Young Writers Society


16+ Language

America Gone - Chapter One (Revised)

by Riverlight


Warning: This work has been rated 16+ for language.

November 1, 2019

Outskirts of Salt Water Springs

He awoke on the ground, his back stiff and pained from were he had rolled onto a root in the night. He listened as to his sisters snoring like a couple of grizzlies. He could hear a fire crackling, the fragrant scent of white ash filling his nose.

"Mornin', Austin," his father, Alistair, said quietly. "I need ya to fetch the seasonin' outta that bag..." Alistair was a bear-like man from Alabama. His dark blue eyes were excellent in the dark on hunting trips, and his sheer size had scared many would-be raiders away.

"Okay," Austin yawned. He pushed himself off of the ground, tiredly stepping over his sisters as he made his way to the wagon. Their Pennsylvanian mules, Harriet and Nathan, were grazing on rye grass near a small group of birches. Austin smiled at them as he climbed into the wagon, searching for their bag of bottled spices. "Salt... Pepper... Mint..."

When he was satisfied, he reached for a small tin at the bottom of the sack, carefully carrying the tin and spices to his father. "Here."

"Thank you," Alistair said, greedily looking at the tin. "If you want to freshen up, there's a little stream just over there, down that small hill. Be quick about it."

Austin shook his head. "I'll wait a bit."

He stretched his arms upwards. Letting them relax again, he looked at his sisters. Emma, his younger twin, slept more peacefully, bundled in a woolen blanket they’d bartered for in Charleston. Abby, meanwhile, had sprawled herself across the ground on top of a couple blankets looted from a Walmart.

A drowsy voice asked, "Is something burning?"

"No, Mom," Austin said quietly, "Dad's cooking bird again."

"Oh..." She sighed and sat up, toussled red hair sticking to her face. Her leafy eyes blinked, trying to stay open in the morning's light. She noticed her husband adding butter to his cooking pot. "Go ahead and use the rest of it. We're almost to Dad's he'll have more than enough to clog our arteries."

"I can't wait to see Grandpa," Austin said with a smirk. "It's been a while. If you'd let me go on head--"

"No," Alistair said firmly. "We're a-goin' as a group, and that's that."

"Dad, just let him go," Emma groaned as she shifted on the ground. "Austin, is your watch still working?"

"It's just past nine-thirty," he said.

"It's too early to fight with him, Dad."

"I think your father's right," Luna said. "Let's just wait and go as a group."

"Yeah," Abby said, sitting up. Apparently, she had been awake. "Let's do that."

"Actually," Alistair said, "let's eat. Then we can go as a group..."

__________________________________

The family packed their belongings back into the wagon after breakfast, Emma and Austin walking beside it as they made their way along the gravelly road. Less than a mile from Grandpa McHale's home, they could hear a pair of men speaking, one older, one young and rough.

"Well, Nolan, there's not too many that travel through these parts anymore. Thank 'ee for the ammo," the older man said. “As the song goes, praise the Lord, and pass the ammunition.”

"Anything for you, ol' man." the younger one chuckled. "You're our best customer. Not to mention we still want you to join us in Bombingham."

"God bless ya, Nolan Ray, God bless ya, but I can’t. I work for th’ President now, you know that," the older man replied with a sigh. "My country still needs me."

Just then, one of the horses whinnied rather loudly, disrupting whatever the stranger was going to say in reply. Then--

"D'you hear that, Mr. McHale?"

"Aye," Grandpa McHale said. "Aye. It better not be any o' dem Yanks. Or fascists, either. I'll take care of em."

The two men came into view. The other man had two guns raised as soon as the traveling family were in sight.

"You can shoot that bulky man," Grandpa McHale said with a smirk. "The rest are with me, and they'll be staying with me!"

"Daddy," Luna hissed jokingly, "you know better than that." She hopped off of the front of the wagon, walking over to hug her father, motioning for her children to followed,

"Grandpa!" Emma chirped excitedly as she rushed over.

"Well, I'll be damned!" Grandpa McHale chuckled, a smile etched on his face. "I thought you was all up in Boston!"

"We traveled all the way down to find you," Austin said as he joined them.

"I'll be dogged," the unknown man said, twirling his guns before putting them in his holsters. "You come all the way from Massachusetts?"

"Yes, Mister... uh... Who are you?" Alistair questioned.

"Nolan Ray Peters. Who're you?"

"They're the Nightshades," Grandpa McHale said. "These are Emma, Austin, Abigail, and my Luna. Don't know who the bulky man is."

"He's my husband, Alistair," Luna said, eyeing her father closely. "We've just left Nashville--"

"We just call it the Nash now," Nolan interrupted. "Did ya come through Kentucky or North Carolina on your way over?"

"No, Virginia," Alistair said. "Why?"

“Virginia’s got somethin’ set up?” the man asked, surprised. “I’d heard rumors… Oh well. Anyways, that’s the best way to get here, the Carolinas and Kentucky. You ever get past the state line down south, you’ll find the Redneck Republic.”

Grandpa McHale shook his head. “Y’all could’ve at least kept calling it Alabama or somethin’. Redneck Republic ass,” he said, hastily fixing his mistake.

“We’re a republic of rednecks, we had nothin’ else to call it!” Nolan protested, apparently amused. “Besides, we’re better protected than y'all are. We’ve got a navy, after all!"

“Y’all have one ship, for Christ’s sake,” McHale said, rolling his eyes. “Besides, Tennessee’s got it better. We’ve got electricity, we’ve got a president, and we’ve got working phones-- more than you hillbillies down south."

Nolan Ray sighed. “Fine. But we’ve got Abrams welded to the front gates of Bombingham. That’s gotta count for something.”There was an awkward silence as the Nightshades looked between the two men in confusion as Grandpa McHale shook his head.

“Well I oughta go,” Nolan Ray said. Turning to the family, he tipped his hat. “Y’all take care, now, and shoot fascists on sight.” And with that, he turned and started to walk south.

A few minutes later, Grandpa McHale sighed. ‘C’mon. Let’s get ya to th’ house. We need to talk.”


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Fri Mar 26, 2021 7:48 am
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stygianmoon17 wrote a review...



Hi there, I promised you a review, so here it is :D

I'll try and be as specific as I can on everything so you can polish this work to the maximum.

-

So I didn't review the prologue as it was pretty short and thus there's not much to review there, but I'll talk about it here.
I feel like the prologue was pretty rushed, and what amounted to the nuclear explosions as well. It's probable you'll talk about it later, but I think explaining how a person slowly came to want to nuke entire cities is worth talking about.

The first chapter goes really well with what you established earlier. It totally fits the tone and it's a great introduction to your characters. It's been a year, so of course there'd be changes in the world, and you really covered that really well!
Thing is, I don't think Russia (was it Russia? I'm not sure) nuked the whole planet, so people would come help out Americans. Unless the nukes caused other countries to send their nukes as well and it destroyed half the planet? Who knows. But when writing a dystopia type of story, you need to take in account how the outside world reacts to all of this.

Now I'm no professional, but I believe nuclear explosions affect the environment as well as genetics. So there'd be mutants, and destroyed landscapes. In the cities that were nuked at least.


But apart for all these previsions, sort of, I really enjoyed this chapter!! I loved the fact the grandpa refuses to acknowledge the father, and the descriptions were just excellent !!!!! Which is great as I totally can visualise your setting. I feel like the reunion could be more heartfelt on the part of the children,



Loved this and wish you a great continuation in further chapters <333




Riverlight says...


Ah, yes, the results of the nuclear blasts-- I've explained that away because harmful radiation clears away between 2 weeks and 1 month, so everything would be stable rather quickly. It also wouldn't be enough to cause noticeable mutations (normally) and lots of things (grass, bushes, some species of tree) would grow back rather quickly. :P I'm trying to be more realistic than go with the "everything is dead, and it's a total wasteland" trope.

I actually have chapters devoted to the reactions of the outside world ^^

Thanks for the review <33



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Mon Feb 22, 2021 10:27 pm
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starlitmind wrote a review...



HELLO! <3 Sorry I never replied to your reply to my last review xD but hm, maybe I will review one of your poems soon! c: I don't think I've ever reviewed one of your poems before, so that should be fun!

He awoke on the ground, his back stiff and pained from were he had rolled onto a root in the night. He listened as to his sisters snoring like a couple of grizzlies. He could hear a fire crackling, the fragrant scent of white ash filling his nose.


I love this opening! It's such an interesting spot to start with, and I love how he describes his sisters' snoring xD The part I bolded reads a bit awkwardly for me, so I thought I'd point that put! And I love the white ash part <3 Pretty strong opening! c:

Austin," his father, Alistair, said quietly. "I need ya to fetch the seasonin' outta that bag..."


One thing I think could help is to identify where Alistair is. Is he sitting, standing, laying on the ground nearby? It would help the reader visualize the setting c:

"Okay," Austin yawned. He pushed himself off of the ground, tiredly stepping over his sisters as he made his way to the wagon. Their Pennsylvanian mules, Harriet and Nathan, were grazing on rye grass near a small group of birches.


Ah, love the mules part <3 I think something else that would be helpful is to give more of a visual of the field? meadow? area that they are in. Like you've done with the mules, I think it would be particularly helpful!

Abby, meanwhile, had sprawled herself across the ground on top of a couple blankets looted from a Walmart.


Why did I find this so funny cx It was just so blunt it made me laugh haha

Less than a mile from Grandpa McHale's home, they could hear a pair of men speaking, one older, one young and rough.


MCHALE AHHHHH. and ooh, two men, wonder who they are :O

"Aye," Grandpa McHale said. "Aye. It better not be any o' dem Yanks. Or fascists, either. I'll take care of em."


OH OH ITS OUR GUY :D WOOHOO, I missed him!

"God bless ya, Nolan Ray, God bless ya, but I can’t. I work for th’ President now, you know that," the older man replied with a sigh. "My country still needs me."


So you say the guy's name here, but then he is referred to the "unknown man" later, but we do know his name cx so I personally thought that was a bit inconsistent

“Y’all have one ship, for Christ’s sake,” McHale said, rolling his eyes. “Besides, Tennessee’s got it better. We’ve got electricity, we’ve got a president, and we’ve got working phones-- more than you hillbillies down south."

Nolan Ray sighed. “Fine. But we’ve got Abrams welded to the front gates of Bombingham. That’s gotta count for something.”.


Love this little banter going on here cx and we get to know about the conditions of a few states, so that's nice!

A few minutes later, Grandpa McHale sighed. ‘C’mon. Let’s get ya to th’ house. We need to talk.”


Oh, they just got here and apparently they already need to talk 0.0 that doesn't sound too good !!

Personal suggestion, so please feel free to ignore if you don't agree :) I would've loved to see some more interactions between the kids and McHale. I found it funny how he refused to acknowledge Luna's husband cx So I think that was something neat you did!! It would also be nice to have more of a heartfelt (not dramatic, just a bit more) reunion with the kids. You only mentioned Emma, so it would be interesting to see how McHale and the other kids interacted!

I LOVE THE DESCRIPTIONS IN THIS CHAPTER! It was so nice to get a good grasp of the setting, and I loved the little images your sprinkled throughout this chapter <3 And ahh, it's so good to see the introduction of McHale! I never read your initial chapters of the original version, so it was SUPER neat to read this version! I love your revised edition a ton c:

Loving this, and am wishing you much luck in whatever you write next! Hope this helped <3 <3 <3




Riverlight says...


HI

Oo, yay c:

c:

I need to work on some descriptions a little more XD Also, yes, more children-grandpa interactions XD

Tysm!!!



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Wed Sep 30, 2020 11:58 am
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KateHardy wrote a review...



Good Morning/Afternoon/Evening/Night(whichever one it is in your part of the world),

Hi! I'm Knight Hardy here on a mission to ensure that all works on YWS has at least two reviews. You will probably never see this but....Imma do this anyway.

First Impression: So unlike the prologue this one was an improvement I think. Definitely nothing massive changed but the little bits here and there definitely add up well and overall the story does end up better that way. Of course there are nitpicks as always...now let me get down to those things.

Anyway let's get right to it,

He awoke on the ground, his back stiff and pained from were he had rolled onto a root in the night. He listened as to his sisters snoring like a couple of grizzlies. He could hear a fire crackling, the fragrant scent of white ash filling his nose.


Why did you make me want to google if bears can snore? But umm...good place to start a first chapter. :)

"Mornin', Austin," his father, Alistair, said quietly. "I need ya to fetch the seasonin' outta that bag..." Alistair was a bear-like man from Alabama. His dark blue eyes were excellent in the dark on hunting trips, and his sheer size had scared many would-be raiders away.


Getting right to the raiders are we now? Also...points once more for having seasoning.

He stretched his arms upwards. Letting them relax again, he looked at his sisters. Emma, his younger twin, slept more peacefully, bundled in a woolen blanket they’d bartered for in Charleston. Abby, meanwhile, had sprawled herself across the ground on top of a couple blankets looted from a Walmart.


Not quite sure why the more peacefully is there right at the start. It sounds awkward and it isn't clear to whom this sleeping experience is being compared to.

"Oh..." She sighed and sat up, toussled red hair sticking to her face. Her leafy eyes blinked, trying to stay open in the morning's light. She noticed her husband adding butter to his cooking pot. "Go ahead and use the rest of it. We're almost to Dad's he'll have more than enough to clog our arteries."


But what if he doesn't? Always be careful in a post apocalyptic world.

The family packed their belongings back into the wagon after breakfast, Emma and Austin walking beside it as they made their way along the gravelly road. Less than a mile from Grandpa McHale's home, they could hear a pair of men speaking, one older, one young and rough.


And of course they stop to listen to it...

"Well, Nolan, there's not too many that travel through these parts anymore. Thank 'ee for the ammo," the older man said. “As the song goes, praise the Lord, and pass the ammunition.”


Ahh...my favorite line.

"You can shoot that bulky man," Grandpa McHale said with a smirk. "The rest are with me, and they'll be staying with me!"


I approve of that plan.

“We’re a republic of rednecks, we had nothin’ else to call it!” Nolan protested, apparently amused. “Besides, we’re better protected than y'all are. We’ve got a navy, after all!"

“Y’all have one ship, for Christ’s sake,” McHale said, rolling his eyes. “Besides, Tennessee’s got it better. We’ve got electricity, we’ve got a president, and we’ve got working phones-- more than you hillbillies down south."


We're continuing the classic exposition through dialogue I see.

“Well I oughta go,” Nolan Ray said. Turning to the family, he tipped his hat. “Y’all take care, now, and shoot fascists on sight.” And with that, he turned and started to walk south.

A few minutes later, Grandpa McHale sighed. ‘C’mon. Let’s get ya to th’ house. We need to talk.”


Okay not a bad place to end. Definitely not a cliffhanger but I think enough interesting hints were dropped to keep people hooked so good job there.

Aaaaand that's it for this one.

Overall: Overall this was a pretty decent start. I felt like the character introductions were also a little better than the last time. The description is improved but still a little on the lower side which is fine, I know that's one part you stay away from but I'm just going to mention it again. ;) And that's about it. This is most probably my final #RevMo review so there's also that. Looking forward for more!

As always remember to take what you think was helpful and forget the rest.

Stay Safe
Harry

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Riverlight says...


Why do I not get notified of these??? XD

Thanks for the review! Glad this one;s better.



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Tue Sep 29, 2020 3:26 pm
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fleuralplants wrote a review...



Hi! This is going to be a short review, but I enjoyed reading this. Here are some things I noticed:
Suggestions:
To start, I noticed that you used 'were' rather than 'where' in the second paragraph. I'm sure it was an accident, but I figured that I might as well tell you about it.
Loves:
I love the way that you described things in this chapter! For example,

He could hear a fire crackling, the fragrant scent of white ash filling his nose.
I really enjoyed that line and the way that it helped the reader to understand the setting and emotion better.
I love the dialogue! The fact that you portrayed the accent of the speaker was very effective, and I felt like I could hear them in their accent talking in my head.
Thanks for sharing this! I can't wait to read more of your work and the next chapters.




Riverlight says...


No, I meant "were."

Thanks for the review!




Every empire tells itself and the world that it is unlike all other empires.
— Edward Said