As I stare into the flames I can see how I am going to die. Watching the waves lick the crust makes me shutter as for how far a human being is able to push itself over a ledge. Are you so desperate to preserve yourself and your stupid beliefs?
They made it my fault, my business to care. I was content in my little shack but no. They had to drag that… thing along and drop dead on my doorstep. You damn pricks! Sort out you shit yourselves; if anyone survives this crap. I brought the brat and I fucking delivered! Now what?
It hadn’t been more than a few weeks since that delegation of armored soup cans came stumbling across my driveway and out into my fields. I know I inherited this land from that old coot, but the leniency people were taking just grinded my gears. I remember that I was about to go talk with them when a large pickup came running alongside and stopped in front of me. I had never been threatened like this before. They didn’t say a word. They just aimed their rifles at me and stood still until the large convoy had long passed. Then they crawled back into the pickup and left the same way.
I didn’t care that much at the start. They were rude; there was no reason for them to threaten me like that. It took me a couple of days before the thought of the injustice had crawled under my skin. I took my rust bucket and set out to look for them. I threw a few lengths of rope, a mallet and some sticks so I could excuse it with a cattle count. I would fake a round up to check their health and have me a look around.
It was easy to follow the large track they had made across my fields. They had followed the road for a mile and broken off towards the hillside to the north. I didn’t have any cattle in that area but I slowly drove along the deep trench the hefty vehicles had made. As I reached the hills I saw a large area closed off to the public. Barbwire fence was running across the foot of the hills only displaying a sign by near the only entrance inside the parameter. [Military Zone – All entrance prohibited. Intruders will be shot!]
That is kind of harsh as it is my land still. I own the hills and the fields in front of it; I don’t think the government is allowed to take my fields just because they suddenly want too. There was no around as I walked along the fence for a while starring inside. There was a large parking lot just inside the carved mountainside. I had never seen that before and the large lit door was a dead giveaway. Where the hell did all that come from? Have the military secretly been digging in my backyard without my consent? Why have I never seen anyone or anything before now?
I plucked up the courage to open the gate. Nothing happened. I grabbed one of my stakes and open my holster. I had brought my old Smith and Wesson just in case. I don’t know what they will do to keep me away from this project or what the hell this building was. I crept towards the door looking at all the holes in the wall along the parking lot. Nothing stirred and no shots were fired. I gained a little courage walking closer to the door and leaned slowly against it listening for voices or movement… nothing?
Opening the door I didn’t think about the strange coincidence that it was unlocked before long after I broke that entry. There was a small room with a table and a chair by the entrance. Everything had been cleaned off down to the last paperclip. I didn’t see anything of interest in the room, there was a sign with an arrow and a metal door leading down into the darkness. Once more I stood still for minutes listening for any sign of life and again I wasted minutes for naught.
I hadn’t got a reason for pursuing the military into their lair, but they had broken an entry and I was angry that they had threatened me like that. I wanted answers! I wanted an apology! I want compensation for the fields they ripped a trench into! Well then I wanted to know what was down the hall anyway. Keeping to the shadows along the wall, the vague light leading down didn’t help me prepare for what to come, but it guided well enough for me to have an idea when I reached a turn or the path descended.
I felt a pressure at my ears as the path went downwards for a while; I was apparently beneath sea level at that point. I came to a large open room with no lights at all. I stayed at the halls end and waited to see if there was anything in the darkness that could guide me further. The lights stopped next to me and the room vaguely echoed my stifled breath. The air was dense and I remember the strange metallic smell that slowly overwhelmed the dank mossy odor I had grown accustom too. It took me a long time to notice the red lamp straight ahead. A tiny red dot was glowing in the darkness. There was no mechanical sound or any movement. It was completely static.
I stepped further inside the room. My heart in my throat I felt something beyond my control push me forward. My curiosity had conquered my sense and I had for the moment thrown caution to the wind. I drew my pistol silently and moved further towards the tiny light. A loud clank sound echoed in the room. Something like a rumble started and humming filled the room as several large lamps turned on at the same time.
Completely blinded I stood in the middle of a large underground room. It took me some time to get use to the lights and when I finally could see anything without my eyes burning and water filling my sight I saw the largest metal door I had ever seen. 209 stood with large yellow letters across the door or wall, depending on what it was suppose to be. A small computer panel stood in front of the giant door having a tiny red lamp on the display. I stepped backwards towards the tunnel and crouched down my pistol lifted; waiting for someone coming along to investigate.
Nobody came. I waited for minutes…nothing. I slowly crept back towards the panel again and stared down at the keyboard. Everything in there was dusty and when I saw that certain letters were easier to read than others I wrote the letters with my finger in the dusty panel. “wertio” was used on the top row. “ashkl” was used on second and “vm” on third. No numbers and only one set of prints on the spacebar. I turned on the screen on the red button and watched the loading screen. It was old and confusing, vomiting tons of information about its internal booting sequence. Finally it came to a halt asking for the password. I stared blankly at the keys trying to think. There was nothing that made sense and tapping in “Metal works” only made a 4 left counter appear. Maybe it wasn’t English? It could be something more in the line of Latin or Greek. If this was the government they would love something like Helios or Ashramites. Thinking about that last word gave me a sense of dread. What if they used the same words twice, I can’t see that. I doubt they used space more than once since the tiny dustless spot was perfectly intact, but the other letters were hard to guess. As a wild stab in the dark I wrote /help to see if that gave any pointers. To my surprise it not only took one guess away from me, but at the top it wrote “Even while going back to nature, America will never be in second place!”
I was tempted to write Bullhonky on the panel, but thought better of it as the cursor blinked at me menacingly. Two tries left and only more questions arose. The answer were in the riddle, I couldn’t think of any reason for it to be there if not. What did the riddle refer too? Was it something in the military or the government? We didn’t have a 100 presidents yet so that was out of the question, what about 209th largest city in the states? What was the 208th largest city in the state? I could never guess it, although Detroit came to mind and I couldn’t stop myself smirking at the misfortune that befell the riches city in 1960. So sad and yet the irony was blinding me like a mirror after a hangover. Wait a minute, second best? Was it referring to silver medals? Well it couldn’t be that as neither d was in it or all the letters used. Maybe they needed a second code to close the doors? Could it be silver hills? Fuck… 1 try left. Something patriotic maybe… a wild stab now or it could just go to hell. What about Silver hawk, no towerhawk… the lamps turned red as an alarm went off. Looking around me I looked for the exit tunnel and began walking when I saw the computer reset itself. I stopped to look at it as it wrote “Silver Tomahawk” making me feel retarded for writing towerhawk, there was no such thing. A second alarm went off as the large door began to slide to one side. Panic-stricken that I would be caught I launched myself at the door and jammed my barrel into the side it was sliding too and began pelting down the tunnel. I could hear the crunching sound. My trusty old six-shooter grinded the gears giving me seconds to get a head start. The weapons they had when they held me up were far too superior to my gun and wooden stick which I had left outside when I snuck through the first door.
I was half way up the tunnel when shots were fired. They had left the chamber and armed guards were pursuing me in the darkness. I had nearly reached the room upstairs when several rounds fired hit my thigh and I fell to the ground with a yell. Blinded by a searing pain in my face as I hit the floor face first, I heard the soldier reach me. I tried to get to my feet, but the right leg didn’t react and my feeble attempt to stand up was interrupted by a hard metal piece hitting the back of my head. Falling forward I barely felt the floor greeting me as the second blow to my neck knocked me unconscious.
A dark room came into sight. I was lying on a metal plank bolted to the wall. A flickering light interrupted my sleep. I must have been out for a long time, I don’t remember the bandages on my leg and head. Trying to sit up I looked out into a hallway. I couldn’t feel my body; maybe they had given me some painkillers to take the top off my post surgery pain. I got to my feet and began walking, but something was amiss. My right leg wasn’t responding well and dragged slowly along as I fought my way to the hall. The place looked like a prison, but the small rooms didn’t have any bars. Walking into the hallway I slowly slumped down the corridor of similar rooms. At the end a door stood ajar leading to a staircase. Taking one step outside the door I got the urge to turn around. I felt like someone was breathing down my neck. Whirling around I saw nothing out of the ordinary… at first. The last room on my current right was lit by a tiny petrol lamp. A book lay beside it reflecting the glow of the lamp in the shiny surface. I approached the book like a bomb. I had not seen a single object that wasn’t bolted to the floor or wall since I came here. That book and lamp was so out of place that I felt a surge of fear running down my spine. It felt like a mousetrap and I was biting the cheese. Kneeling down beside it I felt the wind brush my neck again. Looking around I found myself just as alone as I have ever been. I touched the black surface of the book and felt the stone like surface to be wet.
Opening the book was a breathtaking moment. The letters were following the book as it opened. Pushing the letters closer to it I saw how the long strange letters were moving in and out of the first page depending on how ajar the lid was. Amazed for a second I searched the pages for any language recognizable, but it was all signs to me. Turning to one of the center pages I reckoned I saw a small ink man run along the letters into the margin and closing the book didn’t bring him back. I turned around the book seeing that the letters and signs suddenly changed shape and size. Some of them formed new signs and other made diagrams and crude pictures. Completely ignoring the world around me I shuffled around the book making to look at it from all angles, although nothing remotely resembled English or anything western for that sake.
Finally when I had spun the book to the left twice and flickered through the pages I came across a page where it said “Have you ever felt the warmth of a harlot?” I starred strangely into the book not daring to move as I thought I had misread it. Reading it a few times I flipped the page and it continued…”Take a deep breath, you are not well. Can you stay for supper? She hasn’t seen you yet.”
What… the harlot? I don’t understand why the book is coming on to me. As I looked up I saw a bowl of soup. I still remember it clearly. Standing there fuming and suddenly emitting a fragrance of sweet tomatoes. I put down the book and crawled towards it. It was just close enough for me not to stand up first. Picking up the soup I noticed a pair of legs in front of me. “Beggars can’t be choosers!” a cold voice said and a hand shot out of the bowl grabbing my throat pulling my head towards the floor. I felt a cracking sensation as it collided with the floor and I woke up with a startle on the metal plank again.
For a moment I didn’t know how I had end up there again, but lifting my head this time was beyond anything I had ever felt. The blow to the head was throbbing like insane and my leg was making me buckle. I was poorly bandaged I noticed and bloodstains had run down the leg. I keeled to the side as I sat up and had to lean against the wall, sitting in a blunt stupor as the room came into view for a second time.
Metal bars. Metal bars everywhere. Getting up I saw that all the rooms suddenly had thick metal bars. The small part of the hallway between the rooms I could see was littered with debris from the roof and everything was dead quiet. Calling for a guard gave a strange echo down the hall. Nothing stirred, not even rats were occupying this dark basement of an unknown place. Where was I?
This is not the same place I was in before. Walls of concrete and rusty bars filled this cold establishment? I yelled for at guard again and nothing happened. Waiting frustrated for an unknown amount of time I took the chair from the corner of the room and threw it at the bars with hard crash. The noise would wake the dead. As nothing stirred I began hammering on the bars with a leg and still nothing would react to the noise. Giving up I grabbed the bars in frustration and began shaking them, noticing they were loose in their sockets. I stared at the debris from the ceiling and then up at the cracked concrete running the length of my cell. Earthquake maybe, the whole place sudden felt like it could come down over my ears.
Oh well, I could either rot here or give it a push to see if I could loosen the bars enough to warp the frame a little. Standing in the middle I got the best vibration effect and began rustling the bars back and forth for ages. Concrete dust rained down as I stood for what felt like hours.
Exhausted and weakened from lack of food and medical attention I gave in and sat down on the bed again. My leg was throbbing and the muscles in my neck felt too short. Slumping to the side in the hope of being able to get a little sleep, barely closing my eyes I felt the wind on my face and everything went colder. My body gave a shiver and I looked up into the clear sky.
Sitting up slowly I found myself confused and slightly violated. I didn’t get here on my own! Looking around I saw that I was on my back on a bench in the middle of a park. It was dusk now, but what day was it?
Hoisting my legs to the ground I felt the right one buckle again, but it was manageable for now. Following the path along the dark park I noticed that some of the trees were slightly uprooted. They were swaying menacingly to one side and creaking wildly in the mild wind. Searching through branches for a walking stick I came across the first body since I had woken up. A torched body lay at the root of an oak tree. The grass around it was scorched and the body was curled up in a fetal position, beyond recognition.
Looking around the place I suddenly had the paranoid feeling that the trees had eyes. Was there a psycho loose with a flamethrower? I looked like someone had lit this poor person and left. I am surprised the grass got singed and not the remotest sign on a forest fire… or park fire if we are feeling semantic.
Walking away from that horrible spot I vaguely remembered the military delegation that came over my land. They had threatened me with rifles out of the blue, what would stop them from torching protesters… there were always protesters for some reason or another when the government was involved, they were easy targets for the ill-informed and unenlightened mobs of masturbatory hate reapers you see on television. How can angry people make me so angry over them being angry? It is a stupid paradox; I shouldn’t let myself get effected by their conflicts. They can go to hell if they want, who would miss them?
My head was throbbing and my vision was limited in the growing darkness. Stumbling around the edges of the park I kept finding the large wall that isolated the noise from the town, leaving the park rather serene on a summer day. I could recognize it now. It was the city park. The large red wall with the black streetlamps on top was a joy to see. I had been there many times before although never at night. I kept following the wall around waiting for a hole, but none came. Stumbling along I was getting tired again and the muscle pain was slowly overwhelming me. When I came to a point where the wall suddenly stopped I searched for a corner or something to guide me past. I was sure that it was a park closed off all the way around, the wall can’t just stop?
Starring into the moonlit darkness I saw something gleam pale in the fleeting light ahead. I nudged on my leg refusing to follow me and panting like I had run a marathon. As I came closer to the large object my heart began to throb violently and sank into my stomach when I reached what looked like a large chest. It couldn’t be a chest; I was seeing things, a bike? No it was larger than that… Coming up right behind it my heart skipped a beat as I saw it was just a bloody bench. I had been chasing the metal off a bench, what the hell is wrong with me? Sitting down on it for a moment to catch my breath I suddenly noticed that it was warm. The air was cold now and the sun had been gone for quite a while, nothing but something living could have heated this bench to such a lukewarm state.
Unsure if it was wise to call into the night, since my last attempt to come in contact with people left me crippled. I got up and strode into the darkness along the dust path. Trying to walk silently while dragging dead meat along with every second step was a task of greatest concentration and I finally collapsed completely fatigued next to a large tree. I sat down trying to listen to the sounds of the night. No hooting, no street noise, not even a cricket were stirring here anymore. The wind was eerie and my energy was gone. I waited for a sign or a sound but nothing came. Curled up in the grass, freezing I fell asleep for a tenth of a second.
A loud crash echoed and I woke up with a startle. The large hall echoed with the falling of a wooden ceiling cover. The dust sprung up like a wave and slowly landed feet away. I was sitting inside a large building… where was I? It looked so familiar. Pushing myself to my feet by forcing myself up the wall with my left leg in the ground, I felt like I had climbed a mountain. Staggering a little as I ventured down the long hallway; oblivious of other people there at all. My stomach was controlling me, the rumbling and churning felt like a punch in the gut, but it carried on dragging me along the hundreds of barricaded doors and windows.
Shopping mall? The shopping mall at the outskirts of town? I figured that someone must have taken pity upon me and dropped me off here so I could get some food. Walking down the deserted halls gave a muffled echo. I didn’t have any trouble finding my way around the large place… hey it was day again?
The light from the windows in the ceiling was sending light through the thick dust. It wasn’t sunrays, so it must be clouded then… maybe it will rain? I reached the main arc at the entrance. The doors outside was boarded up and the security metal bars were down making it impossible to leave by normal means.
Food, I need food… stomach rebelling, I guess it is enough to see that I am safe for now. How did I get inside? How did I get out of jail? Who cares, I need food… food is good!
Stumbling along I got to the grocery store at one of the side exits of the mall. Everything was either gone or rotten beyond consumption. I could nearly see the fumes coming off the cucumbers and garlic sending disgusted shivers down my spine. I never felt this way about food before, I am really getting desperate!
Pummeling the door to the grocery store to see if I could get inside I noticed something on the ground protruding just around the pillar dividing the shops. I ignored it as I shoulder-tackled the door, but nothing budged. Giving up my curiosity got the best of me and I began to walk towards the thing on the floor dreading that it was another corpse.
I just came down the hall from that way, how would it be possible to overlook such a large lump on the floor? I didn’t know if the shock of seeing the first torched corpse had steeled me against it, but this second corpse scorched beyond recognition didn’t have the same effect on me. Sure it was sad and he was missing a leg, but still… at least it wasn’t me. Imagine the pain of it all, getting stripped flesh from bone by roaring fire. How long would a mind stay conscious after such a paralyzing pain? Had they screamed?
Looking at the body I hitched up my courage to try another go at the grocery door. Turning around I saw a reflection in the broken glass on the opposite side. Was that me? Stepping up to the window display I could see the reflection of an old man. Unshaven and blood down my shirt I watched the uncanny expression of disgust I found every morning in the mirror at home. The old man staring back at me didn’t like what he saw. Well I didn’t like him either and his beard was getting grey… take that you old prick. I shook my head as I gave up trying to reason with the reflection, we are never going to agree on that mullet!
“You can stay there and look ugly… I am leaving you forever… goodbye nut job!” I said out loud turning around to face the grocery door again… it was open? There was no door? I just stood fighting that door a minute ago. It can’t be… I felt that door? Did I offend it? Maybe it left because I said it was ugly… but I was talking to my reflection? What a sensitive décor… insecure doors… I made a funny.
Walking towards the grocery store I felt sick again. The smell had returned and filled my lungs, creating a wall of odor. Fighting against it I reached the sacred insides of the mighty food chest that would be my savior.
What the hell is this? Absurd and morbid! The grocery store had been rearranged so the chest high shelves stood in large circles around a hung door. In a giant noose hung the front door like it had committed suicide while the shelves had watched it; cheering it on. I feel flabbergasted at the sight, how could it have misunderstood me like that. Maybe it was angry because I kept pushing it and fighting to get inside, have I hurt its feelings? I tore my eyes away from the abysmal sight and rummaged the shelves for some canned food. It could stay fresh for a long time; maybe I could get some peaches… I am in the country; we ought to have a lot of them. I found some pineapple and dried beef that looked edible and while I consumed it with ferocious greed I noticed a wall had replaced the hole where the door had been employed. I guess the other doors have their own jobs… was there more unemployment for walls these days? I guess you can’t keep the same job forever with a town falling apart. A spare wall has to earn a living.
After I had my gut full of this rather strange buffet, my wits came about and I remembered the food mart at the center of the building. It had glass doors, maybe they were broken too. It would be easier to get in and out when the doors didn’t put up a fight and then off themselves… what a… hang on there, what is that?
I found a small note carved into the bottom of the door dangling from the ceiling. “I guess it is not water!” the note said, nothing to elaborate. Well I won’t drink the water then. Let me see if the mart has something more hospitable to offer then. Oh yeah I am locked inside.
Leaning against the shelves as I looked around; I found a small office at the back of the store. Slowly turning the handle it opened up with a creek. “See, you are a great door… there is no reason for us to bicker. We both love the work you do, keep up the good fight!” I told the door as I looked inside. The table inside had been pushed to the wall behind the door and back again. I could see the scrapings on the floor and the blood on the table. Carefully shutting the door I noticed a ventilation shaft… Why hadn’t I thought about that before now?
Pushing the table the same way as someone had done before I don’t recollect me thinking how it had been pushed back again, would it matter? Crawling onto the table I could just reach the large cover and threw it to the floor with a crash. Nothing stirred and I waited for seconds to hear if anyone would react to the noise. Nothing!
Climbing into the shaft was painful and stupid. The zinc was warped and soft. I could feel every inch it buckled under my weight. I dragged myself along on my elbows trying to control my newly discovered fear of tiny spaces that could fall apart any second. It made a sharp right turn and saw light. Sweet grey daylight was taunting me like a fog light on a train. I really hated those lights. A strange glow in the fog and when you get closer the horn would make you shit yourself… not that I have ever bragged about that trip to anyone.
Moving closer the light seemed to grow in my vision. I felt like a rabbit trapped in the headlights of a truck, isolated and unable to divert from the path. I had kept a steady pace that didn’t change as I came closer. Even though horrible memories kept slapping my face like a 10 foot amber dildo with a running start, I knew that I couldn’t go back and the vent would buckle under me at any second. I reached the end and looked out at the hallway for a moment feeling relieved. The creaking noise behind was reminding me that I needed to get out of there as the screws were giving in. I pushed myself out ready to break the fall with my hands when my right leg didn’t bend as I wanted too and the searing pain made me turn halfway in the air and cry out in pain before I hit the ground on my left shoulder and rebounded my head against the tiles.
“Is he alive?” a voice came outside my head. It sounded alienated; it was so long since I had heard anyone speak to me. I opened my eyes to see two soldiers stand over me. It took me a few second to realize it was home in my bed. Everything hurt right now; I couldn’t speak and ended up making a grunting sound. Turning my head I saw that I had been placed fully dressed on my bed without any recollection on how I got there.
“Who is he?” one of them said walking closer. “He is the only one left here. Don’t go any closer; he has blood on his hands. He could be dangerous?”
They stared at me for a second and when I tried to move they drew their guns at me… not again?
“Does he fit description?” one of them said both with their rifles at my face.
“Don’t know… he looks old and mangy but not 95!” the other one said.
I was right there; ask me for fuck sake… what you want to know? I thought trying to elbow myself into a sitting position so I could gesture that I listened. In panic one of them lifted his rifle and pummeled my face with the shaft… fuck my life and everybody in it!
I woke up as somebody threw water at me. It was cold and wet. Now I was cold and wet… thank you property displacement. Why should I suffer just because water didn’t like to be that wet? It was not my choice. If I was king I would demand water to dry a little up, maybe get a tan… everyone loves coffee, it has a nice tan!
I was now in the middle of town. I could see the blurred outlines of the balto statue. People were moving around me as I sat on my knees. The pain was horrible as my leg throbbed worse than ever. I couldn’t take the pain anymore and slumped to the side feeling someone grab me around the neck and pulled me back on my knees. When I tumbled over again I got a kick in the back and rolled around on my stomach in pain. “Get to your feet civilian!” someone bellowed at me and when I didn’t react fast enough, I was pulled up by the arms by two large soldiers covered in camouflage gear. “Yeah you are not invisible…” I thought to myself as they thrashed me around for a bit. “You live at Bonaville Drive… are you A. Cier?” one of the men barked like a commando.
I shook my head twice and they shook me hard, my lolling head throbbed painfully and they caught me as I nearly buckled again. “Who are you?” he shouted. I shook my head again and he took it as a sign of uncooperative manners and hit me in the back with something hard.
“Last time… who are you and what are you doing here?” he yelled. I shrugged feeling more confused that he was. It couldn’t have been more clearly that he was about to punish me again, I heard him draw back ready to strike when I sidestepped in hope that the inevitable pain would wait for a few seconds. I staggered his comrade and the violent barker fell past me and landed face down on the grass. Grabbing the service pistol in his belt and reacted on instinct. I shot the staggered soldier up under the helmet and executed the soldier on the grass by pressing the gun against his throat and pulled the trigger without a second glance.
Yelling nearby made me wake up and dropping down next to the first shot soldier I hid my handcuffed hands behind him still holding the gun. Someone was running towards me from a large truck, they looked armed and livid. Pretending to be dead too I waited for the first one to bend down beside us before I pulled the trigger through his right eye and had to shoot the last man nine times before the holster was empty. He was lying on the ground choking as I crawled over to him. Leaning my hands on each side of his neck, I slowly choked him with the handcuffs until he stopped struggling.
Kill or be killed apparently… what is going on here, they were not local troops. Why have they sought to execute me? How did they know my residence and the old man I bought the place from? It was nearly impossible to get on my feet, the leg was killing me and I think the head trauma is slowly crippling me. I took a rifle from the strangled soldier and used it as a cane. It was hard to keep it steady but at least I could walk again… sort off.
I looked into the van for supplies when I spotted a child? A small… “Are you a boy or a girl?” I asked to the cowering child sitting at the far end of the truck hiding its head.
“Where are the soldiers?” the kid asked with a trembling voice.
“On a picnic!” I heard myself reply instantly.
The child looked terrified as it looked through its fingers. I guess that a wild man appearing after a gunfight would freak me out too. “Why have they taken you?” I asked stepping a little back from the truck to show that I was not cornering it. For a minute or so the kid stayed back in the trailer looking out at me without moving at all. “Are you coming out anytime soon?” I asked again feeling more stupid than ever. Shouldn’t I focus on my own survival than someone who didn’t look like they wanted to be around?
“You know what… I am going home. Cya kid!” I said shrugging as I turned around and left the truck. There wasn’t more than ten minutes walk from this place and home to my shack. This was getting insane, or was I getting accustomed to an ultra sanity… there is no such thing… I am just growing old and senile.
Doesn’t my old age allow me to make up my own words or… not yet…
Looking down the streets I see the dirt gathered along the roads and sidewalks. I don’t feel much like searching for other people right now. I was just reaching the end of a street when my house came in sight. Limping towards my habitat I felt the cold wind rustle my hair. I guess autumn is coming. The kid ought to find shelter somewhere.
I climbed up my porch and got inside just as the wind brushed the side of the house. My door was partially unhinged, but why should I care? There were no one left to steal my food and furniture. Getting inside I saw to my annoyance that someone had stolen my food and furniture. All my chairs were gone and tables were destroyed. Half of my kitchen was torn apart leaving nothing but scattered cutlery everywhere. They had even stolen my dishes… those savages; I will kill you all and then punch you in the face… in that order.
I went upstairs to see how much they had touched of my bed and bathrooms? Partially intact I sought the mirror over my sink. There was no reflection left. Nothing stared back at me as hung half dead over the sink trying to get the pipes to work. A gurgling defiance let me know that it wasn’t broken and finally brown water came gushing out of the tap. I waited for the water to turn clearer and slowly began drinking like I had never taste something that sweet. It felt like rain upon my face and my dried body began to sway from the ecstasy that was clean water… or was it water? The door had warned me about it not being water? It can’t be this water; it must have meant the water it guarded in the mall.
It tasted wonderful and bathing my head in it gave a rush of adrenaline that woke my addled senses. I stared into the mirror for a long time without anything to look at. I just hate when my reflection is late… maybe it left after I said it was ugly? Why is everyone so picky?
I wanted to sleep. Looking into my bedroom I saw how the soldiers had manhandled my bed after they found me. Why were they after me and the kid? How had the kid survived this? Well at least it was small and not mangled by the military. What gender was it? Short hair and white clothes… must be a boy; no one in their right mind would wear white after Labor Day! Uh, a fasionista are we now? Well fuck you brain, I want to sleep.
Putting the rifle next to my half ruined bed, I crawled into the sheets and leaned back slowly hissing as my throbbing head touched the pillow. A long sleep and no interruptions tomorrow… I just want to be left alone. Too much excitement for an old man to comprehend!
I had only touched the pillow when a loud thud sounded like someone closing a book. Opening my eyes I lay on the floor in a large dark room. Sitting up I found myself in the local library. The shelves and chairs all standing perfectly aligned down the wide corridor. It couldn’t be anywhere else… fucking hell I want to sleep. Every fucking time I try to sleep I wake up somewhere completely stupid feeling even worse than before. No people threatened me this time but this is still bullshit. “BULLSHIT” I yelled in frustration as I got up pulling myself up the shelves.
When I got halfway to my feet I saw it… or them… the book, or books? All the books in the shelves had a black and wet cover. I got to my feet in a hurry and stumbled backwards, looking around at the other dimly lit shelves. They were all black and the shelves were dripping with water. A terrifying image resurfaced as I looked at the books, about a hand inside it grabbing me.
This is impossible. There are nobody left in this town, who would have changed all the books to this dreadful copy and why would they even consider storing so much captivating literature at the same place… I made a funny… why am I not laughing. I can hear a hollow snort coming from my nose, but I didn’t feel it. I usually reach my stomach when I laugh. Maybe my funnybone’s broken?
Thuds from behind made me twirl on the spot. I saw the kid again standing like a torch amidst the piles of black books on the table. “Get away from them… they are violent and incoherent!” I said without making an impact on the child. “We have spoken before, I know you aren’t mute!” I said but the kid ignored me.
I stepped up just in front of the kid and stared right into her face as it looked up. “You must be a girl… those eyes… are you a girl?”
The kid didn’t say anything, just staring into my eyes and then back at the book. I tried to get its attention for a minute before I noticed something being scribbled down on a parchment next to the books being opened. The page was littered with 209. In several colors and every direction I saw the number 209 stand like an unanswered question.
“WHO ARE YOU” I yelled in frustration at the kid. It wasn’t deaf and did not react to me approaching. Bullshit, this is just insane and ridicules bullshit. No one have told me anything for the last couple of days or hours or years and minutes or centuries or second… have I been sleeping when I lay down, have they kidnapped me every time I looked away? My reflection stuck out for better weather, so I can’t even see if I have grown older by now! Where the hell is everybody and how come I never heard anything after the military rode across my land? I bet those bastards took all worth saving and ran away leaving me and the kid. “WHY DID THEY LEAVE YOU…? YOU DON’T EVEN LOOK LIKE YOU BELONG HERE!” I yelled and still the kid just ignored me and read on in the hazardous tomes spread around the table.
The military had a purpose taking people away; they were clearing out the place for What? Why? When? Whoop? Wool? Wonky? Wupperdahl? Wallop? And Whip cream!
My forehead is burning and all these questions are making me sick. Leaning against the table I stare opposite the girl and see that the book itself wrote 209 in large letters. The kid looked up at me and then at the book. Pointing at the tome for a second and I nodded and it turned the book around… my name… the 209 had changed like it had with the other one in that dark place. Shifting like small building bricks the 209 changed into my name and address. Not the old owner which they had asked about, but mine?
The kid stared at the book from the other side and let out a great squeal that left no doubt that it was a girl with an ugly boy haircut. ”двести девять” she said pointing at the book.
“What?” I said completely thrown back at the sound of her voice. “двести девять” she repeated closing the book and picked it up. I took the book away from her knowing it would harm her in a minute and she yelled at me in an incomprehensible language. I threw the book over the shelves into the darkness and she was about to follow it when a crash made the room shiver. It couldn’t be that book! It was of stone but I could throw it so it wouldn’t make the floor tremble?
A light flickered in the direction I threw the book and quickly grew steadily into a red glow casting its dancing shadows along the ceiling and far walls. “Fire, get out now!” I yelled to her but she kept saying “двести девять” over and over like she was afraid to forget it.
We exited the library before we were burned alive and stood watching the flames run across the walls and onto the roof. We had not been watching the flames for long before the fire was beyond control and the more it burned the higher the flame rose, turning grey… I rubbed my eyes for a moment but they were grey now. The warmth had faded and the noise vanished like the wind. The girl tugged in my shirt as I leaned against her to save my leg the agony of my weight. “двести девять” she said staring into my eyes again.
“What are you saying? I cannot understand you little ugly haircut girl! You are speaking in tongues are you sure you are not retarded and lost from the group?” I asked completely ignorant of the level of insult I just hammered into the face of a child.
She blinked but didn’t reply at first. She looked around for something to write on, but when nothing had presented itself she pulled up her sleeve on her left arm and revealed the number “209” written as a scar into her skin. “двести девять” she repeated pointing at the scar.
“Do you want to find something with 209 written on it little retarded haircut?” I asked watching her point and nod at the scar. “209?” I said pointing at the scar obviously brightening her day. “You are really something aren’t you?” Poor girl… completely bonkers and nobody to put her out of her misery!
Where the hell had I seen that before? A thousand things had happened to me recently, would I ever remember the stupid number. It wasn’t my house number although she had somehow found it in the book. Did we see the same thing when we read the book? She recognized the 209 but if she can’t speak English, what makes her able to understand the writing?
Well numbers are a universal language… maybe I should sing a lullaby to her in binary while I put a bag over her ugly hair and all the way down over the neck and wait for this stupid problem to go away. No that would be a waste of my time… and hers I guess. “Would you mind if I choked you with a bag because you’re ugly?” I asked but she ignored me darting around the street to search for something that could lead us on our way… or an escape route from someone as horrible as me… or a weapon to pummel me with… or maybe she was looking for a bag I could use. You should never underestimate the friendliness of a stranger in need.
Strangers… the convoy… strangers invading my privacy. My fields… the mountain! That is where I saw that stupid number. “Are you going to the mountain too; little mentally challenged kid?” I asked her. She clearly didn’t understand what the hell I was talking about but the tone in my voice had caught her attention and she followed me out down the street towards my home. We reached my porch at night time. The walk through town had been rough and long. I had no further motivation to follow her to the mountain and stepped out next to my residence and pointed towards the mountain. I pointed at her arm and at the mountain a few times before she understood that she was to go that way. She started trotting into the field when I turned on the porch and went back inside. I was thinking about my sink again and walked with some difficulty into the kitchen. Opening the tap I watched the brown water turn clear before I drank. The gulps of cold water were like jolts down my body giving me a wild urge to take a piss. Standing up I turned around to find the girl stare at me. The girlish scream I let out wasn’t one of my finer moments but I regained my format quickly and urged the girl outside. I pointed at the mountains again and walked inside but that little brat followed me. I couldn’t shut her out since my door was on the brink of retirement and I couldn’t get myself to slam it so it fell off. There were only unemployed walls in the city and I needed that hole in the wall to get outside.
“Are you afraid of the dark little ghoul? Well just take a flashlight with your and keep lighting your face and it will be day about ten feet down the path.” I said throwing her a flashlight. She turned it on and off a few times and looked at me impatiently. “Yeah I am not going with you into the darkness, I think I would die of fright if you turned around and accidently lit your own face!”
On the second hand, I think I have a hunting rifle hidden in the rafters upstairs, maybe if we walked into the night I could make the world a prettier place… well here’s for hoping!
I walked upstairs to get my double barreled and a pocket of slugs. “I would reckon about 77 point blank shots would make you the prettiest little darling in all of Alaska.” This isn’t saying much for the previous population… damn!
I followed her into the fields and took the lead towards those pesky mountains again. This time I would be ready for them. These slugs would rip a cow from ass to nose; I would like to see them get out of these unharmed, those bureaucratic bastards and stuffed up imbeciles. You are going to regret taking a chunk out of my leg and hammering me on my head. You will regret kidnapping me and pulling around the town… you will… hey we are here?
This trip went faster than last time, and I was on foot? Had I really been arguing with myself for that long? We came to the fence again and walked inside by the caution sign, ignoring every sense of stealth as I blew the door handle off, nearly ripping the door off its hinges. Pushing inside the girl behind me, I hope… I really don’t want to turn around to find her lighting her own face. We ventured down the hallway and into the depth of the mountain. When we came to the large door it stood ajar. A hole large enough to push an elephant through was open and everything inside was covered in the familiar dust. At least dust gets to see the world… rather well traveled for a budget of more dust than the traveling dust.
I beckoned the girl inside first, hoping that she would be targeted first if we ever met with any people. Walking down a set of stairs we came to a large atrium. It was completely empty but from a few tables and turned over chairs. The girl steppes into the room with the flashlight and began to search the corners and tables for information, but came back to me empty handed. I was more curious about the lack of triggers and bludgeoning. Nobody seemed to have lived here for ages, but it wasn’t more than a few days ago… or a day ago I got shot in the hallway. Have the desertion something with my gun jamming the door? Have I rendered this place inhospitable? It seems so… but what could have made them so afraid that they had to be here and then leave when such a small detail had interrupted their plans?
I had been staring at the girl for a while when she came back pointing the flashlight into the hallway beyond the atrium. We walked down the hall discovering that the place had several levels. A large sign at the stairway showed five levels to move about, and we were on the fourth. A letter was pinned to the sign marked “To whom this must concern.”
Picking up the letter I got my cowlicked connoisseur to shed some light on the paper. “Two whom this must concern. He is locked up in the basement. This place is evil. We haven’t been here for two days and half the people are already gone missing. I fear that we have been lured into a trap. Get out while you can, he is locked up in the basement.”
Well it wasn’t that enlightening and no matter who they had placed in the basement I had 77 slugs to fill him with. If he could walk after that he ought to have the chance to catch me. I have survived for this long, why not until tomorrow too?
Packing up the note I walked down the stairs one step at a time. The girl had sudden gone stiff. “We are alone here, nothing is going to harm you… can you hear anything other than my voice? Your haircut is the worst thing hiding in this place anyways…”
A thud like the books from the library rang from the lower levels and we both froze in our tracks. Two steps up I grabbed her arm and pulled her with me down the stairs and backed up in a corner carefully examining everything I could get the cone to illuminate. Nothing stirred anymore and I drew up the courage to go further down into the lower levels. I had a hard time dragging the girl along as I was trying to hold my gun in the left hand while dragging her lighting arms along with the right while she struggled against me.
Down we went from level to level until we came to a subbasement. I got the feeling that we were under the advertised schematics but the letter had clearly stated that he was in the basement. If I could find him I would have someone who could tell me something and if he was armed I would have a little satisfying target practice. As we descended the last couple of stairs it all became dangerously familiar.
I wasn’t sure that I hadn’t set foot in this place before and instincts told me to look to my right as we came into the long hallway of various open rooms. In the back of the room a body lie on the floor, face down… or face off? Walking closer we noticed that the head was missing? It felt weird, the body was torched beyond recognition but it was clearly missing a head. Nothing else was visible at that point. The girl was clearly in panic now, as something had killed off a person and decapitated it… maybe not in that order.
I stumbled backwards as the memory came back to me. It had felt like a bad dream, but at this spot with a book… with THAT book!
I let go of her without noticing and started searching around for the book. I took the flashlight from her and she began screaming incoherently trying to get it back. The noise echoed down the hall and I had to shake her to snap her out of it. I pointed at her arm again but she shook her head and crossed her arms. Sitting down on the bed at the wall she hid her face in her hands and tried to breathe slowly while I shed light into every corner of the room for that retched tome of moving letters.
I heard her calming down as her breathing became more controlled. I turned bed sheets and table drawers to see if the book had been moved… nothing there.
I was about to walk into the next cell to see if there was something when a tiny beep came from her. Like a digital watch something beeped over and over emitting a red light from her back. Looking at her with the light she tried to hide her face from me and I thanked her for that, but that sound was menacing. Walking closer to her I saw how her entire jacket was glowing red and I fought her for a moment unzipping the jacket to see what was causing the strange noise. Pulling it up over her head I saw to my disgust that a metal box had been surgically placed halfway inside her backside. A red lamp was blinking slowly and the box emitted a beep that increase in pace for every second I went on. Pushing myself away from her I was sure she had a bomb inside her. I leapt away from her and ran around the corner into the next room waiting for the bomb to go off. Nothing again…
I listened as the beep turned to a long flat line only broken by her muffled sobs still entangled in her jacket. I threw a glance down the hall to see the countless rooms that could have the book hidden. Getting slowly back to my feet I heard her untangle herself getting to her feet and the intake of air as something like a compression rumbled in the hall for a second. A scream sounded from the room beside me, frantic and long it ripped the air… but it was muffled. Getting back into the hall I was caught by surprise by a wall where the large hole into the room had been. The girl was still inside hammering on the wall screaming in panic. I hammered back but the bricks were hard and the cement had dried, leaving the wall impenetrable without heavy machinery. I tried to calm her down knowing she couldn’t understand me when her scream became a pitch higher, piercingly shrilled for a moment until a throat choking sound made her stop abrupt and was finished by the spine curling sound of something like many twigs being cracked or a egg being crushed… a very large egg.
Everything went dead silent for a moment. I turned around and leaned against the wall silently praying for her wellbeing, I never meant anything by the things I said. She was a good girl… she did what she was told. I stopped in the track of my thoughts as I noticed that all the rooms along the hall were now bricked up like the one I leaned against. This was getting impossible… they appeared out of nothing, not even a tiny noise and boom they were just there?
A thundering rumble made the floor shake. It sounded like something was trying to push out of the rooms or cells… I am not staying here for this. Crawling up the stairs I ignored the continued rumblings that made debris fall from the walls and the dust fly from the surfaces. I pushed my way through the atrium and back upstairs, limping as fast as my leg would allow me.
As I ascended the hall and came up to the small outhouse in the mountain I pushed myself outside in the heavy wind. The sky was red as long white drops rained from the sky like water. I stood for a minute staring at them closer to earth now, the flashing light finally came. A mushroom grew in the horizon as everything dawned on me. A transmitter… she was sent to locate the facility. No one would intentionally question or harm a small girl for no reason…
I looked at the mushrooms rise next to each other in the distance. Looking down I noticed the black book in my hand. Had I always been clamping onto that?
Throwing it on the ground I looked up… would I scream?
The book had opened on the last page as it hit the ground. Looking down I could read the thick crude lines written for no one’s amusement…
“As I stare into the flames I can see how I am going to die. Watching the waves lick the crust makes me shutter as for how far a human being is able to push itself over a ledge. Are you so desperate to preserve yourself and your stupid beliefs?”
It was my fault, my business. I was content in my little shack. They had to drag me along and drop dead at my feet. You damn pricks! I sorted out your shit; if anyone survives that! I brought the brat and I fucking delivered! Now what?
I guess I just have to wait. In the end what have I believed in? At least the dead door had not lied to me. I guess I owe it the courtesy of not screaming…