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

jueves, 16 de junio de 2016


   The walk couldn’t be too long. They were allowed to reach a big boulder on the top of the hill and then go back almost instantly. There was no way to really enjoy the moment, although no one got out for a walk to enjoy themselves. They did it because it was necessary to walk, to train for longer walks in the future. The funny thing was that the distance had not change in a year so they couldn’t really know if they were able to do more in the suits or not.

 Helena arrived at the Boulder and looked up, to the sun. The veil that covered the sky was especially thick that day, blocking most of the sunlight from arriving to the ground. The sun appeared to be cold, as if it didn’t care of what had happened. And he certainly didn’t because everything that had happened had nothing to do with the sun but with the planet and its inhabitants. They had always been a real danger but no one ever thought something might actually happen.

 The alarm begun. She had enough oxygen to go back to the Hut and couldn’t waist more time looking at the sun or at the reddish sky. She wanted the oxygen tank to be bigger, she had asked that several times. But they couldn’t do it. They had no materials and also no interest in letting anyone wander to far off. The truth was that the government of the Hut was not interested at all in reconquering the surface, only in surviving for a hundred years or more.

 When she stepped into the entrance and the airlock decontaminated the chamber, she felt sad. The world outside was no different than in the books and the images she had on her computer. Yet, there was death and desolation all over the place. As a team of people cleaned her outfit with a variety of chemicals, she wondered if the human race could ever be what it once was.

 As she removed the suit in the next room, Frank came to talk to her. He was the person that controlled every walk outside and had some questions, the same questions they always asked people. It was some kind of an obligatory test for every single person that asked to have a walk. There weren’t many who did, not all wanted to go back and see what their house was like now or what the world looked like. Some had actually moved on.

 She answered the same as always: there was no plant life, no animal life, the concentration of particles had not changed and the deterioration of the different materials was advancing as scheduled. She was obliged to take pictures but this time she hadn’t taken any. She told the man it was because her earlier walk had only been a week ago and nothing had change out there in such a short time.

 Frank wasn’t happy about the pictures. He wasn’t really the boss and he knew someone else would get all over him because of that. But he didn’t insisted. Helena was one of the few people that dared to go outside and walk around, they needed her more that she needed them or at least that was the way he saw it. So he wrote in his report that the camera inside the suit was damaged and that they hadn’t realized before she had stepped out. That way, the questions would be less.

 Helena thanked him and, walking slowly, she went directly to the food court. According to her mother, that wasn’t the term they should use but it was the one promoted by the government. They wanted people to feel they were in a safe and fun environment, even if it was below ground. And “food court” was one of those terms that reminisced something good, or so it seemed, from a long time ago. Everyone ate there although they didn’t have many options, only one.

 As always, the young woman did the line and the cashier scanned the code on her wrist to check that she hadn’t eaten earlier. She received her tray and some minutes later she had hot food and was looking for a place to sit down. Luckily, her friend Patricia was finishing her meal so she sat down with her. Patricia was alone, as it happened very often. Many people thought she was obsessed with the outside.

 During the following twenty minutes, Helena discussed with her friend every single thing she had seen outside. Of course, it was nothing new for the scientific team but it was new to Patricia, who was not allowed to go outside on mental health grounds. She had always wanted to do it but from the first time she asked for permission, it was denied. And after many times trying to apply, they finally told her why they wouldn’t let her out.

 She loved to hear every detail about the outside and Helena knew how much her friend like her tales so she tried to make as entertaining as she could. The tale ended when she arrived at the boulder and looked at the sun. Patricia was smiling and her eyes were full of water. She told Helena she was very lucky to have seen that because the world, as she knew, was very beautiful.

 Helena did not really know if the world was beautiful. In theory, it was. The millions of pictures available to them seemed to tell the story of a bright world were people were happy and lived very complete lives. Yet, those same people had been the ones to destroy it, her parents for example. So she always had problems processing that. Besides, the world outside was dead and no sign of that beauty remained.

 After lunch, both women went through the Market. It was a large and long corridor filled with different stores. Each one of them sold something different, so there was no competition. And the amount of things each store sold was very limited. Yet, most people loved to stroll around to check if they had pulled out something new from their vaults or something. People still had hope that things would change suddenly, even if they hadn’t changed at all for so long.

 But that day, the fifth store on the left was filled with people in front of it trying to look for something the vendor had put in display. It was the store that sold paintings and pictures and such things. Most of the things the man there sold were made by him or his family. But the little image in the transparent urn he had put on display was something another walker, the people that go outside, had found in a recent walk.

 When they were able to get closer, Helena and Patricia realized the image was very small. It was a black and white photography, probably a very old one. It pictured three baby boys, or so it seemed. One of the babies was crying, while the other two held hands and were apparently playing with some cubes with letters. The most intriguing part of the image was a shadow behind the crying baby. It seemed to be the arms of an adult, or maybe the legs.

 They could only see the picture for a while before those who had just arrived pushed them aside to have a look. They talked about the picture all the way to the dormitories, wondering if the shadow behind the babies was really another person or maybe even an animal. It was a very weird picture too: who would take a photo of a crying baby instead of taking a look at what he needed.

 Patricia concluded that it might have been a fake. Maybe the vendor had taken the picture and he said they had found it outside. That was very hard to do, thought Helena, but not impossible. They separated in a corridor, as Helena lived further ahead and Patricia lived one floor below. They committed to see each other the next day and then parted ways. Not a minute had passed when Helena fell to the ground.

 A very large, very powerful earthquake was shaking every single part of the complex. It had been built for that but that didn’t mean people wouldn’t get scared. It was the first one in a long while. Helena could hear screaming behind the doors, where people lived. When it stopped, she stood up fast and ran towards her home. But she never made it there. A general alarm was issued: the compound had been breached.

 No one knew what that meant. Was it toxic gas or something like that? What did they mean with “breach”? Helena wasn’t sure she wanted to find out but, instead of going to check on her mother, she decided to turn around towards the laboratory. She had to know what was going on.

jueves, 12 de mayo de 2016

Visiting hours

   The large male nurse walked as if it was the most normal place in the world. Esther followed closely, looking sometimes at the windows to sea the weather outside but also to the side, where she could see some other windows but these gave views into the room of several of the residents of the psychiatric hospital. Some of them were apparently silent but when she passed other rooms, it was easy to hear strange sounds like bumping or slapping or strange mouth noises.

 The weather outside had turned worse in the last few minutes. The sky had been dark all day but the first drops of rain had finally begun to drop. Esther thought it was maybe the best weather for such a day, for such a visit. The reached another gate, where she had to show some ID and a guard checked her for anything that couldn’t be allowed inside. She didn’t really know what those objects were, but she didn’t mind at all.

 Her purse had stayed behind, at the first gate. Also her car keys, her house keys, her cellphone and a knitting kit she carried everywhere because it made her feel a lot calmer. The only thing she was able to carry inside was a plastic bag with some chocolate bars inside as well as banana muffins and a bottle of iced tea. They had wanted to open the bottles to check it was really iced tea, but an officer had stated she trusted Esther. Apparently she understood what a mother would feel in such a circumstance.

 When they were done checking her bag again, they walked through another corridor but this one was short and ended up in a large room that was filled with people. The place was very warm and she noticed it was because of the amount of people there. Immediately, she could tell all of them were patients of the hospital. Some of them were blankly staring at nothing in particular. Others were playing by themselves or watching the TV, where a man was explaining to the audience how butterflies mated.

 The male nurse told Esther to wait inside a small room besides the recreation area. It was a small space with a table and two chairs. She sat down in one of the chairs and realized the table had two metallic hooks of some kind, small, possibly to tied down the patients in order for them no to attack or anything. She thought that was awful and decided not to think about it because the image in her mind was horrible.

 The room also had a small window and she decided to stand up, leaving the bag on the table, in order to look out the window and not think about the horrible things that maybe happened in that room, or for the matter, in that hospital. She already felt guilty and imagining situations she didn’t know about, was really not necessary.

 Her son entered the room, followed by the male nurse. She turned around when she heard his voice saying “Mama”. Esther walked to him and huge him as strong as she could and he did the same. They hadn’t seen each other in two weeks, since he had been interned in the hospital by order of a court that had decided that Kevin, Esther’s son, had to undergo psychiatric evaluation and, if necessary, rehabilitation in a psychiatric facility. And that was exactly what had happened.

 They let go of each other and sat down in the two chairs. The male nurse stayed there, by the door, leaning against the wall and pretending he wasn’t hearing anything but it was obvious he was. He had no option. Nevertheless, he had done exactly that for so many years already, that he had learned when he had to be listening and when he could just wander into his brain and imagine what he was going to have for dinner at home or what kind of car he wanted to have.

 Esther told Kevin his hands were very cold and asked him if he was eating properly. The boy, around seventeen years old, told her the food there was pretty okay and that she shouldn’t worry about it. She didn’t really listened to him. She just turned her bag upside down and showed her son all the treats she had brought him. Esther smiled to Kevin and he smiled back but it was obvious he was sad or at least not as happy as she was pretending to be.

 They decided to eat the big banana muffins first and the nurse’s stomach growled because of the delicious smell. Esther offered him a bite but he just raised his hand and moved his face, so she didn’t insisted. She asked Kevin if everything was okay with him, if he felt good there, if there was anything he wanted to tell her about it all. He took his time to answer, preferring to eat his banana muffin, which had been his favorite since he was very little.

 Kevin said to her mother that everyone in the hospital was very nice and that the only bad thing so far was that his room was a bit cold but he slept well with some two blankets and a thick quilt of top of them. She said she could bring more if he wanted it but he just said no and went on to finish his muffin. She ate too but she was more worried about her son. She didn’t know what to ask or how to ask.

 But she had to. She had no choice but ask things. Esther’s next question was about the medication they were giving him. Kevin told her he took a couple of pills everyday to control his anxiety issues and that he took others for physical problems like his blood pressure and such, because it was always very elevated. She nodded when he said that, as she tried to build in her head what that meant for him. Was he getting worse or better?

 Kevin took the chocolate bar next and smiled. It was a weird smile, as he didn’t even know how to do it. And it lasted only a few seconds. He felt the deep scent of the chocolate and took a bite. It was also filled with oranges, which he loved. He thanked his mother and kept eating it, until he reached half of the bar. His mother told him he could have some for later but then he looked at her and, out of the blue, laughed at her. His eyes appeared to transform and his laugh was so exaggerated, she felt bad to say what she had said.

 The male nurse looked at Kevin first and then stated that the patients couldn’t keep anything from the outside in their rooms, no even food. Kevin pointed at the nurse and nodded, indicating he was telling the truth. He told his mother that she should have known that, if she had come earlier to visit him. Esther felt hurt by that but explained to him that they wouldn’t let her in because his treatment had not being properly initiated so they didn’t want her to spoil it.

 Kevin just nodded and it was obvious he didn’t care one bit about what his mother was saying. He didn’t believe her and told her that the first week had been horrible, with all the people there crazier than anyone else in the world and the doctors pinching and poking and asking and everything going on and on every single day. He felt tired every night and in the morning it would begin again and the cycle would repeat, of course, with the horrible therapy that he went through.

 Esther was horrified because he had transformed before her very eyes. He asked her if she knew what the therapy was all about. Before she could deny that she knew, he explained to her that they put him on a chair, with restraints, and made him answers questions and look at pictures and videos and tried to understand what hade being going on at the time he had killed the children in playground. They wanted to know why he had killed three of them.

 The nurse got nearer but didn’t intervene. This time, he was listening carefully. Esther was on the edge of tears, trying to ask for forgiveness about him being there and also asking her son not to say anything else about he did.

 And then he punched the table and told her that was him that’s who he really was and that she had to accept that she had a son who was a murderer and that had enjoyed it. He was hysteric, not laughing or crying, just yelling to make his point be seen. Kevin told his mother that even now, he thought back about it all and even then he enjoyed it. He had taken pleasure out of it and he had no remorse.

 He stood up fast and the nurse was going to grab him but he had no need to do that, as Kevin went through the door by himself, and on to his room. The nurse told Esther to go back to the gate and tell the guard there that her visit was over. But when the nurse went away, she couldn’t stand up. She looked at the food there on the table and then repeated her son’s words in her brain and she just couldn’t understand, she couldn’t.

 What had ever happened to her baby boy?