The emptied lockers told of those who had left in desperation seeking safety from what was to come. Emptied spaces echoed with the footfall of the caretaker as he meandered the corridors with the knowledge that soon the remaining boxes would be gone. He had no desire to run and was ready to meet his death. He had lived long enough and was tired of the day to day struggle to survive. He would stay here, defend what belonged to others, and buy them time. And in so doing, he may – maybe – absolve himself of a life lived selfishly.
Harsh sunlight shone on the desolate playground; the lack of children’s voices echoed in vacant spaces. Life was emptier and less purposeful without the younger generation. Two months ago, children had forcibly been taken en masse. Adults were still unsure of the reason for the forced removal; but rumblings were beginning to stir. Distrust of those in charge fanned hidden embers of discontent.
Children were hidden deep within the bowels of the earth. Their DNA had the key to unlocking the solution to future disaster and their resilience made them the perfect guinea pigs. Echoing screams were unheard above ground.
All over the city, lines of people snaked around corners humming with resignation and discontent. Two weeks had passed since the last time these adult men and women waited to receive living assistance from their government. The Industrial Revolution had finally peaked and the machines were doing all of the human work; people had lost a dignified way to earn a comfortable living. Each year the lines got longer; and each year the restlessness grew. The assistance given was paltry causing families to co-exist in small, cramped spaces. The time was near for an anti-industrial revolution. The masses were ready.
Looking up, Mira wondered how she was going to get out. Not only was the underground room far from the main house, but there was no ladder in the vicinity. She thought of her daughter and the question this morning:
“Mommy if you had a super power, what would it be?”
She’d answered flippantly. Now, though, she wished she had the strength of Superman and his ability to fly. Screaming with frustration, she paced the musty space. Her only hope was that Mitch remembered her intention to come here when he got home. If not, she’d have an unpleasant experience.
Taking his glasses off, Thomas slowly rubbed his eyes. Searching for clues in the book was difficult: this was the text she’d been reading when she disappeared and the subject matter wasn’t enthralling.
“You know she may have left of her own accord?”
“No Nathaniel, I know my wife. She’d never abandon her children – they mean the world to her. There was something about Highgate she figured out – something that put her in danger. I know it.”
Putting on his glasses, he turned to the text again. He could not give up! He sensed Sylvia’s life depended on it.
The plant grew and crept along the wall, its leafy tendrils exploring the pristine wall. The creeper had been genetically altered and transformed into a listening device. In another part of the city, revolutionaries listened to the unfettered conversations of councilmen; conversations that lingered on the changes to bylaws that would prohibit personal freedom.
Prior knowledge enabled the freedom fighters to overcome those in power. In their victory, they claimed that freedom was a person’s right.
Once in power, the new leader ensured no plants graced the surfaces of his home and office. Then he began to enslave the majority.
The sight of the seaplane meant the influx of summer visitors had begun. Their arrival brought a buzz to the shoreline and increased revenue to many. But Jack did not look forward to the return of the family that had embraced him last year, then rejected him on the eve of their departure based on malicious gossip. He had thought their relationship stronger.
Days later, he saw them. She was cradling a baby in her arms and her parents were shame-faced. They had realised the error of their accusations when the child was born. He was obviously not Jack’s.
The train pulled out of the station, leaving Amanda standing forlornly on the platform. Regretfully, she thought of Max and the last words they had exchanged. Hateful words that would be difficult to take back. Now she was here alone, exploring the places they had planned to see together. Sighing, she hefted her backpack onto her shoulder and began the walk to the castle ruins.
Amanda gazed at the ruins in wonder. They were just as she imagined.
“Fancy seeing you here!”
Tears slowly fell down her cheek as she saw Max walking towards her with a smile of forgiveness.