Entries in Dark Jewel (29)
String glared at Zorch, looking angrier than Zorch had ever seen him. There was another man in String’s warehouse, tall, lean, pale with dark hair, but String was ignoring him firmly, so Zorch did, too.
“He’s ordered a roundup,” String said, clenching his teeth until a muscle twitched in his wrinkled brown jaw. He ran a hand over the curly white stubble on his bony scalp. “Because of you,” he added.
“Oh,” Zorch said. She sat down on the seat of a disassembled motor-scooter. That explained String’s anger. She picked up a spring from the floor and looked at it for a minute. It was the wrong size to use on the trains, but could maybe be tweaked. She set it back down carefully.
“Why didn’t you let Chop get you something?” String asked, as he walked over to a cupboard.
“He was still out with the train,” Zorch said, shrugging. “I’ve never had a problem before.”
“We were due for a roundup,” the unnamed man inserted. “It’s been months.”
“Thanks,” Zorch said, nodding. “String’s right, though. It’s still my fault.”
“It is your fault,” String agreed. “And that’s why you need to help us. We need you to be committed to the Underground. To getting people out of here.”
“You know I can’t do that,” Zorch said, standing up. So this was what it was about. Getting her driving the trains, working the tunnels, committing herself to funneling feedstock out of town. She’d be dead by the end of the year.
“Can’t, or won’t?” String asked, swinging around to face her and running angry hands down the front of his dirty gray sweatshirt.
“Won’t!” Zorch said, turning on her heel, getting ready to leave. “Everybody who works on the Underground dies! And fast!”
“You said it yourself!” String shouted at her back. “Everybody dies!”
Zorch bolted out of the warehouse and slammed the door behind her.
The timing had been desperately close. The refugee train was clunky, barely functional, and the electrical part Zorch had scavenged hadn’t been the train’s only issue. After Zorch slotted in her prize, String and Chop had circled the train like a pair of mad men, swearing and banging at things with their wrenches. Zorch had hunkered down and focused on the engine, her specialty. At twenty minutes to midnight, they’d managed to ease the train out of the sideyard and down the tracks, with Chop hustling off to clear all traces from the yard, and Zorch and String on the train.
By then, the people inside the train were fully freaked out - several had tried to bolt and run, and been wrestled to the floor of the train by their fellow passengers. They’d all been culled from their service posts, and selected for the farms. They’d be bled, then eaten, within a matter of days. Getting caught escaping would hasten their deaths, though, and getting caught while attempting escape would endanger everyone.
The problem with the human/Vampire relationship really boiled down to where everyone fit into the food chain: Vampires were on top of humans. Humans had shifted from being in charge of the planet to being meat, and it wasn’t really a happy change.
Dawn found Zorch and String sitting on top of the moving train, hoping they were far enough outside the city to avoid capture. String was watching the countryside roll by, and swearing softly. Zorch was checking the generator leads where they fit in through the front engine cowling.
“What the hell are we doing?” Zorch asked. She looked over to where String was pounding his socket wrench gently on the roof of the train, venting his pent-up anxiety with the banging. “Everybody dies, no matter what we do.”
String looked over at her, watched her wiping her hands on her pants. “Everybody dies,” he agreed, still gently banging the wrench on the roof. “The tricky bit is how you live.”
Author's Note: Please do use the comments section to leave suggestions. There will be a small gap before the next post, as I'm travelling for the next few weeks. All material is copyright Sharon Kilzer 2013, all rights reserved. Have a great week.
It was dark, but then, it was hardly ever light. Moonlight glanced through an overhead window, illuminating the broken concrete beneath Zorch’s running feet, bouncing off the layer of volcanic residue coating the alley’s walls. Zorch clutched the package to her chest with her left hand, and kept a tight grip on a long knife with her right. Carrying, or owning, a knife long enough to lop off a vampire’s head was illegal, of course, but at this point Zorch was living on borrowed time whether her knife was out in the open or not. It would be easier to use if she kept it out in the open, and that was what mattered.
Barely slowing, she skittered through an intersection. She was working her way through The Grid, the system of train tracks and access pathways that the vampires had taken over after the Big Dark. That’s what everyone called it: the Big Dark. It was the time when normal life came to a shuddering halt and the vampires stepped into the void and took over. What went on in the sky had hardly anything to do with it, of course. Not unless you were one of the ones who blamed the sun, the moon, or a combination of planetary alignments for the civilization-shattering chain of events of three simultaneously exploding volcanoes, a series of earthquakes ripping across the globe, all followed by a string of deadly pandemics. It had certainly been the Big Dark of humanity’s reign of the planet, and that was what mattered.
Breathing deeply, Zorch picked up her pace. She could hear shouts and running coming from a distance. Whoever it was, they might be chasing her, or someone else. Probably, her, though. She kept running, clutching the package. It was an electrical part. If Zorch could get there in time, she’d plug the part into the power unit on a sidelined train, and another dozen humans would be on their way out of the city. They had to get the train going before midnight though, or the vampire patrols would come along, round everyone up, and eat them for breakfast.
Zorch felt herself grinning as she ran. She could feel her hair streaming out behind her, and was keenly aware that she was healthy, free, and alive. And really, there was nothing like a bit of pressure to keep a girl on her toes.
AUTHOR NOTE: To make suggestions about characters, content, or storyline direction, please leave a comment. Your input will be taken into account! This material is copyright Sharon Kilzer 2013. All rights reserved.
Excitement! I've finally got the site looking darker and more vampirish! Also, we have functioning links. How good is that? You can now click directly through for Fern's Blade, the prequel to Dark Jewel (all vampire, all the time, baby). Or ... if you're in a more reality-based mood, you can click the link for my book that tells you how to use Corporate Foresight techniques to envision a new life for yourself. It's right there, down below the vampire books... yep. There. On your right.
Tomorrow, we'll kick off the new vampire serial, that will be found here, and only here, on my new, much darker blog. And, oh, by the way, you can write suggestions for directionality on the serial into the comment box, and yes, I will take them to heart. Especially as, ahem, it's not actually all the way written. So, yes, we're doing it here, together.
Happy Saturday from New Zealand, where it is theoretically summer.
Sooooo exciting: I've got the vampire serial outlined. It's destined for bi-weekly blog posting - watch for it right here! Of course, it's very bleak, dark, and futuristic, and, yep, I've just spent New Year's Day locked in my house doing bleak, dark, and futuristic and ... you're welcome.
New look coming soon, also. To be honest, I couldn't face taking the visuals dark after a whole day of outlining our bleak humans-as-food future...
That's okay. It'll be fun. Promise.
Happy New Year!