tagNovels and NovellasNo Future Ch. 54

No Future Ch. 54


Hope and Glory

The secret of surviving in London was entirely about making new friends and acquaintances. It just wasn't possible to manage it by yourself. On the one hand, Eugenie had to keep well away from those who might cause her harm. On the other, she had to make herself known to those who might be able to help her.

Other people were squatting in the Holloway wastelands. Some were undoubtedly the very people Eugenie most needed to avoid, such as the many well-armed teenage gangs that wandered the burnt-out streets armed with clubs and knives. Although there were many in London who would happily take advantage of a lone girl who'd much rather be at school if free education still existed, the teenage gangs were those least likely to be satisfied by mere rape. Eugenie had heard stories of their sadism and inhuman brutality. However, it was also teenagers of about the same age as her that she needed to make contact with.

"Yeah," said the boy with the disfiguring acne and shaven head. "I live round here. What of it?"

Had Eugenie misread the situation? The boy didn't look like a gang member. He had none of the swagger that was the most obvious sign of potential trouble. He wasn't carrying any weapon with him beyond what was needed to deter feral dogs.

"My name's Eugenie," she said. "I live here too. I'm just looking for some tips, you know. Where to find food and stuff. That kind of thing."

"You don't come from London, do you?" said the boy suspiciously.

"I'm from the East Midlands. Near Nottingham. What's your name?"

"My name?" said the boy. "It's Ned. If you want me to help you, you're gonna have to let me fuck you. Is that a deal?"

Eugenie had sort of expected exactly that kind of transaction. What other currency did she have? Then again, it wasn't like she was going to be a prostitute. That would be a dozen or so fucks a night and she was sure that whatever pleasure she'd get from the first fuck would have totally vanished by the time of the last one.

Ned wasn't that bad a fuck. He wasn't the best Eugenie had enjoyed, but he didn't take too long about it and he didn't slap her about. She deliberately didn't draw Ned's attention to where she was living in Bardolph Road because if things went badly with him she'd still want somewhere to escape to. He lived in a flat in nearby Bakers Field with a bunch of other teenagers. There were slightly more women than men which alerted Eugenie to a potential threat from jealous girlfriends, but she soon discovered that Ned was hopelessly in love with Natalie who was at the same time in a relationship with Youth, the only black guy in the group. This was the kind of complicated relationship that Eugenie was well familiar with.

"Can I move in?" asked Eugenie after they'd done fucking and Ned was lying on the stained mattress in the dimly lit room where they were resting.

"Fuck! You don't waste your time, do you?" said Ned.

"I'm desperate," said Eugenie with only a touch of exaggeration.

"I'll have to ask the others," said Ned. "But we're not gonna be staying here for much longer anyhow."

"Why's that?"

"This zone's gonna be opened soon," Ned explained. "Leo saw this sign that said it had been certified plague-free. All hell will break loose once the barbed wire's pulled down. The Contagion Police will shoot anyone they find hanging about."

"Shoot them!" Eugenie exclaimed. "Can they do that?"

"Since the plague last year the CP can do whatever the fuck they like," said Ned. "Now life's got so cheap, no one asks questions when a few extra bodies are added to the pyre."

"Where are you gonna be going?"

"I dunno," said Ned. "Youth said he knows somewhere in Hampstead that looks like it's got potential. It's an old mansion where no one's lived for fucking years. There's a load of security guards in the area so we're gonna have to be careful. They tend to shoot first and ask questions later."

It was only a few days after Eugenie had settled in Bakers Field with Ned that the decision to move on was made. It had been difficult for Eugenie to get properly accepted by her new friends in that short time. None of the others had spent much time outside of London so they found her East Midlands accent very peculiar. The whole notion of living in a village in the countryside was attractive to her new friends because it was exotic and peaceful, but also repulsive because it was alien and boring.

The cost of choosing to live with Ned and his friends was that Eugenie had to have regular sex with him. This was no big deal at first. He was reliable and he didn't take long to finish. But it soon became a strain. Eugenie was never really attracted to him to start with, but she wasn't sure at which stage could she safely move on from him and not get expelled from the Bakers Field squat?

The solution, of course, was to have sex with the other boys. But this had to be done with caution otherwise Eugenie would be kicked out straight away. Although Ned and his friends prided themselves on their open-minded sexual experimentation they weren't the sort to indulge in orgies or openly swap partners.

Each day was occupied by the necessity of scavenging in the streets of London whilst also keeping the Bakers Field squat secure from intruders. It was dangerous for anyone to leave, but food and provisions didn't grow on trees. Eugenie already had gained plenty of experience of scavenging as a result of having to take care of herself since the plague hit Woolsthorpe, but she learnt many more skills from her new friends. Natalie was an especially good teacher, mostly because she was also a girl. She knew how to persuade shopkeepers and restaurateurs to dole out food, alcohol and even clothes that might have otherwise gone elsewhere. Although her clothes came from the same kind of charity shop as did Eugenie's, she had an eye as to how to mix and match them so that they seemed relatively sexy and alluring.

After a couple of days of scavenging Eugenie decided to stay behind in the squat when she discovered that Ned was going out and that Leon was staying behind. It wasn't that Leon was unattached. He had a kind of on-off relationship with Yolanda, a tall half-Asian girl in the group who was never sure what she wanted but was certain that it wasn't what she already had. As soon as Eugenie was sure that she and Leon were alone, she put her arms round his neck and nibbled his ear.

"We can do more than just sit and read books," she said, referring to the e-book reader Leon always carried around with him but had to charge by keeping it exposed to the sun.

"What about Ned?" Leon asked not unreasonably.

"What about him?" Eugenie replied.

Her instincts were right. Leon was a much better sexual partner than Ned could ever be. Their lovemaking was prolonged, passionate and intense. Yolanda didn't know how lucky she was. Leon was even extraordinarily well endowed. Eugenie had seen pictures and even movies of penises of such monstrous proportions, but she somehow imagined that they weren't actually real or were solely the property of studs from the porn capitals of Los Angeles, Mumbai and Kiev. It was fortunate that Eugenie could accommodate so much cock inside her vagina. Leon naturally attributed Eugenie's skills to practice and experience, but she was reluctant to admit that she'd only known a handful of men in an intimate way in her young life.

For the moment, Eugenie had to share Leon's attentions with those from Ned. Leon had an absurd loyalty towards Yolanda, but Eugenie could see that their relationship wasn't likely to flourish for very much longer.

The distance from Holloway to Hampstead wasn't especially far. It was less than five kilometres, but mostly uphill. On the other hand, the difference in character between the two suburbs could hardly be greater. Most of Islington was dilapidated and run-down. The streets were filthy and badly weathered. The traffic was mostly pulled by bicycle or animal. The people wore rags and as they aged they became steadily more hunched and shuffled about rather than strode forwards. Hampstead was much better maintained, but most of it was also out of bounds. There were security guards at each end of almost all residential roads and stretches of the high street were similarly exclusive. There shops were the type that Eugenie had heard about since she was a child, where designer clothes, expensive furs and fine luxury goods could be purchased. Nevertheless, not only the stores but even the pavement and road were for the exclusive use of the rich and wealthy.

Eugenie and Ned, Natalie and Youth, Leon and Yolanda, and the rest of their crew may have been many things but what they most definitely lacked was money. When Eugenie compared her ragtag collection of friends with the smartly dressed and well-coiffured men and women who were browsing the stores along Hampstead High Street from behind the high Perspex glass that guarded them from the London scum, it was obvious that there was a gulf between them that even money couldn't bridge.

However, the gang wasn't in Hampstead to shop although it was difficult not to be drawn to the sight of London's elite and their privileged lives. They didn't have to worry about treading in horse-shit. They didn't have to rummage for clothes in bins or patch their clothes as they became increasingly threadbare. They didn't have to thread string through the eyeholes of their boots because they couldn't afford laces. They knew the luxury of wearing underwear and socks and of having enough to eat on a daily basis. To them, Eugenie and her friends were basically invisible.

The path to the mansion Youth had located was fraught with deadly risks. It was on a road guarded by security personnel stationed at both ends and where each building was surrounded by high electrified walls. However, Youth had worked out a route that bypassed the actual road on which the mansion was located and could be entered through a tunnel that went under the mansion and surfaced in an adjacent now-derelict property. It had probably been designed to enable guests to enter and leave without being seen from the street. Unlike most Hampstead properties, the security apparatus amounted to little more than a few easily spotted cameras and very high walls. Once Eugenie and her friends had scrabbled through the rusting muddy tunnel into the mansion's back garden, they were effectively as well hidden from the security guards as the guests who once visited the mansion would have been from the intrusive gaze of the paparazzi.

Everything of value had been cleared out of the mansion. It was obvious that no one had lived there for at least twenty years. There was some beds and heavy furniture that hadn't been moved, but nothing else. The mansion was enormous. There were about a dozen or so people in Eugenie's new gang and enough space for them to have at least one room each. As long as they didn't attract the attention of the security guards patrolling the road outside there was nothing to stop them staying. And Hampstead promised rich pickings for scavengers that Islington could never match.

"Who used to live here?" Ned asked Youth. "Was it a film star or businessman?"

"You won't believe this," said Youth, who despite his name was by far the oldest person in the company and had a thick beard that emphasised rather than disguised his age difference. "It used to belong to a lord."

"A lord?" said Natalie. "I thought lords only existed in fairy tales and things. You know, like princesses and goblins and kings and the like."

"It's only a couple of decades since all that crap was abolished," said Youth. "This nobleman was known as Lord Newbury apparently."

"Lord Newbury," repeated Natalie who liked the sound of the word. "He sounds like a very grand sort of lord. Like a duke or a baron or all those other things they used to have."

"There used to be a duke and duchess who lived near my village," said Eugenie.

"What, really?" said Ned, who was genuinely impressed. "They can't have lived anywhere that was as grand as this mansion."

"They did," said Eugenie. "They lived in a place called Beaver Castle. It's a kind of immigrant processing centre now. It's really ancient. It goes back to William the Conqueror. In fact, my village used to be called Woolsthorpe-by-Belvoir before I was born."

"So there's more to the countryside than just muddy fields and pigs," said Leon, who was also impressed. "Who'd have thought? And now we're living in a real lord's mansion. Aren't we grand!"

And despite resembling more a merry band of roguish poachers than a lord in his manor, at that moment Eugenie and her new friends felt that was exactly what they were.

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