Apologies that this was not posted on Friday, sadly I don't have the excuse of being ill this time... Anyway here is the fifth part of my novella 'After the Revolution.'
If you missed any of the previous parts, or just need a wee reminder of what's going on, please check out parts 1 - 4 in my previous posts. Thank you once again for taking the time to read my work.
After the Revolution - Part Five
(After the Revolution)
It was raining when three of the cloaked guards marched Alex outside to the transport. It was there, in that dismal courtyard, through the steel mesh of the perimeter fence that he caught his second glimpse of the future, only this time in the dismal light of the morning. It looked as though the bombing had stopped, and great rushing torrents of rain washed across the cracked and twisted skyline, dousing the fires in its path.
‘Get in.’ The biggest guard motioned towards the open doors of an armoured vehicle that sat in the courtyard in front of Alex. ‘Go on, move.’
Alex climbed in, with his hands fastened securely behind his back, taking one more look at the battered remains of the city he once called home.
‘Sit down and stay down. This won’t take long.’
The guard held his gun up to another man who was also sitting in the armoured vehicle, opposite Alex. ‘I don’t want any trouble from you, neither, Stoltz.’
The man smiled demonically at the guard. ‘Of course not. I’ll be good as gold… promise.’
The guard sneered and slammed the doors shut.
Alex looked up at the man across from him as the vehicle began to roar to life beneath him and smiled uncomfortably.
The man smiled back and looked over at Alex through wild, crazy eyes. ‘What’s your name?’
Alex cleared his throat and spoke timidly. ‘A… Alex.’
‘I’m Stoltz. That’s always the first thing we ask, isn’t it? What’s your name? Like it even makes a fucking difference. You could be George of Jim and it would all be the same to me.’
Something in the man terrified Alex. He looked unstable, and never stopped smiling. ‘I suppose names don’t matter much, especially now. They taking you to the lock up as well?’
Alex tried his best not to make eye contact with the man.
Nodding, he replied. ‘I guess so.’
‘What did you do?’
Alex didn’t reply.
‘Yeah,’ said Stoltz, ‘I didn’t do nothing either.’
Through a tiny window on the side of the vehicle, Alex saw the ruined city tear past. The streets were grey and vacant. The world outside seemed completely colourless, with not a single patch of green to be seen. Greys and blacks everywhere; smoke and ash. Alex thought he saw an arm creeping out from underneath a pile of debris on the roadside, but the vehicle was moving so fast, he lost sight of it.
‘Quite a sight, isn’t it?’ sneered Stoltz, unashamedly staring Alex in the eyes. ‘You live amongst it this long you begin to forget what it used to be like.’
Stoltz closed his eyes and leaned back in his seat, trying to visualise it. ‘Grass. Lots of grass and trees. I can’t remember the last time I saw the colour green. What’s the point in having colour vision if all there is to see is a million shades of grey? A million shades of grey… and red, of course, blood red.’ The man leaned forward and spoke directly to Alex. ‘You’ll remember what it was like. You’re just old enough I’ll wager. Do you remember? Do you remember what it was like to look out of your window, and the only smoke you’d see would be billowing out of chimneys? Do you remember when the only falling bombs you would see were on the television…?’
Alex looked at the ground and nodded.
‘It seems like a world away now,’ continued Stoltz. ‘You a defector?’
‘So the guards tell me.’
‘They call us the crazy ones.’ Stoltz raised his voice to shouting. ‘Bullshit! We’re not the fucking crazy ones. We’re not the ones starting wars with everyone any anyone. We’re not the ones destroying our country. No… Wilson’s already taken care of that.’ Stoltz nodded towards the driver’s cab. ‘But I had them fooled. I’ve been out for months… and they couldn’t track me. I found a way to escape them…’
Alex looked up at the man, who pulled his right hand from behind his back, his handcuffs pulling the left in turn, and held it in front of him.
‘I found a way to stay off radar.’ There was a long scar down his right wrist, which he looked at, almost with pride. ‘I de-chipped myself. If you were smart you’d do the same thing.’
‘I don’t have a chip.’
‘You don’t? How in hell did you manage that?
Alex was silent.
‘Well, they know now – you’ll have one soon enough.’
‘That’s why they’re taking me to see Wilson,’ mumbled Alex.
‘Wilson?’ said Stoltz, his eyes widening even further. ‘They’re taking you to see Wilson? What the hell did you do to deserve that honour?’
‘I’d be a little more worried if I were you, mate.’ He lowered his voice to a little over a whisper. ‘You’ll be lucky to come out of there alive.’
‘Wh… what do you mean?’ asked Alex, feeling a sudden wave of terror rush through him.
‘Come on mate, have you been living in a cave all your life? You know what he’s like.’ He lowered his voice to a whisper. ‘You know what he’s capable of…’
‘What?’ replied Alex, sheepishly.
‘You’ve heard the stories. You know what he did. They say he killed his own parents – that’s where he gets his whole mantra from. Power, Strength, Freedom. No guidance… he had lousy parents. They say his own father tried to kill him when he was just a baby.’ He sighed and looked out of the window. ‘Shit, I’d probably be just as twisted as him if I knew that. There’s one hell of an Oedipus complex if ever I saw one… except instead of sleeping with his mother, he killed her too.’ Stoltz smiled demonically. ‘And he’s the man in charge. He’s the one who was supposed to return Britain to the people! Instead, he tries to rebuild the bloody empire, and gets us all blown up in the process.’
Stoltz stood up, trying his best to stay stable under the swaying of the vehicle underneath, and began shouting. ‘And all in the name of our glorious leader… Hail Wilson! Power! Strength! Freedom!’ He stumbled over to Alex and spoke only two inches from his face, showering Alex with saliva. ‘But they won’t keep me long, you can count on that. I’ll be out of here before you can say power, strength, freedom. Save yourself, mate,’ he said, hissing into Alex’s ear. ‘Don’t let them chip you. Don’t let Wilson get to you. Stay strong, brother.’
Suddenly he began leaping around wildly in the back of the vehicle, thrashing off every wall and repeating again and again at the top of his lungs:
‘Power! Strength! Freedom! - Power! Strength! Freedom! Power! Strength! Freedom! - Power! Strength! Freedom!’
He rattled his head against the wall that backed onto the driver’s cab and screamed ‘can you hear me? Can you hear me you vile pigs? Power! Strength! Freedom!’
Alex pulled himself into a corner, trying to keep a safe distance between himself and the prisoner that was violently lashing himself off the walls. Suddenly he felt the engine cough to a stop and the vehicle become stationary.
Stoltz stood in front of the doors and screamed again. ‘Come and get me! Power! Strength! Freedom!’ He turned to Alex, and spoke in a slightly softer voice. ‘Don’t let them get you…’
Within seconds, the steel doors to the armoured vehicle came flying open and two guards jumped in and began to restrain Stoltz. The largest kicked him in the knees and sent him tumbling to the ground. Sitting on him to keep him down, the guard pulled a syringe from his vest and plunged it into his arm, spitting into his ear as he spoke.
‘I thought I said no trouble, Stoltz. Night night.’
Alex looked down at Stoltz as the other guard held a gun in his face, making sure he didn’t attempt an escape. Even as he drifted into unconsciousness, Stoltz still smiled demonically, muttering under his breath.
‘Power… Strength… Freedom…’
It had only been a kiss. A stupid kiss. He had put the idea in her head, of course. That’s what she told herself, anyway. As Annie unlocked her front door, she held her collar up to her nose and sniffed it in case it smelled of aftershave. It seemed okay. Best go wash up anyway. The door clicked behind her and she strode quickly up the hall towards the bathroom. He’s here. Somewhere. He’s always here.
She listened out for her husband, but hearing nothing, she darted into the bathroom and began to fill the sink. He was different now. Ever since she had told him that she was pregnant, he had changed. He was less vacant; the news seemed to have kick started something inside him, bringing him a little more into the land of the living. He was at least, now, showing some emotion.
Too bad they’re not good emotions. He had been irritable since she had given him the news.
And I kissed someone.
It was just ‘some’ guy at ‘some’ bar, and she knew it didn’t mean anything. He drove me to it; He thinks I’m having an affair… why don’t I damn well have one?
She knew she couldn’t do that. That one lousy kiss had left her feeling wretched enough. She splashed water onto her face and looked into the mirror. She barely recognised the woman staring back. Wrinkles had begun to form in the corners of her eyes and she looked tired. Exhausted.
‘Annie…’ The voice was only a whisper that floated in from behind her. She jumped, and as she moved to her left, she saw him there, in the mirror standing in the doorway.
She turned around to face him, leaning against the sink with water dripping from her cheeks and long black streaks that ran down her cheeks where her mascara had leaked.
‘I need to talk to you, Annie.’
Annie was silent, and she reached out for a towel to dry her face. She could see he was trying his best to be normal.
Alex repeated himself. ‘I need to talk to you…’
Annie turned back around towards the mirror, flaunting faux confidence. ‘It’s been two weeks.’ She straightened her hair and watched her husband’s reflection. ‘Now you want to talk? You disappear in a flash one night, return seconds later with a beard… then you ignore me for two weeks and now you want to talk?’
‘Well… go on then. What happened to you that night?’
Alex sighed, holding his hand up to his forehead. ‘I can’t,’ he whispered.
‘I can’t,’ he replied, raising his voice. ‘I can’t tell you. I… I can’t tell you. Believe me-’
‘Well then what the hell is it you wanted to talk to me about, Alex?’ said Annie, turning around. ‘Do you think we can just chat and return to normal… like nothing’s happened? You need to tell me what’s going on…’ she gestured to his head ‘…up there.’
‘I need to talk to you about… the baby.’
Annie was silent as a tear began to form in the corner of her eye.
‘The baby,’ she snapped. ‘The baby that you don’t want.’
‘Annie,’ he said, his brow creasing, ‘I’m… I’m not well. I can’t have a baby. We can’t have a baby. We can’t bring a child into…’ he held his arm out ‘…this.’
‘This?’ said Annie. ‘This? You created this! You created this with that bloody machine of yours.’ She began to cry.
‘You have to get rid of it, Annie.’ He spoke with confidence. There was no uncertainty in his voice.
Annie began to cry louder, her face reddening. ‘Get rid of it? It’s not some piece of rubbish you can just throw away. It’s a baby… a tiny life. Our child, Alex. How can you be so cold?’
Alex looked at the ground. ‘Get an abortion, Annie. You have to. I can’t have a child. Not now.’
‘I can’t!’ she screamed. ‘I won’t. This is our baby, not yours! I won’t… I won’t…’
Annie supported herself on the sink and watched as Alex began to turn around.
‘If you don’t get rid of that baby, then I can’t stay here anymore.’ He marched out of the room and down the hall.
Annie fell to the ground underneath the sink and sat on the tiles stroking her stomach protectively.
‘Don’t worry,’ she whispered. ‘I’ll always keep you safe.’