It was midday in the forest. Sunlight fought through the treetops to illuminate the ground below, creating a pattern of shaded leaves and branches. The surrounding trees stood tall and firm. Rooted in place for generations, cursed to watch the everchanging world around them. The leaves that sprouted from their branches were grey and smelled of ash. The scent filled the forest Sturdy branches stretched out into the air like the arms, each one grasping another to create an interconnected web of roots high above the ground. The scurrying of Rats and the howling winds made up the few sounds that could be heard. The aura was calm and yet danger lurked just out of sight.
Against the dirt laid a boy no older than fifteen, his clothes scratched and torn. He wore a damaged blue button-up that had been sewn together after the loss of its buttons. He began to wake up, ever so slowly and painfully. His eyes were shaded brown, a sort of mix between the dirt and the darkness. His black hair was tangled and messy, falling to his shoulders. Leaves and twigs had nested within his locks. His face was pale and starved with defined cheekbones and cracked lips. The scrawny boy didn’t look strong and that was true. He was just barely average height, standing at 5’1o with his back straight. His slouched posture worked to make him appear even shorter than he was. Sharp teeth hid within his jaw, each one of them able to break the skin. The boy groaned in pain the moment he sat up straight, moving slowly and carefully. With every shift of his weight, his head throbbed, with every shake or twitch his arms ached. He felt like he had just run a marathon or been beaten with a stick. Perhaps both. “..Where the fuck?-“ He began to ask before he was interrupted by the creaking of branches above. Crack… The sound seemed to echo in all directions. Snap. The next was more violent. The boy laid a mere metre from where he had been, his spot now occupied by the corpse of a Feline. Feline was one of the many hazards of the forest. They had sharper teeth that could cut through bone and strong paws that they used to hold down their often-unsuspecting prey. They were pack hunters and ambush predators that follow their prey for hours until they rest, attacking in the night for an easy kill. They had patchy fur that grew in random places and could be completely removed if someone happened to tug them. They were above him in the food chain. They were dangerous. The beast's maw had been brutally beaten in with its bottom row of teeth forcefully embedded within the roof of its jaw. Blood leaked from the corners of its mouth which slowly accumulated under it. Its chest was in much worse condition, its ribs stomped to the point its lungs were currently dribbling from the cavity. Its body was broken in horrific ways that seemed to have been caused by some sort of frenzy. He recoiled back, his throat opening to heavy up the emptiness that had settled in his stomach. His bones protested the sudden movement and his headache only worsened. “Ugh... Wh-what the fuck?” He spoke to himself as he scrambled up and away from the carcass. The threat of falling quickly set in and loomed over him until he lent against a nearby tree for support. He could feel the second round of dry heaving come on, only able to stand there and hold his balance. As he glanced at the body his eyes were held captive by the beast’s gaze. The primal fear it must have felt during its dying moments was somehow still held in its eyes. What had done this? What could have done this? A Roo would’ve eaten the corpse. He didn’t give himself time to wonder as he turned and ran. The boy didn’t know where he was going nor why he had taken off in the first place but he didn’t dare stop. He wasn’t frightened. No... He was calm. Subconsciously, he acknowledged his surroundings. He recognised the scenery, he had been here before. He couldn’t deny that he was in no shape to flee. If it had killed the Feline, he had no chance of outrunning it. But was something chasing him? Were those his footsteps that rang in his ears? His head spun around to glance back. He saw only the shadows of the trees. It did not put him at ease. His mind worked against him as it often did, making shapes of the darkness. Even so, he swore he saw something, something real. Someone real. Its eyes were deep red and could pierce his very soul with just a glance. Its legs did not move and yet it appeared under every tree his gaze fell on. It wasn’t trying to catch him, no, it was toying with him. Nononono... He quickened his pace to a full sprint, daring his legs to carry him faster. His breath fled his lungs... His body was fuelled on adrenaline and fear but that would not sustain him forever. He couldn’t outrun it. Bang. He fell back immediately, his vision leaving him in moments. Not looking where he was going, he had hit something.
“Hugo? Hugo!” Shouted a familiar voice as his eyes opened once more. His head ached more than it ever had before. Even the blanket of darkness that covered the forest floor proved too bright for him as he shielded his eyes the moment they opened. “Oh good, you’re not dead.” Added the brown-haired boy above him, the relief present on his face calming them both. “What the fuck happened?” Hugo asked as pain infested his tone, turning it sour. “You ran into a tree, idiot.” He chuckled in response. Hugo felt the world spin as he was pulled to his feet without notice. His head couldn’t agree less and Hugo could’ve sworn he almost died. “Careful Gavin, you fucking nong!” Hissed the shorter of the two. Gavin, the brunette, held a grin even when insulted. He was a head or so taller than Hugo and his light brown hair was kept clean and short, contrasting the others' messiness. He was strong too, stronger than Hugo by an insulting amount. They had only ever fought on a few occasions but each one ended the same way. His eyes were a shade below emerald green, resembling a jewel that had been left to collect dust. Hugo had always sworn that the jade orbs could glow in the dark, the way they seemed to never darken. He had a silky voice that could convince even the most guarded men to give up their belongings and yet he could still demand authority whenever he thought he needed it. His presence was always the first thing Hugo noticed whenever they were together, and he wasn’t exactly alone in that regard. Gavin was a socialite at his core and could get along with anyone. Gavin was a natural-born leader. Brave, courageous, smart, and capable. It was no wonder he was famous within the village. Hugo had always seen the boy helping others where he could and acted as a role model to the younger boys. He was perfect was he not? He was everything Hugo wished he could be. “Look mate, you’re the one that got lost in the woods or something.” “Why are you out here anyway?” Gavin replied, interested in what had left the boy in such a state. Hugo felt anger rise in his stomach. Something told him to sink his fist into the larger boy's gut, to repeat the process of getting his ass beat. Logic trumped emotion rather easily. He was beaten enough as it is. “Don’t look so pissed, I didn’t have to come to find you,” Gavin added as he saw the way Hugo’s eyes darkened and his body stiffened. The brunette didn’t want to escalate things. Hugo now felt the gravity of the situation, recalling how he had awoken to that exact beast hanging corpse. Mutilated by something he couldn’t picture. How had he gotten so far out? Why couldn’t he remember anything? What had killed the beast? How would he explain the events to others? The questions raced behind his eyes, shrouded by the dark pupils that could only stare dumbfounded at the brunette. He seemed to be waiting for Gavin to answer for him. Hugo looked down at himself, his eyes running along his body for the first time since he had sat up. His grey pants were torn and ripped in several places, dry blood sticking to the fabric. His hands were covered in blood, several cuts and gashes running up his forearm. He wasn’t that hurt. Why was there so much blood? It couldn’t be his. Whose blood was he covered in? What had he done? Who had he hurt? His breath picked up for only a moment as he began to hyperventilate. Only for a moment... An agonising sense of calm overtook him, rooting itself deep within his mind. “I was chasing a Rat and fell from the tree, must’ve knocked myself out.” Hugo sounded different when he spoke, he was calm and confident. Each word was chosen carefully and his tone was unwavering. Gavin knew Hugo, he knew that he had always been troubled in conversation. His voice was always shaky and filled with pauses, it made him hard to understand and the brunette was often forced to translate for others. Both men were equally unnerved by the out-of-character response. Neither acknowledged it. “Sure... Are you okay? Not hurt too badly?” Asked the brunette carefully. He reached out for Hugo’s wrist so he could get a better look. This time Hugo reacted quickly and pulled his arm to his chest. It seemed to ease Gavin’s suspicions; his skittish reaction being accepted. Even though Gavin had continued as if nothing had happened Hugo still felt the need to explain himself further. “Yeah, I’m fine. The little beast lured me into a thicket and I lost my balance and fell. I bumped my head but it’s nothing major.” Hugo rambled on nervously until he was satisfied with his response. Gavin looked back at him with newfound confusion, he wanted to point out how dumb that sounded but he didn’t want to push things any further. He wasn’t going to get anything more from the boy. He instead turned to lead them both back towards the settlement. The walk was quiet and the air that surrounded them felt solid, as if they were walking through knee-deep water. It was awkward. He could feel it weigh on his shoulders. “Hurry up,” Gavin shouted without turning around. He didn’t need to turn around to know Hugo was falling behind, he had developed an almost sixth sense regarding the boy. His head was held high as his eyes constantly scanned the canopies above for any lurking dangers. Gavin was smart like that, Hugo never would’ve thought to keep on the lookout. Especially not with Gavin around. The path was unclear and yet Gavin had no problem navigating the woods. “How far out are we?” Hugo asked in a quiet voice. His eyes were stapled to the dirt as he walked, making sure he didn’t trip on the uneven ground. He fiddled with one of the many loose threads in his shirt, pulling and wrapping it around his fingers. “Not far, any further and you’d be in bushland.” Answered the brunette. Hugo nodded along, the settlement couldn’t be much further ahead.
This is my first series i have ever published and hopefully that will help force me to actually finish it.
The series has no planned chapter count nor does it have a concrete storyline, however i do have a constantly expanding Trello page of story and worldbuilding ideas to check back to.
I hope you enjoy reading my baby
"All along the Wastes" is my first ever novel series, set in Australia hundreds of years after a nuclear holocaust.
All along the wastes follows Hugo as he is forced to leave his isolated home and venture off into the dangerous wastes of Australia in order to find a cure to his strangely developing illness.
The book will feature our main character meeting strange and interesting individuals while learning about the world beyond his home.
Warnings will include Abuse, Gore, Violence, Blood, Racism and possibly more. I will try to Put warnings in individual chapters however as most will contain some form of violence or graphic content, most will not have the mature tag.
Do not read if unnerved by blood or death.