Romance in a World of Horror

“Jason, you shouldn’t be here,” Amy whispered as the too young lovers hid behind a tree in the back yard.  “You didn’t see what my father did to a Hawkin the other day.  He’s becoming insane.”

Jason leaned back on his heels, looked toward the back porch and then back to Amy.  “I don’t care what he does too me.”

“But… I do.”

“I get that,” Jason replied.  “but I can take care of myself.”

Amy frowned.  Her concern was noticeable even in the darkness.  Jason held her face gently.

“My Amy… this world as twisted and dangerous as it is still evolves but love stays the same.”

“If that’s how you think then meet my parents.”

Jason stepped back.  He stammered all attempts to hold strong disappeared.  Fear evident in his hesitation.

Staring out the window of the house Paul watched as the shadows in the yard stood silently talking.

“They will be ok, Paul,” said Stacy as she approached.

“Will they,” he replied sharply.  “This isn’t pre-invasion earth anymore.  Nobody is safe.  Even if this boy… um… Jason isn’t some shape shifting monster how are we going to protect any more kids.  He is almost a man.  He has reckless passion.  I can’t protect my daughter from the monster and influence of this boy.”

Stacy placed a gentle hand upon Paul’s shoulder.  “She is becoming a woman too.  We can’t protect her from everything…”

Paul turned from the window and stepped to the door.  He slowly opened it.  Stacy protest but he ignored her.  She didn’t know for sure but she felt no reason to worry about her sometimes irrational husband’s actions.  She watched from the covered back porch as Paul approached the couple.

“Son,” Paul began.  Both young adults leapt straight.  Paul had interrupted a kiss.  “I caught you before you ran away this time.  For a young man that wants to be brave for my daughter you are cowardice.”

“Dad, don’t hurt him.”

“I’m not going to hurt him,” Paul replied.  “You love my daughter?”

Jason pawed at the ground with his black, military boots.

“Have you done your mandatory time in the service yet?”

“I have not, sir,” Jason said.

“How are you going to promise anything to my daughter when you may not make it through the service?”

“But… sir…”

“I don’t want to be a ballbuster here son,” Paul began.  “The world is not for the Romantics anymore.  Romance has no place inside a world of horror and pain.”

“I disagree,” Jason said as he straightened his posture and stared at the older man.  “You dare to call me a coward even knowing the facts that I suffered the most horror.  My parents and my sister all killed while I watched with axe in hand.”

Paul tried to respond but Jason continued.  “Even after that horror I still have enough hope to speak to Amy every night.  Enough hope to stand here as you insult me and promise that your daughter will be happy with me as her husband.”

Amy stood shaken by the promise of marriage.

“You would promise to be my daughter’s husband in this world?”

“What other world would I possibly be able to be her husband?”

Paul stood quiet for a long moment.

“You will have to live here with Amy.  How are your grandparents?”

Paul directed the pair toward the house.  Stacy was thrilled to hear the news and invited Jason to dinner.

Young Harkin

“Oh my Goddd…,” shouted Stacy as she tried to pull her husband Paul from the carcass of a large, pregnant Harkin.

“What are you doing?  How is this helping!”  She shouted.

Paul stood up and turned, covered in dark, oxygenated blood.  “This may not help you but it’s helping me.”  He suddenly saw movement within the abdomen of the beast.  A pair of legs struggling to move from under to crush of keratin.

Paul cheered as he grabbed one of the thin, young legs.  He pulled and it yanked back.  “Oh no!  Your coming with me,” he shouted.

The young insect fought as Paul dragged it out into the open.  From within the carved out bowl of blood and organs the small Harkin attempted to stand.

“Paul, you need to stop.  The Pterodactyls are above us.  Paul!  They are going to eat us!”

Paul ignored his wife and grabbed the axe, that lie, beside him.  He set it behind him but the little creature flipped to it’s feet.  Blood and gore hung from the sharp corners of the beast.  It clicked softly as it stared at Paul from opaque eyes.

Paul swung the axe and stuck a front leg.  The Harkin squeaked as it tried to step back.  It’s right, front leg swung free of the joint.

“Oh, believe me.  You are not getting away from me.  I don’t care if you are a young one.  I had a young one once,” he shouted.  “I had a young one!”

Stacy began to sob and stepped back.  She watched as the Pterodactyls began to glide downward.  Paul raced around the body of the parent and screamed as he tried to prevent the smaller Harkin from escaping.

The little creature was four-foot tall compared to twelve to fourteen foot adults.  It threatened to pierce Paul’s head with a pointed front horn but Paul jumped out of the way.  Paul reared back and swung the axe again contacting the hard body.  The blow pushed the insect over the side of the adult remains and onto the broken asphalt below.  It shook off the blow and stood simultaneously.  It stepped forward.  Paul was six foot tall.  Taller then the creature but intimidated.  Harkin were fierce fighters.  It was possible, even from a little one that Paul could be torn to pieces.

Paul stepped back.  He carried a shotgun, as did many humans now, but it was near the truck fifty feet away.  He looked for his wife but she stood, terrified behind the drivers door.

“You idiot,” came the thought as Paul stepped back again.  He watched as the young beast bounced to the left.  The broken front leg didn’t seem to set it off any.

“Swing the axe,” Paul told himself but the bravery within his hands had disappeared as he dragged the axe in front of him.  The little Harkin leapt forward.  It’s armored horns pressed against the thin skin of Paul’s forehead.  Paul fell backward.

Stacy stood across from the carcass and pointed the shotgun near the young beast.  She watched as Paul fell and fired.  The shot spread and pierced the thin armor.  The Harkin stumbled to the side then fell.

200 year old man

Imagine the idea that a man can live to 200 years.  Timothy Brooks always imagined this unlikely event and the day when it happened shook him to his knees.  Tucked inside the paper he found a small article about Bernie Morano.  Reported to be 200 years old in March.  Timothy stood staring at his worn face in the mirror.  He picked at the grays in his small beard and the hair that peeked from his ears and wondered about the aging process.  How is it possible to live so long when others die?  Is it luck?  He thought then disappeared from the restroom.  John F. Kennedy airport was busy.  Different ages walked, ran or limped.  Some were obviously old and others were obviously young but others dealt with age very well.  “What was the make up of this man?”  He thought as walked past.

Bernie Morano was born in Conyers, GA and the article hinted at an address.  Timothy had booked a flight South.  He handed the teller his ticket and disappeared into the tunnel.

Conyers is twenty-four miles East of Atlanta.  The city was first settled in 1816 by John Holcomb.  Bernie Morano stood to be an original settler within, what was first called, Rockdale.  The thought of interviewing a city settler was exciting.  Timothy had interviewed many celebrities.  He was a popular newscaster within New York city.  It was a tough job.

The Atlanta airport buzzed with activity.  Timothy walked quickly through the exit and caught the first cab he could get too.  It would take about thirty to forty minutes to reach Mr. Morano’s home.  The ride was quiet.  The cab driver drove silently through the populous city of Atlanta.  He left the city and began west on I-20 toward Conyers.  After nearly ten minutes Timothy could not take the silence any more.

“Have you heard of Bernie Morano?”  He nearly shouted.  The driver jumped in his seat.  The small man looked back with a sore face and Timothy grimaced.  The driver looked ahead then spoke.  “Mr. Morano is a local celebrity but if your looking for an immortal you will be so disappointed.”  The cabby chuckled.  “I’ve never seen a man who aged so badly.”  Timothy leaned forward, “Interesting, why do you think that is?”

“I don’t know.  I’m just a cabby,” the man shot back.  He then returned to silence. After the trip Timothy paid the man and checked into his hotel.  He stayed the night with the hope of meeting Bernie Morano in the morning.

———————— Part 2 ————————————-

“Top of the morning, to you.”

Timothy woke up abruptly.  He expected to see a short Irish man but above him was a very tall thin brunette-haired man with a humongous smile.  “Hi, my name is Aaron.  How is your morning?”  Aaron screamed happiness and morning sunshine.  Timothy was not so happy.  “I was sleeping.  How did you get in my room?”

“Bernie, sent me.”

Timothy pushed his legs from the bed.  He sat up as Aaron stepped back.  “Bernie Morano sent you.  I thought I was meeting him?”

“Bernie’s schedule changed and he will now meet you in Johnson Park, Field One.  I will be your driver.”

Timothy looked at the room door and saw that it was closed and the door was locked.  He sighed and added.  “Let me get dressed.  I will meet you in the lobby in 20 min.”

“Sure,” Aaron said, turned and headed to the room door.  He unlocked the door and left.

———————— Part 3 ————————————-

Timothy dressed and stepped from the room.  He walked down the hall slowly.  He told Bernie he was coming down from New York City but he didn’t tell anyone where he was staying.  Conyers was not large.  Last time he looked it was a little over 15,000 people.  “Maybe that was why?”  He thought and disappeared into the hotel elevator.

Aaron stood in the hotel lobby.  His demeanor continued to be overly happy.  He greeted Timothy and both men disappeared out the door.  The Georgia air was warm.  The summer air wrapped around him.  He followed Aaron who walked toward a small yellow cab.  “A cab?”  Timothy asks and Aaron just smiled.  “That’s why you near where I was.”