If you haven’t read it yet, please look at the previous post and read about the Siblings. This part picks up from where it left off. This is slower paced but I hope you enjoy it. It once again flowed easily and is one of the most enjoyable writing experiences I have ever had. Thanks again to K.J Chapman for such an amazing prompt.
Please let me know how you found it.
Fer had not been gagged or knocked unconscious as Jest had feared.
Instead, a burlap sack had been placed over her head; a pistol rested against her temple and she had been told that any sudden movements would result in her death. Fer did not believe that, as who would go to the extremes that the Operation had just to kill her, but at the back of her mind there was doubt. There was the chance that one would get an itchy trigger finger if she made the slightest of moves, so she abided by the threat.
Despite the sack being dark, she closed her eyes and rubbed her bump to soothe her. Fer had no idea if she was carrying a boy or a girl, but knew this was not the world she wanted her offspring to be brought up in. Her thoughts moved on to Jest. They had never been apart since the Operation had taken over and she had no idea if he was alive or dead. She fought back the tears as she knew it was not the time to be emotional.
Maybe it would be better if we were all dead, Fer mused and hated herself for thinking such a terrible thing.
She needed to remain optimistic if any good was going to come from the situation and took note of the journey. She was in a jeep she knew that, driving through the forest at a gradual speed, rocking back and forth as it trundled over bumps and dips. The travelling made her nauseous but she kept herself together.
The jeep slowed to a stop and the sound of soldiers moving unnerved her. The pistol was removed from the back of her head as a hand hooked around her arm and pulled her from the vehicle, lifting her in the air with ease and setting her on the ground carefully. It was a strange sensation; she was six months pregnant and not the lightest or easiest to move around, but the care they took in her wellbeing was baffling. The air was warm and the smell of lavender hit her senses immediately. It brought back memories of when her and Jest were young, playing in the fields seeing who could run the furthest, picking the nicest flowers and who would win sweet of the day from their mother for prettiest bunch.
She was knocked out of the reverie by a hand on her back that guided her towards an unknown location, blinded by the burlap sack and no way of telling where she was. A tug on the back of her dress prompted her to stop, then just as quickly her legs were positioned up a few steps and then pushed along an aisle and forced into a seated position. The smell had changed to sweat and dampness and the temperature had risen around ten degrees, with beads of sweat forming on her brow.
The burlap sack was lifted violently off her head snapping her head back to which she muffled a groan. The light blinded her and it took a minute or so for her eyes to adjust. She was on a coach but somehow she had already come to that assumption. The most shocking thing was that all seats on the coach had been filled with pregnant women. At a quick count there were around forty five women of different ages, the oldest she could spot looked in her mid forties, the youngest sat at the front and looked in her late teens. They all were dressed casually, some soiled in mud, others looking as clean as be, but all had the same sour expression. A few were crying hard but hid it in their sleeves and all seemed too scared to talk as that would bring unwanted attention to them.
The coach roared to life, the doors hissed shut and then pulled away. There was one of the soldiers that had captured her from the hilltop standing at the front of the coach next to the driver. He was the only member of the Operation on the coach and that filled her with the faintest slither of hope. Fer looked out to the furthest window from her and saw nothing but trees and leaves. There were no blinding lights from the solar flares or embers filtering down. It was as if it had stopped. She could not fathom why that would have happened or where they were.
“You know we are gonna die right? Eventually, anyway.”
The female voiced made her jump as she was not expecting it. Fer turned to her left and spotted a heavily pregnant woman fanning herself down with loose tissue. She was dark skinned with long black dreadlocks pulled tight in a ponytail and her lips were full and bright with red lipstick. Her dress was bright yellow with sketches of butterflies printed on it. She must have been in her late thirties but came across as a teenager.
“They will suck our spawn from us and then,” the woman said and ran a finger across her throat, “off with our heads. That’s how they deal with folk like us.”
The dark skinned woman continued to fan herself and turned her attention to the outside as if bored of the conversation. Fer’s heartbeat increased and her palms went clammy as she just glared at the stranger.
“Ya know its rude to stare, right? If ya got something to say, slap your gums and say it,” the woman said.
Fer felt her face flush and was unsure of what to say. She could have just sat there in silence with the only comfort being the sound of weeping women. She was scared and helpless but Fer found comfort in the presence of other women.
“Aren’t you scared they will hear you?” Fer asked and nodded in the direction of the soldier, unsure if the woman noticed.
“Please, we are protected by the Operation. They are just goons. As long as we don’t attack or make a run for it, they won’t harm us.”
“What is your name?” Fer asked.
“You may call me Dee. What do you go by?”
“What’s it matter? We all will be dead soon enough, right?” Fer said with a wry smile.
She turned to face the front and left it that, testing to see how Dee would react. Fer was willing to match Dee’s rudeness with her own to get more information out of her. It had been a long time since she had any company other than her brother and felt strange to be without him. He was always the more eloquent speaker, not her, and would be better suited for such a situation.
Fer could sense eyes watching her from the side, but kept her composure and waited. That was what Jest would have done. Would do.
Fer blinked away tears.
“You got sass, girl.”
Dee’s abrupt voice made Fer jump but she kept calm.
“You are right, though. Nothing really matters. Soon we will be ashes, floating in the wind. Only the privileged survive nowadays.”
Dee was so matter of fact Fer could not help but chuckle. She had not thought about death in a long time, even when the world was set to end. She was optimistic there would be light and she would fight through no matter the challenge.
“So, Sass, where did they pick you up from? It can be a ‘you tell me, I tell you sorta thing’.”
Fer found herself thawing to Dee. There was no harm in conversation if it meant taking her mind off the misery that laid ahead.
“We were found at a hilltop, not too sure of the surrounding farms.”
“Ah, me and my hubby were found at the abandoned factory, think it was Goldsons Metal Factory in its prime. The majority of us were held up there; not too sure how long they had been hunting for us but they were prepared. We were shoved into one section of jeeps, our men in the other. I noticed their coach pull away before ours. They must want our men for something; us, they just want our babies. I ain’t going down without a fight, but I don’t see me winning.”
It took a moment for Fer to catch on to what she said. There were men that had survived, men that they had taken hostage just like the pregnant women. That could mean Jest was alive, and they could be reunited when they reached their destination, but it was more wishful thinking than anything else. Fer thought back to the last thing she saw at the clearing. Jest had been beaten and left in a heap as the soldiers departed along with the Operation leader whose name had slipped from her mind. Hope started to fade and replaced with the urge to vomit. Fer ran her hands over her bump and bit her lip. Dee placed a hand over Fer’s, squeezed it and let it go.
“Don’t worry; your man will be safe.”
Joss flashed into her mind. His long blonde hair, blue sparkling eyes and a smile that would warm her heart and make her weak at the knees. He had an infectious laugh and good humour to brighten even the darkest of days. That was her man, the father of her unborn child, lost in the sea of madness, the last memory of him being swept under the feet of soldiers and scared civilians. Jest had pulled her free from the commotion and no matter how hard she clawed, he would not let her go. She cursed Jest for a few days, crying herself to sleep, her heart broken by the loss of her true love Joss. It took time but she realised Jest had done the decent thing; the brotherly thing.
“Girl, listen, we will be there soon. We will get dressed nice, we will get fed, treated like queens, the whole shebang. That will keep us occupied. When you due?” Dee asked pointing to Fer’s bump.
Fer realised she was unsure of the calendar date. They had been on the run for so long all the days merged as one, but she had been keeping a tally on how far pregnant she was. Fer pulled up the hem of the dress over her knee and revealed her left thigh. There were six lines with tally marks etched into her skin that were now scars.
“Six months gone,” Fer whispered, more to herself than Dee.
“You are lucky, now pull down your dress, don’t want the guard to get all clumsy with their hands. Who knows how long it has been since they have been with a woman,” Dee said straightening Fer’s dress.
“I’m due in a week, my time is numbered.”
“How do you know so much?” Fer questioned.
Dee looked out the window as if concealing her face. “My sister, she was in the Pit for some time.”
Dee’s voice had now cracked and even though Fer could not see it she knew tears were rolling down her face.
“Our group had an informant who would conceal themselves as a guard and enter the Pit unnoticed, to pass messages on to our loved ones. He told me everything I know about the pregnant and the pit. The informant never returned after the last excursion. My sister on the other hand is dead now, her body worthless without the child she was bearing.”
Dee turned with her face wet with tears and her eyes blood shot.
“We will be there soon,” Dee said looking forward.
“The Pit,” Dee said with a cold glare, her jovial spirit dead.
Fer looked forward, peeking around the corner of the seat in front and out of the window. Her eyes widened at the sight of a large metal wall that stretched wider than the eye could see with buildings looming ominously in the distance. A wrought iron gate stood tall directly ahead with several Operation soldiers standing guard. The oddest thing was the colour of the sky. It was blood red.
Fer sat back unnerved by the sight of the Pit, grabbed Dee’s hand and held it tight.
“My name is Fermina, but my friends call me Fer.”
The coach continued on in silence, Fer’s heart hammering and her future in doubt. She closed her eyes and thought of Jest. She did not expect to see him alive again but held on the to the faintest bit of hope she would.
Be safe, Brother, be safe.