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

lunes, 2 de noviembre de 2015

The wind on L

   The wind roared and roared. It seemed like it carried the voices of thousands of people long deceased, as if it all of them had decided that life on planet L should be eradicated. For thousands of years, the elders had gathered every single piece of mysticism and mythology, every tale and story told by a grandmother or a priest. And in many of those tales the wind played a very important role. It was always a destructive force, a very awful power of nature that menaced everything on its path, specially the sensible civilization that had grown on L. Despite their advancements in many fields, they still hadn’t been able to put an end to the never-ending problem of the wind. Besides, they knew that doing anything against it would cause consequences and who knew what those might be.

 Planet L was mostly water, so the wind didn’t really have obstacles that would stop it, like mountain ranges. On L, the only obstacles were caves dug underground by centuries of people trying to find a solution for their awful problem. They had also tried to build walls but that had failed fast. The only way to properly survive was underground, below the few continental masses of the planet. The cities below were small and very damp, but the people had adapted fast and did not care anymore. They had also developed a great sense of hearing and of sight, meaning they could navigate the caves without fear of getting lost or hurt by falling or something like that.

 Their way of living was the main reason no one in that area of the galaxy knew of their existence. Funny enough, many creatures of the universe knew planet L. Pirates, bounty hunters and warriors met there sometimes to exchange prisoners, goods or just to kill each other off in very bloody battles. Almost all alien creatures could withstand the wind easily, at least in some regions. And they liked that it made a cover for them, in case authorities followed them from other systems. But the inhabitants of L had no idea this had been going on for a long time. Their personal belief was that no one on the galaxy would be interested in landing in such a nightmare of a planet.

 One day, however, something rather different happened. Two ships entered L at very high speed, breaking the sound barrier several times. One was after the other and, from time to time, it fired on it. They had cannons mounted everywhere so one could only think they were bounty hunters or assassins. The ship being attacked caught fire but kept fleeing into some more shots mad it crash into one of the largest islands of the windy world. The ship that went down exploded and the other one just left, its crew thinking that all life inside of the downed ship would soon be dead, if it already wasn’t. It was a matter of time.

 Below, the people of a city had felt the tremor of the ship crashing into the ground. They had been scared for a moment, but then remembered that the weather report had clarified that a very strong storm was going to take place outside, so it was better to stay at home and close all doors, just in case the wind breached the main entrance. That was almost impossible as the main entrance was made from an incredibly strong type of metal they had found when building the caves, but these people preferred to play it safe, specially when from their houses they could hear the moaning of the wind and the voices of all creatures that had died out there in it. For the young ones, the wind was a monster to avoid. For the older ones, it was the difference between life and death and the thing that kept them there, at home.

 As they all ran to their houses and took shelter from the sound of the wind, in the downed ship its pilot was struggling to get out of there fast. The other members of its crew had been killed and he was the only one capable to transport their precious cargo back to their home planet. The treasure was on a small chest he grabbed with bloodied hands. He put it on a bag, which in turn he put on his back. He checked conditions outside but couldn’t wait for the computer to calculate anything. Partly because it had been damaged in the crash but also because there was gasoline leaking all over the place. He didn’t have time to wait so he just put on a suit and went outside. The wind knocked him off at first but then he managed to sink his feet into the ground and at least walk slowly.

 The storm was too strong but he managed to walk away from the ship a few meters just before it exploded. He was pushed away, landing on a puddle of mud and dirty water. The strength of the explosion caused him to lose his balance and stability for a while. He even bled from one if his ears but he could still hear fine, or so its seemed at least in the middle of the storm. He had nowhere to go now so we just stood up and slowly walked away from the wreckage. He turned around to see his ship one last time and a small tear slid down his face. He had lived in that ship for years, but now he had to move on and try to get someone to pick him up there. His suit had a communications device but the wind wouldn’t let it work.

 In the city below, as he tried to use the device, a red light appeared in one of the consoles that checked security all over the city. The computer had detected the device that the stranded alien was using out there. But there was no one there to see it. Everyone had been ordered to their homes due to the storm, to their fear of a wind that just couldn’t get inside their city. However, there was a lonely native of L who happened to be a priest. Secretly, he left his door opened when a storm happened, as he loved the sound of the voices. He thought he could hear in the wind what his ancestors wanted for all of them.

 That priest was the only creature that heard the destruction of the ship outside and he knew, right away, that that sound had nothing to do with the storm. He ran to the metallic door that separated the city from the outside world but just stood there, as if it was going to open magically. Of course, it didn’t and he didn’t dare to open it by himself. Doing so would mean the death penalty, by precisely stepping outside and never coming back. The rules of their civilization were pretty clear and even it moment, when his desire to see what was outside was so big in his heart, even then he just couldn’t do anything. He just stood there by the door, waiting for one more sound to make him do something crazy or at least let him know they weren’t alone.

 Outside, the stranded one was walking clumsily, falling over very often, and almost going insane due to the voices that he could now hear very clearly around him. He didn’t have a clue of what they said, but he had a feeling it wasn’t anything good. Finally his device began beeping and he thought that some ship was en route to save him. But that wasn’t it. It had detected an energy source ahead, which might lead to life or at least to a shelter. Going more and more crazy by the minute, he walked in that suit as fast as he could, careful not to drop his bag with the small chest inside. He had a massive headache and he knew he was bleeding but he just kept on going.

 Then, the priest heard a sound on the door. It had been a subtle, soft sound but he knew he had heard it… Again! It was as if someone was trying to know but didn’t have the strength to do it. As one of the few that dared to listen to his planet, the priest knew this time the death penalty was worth it. Even if there was nothing there when the door opened, he knew something else had happened and that was good enough for him. He then ran to the control panel and entered a password that had never been used. The door moaned, as everything turned to lift it over the priest’s head. The wind entered from the outside like a plague but he felt something else enter so he closed the door instantly.

 When the metallic door had fallen into its place, the priest turned around and saw the stranded alien lying on the cave’s floor. He was bleeding or at least that was what it looked like. Their blood was yellow and his was green. His breath was slowing down. The priest dragged the body to his house and there checked the alien. It was risky, but he took off the helmet. He waited but nothing happened so he got to work and cured him as well as he could. He removed him from the suit and put the bag with the chest on a chair nearby. For days, no one knew there was an alien in that house and they wouldn’t think twice about the bag on the chair.

 As it happened, that bag carried the most important object in the universe. And it was a coincidence, a very happy one to be precise, that it had landed in that forgotten part of the universe as many hands wanted that thing but only one person could manage to handle it. And that person was not very far now.

miércoles, 3 de junio de 2015

Hate crime

   Rose was now terrified to come out of her house. She just couldn’t even think about it without having a serious breakdown. That’s why she had moved with her parents, in order for her to be under their watch every day, at every time. Just after the attack, she had attempted to kill herself in the hospital but she had failed due to the attention of the nurses and that she wasn’t in any real danger. But at home, anything could happen. Her mother was scared the moment Rosa asked if she could help making dinner. At first she would only let her do silly things, like break the leaves out of a lettuce or open a can or a bottle of something. No knives or other pointy objects.

 But after a year, Rose’s state of mind had improved except for her fear of the outside world. Inside, in any day, she would laugh at TV shows, share stories with her dad, gossip with her mom and even talk on her computer with some old friends. Even her former boss was thinking of letting her into the company again, working remotely of course. Because she just couldn’t take a step outside. Instantly she would start screaming and fighting anyone who helped her try some more steps or pulled her back in.

 You see, Rose had been attacked a year ago and she had been left seriously affected by it. Not only was she raped, but she had also being kicked, punched and dragged into a dark corner of the world by two men. It was understandable the amount of fear she had inside and it was remarkable that she had been able to get better, as much as she had been, on her own on such a short amount of time. Other victims took much more time and some never recuperated from their attacks. Rose did because she had always been a fighter but somehow the outside world was now her most dreadful fear. She couldn’t even stare at the windows, day or night. She just thought of it all again, even felt it all again and she did not wanted that to happen ever.

 Her parents understood her situation; after all it had been them who had taken care of her since she was a baby. She had always been such a happy, free kid, the kind that would ask for money and then go alone to the nearby store and buy some candy. She would play with many of her friends in the park, even leading them in many of their games. She had always been the leader, the one people looked at for guidance. It had been like that in school and in college but now there was no trace of that Rose in her. Her fear had finished of that vivacious and strong women for another that was also strong but not so much compared to the past. She had been struck off many things that day and now she couldn’t even have a real life on her own because of her fear.

 She saw Victoria once a week. Victoria was a psychiatrist specialized in this sort of cases and she was very interested in Rose as she was the only patient of hers that had improve so much in some areas and so little in others. With special gadgets and experiments, they would try for Rose to be more acceptant of the exterior world but all of that always resulted in a huge failure. No matter if it was a blindfolded test or a session trying to confront her with the attack, it was always a traumatic experience. Rose trusted Veronica so she would often ask for forgiveness for her behavior but Veronica always hugged her and told Rose never to apologize for what happened or its results. None of that was her fault and she should only be thinking on getting better.

 And Rose did try. She started cooking cupcakes at home, as a therapy to get more and more relaxed. Her boss finally passed her proposal to work from home so she decided to change her life altogether and asked her parents if they would be with her on the creation of a small business selling her cupcakes and other desserts. They started selling for the neighborhood but soon expanded to have a proper store in their garage. This had made Rose very anxious because the store had been a success and many people came in, making her nervous. But her mother and her father helped so she would always be in control of herself, selling her delicious goods and making a life for herself.

 However, she wasn’t going to live alone or anything. Her parents and her had thought of several ways to move out to a small apartment but it was more problems than conveniences. For one, she wouldn’t be able to tend the store from a small apartment, she would be alone most of the time and, most importantly, there was no way to get there without her having a mental meltdown. The thought of blindfolding her or transport her asleep but it was all too complicated. She decided to stay at home and just be creative with her business. A friend from work decided to join her in the business, as the demand had risen dramatically. Her father was in charge of the numbers and her mother of the promotion. It was a truly good family business and that made her happy.

 Her happiness, however, didn’t last for a long time. A man arrived one day to the store and he said he was with the police. Rose and her parents talked to him in the living room and heard some news that left them without words: Rose’s attacker had finally been arrested and they needed for her to identify him. Trying not to panic, Rose started breathing slowly, obviously trying hard not to lose it right there. Her father explained to the men that she wasn’t going to be able to go to the precinct or to any courthouse for that matter. He explained his daughter’s situation and the men said nothing more. He just shook their hands and left. That was a very difficult night for Rose: she didn’t sleep, not even for a couple of minutes. She kept thinking about it and trying not to scream, trying to think about anything else other than the policeman’s visit.

But the police called again and even came back with a lawyer, the attacker’s lawyer. They said that if Rose was not going to be able to go to court and properly accuse him, then they could reach a settlement for compensation or at least bargain in some way. It was Rose’s mother who kicked them out of the house. She yelled at them that they were rats and that they had no shame in coming to a house to tell someone to shut up instead of helping the real victim. When the police called again, they told them they had done it all when she had been attacked, everything had been filed and properly done but the police explained they had to sue him, as they previously had not captured him.

 The family called for help, a brother of Rose’s father who was a lawyer. He helped Rose by making the police release a picture of the man they had in custody. That way, she got to confirm it was one of the men that had attacked her. Yes, because the police thought it had been only one but she knew the other one had stood there, watching, doing nothing at all. For now, Rose’s uncle did everything he could to avoid her the pain of seeing him face to face. The trial’s date was set and for Rose it was a torture to wait until then. Her uncle guaranteed her presence via webcam, having been authorized to do it like that. But Rose wasn’t even sure she could do it that way either. Just thinking about it made her tremble and have goose bumps. Her body ached everyday and she had no energy to make a single cupcake.

 The day of the trial, she cried and almost lost control as she told her story to the jury. The most difficult part of it all was answering the questions; especially those that questioned that things had happened as she said they had happened. Being doubted was the worst feeling, being treated like a crazy person or a liar. She repeated the words the man had said to her and had to be excused for a moment while she collected herself again and waited for the resolution, which didn’t happened until the next day. The trial wasn’t long as the evidence was all against the man. Everyone knew he had lied and had made family and friends lie for him.

 The judge stated that this crime was a hate crime. They had investigated the man further and discovered he had almost beaten her wife to death and had even attacked his own sister after finding out she was a lesbian. The man was sick, letting his hate for everyone that live a nice life driving him to make the most awful things. He was sentenced to life in prison and Rose heard that live, feeling confused. Because she knew that it hadn’t all finished there. Her fear, her panic at the exterior world was still there. What good was this all if was still as scared as before? The fact that her attacker was in jail didn’t make things suddenly better.

 But one thing Veronica and her parents agreed was that they were grateful she was there to live on, to make an effort and keep on living. Because many died and didn’t get the chance to try again, to transform their lives. She couldn’t really consider herself lucky but she had the opportunity of being someone again, in time. She reprised her business, which grew with time. She wanted to be better and knew that someday, she would be able to go the park and just sit there and breathe.