Writing and Reviews – Denise Pasutti
Serrin dreamed of a village surrounded by trees and a vast ocean. A wooden wall bordered half a dozen buildings and a grand house sitting on a hill, overlooking the tiny settlement. All of the buildings, including the house, were reminiscent of log cabins and the types of structures you would expect to find in an old west town. The wooden wall appeared solid and to be a good 10 storeys high with turrets where people stood armed with guns and looking out over the forest and ocean. The dirt covered ground emitted puffs of dust as nondescript people milled about, and there were no signs of modern amenities except for at the mansion with its reflective windows and the guns the guards held.
As often happens with dreams, it shifted from the peaceful village and Serrin was in another place, inside the mansion, and standing beside a massive ornate mahogany desk. A girl, probably in her teens, sat behind the desk but Serrin couldn’t tell her proper age as blonde hair hung across her face in waves of gold. She was on the edge of recognition when she bounced away from the room and found herself lying naked in a pool of rich royal purple silk beside a handsome man with eyes the colour of a stormy grey morning. Serrin felt warmth and a great love while drifting inside those eyes. As she looked at him, taking in his appearance, letters appeared on his forehead spelling out the word Rhoades. As quickly as the letters appeared they started to slide away, his face beginning to melt like a waxen figure, flames licking his chin and cheeks and encompassing them both.
“Serrin, wake up.” Galen shook her from the dream and the fire.
Serrin felt disoriented as she woke up in the strange place, candles illuminating the dark room and Galen, Tim and Arthur crowded around, their shadowy faces creased with concern. She felt ashamed as she recalled what had happened before the dream, looking out the window and not being able to handle the “view,” and of course having a dream that caused her to react violently while asleep.
“I’m sorry, I was dreaming.” Serrin felt confused as the dream quickly melted from memory and all she could remember were the man’s stormy eyes and the wavy hair of the girl.
“It’s alright, you’ve been through a lot today.” Arthur smiled sadly and squeezed her shoulder reassuringly. “Try and get some more rest.”
“I’ll stay with her Galen if you want to go back to your other sisters.” Tim sat down, leaning against the wall and wrapped a blanket around his shoulders.
Galen nodded, hesitant to leave Serrin but knowing she would be fine and that Kasee and Quinn needed him more. He stood up and looked Tim over once more not trusting the stranger before finally relenting and going back to his still sleeping younger sisters. Serrin didn’t feel quite awake but she was also not ready to go back to sleep either. Even though the dream had slipped away, it left her feeling uneasy and worried about something she couldn’t quite put her finger on; it was a feeling like something was coming. She sat up and leaned against the wall beside Tim. The cold of room made her shiver and she noticed that while the windows were covered with blankets, cold air still seeped in as a couple of people stood at the window on guard.
“Are you ok?” Tim moved closer, trying to talk to her but not disturb the others.
“For the most part. Did I wake up anyone else?”
“Nah. It’s surprisingly easy to sleep on this wooden floor and some of the others take sleeping pills.” Tim saw the questioning look before she asked. “It helps to keep the nightmares away I guess. I don’t take them because they make me feel too vulnerable at night and too dazed during the day.”
“I guess it’s a good way to go numb to everything that’s happening.” Serrin mused more to herself before changing the subject. “How long have you been here?”
Tim told her that he and Matt had arrived 3 weeks earlier while Arthur, Ellie, his kids and Brett had been in the silo for nearly 6 weeks. Michelle and Aaron arrived the week before with a dozen Chimera in pursuit similar to the way that the Gates had arrived. Steven had been there the longest, nearly 2 months, almost since the beginning of the invasion. Sadness ebbed into his voice; 2 months stuck in this building surrounded by the constant threat of death and dismemberment. Serrin felt numb thinking about the prospect of being stuck in the dirty old silo for that long. She looked at Tim sensing he had more to say but was reluctant to continue. She tried to reach inside in his mind but she couldn’t get past the invisible wall that blocked his thoughts from her prodding.
“Steven did a hell of a job at making this place secure.” Serrin stopped trying to invade his mind.
“He wasn’t alone. He arrived with 8 other people, his family and some folks from town.” Tim took a deep breath before continuing. “They lost 3 people in the process of working on fortifying the silo. One died accidentally while putting on the upper blades and 2 were lost to the Chimera while looking for parts. The other 5 – ”
“They left or tried to, didn’t they?” Serrin didn’t have to be a mind reader to figure this out, it was written all over his face.
Tim nodded and explained that some of the group didn’t see the point in making the silo safe because it was like settling in without any motivation or hope of moving on. Steven had been one of the ones who tried to leave and had been lucky to make it back in one piece. One of them almost made but twisted his ankle and Steven had to leave him to Chimera. While the story wasn’t his, Tim seemed to have it clearly engrained in his memory.
“They were attacked and the Chimera scavenged their bodies.”
“Serrin the attacks aren’t meant to be fatal, they are intended to infect humans so that they will change and become apart of the Chimera army.”
It had never occurred to her that the beasts would purposely infect humans with the virus to increase their ranks. The Chimera were thinking and planning, not acting like savage creatures driven by the instinct to merely kill and maim those unlike them. She thought of her parents and what she had seen of the attack and what remained in the field afterwards. Had Morgan and Carrie actually died or were they infected and that was why there were only pieces out there and not the bodies. Serrin had been under the impression that the Chimera took the bodies for food or trophies, a truly morbid thought but finding out that the Chimera attacked to cause infection not death, hadn’t occurred to her before now.
To think that her parents had been mutilated and infected by those monsters was too horrifying. Serrin finally heard Tim’s thoughts – Shit, she didn’t know. She’s probably going to freak again. She wasn’t going to freak out, she was angry and scared; angry that he would think that, angry that the Chimera would defile her parents and angry that everyone was too scared to leave. There had to be a way for them to get away from here. She was beginning to realize that the silo didn’t just serve as a port in a storm but that it was also a death trap. They would need to forge for food and might die doing that, and if they couldn’t find food, they would starve to death. These people were afraid and given the length of time they had been here, they weren’t in a hurry to move on or face that fear.
© 2013, Denise Pasutti