Friday, 1 February 2013

#FridayFlash - Broken Bracelet


In the days following The End, a lot of people learned the value of what they'd lost. Law, order, social niceties, even electricity - all gone. Those disenfranchised by the old system turned feral, and formed the Riot Boys. The police, overrun and overworked, just gave up. It got worse. Even death offered no eternal peace, as the dead began to rise. It wasn't radiation, or a virus, just some quirk of reality that reversed some of the natural laws. Some of the revenants retained their previous selves, and went home. Some of them...well, they copied whatever behaviour they saw, and a lot of them saw nothing but Riot Boys. Humanity was beset on all sides - for the first time in my life, I was glad not to be human.

Oh I looked human. Most of the time. For three days out of the month, we were something else entirely. My family were Wulfen, and given there haven't been wolves in England for centuries, we'd become adept at avoiding detection. Being smaller and lighter than my brothers, I trained as a Tracker, and I was good at it. Very good. My brothers could have been jealous, but they had no other sisters, and protected me as the Warriors they were.

So it was that I came to be skirting the remains of an old village, late one spring evening. Some of those places avoided much trouble, being so far out of the way, and the inhabitants continued on much as they did before, growing their own food and bartering goods. They were always happy to see me, bringing with me news of the 'outside world'. Not all villages escaped, and the burnt out buildings of Woldendale put me on my guard. Riot Boys had been here - and might still be around.

I found myself in a pub car park on the edge of the village. The pub wasn't gutted by fire, but the windows were full of broken glass, the walls coated by thick graffiti. The Riot Boys probably drank it dry before they moved on. I lifted my head and let the scents of the air wash over me. Nothing - human or undead. I didn't think there was anything worth salvaging in Woldendale but I had to check.

I picked my way across the car park, and something shiny caught my eye. I padded closer, and saw the remains of a bracelet lying on the ground. Several cracked beads still clung to the nylon thread, although most of them had scattered across the tarmac. I picked up the fragile remains and sniffed, but heavy rain had washed away any traces of its owner. Now the bracelet just smelled of bad weather and petrol. I didn't have to be clairvoyant to see how it ended up here. Some hapless girl, perhaps eager to meet a boyfriend, ignored curfew and crossed the car park. With both revenants and Riot Boys in the area, she stood no chance. She encountered one or the other - or in a worst case scenario, both - and in the ensuing scuffle, the bracelet broke, and spilled its beads on the ground. I sighed. Nothing I could do for her now.

A scent caught my nose. Rotting flesh and hair gel – particularly cheap hair gel, considering its pungent aroma. I froze, trying to gauge the direction. Someone shambled out of an ancient lean-to at the back of the pub. He cut a strange figure, with his disintegrating skin, bloodshot eyes, and hair thick with styling product. He sported the typical spiky crop favoured by the Riot Boys, and was even clad in their tracksuit and trainers uniform. I could see acne scars among the patches of rot on his face – he couldn’t have been more than fifteen when he died.

He uttered a single moan and lurched towards me. I cursed myself for not keeping a weapon to hand, and scrabbled at the buckles on my bag. I backed away across the car park as the revenant ambled closer – not quite hurrying, but not taking his time either. I fumbled with the strap and the buckle finally gave. My foot caught on a pothole in the tarmac, sending me sprawling backwards. The flap of my satchel opened and scattered the contents of my bag across the car park.

The revenant smiled, a horrifying sight of missing teeth and misshapen lips, and bore down on me. I scrambled backwards, and my hand found smooth wood. My fingers curled around a handle and I swung upwards with all my strength as the revenant pounced. The head of my hammer collided with the revenant’s skull in an explosion of bone and blood. My would-be attacker keeled over, the hammer still buried in his brain.

I pulled the hammer free and wiped it clean on the revenant’s tracksuit top. I gathered the rest of my things and dumped them back in the satchel, ever mindful that where there was one revenant, there would no doubt be more.

A low moaning erupted within the lean-to. I recognised the sound – humans might think it a sound of mourning, but the moan, interrupted by snarls, was a revenant argument. They likely didn’t know I was there, but if they came outside, they would. My brothers would storm the building, slaughtering all the revenants they found, and they’d celebrate later with a feast of venison and ale.

But that was my brothers. I was on my own. I may be Wulfen but I wasn’t stupid. The revenants of Woldendale could wait. So I did the only thing I could. I ran.

* * *

Bracelet by L1l1th, tarmac by Blackcatm, edits by me. Concept of a broken bracelet in a car park from Nerine Dorman.

25 comments:

mazzz_in_Leeds said...

Very rich backstory here, Icy. Is it part of a longer work?

Peter Newman said...

I like the mash up of werewolves, zombies and post apocalyptic landscape.

There's something about the broken bracelet that's haunting too.

Tony Noland said...

This world is so complete, right down to the sibling relationships. Well done.

Harry said...

Was this all born from the image? Quite a tale you have spun!

deannaschrayer said...

Very engaging story Icy, and I agree with Maria, there is a lot of terrific backstory woven throughout. Yes, I'd love to see a serial.

Icy Sedgwick said...

Maria - It wasn't going to be but I think I need to explore this more.

Peter - Well, you know me, never one to do things by halves...

Tony - I'm a little sister myself ^_^

Harry - It all came from a comment by Nerine about a broken bracelet!

Deanna - With luck, and time, there will be one!

John Wiswell said...

I chuckled at the "revenant argument" at the end. That's a good line.

In the final paragraph, did you mean, "But that was my brother's."? There seemed a couple times when it was supposed to be a possessive, but I couldn't figure it out.

Beth McKinnon said...

My daughter has gone to bed and I managed to escape ever so briefly into your world before dishing up dinner. Thanks. What a thrilling piece!

Bevimus said...

I love that revenants are a "quirk of reality"- but did you mean some rather than seem?
Either way this was fun!

Sulci Collective said...

rich dystopian world Icy. I think I prefer them being referred to as revenants than zombies

marc nash

Larry Kollar said...

This is great, I hope you explore this world some more. But I expected the bracelet to have more significance... maybe the revenant would slip on the beads or something, allowing the hammer-bash. No matter, this was lots of fun!

Helen said...

Nice backstory, you created a very visual scene. Are Revenants a bit like zombies and you have to destroy their brain to kill them then?

Steve Green said...

I've seen a few films, and read books where werewolves are fighting vampires, but not where they are fighting zombies, the idea that the zombies (Revenants) are rational enough to argue with each other adds another frightening dimension. I like the concept behind this, and agree with others that it would make a really good serialised story.

Nerine Dorman said...

Lovely, Icy. Feels like a snapshot of a fascinating world.

Carrie Clevenger said...

Awesome story, Icy!

Icy Sedgwick said...

John - She's got more than one brother so she's referring to them in the plural.

Beth - Thanks!

Bev - Yep, typo...thanks for catching it!

Marc - I'm looking back at older myths of zombies, y'see.

Larry - Oh the bracelet comes in later on...

Helen - Yeah, it seems to be a common theme with zombies.

Steve - Hopefully there will be more (when I have time!)

Nerine - And it's all thanks to you!

Carrie - Thanks!

Virginia Moffatt said...

Ooh this is not my genre at all but you played it nicely, great build up and wise choice at the end...

Sonia Lal said...

Wonderful imagery! Werewolves and zombies - nice combo. Feels like there should be more.

Kymele Des A Lo'ra said...

Nice story built from the image. For a short piece, you packed a lot in too. Nice job.

J. M. Strother said...

Nice mix of differing threats. All from a comment about a broken bracelet? Isn't it amazing and wonderful what can spark a story. Nicely done.
~jon

Richard Bon said...

I agree it felt like part of a longer piece, interesting characters.

brainhaze said...

Brilliant Icy, I was gripped from start to end. The tone of it all was suspense throughout and wonder. There must be more and i cant wait for you to post the next part. Great stuff!!!

jackkholt said...

I particularly like the first paragraph, where you set up the entire world in such a short space, but it totally works. Mind you, the rest was great, too! I pictured the Riot Boys as something akin to Raiders from the Fallout series.

Katherine Hajer said...

This definitely felt like it could have been part of a longer piece, but what I liked about it on its own is that it paints this very complete world out of an incident that is so trivial on the face of it. All this conflict and world exposition (not to mention character exposition) from the little string of beads. I have to say, though, when she noticed something in a car park I thought, "oooh, whose skeleton?", but that's current events intruding.

Icy Sedgwick said...

Virginia - Yeah, she's not silly...

Sonia - There hopefully will be!

Kymele - Thanks!

Jon - The smallest prompts can lead to the biggest stories.

Richard - Hopefully there will be more.

BH - Thanks!

Jack - I've never played Fallout but thanks!

Katherine - Hehe, yeah, it's amazing what you can find in a car park.

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