The man made his way through the milling crowd, ignoring anyone he might jostle with the heavy pack slung over his right shoulder. It was unimportant; he had to find the entrance soon or risk being late for his meeting. The imposing black walls that stretched as far as he could see in either direction loomed before him, his eyes catching once more on a bit of graffiti he caught earlier. It was scrawled into the walls themselves, seared into the surface as if by a beast of Hell marking its territory.
He still found it ironic that the new designation of this place would fit so closely with the original name of the city itself. The Active Transmutation and Hazard Restriction Zone, known to all that dwell within as Ather City.
“Seems almost fated,” he mutters, adjusting the pack and continuing closer to the wall in hopes of finding the entrance. As if summoned by his thoughts, a voice calls.
“Come on, come on! All incoming residents must register with us before entering the Zone. Hurry up now, I haven’t got all day!” The voice, belonging to a reedy little man behind a table, drew Gunney’s attention and he almost sighed with relief. Bypassing the small line of people he drops his pack and springs to a salute.
“Captain Thomas Walt-Selquin, reporting into the Reaper squad.”
“And what, exactly, does that mean to me snipe? I don’t care if you’re the goddamn queen of England, you make the line like anybody else! Now get out of my sight,” he said with a shooing motion, dismissing Gunney without a second glance. This, along with an entire morning of stress and problems, finally severed the last of his patience.
“Listen you little shit, I’ve been having me a hell of a day since I woke up. If you think I’m going to let some snot-nosed little stain like you keep me from meeting with my commander, you’ve got another thing coming. Now you take down my information and you open that door or so help me I will take this pen and shove it so far up your ass you’ll be using your teeth to sign forms for the rest of your life!”
Ten minutes later he was rushing up the stairs to the podium overlooking the entrance to the Zone. There he could see Commander Sarkin addressing a large group of tattered-looking people that couldn’t look more miserable if he painted them.
“-and in closing, I just want to say thank you to all of you for making this sacrifice for the world. I know things haven’t been easy, but look at us. 7 years have come and gone and still this city stands! And it’s all thanks to you, the hardworking citizens of Ather, doing what you promised. However,” he said, and here his voice lowered to a sad tone, “it is my unhappy duty to report that there are still attempts by some of you folks to scale these walls, to escape! I know I don’t need to remind you of the promise that was made, do I? The decision you all made to stay inside these walls in exchange for continued power and utilities? There were some that wanted to destroy this place, to wipe out all of you for the good of mankind! Oh those were dark days, weren’t they? That’s why we gave you a choice: live out your lives within these walls, or be cleansed of your filth. So now I must remind you: anyone, ANYONE, who attempts to escape from this great city, will be met with lethal force. We simply cannot allow this unfortunate plague to spread! You understand, citizens, don’t you? All of this,” he points to the patrolling guards and enormous turrets spread out along the top of the black walls, “is for YOUR safety! Thank you for your continued assistance, and I hope to see you again next year!” With a flourishing move the commander steps away from the podium. Gunney locks eyes with the man as he’s turning and suppresses a shudder at the cruelty in his gaze, offset horrifically by the smile on his lips. “Why, you must be the new recruit! Where the hell have you been, boy?”
“Forgive me sir, your people at registration are very thorough and I’m afraid I missed the memo detailing this speech you just gave-“ he was saved from saying more when a spike of rock appeared in his vision and he leaned quickly to avoid, watching as it narrowly missed Sarkin’s head. The older man never flinches even as the sound of gunfire from the walls mixes with the screams below, instead wrapping up Walt-Selquin in a one-armed hug.
“Yes, the poor bastards do take their jobs seriously I’m afraid. No matter, you’re here now so I can debrief you! Come along then, lots to talk about!” Gunney smiles as sincerely as he can, tuning the noise behind him as he followed the commander towards the command center. A single thought enters his mind for a moment before it floats away.
‘Happy birthday baby, I promise we’ll be together soon.”
Edric glares at Sarkin as he moves away from the podium after his speech. “Blergh. 7 years and almost nothing has changed. There are still those god damned mutants hanging around, trying to escape until they are gunned down. And sometimes, one or another soldier goes nuts and starts killing mutants because he wants to. This is insane. If they are going to rename this place, it better be Pandemonium.” He stands up from the… box, it seems, he was sitting on and started to wander around, looking for some place to rest. “I wonder when this is going to end…”. After some few minutes, he finds a nice place, under two rusty metal sheets, next to a house. He sits in there, and takes out some old photos “Sigh, I was really dumb back then… I wonder what happened to all those guys” He then puts the photos back on his pocket, takes out a stone and an old rusty pocket knife he found a month ago, lying in the trash. He starts to whet it, looking around every meanwhile, expecting something to happen…
“Mhm…” Rena’s soft voice murmured sleepily as her eyes fluttered, opening slowly. “Good morning…” As her gaze found mine, she slowly smiled, the happiness and warmth of that smile still melting my heart as though I was seeing it for the first time.
“Morning…” I smiled too. I had long since gotten totally comfortable around her, having lived under the same roof with this girl for two years, and known her for six more. But that didn’t mean I wasn’t still mesmerized by how beautiful she was. I ran my fingers gently through her hair, that long, silky smooth black hair that perfectly framed her angelic face, and simply looked at her for a moment.
For an instant a slight puzzlement flashed in her violet eyes, but it was gone quickly, replaced by a little playful glint that I was probably the only one who got to see on a regular basis. Yeah, Rena had natural violet-colored eyes, which showed an intriguing mixture of haughtiness, embarrassment, and joy every time someone mentioned how rare or supposedly impossible this eye color was. She got it from her mother, who wasn’t an albino, as far as I could tell… though you never know, as Rena’s skin tone was a lot lighter than mine despite us both being half eastern Asian, half white. She once jokingly said that she had Alexandria’s Genesis…
Well. That little urban legend happened to involve something women usually didn’t talk about with men. Biological dubiousness aside, I’m not sure why that part was necessary. But I guess if you’re going to make a Mary Sue…
“Hmmmmmm… I don’t quite feel like getting up yet…” Rena said, snuggling closer to me. I couldn’t look directly at her face anymore… but I’d say that the feeling of her lithe, well-proportioned body pressed more tightly against mine was a worthwhile exchange.
I tore my gaze away from her soft skin for a second to glance at the ceiling, where a projected image showed me the time. “It’s nine thirty already…”
“And whose fault was that?” Rena said before beginning to lightly kiss me on the neck.
“Uh. Well. See, if we went to sleep right after finishing the boss fight-”
“But a girl has needs and wants, Leon…” Her kisses were turning into licks.
I’m a dilatant fluid in her hands and, ah, other body parts, and we both know it. And I blame human sexual dimorphism, evolution, and the Powers That May Or May Not Be for giving males an organ that diverts blood flow away from the brain when, ahem, getting ready for use. “…I thought we’re going to the amusement park today?”
Yes, that was the most clever response I could think of. The master of wit I was, indeed.
“And that can wait,” Rena said with a little smirk, her cheeks ever so slightly flushed. Damn. I’m a total sucker for that expression, and she had been ruthlessly exploiting it for the past however many years that I could no longer think clearly enough to remember and…
Ahem. Excuse me.
“Come on, geek shirt again?” Rena rolled her eyes. But I could see that she’s fighting to suppress a grin. Because science jokes were the best, and shirts with science jokes printed on them were even better.
“You know science shirts are awesome,” my own grin was not suppressed. “You should wear one some time, Rena.”
“Well… Would you rather see your lovely girlfriend in a pretty dress, or a plain shirt with a joke about being about two standard deviations or so to the left of some ambiguously defined Gaussian curve?”
“I suppose that’d depend on the dress. Oh, but if the shirt is wet- Ow!”
“Wet T-shirts are cold, you know,” Rena huffed. “And it’s such a juvenile fetishwear. You know I can do better.”
“Uh huh.” Mr. and Mrs. Kisaragi might like me now, but who knew what they’d think if they found out what kind of “clothes” I’d seen their daughter in. On a regular basis. And how shocking, we’d derailed ourselves again. “Okay. We do intend to getting to the amusement park some time before noon, right?”
“Give or take a few hours, yeah.”
“All right then, let’s get the time machine ready.” Har har. Okay, I know that joke’d gotten old some indeterminately long time ago. But we’re both science geeks, and we both still found it funny, so what did we care?
One plus-minus three hours later…
“…I still don’t see why we had to ride that carousel,” I grumbled as we walked hand-in-hand along one of the relatively quieter parts of the amusement park.
“But it was fun!” Rena pouted.
“It was childish!”
“And you liked it,” she grinned. “Search your feelings. You know it to be true.”
I sighed. “I still don’t see why we had to ride that purple horse.”
“It wasn’t ‘purple’! It was amaranth pink!”
I stopped for a moment and blinked. “…did you seriously just memorize the hexadecimal code of some random obscure color that you’re never going to use for anything other than one-upping me in terms of wit?”
“But amaranth pink is my fifth favorite color!” Rena said with a totally straight face. “And the fourth is-”
“Okay, okay…” I sighed. It’s often difficult to remember if I ever won any arguments against her. But then I suddenly remembered something. An evil grin formed between my lips. “But seriously, don’t all horses have the same color anyways?” I said innocently.
This time it was her turn to stop and blink. Then she grimaced. “Agh! No! Not that again! My head!”
“But the proof is simple!” My evil grin got wider. “See, if you start with one horse, it’s trivial that-”
“Noooooo! I don’t wanna hear it!” If she was an anime character, Rena’s face would resemble a perfect “DX” at the moment. “Quantum ignorance! If I don’t observe it, it doesn’t affect me! You-”
The whole world suddenly turned white, then black, then some impossibly bizarre color that I could not grasp. Grating noises filled my ears. My mouth was full of foul yet sublime tastes. Exquisite agony wracked every nerve in my body.
The world came back into focus. Whether slowly or quickly, I could not tell. At that moment, there was only one thing I could tell.
Her eyes were wide, full of confusion and terror, an expression so jarringly out of place that I wanted to wipe it away and replace it with something happier. A glimpse of that was all I saw, before she simply dissolved, her whole body, into wisps of luminescent purple vapor.
I tried to grasp at the wisps with my hands. They sank into my flesh. But I felt nothing.
I bolt upright. And blink a few times. There’s this initial period of confusion. I look to my right, where Rena usually lies when we sleep.
She isn’t there.
Groggily, I struggle to get up. Ugh… A thought, a bluish white flash, and a wave of energy suffuses my body, instantly banishing all sleepiness and fatigue.
I spread out the fingers of my right hand and stare at the palm. Without me moving a muscle, a little sphere of swirling black and red energy appears in the center of the palm. It spins and dances in complex geometric patterns. With a flick of my hand, the sphere becomes a beam, and punches a hole cleanly through the back of a chair some meters away.
This isn’t a dream.
“AAAAAAAAGH!” I suddenly scream. “WHY! WHY ISN’T THIS A GODDAMNED DREAM!”
I keep screaming. But no matter how much I scream, it doesn’t seem to be bringing Rena back. It doesn’t take me too long to get tired.
“Why isn’t this a dream…”
[If you think this post is long, you’d better get used to it. There’ll be plenty more of those from me.]
[Also, I may not be able to post until Tuesday. Three exams in the next two days.]
April 22, 2013, 11:32 AM
I slowly awaken, with a moan of combined content and discontent. Last night was… pretty crazy, I must admit. I had at least two guys and one girl in the house, but the alcohol made it kind of a blur as to the actual amount. By the general ache in my groin and backside, I can only assume it was a reasonably high amount. Still, nothing I can’t sleep off… or at least take a few minutes of further sleeping in to get over. Yes, just a couple of minutes…
April 22, 2013, 11:34 AM
By the time the Surge hits, I am fast asleep once again. The most I register of it initially is a slight tingling in the darkness of my undreaming mind, followed by a slowly growing pink tint to a non-existent scene.
And for no apparent reason, the remainder of my sleep passes without a care.
April 22, 2013, 20:54 PM
I slowly awaken, with a moan of ecstatic fervor. I don’t know why, but everything seems wonderful right now – the soft velvety pillow under my head, the blankets caressing my semi-nude form like cream, and the walls are just so…
I can sense the walls. And a lot of things beyond them, too. How odd. And yet I find myself not caring. They just feel wonderful in my mind right now. I don’t particularly feel like anything is wrong with my life right now, is the thing – I have a bed, in a house, and everything is alright.
Something has entered my room. Not a person… a creature. Fuzzy ears, delectable claws… I decide to sit up and take a look-see. I mean, sure, it looks like a demonic cat with a vulture’s beak on its face, but I can’t help but feel that it deserves some form of greeting.
The sensation of the claws tearing out my liver puts me on edge for a moment. Then the pain fades with the injury, and I relax momentarily, before it repeats the action twice more.
So maybe I should leave.
I push the creature away, then, seeing as it’s blockaded me in, take a dive from the first-floor window. I land without too much hassle, although… I think my hand has shattered. No matter, though; that’s gone ahead and healed itself over too, so no harm done.
I realise with a small jolt that I should be dead. And yet, I’m not. That being said, I take a look at myself for a moment, eyeballing my hands without really taking anything in. Nothing looks to be out of place… although…
The creature lands behind me. It’s obvious by now that actually fighting it is out of the question for me, since that would lead to it ripping more of my organs out. Maybe I can scare it off, though… I halfheartedly jab at it with my fingers, as if that’ll send out some form of blue energy blade to get rid of it for me.
I send out a blue energy blade from my fingers, tearing the creature in half from left shoulder to right thigh. As it collapses, I feel a sort of presence pushing against me… but whatever it was, it ends as the light fades from the creatures eyes, and it dies in front of me at last. I… I think I should be concerned about this, actually. If I made the blade thing occur, does that… does that make me a murderer? I hope not. Maybe an animal torturer, given what happened to kill it…
I shake my head a bit. For some reason, I’m finding myself not really caring as much as I should be about all of this. Because I can sense everything around me – not just see it, but sense all the various features of walls, and screams emitted from person and monster alike, and… blood? Is that blood? It might be blood, actually – and I got the cavity of my torso ripped open, twice, without any long-lasting effects, then I jumped out of a window and shattered my hand, only for it to repair itself like my stomach did, and then I apparently fired an energy sword from my hands and killed whatever it was that did so much damage to me… and despite all of this, I can’t bring myself to be worried. Nor can I bring myself to be worried about the lack of worriment of the prior events.
And through all of this, I was still in my trousers, and nothing else besides. That might warrant fixing. I promptly head back into the house, climb to my room, and pull out a t-shirt of a particularly garish pink colouring, putting it on, before adding socks and shoes to the ensemble.
And an unintended glance in the wall-length mirror occupying one side of my room suddenly reveals that my eyes have turned almost exactly the same pink colouration as my shirt. I quickly move over to it, examining what is apparently a new eye-job for a short moment, before smiling slightly at myself. A new appearance seems appropriate, I think… I like my new irises. They exhibit my wild side. However much of that is still present though this strange haze of giddiness. I’m sure it’ll pass, though. With that in mind, I head out to consider the world around me.
April 24, 2013, 9:12 AM
So much death in the past two days.
And, for whatever unfathomable reason, I still feel content with my existence. Every alarm bell I have should be ringing, nay, screaming at me “this isn’t right, you need to do something about it immediately”, but still I don’t give any amount of damns, fucks, shits, or whatever other swear words are appropriate for voicing the level of concern I have with anything that’s happened over the past two days. Which, by the way, effectively amounts to killing more monstrous creatures with my weird energy blade power, and eating whatever food they have on them to sustain myself. Although despite how little this has been, I don’t feel nearly as hungry as I should do. I wonder why. It doesn’t matter, even if it should.
Everything is still fantastic.
[tl;dr: Desmond gets his superpowers, and learns that things have gone to hell recently.]
The only reason we’re in here is because if tried to leave we’d either be killed by you, or captured by the government for extended experiments. We’ve managed to make it a little better, at least. But it’s still a dump, and you’re still likely to get killed walking around every single corner. Eric sighed as he left the speech area, as every citizen made their way to exits like sheep that really didn’t want to be shot by whatever ensuing violence was happening in the far corner. Well, it’s a life. And it’s one I intend to keep living to the best of my ability. Which means going back to my ‘house’ and bolting up for the day, perhaps flushing out whatever mutants have made a home in my absence.
Having signed out of the area, Eric headed back to the Entertainment District. There were few people who were traveling his way, as their were few people who’d decided to make a living in that district. There were so little people that weren’t actively worrying about their own survival that nothing was little entertainment. What little of it came down some people who’d learned musical instruments and those who’d do anything to buy food for the night. Many of the buildings had been abandoned for years, which was why Eric made his home there. There was only the occasional mutant to worry about. None of this scramble for food and power. All he had to do was scavenge some gold coins or something valuable looking that he could trade for food, and then consume it when necessary.
The Surge had eliminated a lot of that district. The boxing match, that he was due to fight in, never happened due to the non-existence of half of the building. He’d been lucky enough to avoid the brunt of it, but he still got hit. Others in the building were not so lucky. A lot of people died that day, and even more were injured. To even be able to walk out of that smouldering wreck was incredibly fortunate, and Eric would never forget that, as he continued searching burnt out cars and abandoned buildings in hope of some form of supplies. Can’t survive on luck and good thinking, can I?
“Some day, we will be big. I know it.”.
My eyes, till that moment fixed on a small patch of yellow midday sky visible from the window, immediately dart to Tory’s face, taking in the excited gleam in his face, the pale finger held up towards the dirty yellow light like a sword, the blue and purple shadows below his eyes, before returning to their contemplation of the heavens above.
“Yes.” I say, resignedly, giving into his optimism. “Some day, the world will know…” The words slip out of my mouth before I can stop them. “…you.” The words “and me” fade somewhere in my throat.
“AND you.” Tory adds in the missing words with a touch of annoyance in his voice. “They will know you as the second Niccolo Paganini-”.
“That shouldn’t happen.” I say, as gently as I can, trying to cushion his dreams when they inevitably shatter against reality. It is a moot effort.
“Are you afraid of selling your soul to the devil?” he asks, sitting down on the edge of his bed and tossing aside a half opened book on Nuclear Chemistry over the blankets. He smiles. “You can’t be worried about something like that when it is all for good.”.
“All for good?” I repeat, trying to make sense of the words and inwardly aware of a regret that I can’t just make it so that this conversation had never started. I hate the subject of my future more than anything I’ve ever hated. What good are you talking of? Playing music? I bite my lower lip and force myself from saying them out loud.
“Yeah.” He replies, groping under his blanket for a comb, and brushing back his golden yellow hair. “There’s good in what you do. There’s so much good in your music, and…” He pauses, and I watch, apprehensively, as he realizes that he has unwittingly let on to knowing more about me than I tell him. “I honestly meant to ask you eventually, but… I know what you do on Sunday, in the city.” He pauses, before continuing, his voice tender. “That’s good, too.”.
“No, it isn’t good.” I say, with unintended harshness. “It’s responsibility and… entertainment.” I look away, satisfied with, yet unable to meet the look of pain meeting my words.
There’s silence for a while, except the clock ticking from the hallway. I can feel that my face is convulsed in a tight frown that betrays a mixture of anger, despair and pride. Then he speaks up again. “What’s wrong with you, Nicholas? Even if you can’t see what’s good in your actions, in your violin, someday, you will achieve fame with your music.”.
Moments elapse, and my face relaxes. “I am sorry, Tory, but that’s not going to happen, and talking about it won’t help matters either. I just never picked up the violin at the age when the masters did, thanks to my parents, and I can’t change that. I’ve defied my parents, my teachers, my religion, and I didn’t do that for success or good.” I pause, and suddenly, I feel ashamed of what I have been saying. The room seems to have grown unnaturally quiet, or maybe that’s because I raised my voice so high on that last word.
I feel a strong hatred towards the moment, in its hostility, in its ability to bring out my despair in its naked form.
“And yeah, if the devil wants my soul,” I reach out for my violin, as Tory gets up and starts walking towards me, somehow quite unable to reach me where I am, “He can have it cheap as long as he makes no pretense of it doing any good.”.
Then, a flash, something smashing in the last, blazing moment of glory; shock, pain, my knees bruised as they hit the floor, hands reaching out to seek balance, eyes torn out of their sockets, limbs torn away from soul; screams, wails, a child crying somewhere in heaven, vague memories of faith and deceit, of friendship and the pleasures of the flesh, blood, so much blood; demands, anger, questions, and eventually, only questions.
I don’t wake up as a man wakes up after a short sleep on a tiring day, worn and weary; as a child may wake up, giddy and confused, after a small afternoon nap. I am awakened by the pain. Nothing else seems to matter. It’s fire and ice, rage and pain, it’s everything that has been and everything that hasn’t been.
I just know that I need to make it stop. Somehow. Anyhow.
I lose consciousness several times in a row, sometimes knowing seconds before blacking out. Trapped in my body, with only my knowledge of my existence to keep me company. Sometimes, I find myself gliding across a lonely, dark street, seeking something, but not knowing what.
When it finally begins to die down, I crave silence. Multiple times, I feel a monstrous, overwhelming desire to rip my lungs out, to stop the rhythmic breathing that hurts my ears, but my fingers feel dull and heavy, the nails, cut short, unable to tear through the thin fabric of the shirt.
It’s over. I can sense that it is going. My breathing is haggard, pained, but thankfully, no longer maddening. My senses are beginning to function, and, as I regain control over my left hand, I wipe away the sweat and tears off my face, suddenly aware of a sharp pain in my chest. Looking down, I can’t see anything except blood on the floor beside me.
Blood? Am I injured? Closing my eyes, I listen, trying to sense the condition of my body. I don’t feel any pain anywhere beside my chest, but it’s not the kind of pain made by a cut. Then… it’s not my blood.
Tory. I feel something in my right hand. Something warm. Something soft. A hand! It must be Tory’s hand. Somehow, I force myself to sit, my whole body shuddering as pangs of pain pass through it. What happened? The question sounds hollow and unimportant to me. My fingers, shaking and shivering, find the artery in Tory’s hand. I close my eyes again.
I spend many minutes searching for the pulse. It must be there. It’s ridiculous, I tell myself. Tory can’t die. He has too much life in him, too much light.
Sounds. Hasty footsteps on the floorboards. We aren’t alone. My brows furrow as my heart speeds up. Something, a sound… no, a smell, alerts me. The intruders mean me… mean us harm. We must get out of here, and as fast as we can.
I pull on Tory’s hand, urging him to wake up, but he remains a motionless as before. As I look down at him, though, something else, strange and wonderful, happens. I feel something flow from him into me, through the bridge formed by our intertwined fingers. Something that surges through me, and nestles in my brain. It’s a marvelous feeling.
Then, my eyes suddenly find the door, and then reach the corridor beyond. I clap a hand over my mouth, to stop myself from crying out in alarm. For beyond the flickering light of a dying bulb, I can see silhouettes of creatures unlike any I have seen before. Fiends of all shapes and sizes imaginable, their cruel eyes searching the debris of the collapsed corridor, their hideous jaws open and dripping saliva.
And the worst part of this vision is that, as the bulb flickers and gives way to darkness, I know that this isn’t a dream.
My voice still fails me, and I can’t find any way to exit, save through the very exit which the monsters are stepping in through. Heart rate quickening, I look for something to use as a weapon. Smashed glass, but all the pieces are unwieldy. My violin… where is it? Blankets, sheets, books: Nothing to fight off the monsters with. I turn to the exit again, feeling savage remorse for my helplessness and the proximity of the portal to renewed hope.
If there was only something to distract them at hand…
Then, the second miracle happens. Something intangible separates out of my body, and forms, to my awe, a veil of solid, ink-black darkness around the monsters, causing them to erupt into a cacophony of screams, wails and, ominously, almost human curses. Now’s my chance though… But Tory, what if they harm him somehow? Quickly, I kneel down and feel the floor. A loose floorboard. Groaning, I lift it aside to reveal a long, low cavity. This will have to do. I quickly push Tory’s body inside, vaguely aware of what’s happening. There’s a hole in the floorboard from the time we tried to tame a stray without the landlord knowing.
Then, stumbling and gasping, I force myself to run. I run slowly, painfully, almost dragging myself. But I must get away. I want to leave this behind me. This nightmare come true. I pause at the exit to look back for a second, but see nothing in the darkness behind me. Despite knowing the danger of the situation, I close my eyes, listening to distant sounds, occasionally musical, in the night beyond the silent towers.
My first step, confirming my entrance into hell. No use of delay. At least, it is better to have sinned than to be in the dark.
[I swear, I messed tense up ten thousand times in this post. If there’s a mindbendingly obvious stupidity in there, it should be fixed in the morning, 16 hours from now.]
[Hell yes couldn’t break Textile]
April 22, 2020
I tug at the balaclava unconsciously, as I struggle to see the speaker, coupled by the thick crowd and my orange goggles.Another year, another failure. My my, I am sure everybody is happy to return to their homes. A growl grows in my throat as I make my way back to the farming district. The mutants’ idea to take residence here was a good one, as it means these people have a reason to keep us around, if they want fed. The guard checks my I.D., and I notice by the look in his eyes he doesn’t like the fact I’m mutant. He takes his sweet time organizing everything. Eventually I am clear of the gates and stalking through the wrecked buildings. Once out of view of the gates, I remove my balaclava, my goggles and my gloves and shove them into the bag on my shoulder. Then I roll up my sleeves. much better. Now I can pretend I’m free. I stalk through the district, until I come to a rather well kept barn. I knock, and the door opens. I stride in and address those present: “Brothers and sisters I return: The suppressors allowed me into their parade on my best behavior. And again I report they continue to pen us in.” I smile as my two children cross the barn to greet me. One of them has green eyes, a wolfish face and has very little hair. His muscles are unnaturally large for his age. The other, a girl, has green hair and blue eyes and looks far too wise for her age. “I trust you have not been giving my friends too much trouble?”
“Dad,” says the boy (David) “can you tell us the story of why we’re stuck in Ather city?”
“Of course I can.” I sit down on a crate. “It began 7 years ago to the day, and I was in the city to visit your mother…”
April 22, 2013, 11:00
I nervously scrubbed back my hair as the taxi pulled up in front of the apartment. “Thanks, mate” I said to the driver handing him the fare. I picked up the package and the flowers, and stood staring at the apartment for a while. Number 17, right? okay okay, calm yourself. I take a deep breath, and enter the apartments. I climb up the stairs, nearly bumping into a man coming down and apologies are muttered. Eventually I stand in front of room 17. I raise my hand, hesitate, then knock.
“Coming!” rings a voice that sends my stomach into knots. relax relax relax, damnit I’m not relaxing… The door opens and the resident smiles broadly.
“happy birthday, Eileen.” I manage to squeak, holding out the flowers. She raises an eyebrow. That snaps me to focus. “Look, if you don’t like them, I can tell the shopkeeper they’re not good enough for you. I think you know him, terry, yes?” She laughs and takes the flowers.
“oh no, Percy. I wouldn’t want to insult Terry, no.” She turns back into the apartment and I take that as a sign to enter. I get a good look at her while I close the door. Beautiful black hair, sapphire eyes, a slightly protruding nose. She currently dons a purple t-shirt and black jeans with black socks and sandals. I then glance at the apartment. It’s quite small, with the main door leading into the sitting room, with the kitchen in full view. A few other doors presumably lead into the bathroom or bedrooms. She places the flowers on the coffee table and sits down. She motions for me to take a seat. I sit across from her and set the package on the table.
“Open it.” She sighs and pulls apart the packaging, revealing a small book. She frowns and opens it, revealing pictures. All the pictures always contain one of us. She smiles.
“A scrap book? What possessed you to do this?”
“Let’s say I wanted to be able to look back on our times together.” I stand up and cross over to the sofa she sits on and sit beside her. She immediately stands up. “You must be hungry.” she says crossing over to the kitchen with a cats grace. “have you eaten?”
“Not really. I get travel sick.”
“Oh yes, I should have remembered. I was just starting dinner, if you’d like to…”
“I’d love to.”
“So how are things with you?” I ask, once dinner is eaten and we are sitting drinking tea.
“okaaaaay. The city is very hectic, noisy and full of assholes.”
“I told you. I said ‘Eileen don’t go into the city, BUT NOOOOOOOO!’” We both laugh. Then Eileen wrinkles her forehead and sets her cup on the table.
“Percy, we’ve known each other for quite some time now…”
" 8 years, Eileen."
“Well, we’ve been good friends for so long, but… Percy it isn’t working out.” My blood turns cold. wha-? how? I…?
she then leans forward.
“I think its time we dated.” I stare at her. The stare turns into a glare. Then the glare turns into outright pissed off. She leans back and laughs ‘till she chokes.
“Oh Percy. I love you. I just wanted to see if us together meant so much. You looked like a kicked puppy, I’m so sorry." I sigh.
“Honestly Eileen. If you can play such tricks… Of course it means much to me. I only just spent months collecting photos to make a scrapbook.” I chuckle. She chuckles. “and of course I want to date you.” and at that I move around the table to her and kiss her. This time she doesn’t even flinch. After a while I stop and sit down. I reach across the table for my tea. At that exact moment a sudden shockwave shakes the building and I’m hurled to the floor. My vision is then blinded by a light that keeps changing: now white, now red, now green then orange… When my vision clears, I realize my ears are ringing, as I can see Eileen kneeling in front of me, appearing to shout at me. She then crosses the floor to the phone and that’s the last thing I see before my vision melts into black.
My head swims with feelings, emotions, thoughts… some swim to the surface only to be dragged down or swamped over by the next. Soon, they fade, until I’m aware of an irregular clicking noise. I open my eyes, and find myself staring at a cold, grey ceiling. I feel… wrong. Odd is not the word. I think its the kind of feeling someone gets when they’ve lost a limb and don’t know it.
Panicked, I look at the arms and legs. They are all there. I find myself feeling my head. eyes:check. ears:check. mouth:check. Nose: check. I pause, then check my pelvis. check. I look down, and see I am lying on an operating table. The clicking noise is clearer, but as I turn my head to look I catch my reflection in a mirror over a sink. I blink. I look again. I rub my eyes. I cover one eye and then the other. I, transfixed, swing off the table and walk to the mirror. I lean on the sink and stare into my reflection. My eyes, i stated. are orange. They are, orange like… an animal. I notice a tightness in my muscles, and feel my right arm. I feel a lump. Panicked, i fumble at my sleeve, and suddenly i pull and it rips off. My arm’s muscles are extremely visible. It’s as if I’ve been working out like Arnold Schwarzenegger. I feel my legs, and the muscles feel just as tight.
“feeling… strange?” says a voice behind me. I whirl around and spot a figure in the corner. The figure is humanoid, male, and he is dressed in a doctor’s clothes. most notable however, is the fact his left arm ends in a huge green pincer, which he is using to extract something from his body which he drops into a tray, which is the source of the clicking noise. His right eye appears to have changed into a bug eye, and his skin is green. “before you ask, no I don’t know what has happened. All I know is I have grown an unnecessary appendage.” He holds up the pincer. “They barricaded the hospital; that’s what this is, a hospital.” He holds up something from the tray. It’s a spent bullet.
“and they reinforced it with these.” I stare at him, unable to believe this. Then I remember something.
“Where’s Eileen?” He looks up.
“The girl who left you in? We sent her home.” He turns back to extracting bullets from himself.
“Who are they?”
“People with guns and ideas. The most dangerous kind of people. But… there are others like you or me who are not sane.” He motions towards a corner, where I see a feathered… thing neatly torn in half. I then notice the man’s is covered in dried blood.
“I’m leaving friend. I wish you luck.” he stands up. Then he takes a run at a window. I stare as he leaps out the window, just in time to see wings on his back unfolding. I sit heavily on a chair. My thoughts swim, up, down; each fighting for control. Okay, I will leave this hospital, I will find Eileen and I will leave this city with her.
(edits. bolded text are my unspoken thoughts)…
April 22, 2020
“What a rush!”
Katie looks at me with a triumphant smile. “I know! Can you believe how much food those people had? We won’t need to leave again for a while!” We make our way to the kitchen to put everything away, and I couldn’t help but notice that she didn’t feel the least bit guilty after stealing nearly all the food that family had left. They had 3 or 4 kids, but honestly, who was foolish enough to reproduce after The Surge? This might as well be a hard lesson learned for them. “It all came down to perfect timing if you ask me. The husband won’t be so happy when he returns, but maybe next time he won’t leave his wife and rugrats alone after dark.”
Once everything is put away, I head to the bedroom and change into a simple shirt. There was no need to worry anymore, if someone was following us, they would have broken in by now. Katie pokes her head through the door to wish me a good night before going to her own room for the night.
Percy April 22nd 2013, 1:20
My thoughts collected, I rise. i turn towards the door. I see it has been barricaded from this side. Striding over I easily rip apart the barricade with my hands. Whatever has happened to me, I feel much stronger The barricade clear I open the door. I then am hit by a sharp smell: blood. lots of it. I peer around the edge of the door and see mutated corpses along the ground. I look further. I spot a line of tables and chairs blocking my way to the stairs, and somebody behind it wielding a rifle. He raises it and dive back into the room.
“Stay in there!” he roared. “I don’t want to have to kill you!”
“Then why kill at all? I don’t want to hurt you.”
“Oh no, I ain’t fallin’ for that. You just stay in there.” i growl. I close the door. I stalk over to the window the doctor had exited. The fall is about 100 metres. too high. I then notice a guttering running beside the window. Okay, not as if I have a better choice. I climb onto the window, then get a grip on the gutter. It takes my weight, so I hold onto it and start clambering down. All goes fine for a while, at around 50 metres the gutter breaks away. I fall backwards but manage to remain upright, and I scream as I am about to splat on the ground… I feel my legs touch ground. My head does not bounce off my feet. I open my eyes. I am fine, and in a crouching position. Impossible… I the hear something and smell it before I throw myself to the ground as a bullet sails where my head was. I dive behind a car as another bullet skims by. I heard that. I heard the gun click and smelled the gunpowder ignite. What is going on? The shooter appears to be from the hospital. I observe my surroundings. I recognize the hospital , Eileen’s flat is a few blocks away. The buildings around the area appear to be damaged. The hospital looks quite shaken, as one floor is completely visible as the walls are gone. As I glance around, I spot someone else crouched behind the cars. A woman, she motions for me to be quiet. Then she turns and throws a stone towards another car. Then she leaps up and thrusts her hand out and a bar of purple light streaks through a window. A scream starts, then stops. The woman motions for me to follow, and i follow her into an alleyway.
“Nice job.” I say. She appears to be fiddling with a bag she’s carrying. She says:
“Thanks. These guys… I don’t know.” I look at her: Brown eyes, blonde hair and dressed in a simple t-shirt and jeans. “So… are you doing anything odd lately.” I shrug.
“Yeeeaah. I’m suddenly a lot stronger than I should be, and my eyes have changed color.”
" sounds tough" I glare at her. She stares back. “So where are you headed?”
“I trying to find a friend, then I’m gonna leave the city.”
“I’ll come with you. I want to leave too. What’s your name?”
“Percy Adams. et toi?”
April 22nd, 2020
There’s a creak from the rafters and someone says:
“That’s my name, don’t wear it out…”
“Are you drunk, Alice?” I laugh.
“Pershy, I am horrified you would bring that up in front of the children… Hic!”
I sigh. “Now, back to my story:”
April 22nd, 2013, 2:00 PM.
I wipe the blood off my hand.
“It is me, or we the only sane people out here?” Alice shrugs as she retrieves her knife from a now cooling corpse.
“Some people take any excuse for violence. You’re doing pretty well, considering your changes.”
“Speak for yourself Ms.rays-of-death.” She laughs. I laugh. The scaly thing that leaps out from a window laughs as it attempts to pin me. I merely put two hands around its skull and crush it. my god, this is actually fun. What is wrong with me?
“So, Percy are we nearing your girlfriend’s place?” I lift my head and wipe more blood off my hands.
“We should be.” Suddenly I hear a loud animal like screech. I turn around just in time to see a huge bird thing swoop down and snatch Alice up. “ALICE!” I cry. The thing flies over the rooftops. Torn between going after the thing or seeing if Eileen is alright, I run after the bird. I take a running leap at a building, vaguely hoping I can climb onto the rooftops and chase the bird. To my surprise I more than clear the rooftop. I then chase after the bird by running and jump across the rooftops.
(will write later. If anyone wants to add me to their story feel free.)
April 22, 2013, 9:00 AM
I woke up from my sleep a bit later than usual. I went to the kitchen and made a small bowl of cereal and turned on the coffee maker. After I finished my cereal I waited a little bit for the coffee maker to finish up. I poured a cup and took it over to my notebooks. My research in predictions has gone nowhere in the last month I have been looking into it, but it is a nice way to occupy my time. I’ve already filled half the notebook with different equations and ideas, though most of those pages either are or were occupying the nearby trash bin. At first I was getting angry at the complete lack of progress, but at this point I’ve mostly come to accept it.
I review over the work I had done. I had covered yet another page in equations and ideas, none of them have taken me anywhere though. Unfortunate. And just as I turned to the next page, the room was engulfed in white light. I was knocked from my chair as my eyes were assaulted by all forms of colors. The agony of the events was horrible, and I lay there on the ground, incapable of anything but waiting for the pain to end and death to take me. Eventually, it does. Or, at least it feels like it.
April 23, 2013, 3:37 AM
I open my eyes to find myself on the ground, just as I had been before. It was a miracle that I was still alive. I was still in pain though. I tried moving to get up, but it was to painful for that yet. Even small movements like moving my arm were extremely painful. So, I waited, staring at the ceiling. There wasn’t much I could do. Eventually, I fell back asleep.
I awoke again, this time felling a bit better than last time. I decide to try to get up again in a few moments, but something is wrong. I still feel like I’m laying down, but I can see as though I’m getting up. Several moments later I do get up, but, that was strange. It was like I was seeing what I was doing…before I did it. No, no, that’s insane! All of my research has told me that’s not possible. There is just something wrong with my eyes. I decide to stand up now, but once again I can see my actions before I do them. As I stand up I can see myself stumbling around and falling to the ground. I rub my eyes and stand there for a few moments, stunned at what is happening. Eventually, these visions fade and now all I see is what I should be seeing. My legs feel weak, so I use the overturned table to keep myself standing. I just stood there, trying to wrap my head around what just happened. Could it be possible that what just happened threw my research into predictions farther than I ever could have taken it alone? What could cause me to have this ability? I slowly reach down to the chair, knocked on it’s side next to the table. I put it upright and sit down on it, just…thinking.
I was beginning to walk again. I was still obviously recovering, but it was better than before. After the recent events I didn’t really trust the contents of my fridge to be completely safe to eat but I risked it anyways. I need to eat anyways. I step outside and look around at the destroyed surroundings. I don’t wander far from the house. I don’t exactly trust myself to not break both my legs or something. So, I stood there for some time. Maybe one of my neighbors had survived. Or, maybe they are all dead. Both are distinct possibilities.
11:05 AM, April 22, 2013
I wake up after a long night at the lab, still lying face-down on my workbench. Apparently, no one bothered to wake me when they came in this morning. That, or everyone’s running late at the same time, since I’m the only one in the lab. Either way, I probably need to get ready, since I have that presentation in oh, half an hour. Well, crap.
11:27 AM, April 22, 2013
Twenty minutes later, I’ve changed out of my work clothes and donned a pair of socketed metal gloves mounted on my workbench. Currently, my right hand is hooked up to the Torch Lock, a red circle of metal with a fireball symbol engraved on it, while my left hand has the Spark Lock, which is identical save for its yellow color and the lightning bolt symbol it displays. My clothes change to a red and yellow color scheme, and I socket the remaining four into the non-functional ports in my belt. “Alright. I’m ready,” I say to the headset built into my goggles.
The man watched from the entrance to his home as the little girl skipped out of the ruins of a convenience store, a backpack clutched to her chest and a broad smile on her face. The simple innocence of it made him smile as the sound of his daughters playing behind him tinkled in the air. It didn’t last long though as the loud noise of an explosion produced smoke that blocked his line of sight with the girl. Out of the billowing white smoke strode a greasy-haired man with tattered clothing, strutting with confidence as he leered down at the little girl.
“Well, lookie here. It seems I found myself a little helper! Say, whatchu got in that pack of yours, honey? Something you can share with a poor guy like me,” he asked, his leer twisted by a smile that held no warmth. The little girl, to her credit, stood her ground even as the father could see her shaking with fear from his vantage point. “Come on, we all have to learn to share, you know? That’s how it is in Ather, we share what we find. I’ve had my eye on that spot for a while now but I never could find a way in, and now I see you walking out with a smile so you MUST have something good, am I right?” The mage’s visage becomes uglier when the little girl doesn’t respond, still trying to master her fear at this strange man acting so scary to her. “Damn it, I said open the pack you little bitch!” His lunge towards her finally breaks her state of inaction as she lets out a loud scream that seems rake down the father’s back when he hears it. Moving quickly, the father turns to cover the eyes of his curious daughters that had come to see what was going on.
It wasn’t a moment too soon as an unearthly roar fills the air, followed by the agonized and wet sounds of a mage being torn apart. As quickly as the disturbing sounds came, they were drowned by the sniffling of the little girl and the deep cooing of her protector’s comfort. The father looked over in time to see what looked like a massive shadow sink into the ground, followed by the girl picking up a stone that shone with a strange light. An instant later she was gone as well, vanished without a sound.
All that remained was the remains.
(Just to be clear, I will read everyone’s posts and do my very best not to impede or screw up whatever anyone else is doing. The key implication being I will try.)
The city has no semblance to the one I used to live in. There’s pain in the very air that I am breathing in, even though the night air drifting across my face is tinged with a flowery fragrance from the nearby park. Electricity has been cut, which makes the occasional lights seem even more sinister in their inexplicable appearance.
Crude pain, after lingering for several minutes more, has finally faded away, though I instinctively know that it will return. I don’t have the time to think about that now, though. I need to move. A place to rest, a place to collect my thoughts and give vent to my emotions. So thirsty. I feel like there’s a vast arid desert somehow tucked within my chest.
Occasionally, faint lights, perhaps from cars, pierce through the gloom, but there is no hint of safety in their cool stares. Several times, I duck behind parked cars, hoping to avoid detection. Instinct, again, tells me that something is amiss on a large, nay, massive scale, and my current safety lies in movement. Get away from here, and fast.
Almost with unbelievable rapidity, my eyes are adjusting to the darkness. I can see shadowy figures against the moonlight, hurrying to who knows where. People like me, perhaps, but even as I approach them, they slink away from me. My ears unwillingly register sirens, people crying, wailing, asking questions. Occasionally, in the darkness, I feel myself being buffeted along by other bodies. Warm, quivering bodies that melt away from me before I can speak out to them. This is frustrating.
And then, I see the first sign of human life.
Several cars roll down the street in unison, their headlights bathing the street in yellow light. Groups of men, armed to the teeth and wearing strange uniforms leap out of the vehicles, looking around with extreme caution as their leader shouts an unintelligible order in their direction. Some of them take positions around the cars, while others spread out, their guns held up.
With a jolt, I realize that whole armies of monsters, of the same kind as had attacked me earlier are flooding out from the houses, many of them so extremely humanoid that I can’t believe that they aren’t humans themselves. What are these creatures? I’ve heard of ghouls and zombies, but those are all imaginary, aren’t they?
I duck behind a car again, avoiding the low swooping arc made by the flashlight attached to one of the rifles. Watch it as it moves towards the monsters, pinned down by curiosity. Then, it suddenly turns off.
Rat tat tat! The gunfire surprises me, even if I had been expecting the armed men to defend themselves somehow. The brushfire causes many of the monsters to turn tail, while others, as if on cue, rush forward. The light created by the firearms doesn’t quite let me view the monsters, and I squint, morbidly fascinated by their beastliness. With surprise, I notice that one of the monsters, a massive humanoid of sorts, has wings on its back, while another spews out a dark cloud of gas at the attackers. As if in rapture, I take a few steps towards the approaching horde of monsters, and then another, curiosity overcoming caution.
If I am going to die, I want to see what this is all about at first. What ARE these monsters?
And then, one of the men lifted his hand towards the sky, a small firearm held in his hand. He pulls the trigger, and almost immediately, the clearing is flooded with light.
For the first time, I see Them, clearly outlined against the flashing light slowly rising towards the pale moon. No… I begin to retrace my steps, shocked beyond words, unable to tear my eyes away from Them. Not demons. Not monsters. Not zombies, but worse. People. Just like me. Changed, transfigured horribly, mutated in ways that even a lunatic cannot dream up.
I regain my senses as one of them, extremely human, face contorted in pain as he gropes at a bullet wound, hurls what seems to be a massive fireball at the cars. The armed men leap away from the vehicles as they explode, the noise drowned out by the unearthly screams of the approaching mutants as one of them drives, with brutal fluidity, its claws into the throat of one of the gunmen.
No, need to get away. As far as possible. Slipping over the wet grass, stumbling over small rocks, I turn my back on them, trying not to think of what I’ve seen and focus on my escape. My shoes pound the ground hard as I head for the nearby alley, not caring as my eyes strangely adapt to the darkness, showing me my surroundings, suddenly, in sickening full color. It doesn’t matter anymore, since I can see my way ahead clearly, so bright the flare has become, now.
A ghastly caricature of the sun, its scarlet rays marking the dawn of a new city, of a new era.
Ather City is no more.
“Listen up, citizens of Ather City.” The microphone blares. “This is Captain Nelson of the AIST. The city is under quarantine. I repeat, Ather City is officially under full quarantine till further notice. Citizens are requested to lend their wholehearted cooperation to all military activities. The situation will be handled by-” The microphone grows silent. I close my eyes, listening to the distant explosion with a morose expression on my face.
“Take us outta this hellhole, Son of a goddamned military,” Carl mutters something incomprehensible that might be either ‘pig’, ‘bitch’ or ‘leech’.
I open my eyes again, and look down from our vantage point in the top floor of an office building. The city seems to be… alive, but not in the way it usually is. There is something evil in it, now. There is something ominous in every shadow that swirls along the streets. Like a zombie, which resembles life, yet lacks lifeblood. Far off, I can see smoke rising slowly, billowing in the wind. Another fire.
“Carl,” I speak out to my companion, looking down and watching the tops of the buildings below us. “What will happen now?” A feeling of relief passes through me. I’ve been asking that to myself for the last few hours with no conclusion, and even though I don’t expect Carl to suggest anything helpful, it is good to lift the weight off my chest.
He shrugs, and replies in a low voice. “You heard the captain. The citizens have to lend wholehearted support to all military activities and the situation will be handled by the Government if we stop squealing like surgery patients without anesthesia.”.
“Quarantine? Is this some sort of disease?” I ask, more to myself, than to Carl, but he answers anyway.
“I don’t know, but I sure as hell hate the way it looks, right now. It attacks everything, and is like some sort of Super Rabies. Men, women, children, animals.” Wincing, he looks down at the deep wound in his knee. “I don’t know how they get those… powers, though. Did you see that guy who somehow threw a lamp post without picking it up?”.
I try not to sound too overbearing. “I did, Carl. That’s the guy who attacked me, and the guy you saved me from.” He blinks.
“Oh.” More head scratching. “I don’t know what’s happening. I feel tired and stupid.”.
I feel tired and stupid too. Though most of the fatigue is from trying to work out what has happened.
I watch Carl slowly bandage his wound with a piece of toilet roll. Carl Something. I didn’t ask him his last name because suddenly, these tidbits have taken a backseat. I just know that this is a person I can rely on. He saved me from one of the mutant freaks that nearly tore my throat out in the alley. I can talk to him because he is still, somehow, amidst all the madness, human. Like me.
My stomach knots itself as I feel the pain resurface. It’s like a snake bite, jarring in its initial pain, except that unlike a snake bite, I don’t have an antidote for it. The pain is nothing compared to the uncertainty it leaves behind.
Am I still human?
“Martin, I am going to have to rest.” Carl says, breathing a bit rapidly as he rests his head against the back of the chair. “Take the shotgun, and don’t bother trying to keep watch over me if you can’t.” I wait, silently. It seems to take him real effort to speak, now.
“I don’t know if that bite from the mutant dog was poisonous, but if it was, there isn’t any time for treatment.” He raises a hand to stop me, a pallid, large man with his face contorted in pain. This is ridiculous. I don’t want to have to fare alone, again. “If I die, I want you to bury me, okay? It doesn’t matter if there isn’t a coffin. Bury me, okay?” I nod, trying to stop him from wasting energy, and then speak quietly.
“Would you like a prayer?” He stalls, his eyes, half-closed, surveying me with a mixture of annoyance and interest. We’ll never have the time to know more about each other than the fact that we were both survivors in an apocalypse.
“Boy, if you have no god left to pray to, don’t pretend to have one. I want you to take my gun, and use it in whatever way you deem fit. Don’t put it in my grave, though.” He smiles a little. “If there is a day of judgement somewhere, I’d rather not have any concrete evidence of my crimes.” His eyes close.
Silence, for a while. Then, picking up the gun, I walk over to the empty balcony, and look at the city once more, before sitting down with my back against a wall. I let my eyelids drop.
In spite of Carl’s advice, I can’t seem to accidentally fall asleep.
Tory, be safe.
[Post summary: Nicholas sees the mutants for the first time, finds a human companion, who is possibly poisoned and going to die. Nicholas can’t fall asleep because he has issues.]
The abandoned building that Eric was in was exactly like every single other abandoned building in the district. A hole where the roof used to be, and more holes where wall used to be. Thankfully, this made getting into the building a doddle. Unfortunately, this made entry for anyone else wanting to loot the place just as easy. Rooms had been cleared of absolutely everything, including any marks identifying what it used to be at all. Eric vaguely remembered some sort of gym, but there wasn’t any form of paint or signs on the what was left of the walls anymore. Everything was gone, apart from a completely empty first aid box on the wall.
Entering a side room, he found what appeared to be some sort of control room. There was no monitors, and the keys had been stolen from the keyboards, but there was some signs of something technology-based being there, due to parts of wires sticking out of the wall.
There was also a dead person wearing what looked like some kind of security uniform, with a rather large hole in his chest. Blood smeared the walls of this particular room, which looked more like something out of a horror film. Eric gingerly approached the body, first checking the pulse (with this city, you don’t know what people can survive), and then his pockets. I don’t enjoy doing this, but I have to. He found a bag of gold coins of some kind, and went to leave. As he put his hand on the wall next to a rather large hole, he noticed something. This blood… it’s still wet.
Before he could go back and check the body, however, he heard a woman’s cry for help from somewhere nearby. Without thinking, he ran off to whoever was in danger.
2:30, april 22 2013
I’m exhausted, chasing the beast through the city. The thing is aware of my chasing, as it swoops and dives to try and lose me, but I always find it. I try to jump over a tall building, but my legs don’t make it and I slam into the side of the roof. My grip slips, and I nearly slide off. Oh god, I’m gonna fall I hang on just by my hands, and I am starting to lose my grip. Suddenly a hand grips mine and I’m pulled onto the roof. My savior is a man with purple eyes, dressed in a hoody and jeans. His hair is snow white.
“That was close.” he says. “Why so fast?” I point at the bird monster.
“THAT has my friend” The man considers the bird.
“Not for long.” Suddenly he wrinkles his brow, and a ball of purple light forms in front of him. Slowly the ball turns into a hand. The hand then shoots towards the bird, and slams through its legs. The thing screeches and swerves wildly. The hand returns, and in its grip is Alice. The hand neatly deposits her on the ground. I rush to her, and she appears to be unconscious. “She is fine.” The man says. “She just needs to sleep.” He touches my arm. “So do you. My name is Charles.”
“Percy. This is Alice.”
“Crazy day, yes?” He motions towards a door on the roof. “There is a room in there. Go sleep and take the girl. I will watch” I sigh, and pick up Alice. Going through the doorway, I find the stairs end abruptly at a barricade of furniture, but a hole in the wall allows access to a room. The rooms door is also barricaded. I find the room is rather well kept, suggesting Charles or the previous occupant was quite orderly. I find a bed and set Alice on it. Drowsiness overcomes me, and I pull up a chair beside the bed. I sit in and rest my head against the back, and soon fall into a deep sleep.
April 23, 8:00 AM
I wake up to the smell of cooking. For a moment I imagine I’m back at home, smelling my mother cooking. Then the harsh reality sets in. Then the full brunt of what I’ve seen sets in. Suddenly all the monsters, the people, the chaos finally gets the proper reaction. I’ve seen hell… monsters… no, people with claws, scales, wing… maws, fangs…
I open my eyes, hoping Alice hasn’t turned into one of these things. She’s not in the bed. I look around and see her sitting at the table in the next room. I rise and go to the table.
“Morning, sleepyhead. Charley wanted to let you sleep in. You deserve it after yesterday.” I rub my eyes.
“yes and thanks to that goddamn bird, we’re miles off track.” Charles comes in with two plates heaped with eggs, sausages and white pudding. He sets both on the table without a word, then returns to the kitchen. We both eat in silence until Charles joins us. I then explain the situation.
“Sounds like a pickle, Mr. Adams. But you realize its a long way to that apartment, and she’ll probably have left,, anyway.”
“i know, if only there was some way to…” I pause, then reach into my coat pocket. I pull out a small black ribbon. I then slowly raise it to my noise and inhale deeply. The scent assaults my senses with emotions, but the two strongest are hope, and love.
“This is Eileen’s ribbon. I can use the scent to find her.” Alice raises an eyebrow. Charles merely smiles pleasantly. I lean back into my chair.
“enough about me. What has happened to you guys?” Alice tells her story: She was living in the city as a waitress, trying to earn money to pay costs for an operation her mother had had. When the ‘incident’ happened she was knocked out and when she woke up found she could use magic. Charles was working in the city as a librarian, and he was in this apartment when the ‘incident’ happened. He found he can form shapes using a strange purple energy.
When they finish, we eat the rest of our breakfast talking about what has happened since the ‘incident’. Then I slap my knees.
“Right, let’s go. I’ve a friend to find. Thank your for your help, Charles. I wish you luck.”
“What do you mean, Mr. Adams. I’m coming with you.”
“What? You don’t have to.”
“I want to.” I raise my hands in acceptance.
“Now how do we get out?” I nod at the barricade.
“Knuckles, break the door down!” laughs Alice. I glare at her, plunging her into further laughter.
“I wouldn’t do that if I was you.” The man staring at me begins to sweat, as his friend struggles again in my grip. “One false move, and I twist like this.” cue wailing from guy in grip “and he can kiss his spinal cord goodbye. Comprehende?” The man nods slowly, but licks his lips. “now, just put the gun down, and back up. Yes, like that.” He drops the gun and backs up to the wall. “Now, I’m going to ask ONE MORE TIME, where is the person who lived here? hmm?” he wets his lips again.
“I…I don’t know. We gave her to these guys in a black car and they took her north, towards the outskirts.” The man in my grip struggles again.
“Don’t tell him, he’ll just kill us al… ARGH!” i twist again, and he stops talking.
“Okay, Alice blast him.” Alice steps in and a ray of purple hits the man, and he sinks to the ground. I the twist hard the man I’m holding’s neck, and it breaks satisfactorily. I drop the corpse and drywash my hands.
“great, first crazies, now organized crazies with guns. Charles, have you found anything?” Charles returns from the bedroom, and holds up a pink bunny toy.
“can you believe she collects these things?” he says it in good humor, as if he actually can’t believe anyone would collect these things. “But aside from that, nothing that is out of place in a girl’s bedroom.” Alice sighs.
“So now what?” I rub my eyes. We all need to sleep soon.
“I say, we rest, and see what we can do tomorrow.” We then set about barricading the room.
“So who were those guys?” asks Alice as she helps me nail a wardrobe to the door.
“Probably some government thing sent in to kill us all and silence the whole thing. I think that’s what happens in these circumstances.”
“greeeat. so much for ‘land of the free?’” Eventually we finish barricading and settle down for sleep. Alice offers me the bed, as she says I deserve a good rest after saving her life. I take the bed, and it feels odd. The room smells of Eileen, and the smell comforts me, as if I could just reach out and feel her in the air. Soon I doze into a sleep once more.
April 22nd, 2020
“Speaking of sleep, its time you two went to bed!”
“No buts! HECTOR!” Hector sticks his head around from a stable section of the barn.
“You screamed, boss?” I motion towards David and Isabelle, both of whom are pouting.
“Help me with this.” Hector smirks and suddenly his image blurs and he is then stand scooping up David into the air.
“Now be a good boy or Uncle Hector might forget where he put your teddy!”
“for the last time Hector, it’s a dog.” snaps Isabelle. I turn towards the kitchen area of the barn and find Charles inside, scrubbing a plate slowly.
“Evening, Mr. Adams” He says without turning around.
“Did I miss much?” He shrugs.
“I think Isabelle managed to list PI to a 20 digits. Or two hundred, honestly I can’t remember. How was the speech?”
“Terrible. More ‘This is for your own good’ and ‘escapees will be met with lethal force.’ I think a fight started at the end, but honestly I don’t care anymore.” I sit down heavily on a chair, and it creaks loudly.
“Well, Mr. Adams, at least we can care. I’m surprised the city wasn’t nuked.”
“yeah. I bet the speech maker was one of those people who wanted it nuked. He seems like the type.” I rub my eyes. Charles then slowly puts the plate on the draining board and takes another and begins scrubbing with the same snail pace.
“Apparently,” he said casually “the city is just as dangerous now as it was 7 years ago, in some views.”
“That’s because they can’t peace keep because some nutcase ALWAYS starts a fight, be it a solider or a mutant.”
Charles points at a pot in the corner.
“hot soup. Help yourself.”
“Just what I needed, I haven’t eaten since breakfast.” I say, scooping some into a bowl.
“Not many have access to hot soup, Mr. Adams…”
“Look, Charles: there’s always plenty of food, but the government is too stingy. I look after people in my district, I look after my friends. And I am not giving charity to those… people. They’ve killed us, demonized us and suppressed us. I will break before I will bend, and I never break nor bend.” I sit down in the chair, which creaks again.
“If you say so, Mr. Adams” I glare at his back. He continues washing the plate. Slowly.
April 23, 2020
My eyes fluttered open as I was being awoken from a deep sleep by none other than Katie. She laid next to me on the bed, her hand lazily playing with my hair.
“What are you doing?” I asked, genuinely curious in regard to her unexpected presence, “It’s the middle of the night, isn’t it?”
She stopped to look at me as she snuggled closer. “I couldn’t sleep… I had a dream that I was being persecuted for what we did yesterday. It was pretty bad.”
Out of instinct, I held her close to me and hugged her. Ever since finding out my childhood friend was still alive, I couldn’t help but be over protective of her, even when something as simple as a bad dream kept her up at night. “I’ll tell you what, why don’t you sleep here with me tonight so that you’re able to get some rest. I bet your mind will feel more at ease knowing there’s someone else here with you.”
She looked at me with a smile and nodded, but her eyes remained as sad as ever. She knew that she couldn’t escape her long and dangerous past, no matter who was there to comfort her.
Same evening, a few hours later…
A loud crash, then screaming. Katie!
My eyes try to adjust to the darkness to get an idea of what was going on, and just when I’m sitting up in bed, I’m roughly pushed back down by a stranger’s hand tightened around my neck. As we make eye contact, I kick him in the groin and break the window into shards to send them flying at him. But he’s quick with his defenses, and he has a shield activated around him even though he’s not done cursing the gods for the sudden pain I’ve caused him.
“Logan, are you alright?”
There was another man in the room, and I was able to make out both him and Katie on the far left corner of the room.
“Yeah, she just got a little feisty.” Without warning, Logan pulls me out bed by the collar of my shirt and turns me around to face the other two present in the room. “You pull one more stunt like that, and your girlfriend over there is dead, got it?”
We had hit a dead end. Katie was powerless, a simpleton as some of us with abilities liked to call them. “Okay, just don’t hurt her.”
“You heard her, Miles, let’s bring them back.”
“Where are you taking us?”
“Don’t worry about that, sweetheart, you’ll find out soon enough.”
Then we were off into the night.
He suddenly awakes, with the noise of a wall crumbling. He quickly gets out of the place of where he was and gets on the street, looking at where he felt asleep. “Blergh. Felt asleep” He then realizes that the wall that is falling apart was behind him, as the noise comes from there. “Stupid nerves” Edric starts walking towards the stone and the chunk of metal he dropped with the sudden stand up, picks them up and starts walking.
Some hours later, a bit more away
Edric continues to walk around _"Wish I knew where I am. I still don’t remember the district names and cann- What’s that?" He hides behind a barrel and the remains of a box, then peeks over. Some mans, maybe three, where carrying two girls somewhere. One of the girls was struggling a bit then stopped, after one of the mans yelled at her. Edric only heard: “…-up you lit-…” “What the hell…” Edric looks down and sees a cane and some stones “Well, this is just convenient” He grabs the can and throws it to the yelling man’s head.
April 24, 2013, 9:00 AM
I spent most of yesterday pacing around the yard. I tried testing out my new ability, but it was difficult. Walking straight and other usually simple things became difficult while using it. I will need to practice more. I hadn’t seen anyone, though I don’t exactly know if that was good or bad. Am I the only one with these powers, or are there others? Who the hell knows? Well, today I’m trusting myself more. I’ve already eaten and I’m walking a lot more easily now. So, I’ll be going out. Before leaving I went to the kitchen and grabbed a knife. Something tells me that after whatever caused all this, it won’t be the safest place outside. Still, I’d rather go outside and see for myself. I don’t have an infinite supply of food and water. Might as well get it over with.
In the distance I notice what looks to be a person. I’m happy just to see someone. I begin walking in his/her direction, and I put up my right hand. “Hey, over here!” The person turns toward me, drops on all fours, and begins running at me. It is about then that I decide that this was not the best idea I have ever had. I can tell just by looking at him charge that he is faster than me, but still I try to turn around and run away. I’m not a fighting person, I’m a university student for Christ Sake! I turn my head and see him gaining on me. I pull out my knife and continue running. I can hear him behind me and, for some genius reason, decide to turn around. That thing jumps up and tackles me. It has sharp claws on it’s hands which immediately tear at my chest and arms. I try to push it off with my left arm, which fails miserably. I manage to stab it in the shoulder which sends it reeling back. I stab it again, this time in the arm. As my left hand has remained on the beast for most of this short fight I begin to feel less, drained. Meanwhile, the beast starts slowing down, more-so than those two stab wounds should have caused. I pull my knife from it’s arm and stab it one more in the neck. I then look down at where the beast clawed at me. While my clothing is torn up, and what I assume is either my own blood or it’s is on me, there aren’t any wounds. I pull out my knife and throw it away. I push the beast off me and get up. I stare at my hands for a few moments. Did I just kill someone? I just killed someone! I’m a murderer! And I’m some sort of freak with future sight and god knows what else now! I sit down in front of a wall in shock. I’m a good person. I didn’t do anything wrong. I had to kill him. I’m not a bad person. I curl up into a ball and sit there. I’ll move when I’m ready to.
April 23, 2020
A can flies out of nowhere in our general direction, but Logan effortlessly catches it with his left hand. “Whoever just threw that, it will be in your best interest to come out and identify yourself.” He shoves me in front of him to show the stranger just exactly who was in charge. “Or you can walk away and pretend nothing happened, unless of course you want this woman to die because of your insolence.”
No matter how much I sleep, this nightmare just doesn’t seem to end… Why? Why the hell are all of this happening?! Why me… Why Rena…
It hurts. It hurts so much that it has gone numb a day ago, now just a dull throbbing sensation, as though a hole has been gouged where my heart used to be. Listen to me, saying lines as cheesy as these… But that’s what it actually feels like. Losing the one person I love and cherish more than anything else in the world… The pain is almost a physical sensation.
For years now I’ve planned to spend the rest of my life with Rena… But now that she’s no more, is there still any meaning left in this life of mine at all…?
No, Leon…! I can almost hear it, Rena’s voice, begging, sobbing, so full of desperation and fear and agony. P-Please… Don’t… I want you to l-live…!
No… I couldn’t do it two years ago, and I can’t do it now. Rena… She would want me to continue living, wouldn’t she? She said she couldn’t bear the thought of me being no longer in this world… I…
When the situation is reversed, I can’t bear it either…
I’ve never believed the afterlife or anything like that. No evidence, no belief. But now, I’ve begun to desperately hope… that vestiges of the girl I love still remain in existence, somehow… And… With all those blatantly physics-defying things happening right now, souls or an afterlife doesn’t seem too much of a stretch anymore, does it?
I hold a hand to my right temple. It would now be trivially easy to blast a hole through my own skull… Maybe if I died, I’d be able to see Rena again…
I claw at my head hard enough to almost draw blood. I can’t kill myself. I have to keep on living, if only for her sake…
But what would be the point? She won’t be coming back, no matter how much I want her to…
“Agh!” I shout out loud, punching the frame of my bed as hard as I can, my fist surrounded by a white glow. It creates a large dent, and many sharp splinters of wood, but none of them manage to penetrate my skin.
There is no fucking point. But do I give a shit anymore?! I’m going to find out what the hell’s going on with all of this. I’m going to find out what ended Rena’s life, and I’m going to make it pay. So that she can rest in peace. After that, what then? I don’t know. I don’t care. And I don’t want to think about it.
Heh… Trying not to think about things that bother me… I used to do that a lot, didn’t I. Seems like I’ll be doing a lot of that again…
[I intended to write a much longer post, but my brain isn’t really working properly at the moment. I had two exams today, and now I’m tired and sleepy…]
“Ok, that was just a can, but I bet he will not be able to catch this.Hope this gives those girls enough distraction to actually do something” He starts picking up the stones and throwing them directly to their heads, in no specific order. When he runs out of stones, Edric gives a quick look around to see what he can use. Apart from a glass bottle, nothing else could do some kind of damage to them. He picks it up and throws it to the leader’s head, then throws his improvised whet stone, from his pockets, to that target again.
EDIT: [No worries, B_S]
April 23, 2020
Infuriated at this point, Logan charges at the stranger who remains hidden behind cover. Bad move. As soon as I catch a glimpse of the glass bottle, I break it in half and drive the sharp end into his neck. He falls to the ground dead, so I turn around to deal with Miles but realize he’s gone, leaving Katie behind laying in a pool of her own blood. My eyes widen in pure shock, but eventually I snap out of it and run to her side.
“Katie, wake up, come on!”
No response. With trembling hands, I check for a pulse, but that only confirms my worst fear. To make sure she’s fully gone, I place the palm of my hand against her cheek. Her neural activity was steadily decreasing, and in a matter of moments she’d be dead for good. Upon this realization, I couldn’t help but shed a tear as I stayed kneeling by her side, not caring about my surroundings at the moment.
[Don’t ask why, but I’m going to start all of my longer posts with some sort of a quote.]
»Then rose the seed of Chaos, and of Night to blot out order and extinguish light.» Alexander Pope, The Dunciad
I was working on the day shift. I came in at eight and let one of my colleagues, Chase, from the night shift. I went patrolling on our district, Downtown and returned to the station. We were sitting in the break room, sipping coffee from our mugs.
“So, that cat actually ran straight under my car’s tire,” Melinda finished telling us a hilarious story concerning a cat, her car and a narrow alley. We all laughed at the story, including Melinda herself. I’ve always liked her. We’ve known for five years now and to be honest, I’ve got a slight crush on her. She’s beautiful, funny and kind…
Then, suddenly in a flash, the world turned blank. Blank as in there was nothing at all. And even though there truly was blankness, I could see it, taste it, smell it, hear it, feel it. Then, the blankness disappeared like it had never been there, the world went dark and so did all five of my senses.
I wake up with a massive headache. But… suddenly, I don’t feel pain anymore. The pain just turns into pleasure. Yes, that seems to be the appropriate word for the feel. Then I remember what happened. The flash, the blankness… and the people around me. I blink my eyes as I try to rid the darkness from my eyes to see what remains. It takes me a moment or two to see what is and isn’t.
There she lies, Melinda. I rush my way through the wrecked room to her body. I test her pulse — none. No surprise. Why? Why us, why here, why now? I never got to tell her about my feelings. I want her back so I can even give the appropriate goodbyes to her.
“Shit!” I let the word out of my mouth. It comes with certain ease I didn’t have before, because I was too polite to curse in public. But now that no one seems to be around, why be polite? Then, a thought comes to my mind. What happened? I didn’t think of that before this very moment, although it had only been minutes from waking up. I make my way through the room to the hallway. The walls have partly collapsed so I actually have to do some work to get past them.
As I make it to the end of the hallway, I see through the massive crack in the wall. “My… god.” Our office is on the tenth floor, so the view makes me gasp. The whole Downtown district of Ather City is a huge black blob. There is no light anywhere to be seen. I suddenly feel warmer and sense someone alive nearby. Whoever he or she is, they’re not inside this building. I rush back to the break room, grab my gun which had fallen onto the floor and take the stairs down, mostly because I believe the elevator doesn’t work. I have no idea what is happening, but it can’t be anything good.
[Poor coolo. From hero to zero.]
April 24, 2013; bright outside
When I break out of my trance, I realize that my body seems to have completely recovered from exhaustion. My brain feels fresh and alert, even if occasionally heavy with questions.
That’s strange, since I know that I never fell asleep last night. There’s no logical explanation for this, but right now, I could care.
Pushing myself to a standing position, and feeling the warm sunlight enveloping me, I feel like closing my eyes and forgetting everything that happened the previous night. Like forgetting dreams. Scream out a denial and assert that everything is, after all, still as it used to be. I lift the shotgun from beside the wall and look over the railing.
Silence. Ominous silence. Far away, I can hear unintelligible sounds that can mean anything. Several buildings in this area have been ruined by some force so monstrous that, even as I watch, the debris emits thick black smoke. The street looks like a parade of steamrollers has gone over it, cracked all over. Far away, I see some people, men and women, scurrying to the safety of a departmental store that is still, quite miraculously, standing. A gunshot.
I walk back into the room.
Now that the initial shock has worn off, I find it quite simple to walk up to Carl, apparently still fast asleep, and checking his ice-cold wrist for a pulse I didn’t expect. My companion is dead from a wound made by the monsters. Shaking off a vague, half formed notion that this might easily end up being my own fate if I don’t get out of this city, I check to see if I can lift him out of the chair. I can.
For now, my thoughts can wait. A bit of searching lends me a shovel from what appears to be a janitor’s cabinet and a lighter with some fuel left in it. Nothing else seems to be remotely useful, since most of the lower floor has been burned away by someone or something. In the meantime, I check myself in the bathroom mirror. I look like a pale ghost, but thankfully, there seems to be no sign that I have mutated.
Heaving Carl onto my back, and hoping that I don’t meet any intruders on my way, I quickly descend to ground level and make my way outside. He feels extremely light.
Push in. Lever back. Fling aside. Push in. Lever back. Fling aside.
Sweat drips down my forehead and trickles by my nose as I dig the grave in a small piece of ground beside the building. No time for the graveyard. No time for planning anything. Just dig in, twist a bit if the soil doesn’t come loose, and then shift the weight on your other foot before flinging the dirt aside. A short distance away from me, the shotgun lies on the ground, ready to be snatched up. Carl’s body is beside the his gun, covered by a white curtain I managed to tear off. A queerly sentimental touch in a horror of an environment.
There’s no sound in the whole neighborhood except that of the shovel speaking to the soft soil. The rhythmic “thud, swish, thud, swish” is all that can be heard, but I keep my ears strained to listen for anyone – or anything approaching this way.
I start on a second pile of sand, the sun slowly edging its way up the sky. A few hours more.
As my body slowly adjusts to its monotonous task, my mind fills with questions, warnings, everything that I had shoved out of it earlier, clamoring together and causing a massive din that seems like it should rouse the whole town. Tory, Vanessa, Glory, Dane, Claud, Mark, Mr. Hillert, the girl at the departmental store, and who knows whoever pop up in front of me. ‘Are they okay? Are they safe?’ I wipe sweat off my brow and try not to think. Not very easy.
Even though I am working as fast I can, it is almost frightening how quickly the grave is taking shape. ‘I wonder what shape the city is in, now. Is it really under quarantine? What is this disease? How can it turn people into monsters, let alone give them superpowers?’ Questions, questions. No answers. My shovel hits a stone, making a loud clang. With a feverish tug, I lift the shovel and put it aside, before examining the stone. A fly buzzes by.
‘The pit seems to be as shallow as the depth of my knowledge.’ I don’t have anything handy to get rid of a stone, so I just try to hold onto its edges and lift it up, not very confident about it working. Curiously, the stone easily comes lose, and the tugging motion nearly throws me aside. I pick up the shovel again. The steel blade rips into the soil.
Yesterday’s memories flash before my eyes one by one like scenes in a movie. Crystal clear.
‘The flash. The shock.’
Dig in. Push the blade down with my shoe.
‘Unconsciousness. Brilliant light. The pain. The worst pain I’ve ever experienced.’.
My fingers feel cold and slimy on the handle. Need to hurry.
‘Monsters… no, mutants. Humans turned monsters. A dark mist, spreading like a barrier between me and them. How did that appear? From me. How’s that possible.’
I lever the shovel free. The soil breaks into clumps of dark brown grains. The gravedigger at the Cemetery of Lyon once told me that he only needed to push his shovel into the ground to know if he would need to dig a grave soon. To him, the soil crumbling easily indicated that mother earth was waiting to receive the remains of her children. So many years later, but I feel like I can hear his voice in my ear.
‘Tory, unprotected. Tory, whose hand was still warm, so he must be alive. He can’t be dead. Attack by a mutant. Claws, teeth inching towards my throat.
One final swing, and the grave is large enough to accommodate my friend’s body. Letting go of the shovel, I begin to walk towards it when suddenly, I hear something behind me. Swift as an arrow, I leap to the ground, pick up the gun and twist around, ready to confront whatever it is.
Standing several feet away from me, a strange, massive creature that is almost certainly a mutant watches me. Since his eyes seem to have been converted to two white pingpong balls without pupils, it is hard to say whether he can actually see me. Looking at him standing there in a ripped dusty jacket with clawed hands to his sides, I have a feeling that he won’t hurt me. A weirdly out of place feeling.
“What do you want?” I demand, my voice contorted with suppressed rage at the intrusion. The mutant doesn’t respond, merely taking a deep breath and exhaling loudly. I examine him more carefully this time. He looks to have been shot somewhere in his legs, but the blood flow must have stopped. There’s an eerie air of carelessness in the way he seems to be imitating a scarecrow.
Step by cautious step, I come closer to him, my finger touching the trigger, but he doesn’t react to my approach, nor to the gun looking at his stomach. “Who are you?” I finally ask, with some amount of resignation. No answer. With a frustrated groan, I back away from him, keeping my gun steady.
Slowly, I push Carl into the grave, trying to keep the gun close enough for me to shoot the mutant if he so much as blinks an eye (if he still can). A heavy thud as the body roll in. Breathing in dirt, I pick the shovel up and get to work again, covering the body. And all the while, the mutant looks on, apparently in thrall.
Once the grave is made, I look around for something to mark it with. Nothing handy. Pushing a large piece of wood into the ground, I stand up, dusting my pants and looking at the surroundings carefully, trying to set it in stone in my memory. Then, gathering up my belongings, I take my watch out of my pocket. Noon. Unless it has stopped working, that means I have finished digging the grave in an hour.
The mutant doesn’t respond to me as I call out to it again, asking it for directions. With a heavy heart, I turn around, and begin to walk down the road, not sure what I might meet.
“Hey!” I turn around quickly. The mutant has covered most of the distance between us within the last two seconds. Apparently, it was a big mistake to think that it couldn’t attack me before. “Hey!” he says again, flashing a mouthful of massive teeth in his lopsided grin.
With the shovel against my shoulder, I stare back at him. So all of them don’t behave like dumb monsters. This mutant, for example, seems to be perfectly capable of human speech. “What do you want?” I ask, vaguely aware that I have asked this same question twelve times before.
The mutant doesn’t reply immediately, but when he does, it is with another question, almost grunted out. “Why did you do that?” The question temporarily throws me off balance. I was expecting him, possibly, to ask me to help him get rid of his affliction, or where he can be safe. That’s not considering the violent option of simply ripping me apart.
“That’s what he wanted me to do. Before he died.” I reply, quietly. The creature suddenly bursts into hideous laughter.
“So you are going to go around burying every dead body and ‘will be dead body’ you come across now, are you?” He challenges, grinning broadly. “Oh, how foolish some people can be! Soon, this city will be flowing with dead bodies, what with the powers that we’ve got.” He cackles. I stand my ground, leaning on the shovel now, watching him laugh.
I was wrong. This mutant doesn’t need any help. He seems to revel in the fact that he is above the ordinary human with his newfound powers, seeking only to ridicule me for behaving as if nothing has happened. Is that how all of them are? I wait for him to finish laughing.
“How many of you are there?” I ask. He goggles at me.
“Hundreds of us, thousands, even! With powers that people have thought possible only in films or video games to this day.” Swaggering the width of the road, he continues. “Unlike me, though, many of them have turned a bit…” he grows silent, his face betraying, for a moment, concern. He shakes his head. “Doesn’t matter. It’s a whole new era now. Out with the old, in with the new!”.
As if about to demonstrate a point in favor of his declaration, he points back at the grave I dug. “Only the beginning. More will die. It will be chaos. The Government knows it, and they would destroy this city if they could, ‘cept for the humans still trapped here. There WILL be chaos even if we, who can think, don’t want it to happen. IF you want to live, you need to be TOUGH. You need to be CRUEL. You need to think for YOURSELF, and nobody else.” He pauses.
“You’re gonna have to experience what I am saying, and know that it’s right. What you just did,” he says, with a note of finality. “Is wrong. Was right once. No longer, no more. Do you understand what I mean now?” He pauses to admire the effect of his words on me. I blink.
“Yeah.” I reply, turning away, and getting a good grip on the shotgun. Still loaded. “I think I understand exactly what you mean.” Silence for a while.
“You DO?” he asks, sounding slightly surprised. He wasn’t expecting that reply from me. Perhaps, he wanted me to try to argue why digging that grave made sense.
“Yeah.” I repeat, looking at the sun and trying to judge which way is North, then realizing that I don’t really know where I am, so it can’t help. “You mean that I was wrong. Now, could you tell me which way is Richard Avenue?”.
He grunts. “If you keep going the way you are, you should get near to it.” As I turn and walk away, he yells at me. “Mind if I follow you?”.
“As long as you don’t try to kill me, sure.”.
“Naaaw, it will probably be more fun watching you get killed.” The mutant begins to walk, following me from some distance behind, trying to keep up with my pace. I turn towards him suddenly. He cringes as the gun swings towards him, but that’s not really what I have in mind.
“What did you say your name was?” His pupils suddenly pop into existence. The general effect is quite comic.
“Blunt, like THAT matters. I am gonna be the city Hulk now. Are you gonna ask me for my address, telephone number, star sign and whatev-”.
“No.” I interrupt. “Blunt is all I need to know for now.” Now for a name. “I am Brandon. Brandon McColley.” I consider inviting a handshake, and then decide against it. No need to get too friendly.
A few moments later.
“Maaaaan, are you some sorta fool? Do you have any frickin’ idea what has even HAPPENED?” Blunt asks, his voice dripping exasperation. Getting no reply, he tries to stuff his hands into his pockets, but they are too big to fit. “Looking for more strangers to bury, now, are we?” I consider.
“Not really. Looking for friends to make sure they are safe, Blunt.”.
I just hope I am not too late to save them from any danger.
[Post summary: Nicholas buries dead Carl, meets a mutant named Blunt who thinks that there should be Chaos all over the city, but Nicholas decides to be sensible till he actually sees how bad things are]
[Don’t see me yet, anyone. I want to have an encounter with a hostile mutant first.]