who you know, and Gerald. But most of them will be strangers. Their people will have different fashions. Remember that. There is no ‘voice of fashion’ anymore. And in Addergoole… well, there will be bigger problems.”

Moretta, who had been born four years after the world ended, didn’t know what her mother was talking about. But she knew that she had clothing that looked good on her, and felt nice, and kept her warm.

Just before Year 47
“All right. Two nice dresses, five pairs of pants, and three skirts. Nobody at school will be as well-dressed as you are.”

Naia’s mother wasn’t by any means an accomplished seamstress, but she was a very good cobbler and leather-worker, and her sister, Naia’s Aunt Prima, owned the burgeoning textile mill that employed most of the town. Naia knew she was lucky to be as well-dressed – and certainly well-shod – as she was.

She stroked the skirt carefully. “It’s all very nice.”

“But you’re thinking about the girls from New Detroit, aren’t you? With the fancy trim and the strange cuts on everything?”

“And the ones from the South.” Since her mother had said it, she could admit it. “With those pants.”

“You won’t be out of fashion in Addergoole. But, just in case…” Her mother folded a dress in the New Detroit style into the trunk.

Thanks to @inventrix for the names and for brainstorming with me on the fashion.

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/501603.html. You can comment here or there.