Azuba stood on the king heap watching as the last of the sheep were slowly fried against the electrified fence. The smell of roast lamb was mouthwatering but the stink of singed wool and sheep manure soon made Azuba pull her scarf up around her mouth and nose. She was tired and dirty, she scratched a layer of dirt from her left hand and it scraped off like sunburned skin that had turned to peeling. She flicked it off and watched as it floated on the breeze to the muddy ground.
Azuba hated being underestimated and patronised. Her age and nature made her vulnerable to those in Scraptopia who liked nothing more than pushing others further into the dirt. That is why the smile that was covered by her scarf was so well earned. She had done it, she had won and mackattack and Dan D’spare were on the run. It had taken her the most part of a year to transport herself from the bottom of the scrapheap to the top. And the best part was that neither of those two punks had seen it coming.
A year ago she had come begging at the bunker door. Half starved and frozen to her marrow, she collapsed in the snow. Hours went by before the bunker door slid up and gloved hands dragged her into the warmth. Inside the bunker, she was fed and cleaned and allowed to sleep until the tiredness that had been trapped in her bones was finally spent. With eyes open and legs strong enough to stand, Azuba was given clothes, boots and a list. She was then thrown into the scrapheap to work. She sorted scrap and removed rubbish to find what others needed to survive. Her lists were long and difficult but her lust for life kept her fingers digging and scraping.
What Azuba hid deep inside her soul, was her own buried treasure. It was her plan to put herself on the top of the heap.
Azuba had a family before the end came and for months they survived hidden in the basement of her Dad’s office building. They made alliances and traded with other families for food and medicine but what they didn’t know was that they were being watched. Dan D’spare moved lickity split through the abandoned city, searching for anything he could use or trade. He was a darkness that Azuba’s family feared but had never met. Slowly the trading diminished along with trust. Dan infiltrated families and worked on their weaknesses until nobody felt safe. The only place they could find resources was at Scraptopia, the scrapheap owned by mackattack. Dan D’spare and mackattack were an unlikely pair but they shared a desire to rule the new world and together they seemed unbeatable.
Azuba’s family soon ran out of what they needed and queued with the other desperate survivors carrying their lives on their backs. But mackattack saw nothing she wanted amongst Azuba’s family’s belongings and she turned them away without a second glance. They kept going for a while but soon they were starving and vulnerable. The family were run out of their shelter by the scrapyard kids but Azuba knew who was behind this attack. Her parents perished and her brother ran off with another crew of crazy kids who ate the flesh of zombie sheep and mega rats to survive, infecting themselves on purpose so that they no longer had to remember the lives they once had.
Azuba wasn’t stronger than her brother, she was just too scared to commit to the craziness that the infected flesh caused, and so she became a ghost in the city. She didn’t need much to survive, she had a handful of tools and wire which she used to build a small shelter and that’s where she stayed, plotting and planning her revenge.
Azuba’s arrival at the bunker door was not a last ditch effort to live, it was her first ditch effort to get in, and it worked. Eyes on her lists, working harder than everyone else, Azuba rose through the ranks. Before long she was through the first set of gates and in the inner sanctum. Here, the best of the scrap was piled, only the best and most trusted workers could sort this stuff. Here she found knick-knacks and knives, bits and bullets, which she buried in safe places until she had the opportunity to recover them. She also created a team with the other terrorised workers and created alliances with the scrapyard kids and her brother’s crazed crew. She provided the Inhumans at the fences with glass and mirrors and other shiny stuff that they seemed to covet. She trained them to chase anything shiny and to leave anything dull alone. Her position in the scrapyard also allowed her access to mackattack and Dan D’spare. She pulled together stills to brew moonshine out of the scrap and this helped her make friends with the Scraptopian royalty. Azuba had even started to sound like mackattack, mentioning herself in the third person, it was a ridiculous necessity for survival.
The year was nearly over and Azuba was ready. She wasn’t a ghost anymore, she was the phantom of the scrap and she wanted revenge. With the trained Inhumans on the fences and her crazy crew herding zombie sheep, she slipped enough gunpowder to the scrapyard kids to cause the second apocalypse. With everything ready, Azuba sat drinking the powerful moonshine with mackattack and Dan and waited for the beginning of the end.
Didn’t have to wait long.