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

lunes, 26 de septiembre de 2016

Kodiak

   Winter had been very hard on the people of Kodiak town. It always was. Snow had fallen every single day in copious amounts and wind had blown from the mountains towards the ocean with a constant force, never going faster or slower. Everyone there was used to that and they knew exactly how to deal with what nature had to offer to every creature in that corner of the world. Kodiak was very remote and it could only be reached from the outside world if people dared to do a three-day trip to through the frozen desert and the dark forests.

 That was the reason why people in Kodiak were self-sufficient. They went fishing into the ocean every single day, In order to have their three meals a day without exception. They had learn to plant some vegetables thanks to the help of two scientists who had come from the outside world fairly recently. They had taught the people that they didn’t need to plant in the ground but they could do it practically in the air with only the help of water and compost made with the feces of the dogs everyone had. It had been a really revolutionary thing for all of them.

 The scientists had done the trip because they were very interested in the culture of the people in Kodiak. They wanted to document every single thing they could find, including the way they fished, the way they hunted for creatures in the forest, how they built their homes and other traditions that hadn’t changed in many years. Stella and Norman Ruiz had always wanted to have a big adventure and be in the forefront of discoveries in the world and now they really were. So much so that they had decided to stay for a longer time than predicted in Kodiak.

 At first, people didn’t trust them at all. It was a normal reaction as outsiders were very rarely seen in the region. Normally, they would only come to take the riches of the land for themselves and steal the people from what was theirs. So the moment the couple arrived to Kodiak, everyone agreed they should be watched every single moment of the day no matter what they were doing or where. They would always have an escort. The only moment they were left alone was when they slept in their assigned house. However, someone was always waiting for them in the mornings.

 The couple found that fear understandable and had nothing to say about it. They thought it was best not to antagonize with anyone and just do what they had come to do. That was how they gained the trust of the people: through wanting to know more about their culture and traditions. At first, they were all very reserved and only talked with short sentences. But after a few weeks, men and women opened up to them and realized that Norman and Stella were not bad people at all. They were genuinely interested in them.

 However, that didn’t mean they instantly trusted every other outsider. Just a month after the arrival of the scientists, there was a problem with a group of men that had come out of nowhere. They never revealed their names or if they worked by themselves or for someone else. The point was that they had established a camp in the river running close to Kodiak town and were using chemicals to clean whatever small stones of gold they could find in the muddy bed of the river.

 The inhabitants of Kodiak noticed the chemicals when two of their children got sick one day. The local doctor, who was more of a shaman than anything else, noticed they had ingested something and the Kodiak almost instantly thought of the fish they had caught that day. Some thought it was a punishment from the gods because of their acceptance of the scientist but it was precisely them who found the real source of the problem. Stella and Norman were certain it was not the fish but the water who had some polluting agent in it.

 The people of Kodiak didn’t know whether to believe or not what the scientists were saying. But a couple of them decided it was best to check their version out and it was then when they discovered the miner’s camp and the use of chemicals to clean gold. It was a very tense situation, as the people of Kodiak asked the miners to please leave but they wouldn’t budge, claimed that river and all the land around it was theirs. Norman went there to help and the miners showed him a paper signed by a federal authority giving them rights over the land.

 It was very hard for the scientist to tell the people of the town that the paper said exactly what the man claimed. No one understood how that was possible, as the government had never came into contact with Kodiak, even though they perfectly knew that it existed. It was then when everyone trusted the scientists so much that they told them the origin of the town and showed them other documents they possessed, stating that outsiders had created Kodiak. It was the best-kept secret in town as it was always thought natives had founded the town.

 The elders explained that, although many native tribes inhabited the region in years past, the reality was that they were all nomads, going from one end of the country to the other. It was only when the whalers came and founded the town that a settlement came to exist. However, the whalers were not well equipped to survive the harsh conditions, so they abandoned the town. Not a long time after, one of the tribes took possession of the houses, restores them and built more. Kodiak was reborn. The outsiders had left everything behind, including those papers.

 So it was easy for Norman to conclude that the miners had a false document, as the one the people in Kodiak had predated it by many years. He decided to tell this to the local authorities and let them deal with it. It was the best as the miners saw him as a traitor to his own people. Even if they were clearly not the same, they were all outsiders and that united them in the mind of the miners. They ignored whatever the people of Kodiak had to say and told them that they wouldn’t move until they had found every single piece of gold the river possessed.

 Tensions kept rising as the days went by. The children were getting worse and people were now forbidden to drink water from the river. The two scientists decided to do something: they decided to send a letter to the authorities with a local resident who was going to look for medicine for the children in the outside world. In the last minute, Norman decided to go with him, leaving his wife to help the people and try to avoid any time of conflict with the miners.

 But it was too late for that. The residents of Kodiak were not going to put up with it so, each night; they decided to sabotage the machines and everything the miners used to process the gold. They stole some of the chemicals and buried them in the forest and tried several times to destroy everything but the men were many and they would rebuild every day. It seemed as if they had unlimited resources of some kind. That went on for some nights until the miners had enough of the interruptions and decided to do something: they killed one of the intruders.

 No one had murdered in that region in many, many years. Not since the tribes had united into one a long time ago. People decided they would not take it lightly and they didn’t: that day, almost every single Kodiak man walked the side of the river in order to reach the miner’s camp by nightfall. Once they arrived, they started shooting their arrows, some of them with fire in order to burn every single tent to the ground. The miner’s attempted to defend themselves with more modern weapons and they were successful. The scene was bloody and chaotic.


 It fortunately ended very soon, as a regiment of the federal army arrived with Norman and the Kodiak man he had left with. They had brought medicine and were there because they had seen the fire. The government recognized that Kodiak was a native city and miner’s had no permission to be there, at least not yet. The government was cleat that anything could change going forward. But at least that threat was no more. The miner’s left and the people of Kodiak were left to their own devices, for the time being. The scientists never felt, feeling that was their real home.

sábado, 2 de julio de 2016

A good day

   Someone spoke, far away. It was a very deep voice, capable of piercing through walls and any other objects. It was kind of annoying because the rest of the world was at peace except for that voice that appeared not to be able to calm down. When Jay decided to get out of bed, the voice appeared to be stronger but still difficult to understand.

 Jay stood up in front of his mirror. Not much light entered his room through the small window there was on the wall, but he didn’t turn on the light either. He just stood there, looking at himself. He observed every inch of his body until he decided he recognized himself in that image. It was a very strange to do but he did it quite often, just to check he hadn’t lost his mind or something. It was his biggest fear.

 He put on the t-shirt he had wore the day before and some sandals. He looked at himself again on the mirror and went out the room. The hallway was empty so he knew he had a good chance to arrive at the bathroom and not find anyone there. He walked rather fast and, when he pushed the door, he was happy to see there was no one there.

 It was difficult to live in a place like that, where almost everything had to be shared. There was one bathroom per floor but sometimes something would go wrong on one of them and chaos would ensue as people from one floor would have to go to the one above to shower or to take a piss. It was very annoying and it happen frequently.

 But that day, everything was good and empty. After he was done, he decided to go back to his room and grab his shower things. It was best to take advantage of the unusual situation and do what he had to do in the bathroom at once. He almost ran to his room, where he grabbed his towel, soap, his shampoo bottle and toothbrush with toothpaste. He ran back out and was surprised, again, not to see anyone around.

 It really was a strange day. He showered for a good ten minutes, washing his hair, getting all his body clean and brushing his teeth with ease afterwards. When he got out of the bathroom, there was someone waiting by the door. His name was Carl, or something like that. It was one of the junkies that lived on the room opposite to his. He just said “Hi” and moved on to his room.

 Trying not to turn around and see what Carl was up to, jay knew it was best not to interact with them too much. They were really strange people and they were always high on whatever drugs they could find. Sometimes it was scary, when they got really annoying, but Carl was apparently on a down mood that day. It was best for everyone that he was.

 Once in his room, Jay noticed a bit more sunlight was entering his room and he realized he was smiling. He didn’t do that often but his day seemed to be having such a good start, it was hard not be optimistic. He put on his regular clothes for a Friday and grabbed his wallet and keys before leaving the room once again. As he put the lock on the door, he gazed towards the bathroom and noticed there was a line made up six people and it seemed to be growing slowly. He really had been lucky.

 Outside, on the street, the sun was even brighter so there was no need for a jacket or anything like that. Spring had moved on to that stage when its more like summer than like winter, which was perfect because Jay only had one jacket and it was too old now to keep using it. He needed money to buy a new one before the next winter, in order not to die frozen on the street or on his bed.

 In the winter, he usually slept clothed as the building had no central heating and his room could feel like a freezer sometimes. But now, he didn’t have to think of that. Next winter was months away and his day was doing to good to be thinking of the bad things in life. He walked block after block, ten in total, until he got to the bus stop that was closest to is home. He hoped not to be late for it because sometimes he would arrive just as the bus was leaving and it could be another fifteen minutes until the next one came into the neighbourhood.

 He stood by the stop and realized there was only one other person waiting: an old woman who seemed to be sleeping. Maybe she had already been sleeping for too long. Jay looked at his wrist, to an old watch he had found on the street, and realized it was a bit earlier than normal. That may have been the reason for his luck so far. Or maybe it was just a coincidence. In any way, the bus would be approaching in any minute.

 As if he had summoned it, the bus appeared on the street and stopped right in front of Jay. He walked towards the entrance and realized the old woman wasn’t moving. He asked the driver to wait for a moment and decided to try and wake up the woman. At first, he thought she might have been dead because she was unresponsive but she finally woke up and stood up slowly to walk to the bus.

 Strangely enough, the driver had waited and he smiled at Jay for his actions. That was something strange but even stranger was the fact that, after paying his ticket, the old woman asked Jay to seat by her side in the back of the bus. He accepted the offer and sat up there, where the seats were a bit higher than the rest. He rarely sat on the bus, always standing up.

 The old lady thanked him for his help and told him she was going to visit her daughter in the hospital. Apparently, she had some problems with her lungs and was going to undergo a complicated surgery so the old lady wanted to be on his daughter’s side through all of it. Jay nodded as she told him every detail of her life, about her husband who had died five years earlier and about her grandchildren that rarely came to visit her. She seemed like a nice person. A person that rarely has anyone to talk to.

 Some minutes later, she asked Jay to help her to the bus exit. He did so and she surprised him with money, a proper bill that was maybe too much to accept. She noticed Jay’s doubt to grab the bill and just put it in his hands. She said she was grateful for all the good people in the world and then pressed the button to let the driver know she was walking out. She did so rather fast, faster than he thought she could move.

 Still confused, he got out of the bus himself ten minutes afterwards. He had put the bill in his wallet but was still thinking about it. It wasn’t a common thing that random people would come up to you on the street to give you money. To be honest, his problems with money were always about not having enough, not the opposite. So he was very confused about what had just happened. As he arrived to work, he quickly forgot about it as the good day he was having may come to an end right there.

 He worked in the kitchen of a fast food restaurant, one of those big chains that makes burgers and nuggets and fries. At first, he loved the smell of it all, even of the ice cream as it got out of the machine. But now, after almost a year of working there, he had become rather oblivious to all of it. He flipped burger some days, some other he had to put salt on the fries or lift boxes with every single product they used in the restaurant.

 His shift began early in the morning and ended around eight o’clock at night. Sometimes he would stay more time because his supervisor would need something but, again, that day was a bit different. He was going to clean the floors but instead his supervisor wanted to have a word with him, He thought that, for sure, that was the end of his very good day.

 His supervisor, a very young man with lots of pimples, had decided to put him on the register. It was a promotion. He would win more money, as he had to learn some new things. He had to start right away so he had to learn fast. All day long, he did great, learning all the codes rather fast from another cashier. He smiled to every client and one of them even told him to keep the change, which was a very big tip. That day was really strange and he was really liking it.


 At night, back home, he counted the money he had made and was happy to know he was a bit closer to what his goal was, which wasn’t really clear. He thanked life for such an amazing day and hope all others would be the same.

lunes, 13 de julio de 2015

New life

   Just before the quake, all the horses left the fields. The Winston’s employees had left them put to pasture but they had no idea of knowing they would behave so strangely right before and after the quake. They never came back and only a couple could be retrieved from other farms. People were too busy attending to the wounded to worry about some horses. The family had not had any casualties but their offices in the city had been destroyed and that was devastating enough. They lived on their bank and their bank was now destroyed. They had data and other offices but it would take time to put everything in order again. Everything was in chaos though, and what remained of the building had been looted once and again.

 Jonathan and Peter, father and son, had decided to leave for the city immediately, in order to focus on the retrieval of data from their other offices in order to rebuild. So they left Regina and Vivian, mother and daughter, alone with their staff. Only the lifetime gardener and one maid had stayed with them. The rest had, comprehensibly, left their jobs to be with their families. Every single family had at least one casualty so people were just gathering and looking to be together, not to split or fight because someone had been lost. The air was also contaminated with this worry, this sentiment of grief and death. Many said that the city, once a thriving metropolis, was now an enormous graveyard and that all efforts should be concentrated on that, because they needed to go back to normal and that was impossible with that feeling in the air.

 The two women waited for days and later weeks. But Jonathan and Peter wouldn’t come back. The last time they had heard of them, they had said that it was better for them to go to their offices in Hong Kong, where all back up was stored in order to put everything back into place but the women had not heard anything from Hong Kong either. They had called them there and the people at the office assured them that no one had come from the main offices to retrieve anything. Regina just asked them to call if they ever knew anything but they never did because her husband and her son would never go there. She was alone with Vivian and they spent the days, wondering and pacing.

 Finally, on one rainy day almost a full month after the quake, a man from the police came t tell them the bad news. Apparently Jonathan and Peter had been caught up in a skirmish of victims against security forces. The first ones were complaining because of the poor medical attention that was being paid to the people. It was obvious many officials and firemen were used to help the rich get their things back, so the mobs went for everyone. Father and son were there when it all started and they were two of first victims, only identifies until recently. Regina fainted as was helped by the policeman and Vivian went very white and just couldn’t say a word.

 Now, the two women were all alone. They had lived like queens but now their reign was over and they had to face the truth. With the bank collapsing as it was, with former friends becoming their enemies, money started to run out. The house couldn’t stay perfect, as it had always been, forever. So they had to take the difficult decision to sell it, and use part of the money to buy a country house, way smaller than their mansion, in a town nearby. The gardener and the maid had to go too and the day they left, it was the first and only day that the women treated them like family. Finally, one day in autumn, the two women took all that they had not sold with the house, and left their manor forever. Neither of them looked back not even for a final glance at the grand house.

 Regina still hoped they could get some of the money back, or at least keep one of their many business. But when people heard they had been left with nothing, they started to pull off from every single business they had ever established. It all went to hell and the women finally realized they had never had any friends but just people that saw them as a trampoline to make their own lives better. They didn’t resent them however, because Regina knew very well that was what her husband had done with many of them too. They were just paying them with the same currency and she couldn’t blame them for that, even at sight of their awful prospects in a house that had nothing on the manor.

 It wasn’t the poorest house in the world as they had two floors, a kitchen, two bathrooms and a small patch to grow vegetables. But that was not how they felt. Fortunate would not have been a word either of them would choose to describe their situation. Vivian was especially sensitive, as she had been courted by a very handsome and rich man just weeks before the tragedy. And now, of course, he had disappeared in thin air and she knew she would never again have such an opportunity to make her life better. Now, no man with prospects would ever look at her and she would be condemned to marry some nobody or to stay alone and bitter.

 But they couldn’t just mourn and complain. Because the money they had saved would run out soon if they didn’t find a way to get things in order. So Regina decided to start growing several types of vegetables in the garden and asked Vivian to go around town and look for a proper job, something decent but with a handsome pay. Vivian complied but that was an impossible task to fulfill. There was no work as many had left to the city to rebuild. She walked all over town until she got to a bar and realized they were looking for a new waitress. She knew that it wasn’t a great job or a well paying one but it was the only thing she could find. Besides, she could really use a drink or two.

 When Vivian told her mother, Regina wasn’t happy but she wasn’t sad either. She just sighed and realized that life is not what would like it to be and that we just have to do what it’s necessary to keep on moving. She started growing her veggies and in a short time she started selling them to the shops in town. People recognized her and most shut their door on her face, when they knew it was because her and her husband that many of them had lost their life savings. That it was their home, their cursed manor, and the one that had caused all of their misery along the years. No one wanted to help the woman that had been there and did nothing and she felt miserable because they weren’t wrong at all.

 Tired and with her feet hurting, she tried one last house and when they opened she realized whose house it was. Because it was her former maid Rosie the one that had opened the door. She didn’t know what to say and was about to run away but Rosie grabbed her hand and made her come in. Regina didn’t know Rosie had a convenience store in her home, were she sold flour, sugar, rice and many other things. She sold vegetables two and, without any further talking, she decided to buy the vegetables Regina had brought with her. The former rich woman could not believe her ears and she was even more surprised when Rosie told her they would need veggies very often as many people in town were being hosts of their city relatives who had lost it all.

 The two women signed a contract and, before parting, Regina hugged Rosie. She told her that she did not understood why she was so kind with her after all those years together but she thanked her with all of her soul. Rosie just answered that she had been a nice person to her and that it wasn’t in her heart to let someone starve simply out of spite. Besides, she had never invested in Jonathan’s bank, so she hadn’t lost any money. Regina laughed at that and discovered on the way home that it was the first time in many months that she laughed. The only people that could do that were her family and now she only had Vivian.

 They had never had the best mother-daughter relationship, but now someone could have confused them with sisters or best friends. Vivian would tell her mother everything she had seen or heard at the bar and Regina would tell her daughter about all the anecdotes and jokes she learned with Rosie when working with her, because Rosie had also realized that, in their mutual benefit, they needed a larger patch of dirt to grow the goods, so she was helping Regina to make that a reality. Vivian was doing great at work and was respected and adored by her employer, an old man that had seen more of life than he wanted and realized he only needed a glass of beer in one hand and his wife Ellie in the other.


 Eventually, mother and daughter lived a respectable life, full of happiness and enjoyment. They once thought their former life was the only thing that could make them happy but they realized they had only being happy when Jonathan and Peter were there. They still remembered them often and cried for them but not for long because now they had reasons to live and that’s what they were going to do. Just live.

lunes, 29 de diciembre de 2014

After

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.