“Will it take long? Does it hurt? Can I go in with him to make sure he’s okay?”
Anna and Chris Nichols trudged through the pristine white halls of the St. Daniels maternity ward, let by Dr. Faridah Powell, who clutched a clipboard thick with notes and documents close to her chest as they neared their destination.
“As I explained to you both before, it’s just a simple frontal lobe brain scan. Completely painless. The child—sorry, Lachlan—will not even know it is happening. All newborns born here and elsewhere in the state are required to undertake the procedure before being permitted to leave the hospital. It will take all of ten minutes to complete.”
Dr. Powell had a soothing, authoritative air about her as she spoke, clear and concise in her explanation. The way she laid it all out for Anna and Chris sounded like a rehearsed speech, or at the very least, one she had had to repeat many times to many other confused and worried new parents.
“I’m sorry, but I still don’t quite understand,” Chris said, his face the definition of fatigued. “I’ve heard about the scans from some of our friends upstate who have had kids recently, but they never exactly mentioned what they were for. Are you looking for, I don’t know, diseases or something?”
Continue reading “Children Are The Future”
Yannis Cave yawned wide, the winding black hole stretching deep into the mountain flank. It would have looked majestic, inviting even, if it weren’t for the dozens of warning signs plastered across the entrance. Cave-ins, floods, hypothermia, losing your sense of direction and injuries were only a few of the possible incidents one risked if descending into Yannis Cave, if anything these signs said was to be believed.
I would never have considered ignoring the warnings if I didn’t hear the call for help as I walked by the cave.
“Help me! Please!”
For a moment, I wasn’t sure what I heard. I froze and glanced around, wondering if someone was messing with me from behind a nearby tree. Bored kids were often dragged along this trail with their parents on hikes, and I wouldn’t put something like this past them. This time, however, it didn’t seem to be the case.
Another cry echoed out from the mouth of Yannis Cave. “Is anyone there? I can’t move, I’m scared! Help!”
There was no one else around today. The trail had few visitors on the best of days, most hikers opting for the far safer trails closer to the beach. I enjoyed the peace and quiet. And I guess the cave was pretty intimidating for some. Phone reception this close to the mountain was notoriously spotty too. If someone was trapped down there, they needed help.
They needed my help. Continue reading “Yannis Cave”
He felt as if the eyes of the entire courtroom were upon him all at once. You could practically feel the judgement burning into your soul. Luke had barely been given enough time to wash the blood of his victim off of his clothes, but that didn’t matter. He was done with it all, done with trying to live life by what the Administration deemed legal.
“Luke Atkins, you have been brought before the court today accused of first degree murder. As you are well aware, the Administration has implemented a universal three strike system. This, if I’m not mistaking, is your second strike. One more crime against the Administration will result in a death sentence.”
The judge lifted a piece of paper off of her desk and quickly read it over. Luke’s face was a mask. He was waiting for the moment that would guarantee him an escape from this terrible place, a permanent holiday away from the absurd rules and oppression the Administration had afflicted this world with.
“According to the first responder,” the judge continued, “You were still attacking your victim as they arrived, an axe if I am not mistaking. You continued to hack at the body long after they were dead. Do you have anything to say in your defence?”
Luke stood up, grinning like an idiot. He knew what would happen after he uttered his next words, and he didn’t care in the slightest.
“It was…it was an axe-ident.”
Almost immediately after his terrible pun echoed throughout the hall, the entire courtroom erupted in angry yelling and general madness. Objects were thrown violently at Luke by the dozen, in the hope that one of them would at least injure the dangerous criminal. With those words now out of Luke’s mouth and out in the open, he was now guilty of a far worse crime than murder.
Being a smartass.
“So, Brooke. Are you actually going to tell us what we’re doing out here? We’ve been driving for hours.”
Brooke Mackay sighed, exasperated. They had to be getting close by now. Too much longer cooped up in the back of this van sitting next to Nolan Adams and she was going to lose it.
At least the view would be nice.
The winding, troublesome road to the old village had led their crew through some of the most impressive vistas Brooke had ever seen in her life. Over the last hour or so though, the beautiful valleys, daunting mountains and sparkling lakes had given way to far rockier, inhospitable terrain.
Rugged, vast and impossibly old. The perfect locale for a lost, forgotten village of an ancient civilization.
Right now, only their director, Hayden Forst, had been told details. It was enough for the network to finance a flight to South America to investigate further. Brooke’s information was solid. The only thing left to do now was drive there.
Unless she killed the cameraman before they arrived.
“Okay, fine. I wanted to keep it a surprise for when we arrived, but whatever.” She shifted in her seat to face Nolan. The two of them sat almost shoulder to shoulder with six other crew members in the back of the van, with Hayden and the show’s host, Nick Huber, in the front seats with the driver.
“You know about the Inca?”
Continue reading “The Deserters’ Ossuary”
“Auntie Mona! Auntie Mona! What is that?”
The child’s voice quavered with near reverent awe as she pressed her face against the glass of the empty observation deck, peering outside at the increasingly distant glowing sphere.
“That’s where you were born, Clarrie,” Mona Fitzgerald said. “It’s where we live…well, used to live now, I guess.”
“It’s so small.” Clarrie’s eyes never left the window as they spoke. “How did we all fit?”
“It’s a lot bigger up close. And we don’t all fit there. That’s why we had to leave.”
“But why? Didn’t you say we live there?”
Mona sighed and knelt beside her niece. “There were too many of us living on the same planet. It all adds up. Before long, we began to consume more food and water than we could possibly hope to produce. People turned on one another. They fought amongst themselves. So the only thing we could do is leave. Find another home with enough resources for the rest of us to live. A new world to start over on.”
“How many times have you had to leave?”
“Five? Six, maybe?” Mona thought out loud. “I honestly don’t remember, honey. They’ve been hopping worlds since long before I was born. It’s in our nature. We can’t change who we are. How we live.”
“Okay.” With their conversation apparently over, Clarrie returned her focus to the tiny blue full-stop in the darkness that was Ancillary Earth Twenty-Eight.
Perhaps number twenty-nine would be the one they could finally call home.