Born (The Born Trilogy Book 1)

By: AE Watson

Book One in the Born Trilogy

Chapter One

They say that the world is built for two, but in the silence of the old cellar, two feels like a long lost dream. It's an ice cream cone on a boardwalk with the sun above and the sea below. It's the wind rolling around you gently, trying to persuade you in all the directions at once and mixing sand over your feet as your toes dig in. It's a perfect place that none of us tries to remember.

What’s the point in remembering when there is no way to go back, and no matter how hard we try to move forward, we will always be stuck in the muck we have made.

Besides, in any mind left functioning, the world was built for pain. Perhaps once there had been a place where love and companionship were something to push your life toward.

This isn't that world anymore.

To me, that world never existed anyway. The world has always been a selfish place where love is fleeting and people are fickle. Once upon a time, true love accidentally happened to the fortunate. They polluted and corrupted it, and like everything else, it got sick.

I've seen it. I've seen it, and in the end when it's taken away, the people who protest or cry the loudest are the ones who have taken it for granted the most. The ones who have abused it, but didn’t even know they were doing it.

I look around the cellar I’ve been hiding in, lying low in the shadows that have become the world around me, and know it’s time to move on. In the four days that I’ve been here, I’ve barely moved at all. My body is tense from it but that’s my rule, and now because of it I can breathe easier knowing I'm probably safe. I always end a supply run with a quiet few days in a cellar or basement.

There are rules in the new world. Rules you have to make up as you go along, because everything changes. I don’t like change but I force myself to adapt. Except where other people are concerned. If there is one thing you want to avoid in the new world, it’s other people. Other people make you weak—I’ve seen that too. When you love someone, you’ll make stupid choices that look more like risks. Those risks get you dead, but in the new world, dying doesn’t mean you stay dead. Nothing is a guarantee anymore.

Everything about the new world is already a risk, and I wasn't born to this world. I've had to learn how to move around quietly in it, how to sit still, and how to be one with the things that shuffle along, waiting for someone to make a poor choice. When everything goes the wrong way, you have to close yourself off from it.

I have mastered that. I am the master of not caring.

I know what I need to do to live. I have lain amongst the dead. I have run through the woods in the dark, feeling my eyesight clear like a wild animal’s might, and I have embraced the darkness.

I have learned how to live without. Not just things but people and comfort.

Because that is the new world.

I have one place that reminds me of the girl I was supposed to be. That place is all I have left of the world before, and so I treasure it and keep it secret.

I creep out into the beam of dust lingering in the air, sparkling from the sunlight that found its way down two stories into a dark cellar. I lift my fingers into the light, letting it touch me and make just one spot tingle with warmth. The beam of light almost makes me smile. I admire the light's determination at finding its way into the darkness, no matter what. No matter how hard I try to ignore it, that gives me hope. Hope I have to shake my head at, to bring my thoughts back around, so I can take my first step toward the stairs and leave this dark place.

The explosions never destroyed this home in any way. It’s far too high on a lonely mountain, in a range of lonely mountains. The stairs are in one piece, which has become a bit of a novelty. Thankfully, the old farmhouse is just too far from any major center to have even been aware of the problems, at least maybe in the beginning.

The blood smears on the white siding outside prove that the horror of the infection has touched every inch of this world. Even a lonely place such as this.

The hardwood creaks under my first step. I hold my breath and hope the creak went unheard. I take a breath and take the second step slowly, allowing my body weight to shift onto it softly. I hesitate taking the third, giving the sounds space and distance so they sound more like random noises a farmhouse would make. My heart is beating like it might attempt to get free from my constricted chest. I wait a second longer—it's another rule. Never leave when you feel it's safe. Always wait one more second. Safe is an illusion, and once you believe the illusion, you lose everything.