New World_ Nick Smith Book one

By: Stephen Birch

Chapter one

The boy cried out as he was pushed over backwards. He then curled up tight as he hit the hot dusty road. His arms came up quickly in an attempt to protect his head and face as the three men began to kick him.

Nick watched from just inside the treeline and he shook his head slowly. The sound of the men laughing drifted over to him, causing him to frown. The treeline where he stood ran down the side of the M3 Motorway and he had been watching the scene for a little while now, silent and unmoving. He’d heard the disturbance while checking his traps in the wooded area behind him. He watched for a few more seconds, still undecided, then he took a good look around to see if there was anyone else about before stepping into view. The sun was hot on his head after the cool shade of the woods.

‘Hey!’ he suddenly said. He didn’t speak loudly but his voice carried easily over to the men. There was hardly any need to shout in this new quiet world. He stood for a few more seconds in the hot sun then he shook his head again. The three men had stopped kicking the boy and they were all now looking at him. He knew this would not end well but it was too late now. They had seen him and there would be violence. He stepped over the crash barrier and began to walk slowly and steadily towards them. He remained relaxed and calm.

His mind slipped back to the last time he had tried to help someone. It had been night and he had been out looking for food in one of the towns. He had walked around a corner to see three men holding down a young woman. A fourth man had been on top of her. Without thinking he had shouted at the men and then he had ran at them.

That was a couple of months ago now. Just after the end of the pandemic and there had been a lot of crazy shit going on. Rotting corpses were everywhere and the people who were left alive were fighting over what remained of civilisation. Up until that moment Nick had kept mostly to himself, leaving the people to it. He wasn’t into the saving of the world game. He had given up on the world a long time before it had given up on him. His conscience had kicked in hard though. It wouldn’t let him just ignore a girl being raped. His instincts had kicked in as well, but he had made a fatal error that night. By just rushing in like that he had caused the men to panic. The man on top of the woman had slit her throat while the others had quickly turned on him. The men had obviously not had Nick’s training so they hadn’t really stood much of a chance. The woman was still dead at the end of it though.

After that incident he had moved back out of the towns and he had resolved to stay completely away from people. He had not tried to help anyone else since.

‘Who the fuck, are you?’ one of the men shouted over at him, moving away from the boy. Nick winced as the shout echoed around the silent Motorway.

‘Hey stay cool,’ he said calmly, wondering if anyone else had heard the shout. He was quite close to them now, still walking slowly. He started to smile.

‘You just fucking stop!’ The man held out his hands aggressively. ‘Stay right where you are dick brain!’ the man then took a step closer towards him.

Nick carried on smiling. The fool had told him to stay back but he had then moved closer himself. He was almost in range now.

‘Ok.’ Nick said quietly. He stopped and tilted his head slightly. ‘That’s no problem.’ He was still wearing the same smile, standing completely still now. His hands hanging loosely by his sides. He was about five feet away from the tough looking blonde haired man. ‘I’m just out for a walk on this nice sunny day. What are you lot up to then?’ He casually pointed over to where the others were still standing around the boy.

‘What the fucks it got to do with you soldier boy?’ the fool asked him nastily.

His two friends laughed at that. Nick was wearing a green shirt, his army type combat trousers and his well-worn boots. On a leather belt around his waist he also carried a green pouch and three knives in brown leather sheaths.

‘Well thinking about it, I suppose that it actually has nothing to do with me,’ Nick answered the fool.

‘Yeah!’ The man was silent for a few seconds. He was obviously confused by the answer. Then he suddenly shouted, ‘so why don’t you just fuck off then?’

Still smiling the same calm smile Nick glanced over at the boy. He could see he was watching him along with the other men. There was a pleading look of hope on the boy’s young face now. Nick glanced at the two men standing over him. He could see nothing that he needed to worry about in them, but he wondered if he could get them away from the boy somehow.

The one standing in front of him doing all the talking actually looked like he might be able to handle himself a bit. He wasn’t all that big. Nick could see that he was actually about the same height and build as he was himself, but he had a lean, hard look about him. Nick thought that he could possibly be ex-Army.

Suddenly one of the other men. The tall skinny one spoke up. ‘Just fucking have him Jim! The fucking wanker. Look at him, all dressed up in his army clothes.’

‘Shut the fuck up!’ Jim shouted back. ‘I’m dealing with it.’ He took another step closer to Nick as if to emphasise his point.