Zoned: A Setting


A weed right outside my door. . . bloody things will survive the apocalypse, I guarantee it!


Nothing but weeds.

They choked the life out of anything else that might have grown. Not that anything else could have grown. The earth in the Zone was contaminated – abused by man and trained to hate all that walked across it.

He squatted in the dirt and fingered a hoary leaf. It stabbed back at him.

Worthless. It wouldn’t even give up moisture. Or, if it did, the nectar would be corrupted with poison.

The sun was high and the sky blazed a merciless copper. The air was breathless with heat. He draped his head and passed through the desolation man had wrought. He was a lone figure, a ready target, as he made his way back to the City.

The Zone was a land made bare, stripped of all that was good and clean. Stripped of anything a man might use to survive, outside the City.

It wasn’t enough that they’d poisoned the sky. No. The Greys – the people of the stars – had helped them clear that many years ago. It was the earth, they said. Even the Greys could only help them make the City livable.

It was a lie.

They had salted the earth long after the skies cleared – long after the Greys departed the world. All of it – as far as the eye could travel from their glittering towers, and as far as a man could run in a day – had been destroyed by man, after.

And a day was all a man had before the dreadnoughts caught up with him. Before the poisoned wasteland crippled his insides, made his bowels burn and turn to water. Few made it to Beyond, to the wild green that lay hidden, just outside the borders of the Zone.

Beyond the beyond

Beyond the beyond… also, the summertime view outside my house.

Those that did reach Beyond were loath to return. He was the only one to make the trip twice, and here he was, returning for a third time to the wasteland of modern marvels.

He had not been born there, amid its glittering towers. He was not an oligarch’s son, nor plebian drone. Nor was he one branded a Contaminate – a man who suffered to return to the City after escaping to the Zone.

No, he had been born in the Beyond, amid the green and growing things. He had been born, free to breathe and thrive in sunlight. He had stood on sturdy legs beside his mother as she did the washing, and skulked among the trees with his father as he did the hunting.

And he had left it behind to go to the City. He had followed a prophesy – attempted to claim what was his and free a people who had no idea they were slaves. He had failed.

No, he was not an oligarch’s son, nor a nameless drone. He was Samuel, and he was going to the City take back what was his.


A setting, a preamble, an introduction – whatever you want to call it, it’s all in the name of the WordPress Challenge of the Week: The Setting’s the Thing . Samuel’s intro is also part of The Heresy of Before universe, established here and here.

If you want even more Heresy of Before, check out Spirit Keeper, a Heresy of Before mystery serial debuting right here on the blog: Part 1 | Part 2

26 thoughts on “Zoned: A Setting

    • Every once in a while! 🙂 This is a story that’s brewing – now that I’m done with D’s series (except for editing) I have about 4 other stories clamoring for attention!


  1. It sounds like you’ve already addressed the first thing I was going to say in the other comments, lol. Highly looking forward to reading more, I won’t be the crazed fan hounding you constantly for when the next book will be out, yet 😉

    I really enjoyed reading this btw, if you couldn’t tell. Right up my interest alley. 🙂


  2. Wow. I mean, wow, Katie! This is good. The imagery, the choice of words, the beats, it’s all amazing.

    And holy awesome! This line is so visual! “Before the poisoned wasteland crippled his insides, made his bowels burn and turn to water. ” You are a master. A true master, girl! 🙂


  3. While reading this most excellent introduction to what I hope is a series of stories, I couldn’t help but wonder if your state is already going from the horror of the sterile iciness of winter to the blistering heat of summer 😉


    • 🙂 Thank you,Marie. Alas, we’re still within the grip of cold, wet spring, although today it is supposed to hit 80. I think the blistering heat is more a wishful-thinking thing!


      • I do remember it snowing in May at least once while I was living in upstate NY. Vivid memory of looking out our living room window and muttering, “Really? It’s f***ing snowing???”


      • Oh yes, I remember a few snowfalls. And I never plant anything in the ground until Memorial Day weekend – even then I’ve lost an entire garden to frost! I won’t have to worry about it this year, though – with Tom’s proposed performance schedule (he has two auditions lined up), I will have zero time!


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