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Dust Settles
A Boy's Lie

by Halcloud

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Copyright on this story text belongs at all times to the original author only, whether stated explicitly in the text or not. The original date of posting to the MMSA was: 25 Feb 2018

Note from Halcloud,

In the aftermath of a population depleting event, a young teen somehow escapes the terror and confines of a city fraught with danger and dangerous people. While searching the empty farms dotting the countryside, Ash finds a lone man, Vance. Quickly falling into a father/son relationship, the two work on surviving in this new world together.

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Several months later found us in the thick of summer. We were having a late dinner when the lights flickered, dimmed, then went back to normal.

Ash looked at me and frowned.

It’s okay, I told him. Eat your dinner please.

The boy gathered a mouthful of hot wilted spinach on his fork and froze, Dad, there’s someone at the door!

Turning and standing from my chair, I grabbed the shotgun I had leaning against the table. A rough looking man pressed his filthy face against the glass, the intruder’s wild and dangerous eyes locked with mine. I felt my old hound appear next to me. He planted his front feet down, his hackles up, and began growling viciously toward the door. Ash, go to the kitchen, hide. The boy didn’t say anything as he immediately obeyed. Behind me I heard his fork clink and his footsteps as he took off.

The man waved his gun at me and seemed unafraid.

Get back! I yelled. Shit. Clicking my safety off, Get back!!

My hound charged toward the door, the aggressive action caused the guy to jump back.

I clicked the lock, slid the door open, and watched as my hound attacked the guy. Getting the intruder pinned to the deck, my hound’s teeth locked around the intruder’s neck. Bo! I yelled and my hound jumped off him. The shot rang in my ears as I finished the guy off. Bo, I whispered as we backed up. Getting inside the house, I locked the door in case there were more of these guys skulking about in the dark. Walking into the kitchen, I opened the pantry and did a special knock against the hidden trap door, It’s Dad. Listening to several locks unlatch inside, I waited for him to push it open but he didn’t and I ended up opening it myself. Ashland?

I’m sorry, Ash sniffed from his hiding spot. The little room being dark, I couldn’t see him. Dad, I’m sorry I didn’t stay and help fight.

Son, you helped by doing as you were told, I replied. Stepping down and finding the pull chain to the little incandescent bulb, light flooded the area when I pulled it. With the room lit, I could see Ash doing his best rolled up potato bug impression. He’s seated in the center of the little twin-size bed that we’d hauled down here. The secret wine cellar is setup and stocked as a panic room. Come on, it’ll be okay, I told him.

I’m scared, he whispered into his knees. Dad, I’m scared.

Me too, I whispered back. Be a good boy and come back up with me, come on.

Getting off the bed, Ash followed me to the kitchen.

I wrapped my arms around his skinny body and hugged him tight. That idiot is bleeding all over our deck, I sighed.

The teen breathed heavily against my shirt, Should we go shove him off then?

Not worth it if there’s more guys out there.

That night I had Ash sleep in my bed, we locked the bedroom door and shoved furniture against it. I sat in my chair positioned next to him and the window, gun loaded. It was a long night with a full moon, shadows danced around outside adding to my anxiety.

I fell asleep around daybreak, waking up to Ash standing over me a little bit later.

Let’s have breakfast, Ash said heavily.

Yep, I replied and hefted myself out of my chair.

After breakfast we tried to move the mountain of a man off the deck but he wasn’t budging. Much to Rio’s annoyance, I rigged him up and had the stallion drag the intruder away from the house to bury. Ash hosed the deck off. It was a day of hard work that I hadn’t expected.

Later, Ash and I looked the deck over. We had both taken turns trying to scrub the blood stained wood to no avail.

Hey, want to do something fun? I asked the teen.

Ash looked at me, Fun? Like what?

Arts and crafts, my boy! I laughed slightly. Patting his back, I led the way to the garage. Let’s see, we got green, yellow, red, white, I said while handing him the little tins of paint.


Uh, yep, here you go. Oh and cyan.

So, we’re gonna paint a mural over the stains?

Sounds logical to me, what do you think?

Ash smiled, I think it’s a great idea.

I grabbed some large paint brushes, took a few paint cans to carry myself and we went back to the deck. We briefly discussed the design but I decided to leave it up to him. He likes to draw, so I figured this would be right up his alley. I started by painting the deck’s corner with a blue cyan sky. Ash blended some colors, making a lime shaded sunset with dark navy above my cyan. He then all but took over, painting a scene with a blue cartoon fox wearing a space suit and floating around. The bright sky dotted with white stars is neat looking. In a different time Ash probably could’ve grown up to become a graphic artist.

Do you remember TV? Ash asked while giving his character some lime light accents.

Yeah. I looked at him and smiled, Do you remember TV?

Yeah, I remember TV. I watched cartoons with my older brother.

Did you just have the one brother?

Yeah, he was an ass but he’d do funny things too.

Funny things like what?

Stick raisins in his nose and shoot them at me.

I chuckled.

Yeah, he’d chase me around the house shooting snot raisins at me. My brother had been looking after me, you know, it was just the two of us toward the end.

I sighed knowingly, Yeah.

Yeah, Ash breathed heavily. He left me after awhile.

Must’ve been difficult.

Hey, but my parents were real nice before everything happened. They’d take us to see the lions at the zoo, go to the movie theater, and we’d do other fun stuff too. It was always fun.

Sticking my palm into the white paint, I left my print near the mural’s bottom. Ash copied me, placing his print next to mine. Yeah? That’s nice to hear. Hey, right off the deck is that pile of garden stakes, fetch me two.

Okay, he smiled while obeying.

I took the stakes, sawed off the point on one, painted them both white, then left them to dry for awhile. Later, I nailed the painted wood together to form a cross. It was across the horizontal stake that I finished the project, clearly painting in large red letters, TRESPASSER.


It’d been a few days since painting the mural and we’re currently out at a house that’s a good thirty minute drive from our place. This house hasn’t seen people in a few years.

Ashland? I called as I thumbed through a young teen’s stack of comic books. Moving over toward a bookcase and finding a bunch of teen-type fantasy novels about dragons or some such, I called for him again, Ash?! I went to the unknown kid’s closet and found some jeans and shirts that will probably be Ash’s size next summer. My eyebrows went up when I found a container of protein powder carefully tucked away under some dirty clothes.

I found hooch! Ash proclaimed loudly.

Standing up quickly, I cracked my head on the lower affixed metal clothes rod, SHIT! Ah-shit! I held the spot assaulted, my eyes watering profusely.

You okay? Ash asked.

I ignored him, Hooch? Where’d you learn a word like that?

Look DADDY, he said jokingly, I found homemade alcohol.

Don’t drink any.

He frowned at me when I didn’t play along with what he’d just said, I didn’t, Dad.

I held my hand out, Bring it here.

Bringing me the clear plastic jug, its contents a golden brown color, Ash was still frowning.

Did you drink some? I questioned, suspicious that he’d lied a moment ago. Tell me now and you won’t be in trouble.

I didn’t.

Hmm, I hummed, taking the lid off and smelling the contents. Whew, that smells strong! Placing the lid back on, I set it aside.

We were collecting things to start hauling out to the truck when suddenly Ash’s hand flew to his mouth. He then ran toward the hallway before getting sick on the runner.

Worried, I rushed after him and rubbed his back as he wretched again. My hand found his forehead, he feels hot, Did you drink some of that alcohol?

Yes! Ash cried and got sick a third time. Oh no! No-no! the teen yelled suddenly. One hand held his mouth, the other flew to his butt as he stood up straight and made a wild dash for the nearby bathroom.

Must be working through his system already.

Waiting a good few hours for Ash’s stomach to settle, however I think there’d be nothing left in his gut at this point, I had him ride in the back of the truck. I drove slow but we eventually got home and got the new stuff inside.

Go take a bath, I gave the seat of Ash’s britches a gentle pat, then we’re gonna have a chat.

Ash turned his head and frowned, But I’m still sick.

Do as you’re told.

He sighed at me then left the room. When the teen returned wearing night shorts and a t-shirt, I sent him to fetch the large square scrubbing brush from the deck. I took my place on the couch as he stood in front of me, he ran a sad finger along the hard wood. He wouldn’t look at me.

Ashland, you knew you shouldn’t have drank that stuff, right?

Yes, Dad, Ash whispered hoarsely.

I told you, you wouldn’t be in trouble if you told me right then, didn’t I?


Then shouldn’t you have just told me?

Yes, I’m sorry, he said toward the floor. Dad, please don’t spank me.

The next time you find a jug of homemade alcohol, are you going to just pick it up and drink it, or bring it straight to me?

I won’t do it again.

Hand me the brush and get your shorts down please.

I have to go to the bathroom, he mumbled.

Go and come straight back.

Ash left and I waited patiently, he didn’t pull any tricks though and was already right back in front of me. Pulling his own shorts and underwear down, he placed himself over my lap.

I laid my hand on the center of his rear, the boy’s skin is still warm from his bath. Raising my arm, I began smacking his bottom at a brisk pace, his cheeks soon taking on shades of pink. My stinging smacks continued, his bottom rippling under my heavy hand.

Ash cried out, bringing his feet up in an attempt to protect his bottom.

Pausing, I got him repositioned over one knee and clamped my free leg over his. I picked up the heavy brush and patted his cheeks with it.

No, I’m sorry! I’m sorry!!

I raised the brush and cracked it down. A burning red mark appeared against the glow of hand spanked pink. Giving his other cheek a matching swat, he began crying loudly. I let the brush rise and fall until the fourteen year old was reduced to a wailing little boy. Setting the brush aside, I left him over my knee while he cried his eyes out.

I’m sorry, Ash sobbed.

I gave his burning cheeks a pat, I forgive you. Get up and sit on the couch, I’ll bring you a glass of water. We maneuvered around, he slipped his shorts back on and kinda sat on his hip. When I came back, I wiped his face with a cool wash cloth and gave him his glass of water.

Sniffing loudly, Ash grabbed one of the thick fantasy books I’d taken from that house today, he opened it to the first page. Dad, he kinda whispered, his voice rough from crying, I lied about my parents being nice. The young teen shifted around uncomfortably on his spanked bottom, Things weren’t much fun when they were around.

I’m sorry, Ash, I sighed, I’d already suspected that things weren’t all roses like he tried to make me think.

Yeah. Hey, remember the story about my brother shooting snot raisins at me?


It just happened once, my mom came home before we picked up the mess. We didn’t do it again cause my brother got smacked for it.

I’m sorry, I told Ash gently and sat next to him.

Ash leaned his head against my shoulder, Are you mad at me cause I lied?

Naw, it’s okay, you’re a good boy.

My sizzling butt cheeks say otherwise.

Don’t argue.

Okay. You’re my dad now, right? We never really talked about it, I just started calling you dad and you didn’t say I couldn’t.

I’m your dad now.

Okay, I like that. It’s nice having a dad around.

Yeah, it’s nice having a son around, I said while giving his hair a fatherly ruffle.

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