Chapter Two

Section Four was once a part of Koda City. It was a district of the city which homed the poor and repressed and of which had a reputation for high crime and disobedience. Eventually the conditions there became so bad that the lower class who lived there lead a revolt against the City in order to become citizens with equality. The governor at the time, a man named Lesius, along with the city representatives had long since made profit from their oppression. However, with the uprising he sectioned off the district from the city and the war began. It lasted fifteen years. Five years ago, it finally ended and Section Four became ‘the forgotten fourth’ it is today. A desolate wasteland without any connection to Koda City what so ever. The water, food and little protection that the City had once provided ceased during the war leaving the citizens to fend for themselves. They formed clans to survive and marked territories within the section, all along looking on at the city that abandoned them. Of course, countless died and countless more continue to. Many children were left without family, the fortunate ones were wiped out along with family. Alongside the mutations, Section Four is as desperate as it will ever be.
As we emerged from the main tunnel exit, the yellow glow of Artificial Sun shone about us, giving everything a dinged yellowy tint. The exit is comfortably hidden within the rubble of an old collapsed building. You have to climb over a few cement columns and broken scaffolding before you reach open space. Little Dig usually rides upon Leo’s back during the climb from out of the Pipeworks depending on how he is feeling. We take turns passing up supplies and hauling one another up. Casey today, begrudgingly taking my hand and saying nothing as I pull her up over the steeper climb. We usually stick as close as we can to the empty ruins of buildings when we walk. Single file, Yamota always at the back and Leo up front. The trek to The Reck’s territory is about forty minutes though often something would catch our eye and two or more of us would cautiously investigate. Scavenging was the main form of surviving because scavenging meant trade and trade is everything. Other options are stealing and murder.

We arrived at The Reck’s entrance in good time, Yamota began leading us to the main gates as per usual to instigate. The Recks had built their compound from scratch using anything they could find. Barricades, metal sheeting and sometimes broken cement used as brickwork to form the wall around the place. It was located on what used to be the main route into the city so the land was flat with a view of the surrounding buildings as well as the shining city itself. The gate guard keeper looked smug, sitting atop a chair that was perched atop a table. He held a gun and he held it with egotism that made him feel invincible. His responsibility clearly showing his prominence within the clan, weapons that aren’t homemade knives or clubs were extremely hard to come by in Section Four. The Recks are slimy and disloyal but their ‘contacts’ within Koda City makes them the main traders in the area. As Yamota approached, the guard immediately stood and held his gun in the air with his right arm. “Hold it!” The Reck climbed from off of his pedestal and came forward, being careful to stop at distance that he could easily fire from. “Clan?”
“The Rats.”
“Trade.” Yamota held up the rucksack he was carrying in the air with his right hand, before throwing it low to the ground, landing at the feet of the guard. The guard in turn pushed it open with his foot and then nodded, kicking it back at Yamota. “Come.” We all did as the guard commanded. “Sully, open the gate!” Soon after, the metal barricade lifted allowing us into the camp.
The inside of the The Reck’s compound was large enough to hold numerous tents and enclosures. The place was fairly busy, there were other clans there also who no doubt came to trade. The whole clan had a sort of punk-vibe which personally I thought was rather excessive. It gave them characteristic I suppose, and it did fit them well. There were piles of metal and parts as well as boxes and crates littered all about the compound. Little Dig pulled at Leo’s sleeve and pointed excitedly to a fully completed hovering automobile which a Reck was astride and revving in order to impress some girls from a different clan. Dust frantically pulled up from below it and formed a heated cloud around the area. It was probably the only working hover vehicle in at least twenty miles. It was a shame the thing wasn’t being put to better use. We had managed to grab the attention of a Reck when we had Dexter spot us from a distance.

“Well, well! If it ain’t Yamota, the pied-piper himself with his little rats. What a pleasure!” Dexter: leader of The Recks and five foot six inches of pure irritation. He began making his way towards us, his arms spread in a playful manner. As he reaches Yamota he places a hand on his shoulder and squeezes as if they had been comrades since childhood. “How are ya’ buddy? In need of a haircut still I see.” Dexter has a way of making me feel ill to my very core. Calling him a treacherous sleaze would do him justice. His short frame only makes his maddening personality even more so as he struts about like some punk lord. “Ellet! Sweetie, you’re getting more beautiful by the day. Tell me you’ve changed your mind and have finally decided to come be my babe.” Dexter starts to advance towards me and I try hard not to make heaving gestures.
“Dex, speaking of haircuts that Mohawk really doesn’t make you look any taller” I reply. I hear Little Dig chuckling under his jacket and a sly smirk fills my face.
“Don’t be like that. You know I love a girl with an attitude and now you’re just teasing. Be careful, or I’ll have to smack that bitch right out of you.” Dexter grins at me and winks; I express a small sound of disgust. “So what do I owe the pleasure?”
Before The Rats were formed, Yamota, Ruben and I were together. We had a few incidents with Dexter who wanted us to join his ‘little band’ at the time. Their way of doing things were not justified in our eyes, so we eventually declined. Believe it or not, my brother, Ruben once saved his life from a Mutation. I very often wish he hadn’t. We only ever come to The Recks in times of desperation, when we need certain items trading that we can’t acquire anywhere else. After a long stretch of pointless banter and much of Dexter’s boasting, we finally managed to get on to the subject we were here for and were lead to an open table towards the centre of the compound.
“Trade,” said Yamota as he placed the bag on the table. “Wheat bars for water.” Dexter peered into the rucksack filled with wheat bars and grinned in amusement.
“You guys have seriously been living off of wheat bars? Wow, times are tough, huh?”
“I’ll give you four bottles for that little lot there.”
Yamota cursed under his breath. “You have to be kidding me. This is at least a fortnight’s worth of food.”
“Hey, and that’s because you’re a pal. Listen, water is hard to come by now. If ya think I’m drivin’ ya hard then try building your own purifier.”
“Four bottles and canned meat.” There was a pause between the two. Finally Dexter nodded and motioned for one of his goons to remove our goods and bring the agreed trade. “I’m startin’ to think Ruben did the right thing in ditching you guys”, started Dexter. I felt my blood begin to boil and my face turn red. “If you’re having to trade blasted wheat bars, y’ know.” He chuckled to himself. The damned parasite has always loved to see us fail after turning down his offer to join him. ‘I wouldn’t join you on my last dyeing breath’, I thought to myself. I am guessing that Yamota, whilst standing next to me, felt the heat radiate from me and decided to change the subject. “Actually, something we wanted to ask”, he began. At this point our goods were brought to us and Leo checked it over. “What’s that then?”
“Jess and the children, we understand Laura is in some trouble with you lot?”
“Oh! You guys haven’t heard? The girl and the kids are dead. Burnt to a crisp I hear.” As he spoke, Dexter covered his mouth, exaggerating his gasp and made emphasise on the ‘P’ at the end of ‘crisp’. His posture only confirmed that he was rubbing in our loss, he was aware of the friendship between us. My guess was that he wanted to get Leo worked up and start some drama within his territory. As it was, Leo had momentarily paused from checking the trade and I noticed his knuckles were turning white. Leo on his own could take Dexter in a single blow. He is a well-built boy at the age of fifteen with definition in his arms and chest. Though the moment he does, we all land ourselves in trouble beyond compare. “Who did it?” asked Yamota with a no-nonsense tone.
“You think we did it? No, no. That Laura chick owed us goods, sure. But c’mon, would I sink that low?” ‘Yes’ I immediately thought. “Nah, besides I’ll let you in on a little secret. I got a contact in Koda that says that pretty red-head Jess had a mother livin’ in the city.” We all exchanged glances. “You bet. Not only livin’ but she had a pretty good position in among them nasty representative types at the top. Did your girlfriend tell you that one?” Dexter aimed the question at Leo with a wicked grin, who smartly dismissed the taunt.
“Are you sure about this? Why would Jess be in Fourth if that was the case?” asked Yamota. Dexter excitedly clapped his hands together. “Well here’s the interesting part! Mummy was naughty and decided to screw an undercover rebel durin’ the war, resulting in pretty red-head. Of course, mother was unaware that father was one of us at the time, but when the city found out they executed mum and had little red thrown in with us lot where she no doubt belonged.”
“And how is it you know all of this?”
Dexter tapped the side of his nose, “contacts.”
“I don’t believe you” interrupted Leo. Dexter let out a sigh before continuing;
“Alright, red had a half-brother. From the same dad, who wanted to join me a few weeks back. He was an alright kid, bit of a kiss-arse but alright. Told me his life story which was incredibly boring but somehow he probably thought I cared. Anyway one day he went out to take a dump or something and didn’t come back.” Dexter finishes with a shrug. When we kept silent, he called over to a Reck who was walking past us and gestured him to come close. “Jon, tell these guys. What was the name of that kid? The one with the chin.”
“The chin? Oh, the ginger? With the stupid dimple in his chin?”
“Yeah! What was it again?”
“Tim, wasn’t it? Tommy… sure it was Tommy.”
“Tommy. Maybe it was Timmy. Tee something.”
“It was Tommy. The one who’s mum banged that rebel?”
Dexter smiled and raised both his hands as if to say ‘I told you so’, and sent Jon on his way. It was odd how Jess never thought to mention this to us. Then again, she never mentioned anything about her past. Only that she started taking in children without homes about three years ago. I guess we all assumed that her past was the same as all of ours; lost children of the war. Had she known about her half-brother?
“Why did Laura owe you goods?” I asked.
“What is this? We came to trade not play twenty questions, so if we’re done-“
“We aren’t done. Just answer the question”, interrupted Yamota who had that look in his eye. It was the same look he used when he was on his last nerve. I could tell he was tired, run down and disappointed at the fact we hadn’t yet discovered the killer. It meant less sleep for him knowing that the danger was still out there and we didn’t know why. Not to mention, Leo would be aching for revenge or at least answers to the death of someone he held so dear.
“I don’t think you have the right to tell me what to do here, Yamota.” Dexter’s tone became suddenly serious. His hands were on the table as he was leant in close. His instant change in position and the tension in the air now sent a wave over the encampment that made everyone still and quiet in anticipation. I noticed several Recks touch their makeshift weapons either by instinct or as a warning. Kyle began to shuffle lightly and change footing, and Casey swallowed hard. The Recks had the advantage of number four to one and we carried no weapons bar a spare spanner which was useful when scavenging.
“Just answer the damn question.” Yamota was not backing down and I instantly wondered if it was a good idea to play the stubborn male just now. Leo straightened his posture and breathed in slowly, I could tell he thought he was ready for a fight. I knew that he wasn’t though. He wasn’t in the right frame of mind, still angry and still hurt.
“Ask me to answer the question one more time.”
“Answer the question or I swear by the dark itself, you will regret it.” That was it. There was a silence in the air for a short moment that made the breeze seem like it was screaming, before a loud thud. 

Yamota had taken a head-butt to the face and was stumbling backwards. I barely had time to blink before he had bound forward again, throwing himself over the table and planting his fist into the side of Dexter’s face. Had the situation been different, I would have laughed and cheered in delight but at this moment we were all in deep trouble. I instantly turned and took hold of Dig, throwing him under the table. I lifted my head to find Recks advancing on us like wolves, weapons in hand. Leo had changed stance and was already springing towards an oncoming Reck. Casey had made her way behind Kyle who in all honesty was not the best form of protection. He was wide-eyed and frantic, no doubt working out the best way to escape. I stood and, grabbing Casey by her backpack, pulled out that spare spanner. I didn’t reckon I would do much damage but I wasn’t going down without a fight. We were surrounded, Dexter’s goons had already amassed on top of Yamota and for a moment I knew that this was going to hurt. A lot. 

It was at that moment that it happened. There was a thundering crack all around us, the sound of which caused us all to stop instantly Rats and Recks alike. The sheer volume and intensity of the noise made my heart jump and my chest feel heavy. It echoed around the surrounding buildings with ferocity and I didn’t doubt that it had reached The Pipeworks. After enemy exchanged terrified glance with enemy, we all looked to the sky. The layer of Artificial Sun above the whole of the Forgotten Fourth began crackling as if giant snakes were let loose above it and were sliding over the top of the globe starting central and weaving its way out. It was an electrical current that sent waves of shadow sliding in and out of the derelict structures around us. At this, some began to rise to their feet without releasing their eyes from the spectacle. There was another sharp crack, then silence, then darkness. Immediately there were screams of terror. I felt Little Dig clench onto my leg with a strength I never knew he had. In those few seconds it was as if my complete sight had been taken from me and I saw a shade darker than any black I had ever seen. It surrounded us like a blanket and suffocated us in its embrace. My mind could not react fast enough to the sudden loss of sight and I became numb. 
Suddenly the layer above us returned, and with it my sight. It was then that I realised I had stopped breathing during the blackout. My heart was pounding to a rhythm faster than what I thought it was even capable of. Panic struck us all and the drama only a few seconds earlier was forgotten. The Artificial Sun was as it was, as it always had been, surrounding us innocently as if nothing had happened. Yamota got to his feet as did everyone else still remaining sat. The screams had turned into a nervous bustle. Clans were taking their goods and leaving hurriedly. Others were checking on friends and expressing emotions of fear we all understood. Dexter was wiping his bloodied face and exchanging glances. He flickered to Yamota and the rest of us, then began to rally his Recks together making the decision that our recent spat was nothing short of miniscule in comparison to what had just happened. “Evacuate our site, now! Everyone, piss off home! Recks, report to me when you’re done!” he screamed, leaving us to let ourselves out.

Yamota was with us in prompt time and making sure none of us were seriously hurt. Little Dig was still at my feet crying so I picked him up and pulled him close. Casey and Kyle were starting to take our goods and trade and placing them over their backs whilst Leo was spitting blood onto the floor and joining the rest of us. We didn’t hang around. We left the compound and trekked home double time without stopping to scavenge. In our minds we were all unsure of the stability of the Artificial Sun, terrified that at any point it would leave us again in that hellish darkness.

Chapter One

 Lamp Lighters
Chapter One

*Important note* All charcters, story and events are created and written by me, Chela Throop, and must not be used outside of this site without my knowing and consent.

“There is a legend that tells of two heroes. Selrah, hero of the darkness and Fellis, hero of the light. As the legend goes, the two had come to a disagreement and the world was cast into infinite darkness. Who do you think won?”
“Sweetheart, as dark as our world may seem there is always light seeping through the cracks. You only need to know where to find it.”
“But the world is infinite darkness.”
“Do not be blinded, Ellet. The war is not yet over.”
My name is Ellet Wilson and I am 18 years old. My mother would tell me stories of legends that gave me hope. It’s funny how hope in anything becomes stronger in times of distress. There is a breaking point, when all hope is lost. But as she used to say, the war is not yet over.


The black ashes created a cloud around our feet as we carefully made our way through the building. It was the warm glow of artificial dusk that almost made it feel as though the house was still alight.
  Occasionally you could see orange rays of Artificial Sun fall through the gaps in the ceiling, in and out among the burnt rafters and landing softly on scraps of charred furnishing like a kiss goodnight in the otherwise dark and black surroundings.
  It was maddeningly beautiful thinking back to how the place would have looked before the blaze. No doubt Jess would have kissed all her little children just as delicately and lovingly and with warmth only a mother can describe. Before the darkness and gloom the cries of laughter must have been a sweet treat to the ears and heart. Now there are only cries of sorrow as ash and debris glide through the air and land silently amongst the rest.
  I lay my hand on Leo’s shoulder and pat him gently a few times before moving on ahead of him. The others were already beginning to scavenge. Not from disregard of the loss of friends and almost family, but out of pure habit. It was how we survived, by now it was as habit as breathing. I also felt that perhaps it would take their minds off of the sadness of the whole situation so I joined it, tipping pieces of broken wood and searching through the furnishings that had managed to survive.
I found a working wrist watch made of plastic. As the Artificial Sun transitioned into evening sending rays of light scattering, I noticed that the watch was glow-in-the-dark. I put the watch back in the drawer I had found it in and closed it shut.
  I continued to search amongst the rubble and as my night vision became more attuned I noticed other things that made my heart feel heavy in my chest.
  One was a drawing and colouring book that had only burnt slightly around the edges. The crude scribbles must have belonged to Mandy the youngest. He was only four years old and by the looks of it only had three colours in his collection.
  I hide the book below blackened ash in hopes that any of the others do not find it, upon doing so I discover a small hair brush protruding from under a broken down cabinet. The plastic handle had melted almost completely, and yet somehow, a few protected bristles still held tightly to several strands of red hair. I pushed it further under the cabinet.
It was one of the strangest scavenges I’ve had the misfortune of undertaking to this day. I found myself hiding things rather than discovering things.
  A few items caught my interest and, being it another day, I would have stuffed them in my bag and taken them home as spoil. Today, however, taking things from this building felt like stealing from friends.
  Just before I had decided to give up on my pretend scavenge, I noticed something glistening from the kitchen. The work surface was now nothing more than a scorched mound of broken wood. Within the ash a small glint escaped, I had first assumed it was a steel knife that had survived. I leant down to uncover the item which upon closer inspection was a small pin in the shape of Koda City’s logo.
  “Ellet.” I rose to my feet and turned around to face Yamota, who I only recognised from the silhouette he created, his wild hair as sort of aura about his head. “We need light. You have the torches?” He asked with an outstretched hand.
  “Yep”, I replied whilst swinging my backpack around to the front and unzipping it. At the same time I dropped the pin into the bag. “We only had 3 left with working batteries by the way.” He nodded as I took out a torch from my backpack and handed it to him.
  The front of the torch had a red plastic sheet attached and bound by tape. All of our torches looked like this, especially our scavenging torches. Yamota said it made us harder to detect in darkness. Little Dig said it made us look like red demons prowling the night so people would stay away if they saw. I think Yamota had the right idea.
  We all gathered to where Yamota was at this point, in what used to be the front living room of the small house. We kept silent and waited for him to tell us what we were to do next.
  Next to me, Leo was still wiping his face on his sleeve and sniffling occasionally. I didn’t look at him for fear I would make him feel ashamed or injure his masculinity. I take being a female for granted, but we can get away with so much more. After all, none of the other three boys were crying at this point and I guessed that that was the reason. Not even Little Dig, who was sat on top of a broken desk fiddling with one of his finds, a brass door handle by the look of it.
  From the look of disappointment on his face, I was guessing the boy had believed it was gold and was recently turned down by the idea. Now he just fingered and poked it perhaps trying to understand which of them were wrong.
“I know we’re all sad and angry at what has happened here today”, began Yamota “but we’ll find out who did this, and we’ll avenge our friends.”
  He paused for a moment allowing us to revel in the idea of revenge and justice. I admit that for a moment it made me feel a little better. Whoever decided to murder four young children and their respective mother needed punishing, or worse. Eye for eye and death for death and all that. More death, as if there hadn’t been enough of that already. As if two negatives cancel one another out.
  “Jess was a great person. She took care of people and showed nothing but love for everyone. We remember the little ones too. Jim, Sally, Laura, Mandy we’re sorry we couldn’t protect you.” Yamota bowed his head and switched off his torch momentarily. The rest of us followed suit.
There was a long silence after that which made me feel a little awkward. It wasn’t that I was not in the habit of paying my respects to the dead; it was just the situation in itself. With everything that happened, the five of us here in silence just felt like wasted time. Though in my mind I knew that Yamota was being the leader all of us expected him to be, and for the sake of Leo we would demonstrate our mourning.
We then began to shuffle a bit more, disrupting the silence. In the darkness I heard sleeves on faces and quiet sobs that could not be hidden in such a sombre atmosphere. A trickling of tears spoiled my face also and I found myself wiping the ash across my cheeks left over from my grubby fingers. Only Dig remained composed amongst all of this, as he fiddled with his shiny piece of brass.
  “I bet you any money it was the kids from the city”, exclaimed Casey in a frustrated tone.  Kyle nodded to himself solemnly and lifted his cup, slowly sipping his alcohol as if it was a distasteful antidote he had to consume in order to recover. “And I bet you they did it out of fun, because they were bored! They’re all nut cases over there I swear. Some of the stories I’ve heard.”
  “I agree with Casey.” Said Kyle from inside the cup, then placed it firmly on the table in front of him both hands wrapped around the precious antidote. “I heard some guy saying how they’re doing executions over there now. Like, if you do something wrong they’ll just kill you as an example.” He looked over to Casey for confirmation who nodded, her lips pursed.
  “Not only that” she continued, “but who else would do that? We know everyone around here and even the Snakes wouldn’t do that to Jess and them lot.” ‘Them lot’, referring to of course, the children she cared for.
  Leo remained silent throughout the discussion. He was sat upright and stiff as if his blood had been replaced with cement. We all knew how he had felt about Jess, how he had been the one most hurt in all of this. So we allowed him to stare blankly into nothing and assumed he was still listening.
  “They shouldn’t even be in this part. This is our town! Twice we saw them riding about on their bikes like they own this place. If they didn’t have guns we’d of smacked them one isn’t it Kyle?” She looked over at Kyle who agreed in return and continued the long task of drinking all that he had in that cup. She let out an exasperated sigh before finally reclining back in her seat.
  Around the table were Casey, Kyle, Leo, Little Dig and I. Casey, being fifteen years of age, always acted as though she needed to prove herself.
  In this case, by the over dramatics and wide eyed seriousness in her face, I’d say it was that she could become a strong willed leader in a time of distress. Unfortunately for her we already had a leader whom of which did a much better job.
  Kyle was not much different although he was a little more humble about it. The two were good friends and almost always seen as a pair. Although we all had inclinations at the beginning of our grouping together that the two were a couple, it became clear over time that that wasn’t the case. Their relationship was more of a sibling sort than that of any romantic sort.
  Kyle, unbelievably being the oldest of the two by one year, had always been the nodding second hand to Casey that he was now. In this instance he was trying to prove himself by forcing his way through what seemed like a stale beer, something he clearly did not enjoy, yet we all humoured him and pretended we didn’t know any better. Perhaps he wondered why it was that alcohol was considered a luxury and yet he drank it still to prove he was in like mind with the rest of us.
  For a moment we all continued in silence whilst we reminisced on the conspiracy that Casey put forward. Our thoughts were interrupted by Little Dig who had been loafing in his seat, head resting on his hand and elbow on the table, his other hand scratching markings into the table using a piece of metal. The child was clearly bored of it all. Then what do you expect of a six year old?
  “Where’s Yamota already? He’s always late and it’s annoying.” The last word turned into a whine, but we could all relate.
  “He’ll be here soon” My head was resting on folded arms across the table, boredom shown almost as obviously as Dig’s. We had been sitting here for almost 20 minutes listening to Casey rant on and as much as I find entertainment from her enthusiasm I couldn’t understand how Kyle put up with so much of it.
  We’d returned home in a dull mood after visiting Jess and finding only rubble. We’d seen the smoke peer over the other houses from afar but it was an often occurrence. We’d have never guessed it was Jess’s home that had caught fire.
  If not for Leo’s worry we probably would have never went to check on them and found what we had tonight. Yamota had ordered us home soon after for our safety, the blaze had begun earlier today and whoever the culprit was, they were still in the area.
  Casey and Kyle continued to chat and after a short while Yamota appeared at the entrance to the room. His manner was one with pride and confidence, as he strolled over to us without so much as an apology for his tardiness. I sat up straight, and nodded at his direction. He returned my greeting with a nod also then took a seat at the table next to Kyle.
  Little Dig sat upright and folded his arms. Casey had immediately stopped talking and was pushing a strand of brown hair behind her ear. We had all became aware of Yamota’s presence and shifted accordingly, Leo exempt.
  “So I’ve been thinking” he began, “pushing aside the possibility that the fire had started accidently, the ones responsible for what happened must have had some sort of motive for murdering Jess and the children. Can anybody recall her mentioning any enemies when last we saw her?” He had his hands together in front of him on top of the table.
  As he spoke his head was lowered and only his eyes moved back and forth between us. Casey jumped in, disturbing the pause left for recollection.
  “No, I don’t know I heard anything. Anyway me and Kyle reckon it was the kids close to the city walls just doing it for laughs. Also Usif was telling me about them wanting to take over new territories.” She looked over at Kyle who nodded in agreement.
  “Territory?” I asked, “We’re a bit far out from the City, Case. Why would they want to spread all the way out here? Besides, Jess is even further out than us we would have been hit first.”
  “We’re better hidden though, they might find out about our place and try it on us.” She replied, leaning back in her chair.
  I pulled a face which read that I doubted her idea and she returned to me a glare. Not that it wasn’t a possibility; it was just that some things didn’t add up with her theory. Why would kids burn down a place they’d want to take? Leo made movement and we all looked at him.
  “I know that Laura was in some sort of trouble with the Recks.” His voice was soft and low as he spoke; he made no eye contact with any of us.
  “The Recks, huh?” Yamota snorted. “They aren’t capable of something like this. They’re pathetic, yes. They aren’t cold killers.” He lifted his hands and placed them on the back of his head as he reclined into his chair and looked up at the ceiling.
Yamota was quiet and his emotions were often extremely difficult to read. He was smart, and loyal, though it turned out that these assets were the ones that regularly got him into trouble.
  I looked at him now, his wild black hair sprayed about his head and face. He was the eldest of us aging at nineteen years old. His age was most obvious now in this stressful time, if you could catch him smiling you would not believe he was a day over seventeen. He hardly smiled at all, which was a shame.
  “The Recks wouldn’t dare.” exclaimed Casey.
“It could have been an accident.” Said Dig, who had brought his knees up so to rest his chin. Yamota shook his head and let out a sigh. He quickly glanced over at Leo then returned his eyes to the center of the table.
  “The door had been barricaded from the outside before the fire started.” There was a pause.
  My stomach felt suddenly queasy and my head felt light. The whole day had been even more grim than usual and it was beginning to take its toll.
  I could only imagine the thoughts that ran through Leo’s mind though surprisingly he did not flinch at Yamota’s observation as I did. He was completely motionless.
  “I think it’s time I head to bed.” I said at that, yawning in an attempt to convince everyone I was not actually going to keel over at the thoughts of children burning alive in their own home and that I was, in fact, tired. I stood up and waved casually before leaving the room.
  When I got around the corner I leant my head back on the wall and held my stomach to stop it from falling out of my arse. It was only now, when I really thought about what had happened that I felt an overwhelming wave of grief wash over me. Strange, how we never get used to it.
Our home was called The Pipeworks. It was made up of old, unused sewage tunnels that ran under Section Four otherwise known as ‘the forgotten fourth’.
  When we had first decided to call the place home, it took some time to get used to the smell. After a few months, the waters in several sections dried up completely which opened up spaces for rooms and living areas. The maze of tubes turning, twisting and intersecting made it a brilliant place to hide as well as a place to get lost for those who decided to advance into our home.
  We were also fortunate enough to have scavenged our own generator. A friend of ours named Forks had been a trainee mechanic and engineer in Koda City before his parents mutated. He helped us to set up power and lighting throughout the deeper parts of The Pipeworks, in exchange for sharing with us our home.
  Forks died a year later, three months after his twenty-first birthday. Suffered the same fate his parents did. Yamota was the one who ran him through with a knife in the end. When he had finished I remember him asking me for a cloth to clean the blood off of his hands. Nothing else, no crying or shaking or panic could be seen in his face. When I had asked if he was alright he just nodded at me and continued as he was.
  Forks was a character to remember, never one short of jokes. More annoyingly practical ones. You can also imagine how he got his name, we realized Fork’s absence when he didn’t turn in for dinner one day.
  So far the generator has fulfilled its purpose despite any maintenance on our part, Forks was good at what he did. I wondered how much longer we had until our luck depleted completely though, it wouldn’t be much longer until the Power Unit runs dry. Forks had mentioned it had been scavenged from the hospital already and judging by the manufacturing code it had been running for at least fifty years. The Power Unit however, was not priority on our long list of wanted goods.
  The most valuable items for trading in Section Four were essentials such as food, clothing and soaps. An Artificial Sun Unit, or ASU, was valuable enough to get your clan put on the map. We had decided long ago to keep ours secret, for security. There are more than a few clans who would take us whilst we slept for a week’s worth of electricity, but an ASU would assure the survival of the clan when the lights eventually went out. This is what all of us in Section Four feared more than anything else.
The morning after the fire was again a new day. Silently between us we made a pact to continue on despite our recent loss, as if it were something that had happened in a time long since passed. It helped us all to cope a little better.
  I heard Casey’s voice echo through the piping before I had reached the mess, she was teasing Kyle again.
  “And that one time y’ thought the Skullets were here and you pissed yourself!” She howled out loud in a laughter that made my ears hurt.
  “When was this?” I asked, smirking to myself as I walked through the entrance and to the fridge. Kyle, Casey and Little Dig had already been conversing around a table. Casey was stood and mimicking what seemed to be a baby crying, Little Dig chuckling over his wheat bar.
  “When we were at the Docks. It was seriously funny.” She replied.
“You would have pissed yourself too, Casey! So shut up. It wasn’t even funny, those bastards killed almost half of our mates.” Kyle and Casey were together before they joined us in the Pipeworks. They had a neighbouring clan called the Skullets who terrorized the weaker clans until they owned the ships on the Dock. We found them scavenging in our area two years back after they had fled, Casey was half starved and Kyle was a complete recluse.
  “It was April Fool’s! Use your head, fool!” She gestured to knock on Kyle’s head, who in turn wafted her hand away as if it was an annoying wasp. I opened the fridge door and took out another two wheat bars, then heading over to them, sat on the table next to theirs. Little Dig smiled at me from over the table and I smiled back at him.
 “You alright, bud?”
He nodded in reply and said, “Yep!” before he had finished his mouthful.
 “Two?” Casey scowled at me and crossed her arms. In my mind I let out a long sigh and thought, ‘here we go’. In reply I opened a bar and began eating, my leg swinging back and forth from atop the table.
 “Yep”, I said whilst smiling forcibly. Kyle looked at Casey who in turn pursed her lips and raised an eyebrow in my direction.
 “Ellet, you know food is short at the minute, come on.” Kyle had a sympathetic tone in his voice. I looked at Casey whose eyes were wide and angry. She had now placed her hands on her hips as if she was the disapproving mother. I continued eating. My attitude fuelled Casey which in turn entertained me.
 “Ellet you need to put one back. Right now!”
“Says who, you?”
“Says Yamota, actually.”
“I didn’t hear Yamota say it was only one wheat bar.” I began to open the other bar before I was ready to eat it. I could see Kyle rubbing his forehead, he knew he was getting an earful later on when it was Casey’s time to rant and rave about me. It wasn’t out of spite that I liked to purposefully wind Casey up. She had an idea in her head that she was second best to Yamota, whilst only being fifteen. I used any opportunity I could to deny her a position over me, but only for her own good. If anything were to happen to Yamota there would be havoc. Casey needed to learn to settle down and humble herself like Kyle. Perhaps I was being unfair to her. After all she is at a difficult age. Then again the world is unfair. She knows this, probably more than any of us.
  “You are a selfish bitch!” Casey bellowed, “You’d watch us all starve whilst you stuff y’ face.” She wasn’t angry that I was eating two wheat bars simultaneously. She was angry because I did not listen to her demands and therefore seems the lesser in front of both Kyle and Dig. I shrugged and swallowed my mouthful.
“Want some more, Little Dig?” I asked, whilst tossing my spare bar in his direction. He caught it with clumsy hands and smiled playfully at me. I winked at him before jumping from off of the table and leaving my companions in the mess. I had made my point and I had pissed Casey off enough so that for at least several hours she would avoid me. Just another perk.
  I made my way through the Pipeworks towards Yamota’s room after that. He had mentioned he wanted to speak to me last night before I fell asleep. I told him it could wait until morning. I was in no mood for conversation last night. As it was, it took me a good five hours to push out the images that had littered my head and allow me some sleep.
  As I approached the archway into his room I slapped my hand on the concrete tunnel wall to make him aware of my presence. In the City I remember knocking on doors before being allowed to enter. It’s a sign of respect, and I owe much of that to Yamota. I heard a, “Yes?” come from the archway and so I advanced.
  Yamota was perched upright on his mattress, he had a book in his hand and was reading it cross legged. He looked up at me and instantly closed it, putting it idly to one side on the floor.
  “Are you okay?” I asked as I came in and leant against the wall opposite him. He nodded lightly.
“I’m worried about Leo, about us.” There was a short pause. Yamota is usually quiet, he speaks because he is our superior and we look to him for guidance.
  He and I have a short history together when my brother was with us, though I feel with me being closer to his age and now that Ruben has gone, he finds it easier to talk to me. He needs to talk to somebody, even if his idea of talking is a simple sentence.
  “Leo loved her and he must really be hurting. He’s also strong, so I think he’ll be alright in the long run. Just give him time.” I replied as I should, with reassurance.
  My honest reply would be that Jess was Leo’s last string and that it will be downhill for poor Leo here on out. I didn’t think that answer was good for anyone though.
  Yamota nodded again and leant his head on the wall behind him, looking up at the ceiling. “By the way, how many wheat bars are we allowed?” I smirked to myself as his face crumpled slightly at my odd question.
“What are you talking about?”
“Well I was just wondering.”
“Have you been winding Casey up again?”
I laughed softly. “Is there a limit on the wheat bars? Food is short isn’t it?”
“On things like cans, beans and water. Not wheat bars. We have boxes of them.”
“Well I must confess I had two this morning.” Yamota sat up and looked at me, his face was straight. “If you keep it up she’ll start to resent you.” I shrugged and pushed my light, messy hair out of my face with my fingers. I did once consider applying effort into my appearance but decided it was pointless. I have no reason to make myself up, my face is usually grubby from my day to day surroundings anyway. My T-shirt is baggy around my thin frame and hides every curve I have. It droops over me like a long pillow-case, my black trousers are now probably too small for me come to think of it. If not for my boots then you could see that my trousers did not reach my ankles. I didn’t care though, my dress did the job of covering me and that was all I needed, more important things took priority. Yamota sighed and stood up, stretching out whilst yawning at the same time. I tried not to yawn with him. He obviously had the same problem I had last night, even more so with his responsibilities over us.
  “We’re going to say ‘Hello’ to The Recks” he said when he had finished yawning. I wrinkled my nose up at him. “It’s the only lead we have. We can’t leave it like this, Ellet. It’s too dangerous.”
I nodded before turning to leave. “I’ll let the others know.”