Terra

Spencer

Morning in Washington DC. The toxic orange sky shines so brightly that anybody with any skin exposed would find themselves blistering up within moments.

Quinn races through the city’s empty and destroyed streets as fast as his feet can take him. These streets were once a thriving and bustling hub of life. Now they’re a sign of the selfishness that was the human race.

Most stores here have already been looted by survivors of the war... not that those survivors survived very long. The only real hope was to find underground shelter, which is exactly what Quinn and his siblings did. They found shelter in the basement of what was once the biggest mall in the city, and stayed there. Even to this day, Quinn still lives in that basement with his sole remaining sibling, and select few others.

On this day, as Quinn makes his way back, he stops by a drug store that he notices has been left untouched. He walks slowly up to the window, almost mesmerised by how intact it all is. It’s like life just stopped here. Everything still stands on the shelves, the medicines behind the counter are still on display, completely untouched.

He takes a step to his right, and reaches out to try the door, but it’s long been jammed shut. Slowly he blinks, and reaches into his pocket to pull out a Geiger counter that he carries with him everywhere. The reading is off the chart. For a second he considers leaving, but if this place has been untouched, the medicines inside will prove to be valuable, and maybe he can find something here to help his brother.

With a few looks over his shoulders, and a quick evaluation of the area around him and the window, he slips the Geiger counter back into his pocket, lifts his leg, and kicks the window as hard as he possibly can. The glass shatters immediately, and he turns to cover himself from the falling shards. Once all is settled, he stands again, and steps into the store. He finds the remains of three humans instantly, but it doesn’t phase him in the slightest. He just continues through the store, goes bashing the counter and finds a bag.

He makes his way out the back, to all of the drawers that contain the medicines now, and pulls each one open individually, looking for anything that could come in handy.

He picks up blood sugar medicines that he knows will come in extremely handy, he picks up as many containers as he can and whips them into the bag. Quickly followed by sedatives, pain killers, antibiotics, inhalers, everything and anything that he can.

Eventually, when he has four bags full, he knows he has to get back. It’s going to be hard enough to get back to the mall in the daylight as it is, let alone if somebody sees him with all of this. So he retreats from the drug store, and heads as fast as he can back to the mall, and back down the stairs into the basement. Where he removes his gas mask and quickly changes out of his all black leather clothes, into a pair of pyjamas that are stored away in an air tight locker, and puts his radiation soaked clothes into another locker, and his gas mask into another; and then goes through into another room where six others wait for him.

The radiation levels down here are low enough to take the gas masks off, but it isn’t completely free from toxicity.

“The hell have you been?” A guy asks Quinn as he shuts the door behind him. It’s the same guy who had been chasing after Zoe with an axe the previous evening. He’s a young man of African-American background. His clothes are much the same as what Quinn wears, a plain t shirt and a pair of cotton pyjama pants. In fact, that’s exactly what everyone down here is wearing because it’s simply the easiest thing to get hold of.

The group is small, just three females and four males, including Quinn.

“I found a drug store that hadn’t been looted yet.” Quinn tells the guy in response to his question, and drops the multiple bags of drugs to the floor. Immediately everyone in the room crowds around the stash and starts going through it, everyone apart from one person.

Over in the far right corner of the room, led on a sofa and covered with many blankets, a young boy lies shivering. He has the same features as Quinn, only he is weaker, a lot weaker.

“Hey Spencer.” Quinn comes over and greets the boy as he kneels down next to him. The boy tries to respond, but just ends up coughing uncontrollably.

“Hey, hey it’s okay, here.” Quinn comforts, and prepares one of the inhalers he got from the drug store. The boy takes it a few times, and lies his head back down.

“Did he get any sleep at all last night?” Quinn Stand’s up and asks.

“A little.” A woman replies. “Not much though. His chest got a lot worse overnight.”

“Well, hopefully some of this stuff will help a little bit.” Quinn speaks to both the woman and his brother with optimism.

“Quinn.” The woman gestures for Quinn to come over to her. Together they move to go and lean against an old unused desk.

“Is everything okay?” Quinn asks her.

“I don’t think he’s got very long left.” The woman whispers to Quinn. “Quinn when the time comes we have to end his suffering.”

“No.” Quinn shakes his head. “No that’s not an option, we’ll find help.”

“There is no help Quinn.” The woman pushes, a bit too loudly as she gains the attention of the others in the room.

“There is if we can capture those people who were here yesterday.” One of the other boys tells her.

“There were people here?” The woman answers.

“Yeah.” The guy who had first met Quinn upon his return speaks up. “The people that the WG put the bounty on. Quinn here helped them escape.”

All eyes shift to Quinn now, and he feels a sudden need to retreat a few paces.

“You did what?” One of the girl’s asks.

Quinn doesn’t respond, he just looks down at his younger brother, who lies on the couch, looking up at him with pleading eyes.

“Why would you let them go?” The youngest of the girls asks. “Quinn your brother is dying he needs the World Government’s help!”

“Oh shut up they aren’t going to help us!” Quinn fights back. “Do you honestly think that 9 trillion credits even exists? The government are just making it up! They don’t give a damn what happened to the people that remain around the world! They only care about themselves.”

“Dude it could exist!” One boy argues.

“Danny the Government haven’t made a food and supplies drop for nearly two years now, believe me they don’t care.” Quinn responds. He looks to the woman he’d been previously speaking to. She’s clearly the oldest of the group, but not by much. She’s a small woman of about 5’4”, with long chocolate brown hair, and hazel-green eyes. Her skin is mottled, damaged by the flashes of the bombs six years ago when she was just eighteen.

“Val you know that right?” Quinn asks.

The woman nods silently.

“Quinn has a point.” She begins to speak to the group. “The government don’t want to help. They don’t have that much money, and they certainly won’t be paying any out. They aren’t coming to get us, they probably just want those people so they can experiment on them or torture them or something.”

“Yeah well I say we let them do it.” The first guy speaks up. “They’re the reason the war happened in the first place.”

“Ty!” The other boy scolds. “They didn’t do anything!”

Silence falls over the room now as Quinn heads over to his brother who has passed out. He checks his pulse, and is relieved to find it is still there.

A tear escapes Quinn’s eye now, and a sniff from his nose. There isn’t a single person in this room who hasn’t lost someone, everyone. But there also isn’t anyone who has tried unsuccessfully to save three siblings.

“This sickness is coming after all of us eventually.” Quinn speaks quietly. “Those people the government are after, they’re from another planet. That’s what this whole thing started right? Because our country kept them a secret and the rest of the world got scared. If we kill them or offer them up, then we’ll just get left here. If they’re alive then they are the only hope any of us have. We don’t know what they can do, for all we know they can fix this.”

“Quinn I know you’d like to believe that but-“

“Shut up Melissa!” Quinn raises his voice at the girl who interrupted him. He sits down next to the couch now and turns to face the rest of the group. Tyler, the boy who had tried to kill Zoe yesterday. Val, the oldest of the group at 25 years old. Danny, an 18 year old boy of Puerto Rican descent. Melissa, a girl of 19 years old, with red hair, blue eyes and mottled skin from the flash burns. Harley, the second youngest of the group, at 17 years old with dark brown eyes and hair bleached by the bombings. She too also has mottled skin from the flash burns. And finally Quinn looks back over to his brother, Spencer.

“He’s not even fifteen yet.” Quinn sighs. “Look at all of us we need help. We’ve all got scars, we’ve all got burns and features we don’t want anymore. So have those people who came here yesterday.”

“You seem to know a lot about them.” Tyler sourly points out as he leans on a counter too and crosses his arms over his chest.

Quinn mentally debates whether or not to tell them about where he really went last night. Should he? Is it the right thing to do? Will they try and hunt them down?

“I just, they’re living beings like us is all.” He shrugs, choosing not to tell them. Right now isn’t the right time. Everybody is worked up and tensed, the last thing anybody here needs is to hear he spent his night getting to know an alien girl who has abilities and a 608 year old father.

“For a second there I thought you were gonna day you followed them to wherever it is they live or something.” Danny speaks with a slight laugh. “Nightmare that would’ve been.”

With a sigh of relief, Quinn leans back against the couch his brother sleeps on, and closes his eyes. He hasn’t slept properly in weeks. Now he really feels it, so he shuts out the rest of the room, and just allows himself to fall off into a light slumber.

*

“Quinn..... Quinn.”

Quinn wakes abruptly at hearing his brother speaking his name, and turns to look at the boy. Darkness has fallen over the room, and Quinn can faintly hear the sound of the others sleeping. He feels around the floor for a flashlight and turns it on, noticing blood trickling from his brother’s nose immediately.

“Oh shit.” He gasps. Ever so quickly he gets up, and reaches for a roll of toilet paper that sits on the counter top that all of their food supplies stand on.

“Here.” He speaks calmly as he comes back to his brother, and holds some of the toilet paper under Spencer’s nose.

“Hold his here and lean forward.” He instructs, and pinches the bridge of Spencer’s nose.

“Quinn did you really save those people?” Spencer whispers with a weak voice.

“Yeah.” Quinn whispers his reply. “Yeah, I couldn’t let Tyler kill them could I?”

Spencer’s smiles at this, and Quinn checks to see if the bleeding is slowing, then replaced He paper that is in Spencer’s hand with fresh paper.

“Good.” Spencer still smiles. “There’s still too much hate in this world.”

“I know.” An idea crosses Quinn’s mind now. What if Zoe and her family really can help them? Zoe has abilities after all, so surely her father and brother must too.

“Okay listen buddy I need you to keep a secret. Okay?” Quinn begins and Spencer nods. Quinn looks around again and checks that nobody else is awake before continuing. “So, last night I spent the whole night talking to one of them. And she has these amazing abilities, ones that you’d love. I’m gonna head back over there tonight. If I meet the other two, I’ll bring them back here okay?”

“But Tyler...”

“Tyler’s not going to do anything he’s all mouth.” Quinn cuts his brother off, and checks the nosebleed. “There, all done.”

He gets up now and takes the flashlight over to the pile of medicines on the floor, and picks out a few for Spencer to take. Once he’s given them to the boy, and the boy has drifted off back to sleep, Quinn quietly leaves the room, and slips the radiation soaked leather back over his pyjamas, the clean cotton acting as a barrier between the radiation and his skin. Next he goes over to pick up his gas mask, and slips it on into place. He picks up a backpack also, and checks it’s contents. Just three small tanks of clean oxygen, always good as a back up in case the mask fails. Then, just as he’s about to leave, the door to the room opens and closes again.

“You know where they are don’t you?” Tyler asks. “You were with them last night, and you’re going again tonight.”

Quinn doesn’t respond at first, he just looks down.eventually though he has to give an answer.

“Yeah I know where they are.” He confesses. “I spent the night with the girl. Her name is Zoella, Zoe for short. She and her brother are turning seventeen in two days. I like her.”

“You really think they can help?” Tyler asks.

“Tyler they live in a completely shut off hide away, there’s no radiation, there’s no way of finding them unless you already know where it is. Spencer just had the mother of all nose bleeds and that’s going to get worse. I have to try something. I’m going to tell her to take me down to see her father, I need to know if they can help him.” Quinn speaks in desperation for his brother.

Tyler nods, and watches as Quinn turns and leaves to go up the stairs.

Once again he heads along the still and silent streets. There isn’t a shred of light in sight, and the flashlight he carries is only so strong. He needs to be careful not to bump into anything, one cut or scratch and in could be game over in this environment. Even with the leathers on, the leather gloves he wears are not that thick. He could easily catch his hands on something.

It takes him an hour to safely get to the parking lot that the shelter is in. He smiles when he sees that there is a figure by the gate. However as he gets closer, he panics, there are in fact two figures by the gate, both Zoe and her father.