This morning I awoke to a chrome-plated, revolutionary society that I knew as ‘home’. Tonight, I sleep in a world turned black, an oblivion with only the damned souls of survivors.
Let us begin at the beginning.
I live…lived in a Utopia of technology and advanced belongings. Each person’s health immaculate, each household efficient and each company thriving. The little touches of the 21st century were now replaced with superior items; side walks were now motorways for on-foot civilians, maintaining speed and care of each civilian; roads now made way to advanced vehicles, ‘hover cars’. Everything had changed, but had it been for the better? Like most days, I follow the systematic functions of society in this beautiful city; wake up, watch the news, go to work and come home. “A life with guidelines is a life full of achievement”, shouted my boss on a daily basis. That seemed to be the slogan throughout this place, a ‘Nazi-like propaganda’ to some, encouraging conformity and lack of individuality. I don’t see it like that. Guidelines make us follow a strict path of efficiency and productivity. How can anyone argue with that?
I worked with the city council, mainly monitoring individuals and tracking overall progress in our Utopian revolution. This is how I understand our guidelines; prior to ‘mandatory conformity’, crime was 21% likely, and reoffenders had a 94% chance of ‘cropping up’. Now, our crime rate is 0.1% and there are no reoffenders. I do not know how such statistics make way after only 5 years of power, but it’s evident to work. No-one knows what happens to offenders, but they never show up again.
Anyway, getting back on track, upon finishing my final shift, I take the public transport home. Imagine a gleaming, pristine monorail producing no harmful emissions, speeding at upwards of 150mph, yet maintaining the comfort of the most luxurious beds. They are arguably our proudest achievement in transport; the world’s first hover-rail. After my relaxing ten minute ride home, I stand and observe, with much awe, at the world around me. Within the blink of my eye, the monorail shoots off faster than a sniper round, creating a piercing- yet oddly satisfactory ‘ping’. As my eyes scan the surrounding area, I notice hundreds of cars race over me, each one creating a low hum as they speed by. I turn around, and to greet me, my house stands magnificently amongst the rest. A sleek and innovative design created for the dual purpose of providing beauty and comfort. From the outside, chrome and platinum plates line each edge of the baby blue and white walls. Leading up to the door, numerous plant pots provided a run-way, each holding exotic and sensory fulfilling beauties of flowers, ranging from the deepest crimson to the brightest yellows. Each looked as though they captured a particular colour of the rainbow, and chose to express it in the fullest of their glory.
Just as I approached my door, it swung open in a calm, slow movement. There, stood behind it, was my entire life; the person who gave me happiness, the person who gave me joy. The person I love. A tall, thin, beautiful woman smiled at me. Her hair curled tightly into a bun, with few strands out of place, but providing a humbling and ‘cute’ look. The red and blonde colouring of her hair complemented each other perfectly; blonde being the representation behind her sophistication and elegant nature, and the red expressing a feisty and seductive side to her. She wore a long, loose fitted dress embossed with imagery of flowers, cartoon families and houses; alas, some images had been obscured by pale pink blotches of paint. I instantly correlated this to our new room in the house; the nursery. The fact is, she is 5 months pregnant, but heavily defiant to show much signs of weakness, rest or lack of productivity. Instead, she gleams a welcoming smile to me, and I gravitate towards her, arms outstretched. Her smile must have been contagious, in a mystical and unique way, because it etched itself onto my own face in a way no-one else ever could.
She bellowed clumsily, yet romantically, “Hey! I love you” to which I replied my usual response of, “Hey! I love you too”; a routine dialogue we engaged in frequently.
With the eagerness and excitability of a young child, she grasped my hand and steadily ran up the stairs, leading me to the nursery. By the time I had entered the room, my attention was strewn equidistantly around; the entirety of the room had been painted in a spectacular, almost professional manner. All thoughts of the stresses of work diminished and instead, were replaced with pure infatuation and adoration for the gift standing before me. That gift, Charley, gave me the will to live, and gave me the hope for a proud future.
We had first met at a party I was ‘forced’ to attend, through peer pressure via my friends. At the time, I had severe depression and the idea of a party made me feel sick. Alternatively, I was told that it would ‘lighten me up’, so I hesitantly went. Much to my disbelief, by the end of the night, I had realised this had been true…I had found Charley, and the rest was our little segment of history, written into only our minds.
Seemingly as quickly as I had scanned the room I stood in, a blaring of a fog horn bellowed thunderously through the house, and presumably the street, as one-by-one, neighbours piled onto the street through natural curiosity. Of course, I joined them. The ground shook with what felt like the combined energy of all nuclear disasters, knocking most spectators onto the floor. Sheer panic and confusion swept in to each person. People ran into their houses, whilst others sat in awe on the streets. I just stood with my mouth agape, at what I witnessed next. In what appeared like forever, but in reality lasted a few seconds, a large, charcoal-black hull of a space ship blocked out the sky. It remained stationary for long enough to depict finer details upon it; its imposing and stark blackness forced a sinking feeling deep through my throat and into my stomach. All ‘safe’ spacecraft bore the same colour schemes as our city. This was different…too different. The size was notable, considering it blocked most of the sky; I would presume it to be upwards of 20 miles long, a feat no ‘friendly’ ship had ever even come close to achieving.
Thousands of tiny hatches opened along the craft, revealing swirling vortexes of red and purple plasma. Once it had seemingly established all importance and attention upon itself within the city, it released one final, bass-filled fog horn that crashed a continual echo through every crevice in the city. I swallowed my last mouthful of saliva in the realisation of events unfolding; I recognised the swirl of plasma was the harnessing of energy required to create ‘laser-cannons’, powerful turrets that shot unprecedentedly hot beams of energy as a deadly alternative to bullets. With mere seconds to decide my fate, I sprinted into my house and dived on top of my wife in a defensive cover. The moment our bodies crunched against the floor, a subsonic crack shredded our windows and eardrums alike. A pulsation recognisable as a shockwave battered heavily into our bodies harder than a tsunami. We lay still for what appeared like eons, too scared to breathe. It happened again, and again, and again. Each instance getting closer, and more powerful, and more deadly. Streets and people and cars were being incinerated by the lasers, leaving only a mass trail of destruction.
We just lay there and cried. Not a heroic action, but the only action we had the strength to fulfil. We knew our fate and we accepted it. Just as my fingers entwined with hers, she whispered, “Hey, I love you” and my world faded away. It became black, devoid of any emotion or any thought. My fear of darkness wearily came into play, and aroused me back ton consciousness. Adjusting to the harsh light of the fires surrounding me, I faintly made out the figure of Charley. Blurred, yet recognisable, her blonde and red hair gently cushioned my face in a soft blanket. My eyes fully calibrated, I saw her in a peaceful sleep. Her soft eyelashes stood prominently on guard to protect her beautiful eyes, but no flutter moved them. The midsection of her body bore the bump of my unborn life, yet it didn’t rise and fall with her respiration. She had fallen asleep in the arms of death, an eternal slumber, my face being the last she saw.
My senses came slowly together, the final one being my hearing. I suddenly caught the faint sounds of the fog horns progressively getting further away. A sense of comfort amidst the destruction.
A shot of adrenaline crippled my body like ice in my veins and I stood up, ignorant to the possibility of my own injuries. Morosely, I sank my head to look at my wife fading away into a memory as a single tear trail blazed down my cheek like a lone adventurer. The last words she whispered repeated hauntingly in my mind, yet it scared me not. Instead it comforted me. Just like the last time. I held a valuable part of her with me, my life; the life she allowed me to live and the life she put back within me.
The fog horn moaned again, this time even further. I felt strangely safe, but knew of the disaster it would have likely caused. My home was no longer recognisable; instead it had been crippled to a crypt of broken metal and concrete, entombing Charley’s body like her own little pyramid. With almighty perseverance, I clambered out of the makeshift catacomb and onto what was left of the sidewalk.
Each house has been directly impacted, some worse than others. My direct neighbour’s houses had become mere craters in the ground. I somehow felt fortunate that ours withstood better, and that I had consequently survived, but I couldn’t help but feel a burden – a missing piece of myself. The symbol of my happiness was dead, and so too felt my emotions. Exhausted, I continued down the street, bombarded by flashbacks of all-too-old memories of better times. Neighbours were gone, friends were gone and family was gone. I was gone.
Hours had passed before I finally reached my ‘mistakenly-arrived’ destination. The sun had retired and with it, the warmth. I knew I had to find shelter, but where? The only standing place I could find, after so many hours of searching, was Peachdale Forest. Like a sacred shrine that had been vowed to protection amongst the bloodiest war, not a single branch was out of place. Walking through it, reminiscent of the Amazon, I traversed into its heart. Much to my dismay, a small circle of tents surrounded a lonely campfire, along with seven individuals huddled close by. Cautiously, yet desperately, I approached in the least imposing way possible.
“Hey! Are you survivors?” I cried, obviously a stupid comment in regards to what had just happened, and the fact they sat before me. With turned heads and ajar mouths, they jumped back, obviously shocked to find the life of another.
“My apologies, I’ll be on my way” I muttered, respecting the fact they must have been panicked. I felt defeated and lost a reject to the final men.
“No! Stay here mate; we were just a bit shocked, ‘ts’all” replied a low-toned Australian voice. I turned and hesitantly sat by the fire, feeling the first piece of comfort I had since I left Charley. The warmth faintly tapped at my skin, whilst my body screamed for it to absorb in. I was cold, I was afraid, but I was safe.
I spoke very little, instead taking in every detail of the survivors and concluding the day gone by. The Australian was clearly the self-appointed leader figure, as he often spoke on behalf of the others. He was a muscular, militant figure but by no means looked too ‘different’ from the others; they were all covered in smoke and dust, making it obvious that we all shared similar fates. The only distinguishing feature upon the ‘Aussie was a large, prominent scar running down from his eyebrow, over his eye and onto his lip. It was a frozen river which encapsulated his own personal horror story.
I couldn’t help but ponder upon the stars; each one shone with such brilliant clarity, each working in unison to illuminate the sky in beautiful harmony. I stared at the glowing orbs of light, and breathed every breath with a strange sense of serenity. Despite the hideous and unexplainable destruction, I took an odd comfort in the bare elements I was now subjected to; I realised the beauty around us, not the superficial chrome plating on our houses or the advanced technology that we depended upon. No. It was here all along. The universe captured us in a tiny pinpoint, we being a mere oil drop floating amongst an ocean. In comparison to everything else, we were nothing. The universe was such an unimaginable beauty that we decided to cover, that we decided to obscure without own comforts. How could we forget our origins?
For the first time in my life, I felt truly at ease. The previous events had lo longer phased me, nor could they, for I was amongst the clouds on earth, watching life pass by without a single worry.
Today, I awoke to a Utopia, and tonight I sleep in an equally beautiful Dystopia.
-Benjamin John Wareing