The first chapter of The Remnants.
A new day breaks.
And with it... everything else.
The scene at hand is one of pure mayhem; catastrophe of unthinkable proportions.
A city street once hustling and bustling with the busy buzzing of daily life, now crashing and crumbling as death grabs at anything it can lay its hands on.
The row on the left side of the street, which runs from the mini-mart to the bookstore, had taken the most damage as the result of multiple grenades, gunshots to the windows and a short looting spree.
The right side of the street didn’t suffer quite as much, with the notable exception of the pharmacy at the beginning of the street, which had a monster truck parked in the storefront, on what used to be the door and part of the wall.
And at the other end of the street, behind an old barbershop's window which lay in shambles, terrified patrons are cowering behind tables and chairs and hoping for the best. Or at least anything else that isn’t this.
Among them there are two who seem out of place; dressed in slightly ragged clothing and being the only ones hunched down directly behind the little wall that’s left from the storefront.
"We... we do what?"
The uncertainty of what she is picturing rings out loud and clear through her voice.
"You heard me."
His words, in contrast, emanate strongly, without a hint of hesitation.
"You DO understand that what you're saying is completely insane, right? That's SIX guys out there, armed to the teeth. It’s just the two of us right now, and there’s no way Biggz and Tomlinson are making it to the party before those idiots out there get bored and turn trigger-happy!"
She stares at him, pleading, begging, for a more reasonable reply this time.
No such luck.
Before the two get a chance to continue their seemingly futile conversation, a playful yet evil-sounding voice booms from the street.
"Are you girlies going to come out and play or what? We can do this aaaaall day!"
The man behind the window lets out a deep sigh as he begins getting up. His ally grabs him by the arm, and looks at him with a twinge of fear in her light-gray eyes.
He shrugs at her and pats her on the head.
"There IS no other way."
It takes about between three to seven seconds for the loud noises to turn to almost complete silence as Jake exits the barbershop through what used to be the main window.
Faint screams and sirens in the distance, some irritating car alarms here and there and lazy bits of glass dropping a bit tardily to their demise still reach the ears of whoever is willing to listen.
But the gunshots, grenades, war cries- gone.
And the long city street now looks like a scene ripped straight out of an old Western... and edited for the times, of course.
The deep, rough voice still maintains its playfulness as the rugged powerhouse standing at the opposite end of the street, with his men right behind him and their modified monster truck behind them, addresses Jake directly, in an almost friendly tone this time.
"Well, well, well. Look who decided to show. I'm actually quite proud of ya, Snitz."
"It's just Jake now, Brute."
“Whatever. So, did your little friend finally decide she wants to join us, or are we gonna kill both of you, or… what? Any updates?”
Jake merely raises an eyebrow as he scoffs.
He slowly wipes the sweat off his forehead with his right hand and dries it on the sleeveless, black hooded vest that he’s wearing.
The stand-off feels surreal and highly uneven; six massive men with unnecessarily big guns on one end and an unarmed, older-looking man on the other.
The fact that he is being joined by his smaller female friend does not make it seem all that more even, for some reason or the other.
"Hey look, it's Anastasia! GUYS!"
As she cracks her neck, annoyed, she lets out a loud sound that resonates as an echo of Jake’s earlier scoff. The handgun gripped tightly in her right hand seems almost cute compared to the shotguns and semi-automatics harbored by the other side, but she walks with the confidence of the backing of an army.
She makes it to her partner, and shoots a venomous sneer directly at Brute, the gang leader on the other side of the street.
"That's TAZE!” she yells out. Her old friend pats her on the shoulder.
"Don't bother. They don't DO names."
Taze’s black-and-blonde hair glistens slightly in the sunlight.
She opens her mouth to say something, but as her thoughts dissolve and the feeling of helplessness returns, she stays quiet instead.
Brute decides to take the opportunity to taunt them some more.
"This almost feels unfair. We got everything we need to send you to Kingdom Come ten times over and more, and all you got is that lousy water pistol.” He grins.
Taze’s free hand instinctively moves towards her tattered, baggy black pants’ back pocket. Jake shakes his head, stopping her instantly. Taze seems to want to say something, but Brute starts speaking again, interrupting her on purpose.
“Hey! Ana! You still big on those lil' shockers? Maybe you could mix those two and you might have a bit of a weapon there!"
Loud, boorish laughter ensues.
"Okay, that’s it. Let's take them down."
"What? Think for a second, Taze. Look at those guns."
She shoots Jake an incredulous look.
"Well why the hell are we even out here then?! You wanna make our deaths that much more embarrassing?"
"HEY! What are you two discussing over there; battle strategies?! Lemme give ya a tip; two on six means three guys for each of you!"
The camo-clad behemoths continue laughing. Jake gets a slight smile on his face as he continues staring at them. Taze is still looking at him with an expression of utter disbelief.
"Care to let me in on the joke?"
"We're just biding time."
They stare at each other now, communicating on another level. All of a sudden, an understanding smile creeps up on Taze's face.
"HEY! What's so funny?!", Brute yells loudly, stopping his group mates' laughter.
Taze turns to them, still smiling, and merely puts her left index finger to her left ear slowly.
It takes a couple of seconds, but Brute gets the message.
"But boss, they wouldn't dare break the agreement, would they?"
The sirens which have been growing louder in volume continue to do so. Brute and his men turn just in time to witness the massive red fire truck roll the corner and come careening right at them. The voice coming from the speaker on top of the truck lets out a loud warning in a mocking tone.
"PLEASE DISPERSE! I REPEAT, MIDMOON MONSTERS, PLEASE DISPERSE, AS YOU ARE BLOCKING OUR ROUTE! WE ARE ON OUR WAY TO A FIRE!"
Brute and his men make it out of the way just in time, save for one who is apparently too slow and gets hit by the fire truck, not slowing it down at all.
"YOU WERE TOO SLOW, I REPEAT, TOO SLOW!"
The remainders of Brute’s men begin firing at the truck, which in turn tosses out just one grenade from the passenger's side window.
But it is a well-aimed grenade, as it takes out the Monsters' vehicle with a loud explosion that sends all of them to the floor.
“WE JUST PASSED THAT FIRE WE WERE ON THE WAY TO. WE SHALL NOW LEAVE. PLEASE DISPERSE. GOODBYE.”
The truck passes Taze and Jake and slows down slightly to roll the corner, and they jump onto it, grabbing the extended ladder at the back. Brute makes it up just in time to realize there is nothing they can do. As the fire truck rolls the corner, Taze smiles and waves to the MidMoon Monsters with her free hand.