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Wasteland Boy – Chapter 13
Clyde finally reached the far wall of the sweatshop. There, he walked through a door and onto a staircase that lead to the so-called booth. He walked up quickly and knocked on the door. The administrator opened it, blocking the doorway with his mass.
“Whatcha need kiddo?”
“I need a bucket for the metal…”
“Didn’t you get one?”
“No sir, you sent me to work.”
The man chuckled and began shifting around to get the bucket. It seemed that the office was too small for his massive body. After some struggling, he handed Clyde a bucket, already covered in the Administrators’ sweat.
“What’s your name, kid?”
“Clyde, sir! Clyde Shanks!”
The man raised an eyebrow. “Shanks? Who’s your father?”
“I’m an orphan…” Clyde began questioning that statement right after it left his lips.
He was sent back to work with a reminder that lunch lasts only twenty minutes. Clyde suspected that the Administrator knew something. It could have been another man, of course, but if there was any chance to meet a relative, Clyde would take it. As he walked back to his workplace, pushing back through the crowd, he felt a few drops of sweat drip on him as if there was a cloud above, ready to burst into heavy rainfall.
Someone in front of him began coughing. It was common to hear someone cough in the sweatshop, but the boy in front of him fell on all fours, gasping for air and making horrible raspy noises. Disregarding him, the mob kept moving, walking around the boy. Clyde dropped his bucket and ran up to him, trying to find a way to help. He heard a shriek and lifted his head, to see the little girl he talked to before, pushing through the crowd, yelling a name. She tugged on someone’s’ uniform, asking them to help, but got pushed away. Crying, she kneeled down before Clyde and the coughing boy, wiping the tears from her dirty face.
“Alex! Alex please stand up! We can get you water when lunch starts!”
Alex arched his back, spitting out some blood. Clyde noticed that the boy was shaking. He reached out and grabbed Clyde’s collar, pulling him down roughly. He could barely breathe, but he managed to utter a few words.
Alex couldn’t say anything else, he fell to the floor, coughing, choking on the disgusting, humid air. The girl looked up at Clyde and their eyes met. Clyde sighed and stood up.
“He needs medicine, so we can’t help him. He won’t blame us”
The girl burst into tears again, muttering something, but Clyde didn’t hear what it was. He grabbed her arm, dragging the struggling girl away from Alex. She tried to get out of his grip, but soon gave in to his authority. Clyde looked around, quickly spotting three adult men without uniforms pushing through the children. Production has stopped and so has most of the movement. The men were shouting commands at the kids, but the children refused to obey and simply stood, staring them down. Clyde realised, he was given a chance to escape, but he needed one more person…
Clyde yelled as loudly as he could, unable to recognize his best friend in the forest of buzzcuts. He saw a familiar face turn towards the sound and yelled again, waving his hand. The men noticed it and two of them headed towards Lucinda. Clyde spotted four more adults running out from the back. He looked at Lucinda, desperately hoping for a miracle, but she shook her head and smiled. It was a sad smile. A smile that said “It’s ok if they kill me. I have nothing to lose. Go on.” Clyde felt his eyes get wet, but told himself to move. The kids made way for him as he dragged the little girl after himself to the exit. The shouts of the men became louder, he heard them hitting children, pushing them out of their way. Panting, Clyde reached the exit, the doorway through which he came in. He spun around in the doorway and took a deep breath of the nasty air.
“Kids! Orphans!” His voice was still high-pitched, for he was but a kid, yet it sounded mature and confident “They can’t fight us if we run together! Follow me upstairs, break towards your freedom!”
There was a moment of dead silence. Everyone, including the adults, stared at Clyde in disbelief. Clyde’s heart began to sink. If the kids remained here, he had no chance of breaking out. There was someone upstairs most likely, waiting for his arrival. In the crowd, he caught Lucinda’s smiling, shiny eyes. She nodded to him like a proud mother would, giving him all the courage she ever had. He saw her lips move, saying something quietly.
“Look around you!” He yelled desperately. Some kids began shuffling, looking at the machines. Many still stared him down with hopeless eyes. “They can’t stop you from leaving this horrible place! Let’s go!” He spun around and started heading out. He had nothing else to say to that crowd of expressionless faces. His only hope was that they would follow him. To his joy and surprise, he heard the sound of quick footsteps behind him and the resumed yells of the guards. He tried to speed up, but the girl whose hand he held couldn’t keep up. However, they needed to hurry, for the staircase was filling with other children. He stopped for a second and ordered the girl to climb onto his back. He was nowhere near strong, but while he was in the condition to carry her, he would. They kept going up, hundreds of footsteps sending echoes up and down the stairs. With relief, Clyde felt the air change to a more clear, fresh and breathable one. He soon saw the white light of the fluorescent light bulbs that were in the room beyond the staircase.
“We’re almost there!” He shouted, not sure if he was addressing himself, the girl or his followers.
As always, dear readers, feel free to comment or PM any suggestions for the rest of the story. There is always room for your characters and plot developments!
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