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LadyAnarki t1_j1he61i wrote

"What's the problem?" I asked the guard waiting for me at the enterance warehouse.

"New blood." he simply shrugged his shoulders, looking bored.

I sighed and walked through the door into the dim metal structure, my skirts billowing behind me. The walls were lined with lockers. Those small ones that used to be littered at shopping malls so you could lock up your bags of useless crap to engage in even more vain & selfish consumerism.

Two more of my guards stood on the opposite end at the only door to the outer wasteland, surrounding a man holding a small figure in his arm. His second arm held a pistol.

It was a rarer sight than it used to be. When the earthquakes & floods first ended, we were decimated. A global loss of communication systems separated us as much as the enormous trenches and deep lakes. Survivors came together locally, but conflicts over resources soon turned into full-scale territorial wars. Factions broke out, with nomads-turned-prisoners bringing news of what was happening in other parts of the country. The coastal cities had been wiped away first as California broke off into the Pacific. The volcanic ash covered the ground from Wyoming to Kansas.

I watched the world end from the Midwest. Or was it the southeast now? My father was a prepper, so our sprawling farm quickly turned into a fortress. He was a good leader in a crisis: stabilizing and fortifying our land, commanding the loyalty of our neighbors who produced food under his protection, and training the wandering soldiers he took in. Many showed up at our gates during those days. Many were turned away, especially those who had children.

It wasn't right, I always thought. Before, my father used to say that women were only good for popping out kids. After, he said that kids were a waste or resources. Many didn't survive, or couldn't work, or their loyalties stayed with some fantasy birth parents that hadn't even bothered to prepare for the worst. So when my father died on a raiding mission in year 5 A.A. (After Apocalypse), I decided to make a change.

"Hello, welcome to The Daycare" I smiled as I approached the newcomer. On closer inspection, I could see that he was shaking. I motioned for the guards to take a step back to give him breathing room. "Have the rules been outlined to you?"

The man's eyes focused on my face. He looked young, somewhere in his late 20s. Probably a child himself when Yellowstone erupted.

"I'm not giving up my gun," he scowled. "I need to know my daughter is safe."

"This is The Daycare." I replied sweetly but sternly. "I'd be surprised if anyone in the drylands says that she wouldn't be safe. That is why you're here, isn't it? Because you've heard of me and the sanctuary?"

The man's face flickered through a range of emotions as I patiently waited for him to remember why he came to me.

"I... I didn't believe it existed... I... we've traveled so far. So many close calls. I just... I want to be sure."

My smile widened. "You can be sure. Just put your gun and any other weapons, poisons, or gear you have in the locker, take the key, and I'll be happy to show you."

He hesitated for a second, contemplating if he could trust me or the rumors of the orphan oasis I knew circulated far and wide. Then he crouched down to place his daughter on the ground. She looked to be about 3. Right at the age where separation from her father wouldn't bring too much instability. I watched as he whispered something quietly to her, stood up, and began emptying his pockets into the locker by the door.

"Her bag as well." I said gently as I noticed her holding it. I saw him scowl again as he turned to look at me, then smile as he addressed his daughter. Once I was satisfied all their belongings were packed away, I gestured for him to follow me through the backdoor of the warehouse.

The keys were a formality. Polite manners like the games of Victorian era nobles from a civilization that no longer existed, but its survivors carried the same hateful beliefs and ideologies. Even now, after everything.

My guards would thoroughly check their things, noting any technology or substances from the outside world. Anything of use would be collected as payment. He would be given his tour, shown the food forests and gardens, the children running around laughing, the libraries filled with books I collected. He would not be shown the military force I'd built up to protect it all. The training fields and weapons arsenals. The soldiers I raised with absolute loyalty to their home, to me. Then, he'd be shown the door. Just like all the parents before him.

Notes: This is the 1st thing I've written in a really long time. Thank you for sparking the creative flow.


pepeallmighty t1_j2a97f5 wrote

Digging it. loving the universe and potential future it is set in. Gj