Her mantra for the last few months echoing in her head, Sandra padded softly to the edge of the pool. She wanted to slice her way through the water but could not allow herself to sink into the contaminated liquid. Her last attempt to fight her allergy had landed her in hospital for a few days.
The sound of women’s chatter and the splash of water roused her from her reverie.
“Morning everyone, welcome to your Aqua Fitness class. My name is Sandra and I will be your instructor today.”
The bleak, arid land stretched out before them. Her search for shelter seemed hopeless but she would not give up! Shifting the weight of the sleeping child in her arms, Lily strode forward determinedly. The car had broken down but surely there had to be a homestead somewhere in this godforsaken land. Over the hill, she saw it in the distance. Help. Water. Refuge from the blazing sun.
“Mama, are we nearly there?”
They were welcomed with generosity. The homestead came to be the perfect place to change an identity and to hide from a killer.
Hidden among the modern edifices of the sprawling city, the building suggested religious observance, a strict adherence to rules, and practices steeped in history. Instead it housed a rising Phoenix, the spirit of those that revolted against the oppression of the Romans. Centuries later, the small group planned to fight against the oppression of the current rulers.
“This time we need to get leaders in government and business on our side. Let’s be smart so that we can prevail. Think French Revolution!”
The embers stirred as one of the most powerful men of the country walked into the age-old synagogue.
The view under the iron-rusted beam was breathtaking. None of the stories had prepared them for the sight. The air felt fresh; the sun warm on their backs. Born in the bowels of the earth, they felt a freedom their generation had never experienced: the chance to move unhindered along the sandy beach, to shout out with the joy for life.
“Dare we go?”
“If it weren’t safe, surely we would be dead by now?”
The rebels stepped hesitantly onto the textured sand. Bliss! Even if they were to suffer from radiation exposure, this moment in time was worth it.
The streets were deathly quiet as people fearfully hid in their homes. The prolonged cold snap kept them huddled under blankets as power stations struggled to warm homes. The city did not know how to cope with the snow and had rigged makeshift ploughs to clear the empty streets. Another onslaught of precipitation was forecast and the government was gearing up for the predicted chaos that would ensue. Warning signs of Earth’s response to the misuse of its natural resources had been evident, but ignored. The Earth chose to re-balance itself with another Ice Age. It was finally beginning.
Katie wanted to show her support but hesitated to step into the church to watch her sister marry a man she loathed. From the beginning, he’d aimed to win Amelia – like a prize at a fair. Now papa depended on him. And mama? His charming ways had pleased her and words spoken against him brought down her wrath. Katie feared for her wraith-like sister whose shining light had already begun to flicker and would certainly dim under his possession. She forced herself to enter the building. She needed to be there when Brandon grew bored and discarded her loved ones.
Leaving the marked trail 6 hours ago had shown our adventurous spirit, our need to disregard the rules. Our confidence had carried us past a flowing river and an interesting animal hideout; our energy had encouraged us to walk further than we had first intended. When our last snack was eaten, we were reminded that it was time to return to the campsite. We walked in ever-widening circles, our fatigue pointing blame, our desire for the comfort of familiarity strong. Seeing the streetlight through the screen of our exhaustion cheered us. Soon we would welcome the relief of rules and restrictions.
The nylon thread stretched over the area, creating a tense barrier between the women working the machines and the affluent owners. Sandra reflected bitterly that their fight had been for nothing; that lack of food and heating had forced them back to the floor. How she wished she had the power to take away the Hadley’s privilege and wealth. They would not survive a week in the crumbling tenements the tireless workers were housed in on the estate! Glancing over at Edna, she nodded her agreement to the latest plan. It was foolhardy, but she had nothing left to lose.
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.