Well, it's Friday again, thank goodness! And with it comes the second instalment of my new novella, 'After the revolution'. A huge, huge thank you to all of you who took the time to read part one. If you need to catch up on the story, then check out my last post. Anyway, here's part two, which contains chapters two and three - Enjoy!
Alex didn’t talk much in the weeks following that evening. He spent most of his time sitting alone in his workshop, staring into space with a terrified look on his face. He would offer the most basic of pleasantries to his wife, good morning, good night and even the odd thank you, but that was all. When Annie would quiz him about what had happened that night, he would recoil and leave the room sheepishly. She tried to make small talk in an attempt to return to normality.
‘I see the beard’s become a permanent fixture, then.’
‘I kind of like it,’ she said. ‘It’s kind of rugged. Wild.’
He turned his head only a quarter of an inch and make eye contact with her. He didn’t smile. He didn’t frown.
She recognised the look in his eyes. Beneath the obvious sadness and fear, she saw desperation. In that flash of light only a few nights ago, her husband had become a stranger.
‘You know you’re gonna have to talk to me sometime, Alex.’
He frowned, turning fully away from her.
‘I’m your wife. You’ve barely spoken three words all week.’ She ran her fingers through her red hair. ‘What the hell happened to you? I realise that you’re scared… but… but I can help you. But I can’t help you if you won’t let me help you, Alex.’
She sighed and turned away, before reconsidering. ‘Maybe you should go and see a doctor.’
‘I don’t need a doctor.’ He roared those five words with the most enthusiasm he had shown all week. ‘I just need… I just need…’ Tears began to well in his eyes.
‘What do you need, Alex?’
He paused before replying.
‘I just need… to be left alone.’
She wondered if he knew that she was crying in the kitchen. She wondered if he cared. What has happened to my husband? Where is the man I fell in love with?
Something happened to him. Could it be true? Could it really have worked? Tears rolled down her cheeks as she stared out of the kitchen window into the darkness. She pulled out a cigarette from a packet on the worktop and slid it between her lips. She had quit nearly three years ago, but in a teary bundle of nerves she had bought a packet that morning.
Where is my husband?
He had been staring at the same rivet for nearly an hour, now. He had inspected every shade of silver within it and mapped every detail of it. All he could do now was think. He knew he had to do something. He had to think of something.
He sat there hour after hour, day after day replaying what he had seen in his head. All the terrifying memories.
And it must have happened in the blink of an eye for her.
One Week Earlier
He opened the hatch at the bottom and climbed in, smiling to himself. Where will we be in fifty years? He pulled the hatch door closed until it clicked. Through the window he saw Annie turning round. She’s watching…
He set the controls. He was about to become the worlds first time traveller. This is the most historic mission ever embarked upon by mankind…
He tapped in the destination. February Twenty Seventh, two thousand and sixty. His ninety fifth birthday.
He was blinded by a flash of light and he snapped his eyes tightly shut.
Suddenly darkness. Darkness and silence. As he opened his eyes, he saw very little. Just a dark brick wall in front of him. He took a deep breath and sat up. Dust fell around the entrance to the machine as the hatch door slid open. The air outside was thick and oppressive, and he coughed as his feet met the ground. Closing the hatch door, he turned and looked around.
His machine sat at the end of a long room with row upon row of desks that stretched back. It’s a classroom. It looked like it hadn’t been used in years. He picked up a workbook from the desk next to him, which he assumed was the teacher’s desk, and looked at it.
‘Britain after the revolution.’
He placed it back and looked around.
Long cracks stretched up the wall, creeping along and parting at the broken window at the far end of the room. Like a giant wound, the window sat open, caved in, exposing the world beyond. As Alex looked out, his jaw fell wide open, and he scrambled to the other side of the room for a closer look. Out of the window, he saw his home. London. But it was very different to the city he had left five minutes ago.
Amber flashes intermittently lit up the skyline on the horizon, illuminating the twisted, burnt out shell of the city that used to be his home. In the flash after flash of explosions to the south, he saw that everything was in ruins. I have to get a closer look. I have to find out what happened.
He looked across at his machine, and then back outside. Ten minutes. Ten minutes, then it’s back to Annie.
He looked out again and began to climb up a pile of rubble and out of the classroom.
This is where Bernard spent the evenings, outside the old school, watching the bombs go off in distance. He would come out here most nights when the sun had sunk. There’ll be nothing left to bomb soon. The sky lit up in amber flashes on the horizon, followed by a roar, dulled only by the distance it had to travel to reach Bernard’s ears. He knew better than to be out and about on the streets after curfew, so he nestled himself into the ruins and prepared for the long, cold night ahead. Sometimes he would even find food up here – a mars bar or a packet of crisps, but tonight he was content to just rest and watch the orange blaze on the horizon.
Some way across the rubble, over by the classroom window, he heard something and instinctively ducked for cover. It’ll be them. It’ll be his men again. Bernard knew that the spot he had chosen wasn’t technically breaking curfew, but kept his head low just in case. Suddenly a figure raised its head out of the rubble. It wasn’t one of his men. He could tell that straight away. The figure didn’t move with enough purpose to be one of the POLA.
It was a man. One solitary man, looking around like a tourist at the sights. Bernard raised his head to get a better look and the man caught his eye.
Great. He’s spotted me. This is my camp.
‘Excuse me,’ said the man running across the debris towards him. ‘What’s going on across there?’
‘What does it look like?’ Idiot.
‘Where am I?’
Jesus Christ. ‘London… well, what’s left of it.’
Leave me alone. ‘I’m just trying to watch the fireworks in peace, mate.’
‘Fireworks? They’re bombing London!’
Where the hell has this guy been? ‘Welcome to the twenty first century, mate,’ said Bernard. ‘Everyone’s bombing everyone.’
The man looked out at the explosions in the sky in the distance. ‘Why?’
Bernard smiled and looked straight ahead. ‘Power. Strength. Freedom.’
Bernard actually laughed out loud. ‘Have you got amnesia, mate? Did one of those rocks fall on you and knock you out?’
‘Then how on earth could you have possibly missed the demise of the human race?’
Leave me alone. ‘This is my camp. Go find your own place to sleep.’
The man nodded uncomfortably and began to walk down towards the road. Bernard knew exactly what lay down that road. If he’s stupid enough to go down there, he deserves what’s coming to him.
Alex walked down to the road. His road; Lawson Street. He navigated his way across the loose rubble to the muted roar of the bombs in the distance. Everything was different. They had build a long since abandoned school where his workshop used to be, and the park across the road from his house, where Alex used to walk his dog, was now occupied by the crumbling, burnt out remains of an old warehouse. None of the houses on his street had survived; most of it looked like it had been rebuilt as industrial units before being bombed to the ground.
This was his home. In ruins.
From the brow of the hill that led down towards the city centre, Alex began to hear a rumbling sound, followed by the blinding flash of headlights appearing over the crest. A vehicle was hurtling towards him at high speed, ripping over any debris in its way.
Alex held his hand over his brow to shield his eyes from the blinding light and stepped back off the road. The vehicle, a black armoured four wheel drive, skidded to a halt two feel in front of him, and four men dressed in black with black capes leapt out brandishing weapons. One of the men pushed his gun into Alex’s ribcage.
‘Get in,’ he growled.
The dug the gun deep into Alex and gestured towards the vehicle. ‘I’m arresting you for violation of curfew. You know the rules, mate. Get in the car.’
With the cold steel of the barrel of a gun in his back as his motivation, Alex got into the vehicle with his hands raised, and just as quickly as it had come, the car tore off down the road again.
From his perch by the old school, Bernard watched as the POLA raced away with their latest victim.