Authors: Lilly Babineau
The Stranger In Sector 27 - A Post Apocalypse Action / Romance Story (Book 1)
Table of Contents
Lormor Internet Ventures, LLC
Notice - No portion of this publication may be used without the expressed written consent of the publisher. All violators will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
All names and events are fictional.
Chapter One: The Stranger
Wielding an old-fashioned AK-47 and wearing camouflage army attire, Lt. Jackson “Jaxx” Branton was the embodiment of a good soldier, patrolling through a seemingly abandoned row of dilapidated buildings in a dangerous sector of the old city’s ruins. The year is 2217 and the world is in a post-apocalyptic state. At age 25, Jaxx had known only this world his entire life.
Man had foolishly pushed the limits of the Earth for over 200 years and now most of the natural fresh water is gone and food and drinkable water is extremely hard to come by. Survivors of this world struggle to stay alive by any means necessary. Cannibalism is now a big problem in many parts of the world.
The strongest of the male survivors were born and raised to be soldiers, protecting the communities of people from the outside dangers. The women scavenged for food, treated the wounded and bore children to repopulate and build numbers. Everyone had their role, as that is what was needed to survive. Food was scarce, so people had to make do with what they had available.
Their communities were predominantly caged off towns and cities consisting of abandoned buildings and shelters. It was a rare sight to see an unfamiliar person in their protected communes. The place where Jaxx lives is now known as Cartopia, and it is a far cry from the place called New York City, as it was once known.
When Jaxx found the stranger, she was unconscious in an alley. He didn’t recognize her, so he was cautious while checking her pulse. It was there, but very faint. Who was she? How did she get here? Her clothes and general appearance weren’t much help either, because never before had he seen such strange clothing. Unsure if she was a cannibal from another part of the world, he handcuffed her ankles together and then her wrists. Throwing her over his shoulder, Jaxx carried her back to a nearby first-aid station.
He nodded to a couple of medics that were glancing in his direction when he walked in, and laid her down on an available cot. Making sure the shackles on her wrists and ankles were secure, he sat back and watched her, still wondering who this strange young woman was. She wasn’t moving and her pulse wasn’t getting any stronger, so he signaled to one of the on-looking medics for assistance.
“I found this girl in sector 27 while patrolling. She was unconscious and unresponsive, and to this point she is still isn’t responding.” He explained. The medic nodded, and turned to get the appropriate treatment. Inside the syringe was an extract of a wild plant often effective for waking people who are unconscious. After injecting the serum into her bloodstream, all that was left for them to do was wait. It didn’t take long.
She jerked awake and began thrashing her restrained arms and legs. Her blonde bob was matted with dirt from the muddy puddle it landed in when she dropped unconscious. Her eyes were a piercing blue and her skin was fair and unscathed. Her teeth, surprisingly perfect.
Where did this girl come from, he thought to himself. He was mesmerized by her and the way she looked. So different from the other women around here; not at all in army attire or medic robes. Even as a couple of medics ran over to restrain her further, dosing her with a sedative, he couldn’t help but study her. Snapping out of his daze, he realized that he recognized the words she was screaming.
“Branton! Lt. Jackson Branton!” She was screaming his name over and over. He shook his head, unsure that he was hearing her correctly. “Jackson Branton!” She repeated loudly. By this time the medics were staring at him curiously.
“This never happened!” He glared at them and shooed them away. They left obediently. The girl was sedated, tears soaked her face and she was now simply whimpering his name. He sat on the cot next to her, moved the hair away from her face and looked at her directly into the eyes.
“Miss, I am Lt. Jackson Branton.” He told her.
“Finally…” She whispered and closed her eyes and fell back unconscious.
Chapter Two: The Fog
The next day, Branton woke up with a stir. The strange girl’s screams echoed in his head all night long and he found himself wondering who she was and how she knew him. He needed answers, and knew that if he didn’t get them he would be haunted for the rest of his life.
He quickly freshened up and decided to head over to the medic quarters where he learned she had been transported the night before. On his way, he received a call on his military-issued radio.
“Branton!” Cpt. Harold “Cap” Freightman bellowed from the speaker. “There’s been a breach in sector 27! You need to get over there NOW!” Branton suited up and grabbed his gun.
Entering sector 27, Branton knew something was amiss from when he was here the day before. A fog had settled over the streets and the air felt cooler than the other sectors. His team arrived to back him up.
Lt. Geoff Scott was a year younger than Branton, but he was just as skilled. He was also a trained sharpshooter and could shoot an enemy between the eyes from a great distance away.
Lt. Dashel Kline, fondly known as just ‘Dash’ by the women, was as handsome and rugged as they came. That didn’t take away from the fact that he could kill a man with his bare hands.
Trailing behind Branton’s dynamic duo team, was Private Thomas Decker. Seeing him, fury built up inside of Branton.
“Tommy! What the hell are you doing here?” He growled at the 17 year old. Tommy wasn’t the normal, upbeat boy he usually was. He looked upset, disturbed, like he’d seen a ghost. He was inexperienced, and had no business here.
“Lieutenant, Cap sent me here to help with this mission. But sir, I would really like to have a chance to speak with you about something before we go through this.” His voice was drenched in fear, but Branton had no chance to respond. The screams of several people echoed through the streets.
“Branton, we gotta get in there!” Kline ran ahead and Scott followed suit.
“Later, Tommy. Stay behind me and don’t leave my side!” He instructed, and they both ran into the fog.
The fog was as thick as stew, and it came seemingly out of nowhere. Branton made Tommy stick close by, as he inched through the fog.
“Kline! Report!” Branton called loudly.
“I’m not seeing anything past this fog, Branton!” Kline yelled back.
“Scott! Report!” Branton called out to his other fellow soldier. This time, there was no response. Branton repeated himself. “Scott! Report!” He started to move faster, and met up with Kline.
“We gotta find him!” Kline said, trying not to sound as frantic as he actually was.
Together, the small group felt their way around in the direction where Scott was last seen. The fog had become unbearably thick, and was almost choking them. All of a sudden, Tommy tripped and fell. Branton reached down to scoop him back up, but it was too late. Tommy had a glimpse of what he had tripped over and began bellowing blood curdling screams.
Geoff Scott’s body lay in pieces all around him.
Chapter Three: Branton Wants Answers
Branton’s mind froze and went numb. His teammate. His best friend, a boy he had grown up with, was now nothing but a bloodied pile of corpse. He soon was able shake himself out of the state he’d gone into and realized a giant grotesque-looking claw was reaching for Tommy.
“Tommy move!!” He screamed, but even with Branton’s warning and Kline diving for him, Tommy was pulled off into the fog. His screams were cut short by the gurgling noises of him choking on his own blood. Branton grabbed Kline and the two bolted out of the fog.
Able to see once again, Branton radioed in for Special Ops. They were a branch of this army trained to handle creatures and unidentified species. The creatures, whatever they were, seemed to be contained by the strange fog.
Branton glanced over to Kline, who appeared to be in a state of shock.
“Just...shreds... what… what could have… they…” He stammered. Branton wanted to break down too, but knew he needed to maintain all his strength for the time being. Geoff had been his neighbor growing up, and the three boys were nearly inseparable. And Tommy…
Tommy! The fury that had overcome Branton earlier was back with a vengeance. Medics had come to work on Kline, so Branton stormed over to HQ to find out what the hell Tommy was there for in the first place.
Headquarters was located in Sector 1, and was the most technologically sound place on Earth. The advanced computer system made it possible to track civilians, threats, and military personnel anywhere within Cartopia.
Cartopia was set up into 28 sectors. Any of the sectors past sector 20 were the most uninhabitable. Anyone who had to live there usually ended up dead before long. Those who survived were definitely a force to be reckoned with. The perimeter of Cartopia was surrounded by electrical, stainless steel wire fencing, which could kill even an elephant if it so much as grazed it - if elephants existed anymore, that is. The last elephant was killed more than 100 years ago, but old sayings never die.
Branton swiped his access card at the front gate and entered the transparent elevator system. For its own protection, HQ was completely surrounded by a special bulletproof glass that couldn’t even be cracked by a guided missile.
When the elevator doors opened, Branton was faced with a frenzy of people. Military personnel running around, and scrambling. Everyone and anyone looking for answers as to what the hell happened down in Sector 27. One man saw Branton, and the rest of the room turned to stare in silence. He said nothing. Instead he continued on to Cap’s chambers and completely bypassed his assistant.
“Branton!” Cap turned to him from facing the window. Walking over, Cap held out his hand to shake Branton’s. “I am very sorry to hear about Lt. Scott. I understand Geoff was a personal friend, and I’m sorry for your loss.”
“I’m sure you are. Can you please explain to me why you sent Private Decker to sector 27? Sir, he was inexperienced and you sent him to die!” Branton was furious, but Cap looked puzzled.
“Private Decker had no orders from me to enter that sector.” The surprised look remained on Cap’s face, and Branton recognized it as a pained look, as well. “He didn’t make it?”
Branton was confused. “No, sir, he did not.”
“I see.” Cap sat down in his chair and pressed his hands together. Leaning into his desk, he buzzed his assistant. “Andrina, get me Johan and Hortencia Decker immediately.”
“You had no idea he was with us?” Branton questioned.
“I did not.” Cap answered.
A short while later, the Deckers arrived at the quarters.
“Cap, what is it?” Johan Decker asked, a look of worry on his face.
“Is it Thomas, Cap?” Hortencia Decker asked.
Branton couldn’t bear watching this unfold. He walked out the door just as Cap explained that their son was dead. No matter how far he got from the chambers, there was no way to unhear the cries of agony the Deckers let out in desperation for their son.
Chapter Four: No Memory
It was about suppertime when Jaxx Branton returned to his living quarters. He made his way to the dining chambers and stood in line with everyone else waiting to be served their meals. When the slop landed on his plate, he thought about it for a moment. How strange this food must be, rice and porridge, to have withstood the tests of time. He received a puny helping of greens and was sent on his way with a tiny cup of water. He sat alone, and tried to think about anything else besides the occurrences of the day. That’s when he remembered the girl.
He radioed into the medic unit. “This is Branton. I need a location for the female patient brought in last night.”
She remained in the same unit she’d been transferred to, and was heavily sedated.
When he arrived, he expected to see the same disheveled, messy girl from the day prior. But that was not the case. He entered the room and she was sitting up, looking around as if taking in the sites. The medics had clearly cleaned her up. Her hair was clean and swept back, her wounds had healed surprisingly well, and Branton had to admit she looked stunningly beautiful. Still, he couldn’t let her nor anyone else discover his attraction to her.
She looked at him as he entered the room, but she didn’t appear frantic like she had been. Instead, it was as if she had no idea who he was.
“Are you my doctor?” She asked politely.
No, she definitely didn’t know who he was.
“No, ma’am. I’m Lt. Branton. Lt. Jaxx Branton.” He told her firmly. He waited to see if that made her realize that he was the one that made her freak out just the day before. Nothing. Not even a flinch.
“Oh… sorry for the confusion. You all look alike here.” She pulled her legs up and laid her arms and head on her knees. “I just wish I knew where here was.”
“You don’t remember? Not how you got here, or where you came from? Not your name… or mine?” She looked embarrassingly at him.
“I’m sorry… are we lovers?” She asked him. Now it was his turn to look embarrassed.
“No! I mean no… I just meant, well we met yesterday…” He stammered.
“Sorry… I don’t remember anything at all. I woke up here this morning and everything was blank.” She explained. “I think I know my own name. It was a name stitched on my old clothing. I believe it said Ingrid. That name feels right.”
“Ingrid…” Branton murmured and looked away momentarily. “Ingrid, you remember nothing at all?”
“Nothing. But, I have this sensation like… like not only do I have a general loss of memory, but that I’ve forgotten something really important, you know what I mean? I just, I can’t quite place it.” She drew in a deep breath and let it out. She looked sad, but then again, who wouldn’t be after waking up in a state of amnesia, Branton thought.
Jaxx left the room and decided to speak to the doctors.
“Why can’t she remember anything?” He demanded.
“Lieutenant, we aren’t sure what kind of trauma she’s endured but we can assure you, her waking up with no memory was not something we wanted to happen. For all intents and purposes, we wanted to probe her… find out what she knew, where she came from… we cannot do that in her current state.” The lead doctor, Dr. Marta Sanchez, explained to him. “In fact, aside from her memory loss, there’s no other injuries she’s suffered. It’s quite miraculous really, especially considering that you found her in Sector 27. However, that being said we have no true reason to keep her here. We will be sending her back to Sector 27 where we… where you... found her.”
“She can’t go back to Sector 27! It’s not safe there!” Branton exclaimed, but regretted it instantly when he saw the flicker of curiosity in the doctor’s eyes.
“Fine. I will discharge her, but I will do so into your custody. She will be your responsibility, Lieutenant. Keep her out of trouble.