13 April 2013

Dystopolis: 2.6

ittle patches of light fell on Evie's hands as she marked the grave. She took a flat rock and pushed it into the loose soil. The girl's shoe once again caught her eye. She had eased it off the swollen foot of the child, and now she slipped it in her pocket. "I will remember you."

Evie's dirty face was streaked with tears as she turned away and faced the street. There was no telling how long the daylight would last.

The quiet of the streets latched onto her, a wet blanket to drag, and the smell of rotting flesh still turned her stomach - even after all these weeks of walking through it. Coming around a corner and looking up, Evie's heart beat with joy. She ran up the steps of the building across the street and pulled open the heavy doors.

There was the stench hovering here, too, but Evie covered her mouth and went in anyway. Unlike so many other public buildings, this one was mostly untouched. The dust lay thick on the floor and shelves, and the books had to be wiped clean. She picked up the closest book to the door and opened it.

The radiant sun, the cloud-swept moon,
My dear, both declare I come none too soon.

The book yearned to be read, she could feel it in her hands. But the shadows lengthened, and Evie wouldn't brave the dark. She carried the book to the door and turned around. She would be back.


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12 April 2013

Dystopolis: 2.5

idney beans, corn, Campbell's Tomato Soup. The cans clinked as her slender fingers dropped them into her bag. She ran her fingernails over the labels - the tin cans reminded her of late nights with her grandmother. They would chat when she came home from college, a wooden spoon swirling the veggies and beans back and forth, as they spoke of boys and classes.

That was a life ago. Yet her grandmother's voice was clear, even within the empty store, the empty streets, the empty...

"Evie, take your time. You've no need to rush. Look around you, take it all in. Think."

And now she had all the time in the world to think. The wind blew through the open doors and down the aisle Evie stood in. She saw black streaks fly across the storefront windows. A shudder ran down her spine.

"The world moves quickly - but you've got to take your time." The soup always felt so warm and filling all the way down. "Look, and you'll see things no one else has eyes for."

Her bag was full and she swung it over her back. She closed her eyes, sighed, and walked to the entrance. There was no sign of the crows. She looked again, this time focusing on the small things around her. Her breath caught. Under a car across the street she found a child's shoe, and with it a child cold and still.

Evie wept. The birds had left her alone, the car protecting her somehow. She pulled the body of a girl out and carried her to a group of trees around the corner. She would bury her. Yes, she would dig a grave here.

The crows will not have her. Evie began to dig.


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11 April 2013

Dystopolis: 2.4

ets screamed across the sky and screamed across the sky. Adam covered his head with his bare arms and tried to shut out the sound. Everything was a dream - everything was a dream. It was the only thought that kept him sane.

Adam's powers of imagination had always been strong. During his school days he could sit in a room full of dull jocks and a droning teacher, and fill it with clone troopers and cowboys. It helped him survive then, it helped him survive now.

Like he promised himself in the library weeks ago, he hadn't left his house to walk the streets. He never would again.

Adam didn't see the books lining his shelf - they disappeared the night he burned the few he'd risked so much for. They said too much. Now, they said it to no one.

He began to watch and re-watch old movies from his collection. It was a shame he'd stopped buying DVDs; the rotation of action, comedy, action, comedy, couldn't keep his attention anymore, and soon he only turned them on for the noise.

Voices droned in the next room as Adam stared through his cracked glasses at nothing.

...increasingly on the alert to prevent them from taking over other mineshaft space, in order to breed more prodigiously than we do, thus, knocking us out in superior numbers when we emerge! Mr. President, we must not allow a mine shaft gap!

The sun burned the backs of the curtains; light flickered through the doorway, and Adam fell into another nightmare.


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10 April 2013

Dystopolis: 2.3

nsomnia was what drove him to drink. The thought ran through Adam's mind for a long time as he looked at his glass affectionately. He couldn't sleep without a drink - at least one - and several put him out. The bottle of scotch he just finished fell to the floor with a clunk. "Ah, m-lady, my apologies." He bowed.

The steps leading to the basement were dark and Adam had to feel his way down. "Eight and nine to the floor - ahh!" He fell and his glass broke on the wall next to him. "Yes, ten steps, not nine." The thought of the full bottles in the next room made him smile as he sat in the darkness. "I'm coming for you!"

Adam chuckled at his joke as he flipped on the light. No horror of recent days was worse: the floor was soaked and reeked of liquor. "No! Wha - ?" He sat and stared at the empty bottles on the shelves, at the broken ones on the floor, and wept. His eye caught his shotgun; the barrel had glass in it, and the whole of it was sopping with alcohol. He considered using it right there where he sat, but another idea prevailed.

"Zoe!" He raged upstairs and into the dinning room. "What have I told you about going into the basement?" He swung the gun at her and knocked her to the floor. The sight of her on the floor, her hair askew and her body lumped, snapped Adam out of his anger. "Oh, I'm sorry - I didn't mean it!" He took her head in his hands and looked into her eyes. "Please, please forgive me!"

The fire flickered in the corner. "I'll never do it again, please forgive me!" He helped Zoe into a chair, and to show her he was serious, he threw the shotgun into the fire.

Adam realized his folly too late. The memory of it ate at him in the study now, his insomnia only allowing him to sleep with bloody dreams.


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09 April 2013

Dystopolis: 2.2

e rubbed his throbbing head. The light pouring in cursed his red eyes, and he rolled over and buried his face. Sleep took him finally, and he dreamed of earlier days.

It was that day, the day so many came to his gate, that haunted him. The bombs had ceased to fall, but sickness and starvation were just beginning.

"Please! Men are looting the city! Just let us sit inside your gate while they pass - we'll leave as soon as they stop!" Adam averted his eyes. The clothes on the woman smelled of urine, and the little girl tugging on her leg began to cry. "We don't want anything from you, please, you can kick us out when they go!"

A car rammed into a storefront down the block; a fire hydrant shot into the air. Adam loaded his shotgun and stepped back from the bars. "No! Please open the gate - they'll take us! Please!" Adam didn't hear her anymore. He moved into the shadows and watched as the girl cried and the woman screamed.

The men came. They laughed as they beat the woman. Her blue dress flapped in the wind as she was dragged away, the white polka dots blending and waving in an endless white-blue-white succession.

Adam breathed again. The rushing water from the hydrant pounded the pavement; smoke from the wrecked car rose and disappeared in a hazy sky. Adam felt safe once more.

Zoe was waiting at the table for him. He apologized. "Someone was trying to get in again. It seems that always happens around supper." Adam set his gun on the chair next to him. "Carrots with your roast?" He liked carrots, especially with tender pork. "Now that's delicious - don't you think?"

The silverware clinked and the brandy reflected the chandelier's soft light.


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08 April 2013

Dystopolis: 2.1

lowing coals were all that was left of the night's fire, but Adam didn't move. He sat and stared at the ash gathering on each ember and thought of nothing. Smoke seeped into the room and up the chimney. Adam didn't notice.

The only light in the study seemed like orange eyes, only closing as they burned themselves to death, suffocating in their own flesh.

Three books lay next to him, one open. He had tried to read by firelight, like he'd always done, but what the triumvirate had to say Adam didn't want to hear. In succession he picked them up expecting the fullness he'd had before. He ended up watching the fire die. And now that only coals remained, he rose and walked to his desk. He poured himself a drink, then another.

On the couch, the open book still spoke, though no one listened:

She crawled over the bodies of the dead. His blood spurted over her hands.
'Quicker,' he gasped, 'I am dying  - but we touch, we talk, not through the Machine.'
He kissed her.

The ice cubes in Adam's glass clinked, and he dumped them out onto the floor. He poured again, then again. He saw the last eye shut from where he stood; he threw his glass and it shattered, the remaining liquid hissed in the heat.

'We have come back to our own. We die, but we have recaptured life, as it was in Wessex, when Aelfrid overthrew the Danes. We know what they know outside, they who dwelt in the cloud that is the colour of a pearl.'

Adam built the fire up. He sneered at the books on the couch and added them to the flames. As he watched the pages curl and explode, he couldn't contain his laughter. The black spine with the numerals 451 burned so brightly!

Adam watched again as the fire raged through the night, his sleepless eyes waiting for the orange glow to return.


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06 April 2013

Dystopolis: 1.6

rost on the windows. That was what Adam remembered most about the day he met Zoe. She was standing in the department store he was rummaging through, and she didn't look at him when he spoke. He was surprised to see her inside the store - he had seen women like her from the corners of busy streets, but that was the first time he'd seen one of them from inside, and so out in the open.

Adam had never felt comfortable around women, but she was, of course, easy to take home. And, as Adam explained to himself as they went back to his house, his intentions were pure.

"I haven't had anyone to talk to - well, I suppose you haven't either - for a long time." Zoe looked straight ahead. "My home is quiet, the streets are quiet, everything's quiet." She was no different, really, but at least there was company. "And after all," he thought, "she can't have much experience in conversation, or in the friend department."

That was months ago, and not much had changed. Zoe liked to sit in the window-seat overlooking the garden, and even though she was there every morning when Adam woke, he still felt alone.

"Zoe! I brought the generator! Hot baths and hot food again!" Her long fingers held an unlit cigarette, and her martini glass sparkled in the sunlight. She was still. Her golden hair stirred as Adam walked by, and he kept talking. "The crows followed me home; they gave me quite a scare!" His hollow laugh echoed off the tiled floor and died. He wiped dried blood off his face and examined his cracked lenses.

Adam stared at Zoe's back. Her strapless dress wrapped itself around her, and Adam marveled at her perfect form. "I'll go get the generator hooked up." Zoe said nothing.


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05 April 2013

Dystopolis: 1.5

ach crow was frozen, anticipating Adam's movement. His foot instinctively let off the accelerator when he saw the birds, and when he told that foot to move, it disobeyed. He slowly covered his head with his hood and gripped the steering wheel. "Breathe," Adam closed his eyes, "slowly, move - move!" He urged himself on, and inch by inch his toe reached for the pedal.

"Caw! Caw!" The closest birds rustled their wings. Adam adjusted himself in the seat and pulled the belt across his lap. The ax lay next to him, just to his right.

He pounded his foot to the floor and the forklift lurched. Adam's hood flew off and he grabbed at the ax as a black cloud threatened to consume him; they clawed at the metal bars and bounced off the frame surrounding Adam. Some of the birds hit their mark, knocking Adam back momentarily. And then, all at once, they were at his eyes.

Adam swung the ax with his right arm and shielded his eyes with his left; the forklift veered and glanced off a dumpster. Several crows were crushed and many others retreated at the impact, giving Adam time to prepare for their next assault. He honked the horn and yelled as he drove on, swerving and swinging the ax. Finally, the birds kept their distance, though they followed Adam all the way home.

The three-story house loomed on the horizon. Made of stone, the structure stood out among smaller, more colorful buildings. Adam opened the gate and drove the forklift into the shelter of the garage; as he pulled the double doors shut, the crows lined up on the property's wall.

Adam pressed his head against the closed doors and began to sob. "I'm safe," he said aloud, "I'm safe, and this is all a bad dream." He composed himself - Zoe would be waiting, and he could already see her blank stare that would bore a hole through him.


Check out the rest of the A-Z crew here! And come by tomorrow for 1.6 of "Dystopolis."

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04 April 2013

Dystopolis: 1.4

arkness fell in sheets across the dusty tiled floor. Adam picked his way toward the back of the store, his flashlight guiding him. There wasn't much on the shelves, and he ignored what was left. Finally, he saw the generator. It was bigger than he'd remembered, and he had no idea how to get it back to his house.

Adam cursed. "No plan, I came all the way out here with no plan." He picked up a screwdriver and threw it. The clang it produced made Adam shine his light to see what he'd hit. There was hope! He climbed into the forklift and tried to start it. "Please, please let this work!" After several fruitless efforts, he slid off and walked around looking for any clues as to how to start it. He laughed when he saw the propane tank on the back. As soon as he opened the valve, he knew it would start.

The headlights on the forklift lit up the generator and he scooped it up easily. He would have to exit through the back of the store - "All the better," thought Adam, and he tried to erase the memory of the crow perched outside. He whistled as he looked for his last item; the ax glowed blood red in the dim beam of the flashlight. He grabbed it and hustled back to his new ride.

The warehouse behind the main part of the store was even darker, and the light from the forklift seemed to be all there was that existed. Adam turned a corner and saw streaks of daylight through large double doors. He pulled them open, jumped back on the forklift, and drove into blinding light.

It was several moments before he saw them - the waiting black birds, watching his every move.


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03 April 2013

Dystopolis: 1.3

arrion birds circled the street. As soon as Adam saw them, he put up his hood and pulled on black gloves. One more stop, he thought, one more stop and I'll never walk these streets again. The few things he needed would allow him to sustain himself for a long time, maybe the rest of his life.

"And Zoe," Adam's lips mouthed the words. She was waiting for him - in the same chair, looking out the same window, nursing the same drink. Adam sighed. If only she would talk to him, or see him, that would make everything much more tolerable.

A crow flew past and landed on a stoop just ahead of Adam. It cawed and made eye contact. Adam crossed the street, looking back at the bird. A tricycle tripped him and sent him sprawling into a hedge of overgrown bushes. He pushed himself up and felt the crow before he heard or saw it; its black wings lifted as it called and called. Adam kicked at it, but it wouldn't fly away.

"Go! Get out of here!" Adam stood and ran around the next corner where he knew he could get inside the hardware store he was headed to. Flapping wings, talons, a blackness seeking for his face. He yanked on the handle of the glass door; it closed and he tried to catch his breath.

The bird retreated to a shopping cart outside. It opened its beak and Adam turned away.


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02 April 2013

Dystopolis: 1.2

 eyond the computers. Adam shuddered. He closed his eyes and forced his feet forward one at a time; when he opened them, his fingers gripped the straps of his backpack and he quickly looked down.

It was the stillness. They sat there unmoving before the computer screens, their stench unmistakable. The books, Adam thought, the books were worth this. His step quickened when he heard what sounded like a pen fall to the floor just to his left. But that was all. They were still, and Adam could feel their stillness.

But he was at the front desk. He set his bag on the counter and waited. The computers didn't seem to hum like they should, and the staff was absent. Adam looked in the offices from where he stood but all was still in the back as well. The longer he waited, the more his thoughts spiraled out of control. They would follow his trail, They would bring their rancid bodies close to him and touch him with decayed fingers...

"Ah!" Adam's imagination played tricks. He grabbed his backpack and ran for the door. The sunlight hurt his eyes, but he could breathe. Slowly, Adam put his bag on his shoulders and walked down the steps to the street. He didn't look back.


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Jump to 1.1

01 April 2013

Dystopolis: 1.1

dam pulled books off the shelf quickly. Bradbury, Huxley, Forster; they were like old friends coming home. He sniffed the spines, not bothering to wipe the dust away first. The delicious sneeze that followed echoed off the library's stone floors.

Adam looked around, but the sound died and he shoved the books into his backpack. Another few aisles, he thought, and I'll be done. He repeated this to himself as he walked to the poetry section. He kept his eyes on the floor, on his feet, and only stopped to be sure his were the only ones making the click-clack, click-clack, that bounced back at him from darkening walls.

The title he was looking for all but fell into his hands. He pushed his glasses up on his sweaty nose and turned to his page, as he called it.
 Whose woods these are I think I know
Adam closed his eyes and the rest of the poem seeped out from him instead of the pages in his hands. "Promises to keep," the words left his mouth unbidden, and again he looked to his left and right until the sound of his own voice faded. The snow of the poem melted at his next thought. Deep breath, Adam. He secured the final book and walked.

The circulation desk lay beyond the rows of computers where They sat. Chills ran down his spine at the thought of it. They would see him, and though they wouldn't walk after him, it was enough to have to pass them at all.


Check out the rest of the A-Z crew here! And come by tomorrow for 1.2 of "Dystopolis."

Read about the idea for this April's posts here.
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