Friday, 4 February 2011

After the Revolution - Part 3

Morning All - It's that time of the week again, Time for part three of 'After the Revolution.' If you need to refresh yourself with the story, please check out my previous posts. Enjoy!

After The Revolution - Part Three


(Present Day)

Annie had made the breakfast table as usual. She still always set two places and made enough toast for both of them, even though she was fairly certain he wouldn’t be attending. The last time she had seen him was last night, a drawn grey spectre shuffling through the hallway at one in the morning, offering her the slightest of nods.
She sat and crunched uneasily at her buttered toast, her mind still lingering, as it always did now, on her husband. She played out every scenario that could have happened that evening. What did he see? In many ways, not knowing was the worst situation. As far as Annie was concerned, Alex could very well have faced all the demons that she had conjured up in her terrified daydreams.
She began to feel queasy. Tears rolled down her cheeks and she set her toast back on the plate as she tried to hold it back. She couldn’t cry again. She didn’t have the energy. Every night since Alex’s incident, she had quietly wept herself to sleep. He had been sleeping elsewhere; she wasn’t sure where, his workshop probably.
As she wiped her eyes and looked up, she saw him. He was standing in the doorway, hunched and looking out at her through heavy, pained eyes.
Annie forced a smile and wiped her eyes on her sleeve.
Alex said nothing. He offered her a gentle nod.
‘How… How are you feeling this morning…?’
No reply.
‘Want some breakfast?’ She stood up and pulled a chair out from underneath the table. ‘I set you a place.’
She didn’t expect him to sit down.
‘Do you want some toast, Alex?’ she said, holding the silver toast rack in front of her. ‘It’s fresh… well, I mean its a few minutes old… I suppose I could make some more if you-’ she was rambling. She knew it, too. She couldn’t bear sitting there in silence. If only things were the way they were.
Alex used to eat cereal. He would always put way too much milk in it and keep refilling it, a little less each time, until all the milk was used. She missed watching him read his newspaper and babble excitedly about his work. She missed seeing him smile.
‘I’ll just butter you a slice.’
As she dug the knife into the butter and began scraping it across the triangle of toast, she watched him out of the corner of her eye. He was looking out of the window. He stared out at the blue sky, deep in thought.
As she passed him the slice of toast, Annie toyed with asking if he felt like going outside. Probably best not to push it. Just having him in the same room as her was a comfort.
‘H… how have you been sleeping?’
He looked up at her through the raven black pinpricks that once were his eyes, saying nothing.
He began to crunch at the toast.
‘Is there coffee?’
Annie’s heart leapt. He spoke. How she had longed for some idle chit chat. Smiling widely, she got up and wiped her hand on a dishcloth. ‘I’ll just make a pot.’
She filled the kettle and turned it on. As she turned around to reach for Alex’s favourite mug, she noticed something. The top two buttons on Alex’s shirt had come undone, and it hung loosely around his shoulders, exposing the tips of long scars on the back of Alex’s back. All the skin around his back and neck was covered in wounds.
Alex’s favourite mug shattered against the laminate floor as Annie held her hand to her mouth.
‘What’s that on your back? You’re covered in scratches!’ She took a step closer. ‘Alex… are you ok…?’
Her husband immediately dropped his toast and pulled his collar up around his neck.
‘Alex… what’s happened to you? Where did all those wounds come from?’ She began to weep inconsolably. ‘You have to see a doctor!’
He immediately stood up, pulling his collar around his neck and turned for the door.
She fell to her knees and watched as he turned around before leaving the room.
‘I’m sorry,’ he said.


(After the Revolution)

‘Put him in with the boy.’
The dogs barked as two of the cloaked men threw Alex in to a tiny, dark room and pushed the five inch thick steel door behind them.
‘We’ll be back for you,’ growled one of the men through the air vent.
As Alex picked himself up from the floor, he struggled to see anything around him; the room was nearly completely black. His head throbbed from when he had impacted with the floor. Sitting up, he felt a tear welling in his eye. Through the blanket of darkness, he began to hear something. Breathing.
He called out into the unknown again. ‘Hello?’
‘Are you a defector?’ It was a child’s voice. A tiny, timid squeak from somewhere behind him. Alex jumped and turned around. It’s just a child.
‘No.’ He squinted, trying to see through the darkness. He could just make out the dark silhouette of a young boy sitting at the back of the room. ‘I’m a visitor.’
‘You’re visiting someone here in prison?’
He guessed the boy was about eleven or twelve.
‘Are you here to visit me? Is that why they put you in here?’
‘No, I’m afraid not.’ Alex rubbed the back of his neck. ‘Is that where I am? Prison?’
‘You mean you don’t know?’
‘No,’ replied Alex. ‘I’m afraid I’m a little… disorientated.’
‘Why did they bring you in?’
‘I don’t know. They said something about… a curfew?’
‘You broke the curfew?’
Alex sighed and rubbed his chin. ‘Looks like it.’
There was a long pause before the boy finally spoke again.
‘I’m Ralph.’
As Alex’s eyes grew more accustomed to the darkness, he saw the child more clearly. A streak of jet black hair fell across his grubby face.
‘I broke the curfew too.’
Alex crept to the side of the cell and sat with his back up against the wall. ‘Why the hell is there a curfew? What’s going on out there, on the streets?’
‘You have to be kidding me,’ said the boy, edging closer to Alex. ‘Where have you been?’
Alex sighed. ‘A long way from here. How come you’re in here?’ he said turning around to Ralph. ‘You can’t be more than twelve years old.’
‘Thirteen.’ The boy paused and sniffed though the darkness. ‘Today’s my birthday.’
Alex smiled, thinking about the date that he punched in to the time machine. ‘Yeah? It’s mine too.’ Alex sat in the darkness thinking. What a way to spend your thirteenth birthday. Locked in a pitch black prison cell. ‘Even at thirteen. They can’t put you in prison… surely that’s illegal.’
‘Since the revolution they can do what they want.’
‘They don’t care if you’re old or young, black or white – if they suspect that you are defecting, they’ll throw you right in here. I’ve been in here lots of times.’
‘What revolution?’ asked Alex, perplexed.
‘Did you fall out of the sky? The Revolution. The British Revolution.’
‘Like I said… I’m just a visitor.’
‘Hell of a place to want to visit. Every single British person’s trying to get out, and you’re here visiting? Since Wilson took power nobody comes to Britain except to bomb it.’
The boy was unlike any other thirteen year old boy Alex had ever met. He didn’t seem timid or shy in the slightest.
‘Why do they want to bomb us?’ asked Alex.
‘Dunno… cos of Wilson I guess.’
‘You really don’t have a clue do you?’ The boy shuffled across the room and sat opposite Alex, cross legged on the wooden bench. ‘Wilson killed my Mum and Dad.’
‘I… I’m sorry.’
‘It’s okay. It was two years ago. I’m fine on my own. Dad always said I was a fighter.’
‘Where do you live… who looks after you?’
‘I look after me,’ said the child, confidently. ‘That’s the way I like it, too. I live where I can – here, mostly. Every few months they pick me up after curfew, charge me with the same crimes as always, and then let me go once the prison gets too crowded again… they know I’m not a threat… that’s why they keep letting me out.’ The boy pulled awkwardly at his shoelace as he looked up at Alex. ‘My parents were defectors, that’s how come they’re always after me. They think I’ll grow up to be one…’
Alex cleared his throat. ‘What do you mean by defectors?’
The boy sighed and looked up through the darkness towards the ceiling of the tiny cell, brushing his hair out of his eyes with his hand. ‘My parents were part of the second revolution. They were going to end Wilson’s rule… and return Britain to the people.’
There was a silence as the two sat in the darkness.
‘They were killed in the Hyde Park massacre.’
Alex could tell that the boy was pretending not to cry.
‘I’m sorry. You must miss them.’
After another long pause, the boy spoke again. ‘Do you have children?’
‘Why not?’
Alex almost laughed. ‘I don’t suppose I’d be a very good father.’
‘Why not?’
‘I don’t know. Maybe someday.’ Maybe someday. Suddenly Alex’s thoughts turned to Annie. Would he ever see her again? As he closed his eyes in the darkness, he saw her face in front of him. Her porcelain skin and ruby lips made him feel suddenly very homesick. I miss you Annie.
A long time passed as the two sat in darkness opposite each other, not saying a word, before Ralph’s voice eventually came squeaking out of the black.
‘Hey, mister?’
‘Happy birthday.’
Alex smiled. ‘Happy birthday to you, too.’

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