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Here is all the story parts 1 – 5 ( part 5 is the latest) for you to read. Enjoy
Thank you all so very much for being loyal and supportive friends. I hope that this story becomes a novel that you enjoy and can get knowledge and ideas from, I hope this novel leaves you wanting more and more. I want you screaming at the screen for more!
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[warning]This is my story and I DO NOT GIVE ANY PERMISSION TO COPY OR USE ANY PART OF THIS ARTICLE[/warning]
“It’s Time To Go Home – A SHTF Story” Part 1 – 5
Continued violence and fear invades the nation as the world’s economical collapse drives people into desperate…
Henry turned off the radio. He couldn’t listen anymore.
Every day he turned on the news with a sense of optimism…only to have it crushed and dismantled. The economic collapse has caused great panic and fear among society. Unfortunately, those are the two emotions that bring out the worst in people. Violence. Abuse. Destruction. All common place in today’s world.
To make matters worse, Henry was oceans apart from his family. It had been months since he last held his son. Months since he last kissed his wife. Henry hated being away from everything that mattered to him. It was time to go back. His family was in danger…
As Henry finished packing, he looked back at the small shack he considered home for so long. He never noticed how small and dark it was. It was just a place to escape from the freezing winds and snow…and the occasional arctic wolf or polar bear. But over time, it became his home. As of late, it was no longer a place of safety. It was no longer a refuge. The deserted landscape quickly filled with dangerous poachers with nothing but destruction as their sole motivator.
Henry ran his fingers across the small, ratty mat he called a bed. Nostalgia swept over him. Just then, a loud noise broke him from his memories.
“I’ve seen someone go into that shack before. Let’s check it out. Take everything. Kill anyone.”
Henry looked around. There was no possible escape. The men were coming towards the only door. He had two choices: Hide or Fight. His instinct screamed for violence, but his love for his family forced him to seek refuge in the small cabinet near his bed. He cracked the door open to see who was invading his sacred home.
Three large men armed with assault rifles and covered with blood entered the room. They searched and ravaged Henry’s home, taking anything they could find. All his belongings were now theirs. The only thing he had in his possession was the picture of his wife and son and the hunting knife he carried in his pocket.
“I think that’s everything. Let’s get out of here,” said the man referred to as Axl.
“What about that cabinet?”
Henry’s heart sank. He knew what was coming. He had no choice. He had to fight.
Axl slowly walked towards the cabinet. With every step, Henry clenched his fists. With every step, he gritted his teeth. With every step, he gripped his knife tighter. He was ready.
Axl slowly reached for the cabinet door.
Just then, Henry kicked opened the door and jumped to meet his attacker. Henry plunged his knife into Axl’s thigh, causing a blood curdling scream. He quickly pulled out the knife and grabbed Axl by the neck. He turned to the other two, using Axl as a human barrier.
“One more move… I slice his throat,” yelled Henry.
The two men looked at each other and laughed.
“You think we give a shit if he dies? You think we give a shit!??!?!”
Just then one of the men pulled out a pistol and shot Axl in the head, narrowly missing Henry. Axl crumpled to the ground. He was dead. Killed by his own men.
Henry realized these men did not care. They were no longer human. They lacked empathy.
As Henry stood there, covered in another man’s blood, looking down the barrel of two guns, he realized he may not make it out alive…
The color drained from Henry’s face. Axl’s body lay flat before him, the empty soulless eyes stared at Henry, offering a grim glimpse into the future. Thoughts flashed through Henry’s mind, ‘could I leap forward and tackle them?’ but he quickly dismissed that notion, even if he managed to grapple with one of them the other would soon send him reeling to the floor along with Axl. The blood was dripped down Henry’s face, it trickled along his lips and the coppery taste felt warm, it was about the only thing that was warm in that wasteland. Quickly, he glanced around at the cabin but there was nothing he could reach in time that would give him any advantage. The situation seemed utterly hopeless so he fell to his knees, hoping that they men would take mercy.
“That’s what I like to see, you’re not as stupid as you look,” the first man said. A few dark blonde locks were matted to his forehead, creeping below the edge of his woolen hat. A deep scar ran along his right cheek and his skin was mottled, and his mouth seemed to be set into a malicious grin. The other was younger but no less mean. Dark stubble peppered his jowls and there were gaps in between his teeth, creating a whistling sound when he spoke. Henry bowed his head and closed his eyes, awaiting the inevitable. He gulped nervously and wished that he could pull out the picture of his family to look at one last time before he died, but he dared not in case they took that from him as well.
However, after a few moments the shot never came and he looked up at the men.
“How long have you been here?” the one with the scar asked, “how long!” the other yelled when Henry didn’t answer.
“A-a few m-months,” he stammered. The men looked at each other, evidently impressed.
“You look healthy too, how have you survived?” the one with the stubble asked.
“I had rations, raided some abandoned cabins. Killed some animals,” Henry said, almost ashamed of the lengths he had gone to in order to survive, the details of which he wasn’t about to reveal to these men.
“Maybe we could use him.”
“We are a man short now,” they both roared with laughter. As they did so Henry’s eyes flicked along Axl’s body and settled on a pistol hanging from his waist. He was almost shaking with nerves, and as waves of nausea passed through the pit of his stomach he shot out his hands and grabbed the gun, lifting it and shifting it between the two men. They immediately raised their weapons and Henry tried not to stare at the two barrels looming before him.
“Not so smart after all, are you,” the man with the scar sneered. He lowered his gun and shook his head. “You really think you have any choice whether you live or die? We’re the ones with the power here; we’re in control of your destiny. You have no choice. You want to see what happens when you pull that trigger?” he challenged.
Henry’s control over his hand faltered, the stress and anxiety becoming too much for him and the gun began to sway through the air.
“I can still be a man,” he said through halting breaths, “I can go out fighting on my own terms.”
“Look around you, who cares if you’re a man or not? The world has changed, civilization has changed, humanity has changed. We’re not the same anymore. But if you want to die, fine, I’m more than happy to oblige.” He steadied himself, but at the last moment his younger partner leaned in and lowered his voice, although Henry could still hear.
“You sure about this? Maybe Duke would like him around. If he’s survived this long he might know of some areas with supplies, and listen to the way he talks, Duke would probably like someone from his homeland, and he’s going to be mad at you for killing Axl.”
“Axl had it coming for a long time.”
“Yeah well, I’m just saying.”
Henry’s ears pricked at the mention of Duke. If he was from England perhaps Henry could work with him to find a way home, or at least find some way out of this mess. He dropped the gun and held out his hands.
“Fine, you guys win, I’m sorry, it was just the heat of the moment you know.” The two men looked at each other skeptically but they got some rope out of their packs and fastened it tightly around Henry’s wrists. He winced as the thick rope bit into his skin, but his spirits were lifted and he knew the hope that he would be reunited with his family was still alive. They hauled him up and pushed him out of the cabin.
“What do we do with him?” the one with the stubble asked, pointing to Axl.
“Just leave him here, unless you want him for dinner.”
“I’m not that desperate yet.”
They left the cabin, the cold wind bit at their exposed skin as they walked to the vehicle. The younger man pushed Henry in the back, making sure he was secured. The other revved up the engine and soon they were speeding away. It was a bittersweet feeling because Henry had spent so long in that cabin it was almost like home, but he raised his hands and held them close to his chest, and he’d swear that he could feel the outline of the picture even through his thick coat. There was only one home, and he was determined to get one step closer.
The car sped through the black evening, the ground scraping underneath the tires. Henry tried to keep track of where he was heading, but he lost all bearings. Eventually it ground to a halt and he was unceremoniously pulled from the car and practically dragged along the ground, barely keeping his footing. The two men threw him in front of a crackling fire, where a man sat atop a throne.
“Ah, Max and Daryl you have returned, and you brought me a present,” Duke said, pleasantly surprised.
“Yep, and guess where he’s from,” Max said, itching his stubble. Daryl kicked Henry to urge him to speak. He uttered a few words and Duke’s face spread wide into a grin. Henry returned the smile, but then he saw the darkness in Duke’s eyes.
“Throw him in the cage for now,” he said, and Henry was dragged off against his will, struggling until eventually Max got tired of it and slammed the butt of his gun into Henry’s face, and Henry was shrouded in darkness.
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.
Henry was still unnerved by Max and Daryl’s presence, but they were much more subdued than they had been, evidently their loud and obnoxious attitudes were dulled in the company of the Duke. They walked away from the cages, Henry glanced back at his fellow prisoners and he found himself wondering what crimes they had committed, but he wasn’t brave enough to broach the subject with his captor. The chilly ever-present wind whistled around as they walked through the compound, the Duke offering a commentary as they went along. Henry noted that the Duke was a man who liked the sound of his own voice.
“It’s a humble community we have here. You may not agree with that assessment given your treatment, but I can assure you it is the case. We have a lot of families so we need to be careful when we let anyone in. I’m sure you’re aware that there are a lot of dangerous people around. I like to think we’ve built a good reminder of civilization. It’s hard of course, but we’ve all lost people,” he seemed to drift away in a hazy memory for a moment, but in an instant the same friendly re-appeared on his face. “Adversity brings us together, and my aim is that this community thrives and becomes a testament to the human spirit. I think our history can be divided into phases – exploration, conquering, expanding, growing…now we’re in the survival phases. It’s funny how things change, success used to be having lots of money or a big house, now it’s having a roof over your head and a comfortable coat to keep you warm. It takes an entirely different set of skills to live in this world, skills that I think you have.”
He stopped and turned towards Henry, reaching out a hand and placing it on Henry’s shoulder.
“I truly am sorry for the way we treated you, I hope you understand. We’ve taken in some people and while we thought they were civilized they soon turned out to be feral and it’s not safe for anyone. Can we start again? They call me the Duke, but my actual name is William,” he said with an earnest look in his eyes.
“Henry,” Henry said, taking the Duke’s outstretched hand and clasping it firmly. The Duke smiled.
“See, we’re all friends here,” he said, but there was something about the way he said it that unsettled Henry. However, before Henry could dwell on it the Duke was away again, chatting jovially as their footsteps crunched against the layer of frost that blanketed the ground.
“Did you ever read Dante’s Inferno?” he asked. Henry shook his head. He wasn’t sure, but Henry sensed that the Duke was disappointed.
“No matter. Well, it’s very interesting because when most people picture hell they imagine it to be fire and brimstone with demons dancing around but in Dante’s Inferno hell was the place furthest from the warmth of God’s love, and as such it was a barren, desolate place. I think of that every time I look around. Are you a religious man, Henry?” Henry visibly squirmed, fearing that the wrong answer would lead to him being thrust back into the cage.
“Not for a long time,” he said, trying to sound diplomatic. The Duke scrutinized him for a few moments.
“I happen to think this is a grand test. Only the strongest would be able to keep their faith after suffering through this, but I have no doubt that we can resurrect the human spirit, would you like to be a part of that Henry?”
Their stroll had taken them beside the great bonfire that stood in the middle of the compound. Henry was grateful for the warmth that spread from his fingers and toes all the way to his core, but as he looked at the Duke he saw the flickering flames reflected in his eyes and they seemed to reveal a dangerous fervor.
After a few moments by the fire they moved away again. The Duke led Henry inside the complex. It was a makeshift shelter made up of tents, the ruins of buildings and rudimentary shelters. Sleeping bags were strewn all over the place and there seemed to be no order to anything.
“We’ll take you to the clinic, give you a once over,” the Duke said. Henry barely mustered a response; he was too busy trying to keep track of their path. He still didn’t fully trust the Duke, but in the event of a quick escape he would find it hard to escape the labyrinth. He was taken to the clinic, which was a room located in the basement of one of the buildings. There were a few people milling about, but he was taken to a table where a thin woman with curly locks of long black hair stood. It was strange for Henry to see people in normal clothes, the woman was wearing a long black skirt, a pale blue shirt and a white lab coat that was left unbuttoned.
She welcomed him onto the table and raised an eyebrow at the Duke, but no words were exchanged between them.
“I’m Roxanne,” she said, smiling warmly. Henry said his name. She told Max and Daryl to take Henry’s jacket off, which he initially protested but it was futile to struggle against them. He gazed longingly at it as the Duke took it away.
“We’ll just air it out and give it a scrub,” he said, and walked off.
While Henry was being examined the Duke went into a separate room and searched through the jacket. There wasn’t much of any interest, but then he flipped it over and looked in the inner pockets. Eventually he reached in and a satisfied smile spread across his face as he came across the picture of Henry’s family. He pressed his lips together as he studied it and then he stroked it with the outside of his fingers, trying to suppress a single tear that rolled down his cheek.
Henry winced and rubbed his arm as Roxanne pulled out the needle. The nurse turned to the side and let the blood drip into a vial. The dark crimson liquid slid down and Henry looked on grimly.
“Did you really have to do that?” he asked.
“Standard procedure, you know what the world is like now. We need to make sure everyone who comes in here is safe. It’s a good sign, it means he wants you to stick around,” she smiled warmly as she said this, but Henry wasn’t as confident as her. “Everyone had to take one, we’ll just test it and make sure you’re healthy, so far everything checks out,” she continued to reassure him.
“So how long were you out there on your own?” she asked. It was a completely innocuous question, but Henry thought it best not to be entirely forthcoming with Max and Daryl still hovering about.
“A while,” he replied, and from his tone Roxanne knew that was all she was going to get out of him.
“I’ve been here for a while now, nearly six months. I was in a small group just…trying to find somewhere…you know how it is. Never actually thought we’d find anywhere. But then we ran into one of the Duke’s patrol and they talked about their community so we joined. It’s been tough but worth it. It’s nice to feel like we’re actually building something, certainly better than struggling out there.”
As she spoke Henry listened, but her words soon faded into the distance as his mind flashed back to a time before he was alone, to a time when he had company, to a time when he had friends. He fought so hard to stop their images from forming in his mind, but like a hazy mirage there they were, Adam with his sandy-blonde hair and twinkling blue eyes, Matthew with his mop of black hair and eyes as dark as coal. The two of them were smiling back at him, as they had so often done. Yet as he focused on them more their friendly, happy faces twisted into an anguished expression of pain. Henry’s hands tensed and gripped his thighs, but neither Roxanne nor the other two picked up on his subtle outward sign of anxiety. Adam and Matthew’s faces loomed large and dominated his mind; their mouths opened and spewed forth a gush of dark images that came flooding into Henry’s psyche.
All his efforts to purge the past from his mind were futile. No matter how hard he tried to forget, his past was inescapable. He hated himself for what’d he’d done, but he had no choice…or did he? Every time he thought about this his mind swirled and whirled around in a tangled mess that paralyzed every decision he made. The worst thing was that he thought he could live with it…he had to live with it, but if he ever was reunited with his family would he be able to tell them? Would they be able to understand? Deep inside his fragile body his weary soul ached and it was slipping back into that painful place where he relived those horrifying memories. Encroaching upon the forefront of his mind were those tragic events when he…felt a rough hand on his shoulder, jerking him about wildly.
“The doc’s talking to you,” Max sneered. Henry looked up, almost dazed, as if he’d just been woken from a long slumber.
“Don’t be so rough with him!” Roxanne said, scolding Max. Max walked off with a satisfied smiled on his face.
“Go and get the Duke, tell him I’ve done everything I need to,” Roxanne said. Max and Daryl looked at each other, but when Roxanne glared at them they did as she said.
“I’m sorry about that; they can be a bit…difficult sometimes. As far as I can tell you’re in perfect health. We’ll have to wait for the blood results to come back obviously, but I shouldn’t think they’ll show anything.” When he didn’t respond she followed it up by asking if he was okay, her voice laced with concern.
“Am I…am I safe here?” he asked, his voice plaintive. She looked puzzled.
“Of course, why wouldn’t you be?” Henry chose his next words carefully, still unsure of the true nature of these people.
“The things I’ve seen, what about the people in the cages?” Roxanne took a halting breath and spun around, pacing towards the other side of the room. She started to look through some files.
“What people?” she said, trying to sound innocent, but Henry knew that she was hiding something. In a fit of rage he quickly rose and before she knew it he was standing inches away from her, red rivers sprawling over his eyes and his veins were pulsing in anger.
“Don’t lie to me,” he said in a low rasp, “I know there are people in cages, why are they there? What’s really going on here?” he said. At first Roxanne was shocked and the color drained from her face, but just as quickly she regained her composure and her words flew like daggers, matching his low tone.
“You have no idea what it takes to keep a community like this going. There are dangerous people out there and a place like this takes sacrifice. You can’t begin to comprehend what the Duke has done for us so don’t you dare throw accusations around here. You should feel lucky you’re even here, obviously the Duke has taken a shining to you for some reason, but don’t think that gives you the right to sabotage everything we’ve worked for.”
Her nostrils were flared in anger and spit flew from her mouth as she raged at Henry. He was taken aback by the woman’s passion, but didn’t back away. At that moment though, as they squared off to each other, the door swung open. The Duke, Max and Daryl had returned. Now it was time for the color to drain from Henry’s face as he wondered how the men with power would interpret the scene
To be continued ……