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We are the Monsters Chapter two part one: The people of Carrol

Bursting through the door of Babel’s office, Cleo strode inside without being invited. To the older woman’s credit, she didn’t flinch when Cleo slammed the missive down onto her desk and demanded “What the hell is this?”

Babel, adjusting her multi-colored glasses, leaned back in her chair with a heavy sigh. The tight silver and grey curls were held back by a bright yellow scarf creating a halo effect behind her head, matching the shawl around her shoulders. The light in here was dim, primarily lit by solar lanterns and a low burning fire to stave off the morning chill.

“Oh. Hello, Cleo. Do come in. How are you? That’s good. Oh, me? I’m doing well, thanks for asking. What’s this? You want to discuss your orders? That’s understandable. Please. Take a seat.” It wasn’t the first time Babel met Cleo’s fire with sarcasm and likely wouldn’t be the last.

Crossing her arms, Cleo remained standing. A small but defiant choice, she thought. “Skip the pleasantries, Babel. What is this? Two years I’ve done this job on my own and suddenly the council decides I need babysitters? I built this position. I spent months in the wastes, rubbing elbows with the dead to find these people and now you’re taking it away from me?”

Sighing through pursed lips, Babel folded her deep ashen colored fingers on the desk between them. Speaking slowly, she chose her words carefully.

“The work you have done for Carrol is paramount to our development as a community. We are very grateful for the time you sacrificed out in the field for our benefit, though I’m sure that wasn’t why you did it.” Though Babel was the elected leader, her rule was supported by a council. Shay was Cleo’s commander, but due to the uniqueness of Cleo’s position, everyone agreed Babel should be the one to handle her.  

Cleo went to speak, but Babel held up a hand, signaling that she wasn’t finished.

“It has come to our attention that Hella’s has information of a third settlement to the south of us. Elysian has told us they are aggressive and territorial and she thinks they are setting their eyes on our scavenging areas. Two of her scouting teams have been killed by this group already and the council has reason to believe the increase of attacks on our teams is related to this new group.”

Babel stood and came around the desk. Pulling out one of the two chairs in front of Cleo, she sat and gestured to the other. Reluctantly, Cleo unfolded her arms and took a seat.

“Elysian is hesitant to give us the location or even the name of this group because she’s afraid it will start a war none of us will win. I’ve asked Amya to join you because she knew Elysian before and might have a chance to convince her to aid us in our journeys. Benji is going along because he is exceptional at negotiating deals with hostile entities.”

“And you don’t think I’m capable of succeeding in this endeavor.”

“It’s not that we think you incapable, Cleo. This is not a slight against the work you’ve put in over the years. This is merely us loading the gun with as much ammunition as possible to ensure a successful outcome.”

Chewing her lip, Cleo considered Babel’s words. She never sugar coated anything nor gave any reason not to trust her. If it wasn’t for Babel, Cleo would have never stepped foot into Carrol in the first place. She advocated for her to stay with Evin till she died, and when she didn’t, Babel came to her with a proposition. Find other survivors, help this community survive and I will guarantee a place here for you and your sister.

“What happens when we find this mystery group? Three people aren’t capable of taking down an entire community, no matter how much ammo the gun has.” Cleo allowed herself to relax. She had always been a little hot headed, but ever since she was bitten her temper always ran a little closer to the edge.

“Oh, heavens no. We wish to make inroads. At least try to bring them into the fold, teach them barbarism isn’t the way of our world anymore. Show them that working together is how we all survive the long haul.”

“And if they refuse?”

“We will cross that bridge when we get to it.” Babel sighed, her shoulders slumping forward. “Listen. I know you like working alone. Evin told me what happened to your group before you found us.”

“Evin doesn’t know everything. And she had no right to speak for me.” Cleo’s blood boiled. Feeling the blush redden her cheeks, she looked away from Babel’s searching eyes. The past was exactly that. The past. What happened was out of her control and there is nothing she could do about it now.

“I asked. Ok? Don’t blame her. But if you’re worried about them getting hurt, I can assure you Benji and Amya are more than capable of surviving.”

“I’m not worried about them. People are responsible for their own lives. I’m worried about what would happen if I return without them. People already consider me a monster. Imagine if you send two ‘capable individuals’ out there with me and the unthinkable happens. They like Evin, for now. There’s nothing preventing them from making her into a pariah when this all falls apart.”

“Amya and Benji volunteered for this.”

“That doesn’t change the fact that their deaths will be put on my shoulders! I have done everything I could to ensure Evin had a somewhere safe to live and grow up. She’s only thirteen, Babel! They will hang my crimes on her shoulders too, and you can’t deny it.” Cleo screamed at her, suddenly on her feet, shaking.

Taking another deep breath, Babel rose to meet her.

“Evin will always have a place here with us, no matter what. And so do you, Cleo.” She exuded an immeasurable calm about her Cleo never quite mastered. “You can no longer do this job alone. I am offering you what help I can spare and I want you to take it. Having others able to do this means you will get more time at home with your sister. More time to relax and get to know the community and for them to get to know you.”

Rolling her eyes, Cleo exhaled sharply, derisive laughter pushing through her lips. Deciding this conversation was over, she turned towards the door.

“I only have a place as long as I follow the rules they created for monsters like me.” Cleo said over her shoulder, reaching for the door handle.

Babel followed her to the door, catching her arm before she could leave.

“Get to know them. I think you will be surprised to find out how similar you all are.”

Yanking out of her grasp, Cleo doubted everything she said. The community has made it abundantly clear how they felt about her. While most accepted Evin as one of their own, there were plenty who saw her as an outsider, no matter what she did. If these two capable people got killed while under Cleo’s protection, Evin would be cast out into the wastes while Cleo found a nice tree to swing from. No. Her baby sister wouldn’t suffer their prejudice. Babel was one of the only people who bothered to get to know her. Cleo knew that made her blind to how others saw her as the wolf amongst sheep.

Outside in the street, Cleo checked the missive once more. Their troop was scheduled to leave tomorrow at eight am. She was certain Benji and Amya wouldn’t be convinced to stay behind. Cleo decided she would leave without them. Early enough they couldn’t catch up but not too early to raise suspicion.

They would be hurt and disappointed and Babel would be furious, but it was the best way to keep everyone alive and keep Evin’s place secure. Checking her watch, Cleo raced home hoping to catch her before she left for class.

Chapter two is a longer one, so I’ve decided to post it as individual scenes. Again, this is a work in progress, but it’s time this story leaves my capable hands so others can enjoy it. Let me know what you think in the comments below and if you know someone who would enjoy this story, please share!


Published by Lady Storm

I am a spiritual practitioner that has walked many different paths. Some could call me a jack of all trades when it comes to belief systems. While I don't hold all the answers, I hold many tools that will help unearth answers to questions anyone may have.

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