The Drying Effects of Wind: Chapter Eight

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Start here, then continue to Chapter OneChapter TwoChapter ThreeChapter FourChapter FiveChapter Six, and Chapter Seven. Hope you enjoy!

Chapter Eight

Revolution

“That’s two questions actually,” Sara said automatically, still confused. “Wait, Revolution?”

Ro grimaced and rolled her eyes so far back in her head all Sara would have seen was white if she had been looking. Her attention had been arrested by a patrol bot scanning the grounds and headed straight for them.

“Now we’re in trouble,” Sara groaned.

Ro looked skyward as if to ask for strength. “Listen,” she hissed, “just follow me if you want to join us. Stay here if you want to get another adjustment.” Ro crept along the length of the bench and rolled behind a nearby bush. She ducked and rolled and crawled until she reached the tree in the center of the park. Sara watched, zooming in with her lenses. The bot was getting closer.

In a split second decision that would change her life forever, Sara followed Ro to the tree, ducking and rolling and crawling until she also reached the tree. The bot continued on its way, humming and scanning and sweeping up any stray bits of trash that crossed its path.

Sara stood with her back to the tree, watching the bot. A hand clamped firmly over her mouth.

Sara fell backwards into a void so dark even her lenses could not illuminate her surroundings. Then the hand was gone.

Sara screamed.

 

She landed several seconds later. Whatever she’d landed on was soft, almost spongy, and unpleasantly damp. She tried to stand, but her legs wobbled with the effort and the surface was none too steady.

A blinding light overhead illuminated her surroundings as she fell over again into the dampness. The first thing she noticed was that she was, in fact, on a giant growth that resembled a mushroom. The second was that she was surrounded by people, most of whom were trying not to laugh. Some were frowning. Some she recognized.

“Sara, roll off to your left,” Ro called out. She was standing next to a tall woman Sara had never seen before.

She rolled off to her left and dropped off the mushroom two feet onto hard dirt.

“Oops, I meant my left, your right,” Ro said, and Sara wasn’t sure Ro was actually sorry. She stood, wary.

Sara looked around. They were in an underground cavern with slick black rocks, dirt trails, and eerie growths like the one she had landed on. The light was one of the street lamps from the city, but it had been altered to glow brighter, and with a lid on top so the light shone only downwards. It was on a ledge at least seven feet above Sara’s head, and she could see a string of them off into the distance.  She looked again at the people.

By her count there were almost forty, including Ro. Two were brother and sister, Ian and Patience; she knew them from Assigned Learning. Sitting down on a large rock to her left was Tomas, the manager of a small shop in town where she bought her hovboard. Behind her she heard a familiar voice, one she never expected to hear in this damp cave full of rebels.

“Welcome to the Revolution, Sara,” Eli, the Supreme Inhabitants son, was smiling.

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The Drying Effects of Wind: Chapter Seven

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Just joining us? Read the PrologueChapter OneChapter TwoChapter ThreeChapter FourChapter Five, and Chapter Six.

Chapter Seven

The Code

 

     Tap tap tap. Sara’s head jerked up from her plate. She looked at her father with questioning eyes. He smiled, and again softly tapped the table with his thumb three times, tap tap tap.

     Sara giggled and tapped her plate twice in reply a little too hard with her fork. Her mother blinked, momentarily turning the nightly news report off her lenses to give her daughter a stern look, but was soon back in a trance, and from all outward appearances staring at nothing.

     Sara and her father did not watch the news. He told her it was for serious grownups like her mother and she shouldn’t bother with it. Sara asked if she wouldn’t get in trouble with the Pinnacle. He chuckled and said that the Pinnacle didn’t monitor something as trivial as who was watching the nightly new report. He said Sara would be just fine, and she believed him.

     Sara chewed on a green bean and stole a glance at her father. He winked, pretended to yawn, and stretched his lanky arms out to his sides as far as they would go.

     It was their nightly dinner ritual – three taps meant, “I love you,” two taps meant, “how much,” and the outstretched arms meant, “this much.” It was their secret code. Open displays of affection, even between family members, was frowned upon, although not quite a Not Allowed. Not yet.

Maybe it was the countless adjustments, or maybe the memory was just too painful, but Sara had forgotten the code. She had almost forgotten what her father looked like when he laughed.

___

     Sara quickly plastered a large smile on her face for the benefit of whoever was watching. She took the bottle from her mother’s hand, gave it a quick shake and turned back to the sink. She refilled her dinner glass and opened the bottle, then mimed shaking a pill into the palm of her hand and throwing it in her mouth. She took a long swallow of the water before turning back around, glass in hand.

Her mother was still standing there, but she had stopped rocking. Her arms were stretched out to her sides and back as far as they would reach.

Sara dropped the glass, water exploding over the floor. Something pulled at her memory and a sudden strong wave of emotion made her stomach hurt and she didn’t know why.

The shattered glass seemed to pull her mother out of the trance. The lights had gone from her eyes and her arms came down to rest at her sides. She watched the saucer-like kitchen bot pop out of the baseboard, beeping indignantly while it dried the floor and hunted for every shard of glass.

“What were we talking about dear?”

 

Whoever was on weather duty had gone a little overboard, Sara thought to herself, pulling her jacket tighter as she walked across the dark street towards the house. Fear gnawed at her belly as she raised her hand to knock on the pewter door that looked no different from her own.

“I wouldn’t do that,” a voice came from behind the tall hedge to the left of the house, “unless you want to explain to your neighbors why you’re waking them up at such an un-supreme hour.” Ro walked out from behind the hedge with a smirk on her face.

Sara scrambled to get off the front porch before she triggered the automatic doorbell. “Are you insane? Why did you ask me to meet you here? What-“

“Just follow me and try to keep your mouth shut,” Ro interrupted, “think you can do that?”

Sara huffed, but followed Ro back around the hedge and through narrow alleys, sometimes running, sometimes walking, and sometimes back the way they came. They had just paused behind a small park bench when Sara poked Ro and asked in a whispered scream just what she thought she was doing leading her around in the middle of the night just to crouch behind a park bench and freeze. Ro rolled her eyes.

“You know about the cranial implant, right?”

Sara’s puzzled face confirmed that she did not know.

Ro sighed. “You seriously think the Pinnacle isn’t keeping super close tabs on all its citizens? Influencing the way we vote? What we buy? How we decide what jobs we want?” She took a deep breath and stared at Sara. “They even decide when we die.”

“Now I know you’re insane. The implants are a gift. They extend life, not end it.” She shrugged. “Unless you’re like me, with glitching issues, then you’re supreme. They say soon we’ll be able to live forever.”

Ro shook her head. “That’s what they want you to think. You’ve been adjusted ten too many times,” she jammed her hand in her pocket and shoved a small, purple pebble shaped object in front of Sara’s eyes. “Unless you have one of these, they can hear everything you say, see everything you see, even read your brainwaves.”

“That’s illegal,” Sara protested, “what about the Privacy Protection Act of-“

“That act is to placate the plebs, nothing more,” Ro snapped, “and I can prove everything I have told you.” Her face was all sharp angles in the shadows, her eyes glowing. “The question is now, will you follow me? Are you ready to join the Revolution?”

Found Friday: Veteran’s Bible

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This Bible is very special to me. I found it tucked away in a dusty corner in the very back of an antique/flea market shop, sealed in a plastic bag. I bought it for four dollars if memory serves.

The Bible belonged to Tulis Young. He was born in Missouri on June 7th, 1919, to Douglas and Ora Bell Young. They had three children: Melba, Lawrence, and Tulis. On the 1920 census Mr. Young lists his occupation as “farmer.” In 1922, when Tulis was no older than three, his mother died. His sister passed away in 1951.

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I couldn’t find when he joined the army, but he notes that he was baptized by a chaplain on January 24th, 1942, and the copyright in the bible is 1941.

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The stubs of paper he used as bookmarks tell us a little about his life.

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A ticket for a motel room dated February 23rd, 1977. He paid $9.

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His father’s obituary. He passed in 1978.

Tulis married a woman named Mildred. She died November 17th, 1971 at the age of 51. They had no children. Tulis passed away November 14th, 2004. His brother, Lawrence, passed away in 2008.

Thank you, Mr. Young, for your service and sacrifice for this country. You are not forgotten.

Thank you, veterans, for your service, your sacrifice and dedication.

The Drying Effects of Wind: Chapter Six

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Don’t forget the rest of the story! PrologueChapters One, Two, Three, Four, and Five.

Chapter Six

The Truth Will Out

 

Sara walked into her lab class three minutes late. She made brief eye contact with her teacher, his lenses scanning hers to make sure she had not been loitering. He nodded and resumed the lesson.

Sara took the last seat and grabbed her holo-pad to catch up on the lesson. Something bothered her about the girl at her table, a niggling thought tucked away in a forgotten corner of her mind, but she brushed it aside and began to take notes, her finger swirling over the holo-pad.

“What’s it like?” her partner asked.

Startled, Sara looked up at the girl. “I’m sorry?”

“What’s it like,” the girl repeated, “to talk to the dead?”

“I don’t know what you mean.”

“I think you do.” The girl’s eyes narrowed to obsidian chips. “Tell me, what is the ‘Better Way’?”

Sara’s eyebrows tented in surprise. “How did you know about that?”

“If you had paid better attention at your appointment today, you’d know.”

Ro made a pretense of taking a memo on her holo-pad and snapped her fingers to direct Sara’s attention to her screen. On Ro’s holo-pad was Love’s note.

“I retrieved this note from your lenses today. Should have shown the good doctor, but I didn’t. Are you going to make it worth my while or not?”

Sara’s chest was tight with fear. “You were my tech today.”

Ro rolled her eyes. “You catch on quick.” She slowly clapped her hands three times.

The teacher shot a look at the two girls; a ping popped up on their lenses that warned another disruption would not be tolerated.

Ro shot a glance towards the window and smiled. She snapped her fingers again, pointing to her holo-pad.

Sara read Ro’s scrawled note silently: “Meet me tonight at the house across from your kitchen window. If you do not, I will alert the Pinnacle to your treason. Simple as that.” Sara chewed at the inside of her cheek, then nodded.

“Good,” Ro smiled. She leaned her elbows on the table and cupped her hands in her fists, her short black hair barely grazing the back of her neck.

Sara realized what had bothered her about Ro. Nobody else had hair that short. Not in the whole class. Not in the entire city. There were only two acceptable haircuts, long and straight for women, short and neat for men, and few exceptions. She wondered what else was wrong with this girl as she tried to concentrate on the lesson.

At dinner that night, Sara realized that tomorrow was a High Holiday, if she was still around to see it. She picked at her dinner.

“Sweetheart, the doctor is very concerned about you. She worries that you may have a vitamin deficiency. Have you not been taking them?” Her mother’s coffee colored eyes were soft and searching.

“I have been taking my vitamins,” Sara lied, “I think she was just being thorough.” She stabbed at the pile of beige mush on her plate and wondered to herself where the broccoli and chicken went. She wouldn’t ask her mother; it would only be another red flag that she was not taking her vitamins. She was beginning to see that Love had been telling the truth.

“Be that as it may, she sent a bottle of extra strength over and you’re to take two a day now.” She pulled the bottle out of her sweater pocket and tapped it on the table tap tap tap.

Sara flinched. “I think I’d better get to bed with tomorrow being a High Holiday and such.” She stood, walked over to the counter and scraped her plate into the square hole that served as their trash bin. At the end of every day, at precisely ten pm, the day’s garbage would be sucked down into the tubes beneath the city and incinerated.

“Don’t forget your vitamins.”

Sara turned to find her mother standing directly behind her, so close she could smell something sour on her breath. She was clutching the bottle of pills in her left hand and hugging herself with her right, gently rocking on her feet front to heel, heel to front. She shook the bottle three times with a smile that didn’t quite reach her eyes.

“Remember what the doctor said, Sara,” shake, shake shake, “you need to take your vitamins,” shake, shake, shake, “or she’ll have to report you.”

Something was wrong. Her eyes, Sara could see something was wrong with her eyes. They flashed with lights, green, a beep of red, a dart of yellow; it was almost as if someone was watching her through her mother’s eyes.

Shake, shake, shake.