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16+

Scavenger

by Pomeroy


Warning: This work has been rated 16+.

Ralys glanced out the window. The sun would be setting soon. Traveling was best done at night, there was less of a chance of getting caught. By another person, that is. A lot of animals stalked about in the darkness, but he would rather deal with a mutt or some escaped zoo animal than another person. People had blood-lust gleaming in their eyes, and chances were most wouldn't make death quick. There was an aspect of pride to it as well, though. Ralys would rather subject himself to a quick death by animal than let some bumbling brute steal all his stuff and gloat about their latest kill, as if human life meant nothing. Which, nowadays, was true. Beyonce's net worth would be half a penny out there.

Ralys gathered his things up, taking care in how he placed it in his bag; clothes at the bottom, his journal on top, his phone and charger into the side pocket, food tucked into every empty space left, but leaving room for— He paused before setting the jewelry box into the bag. One of its corners was chipped when it fell out during his narrow escape before. He'd need to be more careful with it. He took one of his shirts, using it to wrap the box, "Hopefully that'll do."

One final sweep of the house for valuables, and Ralys was out the back door. The sun was just below the horizon, casting the neighborhood in dull light. He set off through the backyards of the neighborhood, training his eyes on the highway signs in the distance. Once he got on the highway, he'd have the exit numbers to keep him on track. No more navigating that stupid map. Not for a while, anyway. Ralys reread the last note at the bottom of the map, 'Exit 11 takes you to [insert city name here lol], once you get there, find Harrington. He'll get you here, if you're worth bringing.' He grimaced. He imagined getting all the way there, finding this Harrington guy, and being told he wasn't good enough to be taken to Gleamwood. What would he do? After all of this... after everything he'd lost...

He shook his head. No use thinking about it now. He'd come this far, and this sliver of hope was better than wandering aimlessly in these neighborhoods.

The on-ramp was packed with cars. Ralys gave most the cars a quick once over for anything that might have been left behind, but he didn't find much..He stopped at one car, scanning the seats with his flashlight. The stench hit him hard, and he covered his face with his sleeve. A man sat in the passenger's seat, a bullet wound to the head and- Ralys took a closer look -it seemed someone had taken eight of his fingernails. To convince him to give up something valuable, no doubt. "Eight, huh? You musta had something real good with you." He continued, looking through each car he passed, but most had already been stripped of anything of use. Seats, radios, clothes, some were even missing car parts like the doors and hood. He wondered if cars would ever work again. The streets were too crowded to even drive, but maybe one day things would be put together again to get roads moving again.He slipped into the driver's seat of a decently intact truck and played with the steering wheel. He hadn't been able to get his driver's license, and now that the impending probability that he'd never even get the chance to get one hung over his head. He suddenly felt nostalgic for a time he never even had.

There was movement in the rear view mirror.

His heart jumped. He slipped down in the seat, turning his flashlight off, keeping the side mirror in sight. Had it been an animal? A person? A million scenarios raced through his mind. He clenched his fists, suddenly a little too aware of his fingernails as they dug into his palms. He grabbed his knife, pushing the door slowly to reposition the mirror and look around. A flashlight shone directly in the mirror. Ralys choked on a scream. He slipped down further, crouching down by the pedals.

He could barely hear their voices over his pounding heart.

"I thought I saw somethin' over here, Alv." One was saying. The clang of hitting a car nearby filled the air, "Hello~? Anybody there?" One man sang.

Ralys shakily pushed the door open as slowly as he could. He could see their dark silhouettes coming closer to the truck, hitting every car they passed with their guns. Ralys took a deep breath and tried to calm himself enough to think of a plan. If he stayed here, they would definitely find him. If he ran, he could hop the guardrails and lose them in the trees.

He heard their guns hit the car behind the truck. He clutched his bag, took a deep breath and—

Ralys bolted from the car.

"Hey! He's over here!"

A gunshot rang out, then another, and another.

Sharp pain cut across his neck as one grazed him.

Fear bubbled up from his chest, and came out in a sob. "Oh my— shit, this is not the time!" Ralys screamed, swiping away his tears as he sprinted for the highway railing. He jumped over it, clearing it with ease, but his landing was sloppy. His ankle twisted and he lost his balance, tumbling down the slope on the other side. If he didn't know any better, he'd say he somehow rolled over every single rock and root on the way down...

He stilled at the bottom, right at the treeline. He could hear the shouting of the two men from the top, "We just wanted to get to know you a little!" They cackled, calling slurs and expletives down to him. He flinched as they shot down at him, missing him completely, but cackling as they taunted. After a moment, though, they left.

Everything ached as Ralys lay there on the ground trying to regain his strength. He touched his hand to his neck and pulled it back, seeing his hand covered in blood. "Oh geez," he muttered. "Harrington better think I'm worth it..."


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Points: 200
Reviews: 2

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Mon Apr 08, 2019 8:48 pm
ConstantineCondor wrote a review...



Hello, Pomeroy!
I’m not going to introduce myself, because I’m socially awkward. Let’s get right to it.

For starters, I particularly enjoyed that you put in just the right touch of hints about the scenario and environment that this short story takes place in. I’m not sure if you ever have made a prequel to this, or if this is just another chapter in something you wrote earlier, and if you do, I haven’t seen or read them. It’s easy for the reader to understand that this whole thing takes place in an apocalyptic scenario, and you do a good job of setting the scene without actually setting the scene, so to speak.

Your sentence structure is neat, and I only found a few run-ons, but other than that, you have few major structure problems. One thing that would help, however, is if you rechecked your writing once or twice for little mistakes such as two periods at the end of the sentence. Apart from these small problems, I found that you had a good choice of words and did a fine job of separating your writing into paragraphs.

The rating of 16+ was maybe a little too high, I’d think, because between the single time that the word “Shit” came up and the description of that corpse, there wasn’t too much stuff that would limit this story to more mature audiences. Besides, people are constantly exposed to content with lower age ratings that has much worse (I mean gorier, more grotesque, more vulgar (I’m not saying that your writing is bad)) content. Not that this really matters though, because I’m sure that nobody was deterred because of that rating or anything. I honestly don’t even know why I’m pointing this out. It’s not that big of a deal.

Anyway, I don’t exactly see how that title fits. Yes, he does go through the house that this story begins in and yes, he does look through the cars, but based off of the title, I’d think that this story would be about someone who (to put it simply) did a bit more scavenging. As in, their main goal was to find materials for something. I could go more in depth about this, but I’m too lazy and this really isn’t a big deal.

I enjoy how you gave the main character an uncommon name, which seems like a thing that would be stereotypical in an apocalypse. You also made a good choice of arming them with just a knife, since if they had just your average gun, that would have both made the suspenseful part a bit less suspenseful, as well as given them an easier way to complete their goal. The reason I say this is that hardships and challenges are a good part of any story. You showed this well throughout your story, limiting the main character.

Speaking about that scene, I particularly enjoyed how you descibed their mockery when they were shouting at the main character, as well as how they seemed like apocalyptic-type people. I could easily envision them, as well as their rugged surroundings, which you did an amazing job of describing.

In summary, you had few structural mistakes, the story itself was excellent, and you deliver on making it all just seem real. Great job on this short story. Keep writing!

Quod Bona,
Constantine




Pomeroy says...


Dude, this is so helpful! I'm glad you enjoyed it, and thank you so much for the review! I'll fix the rating, and probably the title too. You're totally right. Tbqh I finished writing this and had no idea what to call it and was like, uh. I guess,,,, scavenger. So it was super halfhearted anyway, and I'm glad you called it out, even if you say it's not a big deal, haha!
I'll proofread this and take all your advice! This was a great review, thank you so much.



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Mon Apr 08, 2019 11:29 am
JabberHut wrote a review...



Hello!

I loved this! I love your style. I was so engrossed with the story. You set the scene up so well and led me through the journey so smoothly. I could feel the fear of the MC. You explained things about the world at just the right moments in just the right amount of time to keep me interested.

I'm incredibly intrigued about what's going on and was sad that it ended the way it did. I would have loved to read more into what was going on, particularly hinting at the jewelry box as it clearly has some sort of significance this piece doesn't explain!

Might I add that I love how you just threw in a [insert name here] thing. That was a clever placeholder that made me laugh. I like it.

He kept pushing the truck door open, and I feel like that would just be noticed on the spot whether by sight or sound. It was a little weird to me. Maybe I underestimate how dark it is or wasn't picturing correctly what direction those men were facing.

Unfortunately, I don't have much more to say. I really just loved this, and it was truly just fun to read. I hope there's more to come!

Keep writing!

Jabber, the One and Only!




Pomeroy says...


Hey! I'm so glad you liked it!! Thank you for all the kind words. And for pointing out the thing about the door, I think you're totally right, and I'll have to go back and polish that up.
Right now I'm writing this story chronologically. This was a random idea I had and was like "I GOTTA WRITE IT" and I was proud of it so shared it, even though there isnt a lot of context OOF lol. Hopefully I'll get to a point in the story where I can add this in and it makes sense and doesnt disrupt the flow of the story %uD83D%uDE14%uD83D%uDE14
Thanks again for the review! It was so sweet!



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Fri Apr 05, 2019 5:46 pm
WanderingCloud wrote a review...



Greetings! @Pomeroy

The cloud is here stopping for a review. (Nevermind my enthusiasm, I'm always like this).

Well anyways, THIS. IS. A. WELL. CRAFTED. STORY. I don't know if you're acting newbie or just that skilled. It is well-crafted, well-polished work of art. I bet you are a published Novelist. I guess it's enough of this bootlicking.

My review will be a bit biased (it is always is, I'm a fan of post-apocalyptic / dystopian novels). Now, the story has a pretty solid plot. I don't think it is proper to tag it as a short story. It seems like a chapter 1 for me. I don't know your reasons but anyways, the way you still wrote

"Exit 11 takes you to [insert city name here lol]" I took it as you are still unsure. It's dumb for me to point it out but I would just like to do so. It disturbs me that the "thrill" I felt while reading was halted because. But no big deal, just a minor thing.

It has the realism and grit of every scene. The world is immersive and it is easy to get hooked.

By the way, have you read the book "Rule of Three"? Your work kind of reminds me of it.

One last final praise. JUST. WOW. I hope to read more of your works.




Pomeroy says...


I'm laughing. This is such a kind and funny comment, thank you!
If you're interested, I have chapter one of this story posted, as well as the first chapter of another story in the series! This is marked as a short story cause this, as well as another one, were just random snippets I decided to write before I actually wrote out the story chronologically. I wanted to share them, but right now I need to catch up to them, yaknow? And I just wasn't sure how else to label them haha.

And yeah, the brackets were cause I haven't thought of the city name aaaa, I'm so sorry that it had that effect. I'm not surprised, but still sorry oof.

And no, I haven't heard of Rule of Three!! I'll definitely check it out! Post apocalyptic stuff is my freaking fave, so when books are even slightly like that, I'm like yeeeesss!!!

Again, thank you for the kind review! It made me smile so much!!




The words you speak become the house you live in.
— Hafiz