“It’s Time To Go Home – A SHTF Story” Part 3

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Before you read part 3 don’t forget to go back and read part one to familiarize yourselves with the plot again :) Here is part one & two:

“It’s Time To Go Home – A SHTF Story” Part 1

“It’s Time To Go Home – A SHTF Story” Part 2

 

[notice]This is my story and I DO NOT GIVE ANY PERMISSION TO COPY OR USE ANY PART OF THIS ARTICLE[/notice]

“It’s Time To Go Home – A SHTF Story” Part 3

Henry groaned as he patted his body and made sure nothing was broken. His ribs were sore, but he seemed to be intact. In the low light he could see that he was in a metal cage with thin, wiry bars. He shuffled over, hunched because the cage wasn’t tall enough for him to stand up, and examined the cage more closely. He ran his fingers along the edges of the wiry metal and found that some of it had barbed wire twisted around it. He followed the trail around, tracing the path of the barbed wire and found that it didn’t follow a straight pattern. At some points it ran along the roof of the cage, but it also coiled around and came back down the sides, resting near the ground. He dared not sit too close to it, for he didn’t want to risk tearing a hole in his coat. He found a place in the corner and settled in, wincing as the ground numbed his thighs.

 

He couldn’t make out much of the camp; the cage he was in seemed to be near the outskirts. The orange hue from a large fire was visible from far away and lamps were placed around at steady intervals. It was easy to deduce that the camp was organized, but he couldn’t really tell how many people there were or why they were treating him this way. His best hope was that it was just a security precaution, and hopefully once he was able to speak with the Duke they could come to an understanding. However, if the venomous attitude of Max and Daryl was shared then he feared for his life.

 

There were a number of cages around him but the blackness of the night shrouded them in darkness, and he could only see into the two that were immediately adjacent to him. The glow from the lamps softly illuminated a figure in each of them. Like Henry, they were swaddled in thick clothes so he couldn’t make out much detail, but he stared hard, and eventually they must have felt his gaze because they both raised their heads and looked back at him. One was a woman, and as she turned her head toward the light his mouth dropped in a horrified shock as he saw that half of her face was twisted and mottled with burns. They stretched back into her hood, and Henry could just about make out that the injured skin reached back beyond her forehead, so the front of her hair was uneven. She quickly turned away, and Henry wished that he had hidden his shock. In the other cage was a man, he looked old, but then again everyone in this world looked old, Henry reflected. This man had a thick wiry black beard that was flecked with grey, and when their eyes locked the man stared back, unnerving Henry.

 

Henry wanted to speak, he wanted to ask them why they were here and what had they done, but being alone in that cabin for so long had dulled his senses, and it was easy to be mistrustful in this cynical, dark world. Just a simple ‘hello’ seemed so complicated and dangerous. Isolation was safer than running into the wrong person. The word lodged in his throat, but just as he was summoning the courage to spit it out he heard footsteps approaching and the Duke came forward. Henry was disheartened when he saw that the Duke was flanked by Max and Daryl.

 

“I apologize for the harsh treatment, but one can never be too careful. There are some maniacs roaming about the land,” as the Duke said this he glanced over at the man in the next cage. “We just have to make sure you’re well-balanced, I hope you understand,” he continued. “Now, Max and Daryl said that you survived in that cabin for a few months, is this true?” he asked. Henry had no patience, so he played the only card he had.

“Did they also tell you that they killed Axl?” he said, looking smugly at Max and Daryl. It didn’t work as well as he had hoped.

“Yes, they did,” the Duke replied coolly, and if his skin wasn’t so pale they would have seen the color drain from Henry’s face. “You see we have no secrets here, we’re building a paradise in this frozen hell, and we have to be very selective with who we let join. Axl was…I’ve known Axl for a long time and he was one of the founding members of our little society. As time went on though…well, some men give into savagery a little too easily, but not you apparently. I’m curious, just how did you survive for so long on your own?”

“It’s like I told them,” he said, nodding towards Max and Daryl, “I found the cabin, raided some other abandoned camps, and hunted a few animals, just the same as most people do.” The Duke considered Henry’s words and rubbed his chin.

“I think you did well for not killing this man,” he said towards Max and Daryl, “we can always use resourceful people here, come for a stroll,” he said. It was more of an order than a suggestion. Max walked forward, leaned down and unlocked the cage. Henry gingerly crept out, his muscles aching as they stretched and flexed. Cramp throbbed in his legs but he attempted to hide any sign of fragility.

 

The Duke strode off and Henry rushed to keep up with him, but as he did so painful memories flashed in his mind, memories that he’d rather forget. In desperate situations people are often forced to do things they would not have done otherwise, and a wave of nausea rose through Henry’s gut as he wondered whether he could ever escape what he had done, and how long would he be able to carry on lying when he knew there was a much deeper, darker truth tearing at his soul.

to be continued ………………

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