Mostrando las entradas con la etiqueta change. Mostrar todas las entradas
Mostrando las entradas con la etiqueta change. Mostrar todas las entradas

miércoles, 6 de junio de 2018

To vanquish fear


   Trying clothes was one of those things that Rebecca had never really liked about going out to a mall, whether it was with her friends or her family. She would always see something cute that she would love to wear herself, but wouldn’t be able to bring herself to try it on and least of all buy it. Something just prevented her from actually trying to change, even when she really wanted to make something for her that would maker her at least a little bit more interesting, not only for men but also for everyone in general.

 She had never been the kind to talk to strangers or just initiate a conversation in the line of the grocery store. It was very difficult to find the right moment and the right words and apparently the right person to that with. And when she finally decided to do it, people would have moved on and she would already be out, walking home or something. Rebecca would always blame it on her being slow and not as smart as other people, but the reality of it was, and she knew it very well, that she was just too shy and insecure.

 Her parents had tried for years to get her out of her shell, almost pushing her to do different extracurricular activities in order to discover things she could be good at or that could help her relate better with people. She tried cooking and playing various sports, as well as knitting and dancing and also horseback riding and even volunteering to help those in need. She did all of them for some time and then quit when she realize she wasn’t really getting anything out of any of those activities, only frustration.

 After every single failure, she would go back home and stay in her room for hours and days, sometimes crying for being such a weird kid but then realizing she didn’t really care about other people and then taking on hobbies that could work with her being alone like drawing and writing. The only things she would ask her parents to buy for her would be pencils in every single color in existence, as well as notebooks and, once, a better laptop to keep a copy of everything she did just in case she needed it.

 For a while, she was able to just to that and come to school almost running in order to keep drawing and writing. Her parents were busy most of the time so, even if they had been worried at first because of her lack of skills with others, they soon realized that they had to be grateful their daughter was having such safe and creative hobbies, rather than causing problems for others or for herself. So they were happy buying her whatever she said she needed for her arts and they never doubted her skills again. However, it would soon be all for nothing because of the big changes that happened afterwards.

 As everyone knows, the Plague started its expansion about a year ago and in a matter of days, several millions had died suddenly and others had been severely deformed and turned into creatures without a proper mind. They had no thoughts of their own, nothing that could relate them to the people that had been before. They just lived, if that could be called living, to wander the world and attack those that the Plague had not killed in the first wave. The survivors moved around often, avoiding their former families and friends.

 Rebecca had been one of the few survivors of that cataclysm. It was very strange but, for a long while, she had been completely oblivious about the whole thing. Not only because she spent her days in her room, drawing and writing about all the things that came into her mind, but also because the Plague had expanded at the beginning of summer, meaning she had less reasons to be outside or wander around town. Rebecca enjoyed the sun more when she could be as away from it as she possibly could.

 She was already seventeen when everything happened. The day she heard shots outside and people screaming was the first one when she realized something was going on. She had been in her room for at least a week. Rebecca had learned to cook for herself a long time ago, as her parents would often be at work, so she had not missed them or needed them for anything. But the day the shots were fired, was the same day she ran out of pages on her favorite notebook, which had a beautiful Japanese design on the cover.

 Normally, the girl would ask her mother or father to go to the shopping mall and buy a new one but she wasn’t able to find them at all that they. She waited at home all day but they never came in. So she looked for their offices phone numbers and then things got even stranger because the phone wasn’t working. It was obvious that something very bad had happened because when night came, the lights suddenly went out and they never came back again. She was very scared and decided to stay in her room.

 She did so for a whole day until she heard shots again and then more screams and then silence. Rebecca was terrified and in need of her parents. It was true that she had never been really that good with people but she realized that her parents had been essential in her becoming at least a functional human being. She didn’t love being with them and she felt bad for that because she knew children were supposed to love their parents and she had never felt that. Until, she was alone. Until she had been forced to realize how dire her situation was without them. She cried herself to sleep that second night.

 By the third day, she came down to the kitchen and decided to pack every single piece of food she could find on a bag. She would carry that bag to her room and then survive whatever was happening in there. As she put everything on a suitcase that her father would often use for business trips, she realized she had never thought on turning on the television or the radio in order to know what was happening. She was about to do so but then she felt stupid because the electricity had stopped working two days ago and she knew that.

 Rebecca felt very stupid and realized filling a suitcase with crappy food was not going to save anyone from anything. If she wanted to know what was happening, and it was probably best that she did, it was imperative for her to step out of the house and confront the world, once again. She climbed the stairs fast and looked out the window, something she rarely did. There was no one on the street and no sounds could be heard. If there was a perfect time to come out of her house, that was it.

 She emptied the backpack she used to go to school and packed in some clothes and things she would need outside like a flashlight and batteries, some of the crappy food from the kitchen, a Swiss army knife her father kept in a drawer and a tiny bottle of pepper spray that her mother had indicated her on how to use, in the eventuality that a man would try to do something inappropriate to her or someone mugged her on the street. Of course, she had never found use for any of those things, until now.

 When ready, she slowly walked towards the front door of the house and opened the door with doubt. She was not as scared of what might have happened in the world, as she was from the exterior in general. She took a deep breath and slowly but surely walked beyond the front side of her house. Rebecca stopped for a moment and looked behind, wondering if she would ever go back there but she knew it was better not to ask too many questions, at least when she was so insecure about everything in the world.

 Rebecca started walking again and, in minutes, she was deep inside her neighborhood. Contrary to a normal day of summer, the streets were very empty and the sun was only heating up the cars that had been left outside. There were no corpses to see, so she was optimistic.

 She stopped being that when she got to the supermarket her family visited. A group of people was gathered in front of the door. She doubted for a minute but then, knowing she had to be brave, she yelled at them. She had vanquished part of her fears, just as a bunch of zombies looked at her, licking their dry lips.

miércoles, 23 de mayo de 2018

Synthetics


   The small teddy bear looked out through the railing, trying to catch a glimpse of what the other were looking at: indeed, some kind of ship was descending rapidly through the thick clouds that engulfed the tower and soon disappeared beneath them. It was well known by every synthetic life form, that the Spire had been built tall enough to observe anything happening in the vicinity, for thousands of kilometers. The air was very thin up there but that wasn’t a problem for their kind. It had never been.

 Teddy pulled back from the railing and descended with other synthetics to level Ninety, where they had their quarters. Some others were still in the elevator when it closed, as they were heading for the tracking center in the lower levels. Most of those synthetics were what one would call scientists and anything that seemed odd or out of place was extremely interesting to them. For Teddy though, something falling from the sky was not that much of a new thing, as he had seen it happen so many times.

 Secretly, most synthetics were hoping one of those things falling from the sky would be a ship piloted by their former masters, the former rulers of that world. They had left thousands of years ago, leaving behind many of their creations. The synthetics had been something like their offspring and they had been abandoned from one day to the other. It hadn’t happened for no reason: the planet had become toxic for their masters and if they wanted to survive they had to leave as soon as it was possible for them.

 The consequence was leaving their planet to the synthetics, which over the years, decided to take charge of things and try to make the planet more hospitable. It took a very long time, but the air in the surface eventually became breathable and they were even able to recreate water and vegetation, as it had been in the past. Of course, synthetics had no need for all of that as they couldn’t breathe or feel like their former masters, but it was the sense of achievement and purpose that drove them to do all of that.

 Teddy had belonged, so long ago, to a series of children, all from the same family. He had no recollection of when and how he had been made but he knew that he was one of very few toys that could actually interact with their owners in a more realistic way. However, he was left behind as if he had been another working droid, with no mind or soul of his own. He always wondered why he had been left behind and many answers would often come up in his head. The one he liked the most was the one where his owner had just being forced to leave him there, so no one was to blame.

 When the darkness of the night came, the synthetics took their time to recharge and fix themselves if they had to. Teddy had been repaired fairly recently, so he was working just fine. He was about to power down in order to rest for a while, not that synthetics needed it, when an alarm was heard all over the Spire. Through a series of speakers, every single inhabitant of the tallest structure on Earth was able to hear one of their top scientists say that, the ship that had fallen from the sky seemed to have brought back a human.

  Everyone went insane. Some more than others. It has to be said that most of them still missed, in one way or the other, their old masters. They didn’t think much of the fact that they had been left there alone, on a decaying planet. Most synthetics felt that humans had been obliged to do what they did, so there was no such thing as a choice. Many dreamt of the day they could encounter humans again, in order to show them how well they had evolved and how they had recuperated their planet from certain doom.

 Everyone descended to the lowest level of the Spire and did something they very rarely, if ever, did: they gathered outside, at night, by the tower, and waited until everyone was there. When realized they were complete, the scientists exposed their findings while talking from a boulder that was higher than the rest of the synthetics. That way they could speak loud and their voice would reach even the smallest synthetics like Teddy, who decided to sit down as he heard what his companions had to say.

 They showed images of the ship, taken earlier by a drone. The metallic transportation was interesting in shape, but synthetics had never really been that interested in moving beyond the planet. So travelling from somewhere very far to there, was not something that impressed them or interested them. However, the last few pictures revealed what they had all descended to see. Just before the drone had left the area, the ship had opened some kind of door and a silhouette could be seen walking out of the ship.

 Maybe it was the dirt being moved by the wind or the fact that the drone was not fully charged when it started its adventure, but the pictures were not top quality at all. The shape everyone could see in the pictures was indeed something that looked like a human, as most of them did by the way, but who says that no other creatures in the universe has been created the same way? Everyone was in doubts, discussing their points of view, their overall reaction. Then, the scientists announced an expedition to leave for the landing site in order to encounter the creature, whatever it was.

 As they were all connected via a special network, the chosen ones to go to the ship were chosen in a few seconds. Teddy had insisted to go but he was afraid he would be denied the opportunity. However, he was accepted on the grounds that his general aspect might prove to be an advantage if the visitor was indeed a human. After all, he was smaller than most synthetics and his appearance was soft and adorable. No one would dare harm such a cute little bear, or at least not it if they knew what he was and what he was created to do.

 The team left that very night, in order to get there before sundown. The landing site was not that near but they could reach it easily with transportations they had rebuilt after the humans had left. They had their versions of trains and cars, and also planes and even helicopters. They chose to hop on to something very similar to a jeep and go on their way. No one talked during the trip, as they were all very nervous of what they would encounter. What if it was something else, something dangerous?

 The moment they reached the site, they were amazed at how clean the ship looked. It sparkled in the sun, as it was setting. It had only a couple of windows and the rocket busters to help it come down were easily visible. They didn’t have much time to take a look: when one of them approached the ship, the door opened as it had happened on the images the drone had taken. And, as in the pictures too, a creature came out through the door and greeted them. None of them could really believe what they were watching.

 It wasn’t a human. It was a synthetic, just like them. It was just more refined and clean; its parts were made from things no one on Earth had ever seen. He actually looked like a human, walked like one and even talked like one. But they knew he wasn’t real, he wasn’t one of the former masters. It was another one of their creations, just like they themselves had been all those years ago. For a while, they just looked at each other, confirming that all of what they were thinking was correct.

 When it spoke though, the synthetics realized something very important about it: it had been sent by the humans to their former planet, in order to check on it and see what had become of the place they had once called home. The android even played a video for them, recorded a long time ago.

 A human male and a human woman explained their curiosity to see their former planet but also their sadness that the ship would take many years to reach it. However, they thought it was worth their time and effort. And the synthetics agreed, even if they didn’t really know what to do next.

viernes, 20 de abril de 2018

Lessons in the ice


   I would always spend my winters in my friend Robert’s cabin, in the woods just north of the Northern Lake. His family never used it on such windy and cold months but I needed that time to be alone and be able to think for once, about my life, decisions and so on. My family lived far away and I didn’t have any money to go and visit them, so I would pack my laptop and portable Wi-Fi and just cold them from the cabin on Christmas day to wish them all a happy day and talk to them for a while.

 The reason I liked the cabin, or at least the main one, was that the lake was just a few minutes away by walking. Part of it would freeze but the other half would stay liquid because of a strong current coming from a river that traverse the body of water. The part of the lake nearest to the cabin was the one that was always frozen, and I would practice my jumps and twists right there. I would do it for hours, never fearing that the ice would break beneath my feet or that I could be attacked by a feral animal.

 I had grown to know the lake deeply, so I knew very well that the ice was at its thickest when I visited, almost a meter thick at times. That was more than enough for me to spend hours and hours practicing. My skating was getting sloppy and I couldn’t do the things that I was famous for several years before, when I first entered the ice skating circuit. I had been labeled a “star” and “the next best thing to come out of ice skating”. There were gifts and praise and flowers and all kinds of beautiful moments.

 But that had happened then and this was now. Me gliding on the ice, jumping and trying to make a good figure, just to be stopped in the middle of the air by my weight or my stupid feet. I seemed to have lost my form in a matter of a few years and coming back now was going to be the most difficult thing ever. I had made the decision to try my best to make a comeback, a last attempt at glory before I entered well into my thirties. That’s the magical number that you cannot go over, not in this world.

 I had checked out every single competitor I was going to have and they were all much younger than me. The prodigy of the group was a kid that was more than ten years younger, with a small stature and slender body, he was sure to make a big impression in any contest. I needed to work a lot to get to that level, to even get near what the others were doing. No one cared that I had won so many awards years ago. They didn’t care if they had been gold, silver or bronze. I wasn’t in their landscape at all. I was just a memory of a past that wasn’t that old.

 I worked out every single day in the cabin, just after having a small breakfast. I would jog around the woods and do sit-ups and pull-ups and every single kind of exercise to make my body what it had used to be. It hurt a lot and it there were many moments in which I wanted to drop it all and just go back to what I had been doing for the past year and a half. Working at the supermarket and as a cashier in the local skating rink was not bad at all. It helped pay the bills at least. But I needed more.

 Telling anyone about my plans was out of the question. Even after sending my papers to inscribe my name for the upcoming events, no one had notice that I was there, trying to make a comeback. They would only notice me once I stepped in the ice once again to reclaim my throne or at least make a decent attempt at it. I hadn’t told my family or anyone else. No one needed to know about what I wanted to do with the next few years of my life. They wouldn’t understand why I just need to do it.

 Maybe if I had a friend, I would tell them what was going on in my head the moment I decided to go back to such a difficult sports life. But I don’t have any because everyone left me after I stopped being famous and a success. And those who didn’t leave me were alienated by the person I became after I hung up my skates to pursue a more “normal” life. They were disappointed in me and got fed up of my negative attitude towards life. I have always said that I would never hold that against them.

 Sometimes, at night, I wonder about what those people think now that I’m planning to come back to the competitions. Are they going to be still mad at me for leaving everything in the first place or are they going to silently cheer me on? Well, I’m never going to know that but it’s not important. I need to do this whatever the results may be and no matter how difficult it can get. And it’s already pretty hard so I guess things are going to be pretty messy. But that’s the challenge I accepted.

 When winter is over, I will go back to the city and start practicing on a proper ice rink and then the trials and competitions will begin. Everyone will know I’m trying to get back to the top and then everything will become even harder. But I trust I can push through and just get to a point were I get to enjoy skating again. I want to feel what I felt all those years ago, because it was the best feeling ever. It was like walking on clouds and being able to fly over everyone else, doing something most people would only dream about. It felt so special and magical, a one of a kind sensation.

 But before that, I need to get back in shape, I need to be able to be that person I once was or at least someone very similar. I have to learn from the mistakes I made back then and also make new ones, because no one is perfect and there’s no way I’m going to step on those competitions thinking I’m better than others just because I have been there before. No, I need to know that I’m starting over, from the bottom. I need to make the trip to the top with all the dangers and difficulties, because that’s the only way I can do this right.

 Sometimes, I can already feel the rush through my body, going up from the skates to my hair, rushing with my blood which is warmed by the simple power that you feel when you’re doing something that makes you feel unique and present in this world. That one of a kind feeling.

 But then I fell, flat on my ass, hitting myself once and again and again, against the hard and cold ice. I see my body covered in cuts and bruises and I realize I’m just beginning. There’s still a long way to go for me but I do not mind at all. I want to get to the finish line. I need to get there.

miércoles, 14 de marzo de 2018

La Vérriere


  The sound of a piano being played could be heard on the staircase that led to the each one of the seven floors that made up the building. In each floor, there were two doors: one for each apartment. Nevertheless, not all of the apartments in the Vérriere building were used as homes. Some of them were offices and others, like 7B in the upper most floor, had been in use for thirty years as a teaching hall of music. Some days you could hear a piano, some others a violin or even a flute.

 Below 7B lived an elderly couple, Ava and Michael. They had been living in Paris for almost seventy years, from the day they had visited as a recently married couple and had fallen in love almost instantly with the city. They loved the architecture and the vibrant artistic movements that you could see and feel all around. And the food, of course, was one of the big reasons for them to stay, as Michael had always wanted to become a professional pastry chef, and Paris was the perfect city to achieve that.

 They decided to move into the Vérriere less than a month after their marriage and announced their decision to family members and friends back home in England with a postcard of the city seen from the Eiffel Tower. Of course, everyone was surprised by their sudden decision. Yes, maybe Michael had always wanted to be a chef and he loved everything that had to do with pastries and bread, but they no one really thought he would follow the dream. And Ava… she was much too young.

 When they moved, Ava was seventeen years old and Michael was nineteen. They started working right away, Michael in a bakery and Ava in a bank. They didn’t ask for experience back then, just the language, which they had to learn bit by bit at nights. It was a hard life for a long time but they eventually moved up in their respective fields. Michael got enough money to enter school and become the chef he always wanted to be and Ava was able to be the accountant of a very prestigious chain of stores.

 Now, Ava and Michael are in their early eighties. They are still in love with each other and they rarely leave their apartment, for which they paid rent for many years but they were eventually able to buy it, as the owner had became a great friend of the both of them. They had two children; now living in the country they had both came from. Somehow, the love the couple had for the city had not being transmitted to their children. They rarely visited, the only foreign sound in the apartment coming from the music lessons above, which were an entertainment for them, more than a nuisance.

 In the middle of the building, in 4A, lived a young man that had recently moved from an eastern European country. It was almost a year ago that he had entered the building, only to check it out with a friend. But they hadn’t been looking for an apartment to live in. His friend ran a production company that produced pornographic content on the Internet and he was looking for a place that looked old and could be used to set various types of productions, somewhere versatile they could use.

 Both of them loved it but Karl, the boy with a thick accent, was truly enthralled with everything about the location. He liked every single little details like the door handles and the sink appliances, but he also loved the views from the windows and the fact that there were very well lit rooms and other one that seemed flooded with darkness. The high ceiling and beautiful wallpaper sold the deal for him. His friend, however, thought the place was a little pricey and that’s when Karl proposed a deal to him.

 Karl would give money to his friend, in order to cover the price of rent, but with the condition he would be able to live there, use it as his home. His friend was doubtful because he knew it could get annoying if someone lived there and a filming crew would suddenly need one of the rooms for a movie. But Karl assured him he was very used to the whole filming scene, being an actor himself, so he assured nothing would go wrong and no problems would show their ugly heads.

 Actually, he said that not being sure of anything, only knowing he just wanted to live there. But he eventually realized he had been correct: the place was not only perfect to live as it was huge and conveniently located, but it proved to be a great setting for lots of movies. Karl even participated in some of them. The incredible surprise was that the building was so sturdy, that people were not able to hear anything on the other floors. And the fact that there were offices around was even better for them.

 Eventually, Karl met a nice young man like himself during another location scouting. They talked and dated for several months until he asked him to move in with him. Karl’s friend eventually found other locations and he eventually stopped using the apartment in the Vérriere building for his films. The place turned into the home of Karl and his boyfriend, who would eventually become his husband. They made great friends in the building, including the elderly couple made by Ava and Michael but also the dozens of cats that Mrs. Laffite had taken in.

 She lived in the only apartment located on the ground floor. She was the person in charge of getting the building clean, on the outside and the inside. Mrs. Laffite was also the only person to have an actual garden in the building, complete with a small bench to sit down and several plants that made her home look like something of an anomaly for such a huge city. Nevertheless, she wasn’t the most sociable person ever, so most people didn’t even know about her beautiful apartment.

 Sometimes called Lala by other people living there, she had surrounded herself with dozens of cats. It was common to see her entering the building holding one or two cats on her hands, just as if she had came into the building with two bags of groceries or something. She always brought in new kitties, mostly strays that she found around the marketplace and other corners of the city she liked to walk around. Granted, she never went to far from the building and never spent more than two hours outside.

 The rest of the day was spent inside her house and sometimes standing in the frame of her door telling the cleaning lady how to do her job. There was always a different woman or man cleaning the place, as she grew impatient with them very fast. She never liked how they clean, how not thorough they were. She trembled when thinking about their homes, and how dust and dirt would be slowly accumulating in corners and under the furniture. Lala was a big germophobe, odd for such a cat lover.

 When someone talked to her, saying “Hi” or something, she always responded by nodding. If people started talking more, she continued answering with head movements and other gestures. It wasn’t that she couldn’t talk but she simply didn’t like to interact with people. And those who had been living there for a few months already knew how to handle her situation. And they didn’t mind and she didn’t really mind any of them, she didn’t really care too much to be very honest.

 Her happiest moment was being in her garden, tending to her plants. She would sing to them and that was the only time some of her tenants were able to hear actual words coming out of her mouth. Her voice was beautiful, soothing and simply magnificent.

 La Vérriere was a building filled with so many people from different backgrounds, doing different things and having different thoughts. It was pretty much as any other building in the world. A place where everything and nothing meets at the same time.