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

sábado, 24 de enero de 2015

Her war

  Alicia had just taken the lives of at least ten men. But she didn't care. She had learned not to care much when it came to do what she had to do. The past had taken the lives of many people she had loved, some way or another. Who cared if even more people were killed now? The world wasn’t one to care no more. And she, Alicia Hall, wasn’t one to feel sorry anymore. She just didn’t care.

 The fight had happened just outside of the many quarantine zones. This one encircled the whole city formerly known as Panama City. As many knew, even then, Panama had been a worthy ally to the Statian cause. So much that, during the attempt of the Confederation to take the south part of the continent, they built a parallel city on the other side of the Panama Canal to ensure their troops were properly supported. They had even built a large nuclear energy complex to feed both cities with electricity.

 But no one predicted a surprise attack; done by the Southies (slang termed the Statians used to call the people living on the other side of the canal) but covered up by the Statians, calling it a “failure” of the energy station. There was an explosion and everyone got evacuated. Many people died, though but no one ever knew about any of them. The place was rapidly turned into an exclusion zone for airplanes and the whole city was barricaded and put into quarantine. The people living beyond it were left to their deeds. In other words, they were left to die to the radiation.

 That had happened almost thirty years ago. The world today was very different: the war had ravaged entire regions. Food was hard to come by and countries were not as important as they had been before. The Statians had been reduced to a mountain range and many others had done the same. Technology existed, of course, but had been improved. All innovation had stopped. Anyway, people were more worried about feeding their families than about anything else.

 Alicia herself remembered her parents and brother often. It was true that she cried every night, thinking of them. She would always remember the day she had been taken from her home by a group of Righties. Righties were people that still believed in the superiority of one race or one group of people. They were loads, as people in fear always trust the wrong folk. They ravaged towns, raped women and killed innocent people, thinking they were Vikings of sorts. They also kidnapped women to be sold as sexual slaves and that’s what had happened to Alicia.

 But she had escaped. After an awful trip across the ocean, she had been sold in New Africa, the center of the Statians country. Strangely enough, the city was located by the sea. It was the commercial center of the country. Nevertheless, most of those folk lived inland, scared of invasion. Alicia then became the slave of a renowned politician and lived in his state for two years. Then, a storm broke out and there was fighting between the Statians. She took her chance and escaped the compound, unseen.

 But the day after, when she got up to a high hill, she realized they were following her. So began a journey of many days, even months, chasing through wilderness of all types to escape her captors. Eventually, they let her flee thinking she would die in the wild but Alicia was better than that. She learned to hunt and gather fruits in the forest. The young woman had even found useful things in more deserted cities: clothing, weapons, water bottles and food.

 The food was the best, by far. People everywhere were starving and there she was, having a whole city for herself, where she could pick up anything she wanted to eat. For example, Alicia had never had a spoonful of ice cream. The first time she had some, she laughed like a little girl and ate a whole bucket of it, tasting of vanilla. The stomachache that followed was awful but she thought it wasn’t a high price to pay for such a delicious treat.

 It was in that deserted city when she first killed. A group of men in military clothes walked in the center of the city and she saw them as they dragged two women along. The women looked foreign, like Alicia. She realized they were slaved. Rage ran through her veins and in that moment, she decided to do something bold. Without giving them the chance to say a word, Alicia penetrated their camp at night and killed the four men, with a couple of knives she had grabbed from a department store.

 When she was finished, the women escaped screaming like mad, looking at her as if she had done something horrible. But she knew she was right. All those men, all those people that thought were better just because they were of some color or lived somewhere, all of them, they had to pay. So, in her time in the city, she killed no less than a hundred men. She had trained herself, alone, to use every single weapon she found. Alicia had a small flat on the top of a small building and, in a case where she kept guns, knives, axes, arrows, grenades and other instruments to kill.

 But it was after some time that she realized she had to move on. Someone would get wise and would come to hunt her. And she didn’t want to give none of those people the satisfaction to do so. So, after gathering her things, she did a tour of various stores to replenish her stash of food and ammo, as well as some technology devices. These didn’t really worked well but she needed a GPS in order to know where to run.

 She wanted bad to go back to her country but she knew that was even more dangerous than facing a buck load of army men. She would have to penetrate the Statians territory and then, somehow, board a boat back the other side. No, that was a stupid idea, filled with things that might go wrong. Instead, after looking on a paper map, she decided that her best choice was to go south, through the old border and beyond.

 At the border, precisely, she met friends for the first time. They were indigenous peoples. Alicia had never seen people so beautifully dressed, not after the devastation of the war. But the indigenous women she met told her, in signs that they wanted to preserve what was theirs. War had torn them apart but they trusted that everything would get better. Alicia wasn’t as optimistic but shared a couple of days with them before continuing south.

 It took her months to cross through jungles and devastated cities. It was incredible to see how many people had survived the war, hiding in forests and going back to the lives lived by their ancestors. They were casual hunters and some had even started to grow food again. Many volcanoes made the soil a good friend but many people ran scared when rain came of when the wind blew to strongly. They talked about La Mancha, some sort of explosion that hey had seen and had destroyed, even more than war, the land were they lived.

La Mancha was no other than the horrible stain floating over the nuclear power plant that had being blown up by the Southies. Alicia heard of the story many times, by many people, on her way to the canal. But she noticed something else too: the more she traveled, the more Statians she saw. Some of them were taken as refugees by the locals but others were in occupation of small territories.

 After crossing lake Nicaragua, Alicia was arrested by one of these Statians. The man called himself a general and said they were retaking these territories “in order to protect them, as only us have the intelligence and power to do so”. They had killed several locals and threatened to turn Alice into a slave, again. But this time she knew better. She faked compliance and started giving them all a private show but when she was almost naked, Alicia took a gun from the general and killed him. Everything turned into chaos but the locals and Alicia prevailed.

 In the midst of the fighting, Alicia realized women where also members of the Statian army. They were not many, but they were there. She realized she had no compassion for them either, thinking of how low they had gotten. They were no different than the men. Alicia realized her struggle was not again the Statians alone; it was against every person that wanted others to do as they said.

 After the skirmish, the young fighter crossed more mountains and forest until she got to the exclusion zone. It was there where she killed ten more army men. She went through several papers they were carrying and realized they had been set to check the plant and retrieve something from it. Dead as they were now, they weren’t going to finish nothing and, hopefully, it would take some time before the Statians knew what had happened to them.

 Alicia then reflected on her being there and realized something: she was alive. She inhaled and exhaled several times and then stood still, as if waiting for something to happen. Nothing. Somehow, she could breath. Was that why those men were there? Then, she heard something she had only heard from afar and in television: a helicopter. It appeared just above her, flew a bit further ahead and landed softly. From the machine came out a gorgeous women, tanned and with short black hair. She neared Alicia and she was surprised by her question.

-       Are you all right?

 The young woman nodded. The woman told her to come with her. She took Alicia’s hand and they both walked towards the helicopter. Once inside, the machine started roaring again and rose above the trees and old buildings. Alicia didn’t say a word but saw the woman besides her give her a smile.

-       My name is Rosa. You might refer us as Southies…

 But Alicia was fainting. Unknown to her, one of the soldier’s bullets had gone straight into her right lung. The last thing she saw, before falling asleep, was Rosa pulling out  a needle from a case and yelling at her. But Alicia couldn’t her a word. She was pretty tired and just let herself go.

lunes, 29 de diciembre de 2014


Stepping on the sand, feeling it beneath our feet, it was different. We had been walking along the road for such a long time that we had forgotten what it felt not wearing any shoes, any clothing except underwear.

We were six people, three women and three men, and we had been wandering the country for almost a month. We had begun walking because all the cities had been destroyed, devastated by war. Bombings and attack troops and orbital bombardment. All done because of many wanting the same: rule over the world.

But the world couldn’t be ruled, not by only one person. So all the war had caused a violent reaction from nature. Pests and natural disasters had stopped the fighting and violence. So much was the catastrophe that the war had to be finished, as there were no more troops to hold an invasion, an attack or even to support a small settlement.

Our group had seen thousand of bodies on the roads, mostly of soldiers and other men of war but also from people that had flee the crisis too soon or too late.

I, for one, had stayed in the lowest part of my building, waiting for all the sound from above to stop. I had a radio, a mobile phone and a small portable television but they stopped working after the first month. I also had rations of food and batteries, a lamp and even a sleeping bag. I had been prepared.

Family? None, at least not in this city. They were far away and there was no way of knowing if they were alive or not. All transmissions had died slowly: TV stations, radio stations, satellite feed, everything stopped at some point.

So when I came out, the city were I had lived in for the last five years, was in silence, deserted almost completely. I found a few people on my way out of it and we formed this group. I had told them I needed to go to my family’s city and see if they were dead or alive, as the doubt was eating me up.

The route was a long one so we headed first to a gas station and took several maps to help us get to our destination. We also got a little cart to put all our things in and we would take turns pulling it but in the first week we were lucky enough to find farm animals, cattle and so on. So we borrowed a donkey from one of them and he has proven to be our most prized possession. 

In the group, we all have the same responsibilities and duties with each other. There’s no one that rules over others or someone that gets to do nothing. We all do, we all pull, we all feed Burrito (our donkey) and we all get food and explore the places we walk into.

The good thing is that no one ever complained or tried to be more than the others. We just got along and, to be honest, we try to speak as sparsely as we can. Sometimes there are heat waves, and fighting or talking too much during them would be fatal. We just way under a large shadow and be sure to have plenty of water.

It does seem like some things are running out, like water. We normally find gas stations or supermarkets with bottles that are still good but the natural sources seem to be running out. Just a few days ago, we saw a gigantic patch of mud on the ground. None of us had traveled the region before, but it was obvious a large lake had been there.

We ate anything that would not need frying or real cooking of any kind. We had matches and a portable cooking thingy, but the first ones ran out fast and the other worked on gas, which was not really that easy to find, so we would rather grab all the jerky we could get, ham, cheese, and so on.

Not milk, never, as it had all gone bad already. Most places we entered had that foul smell of milk gone bad. But we rapidly learned how to stand it and soon we ignored it altogether.

We traveled mainly by the roads. Not directly on them, as the heat made it annoying, but on one side, walking on grass or dirt. There were small rural roads and freeways of many lanes. But these days they all looked deserted, except for the many cars left stranded a little bit everywhere.

The tough part was when we started heading up a mountain. We had to do that to go down the other side and from there it was practically a slope towards the ocean.

The mountain was really hard for Burrito and for us. I personally feared more for the animal than for us. We had fed him well with the few fresh vegetables we had found on our way but it never seemed enough for such a creature. On the way up, he was nevertheless relentless. It was like he didn’t feel the annoying angle on which we had to walk.

There was neither snow nor nothing that cinematic, only a lot of chilly wind, trying to topple us with its strength. But after a single afternoon, we made it to the other side. Unfortunately, we had to camp up there. This time, Burrito wasn’t that strong.

We buried his body, first thing in the morning. We all cried and said a few words. A guy on the group had a Bible (he was the religious type), so he said a prayer for the animal. We owed him a lot.

Now it was us who had to pull the cart again but this time it was harder. The weather had gone significantly worse: heavy rain for three straight days and that damn wind that never stopped blowing. Not even when we got to sea level, did the weather stopped.

This moment proved to be a test for all of us. It was then we really had to meet each other, when we learned about each other and why we were doing what we were doing. It wasn’t like before, when we wouldn’t speak or even breath too loudly. Maybe it was the rain, but that had changed.

Now, during dinners, we would share stories about our past. The unspoken rule was that only one could tell his or her story per night, but the person could decide for how long they wanted to speak. At first, the stories went on for as much as fifteen minutes but, with time, we got to a story spanning several hours, during which we would eat something and enter our sleeping bags.

The road after the mountain was difficult, very rough to the legs and arms. The person pulling the cart always had the worst part, as it was too hard to do it on rocks that would move when passing on them. It was sometimes dangerous and, many times, it pulled out all the feelings people were hiding.

But that didn’t split the group; it actually made us much stronger, like a family. We were learning to live together but we knew we stood no chance if we were to take on this new world by ourselves. Without saying much, I believe love started growing among us, the kind of love you have for sisters and brothers.

Rations were getting smaller. For some reason, these roads had nowhere to find food or canned goods or nothing. For a good week, we fed very poorly, and it was starting to show. Some of us had yellowish, greenish tint on our faces, as if we were in a constant urge to vomit.

So when we finally got to the city, everyone acquired new strength. The possibilities to find food were a lot higher here than anywhere else. And we did, yes we did. We ate like pigs our first night there. We actually ate pig: a lot of preserved ham and canned beans still good. And there was water and, in a hotel, we had found an ice room still working for some reason. We played like children in there, freezing but happy.

The next day, was the day we went to the beach. And it was then, when we first felt we were alive, that we were reminded of our humanity and that our time here was not done yet.

Some walked the beach hand by hand. Others, like me, just stood there with sand up their ankles, watching the ocean. The waves, coming and going.

And there I cried again, the first time since Burrito had died, the second time since… Since I didn’t know when. I was alive but the word was dying and we all knew it.