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.

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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.

Predatory

“I wish we were back to the olden days,” Tracy shouted.

Darrin watches as they drove farther and farther from the Reaper.  It stared at the Jeep as Darrin left.  It’s charcoal eyes looking toward the Red aluminum vehicle.

“You wishing the monsters gone isn’t going to help you survive a world that has monsters.  I have also grown up in this world of ours.  You grandfather got to see the world when it was relatively peaceful.”

“I can’t talk to Papa.”

Darrin grimaced at the mention of his father’s nickname.  “Right, Papa has passed away.”

“What are we doing, anyways,” Janice said from the passenger seat.

“I need to see why that Harkin was in such a rush.  I’ve never seen one run, let alone walk fast.”

“Your curiosity is going to get your family killed.”

Darrin’s face got red, “my job remember?  I can’t go fight the war so I’m going to find a way to defeat these beast.”

“Yea, Darrin the hero.  I recall?”

Darrin was ready with a retort when his oldest daughter Sarah stopped him.  “What is that?”

In front of them was a destructive scene, covered in blood and monsters.  A broken Harkin, it’s large, thin insect legs pointing skyward, sat in the center of the road.  A second Harkin stood over the body snapping at Pterodactyl diving into the remains.

“I didn’t know they did that?”  Janice responded.

“Neither did I.”

“What do we do now, dad?”  Sarah asked.

“I need to write this down,” Darrin pulled a notepad from the floor beside Janice’s feet and began to write.

Janice’s nerves began to fray as she waited.  Outside the Jeep she watched as the Harkin struck one Pterodactyl and brought it crashing down into the trees on the right.  Another flew over the Jeep and spread it’s large claws.  It pulled open it’s wings and slowed till it was over the back of the Harkin.  It sunk the claws into the soft sections separating the hard keratin armor.  The Harkin immediately a long tail and pierced the Pterodactyl.  The flying reptile screamed and took off into the air only to fall feet from the Harkin.

“Darrin, maybe we should of stayed home,” Janice said.

“Can’t do anything about that now… wow did that just happen?  I’ve never seen a fight like this.”

“Darrin, what is this coming?”

To the right and between a set of trees the family could see a collection of beasts charging toward them.  They were small but large groups could batter the Jeep into submission.

Curious Shortz

Darrin looked up into the sky.  He stood, covered between and large maple tree and a white birch.  He was still able to see the mass of leather and keratin flying above the house.

“Dad!  What are you doing?”  Shouted Sarah from the large picture window.  Darrin waved her off, hoping to assure her he was safe under the tree.

The Pterodactyl flew above the house.  The large creatures filled the sky.  Darrin counted nine winged predators.

“Why do you think they are circling above the house?”

Darrin jumped, not expecting his wife to join him outside.

“What are you doing out here?”

“Hey, if your safe under the tree I am.”

Darrin noticed that a single creature began to sink lower followed by a second.

“You know they are actually about a mile away.  The dumb things are so large…”

“That doesn’t matter, they are still dangerous.”

“Right.. rude to interrupt but right.”

“What do you think they are looking at?”

“Not sure, maybe a Harkin passed out in this heat and they are taking turns pecking at it’s armored abdomen?”

“I heard there was a new creature?”

“Really, what?”

“Christine was saying it was a centaur.”

“How?”

“She saw it.  Says it was very friendly and cute.  Six pack abs and everything.”

“Of course, she would think that.  She needs to get married.”

A sudden noise jolted both Darrin and Janice as something galloped toward them.  Appearing from the darkness of the church next door was an insect-like Harkin.  The giant bug galloped quickly toward them.  It’s multiple legs looked like oars on a strange armored ship.

Janice looked to panic and wanted to run toward the house.  Darrin wanted to fetch his crossbow but stopped and watched.  Janice stared at Darrin in disbelief but stood still.  They both watched as the Harkin passed by the house within seconds.

It then took an awkward right at the intersection and headed toward the hovering Pterodactyl.

After the Harkin disappeared down the road Darrin and Janice took a breath.  “What was that about?”

“I’m not sure,” Darrin replied.

“Leave the kids here?”  He asked.

“What if something happens to us?”

“Ok, we will get them.  We need to check this out.”

The A-130

“I’m telling you.  This is not going to work.”

“It’s has to work, Marcus.  Do you understand what this could do to help us with the fight for dominance of the monsters in the country.”

“Darrin, listen.  I understand that.  Believe me but you pushing this hard is going to force a mistake.  The July 4th massacre was a terrible event.  I didn’t lose anyone, luckily, but dude…You have to back off a bit.”

Darrin stepped back and bit his lip.  He took a breath.  The images pounded in his head as his heart began to race.  He took in a second breath.

“Ok, sure.  I’ve been pushing too hard.  I’m still going to insist you finish this weapon.  Have you got a name for it yet.”

Marcus smiled.  “A-130.”

“That’s simplistic.”

“Right, but this laser gun has gone through a hundred twenty seven revisions.  I rounded up.  Oh, and it’s named after a work-horse plane in the 21st century.”

“Ok, just get it working.  What’s wrong with it now?”

Marcus picked up the weapon.  It had a bulbous channel that covered the barrel.  It was ridged, painted yellow, and had a black ring near the front of the bulge then the back.  The trigger was underneath a small square of aluminum followed by a wooden stock.

“It look more like a bumble bee, Marcus.”

Marcus ignored Darrin and stepped into a large room.  At the very end of the room was a black, circular stain on the wall.

“It keeps getting too hot to handle.”  Marcus said as he put on a pair of thick, black gloves.

Marcus lifted the weapon and weighed it in his hands.  “It’s a bit too heavy still but the laser technology is still far behind the computer technology of the twenty-second century.”

Marcus squared up his feet.  Pushed back his right foot and fired.

An invisible stream burst from the barrel of the weapon and struck the wall.  Heat spread over the black stain and began to redden.  Smoke floated from the weapon, slowly at first then it began to burn.

Marcus set the weapon down and instructed Darrin to follow him from the room.  “It has exploded at times.  I’m hoping this isn’t one of those times.”

Fourth of July

“Ugh!  I’m so mad.”

“Settle down, Darrin it’s not that bad.”

“Not that bad!  Janice, they took twelve children.”

“Well, that’s not completely true.. it wasn’t just children.”

“Please, don’t…” Darrin turned, loaded his crossbow.

“You’re not joining the Army.  You have children to protect.”

Darrin looked at his wife.  The words struck him but the sound of all those children screaming incited him and his nose flared.

“What about those other children?  Who is going to protect them?”

Janice stood silent.  She knew many other families had little.  Darrin was a protector.  The best.  “If you leave…” she began.  “That leaves us vulnerable.  The best of our community is in the Army.  They are fighting.  Their families are vulnerable.  All of them.”

Darrin set the safety on the crossbow and hung it at his side.  He struggled to think of something to say.  The screams muted slightly.  “You were there,” he began.  His eyes getting cloudy.  “The Pterodactyl came in then the Harkins.  They knew we were celebrating our freedom.”

“Darrin,” Janice began gently.  “The war is over.  The creatures are now a way of life.  There are so many of them left over.  There are teams on top of teams removing them.  This family needs you.”

Darrin growled and pushed past her.  His daughters Sarah and Tracy stood within the kitchen.  The sadness plastered upon their faces.  “My god.”

“I lost my best friend, daddy.”  The youngest, Sarah said.  “I don’t want to lose you.  They both hugged him and Darrin stood motionless.

“There is a greater good here,” Darrin said, his will almost broken.  “The recruiters haven’t called you Darrin,” his wife reminded him.  “If they needed help they would call you first.  They all know you.”

A tear fell from Darrin’s face as the family embraced