Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Morning Write - 4

Been writing this one in a few consecutive mornings. Was playing around with the length and messages, as well as the parallel scenes. Didn't want to make this part too long, so I kind of hurried it up.

This is part of a series (which I'm half-naming Deadlocked for the moment. I might stick with the title). I suggest you read the first part as well as the second to keep up-to-date; although, this one can almost stand on its own. You decide.
A Retelling
Earnest was always a very likable fellow. Whenever he’d attend a party or just chat among friends at a wi-fi coffee shop, people always relaxed and listened to him. He’d tell stories that captivated people, and kept them coming back for more. If he ever couldn’t keep a story going, he’d always shrug his shoulders and say, “That’s all for today.” Most people understood, and didn't push him farther.

Now, things were different, people hung onto his words and stories (most of which were true). The teens and older children especially liked to hear stories from the world Before. Although many wouldn't admit it, the adults listened in to his stories, privately savoring his stories of the world they had grown up in. He was always happy to oblige everyone with his retellings.

This particular day, there were storm clouds coming in from the east, and everyone in the Shelter was preparing for it. There was a giant buzz throughout the building as people walked briskly. Most Civilians were taking hold of their children’s hands, and walking across the webs of makeshift walkways and bridges to their own apartment buildings. If the storm got any closer, those were taken down, and people would have to wait it out in the Shelter.

Earnest didn’t mind all the hustle; it reminded him of days long ago—Before. It calmed and settled him seeing people were still able to pick themselves up and continue surviving.

“Ernie,” a young boy tugged on his shirt. “Can you tell a stio-Ry?” Earnest smiled at the way the boy pronounced it. He took his hand and nodded, leading him to the large, open lounge. There were a few more teens and children waiting, huddled around on the old carpet floor.

He walked over to a corner of the room and sat down cross-legged. He scratched his graying beard and asked what the kids wanted to hear. They all replied, “A retelling. From Befooore.” He cleared his throat and began:

“Long ago, this very city was full of people, and they were able to live on the ground.” He paused to let it take effect. He knew this was against what the children were taught, Life remains when it's above the ground. “There were no zombies. Everyday, people would wake up, go to work and school, and most people didn’t know how to shoot a gun.” (A few kids chuckled). “Some didn’t even know how to hold a gun right.” (More laughed out loud).

Outside, the wind was picking up as the Guards slipped on their slick-gear and cinched down their packs, trying to get as waterproof as they could. They retrained their rifles down on the streets below, watching for slow, unhurried movement. As the clouds and city became darker, they flicked on the old lights that hummed and doused everything in a red haze. They had found red was the safest color to use to keep from being noticed.

“The world was busy and running around. Big screens called TVs showed pictures and people from all over the world. Everything was bright and flashy. You could find food almost anywhere, and people didn’t worry about running out of water.”

All around the city, the cistern-buildings were being opened up. The large tarps and trapdoors on their roofs were opened up and pulled back by teams of people. When it rained, the water trickled down into these buildings, through the dirt, ash, wood, charcoal, sand—a series of urban aquifers waiting to catch, filter, and store the water. Smaller tanks and drums were filled to distribute throughout the Shelter. It was as close to a public water system as they could get.

Earnest continued retelling about the world as the storm hurled itself closer and closer. Unaware to the children, people were frantically running about, tying up the long, cable walkways and storing the sturdy wood boards for the catwalks.

“Every house and building had electricity, tons of it! Lights were always on, even when most people were asleep in their warm beds. If a light burned out, they went down the street to a store, and bought another bulb.” The children were captivated, trying desperately to picture such a fantastic world.

“All clear,” a man shouted over the wind on a far end of the city. The tarps on top of the building were flapping like thunder behind him. The woman standing next to him nodded and ducked inside. She found a metal box in a tangle of thick cords and wires and flipped a switch. Outside, large array of floodlights shot their beams into the street below.

She flipped a second switch, and a pulsing tone echoed below them. The low music was haunting, and thrummed all the alleyways and deserted streets. They only used it occasionally, like during storms or retrieval missions when they wanted to lower the risk of a surprise attack. It called out to every nook and cranny: Come forth, come forth, come forth

Above, the man and woman looked down below, strapped in slick-gear and stared down into the darkening streets. “Come forth, you decaying hordes of retribution,” the woman said a prayer to the wind. “Bring your stench and sickness about this place, but stay away from our loved ones and the Shelter.”

After The Rain by Ukitakumuki. Used with artist's permission.

“When people got sick, they were taken to big hospitals to get better,” Earnest explained. “Doctors worked and operated to fix broken arms and legs, and to stop infections.”

In a dimly lit room across the street from the Shelter, a doctor stood over a low-lying cot. His patient lay there, wallowing on the verge of death. She was splayed out beneath thin sheets and coughing deeply between breaths.

“Please. Do it. Don’t wait,” she wheezed, tears streaming. “None. Of us. Deserve. To be. One of Them.”

“You won’t be.” The doctor considered a moment, and then fished out a small vial from his pocket. He took out a needle, drew out the amber liquid from the vial, and slowly injected it into her veins.

“I love you,” he whispered. He took a moment, and then left the room, tapping the Cleaner standing outside the door. The Cleaner turned to him, and under the heavy mask said: “Don’t worry, she won’t come back.” The doctor nodded and started slowly walking down the hall.

“And even though this world was amazing and wonderful, there were still things wrong. There was war; people were starving; many places were poor; and many said the world was going to End. Does anyone know when that was?" Earnest paused his story. A little boy sitting in the middle of the group hesitantly answered: "Was it 2013?"

"Very close, son," Earnest smiled at the kids. "There was a silly story that Everything was going to end in December 2012. Can you believe that?" He and all the kids started to chuckle. "So, a lot of people, but not everyone, in the summer of 2012 went crazy. They were mad, but mostly scared. They started breaking things, fighting, doing whatever they wanted. Everyone else didn't like this, so they tried saving their food and water in big rooms and houses. Getting ready for the end, they always said.

"Now, who knows what happened in December 2012?"

"Nothing!" All the kids shouted with big smiles. One from the back added with a hearty laugh, "They were wrong!"

"Exactly. They woke up one morning, and didn't know what to do, many didn't think they'd even wake up that morning..." Earnest continued his story long into the storm. Many of the kids started falling asleep as the storm raged high above, bathing the city in darkness and rain.

All over the city, the streets and alleyways slowly came alive with a restless movement. From all the corners and alcoves of the city, zombies slowly emerged and walked the streets. Over time, individuals became couples, groups, packs, and eventually hordes. They lazily marched together, occasionally tipping their heads back and letting the rain fall into their thirsty throats. In the air there was a low drone and feeling that radiated from the far end of the city. It called out to them with promises of warmth, light, and flesh.

Above them, the Guards remained still on the countless rooftops, keeping their eyes on the hordes. Many shivered and whispered to themselves as the red lights cast eerie shadows on the walking dead.


More to come...

No comments:

Post a Comment