Somehow I find myself in my very own dystopian novel. Not unlike Divergent or Marie Lu’s Legend. Some great war or natural disaster has wrecked havoc and what’s left of the human race hide in pockets of the earth that haven’t been destroyed.
Little Sister – she’s not really my little sister, but it’s easier to pretend we’re family – we make our lives in a tree-house out the back of an expansive house. Half the house has caved in but what does that matter to us. We’ve got our tree-house.
The sound of heavy machinery echos toward our area.
Instinct makes us duck behind the paper thin walls. Little Sister shivers with fear. I hold her close and peer through a crack in the boards. Mustard yellow machinery is carving its way down the street behind us.
We don’t have a name for these humans, but they destroy everything they touch. Uncaring and unfeeling of what little goodness remains on our planet.
I breath deep, the machine rattling my nerves, but I must be strong for Little Sister. They’ll pass in a moment, I tell myself but then I see them turn and demolish the house behind us.
They’re headed right for us.
Some part of me can’t believe they’ll really barrel down our tree-house. Yet, with each passing second, I know it’s true. And fear and shock wrestle for my mind. Leaving no room for common sense or courage.
A strong hand grabs my arm and pulls Little Sister and I out of the tree-house, just as the first bits of board splinter asunder.
It’s a wonder we make it out alive, but isn’t that the case in every action packed movie ever? We defy the odds.
The machine moves on and the humans who man it don’t see us. We’re safe for another day at least.
Homeless, but safe.
I turn to take in our savior and of course it’s the slightly scruffy, cool kinda guy you find in every YA novel ever. (Even my dreams are cliche.) But still he’s disarming with that goofy looking half smile and those eyes that seem to dance with mischief.
“Come on,” he says.
Little Sister and I don’t even hesitate to follow him. It’s like we’ve known him for years. And perhaps we have.
We wander through rows of identical homes, half of them are falling into themselves, while the wild claims what’s left.
There are bears in the middle of the street up ahead. It takes some maneuvering, but we manage to evade them. Even after they chase us a block! I’m not eager to turn this adventure into a movie like The Revenant or Backcountry!
We pass through a golden field and for a brief moment I run my hands through the honey colored stalks and wonder if I’ve died and am coming home, like Maximus.
But I’m not dead.
Little Sister squeezes my hand too tight for this to be death.
The boy, who’s name is probably something as clever as Four or Gale or Day, slips between some fallen boards against a house that looks almost complete. We follow him in.
My senses are overwhelmed.
I haven’t seen so many people in one place in a long time.
I didn’t even know so many people still lived. So much life. So much energy.
“This is the Hangout,” the perfect YA boy says.
Of course it is. Inventive name too …
He guides us to a room in the back, which feels like it’s built on stilts, you can see through the floor in places to the bare earth far below. He motions for Little Sister and I to enter first.
Little Sister darts off to a corner with bright trinkets. Fascinated by the sparkling objects that’ve been twisted by time and neglect, but which someone has polished so they shine.
The boy pulls out a chair for me and I sit at one of the rickety tables. It’s almost hip like those coffee shops of yore.
A girl brings over a tray of empty wine goblets and glass bowls. They’re so pristine and new.
I don’t understand.
My confusion must show on my face because the boy says, “It’s the only nice thing we have left. We’ve got nothing to put in them. No drink or food, but a lot of the youth like to come here to pretend.”
Pretend meals. Makes me think of Robin Williams and the food fight in Hook.
I miss movies.
Little Sister looks so happy, in fact all the kids in the place seem to have left their cares at the door. I decide to try too. After all the boy is cute and maybe we like each other.
Whatever. I’m cliche to the bone. I’m head over heels and crushing hard.
I raise my empty glass, ready to seize the moment of peace when I hear the sound of machines again.
They’ve found us.
Soon all this, the last place with pretty things and happy people, will be destroyed. Captured. Tortured. Put to work for the people and their mustard yellow boxy machines that churn everything to mulch.
I have to warn the boy, to warn all these kids. I rise to pull Little Sister and the others away from the window, away and out of sight, but as I reach for her the familiar buzz of an alarm calls me away.