The lights of the Ferris wheel reminded her of happier times: laughter, companionship, love. The echoes of the past stifled her and she wished for the strength to end her life. Hugging her wasted body, she turned away from human contact and shuffled towards the empty shell of her home. She had to find a way to lift herself out of this depression and the constant thoughts of her loss. Her husband had been her anchor and without him she felt adrift. What she needed was a reason to live, to get up everyday. What she needed was a child.
The Change had begun in developing countries. Vast patches in Africa, Asia, and South America had been enveloped by a throbbing mass that covered city buildings, slums, and patchwork homes. The last to be engulfed in the southern hemisphere had been the palatial residences in which lived the corrupt and the wealthy. The Western world had been confident and smug in their belief they would remain unaffected. But Humanity was not safe. The growth began in the outskirts of London. Unnoticed for the moment, the mass sensed the hatred and despair within the brick walls. It had work to do.
It felt like they were at the end of the world. The end of their world. No longer were they the mega-stars of their homegrown company. Instead, they had been publicly disgraced, thrown out to the media wolves. They had escaped to this lonely, desolate place to regroup and plan a new path. If only they could use their downfall to their benefit. Slowly a plan formed in which they rose like a phoenix from the ashes. The added benefit? Revenge on the one who had betrayed them with no conscience. Their comeback would be sweeter with his ruin.
The abandoned car was a haven to the young twins: a place to escape the yelling, the unpredictably of drunken parents, the fear. Within the unused vehicle, they could whisper their dreams, their hopes. They would huddle together on the back seat, hoping to remain unseen and unnoticed.
However, their hopes were futile.
Their mother’s screams echoed in the forest when she discovered their burnt bodies. She had been in a drunken haze when their father had set the abandoned car on fire and had not protected her children. She never touched alcohol again.
Sam had been reading the notes in the gratitude jar again. Not a good sign. Ellie prepared herself for an exhausting evening of listening to him continuously criticise people and bemoan his situation in life. By nature she was a positive person with a continuous smile on her face; but her smile was beginning to feel forced. She found herself snapping at her co-workers constantly. Her mother had expressed concern for her changing behaviours and, a year later, Ellie was beginning to accept the toxicity of her relationship with Sam. It was time to make a change.
The arid landscape was drawing closer every month. The community felt unsettled as fear eroded their complacency and impassiveness. Men and women of Hope had believed their land would remain the anomaly, but the reality was that the parasitic outsiders were slowly decimating their ecosystems. And the aliens’ greed was voracious! The humans who had survived the unexpected onslaught were compelled to band together and work as a team to take their world back. Future generations and the survival of Arcadia depended on it. People would have to stand up and fight for their birthright and what belonged to them!
As the train approached the tunnel, the driver pulled on the horn. The abrasive sound was a grim reminder to Becky that her life was about to change. Irrefutably. Her parents’ death meant a change of family, of home, of language, of country. Her eyes scanned the flashing countryside through the window. She would not give in to tears. She would not! She would face the upcoming challenges with gritty determination and make her parents proud. The unknown faces waiting for her at the train station may claim to care for her well-being, but her trust needed to be earned.
She had been a caring woman, putting the needs of the community before her own. Matriarch and unofficial Chief. That is what we called her. Like King Solomon, she advised us wisely and helped us towards a greater understanding of ourselves. The way she died was not just. Gasping for air as the ungrateful one lashed out at her brand of justice. Locked in a prison cell for the remainder of his life, he mourns her death. But not as we do. We send out lights into the ocean to lead her spirit to the place she deserves to be.
The clutter on the sideboard and the smell of stale smoke gave her no clue as to where they were. Trying the sliding door to the back garden, she found it now opened smoothly. She stepped outside and heard laughter coming from the unused outbuilding. Curious, she walked across the newly cut lawn. Her parents had not laughed for years; instead they constantly bickered and often showed their discontent with one another. In front of the warped door, she saw them with a young man. “Celine, come meet your brother. He has agreed to stay.” So much was now explained.
Looking out through the window, I felt a desire to go out into the sun and admire the life that teemed in our garden. Time, however, was of the essence. I had chopped, boiled, stirred, sieved and blended the ingredients to form the perfect paste. The aroma had seeped into every space in the room, causing a heady sensation on the edge of my brain. The batch was almost ready and my contact would collect the jars within three hours. Soon my sought after product would be found on the streets of the city. Everyone wished to extend their life.