It was the biggest field of weed they'd ever seen. Huge, sticky green buds on plants that stretched over their heads, and it ran as far they could see. Acres and acres of food. It was also the first pot farm they'd seen that had no guards.
They'd waited almost two days before approaching it, letting the fragrant scent drive them crazy with hunger, knowing their lives depended on it, but the huge patch of weed seemed abandoned. That was like an unguarded bank before the invasion. Just not right. This was the currency now. Where were the cops?
The trio moved slowly at first, sunken eyes darting over their shoulders but as they got further into the jungle of buds and no one came, the females began hurriedly filling their pockets, chattering excitedly. The male with them followed their lead but he never stopped looking for an ambush, even as his hands pulled the green loose and filled his pack with it. They weren't supposed to be here. High World was lethal now. Hadn't he lost every one he'd traveled with since the War?
The map to this place had been written in blood on the crumbling wall of a bathroom stall just outside D.C., the capital long since fallen, and they'd been following it a long time. Seventeen of them had crawled from the sewer. Half that number had crossed the Georgia state line. Now there was just the three of them, looking for the only food that satisfied them now. Grass.
They were also searching for those who'd found this place before, the map-makers, and the females fell into a heated discussion about where to start looking for them. Their pale faces and thin arms stood out in vivid contrast to their growing stomachs and huge appetites, and the man turned his gaze back to the green around them, hardening his heart. They'd had little mercy on him. Why should he care? All they wanted was this, the food their minds craved relentlessly thanks to the planet's water supply being contaminated.
The man fingered the weed in his pocket, hollow eyes still searching for the threat; sure they were in trouble here. Nothing looked wrong but the feeling didn't fade. His eyes went back to the females, confusion and impotent rage in their depths. Thanks to the new need for the green, men were now slaves, literally, and their numbers were far more endangered than the women. He had a feeling that too had been planned, a part of the invasion. They'd been turned against each other in mere weeks and their enemy had obviously known which gender was more ruthless.
One of the females met his bitter eyes with a smirk and when she waved an arrogant hand, he went without protest, lest she punish him with pot. Even now, his body demanded he gobble it while his brain ordered him to destroy it. He held out his full pack to the woman; let her take it without argument. If he did that, they'd turn on him, kill him. Both females carried perfect sons. He was expendable now.
The trio made shelter in the far corner of the field, close to the woods for running, and as they settled in for the night, the man's eyes went over the silvery threads winding up a nearby withering tree. They'd seen more and more of those, along with huge holes in the ground and buildings crushed flat, like they'd been pounded down with an enormous mallet. Everything was changing in High World. In the six months they'd hidden below, topside had become a nightmare. Friends walking next to them vanished into the ground, their screams following running feet, and the sun no longer came except in brief glances.
For those who ventured up, the cravings driving them, few survived. Even knowing these were the symptoms of addiction that were being used to lure them out of hiding, only held for so long and then the need took over. Unlike most habits, this one got stronger the longer you were off of it. Except for him.
The man's eyes narrowed on the silvery threads again. For some reason, he seemed to be building immunity to it, the desire fading. He'd figured out if he didn't drink the water unless it was bottled before the invasion, then he wasn't being poisoned.
It was still strong though, like when they'd stepped into the field, and he pretended to eat, sitting with his back to the females. He was fighting it, was sure he could win. Others would be the same, other men, and this was his reason for joining the group. A man alone now drew too much attention. With owners, he could quietly search for others like him. Together, they'd fight back, organize a resistance.
The thought was exciting and the man pushed himself up into the nearest tree without the shiny threads so his feelings wouldn't show. These two were just a means to an end. They had no desire to quit the weed, only to find a safe place to grow it and he doubted he'd be with them much longer.
The females watched him with glittering eyes, blaming all men for what had happened, and they spoke in low tones when he settled in a branch and closed his eyes. He often chose the trees, hating the reeking heat of their growing bodies against him in the night, and normally, he was tied to one of them. Tonight, they probably wouldn't bother. Who would leave all this food when they were all starving?
The THC soon had the women sleeping, faces relaxed, dreaming of their old worlds, no doubt. There was little in this new hell to dream of without waking yourself and everyone else with shrieking screams.
The man considered leaving them here. They might not track him down if there was this to hold them but he stayed where he was, watching their stomachs rise and fall with the life he'd been forced to put there. He would have been killed had he refused. Did he feel anything for these unwanted unborn? He slowly shook his head, wondering vaguely if man would be back in charge by the time they were born. He sighed, letting sleep finally take him. If not, they were better off dead.
Hungry eyes watched them sleep and there was no sound as the cage door closed, locked. A huge black paw descended and the trap lifted effortlessly into the air, the entire field of pot getting higher and higher as the trap floated toward a waiting aircraft being loaded with hundreds of other similarly baited pens. The winds blew harshly, swirling debris and bones from the ground as the ships hovered.
The man watched from the tree, holding tight as the air shifted. Enormous shadows were exposed to his horrified gaze and he swallowed a warning shout, squeezing his eyes as the screaming began. He thought he heard his name but at this distance, he couldn't be sure.
The man forced himself to shut his eyes and hunker down, the tears making movement impossible. He would find others like himself and then revenge would be had.
A while later, he slid down the tree and silently moved into the darkness, avoiding the silvery threads that were really the cleverly hidden bars of cages.
It was another lesson learned. His step lightened a bit. They would fight back soon, he could feel their time coming, and for now, he was alive and free, and as far as he knew, still the President.
Do you like post apocalyptic fiction? try this:
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