• tab 'We gotta get out of this place, if it's the last thing we ever do...'
    tab The song came over the player as we threw stones at an old tin bin. It was Nat's favourite. I am surprised she hasn't worn the tape out yet. She would play it over and over again, as we dreamed about getting away from this place. We had been together since kids, our friendship growing to love at the annoyance of the rest of the people here. Middle of nowhere, hundreds of clicks from the nearest place, though no one really leaves here unless it is on the longest journey of them all. The men were happy when we were born as there were more boys than girls being produced. None of them wanted to leave this place to find another woman in case they couldn't get back. Through a combination of luck and tenacity we had been able to get this far, but we knew time was running out. The guys knew we were off limits, Nat made sure of that, but now it isn't a sure thing. Once, Old Lem had some guys hold me down while he raped me. When Nat found out, it didn't bode well for them. She hit a few of them hard that they were on the ground in in a world of pain. Heh, I think she even made a couple of them sterile. As for Lem, he ended up missing a few essential organs. They never tried touching either of us since then. But now, now is a different story. The number of 'viable' women, as the guys called them, had been dropping off. Now, there was only one woman beside us. She loved the attention of all the men, and was now pregnant with her tenth child. With the chances of her dying in childbirth high around here, it was only a matter of time.
    tab 'Car's got a full tank,' said Nat, suddenly. 'Should get us to the nearest settlement.' I looked at her, searching for something she knew but I didn't.
    tab 'What about the town?' I asked.
    tab 'Screw the town,' She smiled back at me. It was her usual confident smile. It was one of the things I loved about her. 'These guys, they call themselves men, but I doubt they have a set of balls between them.' She chuckled. 'That, and I need to protect you.'
    tab 'What about Dot?' I pushed her. Though I knew she loved the attention, I felt bad about the idea of leaving the only other female behind.
    tab 'How much longer do you think she can push her luck?' Nat replied. I shrugged, looking down. 'Exactly. I don't want to see that happen to you, and I sure as hell don't want it myself.' I tilted my head back, pondering the red sky. Iron-rich dust, they say, in the upper atmosphere is what makes it that way. I had to realise that it was one way or the other, and I couldn't bare staying here. I looked at Nat, with her short, dark hair and crystal blue eyes, then put my head on her shoulder. Suddenly, a young boy came running up. I recognised him as Chip, one of Dot's young boys. His dusty hair meant that Eric was probably his father.
    tab 'What is it?' asked Nat, noticing something wrong.
    tab 'It's Ma, she has given birth,' he replied in a quite voice.
    tab 'That's good news,' I smiled. 'Boy or girl?'
    tab 'Girl, ma'am,' he stammered, 'but she isn't moving, and neither is Ma.' The shock ran through me, and I looked at Nat. She had a determined look on her face. She stood up, and I followed suit. She hugged Chip and looked down at him.
    tab 'I'm sorry, Chip,' she said in a low voice, then walked over to the car, getting in the driver's side. I quickly ran to the passenger's side and jumped in as Nat turned the engine over. The men of the town were stunned as we roared down the main street towards the town exit. One finally gathered his wits enough to get a shot-gun, but we were too far away. I looked over at Nat, and she had a big smile on her face. We didn't care where we went, so long as we were together.