Elysia: The Wasteworld (1)
Due to the War that devastated the globe, all governments have lost their power and the systems that hold the world together are falling apart. The last standing paradise city on Earth-Elysia-is secluded and allowed to very few qualified individuals. Would Erik, a rather reckless blond boy with a Cadillac and Jessica, who grew up to be a ruthless, independent woman, be able to team up and reach Elysia in search of freedom and lasting bliss?
CHAPTER ONE: THE CAR THIEF
“Shame. That asshole sure did ruin such a pretty face,” a raspy voice popped up out of nowhere. A bewitching kind of raspy—but it subtly startled me nonetheless. I wiped away a droplet of blood hanging on my chin with the back of my hand and turned around to face the owner of the voice. A brunette with heavy makeup and tan skin stood there with a light smirk on her lips. “I don’t mind it, though. I like ruined pretty faces.” She bit her lower lip and cocked her head to one side, as if to size me up before revealing her venomous fangs and swallowing me whole. But damn, was the girl foxy.
I gathered up the mixture of saliva and blood mingling in my mouth and spat it on the ground, running my fingers through my hair to get rid of the sweat and blood-slicked strands stuck on my forehead. “You were watching?”
“Everyone was watching, jackass,” she crossed her arms and laughed like I was the most amusing thing she’d seen. “No one wants to miss a good old bar fight.”
Although it wasn’t like I completely lost or won, slight embarrassment washed over me through the layer of alcohol and adrenalin coating my interior and exterior. Blood was covering the left side of my face and I could barely walk without staggering. The bouncer had immediately removed me from the bar once the violent commotion became prominent above the usual boisterousness of the place. In other words, I was overly wasted, got beaten to a pulp by some jock, and thrown out without one company by my side.
“I don’t need sympathy or whatever it is you’re tryna offer,” I swat my hands in the air and propped myself up against the wall. Sliding down, I closed my eyes.
“Boy, does it look like I’m sympathizing? Mugging would make more sense.”
My eyes shot open. I cast a lopsided grin in her direction. “Are you?”
“Going to mug me?”
She twisted her short locks of curly hair with her fingers—adorned with chipped red nail paint---and stooped down in front of me. The fact that her expression was inscrutable, like she was actually pondering it, alarmed me for a fraction of a second. Then she huffed out another laugh. “I would have, if I didn’t fancy your face.”
I lifted one hand and gestured at my wrecked face. “I’ve been told I have fine features. And nothing else.”
“Nah, you got a car, too. Cadillac. A classic, black one. She’s a real beauty.”
My brain jumped awake from its misty slumber and clarity seeped in. I sat up, grappling the bricks for purchase. “How the hell do you know that?”
A familiar beeping noise from the parking lot ahead caught my attention instantly. In the girl’s right hand, a silver key chain rested. My key chain. She wore a playful smile as she pressed the button again and my Cadillac yelped in response.
“Hold it there,” the mysterious car thief held out her hand in front of my face and shushed me. “Now, I was planning on driving away but I saw you and thought, why not drive away together?”
“Well, who the fuck do you think you are---,”
“Shut the fuck up and listen first,” something about her voice was authoritative enough to have me complying. “I know you’re headed to Elysia.”
My blood froze.
“I…I…how, what…,” dazed, I stammered. The goddamn alcohol was still messing with my head.
“You’re out alone in a big, wide world, honey. And in case you haven’t noticed, it’s an effin’ dangerous one. Better learn how to hold onto your belongings if you wanna survive a week on your own,” the girl sneered and took out a black leather wallet from her short flight jacket lined with dirty fur.
“Oh, I’m not even surprised,” I spat, sarcasm dripping from the tone, as I attempted to snatch my wallet out of her hand. But she was faster. The wallet was out of my reach, and another cocky smile snaked on her mouth.
“Not so easy, buddy,” she clicked her tongue. I watched helplessly as she fumbled through the wallet and shifted out a piece of small paper carefully folded in half. The thief chucked the wallet on the ground (I could easily see how it was already ripped of any cash I’d stuffed inside) and unfolded the paper, flashing it before my face. “A crappy map to Elysia. You circled your destination with a red marker—are you an actual dumbass or a stupidly naive kid?”
“Both. With a pretty face and a Cadillac,” I grumbled, snatching the paper out of her hand and shoving it in my pocket. “And what may be your business about it, miss?”
“Well,” she started, standing up and pulling out a cheap cigarette from her pocket. She lit it up and drew in a breath, exhaling the toxic smoke in my direction. I coughed and shot a fierce glance up. Her amused expression annoyed me even more, though I must confess, I was already curious about what her suggestion could contain and where it would lead to.
“Well, what?” I asked. With some pathetic effort, I scrambled to my feet and stared into the light brown pupils boring into mine. It was evident that behind those charming eyes, her wily little brain was musing all possibilities and cooking up juicy stories that would hook me into some kind of perilous adventure.
The girl breathed out a lungful of smoke—this time thankfully not directly in my face—and lowered her hand. “Unless you’re a complete dimwit, you’d know that getting to Elysia, and getting into Elysia, is practically impossible.”
“I know a way.”
“What?” I blurted out. Perhaps too loudly. To be honest, this girl-thief, hot and daring as she was, looked nothing like the kind of person who would know a path to the last hidden Shangri-La allowed to only highly prestigious, eligible individuals. More like a gold-digger type of woman that would rob a man of all his wealth after planting a knife in his heart on the bed. In. Cold. Blood.
“Don’t fuck with me, girl,” so I growled.
“Oh, I’m not,” she giggled. “Fuck you, maybe, but fuck with? Nah. I’m dead serious.”
“Prove it, then,” I eyed her with narrowed eyes, crossing my arms.
“I can’t really prove it, but I can negotiate,” the thief shrugged. “There’s an old codger I once slept with and he happened to be a former Elysian. Committed murder or something and was banished from the place. But he bribed the doorkeeper and has been sneaking in and out of Elysia. I still got his number, and since he fancies me, he’ll help me in if I asked him, like he promised before. Plus I have his wife’s number for insurance.”
Irritated by the smoke she continued to breathe out right in my face, I took the cigarette from her fingers, flung it on the ground, and stomped the petite fire out. “Then why the hell didn’t you go already?”
“The fuck, bastard,” she cursed, glaring at me. The fire in her eyes was something remarkable. Once seriously pissed off, I was sure no one would be able to escape her deranged fury.
“Just answer the damn question.”
Surprisingly, she sighed and answered. “There was one condition.”
“Which was?” I raised my eyebrow.
“A man. He told me to bring a man with me.”
“What kind of condition is that?” Suspicion immediately arose within me. It sounded absurd, and I could not see, even if I tried, how such condition would benefit the old man she was speaking of.
“He wouldn’t tell me. But that was the condition. Don’t pry anymore because I know no more than you about the goddamn reason.”
“Well, someone like you could seduce any dimwit wandering the streets and trick them to go with you. Why me? Haven’t you met a thousand lost guys before?” I was in fact genuinely curious above incredulous and skeptical.
“Hm,” the sly smirk reappeared on her complexion. “Sure, I’ve met loads of idiots. But a blond one with a pretty face and a Cadillac? Never.” I didn’t budge an inch when the surprisingly smooth skin of her palm slid up my neck and cupped my slightly mangled cheek. Though it burned up at the contact, I refused to wince. (Hey, no guy would refuse a hot girl playing suggestive games with them; at least not in this fucked-up apocalyptic universe.) The change of tension in the brittle atmosphere was a bit too much for me to handle. She knew too well how to bewitch a dumb young ma---
‘What the hell…?’ I wondered, and then looking down, lost all words that had been hanging on my tongue. The gunpoint of a silver revolver was greeting my dumbfounded self directly under my chin.
“The safety’s off, boy,” the girl threatened. The way she used a very light tone, like she was telling me the stove was on or there was a mailman at the door, knocked the air out of me even though no physical harm was made. She was a dangerous person. Reliable? I had serious doubts.
“What are you up to?” I gulped, moving not a bit as to refrain from triggering the girl to change her mind and blow my brain out.
“Come with me and head to Elysia, escape this shitty part of the world, get a new identity, and live a new life. Or,” she tilted her head, scrutinizing every inch of my strained face. “Though that would be a pity, die now.”
Alright. As if she was giving me a choice.
“Either way, you can escape the Wasteworld. Make your choice.”
“Are you fucking kidding me??”
“Does it look like I’m joking, darling?” her expression morphed to something sickeningly menacing within seconds. Beads of sweat joined with drying blood and trickled down my temple, then past my cheek. My heart was pounding so enthusiastically I could hear the blood pumping in my ears. I opened and closed my mouth several times like a fish in a tank; all the saliva was dried up and only the nauseating aftertaste of blood was lingering in between the teeth and gum. Though caught in a quandary, I, of course, knew there was only one option available for me.
“Shit,” I cursed under my breath. “Fine. I’ll travel with you. But you gotta swear on your mother or great-grandfather or whatever it is that you love the most that you will get me to Elysia. If I ever find out that you lied, I’ll trample you with my car and leave you behind to die.”
The expression she had initially approached me in returned instantly. The playful smile, knowing eyes, and straightforward lips. “Like you have the upper hand here,” she scoffed. The revolver returned to the hidden pocket inside her flight jacket. “You’re bold, I’ll give you that.”
“Without me or my car, you won’t accomplish what you want,” I tried pitifully.
“Without your car key, you’re nothing, dumbass.” Right. The key was still in her possession. I had considered taking it back by force, but now with a gun involved, I assumed it was best for me to play along for now. A defeat was what this was.
“Thanks, but maybe later,” she winked, and turned around to head for my car. Unfortunately, she didn’t see me rolling my eyes.
We passed several drunkards picking a fight in the nearly deserted parking lot, and the girl flipped some of them off who catcalled at her without even casting a glance at their direction. From the several minutes I had known her, I could very well see what kind of character this woman had in her. She could do anything and risk anything to get her way. I guessed she’d gotten her way every time to this day with the help of her shiny little friend hidden in her jacket and the dangerously audacious air about her. And of course, her enchanting appearance.
“Hey, it’s my car. Mind handing me the key, now?” I said as we arrived before my beautiful companion, my charming steed.
“Rule number one: don’t fucking drink and drive,” she dismissed my request without hesitation.
“The world is already falling apart. Law hardly exists. And you don’t come off as the type to abide by rules,” I complained.
“It becomes my concern when I’m riding shotgun, jackass. I’m driving.”
And like that, she occupied the driver’s seat. The woman left me with no choice but to slip inside the car, tumbling down on the passenger seat. “I drive safely when I’m drunk, though.”
“Shut up, we’re going to a nearby inn, for now. You got first aid kit in the car?” she asked, shoving the key in the keyhole and turning it up to start the car.
“Take a look in the mirror and you’ll probably understand.”
“Oh.” Was I actually touched? Did this mean that she had treating my injuries in mind? “Yeah. In the trunk. I got lots of stuff in the trunk.”
“Good. Let’s fix your face up once we get there.”
The girl skillfully handled the gear and gripped the steering wheel with so much force her knuckles turned white. There was a pleasant smile on her lips. I could plainly see how much she was enjoying this situation, one where she could finally get to drive a Cadillac with a pretty-faced blond boy by her side. And to be frank, though I hate to admit it, somewhere deep inside my mind, a part of me was already enjoying the start of this adventure, too. Jeopardous and deceptive, yes, but the girl was still a wonder.
“You ready for a ride, Erik?” she hummed.
“Whatev---excuse me?” With widened eyes, I frantically stared at her. “You know my n---”
“Wallet. Map. Name. Information. ‘Kay?” she rolled her eyes.
“You’re gonna pay for this one day,” I grit my teeth but settled back down on the seat, looking ahead while my hazy vision struggled to take in the cacophony of late night street luminance dancing beyond the windshield.
“Perhaps,” she giggled. “Oh, and my name’s Jessica. Thought you might wanna know.” She winked again.
Jessica pressed on the accelerator with a little too much enthusiasm and the car abruptly shot forward in the deserted street.
Holy. What the fuck have I gotten myself into?