Withered Tree – Excerpt

Have you read The Crimson Pact Anthology yet?  It’s a great collection of stories from a range of talented new and pro authors!  If you haven’t gotten your copy yet, check out this excerpt from my story, “Withered Tree”:

Withered Tree

By Suzzanne Myers

We are twenty, walking our ponies down a black road under cover of night, knee to knee. We are ghosts slinking down from the mountains, sneaking through Prison City, twitching at every sound. We don’t have a choice. We must eat, we must live. The world before the Apocalypse was a complacent world, a world in which choices were many and too easily made. Now the only choice is how you want to die.

I am the only one of us who’s not afraid.

Jav kicks his pony out of the shadows ahead and trots up to me. We pause in the dark while the others draw up around us. Jav looks us over quickly, counting the heads, then jerks his chin up the road behind him. “We’ve got trouble. There are eyes on the street.”

I follow his gaze, past the long shadow of the roofline above us, past the sign on the corner and the fuel pumps with their hoses lying in the dirt. The filling station is dark inside, the window glass broken. The door hangs from its hinges and trash is piled up around it.

Then it comes; not slowly, the way black of night fades into shades of morning grey, but there—quick, a flash, a glint of light on metal. It might be just the moonlight. A reflection on a countertop, an empty coffee can. Or it might be a rifle barrel.

And without a doubt I know it’s them. “Dogtribe,” I breathe. I can smell them now, something faint and acid on the air. A taint against the natural order of things.

“It was a gamble, Zi,” Jav whispers. “We have to go back.”

A gamble. But this, it isn’t like bluffing Five-hand in a low-stakes game. It’s taking a shortcut off the main road in the hopes that you’ll find shelter for the night. But the shortcut drops you down into an old blast crater, and there at the bottom you find a fly-by-night outpost and a group of men waiting for you, but they aren’t men. They’re something that looks like a man, and they lean on your AV and smile and say, “Oh yes, Darlin’ we have what you so desperately need–medwraps, water, food. We’re real humanitarians, yes we are.” You buy the line of bullshit and before you know it, you’re not eating gravy and potatoes—the not-men are eating your friends. And you? You’re tied up in a corner watching them do it. Listening to them talk about Prison City and how it’s next on their list. Trying to find a place in your head to put the butchering, the dying screams, the insanity. Waiting to be next.

 

If you liked this excerpt and would like to read more, please purchase the anthology here: The Crimson Pact Store.  And don’t forget that Flash subs for Volume 2 are open until June 6th!

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