Ever wonder how I imagined The Zombie Chronicles Cast in my mind? Well, this is how I picture them in my head. It's a gang of close friends who are fighting for survival, friends who stick with each other to the bitter end.
Eight friends, from all walks of life, band together to fight the zombie apocalypse.
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It seemed like it only took seconds for me to shoot up
to the top of the tube. The door lifted, and I walked onto the dock. Staring
down at the ocean, I breathed slowly and deeply, inhaling the fresh scent of
the salty air; the aroma brought back, all the memories of when Rachel and I
had sneaked up before. The water was beautiful, glistening blue, and the ocean
waves relaxed my tension.
“Are you ready, Sky?” Tanya said, smiling.
I grinned back. “Let’s do this.”
My friends and I walked over to the boat, and a man in
a brown uniform reached his gloved hand out to help me aboard. The man then motioned
me to sit next to him. I smiled, enjoying the familiar warmth of the sunshine
as it hit my face. I couldn’t stop staring at the blue sky and the majestic seagulls
cruising effortlessly overhead.
Once the boat was fully loaded, we took off, without
anyone offering us one word of explanation or instructions. I was dying to know
more about the place, but they obviously weren’t ready to play tour guide. The
wind whipped across my face, blowing my hair all around. Whether I liked it or
not, I was about to start a new life. I didn’t want to do it without Brett, but
I had no say; our government determined our fate, and Dante made all the rules.
I swore I’d change that somehow, but for the time being, I had to play along
like a clueless sheep, just like the rest of them.
A friend of mine named Lawrence broke out into a fit
“Do you have a cold?” I asked.
“I’ve been coughing for a couple of weeks now and I’m
running a fever. I think it’s Pneumonia.”
“Well, I’m sure they’ll give you something, like an
“I hope so.”
I tapped his hand. “You’ll be better in no time.”
I listened to some of the girls talking.
“Did you hear the new rules?” one asked.
“They’re going to let women start being diamonds too.”
I looked at her. “Starting when?”
“I would’ve stayed to be a diamond, because my husband
“It doesn’t start until next month. So now, they’ll
call both women and men for diamond status.”
“Who’d want to stay down there five more years?”
another girl said. “Surely not me!”
“At least it’s fair now. Women have the same chance of
staying as men.”
“This isn’t fair,” I retorted.
Collin pointed to the city. “There it is,” he said.
“Is that Vita?” I asked excitedly.
“I’m not sure,” she said, playing with the red and
blue friendship bracelet on her arm.
We asked the men who were running the boat, but they
were rude and impatient and had no interest in answering any of our questions. “You’ll
know enough when you get there,” one of them grumbled.
The boat finally stopped, and we were escorted off. I
glanced around as I walked down the long dock.
A woman with a kind smile and long, black hair greeted
us. “Welcome, everyone.”
I smiled and nodded.
“How are you all doing? Do you seem to be adjusting to
the air up here?” she asked.
“We’re good,” I said, looking at my friends.
“That’s fantastic,” she said. “You’ll be split up for
a couple of days. There will be some tests and a medical exam.”
“A medical exam?” I asked, surprised.
“Yes. We must ensure that you are healthy enough to
live in Vita, as we can’t risk bringing in any infections, bacteria, or
As I stood waiting for somebody to tell us where to
go, I heard a guard not too far away.
he said to a guy that looked to be no older than twenty years old. “It’s the
best way to keep them calm.”
It looked like the guy was in training and getting some
lessons from a more experienced guard. I wondered what he meant by that. Just
because we had to wait for a few minutes didn’t mean we would panic. Sure I was
anxious to get started with my new life but I wasn’t going to run anybody over.
I don’t think any of us would.
A few people came out and led us into a huge room with
tables and chairs in one of the buildings. I sat down in one of the seats and
waited as they took back one person at a time. I wondered why nobody came out
to explain exactly what was going on. After a few hours, I was getting antsy.
There wasn’t that many of us and it couldn’t possibly take that long. I knew
they were getting exams but still…how long could that take?
I observed the
guards and noticed how stern the look was on their faces. And they didn’t seem
very welcoming either. I decided to go talk to one of the guards and see if I
could fish for information. I decided my
best bet was to ask the guy who was just a few years older than me. When I
walked over him, he didn’t even smile, in fact, he wasn’t very friendly in the
slightest. I smiled and politely asked him what was going on.
back down,” he said. “They’ll tell you
like?” I asked.
His lip twitched as he struggled for an answer. Maybe
he was nervous being around a girl. I could’ve sat back down but I pressed on
I held out my
hand. “I’m Sky.”
He shook my
hand firmly. “I’m Tim.”
I smiled. “Nice to meet you.”
“Nice to meet you too.”
“Where’s your favorite place to hang out?” I asked.
“We have a few places,” he said.
“Well, which one is your favorite?”
hard. Was I really that hard to talk to? I actually thought I was a very
“I like to read in the garden,” he finally said.
“I love to read.”
Ah, I found common ground. I’d focus on that. We
chitchatted about a few different books and I felt like I was breaking the ice.
The more he talked about his favorite books, the more we connected. He was a
nice guy and told me he’d just started today as a guard. He didn’t really like
the position but was forced to do so because a few of the guys got ill. So this
was a temporary gig for him. When I casually asked him about the city, he
seemed to clam up.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
“You seem like such a nice girl,” he said. “Maybe we
can talk for a few minutes in one of the back rooms.”
I gazed down at my wedding band and he bit his lip
“Um, I didn’t mean anything bad. What I mean is, I’m
not trying to pick you up. I see you’re a happily married woman. I just wanted
to talk to you in private.” He glanced around, then gazed at me. “There’s
things I can’t say here.”
something I should know?” I asked.
“Most definitely. And I think fate brought you over to
me for a reason.”
I hoped I hadn’t given him the wrong impression and he
didn’t think we were fated to be together. But then again, he said he knew I
was married. I think he was going to give me important information. It must’ve
been important though for him to think fate brought me over to him to get it. I
wondered what it was because he had totally piqued my curiosity.
He glanced around again, then motioned me to a door
that led into a corridor. I felt confident that if this guy was up to anything
sinister, I could easily take him out in a few quick strikes. I didn’t feel
threatened in the slightest. He was thin and skinny and taking him out wouldn’t
be a problem. When a man with dark hair looked up at him, he got really
“What’s going on here?” he asked, crossing his arms. “Nobody
is allowed back here.”
Tim stood there frozen in his tracks. He opened his
mouth but no words came out so I jumped in.
“I have to go to the bathroom,” I said. “I can’t hold
it. Can you please point me in the direction of the restrooms?”
He pointed to
the left. “Second door to your right.”
I hurried off and used the restroom hoping he’d be
gone when I came out. No such luck. When
I came out, Tim was gone and towering man lead me back to the others. I looked
around for Tim but he was nowhere in sight. I hope he didn’t get in trouble.
Tanya called me over and I sat next to her.
“I’m so excited. I wish they’d just hurry up this
process. Hey, where have you been?”
“I went to see if I could get some answers.”
“Something seems off. I started talking to Tim and it
was like he wanted to tell me something in private. At first I thought he was
hitting on me or something, but then I felt like there was something he wanted
to share. But we got cut off by some older guy who seemed like he was in
“I’m so thirsty. I just wish they’d give us something
“That’s just it,” I said. “Why aren’t they welcoming
us with a little food and beverages?”
“I don’t feel very welcomed.”
“I don’t either. I’m getting bad vibes about all of
this. I sure wish I could’ve heard what Tim wanted to tell me.”
“He probably wanted to take you in the back to ravage
your body in a huge make out session.”
“He knew I was married.”
“Since when does that matter to some of these horny
twenty year olds?”
I glanced at the door where others had already gone.
“Why aren’t the others coming back after their exams? Where’s Collin?”
“You sure do
ask a lot of questions,” she said. “They’re probably processed and moved on to
the bus taking us to Vita.”
“Sky,” a man
When I turned around, I was shocked to see Dante
Marcellus himself. His long, black hair was tied neatly in a ponytail and he
wore a brown faded shirt with a pair of jeans.
“Dante,” I said.
“So you’ve finally made it to the surface now.”
“Yes, I have.”
“I guess this means your trouble making days are
“Yes, sir, they sure are. I won’t be causing any
trouble in Vita, I assure you that.”
He smiled. “No you won’t.”
“I know you’ve been through a lot, but you’ll be at
“I hope so because I’ve had enough drama to last me a
He glanced over to the left when one of the women
“If you’ll excuse me…”
Dante shot me one last cold look. “Goodbye, Sky.”
He walked off and I sat back down. Tanya was ecstatic that her name was being
“Good luck,” she told me. “I’ll see you soon.”
I shot him a nervous smile as she was led away to
Twenty minutes later, a lady finally called my name.
She walked in, wearing a huge smile. “Hello, uh…Sky,”
she said, looking down at a clipboard.
“If you’ll please follow me…”
“And I’m so sorry about the long wait.”
“I have to admit I was getting a little stir-crazy.”
I followed her into a small room that resembled a
doctor’s office. She placed a stethoscope on my chest. “I’m Dr. Shanders. I’m just
listening to your heart, and then I’ll check you out to make sure everything is
in working order.” After she gave me a complete physical examination, asked me
a million questions, and drew blood, she asked, “Are you excited to be here?”
“I guess,” I said. “I just wish I knew more about the
place. I feel like a lost tourist.”
She laughed. “Well, once you’re deemed disease-free,
you’ll go to an assembly, and you’ll learn a lot about the city there.”
“Am I already in Vita now? Is this place part of it?”
“No. This is just the check-in area. Vita is not far
from here, and you won’t believe how beautiful it is.” She flipped through the
pages of my medical chart. “According to your file, you’ve got a two-story on 1560
“Two stories? That’s nice,” I said. “My husband and I
plan to have a huge family one day.”
“That’s what we like to hear. We want to repopulate Earth
and create a wonderful new civilization. The more, the merrier, I say!” She
cocked a brow, obviously a bit miffed about my lack of enthusiasm. “You don’t
seem too thrilled to be here though.”
“I’m sorry. It’s just…well, I don’t know if you saw it
in my chart, but I very recently suffered a miscarriage. It only happened a
week ago. I really need my husband to get me through this, but he was declared
a diamond, so we’ll be apart for at least five years. I just don’t understand
why they separated us like this, why they couldn’t give us some leeway after I
just lost my child.”
“So they sent you up here because you are eighteen and
are not a mother?” she said grimly.
“Yes,” I said, then glanced up at her. “If they had
given us more time, we could’ve tried again, after I healed.”
“The rules are the rules. If we bend them for one
person, we’ll have to bend them for everyone.”
“I can’t stand being ripped away from the man I love,
especially right now, when we’re both hurting.”
She tapped my hand. “It won’t be long. Five years will
fly by up here before you know it.”
“It feels like a lifetime.”
“I’m sorry, Sky.” She glanced down at the chart,
getting back to business. “Now, we’ll have to keep you isolated for two days in
a holding cell, until your blood tests come back.”
“But don’t worry. You look very healthy to me, and I’m
sure you’ll be living your dream life soon. That husband of yours will be here
sooner than you think, and then you can make all the babies you want.”
I let out a long sigh. “I sure hope so.”
She led me down a corridor to a holding cell with bars.
“Here you go,” she said, ushering me inside.
I looked around at the place and was reminded of
lockup in Asha. It was furnished only with an uncomfortable-looking bunk bed, a
toilet, and a small table. “It looks like jail,” I joked.
“I know it isn’t exactly luxury accommodations, but
you’ll only be here for two days. If your tests come back clean, you’ll be put
on the bus to Vita. There, you’ll be provided with a home, clothes, food, and
whatever you need. You’re going to discover a life outside of that glass pod.”
“That sounds great. I just wish I could have my
husband at my side.”
“You will…soon enough.” She smiled, then walked off.
The day ticked by slowly, and no one brought me a meal
of any sort. By the time night fell, I was starving, but all I had to quench my
hunger was the gallon of water that was sitting on the small table. I banged on
the door, but no one seemed to care that I was locked up in there, practically
starving to death. “Can’t I at least get some bread to go with my water?” I raged,
but no one seemed to hear me.
“Did they forget about us?” Collin said.
I hurried over to the bars. “It’s so good to hear your
“They ran some more tests,” he said. “We just got
back. What’s going on?”
“I don’t know.”
“I’m so hungry. Why aren’t they feeding us?”
“It’s like they just dumped us off and forgot about
“Maybe they’re scarce on food,” I said.
Tanya let out a long sob.
“Tanya,” Collin said. “What’s wrong?”
“They took me to another room and that’s when they
shot Lawrence,” she whispered between more sobs.
“What?” I asked, shocked.
“The guard took me into the wrong room by accident
just as it happened. When I asked him why they killed him like that, he just
told me that Lawrence didn’t pass the blood test. I think she said he had
Her words floored me. “So if we don’t pass their exam
and tests, they just shoot us?”
“He didn’t even see it coming. One of the men just
shot him in the back of the head. He said he was contaminated and wouldn’t do anyone
My heart sank
and a tear dripped down my face for my friend. We’d grown up together and he
was the sweetest guy in the world. I knew things were taking a more sinister
turn for the worse. They only took the strong and healthy, but that didn’t give
them permission to kill the weak.
“Why would they do that?” she asked. “It makes
absolutely no sense at all.”
“I’m not sure Vita is a place I want to live in,”
Collin said. “They’re making their own rules and doing what they want. You
can’t just take innocent life because somebody isn’t perfect.”
“Why would they let Tanya leave when she witnessed a
murder?” I asked. “She could tell everyone in Vita what they did.”
us,” Collin said. “We can tell everyone the story because she told us.”
“I don’t think they care. This is how our new world
That troubled me. Tanya just witnessed a murder, and
then came back and told all of us about it. She told us every detail about the
men that performed the crime. Would they really want us yapping about this to
the citizens of Vita? It wasn’t like Dante to let us leave with this vital
information, especially when we were nothing more than loose ends.
“I don’t know,” I said. “Something smells fishy.”
“It is odd,”
“I talked to one of the guards and he was about to
tell me something big. But then his boss called him away and I haven’t seen the
“What do you think he wanted to try and tell you?”
“He was scared to tell me. He looked around like he
was really nervous. I think he wanted to help me.”
“Do you think he’ll come back and help us?”
“I sure hope so.”
“What’s the point of bringing us up here to starve us
to death?” Tanya asked.
“Just drink water,” Collin said. “It helps with the
“I am. I just want to go to my house in Vita. The
nurse told me I had a two-story on Oak Street.”
“Wait. She told me the same thing.”
“Me too,” I said.
“Think we’re all next to each other?” Collin asked.
“Well, she told me I’d be on 1560 Oak Street.”
Tanya gasped. “Me too.”
“Me too,” Collin said.
“Are they putting us all in the same house?” Tanya
My jaw dropped. “Unless it’s a load of crap from a
script she memorized. Looks like she’s telling everyone the exact same lie.”
Some of the others came back and we all chatted
amongst ourselves trying to figure out what was going on. All the others had
been given the exact same spiel and that worried me. What the heck was going
Tanya finally came to the conclusion that we were all
being paranoid. She started to talk herself into how wonderful Vita was going
to be. She’d witnessed a man’s murder but insisted everything was going to be
okay. I think she was traumatized and not thinking straight. I don’t think she
could accept Lawrence’s death or come to terms with it. And this was the only
way she knew to deal with it, by pretending it never happened and that
everything was fine.
Before I knew it, two days had passed, but still, no
one came to see any of us. It was as if we’d been placed in lockup and
forgotten, and they couldn’t have cared less that my stomach growled in a fury
When they came for Tanya, she yelled my name.
“Yes,” I answered.
“I’ll see you soon, so don’t worry about me,” she said
in a cheery voice. “Everything’s gonna be okay.”
“If we’re all sharing a house, don’t pick the biggest
room,” Collin said.
She laughed. “Of course not.”
“Take care,” I said. “We’ll see each other soon.”
“Bye, guys. I love you.”
I listened to her footsteps as she walked down the
The others were taken one by one until there was
nobody left but me. And that scared me more than anything. I tried to tell
myself that maybe I was being paranoid but deep down I knew I wasn’t. I
couldn’t believe I was being treated that way—deprived of food, information,
and human contact—and it was making me angrier by the minute.
Finally, the door opened, and a security guard walked
“What’s going on?” I demanded. “I’ve been stuck in
here without food for three whole days, and—”
“That’s the way it’s done around here,” he blurted
out, cutting me off rudely.
“It’s the only way to flush any toxins from your
system. We can’t risk any contamination in the community,” he recited
I glanced up at his towering frame and took a deep
breath. “And what does that mean?”
He shot me a sinister smile and said nothing.
I didn’t like the way he was looking at me, and his
remarks about contamination reminded me of something that psychotic Mr. Tams
would have said. Something was off, not right, and I didn’t like it one bit. I
swallowed hard, the sudden mistrust nagging at me.
The next thing I knew, stars were dancing in my
vision, and pain exploded across my head. I hadn’t even seen the blow coming.
My body crashed to the floor in a trembling heap, and then darkness swallowed
My eyes suddenly fluttered open. A blurry image of a
man with bright green eyes and bushy hair hovered over top of me. Squinting, I
forced myself to look closer. When I made out the shape of a knife, I shuddered,
and goosebumps pimpled my skin. I blinked, hoping it was all a nightmare that
would go away, but the knife was very real, and I could smell the salty,
metallic stench of blood. Oh my gosh!
He’s gonna stab me. Did he already start? Why can’t I feel it?
“Sky,” he whispered, in a voice that I recognized but
was too hazy to figure out. Then he placed a pot of begonias in my shaky hands.
“A gift,” he said.
My trembling hands pushed the flowers away, and my
heart fluttered as they crashed to the floor.
“That’s okay. I have more where those came from,” he
I tried to focus and reorient myself to my
surroundings. “Wh-what’s going on? Where the hell am I?”
“Haven’t you figured it out? It’s me, Walter.”
I squinted at him, trying to work my way through the
fog of confusion. “Walter?”
“The one and only.”
Everything seemed fuzzy, as if I was caught in a
dream. Walter stood there holding a bloody butcher knife over me, like the
devil himself. I fought the terror that gripped my heart, recalling when I’d
been attacked in the boiler room down in Asha. I’d never been so terrified and
confused. The menacing blade inched closer, and a chill shot up my spine. “Walter?”
I said, my voice trembling.
This is it. I’m
Everything seemed to happen in slow motion, but I
could clearly see the vivid red drops of blood rolling down the knife. I
wondered whose blood it was, if it was mine or if he had killed someone.
Is that blood
mine? I pondered, confused.
What kind of
vile and horrific assault had taken place? The depth of terror I experienced
was unexplainable. I fought to breathe.
Suddenly, Chad stepped in. “Hi, Sky.”
My gaze met his, and I hoped he was one of the good
Help me, I begged.”
“I thought we were friends. What’s going on?”
“We just saved your life,” he replied.
“You what?” I said in disbelief, wondering how carving
me like a Thanksgiving turkey could possibly constitute saving me.
ignored me and clapped Walter’s shoulder. “Like your birthday present?” he
asked, wearing a big and sickening smile on his face.
“I’ve been waiting for her for so long,” Walter said.
“I couldn’t wait to see the look on your face when I
delivered her to you on your birthday.”
“Did anyone suspect anything?” he asked.
“Nope. She was unconscious, so they just assumed I
shot her like the rest of them.”
“Shot them!? The others were…killed?” I whispered.
glanced at me. “We saved you. At least show us a little appreciation.”
Confused, I was rendered speechless. I had no idea what
was really going on, and I wasn’t sure I even wanted to know. I’d lost my baby,
I’d lost Brett, and I now had to wonder if I’d lost the friends who’d come with
me to the surface.
“You need anything else?” Chad asked.
“Nah, I can handle it from here,” Walter said. “Thanks,
laughed. “Not a problem.”
“Well, she’s all yours,” another voice said. “Have a
little fun before you get rid of her. That’s what I always do with the pretty
My gut twisted at the stranger’s cold, terrifying
words. What kind of operation are they
running here anyway? What the hell is going on?
“I’m not gonna get rid of this one,” Walter said.
“She’s gonna be my wife. Unlike you, I don’t get off on murdering beautiful
“I know, I know. You do the chopping, but you leave
the killing to me. Aren’t you just a freaking saint?”
“I’m taking Sky home.”
The stranger chuckled. “Like Mike? He’s taken a few
“Don’t even compare me to him! I’m not just taking
home some random girl. I’ve loved this woman for years.”
Well, do whatever you want with the broad. You know I
won’t tell, one way or the other. Hell, I might make a wifey out of one myself
someday. I heard there’s a real hottie comin’ up next month.”
laughed. “C’mon, Casanova. We’ve got a list of things to do.”
“Yeah, I guess we oughtta give Walter some time to
play with his new toy.”
“She’s far more than that,” Walter snapped.
“Yeah, yeah, she’s the love of your life.”
looked at Walter sternly. “Just keep her in line,” he said. “She’s a feisty
one, so make sure to keep her chained up. She’s a fighter, and she won’t
hesitate to kick your ass and run if she gets a chance.”
“I know the drill. You’ve told me this how many times?”
“I’m just lookin’ out for your best interests, little
Listening to their insane conversation, I began to
think that maybe the air had fried my brain—or theirs. Maybe this is all just a hallucination, or maybe they drugged me. Maybe
it’s just a side effect of starvation. Maybe I’m becoming delusional. Maybe I’ll
wake up any minute and discover this is all just some crazy nightmare. For all
I know, I’m still in my underwater city, snuggled up in my bed. Gosh, I hope
“Are you guys coming or what? I need help with the
that voice. It was Melvin. He’s in on this too? My gosh! All three brothers
were in on this conspiracy. And other guys too.
How many of these depraved men preyed on innocent women?
The door clicked shut and I think they left.
It was freezing, and as I felt around me, I realized I
was lying on a flat, cold, steel table, like a table for surgery or an autopsy.
I cautiously sat up and looked at Walter, terrified.
“I won’t hurt you,” he whispered gently, as if he was
trying not to spook me.
My vision was still blurred, but I tried to focus on
him. “Why are you doing this?” I asked, my voice quivering.
“I have to live up to my reputation as the butcher of
Vita,” he blurted out.
I shuddered as his cruel words echoed in the confined
“Do you know what the most important tool in a
slaughterhouse is?” he asked.
I shook my head.
“It’s not a meat saw or a cleaver. It’s a very sharp
knife that cuts precisely every time.”
My breath caught in my throat. Walter was deranged and
sick, and I had no idea how I’d ended up in a killer’s lair. I couldn’t believe
Chad, Melvin, and another man were in on it, that Chad or Melvin hadn’t even
tried to stop him; I never would have expected that the brothers I knew could
hurt a fly. A metallic smell assaulted my nostrils, so strong that it made me
want to puke. My hands felt slimy, and when I looked down at them, I realized
they were coated with crimson liquid. Blood!
I thought, entirely freaked out and shocked. Unable to grasp what was
happening, I asked, “Am I dreaming? Is this a nightmare?”
“I assure you this is no dream,” he said in a monotone
“Why am I lying in blood?” I shouted. “Is it mine?” I
tried to absorb and understand the scene around me, but nothing about it made
sense. I had no idea how I’d even ended up in that hellhole with Lucifer
“It’s not yours,” Walter said. “It’s from the last
My jaw dropped at the stunning revelation. At the top
of the table, in a puddle of blood, was the friendship bracelet I’d made for Collin.
No! This can’t be happening.
“I’m sorry. I know the slaughterhouse isn’t very
pretty,” Walter said, “but it’s very necessary if we’re to survive.”
I glanced around and saw a large barrel filled with
blood and chunks of what looked like raw meat. A tub of clean water sat next to
it. “What’s that?” I asked hesitantly, pointing down at it.
I gawked at him. “Whose?”
Walter hesitated, then turned his eyes away from me
for a moment. When he locked his gaze back on mine, he coldly announced, “I
just butchered Collin.”
My heart thundered in my chest.
What kind of
nightmare have I jumped into?
The terror was overwhelming and unbearable, and my
heart ached for my lost friend. I could hardly breathe. “Collin?” I barely
managed to get out. “The one I came up here with?”
Walter patted my shaking hands. “I’m afraid so, and
you were gonna be next.”
My screams turned into desperate gasps of air. On a
table lay several knives, with blades of various lengths, along with a cleaver,
a hatchet, and a hacksaw, all covered in red crimson blood. When I looked up at
the meat hooks hanging from the ceiling, I clutched my heart. Then something
caught my eye, a flash of red and blue. In the corner was another friendship
bracelet, lying in a puddle of splattered blood. My heart sank when I realized
who it belonged too. Tanya? I gasped. No! Coming up here was a death sentence. If
my beloved hadn’t been chosen as a diamond on that fateful day, he would have
been sent there, to that crazy man’s lair. I took a tiny bit of solace in the
fact that at least Brett hadn’t yet fallen under the knife.
Tanya’s last words and sweet voice rang in my head.
“I’ll see you
soon, so don’t worry about me,” Tanya said. “Everything is going to be okay.”
“If we’re all
sharing a house, don’t pick the biggest room,” Collin said.
She laughed. “Of
“Take care,” I
said. “We’ll see each other soon.”
“Bye, guys. I
I snapped back into reality as a tear rolled down my
face. I watched as blood gushed down the floor drains, into huge vats below us.
For a moment, I just looked at my captor, aghast that he could be so calm and
composed while he was covered in my friends’ blood.
“Why, Walter?” I said, my voice wavering.
His forehead wrinkled as he pondered how to answer the
question. “Where do I even begin?”
I let out a trembling breath.
“Do you want me to sugarcoat it?” he asked.
I gazed down at his black, blood-soaked boots. “No.
Just give me the truth,” I said.
“Okay. I’m Vita’s largest beef supplier.”
I pursed my lips slightly as my thoughts started to
race. “And what does that mean?”
“You were brought here to die, to be eviscerated,
decapitated, and skinned.”
A startled gasp escaped my lips, and my heart hammered
against my ribcage.
“But we aren’t without mercy. You would have been rendered
unconscious before any of that kind of stuff happens.” He wiped his hands on
his blood-splattered, plastic, yellow apron. “You grew up living a lie, brainwashed
by our government to believe that Vita would be a brave new world. You’re
utopia has turned into a dystopia.”
Confusion and shock overwhelmed me. “I don’t
understand any of this,” I whispered.
“Well, allow me to explain. You thought we were
building this perfect little world, that you’d come to the surface and lead a
cozy little life with your husband.” His eyes widened like a mad man’s. “But it’s
all a lie. You were right not to trust Dante. You’ve been manipulated, lied to.”
My jaw dropped. “What do you mean?”
“Asha is nothing but a human cattle farm, our food
source. The livestock are brought up here at eighteen so the meat is
still…tender. Who wants tough, stringy meat, right?”
“So why wait till we’re eighteen?” I snapped, sickened
by the whole idea.
“Marbling adds flavor, and adults have a higher fat
I shook my head vehemently as an emotional storm
brewed inside me. “You’re lying!” I shouted, refusing to believe the heinous
things he told me.
“You are all bred and raised as livestock. That is why
the pregnant women or those who look after the children are allowed to live and
stay in Asha. What do you think diamonds are? They are studs, for breeding. The
longer we leave them in Asha, the more they will breed with the females.”
My tearful gaze met his. “Can I talk to the people I
came here with?” I begged.
“Didn’t you hear a word I said? They’re dead, and you
would have been dead, too, if I hadn’t stopped it.”
“Take a minute to calm yourself,” Walter said. “I am
not sure how to deal with a bawling female.”
But you have no
problems dealing with dead ones, I thought. I looked back up at him.
“So…that other man who was here, he’s the one who killed them?” I dared to ask,
my voice wavering.
“I’m afraid so. I’m the butcher, not the executioner.
We keep it organized so that we don’t use up all our meat supply too quickly. The
meat is spread out over the course of a year, and there is a new shipment of
eighteen-year-olds every month along with others who are chosen to come up.”
I blinked the tears out of my eyes. “Is this Vita?”
“Vita means life. It is a slaughterhouse, yes, but it
is also life. The people of Asha are our food, and without food, we cannot
I swallowed hard and turned away. My world has just
crashed down around me, and I couldn’t ponder how uncaring and unremorseful
they were, killing human beings for their own nourishment. “I refuse to believe
this,” I said. “It’s like something out of a science fiction movie.”
“There is nothing fictitious about it.” Walter wrung
his hands, as if my ranting and all of my questions and emotional outbursts
made him nervous. His gaze darted around and his cheeks grew red. “I-I’m sorry
you’re going through this,” he said.
I met his gaze straight on. “You’re sorry? You people killed
“Haven’t you listened to a word I’ve said? They were
“No! They were human beings, real people with hopes
and dreams. Did you know that Tanya wanted to create beautiful gardens? Collin couldn’t
wait to get up here to beautify your world with murals. He was a wonderful
artist and a beautiful person.”
“Perhaps that was what they were to you, but to us,
they were only meat.”
“I can’t believe this,” I whispered.
I’d been taught since I was old enough to understand
that Vita was a wonderful place, somewhere we looked forward to going when we
left Asha. I thought it was our one and only chance to make a mark on the
world. In Vita, we were supposed to be able to study literature and other
languages and engage in art and music. We were told that Vita would expand as
more and more people went to the surface, that we’d all work together to build a
civilization. I’d always thought it would just take a little dedication and
hard work to return Earth to its former glory, but now I knew all of that was
just a childhood fantasy, a dream that would never come true.