Chapter 9: Invaders


     Even though we only had that ONE time, Sama wound up pregnant with my child. To my everlasting relief, Yadira wasn’t distraught over what happened. She merely told me in an even, very-adult-sounding voice that that happened before we became a couple.
     Yadira and I haven’t done anything to try and prevent her from getting pregnant herself, but it hasn’t happened.

     Personally, Sama’s delivery was frightening enough not having a midwife in attendance. If I should lose Yadira to childbirth… I don’t even want to consider the possibility.

Sama had a boy, and she named him Zane.

     “Rohan!” It’s Asa. “I need to speak to you. Urgently.”
     “All right.”
     Asa and I have managed to make a kind of friendship work. Mostly, I’ve been training him to fight. He’s getting pretty good, but he has yet to top me when I’m fully on my game. The only time he can manage successfully to defeat me is if Yadira is in the vicinity. My gorgeous wife distracts me constantly.

      “Last night,” he begins, “I was standing at the cliff’s edge when I spotted another sailboat in the channel.”
     My voice is a gasp. “Fuck.”
     Within the past year, I’ve pulled my boat up into a tight cove, but it could be easily viewed from the water if at the right spot. Fuck, I’ve assimilated the ‘no one is going to bother us’ attitude just a little too much from these three. I hadn’t counted on someone showing up this soon.
     “Is it still there?”
     “Show me.”

     I’m gasping again. “Well fuck me. It’s a nice one, too.” The sails are all trimmed, and… “Asa, look!” I dart over to the wall and point down at the water. “The V’s. Do you see them?”
     He looks. “Is that what I think it is?”
     “It is.” People are swimming in the direction of the beach below the settlement. I look further, and I even see that at least one of them holds onto a board to aid them swimming to shore.
     “What do we do?”
     “Grab your pike. We’re investigating.” My heart races as we run for our pathetic wooden weapons. We don’t tell the women, hoping the crew on the boat is merely looking for supplies. There’s a chance the women would encourage them to STAY, and I don’t want that.
     Asa and I sneak down the path. We get about halfway down, and I advise him to stash his weapon somewhere as I do the same. Confused, he does as I suggest.

     “Fuck,” I mutter under my breath. Why? Just… WHY? “Fuck and fuck.”
    “What is it?” Asa asks quietly.

     “I think I know them. They’re good guys, just…” Just I don’t want them here. I now understand why Asa didn’t want ME here. “Just let me do the talking. Watch my back.”
     He cracks his knuckles. “Got it.”
     I take a deep breath and walk out from our cover, starting toward the immigrants.

     The two men immediately break apart, and Vik, the redhead I recognized, urges a woman and child to get behind him. I hold up my hands peacefully and slow my advance.
     “Hold the phone!” the man with the brown hair says, taking me back more than a decade with the phrase. “Is that ROHAN?” He laughs. “Hey-ey-ey-ey!” He closes the distance between us while Vik stays where he is.

     He grasps my shoulders in a gesture of camaraderie. I sense Asa tense. “C’mon, Rohan. Don’t ya recognize me?”
     I look at his face, which is a bit harder to see under all that hair. “Orion?” I should know that bloody-awful thick accent anywhere.
     “Yea!” He lightly shakes me. “Where’ve ya been? Here, I gather?” He looks around appraisingly.
     This is bad. Orion annoys the fuck outta me. I suppose in the old days, he’d be considered a bit of a hippie or environmentalist. That’s not what annoys me. He’s far too ready to laugh at things. Namely anything I want to take seriously.
     “What’ve ye been up to?” he asks, now noticing Asa. “And ye made a friend!” Still with the belittling tone, I see.
     He’s only five years older than me, but he’s always treated me like a preteen. Can I punch him now?
     “What’s with the beard?” I ask him.

     “Do ya know how dangerous it is ta shave in rough seas? ‘Bout damn near cut me own throat just tryin’ ta run the blade across. Seas are calmer here. I’ll get around to it.”
     More relaxed now, Vik walks over to us. “Hello, Rohan.” Then he looks like he wants to continue with Orion’s seafaring tales.

     “Oy, we had fifty foot waves crashing down on us one night. There was a moment I feared we were all done for.”
     Orion turns to Vik with a laugh. “Yer exaggeratin’.”
     I chuckle, trying to sound lighthearted, but the woman behind Orion catches my eye.

     It can’t be. Why did SHE come with them? It’s Jers’ older sister. She was in a relationship with Reck himself the last time I saw her. And she’s carrying a small child.
     She sees me looking at her.

     “Hello, Rohan.” I don’t see any anger in her eyes. She’s undoubtedly heard about Jers and what Reck thought. I never got to hear her take on it. Even though my shock still rules my emotions currently, relief also pricks me that she apparently doesn’t blame me.
     “Zuri. What are you doing here?” In other words: why are with them?
     Vik answers for her. “She was wed to one of the Trags.” He mentions a band of people that more closely resemble a religious cult than a tribe. They coexist near to the Skeeves’ main camp and trade amicably. “And now she’s not,” he finishes cryptically.
   Zuri always did have a way for attracting multiple men, so I’m not too shocked to learn that she moved from Reck to an engagement then married then divorced.

      Orion gives Vik a knowing look. “They figured out the child wasna theres.”
     “What do you mean?” I ask.
     Vik turns to me. “The child was conceived before the wedding.”
     Orion grins and also looks at me. “Rohan, ye havena introduced yer new friend!”
     I introduce Asa to them and them to Asa.

     He speaks for the first time. “A toddler on a sea voyage? That must’ve been difficult.”
     She laughs like the tinkling of little bells. “Oh, not Amina.” She kisses the girl’s forehead. “She loves the sea.”
     I don’t miss how Vik reaches up his hand to hold Zuri’s elbow. There’s a certain possessiveness in the gesture.
     “So, Asa,” Orion begins, “tell us how ya came ta be here. Were ye alone?”
     I interrupt. “Is there anything we could help you with? Are you in need of supplies?” Hint. Bugger off.
     Zuri answers, “We’re looking for a new home.”
     Zuri puts the child down so that she can play in the sand.

     Vik looks at Orion as he explains their story to me, “Reck is out of control. When we left, he was planning an attack on the Trags.”
     I stop watching the child for a moment. “Why? There was peaceful trade.”
     Orion sighs, for once not laughing. “They’re smaller, so Reck assumed that meant they needed ta be defeated an’ their resources taken. He completely swayed the council.” He looks at me like he wished I’d been there.
     “I wouldn’t doubt they’re a thing of the past now.” Vik looks at Amina with a sad expression on his face as she plays.
     Fuck! They see this island exactly as I saw it: isolated, hidden. They’re running.
     Orion suddenly turns his head.

     He sounds like he’s having trouble catching his breath. “Well, NOW I see what ya been hiding.”
     FUCK! I hear Sama talking to Yadira behind me.
     Asa dashes over to Sama while I do the same with my darling wife.

     I hardly know what I’m saying. I wish they had stayed at the settlement, but they must’ve gone looking for us. Dammit. Maybe I SHOULD’VE told them.
     “So they’re… Skeeves?” I watch her eyes move, probably landing on Zuri.
     “They have apparently run away just like I did.”
     “Do they need help on their way?” She keeps looking at all of them, and I want to wilt with relief. She doesn’t want them to stay either.
     “That’s what I’m trying to find out.”
     I hear Sama. “The baby is sleeping. Stop blocking me, Asa. I want to talk to them!”
     I walk past them back to the newcomers.

     I decide to have a very pointed conversation with Orion. “We would be happy to help you resupply for your continued journey.”
     He chuckles. “Resupply?” His eyes rake my wife as he continues, “Now why would we wanna do that?”
     Asa responds to Sama, “There’s really no need. We have it under control.”
     Orion takes a step toward Yadira, who is also walking in my direction.

     His chest puffs out as he takes a breath. “What we ‘need’… is a home.”
     “Orion, let me introduce you to my WIFE, Yadira.”
     “So ye went an’ got yerself married.” His eyes don’t leave her, and I wonder who exactly he’s addressing.

     Yadira manages a kind of authority in her voice. “This is the sacred island of Haven. Only the gods determine who stays on her shores.”
     My head slowly turns in her direction. What the fuck was that all about? I pause and think. No, wait. She’s bloody brilliant. Sama passes her, determined to speak to Vik and Zuri.
     I take Yadira’s hand. “May I speak with you over there, please?” I’m sure to keep a tone of respectful obedience in my voice.
     “You may.”

     “What are you doing?” I keep my voice very quiet. I don’t have to look to know Orion is watching us intently. Or just Yadira intently.
     “Well, I thought, given what you told me…” She blushes.
     “No, I fecking love it. Why couldn’t we think of this sooner?”

     But then Sama goes and ruins everything. “Of course you’re welcome here. You’ll need to build your own housing, but let’s see what we can do for you for the time being.”
     Orion chuckles, having also heard her. “Looks like the gods decided.”


btw: I fecking hate writing accents, but sometimes, it’s the best way for you to ‘hear’ what I’m hearing. /sigh Sorry if it’s annoying to read.

Chapter 8: Surprise

A/N: Fasten your seat belt!



      My heart is racing. Rohan just KISSED me.
     All I’ve wanted since Rohan joined us was for him to think I’m worth the effort. But it seemed like all he was doing was showing all of us (not just me) how wonderful he is at everything. Sure, we all have realized we need him, but I’d hoped he’d single me out as someone more special to him.
     Then the whole Sama thing happened, and I wanted to cry. But I didn’t have a right to cry. He could do what he liked. It’s not like we had a romantic… thing… going.

     Earlier, it was all I could do to focus with the way he was parading himself around. I had a goal: I wanted to find out if there had BEEN anyone he left behind, someone that he cared about. Maybe that’s why he never said he really wanted just me. That’s not to say I never got any clues that he might, but after he’d do whatever, he wouldn’t SAY anything! I thought maybe if I got him talking about it, he might tell me one way or the other. But then I chickened out. I didn’t want to hear how he wasn’t interested in someone he saw as just a child, and afraid I was about to hear that, I got up to leave.


     That was NOT how you kiss your little sister; that was NOT how you kiss someone you think of as a child. But I guess I wasn’t ready for him to tell me he liked me like that like THAT.
     Finally, he speaks against my lips, telling me that he DOES like me romantically, and I felt like I was flying. He kissed me again, and that’s when I started noticing how he was pushing into me. Sama had taught me about this kind of thing one very awkward night years ago, but I didn’t know it was going to be like THIS.

     And now he’s asking me to give him a chance. Why am I scared? Isn’t this what I thought I wanted? All those times I was hoping he’d tell me, but I wasn’t expecting SUCH a physical tidal wave to go with it.
     He lifts my face, and I see the pleading in his eyes. I swallow, wondering how I’m going to tell him how scared I am.
     “I… don’t know what to do next.” Oh great, Yadira. Let’s just remind him how you have no idea what you’re doing. But it’s true! If I say I’ll give him this ‘chance’ he’s asking for, does that mean he’s going to pull me into his house and… THAT will happen?
     “Well, er…” He swallows now. “Are you attracted to me, Yadira?”
     That’s easy. “Yes.”
     His whole body sighs with relief, and he kisses me again. When he pulls back, he says, “Then that’s what I wanted to know.”
     I close my eyes, and he pulls my head to his chest. This is nice. I can hear his heart beating while he takes in and lets out deep breaths. We stay like this for a while, and his breathing returns to normal.
     “Would you like to live in my house with me, Yadira?”
     “Because you think my house is terrible.”
     “No, because I want to sleep with you.”
     I pause. “Just sleeping?”
     I can hear the smile in his voice. “Not unless you WANT more, but I’m guessing you’re not ready for that. Am I right?”
     “You are.” How does he know?

     So that’s how it happens that I move into Rohan’s house. And we sleep together. Just sleeping. Well, and kissing.
     A month goes by, and Sama starts acting really happy, which makes me suspicious. But I don’t ask her about it because I don’t want to know.

      “So you decided not to go fishing after all?” I hear behind me. Turning, I see Rohan. What… is he wearing?
     “Are you wearing one of my skirts?”
     He chuckles. “Well, I washed all my other clothes, and they’re currently hanging up to dry. So, yeah, I hope you don’t mind me borrowing this for a little while. That is… unless you prefer I go around in the buff.”
     “No, wearing my skirt is fine.” Honestly, I’m surprised he’s not taking this chance at displaying his goods again.

      “So I, er, had some leftover ripped sail, and I wanted to make you something, speaking of clothes.”
     I smile. He looks so nervous! “You made me something?”
     He points to the woods behind me. “Yeah. I hid it up there.”
     I hug him and thank him then run off to go try on whatever it is.

      The dress is beautiful, of course, and I walk back over to thank him again. However, just before walking out of the trees, I stop. Rohan is standing at the beach gazing out over the water, and I just stand here and look at him.
     He has brought so much to all our lives, but I’m especially glad for what he’s brought to mine. He loves me. He’s told me. It was so cute and funny the first time he did. I had just opened my eyes one morning to see his face covering my vision, like he’d been watching me sleep. ‘I love you,’ he said then kissed me. My feet have hardly touched the ground since.
     I love him. I’ve not told him. Silly me. After all that waiting in the beginning, you think I’d learn.

     I call his name, and he turns. I can’t really read his expression as I walk towards him.

     “What?” I ask, trying to understand his look. “You don’t like it?” Maybe this isn’t what he imagined.
     “On the contrary.” He walks to me.

     He reaches for my hand, and he acts like he’s trying to figure out what to say next.
     So I decide to go ahead and speak. “Thank you. It’s lovely.”
     “I’m having that overwhelming feeling again that I should just fall to my knees and start worshiping you.”
     I start giggling. He’s since told me what he was thinking that night he ran after me with the pointy stick, when we met. He ACTUALLY thought for a while that I was a goddess. It’s funny now. He’s so wonderful. I throw my arms around him.

      “I love you,” I tell him happily.
     He takes a deep, quick breath, and his arms wrap more around me. His lips are at my throat, and his tongue darts out as his head moves to my chin.

     There’s a low moan as he kisses me, massaging my tongue with his. He’s getting turned on. I can feel it. But I’m more used to that now. He’s told me not to worry about it, and I’ve really liked how he’s moved himself against me several nights. At first, I want that again right now, but it’s different this time. I want more.

       Panting, I look him in the eyes and say, “I’m ready.”
     “For… you know.”
     “Are you sure?”
     I nod my head and take his hand, pulling him back into the woods. He stumbles along behind me, distracted by kissing my hand and what amount of my arm he can reach as I pull him. I’m headed back to our settlement when I pause. No. I don’t want to go up there. I want more privacy.
     His old lean-to is still standing, and it’s closer. I head in that direction, and he eagerly follows me.
     “Good idea,” he mumbles before pulling me into another kiss. Eventually, we do make our way over to the lean-to.

      He looks down at me. “You’re sure.”
     Stop asking me that! The last thing I want to do is chicken out right now. “Yes.”

     “You can always stop me,” he says as his hand slides up the dress from my waist and cups my breast. Then his mouth attacks what he pushes out of the dress.
     It’s wonderful. Rohan doesn’t give me a second to think anything else but how badly I want this. In fact, he starts driving me crazy how he doesn’t act hurried, like he has all day and night and then possibly the next day before he’ll finally DO anything about this ache that’s forming. I start worrying he really intends to take that long and find myself begging.

     But no, finally he starts rocking himself into me, bit by bit. While he does this, he frequently kisses me and pulls up to watch my face. I think he’s watching for signs of pain? There really isn’t any, and I think I realize why he was taking so long before–at least one reason.
     Then he’s pushed in all the way, and I watch as his eyes roll to the back of his head, a low moan escaping from him. After that, it’s like I go on the ride of my life as that need from earlier rises to a height I would think impossible if I weren’t experiencing it. Then the whole world explodes around us suddenly before we float back down to the ground in feathery waves.
     Rohan is still on top of me, panting, occasionally kissing my neck. “I never want… anyone else… to have you.”

     “I don’t want anyone else,” I reply.
     He kisses me. “There IS something we can do about that.”
     “Get dressed.” He grins. “Unless you’d rather be naked.”
     So I get up and get dressed as he recommended, and he does as well. Then he surprises me!

     “Rohan!” I start laughing with him while he carries me to the beach. He looks so HAPPY.
     “There’s something we can do. You’ve probably heard about it. A ceremony. With the tribe,” he adjusts his hold of me as we get closer to the water, “there was someone usually performing it with the couple, but we don’t have to have that in my opinion.”

      “Are you talking about getting married?” Of course I’ve heard of this.
     He grins. “Yes. And I think… if we say vows here… even if we don’t have a priest or shaman or whatever, we’re standing before the god or gods as our witnesses.”
     My eyes start tearing up, and he takes my hands.
     “Beautiful goddess Yadira, will you allow this humble mortal to be united with you forever, to do his utmost every day to do whatever it takes to fulfill the desires of your heart?”
     I smile, and my heart swells. “Wonderful master-craftsman Rohan, will you allow THIS silly little girl to be the lucky one to become your wife?”
     “Fuck, I love you.” He yanks me to him and kisses me hard. Then he pulls back. “So that was a yes, correct?”
     I laugh. “Of course.”

     So Rohan and I make vows to one another to have our souls united as one, to love and support each other no matter what the world throws at us.

     He’s my husband, and I’m his wife.

     Life continues as if in a dream. Rohan and I speak of the future, of children, of things he wants to build. We’re so happy.


Chapter 7: Goals

A/N: Rohan’s bare bum later in the chapter.


     A frustrated week later, I’m stewing in front of my fire about how nothing has happened with Yadira when I hear Sama behind me.

     “I’m ovulating.” Her voice sounds so matter-of-fact as she rounds the couch.
     I turn my head and look at her, feeling zero attraction. “Sama, I’m sorry. I’ve thought about it, and I just–“

     “Shh. Don’t say it. Please.” She watches me look at her, seeing pity in my eyes. “I know you don’t want me. But let’s do this anyway.”

     “It doesn’t work like that.” I back my head up when she tries to brush her thumb across my lower lip. Undeterred, she climbs on top of me anyway.

     “Close your eyes,” she says quietly.
     I could decide to throw her off me. I could do it, too. No problem. But then she starts grinding her hips against me, and I’ve been lusting after Yadira for what feels like years. God’s balls, my fucking body starts responding.
     “Think of her,” she whispers. “Think of her as I take you inside me.”
     I lean my head back, eyes still closed. Oh, fuck. Am I really about to do this again? I picture Yadira: her face, her eyes, her hair, the curves of her body… how badly I want her… how I wish it were she grinding atop me instead of the older, smarter woman… the woman who can’t help her little cry of pain when I pierce into her. But she doesn’t stop. She continues toward her goal.

     I briefly wonder where she must’ve read about this–because she’s really not that bad.
     I won’t deny how good it feels, and I open my eyes to look at her as she keeps working me.
     That was a mistake, and I quickly close then again. Yadira, my mind whispers to me. It does help.
     The woman picks up speed, and my toes curl against the floorboards. Oh, fuck! Panting, I grab the edge of the sofa, listening to the little noises she makes as we’re getting close.
     Then it’s done. I come inside her, and we’re quiet for a moment.
     She clears her throat. “I’ll go lie down on the cot for a little while to, um, make sure it… sticks.” She blushes and gets off me.

     That was… interesting. How was that different from the last times I had to do that? Those other times, it felt like ‘just another thing.’ Not that it was bad then either. It just… it didn’t matter then. I had no real lasting attachment to anyone.
     I get up. I need to go for a swim–wash myself off.

     I pick some fruit on my way back up to the settlement, and I decide to grill it. As I watch it cook, my mind wanders in a continued attempt to come to grips with myself and what happened.
     She ambushed me. I feel used, unclean, even though I just bathed in the ocean. It’s not like it was my first time or even my first time being used in that way.

     But my heart didn’t belong to anyone those times with the Skeeves. That’s it. That’s the crux of it. I want more with the young goddess Yadira. If I could ever figure out how to show her without it all self-distructing like it’s done so many times I’ve tried, that would be a bloody miracle.
     I eat, and, still feeling unclean, I go try bathing in what might’ve once been a swimming pool.

     Yadira mostly uses the water for her plants, but I realize me doing a little swimming won’t hurt anything. The water is actually cleaner than I expected. I hear a giggle.
     “You’re swimming in that?” the most perfect voice asks, still giggling.
     I turn around and smile, my heart lifting for the first time today. “I thought I’d give it a go. It’s not bad. Care to join me?”
     She giggles again.
     And then removes her outer clothing.

     I swim closer as she sits at the edge of the water. My eyes stare at her knees as I imagine parting them slowly.
     “It’s got algae in it. Don’t you feel dirty swimming in that?”
     “Not at all, really. I just kick it away.”
     She makes a face, so to oblige her, I hop out of the water to sit next to her.

     “Oh!” She quickly looks away. “You’re naked.”
     I laugh, feeling lighthearted for the first time all week. “Well, why not? I wouldn’t want to get my clothes all wet.”
     She clears her throat and looks everywhere but at me.

     “So I’ve never asked,” she begins, “what are the other people out there like? I mean, are they nice mostly or mean mostly?”
     I shrug. “I suppose they’re just like you’d expect people to be: some are nice, some aren’t.”
     “Did you have any friends?”
     “A few.”
     “What do you think they thought of you leaving?”
     I scratch my head and lean back, trying to catch as much of the warmth of the sun on my skin as I can. “I suppose they understood why. It really didn’t look good for me with Reck doing his best to convince everyone I pushed the boy off the cliff.”
     She looks down. “Did you have, um, someone that… uh…”
     My head snaps in her direction as hope rises in my chest like a hundred birds suddenly deciding to take flight. “Someone like what?” I urge her to continue. Someone who meant something special to me? No. Not especially. There were those I liked more than others–but never in the same way as I do her.
     She loses her nerve. “Never mind.” She gets up.
     “You mean did I leave behind someone I loved?” That stops her.

     “It’s nothing. Forget I asked.” She starts bending down to pick up her clothes, but I have other plans.
     She didn’t say that wasn’t the question she was trying to ask. She would’ve certainly if that were true.
     I hop up, surprising her. “No. There was no one back there that I loved.”

     “Rohan, you’re still naked.”
     “Right. So I am. And no, I didn’t love anyone with the Skeeves. All that changed when I came here.”
     “You realized you loved someone from your old tribe when you came here?”
     I don’t know whether to scream, laugh, or cry. “No.” I step towards her.
     “Then what…” Her voice trails off, and her cheeks pinken. And I can’t take it anymore. I quickly pull her the rest of the way to me and claim those lips once and for all.

     She immediately stiffens in shock, and I hold her head in place, begging for a different response. No! This is all wrong! Why do I have to be such a fecking idiot? So many times I KNEW this would be a bad way to do it, yet I go and bloody well do it anyway.
     I hope speaking against her lips will help. “It’s you. Of course it’s you. From the moment I met you.”
     Fuck! She starts shaking. My bare-ass naked self can’t hide how turned on I am, and I want to punch myself in the face for scaring her. But I dare not pull away completely. I separate our lips and hold my forehead to hers while both of us work on catching our breath.
     “I… didn’t mean… to kiss you like that… the first time.” Fuuuuuuuuuuuck!
     Every inch of her burns into my skin where we touch. “Then how did you mean to do it?”
     I smile. Perhaps I can still salvage this. “Like this.” And I gently touch my lips to hers. She shakes a bit again, but she’s more relaxed about it as I linger. So sweet. My dick twitches.
     She quickly pulls away.

     “Wait,” I beg, holding on to her. “I didn’t want to scare you.”
     “Then why did you do that?”
     “I can’t help it.” I assume she means what she felt against her. I pull her hand up to my lips and kiss it. “It’s what you do to me.” Then I kiss each one of her fingers in turn.
     “So it’s MY fault?”
     “Fault?” I want to laugh but hold it in. This isn’t perfect, but it could be worse. She could be screaming and trying to fight me off. That she’s not gives me more hope than I’d dared to dream. “It’s no one’s ‘fault.’ It just happens.” She won’t stop looking at the ground. “Yadira, darling, will you give me a chance?” I hold her cheek in my palm, letting go of her hand. “I adore you.”
     I gently tilt her face up to look at me, and I’m nervous by what I see.

Chapter 6: Bliss-Filled Hell

     “AGH!!!” I yell in surprised, embarrassed fright, quickly pulling my hand out of my crafted shorts. Panting, I ask, “What?”

     I’m still trying to catch my breath.
     “An owl!” Her eyes are wide in fear.
     “You don’t understand. I’m terrified of owls.”
     “You are?” I blink. “Why?”
     She doesn’t answer. “Please, would you go and scare it away? I can’t sleep if I know it’s out there.”
     I scratch the back of my head. “Right. Okay. I’ll give it ago.” Standing, but not totally upright, I vacate the sofa, and she takes my place.

     I keep my hand over the front of me, hoping she doesn’t notice. She doesn’t, but it’s only because she’s freaking out about the damn owl.

     Before I locate the owl, I hurry and ‘finish myself off.’ Better able to focus now, I find the nighttime nuisance. Sure enough, it’s flitting around Yadira’s little camp. I wonder if it has a nest nearby.
     Just in case she looks out the window, I make a show of scaring away the feathered fiend. It does fly off, but I don’t know for how long. Then I return to the house.
     When I sit on the sofa, I notice she’s shaking. I gently hold her shoulders.

     “Hey.” I rub her arm in what I hope is a reassuring way. “It’s gone, but I honestly can’t say whether or not it’ll be back. But even if it comes back, I don’t think it’ll bother you.”
     “That’s where you’re wrong. It showed up last year. It starts acting like I’m invading ITS territory when I was there first. It likes to fly right at my hair. One time, when I was fighting with it, it scratched my arm up.” She quickly shows me a small, faded scar. Then she puts her head in her hand again and sounds close to tears. “And now it’s back!”
     “It’ll be okay.” Will it? I’ve always admired owls; it’s why I have one with the wings spread on my back.
     “No, it won’t! I even had to cut my hair last year because it kept getting in the way of me fighting it off.” She sniffs.

     I reach up and touch her hair. It’s as soft as rabbit’s fur. Resisting the urge to put my whole face in it proves near impossible, but I somehow manage it.
     She turns her head.

     “What am I going to do?”
     The backs of my fingers now brush against her cheek, which is somehow even softer than her hair. Gods help me.
     She continues, “Normally, I’d just run off to sleep on Sama’s couch, but I’m…” She looks at the fire. “She’s not exactly my favorite person right now.”
     My voice cracks. “Then…” I clear my throat. “Then stay here.”
     She turns more around now. “Really? You don’t mind?”
     If I don’t kiss her soon, I’m going to spontaneously combust. “I don’t mind.”
     Her face and posture wilt, and she rests her head on my chest. “Thank you.”
     FUCK! I scream in my head.
     “I know it sounds silly,” she says, “but would you stay with me on the couch?”
     Hells yea. “Sure.” Somehow we manage to get comfortable.

    And so I finally hold the goddess Yadira in my arms. All I have to do is lift her chin and tilt my head down and her mouth is mine, but she distracts me.
     “How did you get all your tattoos? Do they mean something?”
     I’d swear it sounds just like a child asking for a bedtime story, and that makes me pause my more ardent intentions. I clear my throat. “Well, the owl I have on my back I got during the war.” She acts surprised I fought, and I tell her how I spent my early teen years as a nighttime sniper because of how well I could see in the dark–before the sickness changed that. “They gave me the nickname ‘Hoots.’ I’d almost forgotten that. It feels like a million years ago.”
     “And what about here?” Her fingertips run along my chest, and I start getting hard again.
     I take a deep breath. “The tribe gave me that one and the one on my leg.” Then I answer her next question. “The one on my arm is when the tribe was a street gang. It’s a decorated ‘S.'”

      “Hm,” she exhales out her nose and totally relaxes.
     This is so perfect. It’s killing me. She feels completely safe in my arms, so safe that she fell asleep. If I tried to seduce her right now, it would actually ruin this moment.
     Damn it.

      My body is furious with my mind right now. It’s screaming at me just to take her, but it’ll have to get over it.

     Because I want more than the blissful pleasure I can find between her legs, so I’ll tolerate the hell I’m in from resisting base impulses.
     Well, maybe a little kiss? She’s asleep; she won’t even realize it.

     I plant a feather-soft kiss between her eyebrows.
     No. When I finally DO kiss her, I want her to realize it. I want her to want it.
     I rest my head back on the arm of the sofa and sigh, my eyes traveling over her face.
     ‘Sama isn’t my favorite person right now,’ she said.
     Fuck. What am I going to do about that?

Chapter 5: Civic Duty

     I get up and walk around the couch to see what Sama wants.

      “You’ve done a real great job building this house and been so helpful with teaching us how to help ourselves,” she begins, and I wonder if she’s buttering me up for something.
     “Thanks, and it was great having all the help building.”
     She looks at Yadira who sits happily watching the fire. Then Sama’s eyes return to me. “Could I speak with you outside about something personal?”
     “Er… Sure.” We step out the back door.

      Before I can ask her what this is about, she begins straightaway. “This is going to sound like it’s coming out of nowhere, and please forgive me if I offend you. I’ve never done this sort of thing before, but I thought I’d try anyway.”
     I don’t think I’ve ever seen Sama this unsure of herself. “Okay? What is it?”
     “I want a baby.”
     “Okay?” I ask again.

     Then I think I start to understand. “And does this have anything to do with me?”

      “Yes. I want you to father it. If you don’t mind.”
     And there I was just thinking earlier how the tribe would ask me to do that very thing. “What about Asa?”
     “If I have another, I’ll ask him. I thought I’d ask you now before… Before any further developments between you and our sister.”

     “So you’re aware.”
     “I’m not blind.”
     “And even though you’re NOT blind, as you say, you still decide to come to ME for this request.”
     “I’m being practical.”
     Even though I was ready to go earlier as I sat on the sofa with Yadira, I’m anything but now. The very idea repulses me that I’m asked AGAIN to perform a ‘service’ merely to increase the human population. “No.”

     “I don’t see why. I’ve read all about it, and I can put forth all the effort required. I’m just asking for your participation.”
     “You don’t know what you’re asking for, Sama.” I have to get away from her. My stomach turns.
     Then I jump when I feel her arms encircle me from behind.

     “Come on, Rohan. Like I said, I’m asking now instead of later when things might be weird. Nothing has started between you two. I want you to help me with this.”
     My voice is incredulous. “You’re asking me to father your child!”
     Hers sounds happy. “Yes!”
     I unwrap her arms and turn around, but she still sticks close to me.

     “This is crazy, Sama.” Or at least it would be if we lived in a normal world.
     “Maybe. If you look at it like that.”

     She continues, “But really, I’m just being practical. We’re such a small family; we need to mix our genetic material as much as possible. That’s really all it is.” She’s so serious. Yes, this is a serious matter, but it should, by all rights, be one where love was involved. And no one loves Sama.
     Fuck. Now I feel sorry for the woman. “I’ll think about it.”

     I walk back inside, and I feel a strange pain in my chest. Sighing, I go and retake my seat next to the young goddess.

     “So what did she want?”
     Why can’t it be YADIRA asking me to father her baby? Although it scares me to think of her going through childbirth, I’d love to have ten kids with her.
     Do I tell her what Sama said?
     She’ll find out anyway

     “She wants me to be the father of her first baby.” I say it like it’s the most ridiculous idea ever.
     Her face falls. “Oh. That’s… That’s… um, flattering?”
     “I told her I’d think about it, but I don’t really want to do it.”
     She won’t look at me now! “I… think I should probably go fishing. I mean… Yeah. Fishing.” She gets up.
     “I could come along.” I leave it open like a question.
     “No. No, no, I, uh, just need… to be alone right now.” She walks out without looking back.
     She’s upset? Does that mean she’s hurt? If she’s hurt, then… Fuck! I need to talk to her!
     I stand up.
     No. Let her sort herself out first. Then I’ll talk to her.
     I leave her be for the rest of the day. At dinner, everyone acts like everything is normal, even if her smiles look a bit strained and Sama’s looks feel creepy.
     Exhausted, I return home. Alone. So alone. I’m talking to Yadira tomorrow. Somehow. Somehow, I’m going to let her know how I feel. I’m going to go crazy if I don’t.
     In the meantime, I need a little stress relief.

     Serious stress relief. It’ll help.

     I fantasize about Yadira coming in here and demanding I be hers alone. I comply, of course. Then it’s reeeeaaaaallll niiiiicceeee.

     I rest my other hand on the couch where she’d sat, right where she’d sat. The sound of my breathing is only interrupted by the hooting of an owl outside. My hand fists at that spot on the couch, grabbing. I wish she were really here like in my fantasy.

     “There’s an owl outside!!!”

Chapter 4: Wounded Pride

     “So what do you think?”

     I stand here and debate my answer. On the one hand, I’m fecking livid with the other two members of the ‘family’ and want to tell Yadira exactly what I think, but on the other, I don’t want to hurt her feelings when she’s obviously so proud of herself.
     “What is it?” She watches me, her smile sinking. “It’s… kinda like what you did at the beach, isn’t it?”
      “What I did at the beach is supposed to be temporary.”
     She swallows, probably trying to hide the hurt. “Well, uh, like I said, it, um, works for the warmer months.”
     She deserves better than this!She deserves to live in a fucking palace, not this shithole. I walk over to inspect some of the items in her assembled little hovel.

     “Is there a reason you’ve held on to this crap?” I gesture to the broken TVs, the rotting mattresses, the broken chairs and table, and the worthless what-was-once-a-microwave.
     “I thought I might turn them into something useful. Same water to throw them in a garbage pile, but I hoped there might be something that could be used.” Fuck. She’s definitely hurt.
     “Maybe. But that doesn’t mean you keep them in your… ‘house.'”
     She lets out a puff of air. “Look, I know I’m not a builder, but I thought you might at least appreciate my efforts because I did it all ON MY OWN.” She gestures to a random assortment of wooden planks. “I was going to try and build a wall, but I don’t know how.” She folds her arms and turns away from me.
     “Yadira. I’m sorry. I just can’t believe–“
     “Just go.”
     “But you’ve done a great job with the lean-tos.”
     “The part I care the least about. You didn’t even notice the canopy right over your head.”
     I look up, my heart sinking. “Uh, yeah. That would be really nice in a garden.”
     She walks over and blows out her candle. “Goodnight, Rohan. See you tomorrow.” She climbs under her covers, effectively dismissing me.



     After supper, Yadira walks out with the blond barbarian, and I take that opportunity to tell Sama exactly what I think.

     “I can’t STAND him!” He’s going to ruin everything! I had it all planned out, and it included Yadira and I spending our lives together AS A COUPLE. I was just waiting for some tiny hint she might be ready for that. I was gonna play it cool, maybe even having a kind of fling-thing with Sama. After all I WAS the only dude. As far as we knew at the time, the continuation of the human race was up to us. This Rohan bastard has blown that notion away like an ash sculpture in a strong wind.

     She gives me a look like she knows exactly what I’m also not saying. “I’m sorry if he ruined your little fantasy of being the last surviving man in the world.”
     She thinks she’s so smart. “No, you’re NOT sorry. I think you LIKE him.”
     Deliberately mistaking my meaning, she replies, “Yes. I believe he’s a nice addition to the family, and I think he’ll help us a lot. In MANY areas.”
     I glare at her and get the leftovers, intending to put them away.

     Of course, the refrigerator doesn’t work like it was meant to, but we compressed blocks of snow to pack it with ice. It’s like a huge cooler. The ice won’t last forever, but it’ll get through spring unless we have a particularly warm temperature spike.
     Sama keeps going, “And he seems QUITE TAKEN with Yadira, don’t you think?”
     That’s fine, Sama. Just pour salt in my wounded pride. “Fuck off.”
     She laughs while I leave her house.

     As I walk to my house, I see the blond brute walking back toward the beach with his shoulders slumped and his gait more loping than anything. To put it mildly, he looks down. I happily ponder what could’ve caused that.



     The next day, I assemble another garment, being sure to have something come up between my legs so that I don’t flash everyone again.

    The morning is a bit chillier than it was yesterday, so I find a sort of upright fire pit and light it. No one else is up yet. I take this time to think now that my head is a little clearer.

    I’m not going to build near the beach. No, I’m going to build RIGHT HERE. Right here where I stand. There are even more building materials, bricks, here since it looks like this was a bigger settlement. And this is right next to Yadira.

      It takes almost a month to build my one-room house. During the building, I teach the other three what to do to get the best from the bricks, how to mix mortar, and how to lay them for maximum durability. Pretty early on, Sama abandons our work to fix some holes in the walls of her first floor.
     The biggest surprise is how I develop an almost-friendship with the man-child Asa. I say that, but the friendship would only exist if Yadira wasn’t in the nearby vicinity.

      “Hey, Yadira, wake up.” She’s taken to sleeping some during the day, especially since we finished the house. I’m glad it’s finished before the heat of summer. “I got all my furniture moved in and then some. Wanna see?” Please?
     She makes a kind of mumble/groaning noise before saying, “Okay.”

     I’m practically bouncing in my excitement, and she giggles at me.

      I consider my biggest accomplishment being the inclusion of the windows. I managed to get together enough glass to fix some broken ones I’d found at the other homestead.
     “This is really amazing!” She walks in and looks at everything. She hadn’t seen it with all the furniture, especially the heavier pieces which Asa helped me with this morning–as I vowed to work on his house next. It should be that I work on Yadira’s next, but I have other hopes.

      “You really like it?” I want to touch her face, her hair, everything. Over the last month, I’ve had opportunities, especially when teaching her to lay bricks, but sometimes, she’s so childlike that it feels wrong. So instead, I just continue to admire the young goddess… and fantasize entirely too much.
     “Yes! Of course I do. Is there anything you can’t do?”
     Yes. Plenty. Gods, I should just grab her face and plant one on her. Does she even realize?
     I take a deep breath. This glorified loincloth isn’t the best at hiding when something comes up. To reply to her question, I merely chuckle. “Let’s have a seat.” I quickly make my way over to the sofa. It’d be best to remain seated for now.

      I have a small fire lit (using the same fire pit I’d used when I decided to build here), and the light from it makes her skin glow just like it did the night I met her, when I was convinced she was a goddess.
     Ask her to move in. Just do it. No, I have to build up to it. I should kiss her first. “I’m glad you like it.” Because I really did it for you. If it were just me, I wouldn’t have made it this big. It’s still an incredibly simple building. It has no kitchen, no bathroom, not even a sink. I keep a bucket of water on the wall–mostly in case the fireplace gets out of hand. Sama still cooks for everyone, even though she’s moved her cookstove outside. It had no exhaust, and she’d covered the hole in the wall she’d once used for that purpose. So I don’t need a kitchen.
     “It’s so real.” She giggles. “That sounds funny.” Another giggle. “It’s just you turned a bunch of bricks into this, with a roof and everything.”
     I’m not really thinking clearly. That has to be the reason I scoot over and start speaking quietly into her ear.

     “There’s room for two… if you want.” WHAT THE FUCK, ROHAN?! Just jump right into it? My hands start sweating like a pre-teen’s.
     She giggles.

     “That tickles.”
     I don’t know whether I should scream or collapse with relief. Sure, I don’t have THAT much experience with women. With the tribe it was typically ‘get with this one’ if there wasn’t a love match, just to further the next generation. I’m not a virgin, but, to my knowledge, I didn’t sire any offspring either. I simply don’t have that much experience with flirting; there hasn’t been anyone special.
     Until now… as I act like a pathetic git of a fifteen-year-old.
     Who apparently doesn’t know when to quit. “Oh yeah?” I lean in, practically falling over on top of her as she giggles, trying to escape. I talk into her ear again, “You mean like this?”
     She pushes back, and I go ahead and let her. “Rohan, quit it.”

      “But it’s fun making you giggle like that.” Maybe my acting like a man-child who doesn’t know what he’s doing is actually better for her. I can still count it as a win if I’m making her smile like that. Sure, she totally either didn’t get it or is completely ignoring the fact that I asked her to move in with me.
     “Well, you’re funny when you’re not acting all serious and stuff.” She does something goofy with her voice, making it go a little lower, when she says ‘serious.’
     As I speak, the door behind us opens. “Well, I’m not serious ALL the time.”

     “Rohan, could I speak to you a moment?” It’s Sama, who apparently doesn’t know how to knock.
Fuck. What does she want now?

Chapter 3: The Family


     Yadira visited Asa and me this morning to tell us something astounding: we have a newcomer to the island. A man! And she says he can build. This is wonderful news! Our homes were quickly turning into rubble no matter what I tried. Perhaps he has training which I do not. I look forward to meeting him this morning.
     However, Asa does not appear to have the same thoughts as I.

     We arrive at the new man’s camp, and immediately, I watch as Asa’s scowl deepens.

     The new man walks up to us and introduces himself as Rohan. His green eyes cover the three of us, them resting on Yadira the longest.
     “Why are you here?” Asa asks, not bothering to hide his animosity.
     I’m not having it. I’ve already decided he can stay, especially if he has the skills Yadira says he said he has. If nothing else, we could use more… genetic material. I’m most-definitely old enough to have a child, and I’d assumed I would ask Asa to give me one. But I might change my mind…
     “He’s already told Yadira why he’s here, Asa.” Then I look at the man. “Unless you have something to add?”
     He finally looks my way. “I’m not sure what she told you. I can do whatever’s necessary to make myself useful. I also have a boat.”
     “We don’t need a boat,” snaps Asa.

     Again, I answer for the newcomer. “A boat might certainly come in handy. I’ve long been curious about the mainland, and nothing YOU’VE tried to build has kept out the water.” There. That should knock him down a peg or two.
     Yadira speaks. “So you want him to stay because of his BOAT?”
     I look at her and smile. I’ve always loved her on-the-surface way of looking at things. I believe she grounds me while I make her see things in a deeper way. “I was merely pointing out to Asa that a working boat is a good thing.”
     Asa mutters, “The mainland is dangerous.”
     The new man grabs our attention once again. “About that, I’m afraid I must agree.”

     “It is dangerous, but that is one of the reasons I would like to stay. And my knowledge of the mainland could help you.”
     “Are there others?” Asa asks.
     I scowl. “Yadira SAID he’s left his tribe; wouldn’t that mean that there are?”
     Asa won’t give up, though. “Yes, okay. So, why DID you leave your tribe?”
     “She didn’t tell you?”

     “No, I… left that part out.” Something in her expression implies she’s laughing at him, but I don’t have a moment to ponder why.

     With a very solemn expression, he explains. “I was training a young boy, my apprentice I guess you could say, to fight. He got a little too rambunctious, and before I could stop it, he fell off a cliff. They accused me of murder.”
     “Why were you training near a cliff?” Asa refuses to let up.
     All I care about is he said he knows how to fight–and how to train others as well. Something deep within my soul relaxes with this knowledge. We’ve been here, virtually defenseless, for over a decade. I knew it was only a matter of time–if there were any other survivors–before others found us, and I’d hoped they would be friendly. Thank the gods this one is. That is, if Asa doesn’t royally piss him off. “Enough, Asa! I’m sure he had his reasons!” My ‘brother’ looks over at me with a glare. “I say let’s bring it to a vote. I vote he stays.”
     Big surprise, Asa has his say next. “I vote he leaves.” He quickly pounces on the opportunity to sway Yadira’s vote. “Yadira, he’s dangerous. Just look at him! And he admitted he’s a fighter. We don’t need that kind of person here.”
     I speak up. “Of COURSE we NEED that kind of person here, Yadira. He has so much to teach us. He can help us in ways we can’t help ourselves. He’s exactly what this family needs.”
     “Yadira, we don’t. Please. He’ll ruin everything.”
     She bites her lip and looks at all of us. “He… he stays.”
     Asa covers his face with his hands, and I walk over to Rohan. “Welcome to the family, ‘brother.'” I hug him. He smells terrible. We’ll have to work on that. I smile when I look at his astounded expression.
     “Thank you.” He blinks a few times, probably wondering what to do next. “Wh-why don’t you three join me around my fire?” He bites his lips together, and his brow creases.
     Asa storms over, headed to a chair. “Whatever.”
     The rest of us follow.

     When I sit down, I can’t help but notice how Rohan’s garment isn’t quite …covering… enough. Maybe we’ll work on that later too.
     “So when do I meet the rest of the tribe?”      Asa chuckles.
     I hope this animosity doesn’t last very long. Asa needs to welcome Rohan, even though him being here means that he’s not the only male. “Unfortunately, Rohan, we are it.” Did he think only the ‘tribal elders’ came for a visit? “And, mainly because of that I suppose, we prefer to call ourselves a family.”
     Yadira interrupts. “What’s that?” She points to the lamp.

     He smiles brightly up at her. “It’s a lamp.”
     “But… there’s no fire, and it’s always lit.”
     I must admit, I’m curious about the lamp as well.
     “It uses a special stone, we called it glowstone, that sucks up the sun’s rays during the day. The light lasts well into the night, as I’m sure you noticed.”



     They let me in! I get to stay. Although, belatedly, I realize I could’ve stayed anyway. With only three of them, it would’ve been easy. But that’s not what I WANT.
     I can’t help but feel a bit ridiculous from how I acted last night. In the light of day, I realize she’s just a girl, not a goddess. Even if she fecking looks like she should be. It’s unreal!
     The other woman, Sama, demands my attention.

     “You see? It’s stuff like this, Rohan. Asa and I were very young, even though I was almost a teenager, when the sickness spread. Yadira was MAYBE two. Everything we’ve learned, we’ve gathered from books we’ve found, but I’ve never heard of this glowy stone.”
     “I think before everything collapsed, it was merely a novelty. People only started using it in this way when the power grid shut down.”
     Yadira has a seat–on my bed–and listens to us. I get the feeling she has a thousand more questions, and I would love to take as long as possible in answering them, preferably one-on-one. But it would appear that Sama is the more serious of them. It looks as though I’ll answer hers first.

     She wants to know all about my building expertise, so I tell her what I know how to do. She looks pleased enough. And Yadira still sits on my bed. I tell Sama about how my old tribe started as a street gang but that we left the city when the leftover resources ran out. There were about thirteen of us at that time, and we’d quickly realized we would need to learn to hunt if we were to survive. One or two of us died of food poisoning, a hard lesson learning what to and not to eat, which was a real slap in the face for dying like that after surviving the plague. And Yadira still sits on my bed. I regale the story of how we all had to learn to live a primitive lifestyle, and Sama listens with her eyes glowing. She would’ve made a good addition to the Skeeves because from the little I’ve met of her, I can tell she’s got her head on her shoulders. Yadira (who’s still sitting on my bed) and the overly-testosterone-filled manchild sitting next to me probably owe her their lives.
     Speaking of manchild… “Hey, Yadira. There’s a stool over here.”
     She blinks. “Oh. Okay.”

     Smart move, I guess, because now I have to crane my head around to look at her. I do, though.
     Seeing I’ve turned to her, she happily starts chatting. “So is this where you’re going to build your house? We have our own houses. Ooo! I built mine myself. You should see it! Although, it’s not very good. I have to live with Sama in the winter. But you said you can build. Could you teach me?”
     Sure enough, a thousand questions. Yes, I’d love nothing more than spending time with you for whatever reason. “Yes, I’d love to.” I must look like the veriest cake with this ridiculous grin on my face.
     I can sense the manchild’s ire rising. But before he can say anything, Sama calls him over to talk privately.
     “Why don’t you take the seat she had so I don’t have to crane my head around.”
     “Okay.” She gets up and moves… again.

     Pausing, she suddenly looks uncomfortable.
     She doesn’t answer as she sits down, and she won’t look at me.

     “Did I say something wrong?” Is it a culture thing? I wish she’d stop hiding her face. I could look at her face for an eternity. Gods, I’m going mad. But someone should paint it. Could I find the right materials to make paint?
     “It’s just… I’m seeing… a bit more than I expected.”
     “What?” I look around, wondering what she means. Then I look down. “Oh. That’s, uh, that’s just where the garment stops, I guess.” I grin. I could work this to my advantage. “But just so, I don’t have a problem with it.” I swallow my laughter. Look your fill, beautiful goddess. “Do you have a problem with the way I’m put together?”
     “Do you have something else you could wear?” She’s blushing!
     Now why would I want to do that when this is so much more fun? “I do actually, but I save it for the colder months. The other thing I had got ripped apart by the wolves, so I ripped them apart.” I suddenly wonder how much clothing SHE possesses. I have a ruined sail. But there’s enough material to piece together a dress…
     She moves her hand, keeping her eyes trained on my face, as she asks, “Wolves?”

     So I tell her the story of my most-recent fight with wolves, how I managed to break the jaw of one after burying and breaking my spear into the other. “Then the two that were left ran off.”
     The next words are from Asa, who has stormed back over here. “All right. So there are others. You can stay because we might need your help.”
     The other woman speaks to the manchild. “He can stay because we voted him in.”

     “I know that. I’m just trying to make the best of it.” He huffs and has a seat next to me. “And you can build?”

     The goddess speaks, “You should come see our houses.”

     After dinner at what I’m told is Sama’s place, the goddess Yadira eagerly wants to show me her house.
     Most of their settlement is moldering ruins. Glancing around, I already see how I could make improvements. The only question is where to start.

     “This is it!”
     Dear gods, this is a dump! No wonder she said she can’t live in her ‘house’ in winter. My eyes squint the tiniest bit as I think about how Sama and Asa have let her live in this squalor.
     Then she asks me the question I hoped she’d not:

     “So what do you think?”

Chapter 2: A New Home


     A glint catches my eye, and I go completely still. SOMETHING is there. Squirrel? Rabbit? No. It’s too bright, even in the darkness. Am I hallucinating? Is it some kind of shiny rock?
     It moved. That’s no rock. I’d swear it’s breathing.
     Rabbit? Fuck, I need a spear. I slowly reach for the pointed stick I’d recently jabbed into the dying embers. But would a rabbit of that color be able to survive? Even if it happened to be an abandoned pet, which I doubt since those would get eaten, a bird of prey would surely snatch it up.

     Some kind of large rodent? Perhaps this island isn’t as safe as I first surmised. Well, I’ve taken on four wolves at once. Bring it, rodent of unusual size. My heart rate increases, and my eyes fix on that slowly-moving patch of light, shimmering thing. Muscles tense before I spring off my terrible bed.
     The lightly shining thing suddenly rises up, much higher than the possible-badger I was expecting. It’s human! I skid to a halt, my mouth drops open, and my eyes watch the quickly-retreating sample of humanity.

     “Wait!” Fuck! What the fuck?! There ARE people here, at least one. “Wait!” Shit. Oh really great first impression there, Rohan. Like an idiot, I decide to chase after it. “I’m not going to hurt you!”
     I let out an ‘oof’ sound when I trip over an exposed root. I very narrowly avoid stabbing myself with my pointed stick. Dammit! I don’t know these bit of woods like it does, and the moon is hidden behind all this fog.
     The fall jarred my shoulder, and I wince from the pain. I’ve certainly had worse, and I make myself stand anyway, worried I might be attacked. After all, I have no idea how many OTHERS there may be.

     Completely still and silent, my eyes and ears strain to catch the tiniest movement. I can’t give chase, but I can defend myself. I dip into a slight crouch.
     Breathing. Very fast breathing. Somewhere ahead of me. It has stopped and is hiding once more. Having identified its likely position, I use my senses to continue scanning the unknown area around me.
     It’s not a fighter; I’d be in knee-deep shite if it were. A pointed stick: Reck would piss himself from laughing so hard at me if he knew.
     Is it scared of me? Why didn’t it keep running? Curiosity?

     I allow longer pulls of air into my lungs, and my muscles relax the tiniest bit. “Hello?” Fuck. How do I even know if it’ll understand me?
     In addition to everything else, my stomach plummets with the knowledge that this island isn’t uninhabited. And here I thought I’d found a place. Billions died, and I still can’t find my own place.
     I found it. It’s hiding behind another bit of brush.

     Forcing myself to smile, I try talking again. “I can see you,” I mostly lie. “Why don’t you come out and introduce yourself?” Again, I’m banking on the fact that it can understand me.
     “Who are you?”
     YES! The accent is different–but the language is the same.
     “My name’s Rohan.” Pause. “And you are?” Introductions: how very strange, like something from a former life.
     I still don’t rule out that there could be others nearby, and I remain alert.
     “Why are you here?”
     The tone of the voice… feminine? My own curiosity gnaws away at me like maggots on a rotting carcass. I clear my throat. “I left my tribe, and I’m looking for a new home.” May as well be honest.
     “This is MY home.”

     “I, uh, apologize. I mean no harm. I don’t require much. Perhaps we can come to an agreement of sorts?” Common sense would tell me just to move on and find another place, but I like it here. And… maybe the idea of going it alone isn’t the greatest. “I have useful skills. I can hunt. I can sew. I can build…” I leave my statement hanging in the air like a question. It’s like the strangest fecking job interview.
    After a beat, SHE steps into a stream of light caused by the moon coming out of hiding, and I momentarily lose my ability to breathe. If there really are goddesses wandering around, I’m looking at one.

    “My name is Yadira.”
    Do I fall on my knees like the hapless mortal in front of a goddess? Perhaps it’s a trick of the light, but she is flawless. She has to be more than human.
    Mesmerized by her face, I’m surprised by the fear I see displayed. What would a goddess have to fear?
    “Please put down your pointy stick.”
    I immediately let it fall to the ground, not the least bit worried it could start a fire. It was hot earlier–but only just so. It’s cold now.
    As for losing my “weapon,” does she realize my very hands can be deadly?
    Perhaps I should be worried about what the goddess Yadira could do to me, but I take a step towards her anyway.


     “Stop!” I hold up my hand and take a step back. He stops.
     I can’t stop shaking! Oh, I am so stupid! What was I thinking going out alone like this? I want to run home to Asa and Sama, but what if he follows me and hurts them? Oh, what do I do?
     I put my hand down so he can’t see me shaking. Perhaps he can anyway.
     “I’m not going to hurt you.”
     “Then why did you chase me with a pointed stick?”
     “To defend myself!”
     “Defend yourself against someone who’s running away?” And I hate that I couldn’t run straight home. I didn’t want to risk leading him right to the place. Acting on what I thought was a forgotten instinct just now, I ran in a line parallel to the house. I couldn’t run much farther without risking a fall off the cliff. I thought I’d be able to lose him; then I thought I could hide. Now, I just have to get him to leave me alone on his own.
     “Well, I hoped I’d not need it,” he replies, talking about the pointy stick. Did he take another step?
     “Stay where you are!” I back up again.

      The corner of his mouth goes up. “And what if I don’t? Will you call down lightning to strike me dead?”
      Huh? Can people do that? “No. But you’d better stay back.” Stupid, Yadira! What will you do if he doesn’t?
      “Oh. Perhaps it’s nature then. You’ll strangle me with vines?”
      “Huh? No. But I’m… I’m warning you!” Maybe I should’ve threatened the vine thing. He might believe me. “I’ll… I’ll…” I can’t think of anything! This hairy man could be a murderer! It would be better if he were afraid of me. “I’ll… tell Jers you killed him!” It’s a huge stab in the dark, and it really doesn’t make sense. It was just the best I could think of right now.
     But it works. Thanks to the moonlight crashing through the treetops, I can clearly see his face fall and eyes widen. “You! How do you…?!” He swallows hard. “Okay. Of course. I’ll not come any closer.”
    I still can’t believe that worked! I take another step back, making sure I’m out of arms’ reach. “And you’ll turn around and go back to where you came from.”
    The quirky smile returns, doing something weird to my stomach. “I hope you mean back to my little campsite.”
    Stop smiling at me! I clench my jaw for two seconds before I decide to speak, “Fine. We’ll visit you at dawn to discuss your, uh, whether or not you can stay.”
    “We?” His eyebrows raise.
    I scowl. “Yes, of course.”
    His features straighten up to a more normal expression. Then he does a slight bow, making my eyebrows come together. “As you wish.”

A/N: Sometimes I can’t help myself. So… many… films…

Chapter 1: Paradise

     I hope my life gets better now that I’m free.

     The food is good here at this island I’ve discovered. That’s a pleasant surprise. I can’t remember the last time I saw bass this big.

     Rohan, you have stumbled upon paradise. And it’s far enough away from any damn Skeeves. Plus, the island is too small to support a pack of wolves, something I will NOT miss, even if their skins do make nice-enough makeshift garments.
     Deciding to stay, I unload everything I can from the smallish sailboat I acquired a week and a half ago, and I set up camp near a rather-convenient old well. Perhaps over the next few weeks, I can build something of a more-permanent dwelling. It’s spring, so I don’t have the impending harshness of winter creeping up on me as swiftly as it might otherwise. And I might even have an easy go of it.

     For there ARE resources here, the place having obviously once been inhabited. There is yet another well, but I think I’ll stick to the other one I found, not overly-trusting the dilapidated state of the nearby homestead.
    I can pull building materials from here. Maybe there are even a few tools lying around. Perhaps some furniture? I go carefully exploring.
    I find a bed! It takes a little work to drag it over to my new site, but it could be worth the effort. It’s pretty moldy and might not be any more comfortable than sleeping on the ground, but I’m willing to give it a try. I could always go sleep in my boat, but being on dry land is better. The sea can still be a bit of a bitch now and again.
    Along with the bed, I find some crates, some weird round thing that looks useful, a stool, and a table.

     Back at my new site, I assemble a kind of lean-to with some of my materials. The bed fits nicely under it. Then I gather stones to put together a campfire, pulling up pieces of driftwood from the beach.
     With a sigh, I watch the bass I caught earlier as it roasts over the fire. I’m STARVING, but I dare not eat it until it’s cooked.
     It would be so nice to have some bread. Of all the stupid things to miss, I miss bread. My mother used to bake her own. I loved coming home from school as a child to the smell of freshly-baked bread.
     But it does no good to wish for what cannot be. Life WILL get better.
     I’m lucky I escaped the Skeeves. Accused of murder. Me! The boy FELL off the cliff. I didn’t push him. Why would I push him? It was that bloody Reck wanting to get rid of me, so eager to pin anything on me. He always saw me as a threat to his authority. Like I would even WANT to rule the tribe. Dammit, I just wanted to be left alone.
     Well, now I am. I’m alone.
My gut clenches up. I blame the hunger.

    Fish finished cooking, I devour it, being careful of the bones.
     I stare at the dying fire as the sun sets. Although I’m enjoying its warmth, it wouldn’t do to keep it burning. I still don’t know just how MUCH resources I can rely on. If this is to remain paradise, I must be careful to replenish what I use.

    It may be a bit belated, but I give thanks for the gift of the fish to whatever deity is real. For the first time in weeks, I will go to sleep with a full stomach.


     Fire! I smell fire! Sama isn’t cooking; it’s too late at night for that. And it’s coming from the wrong direction.
     Without alerting anyone else, I get out of bed to go and investigate.

     My shoes would make too much noise, so I leave them behind, thinking I might need to stay quiet.
     Right away, I see a faint light near the beach, and someone has built something. Asa? But why? Is he mad at us again? I let out a puff of air, wishing I could figure out why he gets like that sometimes. I sneak my way around, wondering what kind of prank I can play on him. A fog starts rolling in. Perfect.
     Snoring. Oh. He found another stash of ‘brew.’ A few years ago, he found some strange drink that smelled terrible, but he acted like he knew what it was. I worried he was poisoning himself, but Sama told me he’d be okay. He snored louder than a thunderstorm that night. And the next day he was a complete ass. I guess this time he wanted to be left alone. Fine by me, he can keep his grumpy self to–

     I stop.
     That’s not Asa.

     I stand in perfect stillness as I watch the man in the strange clothes. The light I thought was a fire is some kind of strange magic lamp.
     The man rolls over on his bed, the springs creaking out their misery. Then he farts. Loudly.

     My hand flies to my mouth to stop my giggle. Sama says farting is rude, but I still think it’s funny. And isn’t it only rude if other people hear it? He doesn’t know someone heard it.
     Who IS he, though? He has yellow hair, only a little darker than mine. And why is he wearing clothes made of hair? What if they’re not clothes and just him?

     He reaches down in his sleep and scratches his butt, and the hair-clothes gets pushed up. No, that’s some kind of clothes, even if he IS hairy, even on his butt, but that hair is yellow like on his head.
     I have no idea who this person is, but Asa was right: there must be other survivors out there.
     And one of them found our island.
     He talks in his sleep, yells more like. And he suddenly sits up. I instantly pop down into a crouch.

     “Jers! NOOOOO!” His hands reach up, trying to grab something in the air.
     I make myself even smaller as I hide behind the brush, watching him as he looks around, probably realizing he was just dreaming. I have to focus to make sure I don’t breathe too fast. What should I do? Breathe breathe breathe. Maybe he’ll go back to sleep and I can go get Sama and Asa.
     His hands cover his face like he might be crying, and he breathes faster. “Argh!”
     I jump a little when his hands suddenly move away–like he’s really angry. He takes a stick and starts stabbing the mostly-dead fire.
     Then he talks too loudly, and I don’t really understand his words. “Bloody fecking pail of cat shite left out in the sun ’til it covers with flies, will you ever leave me the fuck alone?!”
     I THINK I understand his words… but the way he says them is so WEIRD. It’s like they’re not the words… but they are. And I’ve only ever heard Asa say some stuff like that, but Sama would usually get onto him about it.

    The strange man sighs and puts his head in his hands. Then his voice gets much quieter. “I didn’t kill you.”
    WHAT?! Why would he be saying that? Kill? As in “kill”-kill?
    But he said he DIDN’T.

     “Fuck, Rohan. Now you’re talking to yourself.” He distracts my thoughts when he starts looking around, his face droopy.
     Then he looks right at me!


      The world was warned. Ice that had covered the polar reaches of the planet was melting.

     The caps began their formation billions of years into the past, an ancient past that saw a very different biological world.
     Under layers once too numerous to count, a single-celled doomsday device sat and waited, biding its time. Long ago trapped, it stayed in frozen animation until the day of its untimely release.

     Finally freed from its frigid prison, it multiplied rapidly, scattering itself upon the breeze and swimming in the ocean currents.
     But by that time, the world was already in a state of chaos.

      Huge storms formed from the inevitable climate change. The seas became unpredictable. Changing weather patterns flooded many areas…

     …while they left other places parched.
     Farms failed year after year, the turbulent ocean was over-fished, and the world’s population slowly began to starve.
     Panic ensued: first locally, then on a global scale. Seeking control over dwindling food sources, nations went to war.

     So when the time came for the billions-year-old bacteria to make its appearance, it was merely the final blow to an already-suffering planet.

     The wars ended; there weren’t enough people left to fight them anyway.

     I only know what happened because I was told the story. My friend Asa and I managed to survive everything, somehow being immune to the sickness as well. He said he found me wandering around, alone and scared. We don’t know what happened to my parents. He’d had a hard time understanding my “baby talk” at first. The only thing he could comprehend was my name: Yadira, and even that was just his best guess. At any rate, the name stuck.
    After that, we came across another orphaned child named Sama.

     How lucky for us Sama was smart. She assembled a sort of home for us, having learned to cook somewhere along the way. She didn’t like to talk about her past, and we never asked.

     That was over fifteen years ago. We have no idea if there are other survivors out there. Asa supposes there are, but I’m not so sure.

     However, we are on an island (that didn’t used to be an island). It might be possible there are others out there, but honestly, I’m not concerned.

     I have my family, and they’re all I need.


Yeah, I used rl pics (but edited!) for the beginning, and I found them here (in order of appearance):

And here’s this that didn’t make the final cut, but I just love the damn thing:

“After working so much overtime, I’m taking a vacation!”

Sneak peek:

Thoughts, comments, suggestions? Let me know below!


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