3 Without Empathy

In mid-July, 2525. Former Sumatra–now called Andalas. Andalas is the ancient name of the big island itself.

A little girl pawing at the ground, her body so dirty with shabby clothes. She was looking for plant remains behind the barren ground. Her footsteps trembled. She stumbled but continued to carry her emaciated body, step by step.

She stopped again and dug again. Of course, she desperately wished there were tubers—anything—that she could find to fill her flat stomach. It's been a few days since she hasn't found any food.


Even though she dug deep, the little girl didn't find anything. She got up again, took another step, and pawed again.

The sun so cruelly burns the Earth's surface and little life remains. Burns slowly everything in existence.

At one foot of high hills, the Bukit Barisan Cluster. There is no more beauty left in the cluster that once existed and was so majestic. There is no green leaf that used to always bring a sensation of freshness. The smell of wet earth, dew dripping on the leaves.

There's not a single one left!

The fertile land had become dry. The same is true in other places on Earth.

The little girl gasped with joy. Finally, she found a piece of tuber in the excavation. She dug deeper without the help of any tools, with only her two hands, in a hurry. She tried to pull the tubers from the remains of the Elephant Cassava tree. But it's not easy. She had to put all her strength into being able to pull out the tuber.

The tuber was uprooted.

Quite large and long, about the size of an adult calf, with a length of half a meter.

She laughed happily as she looked up at the sky, her laughter almost silent. Then she rushed to peel off the skin of the tuber with her blackened nails.

Even though the flesh of the tuber was no longer white – it was dry and bluish – it didn't stop the little girl's hunger.

Quite greedily she bit and chewed the tuber. She sat on the scorching ground just like that.

Her brows furrowed. Bulbs taste bitter on her tongue, probably the tuber already poisonous. Even though it didn't leave a bit of liquid, the little girl still ate the tuber as roasted chicken. To fill her empty stomach. And hope to extend her life in the next few days.


The little girl gasped. She looked back and her gesture immediately showed great fear.

Two men stared intently at her. Especially on the dried tubers in the little girl's hands, on her body.

The little girl stuttered, trembling as she hugged the tuber tightly. No matter what, she would not give up the food she had worked so hard for. Not to those two men, not to anyone.

"Hand over the cassava!" a man shouted as he pointed his gun at the little girl. "Or I'll break your head with this gun!"

The little girl bowed deeper. Then she quickly bit and chewed the cassava tuber again, and again.

She knew very well that she would never be able to keep the tuber in her hands instead of defending herself. So, she continued to fill her long-starved stomach as best she could, in fear and trembling, before the tuber taken by the two strangers.

"You, damn brat!" cursed another man as he approached the little girl. Then, one hand rose.


The little girl let out a short low, she fell to the side. The man so rudely slapped her head. No cry came out of her mouth. She was still tightly hugging the cassava tuber, chewing again, and again, as much as she could swallow. She curled up and groaned again as the man kicked her.

"Give it to me…!"

The little girl desperately defended what she had got, but the man's strength was greater than hers. The man jerked so hard that the cassava tuber slipped from her hand.

Again the poor little girl groaned, she held back the pain. One of her nails was broken due to defending the tuber. She grimaced, her fingernails peeling and bleeding.

Without mercy at all, the man kicked the little girl hard in the head. The little girl squealed. She fell, lying helpless.

The man smirked, then sat on the ground. He cleaned the cassava tuber from the sand, a little with a mouth blow, and then ate the spoiled tuber. He didn't care at all about the little girl who was wincing in pain.

"Hey, don't you eat it all up! Leave half for me. Do you understand?" said the man holding the gun. He continued his steps, approaching the little girl who was curled up on the ground.

"What are you gonna do?" the man sitting looked in wonder at his friend who was now crouching near the little girl. "You want to burn her? It's useless, man! She so skinny."

His friend turned around and smiled sarcastically. He looked back at the little girl.

The little girl hid her face. She could not bear to look at the sin-filled face beside her. The look in the man's eyes was like a hungry predator who readies to tear her apart.

"Ahh, whatever!" snorted the man who was engrossed in the chewing tuber. He knew for sure that his friend would be playing with the little girl. But he didn't care about any of that.

The little girl screamed so long that her voice became hoarse. She struggled with all her might to free herself from the man's grip.

She managed to escape. The little girl quickly rose and ran as fast as she could. She had to get away from the beast as soon as possible to save the only treasure left in her body.

The man smirked. He chased the little girl while taking off his clothes.

"Stupid!" cursed his friend who had devoured the tuber more than half the length of the tuber before.

"Where are you going, huh?" the man chuckled, his steps getting faster. "I like the wild one!"

He jumped and caught the little girl's waist.

The little girl screamed and rolled over in the man's arms. Her screams grew louder as the man tore apart her clothes. With such great lust, the man stripped his clothes.


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