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

viernes, 17 de noviembre de 2017

Cry of death

   When rain came down the forest, it scrapped off the first layer of every tree. This gave the trees a really scary look, as if they were bleeding from their whole body. It was the reality of the world now, where acid rain had gotten worse. Plants and animals were having a very difficult time surviving the new state of things. In other parts it wasn’t much better. There was sand where there used to be farmland and many islands had disappeared far from the continents. It was a new world.

 Gaby was one of the many women that had decided to form a team to go into the forest every day in the morning in order to pick up as many fruits and mushrooms as they could. They were rare and fragile, so they needed the soft and delicate hands to pick them up from the ground or grab them from the tallest branches. The men, as always, had been doubtful of the enterprise at first but they eventually came around when noticing that everyone had to work in order to survive.

 Even children helped by fishing from the streams or picking up berries that were far more resilient that other fruits and would usually grow close to their camps. They had changed, as humanity had done before, into a nomad kind of people. They would built small towns from old plastics and some wood and stay in the same place for at least six months, at most a year. After that, they scouted for new places to live and then they would just move out, all at once, to start again.

 Gaby had been one of the first women in the morning team and she had already learned the many ways of the new forest. They carried books to check if what they were picking up could be eaten or not and they soon learned that many of the fruits that humanity had enjoyed for a long time, were now extinct. Mostly tropical fruits, but also plants that needed a calmer weather to survive. Maybe they still lived in other places of the planet but that seemed almost impossible.

 Animals, on the other hand, were rare now. Some smaller ones could be seen sometimes when walking around the forest such as rats and squirrels. They were resilient little creatures. But the tall trees had been deprived of other mammals such as monkeys and finding a bird was almost impossible. Their beautiful chants had been silenced. Nature clearly had no place for such delicate creatures anymore. It was a reminder that humanity’s days could be over sooner than expected. But people would still try to live another day, one step at a time.

 Gaby had actually discovered a small woodpecker she had found in the tallest branch of a tree, after picking up some chestnuts she had discovered by accident. She knew for a fact that many of the children and elders would love to eat such a strange thing but it was then when she saw the little bird, with a broken wing. She looked at it for a long time until one of her teammates called from her from the ground. Gaby opened her small bag and put the bird inside, hoping it wouldn’t make a noise.

 This has to be explained further. As bird reminded humans that their immediate future could be extinction, running into a bird wherever they went would be seen as a bad omen. People still had those strange beliefs that came out of nowhere. They were normally things based only on fear and feeling related to such contempt for things alien to ourselves. Birds became a sign of death and an undesirable future, so people left them to die when they found one, never minding the greater meaning of life.

 When she hit the ground, Gaby still had the chestnuts in her hand. She put them fast inside the bag and kept to her work for the rest of the morning. Some black clouds of rain loomed over them and it was decided they should be back home as soon as possible as they had neglected to bring special covers that resisted the acid in the rain. They made it in time and realized the men had also arrived, which was extremely uncommon as they normally spend their days in caves or deep in the forest, where the rain had trouble reaching them.

 They were all reunited in the biggest house in the camp, which was normally used for important matters. As rain started to fall, the men told the women that they had found something very strange in the forest. The women listened in silence, as the men told them they had discovered an abandoned power plant. They had investigated inside the place and, apparently, it was in perfect condition. It generated energy using the waters of a small lake, enclosed by a huge concrete wall.

 That was the problem. The rain, that was making a horrible roaring sound, was the one causing the huge wall to have small holes all over. This made the whole basin below a very dangerous place to stay and it was there they had been living for at least four months. The concrete wall could break at any moment so it was imperative to escape the basin to another place. For the last two years they had been following the same river, slowly, but it was clear they needed to travel further this time in order to find a proper place to live permanently, as nomadism was not sustainable.

 The women had taking advantage of this story in order to leave the food they had found in small pile in the center of the house. It was clearly not enough for everyone but they had all grown accustomed to the lack of food. It was then when Gaby remembered the woodpecker in her bag and checked on it for a bit, when everyone was looking at the men telling the story. She kept a chestnut for it and tried to close the bag as well as she could in order for the small bird to be kept a secret.

 Everyone agreed that it was necessary to leave for another place as a tragedy could happen anytime. They decided to pick up everything they could grab with them and start walking as soon as they rain had stop. Not everyone had fabric to protect themselves from the rain, but those who did decided to go back to their houses and prepare for the evacuation. Gaby was one of those, and she ran as fast as she could in order to properly check on her bird. She lived with other girls her age, but they didn’t mind her closing her door when she entered.

 She finally put out the little bird and noticed it was still trying to flap its broken wing. However, it seemed a little happier than before, maybe because it had eaten half the chestnut she had left for it inside the bag. She looked at it very close and the bird seemed to do the same. They kept their silence, only breathing slowly and moving their eyes from one place to the other. She was amazed to see how bright its feathers were and how small it was. But she knew it had to be different before.

 She took a book from her bookshelf and opened it in a page about birds. Although there was no picture of a woodpecker, it showed a similar bird and stated it was at least twice as big as they one that was curling up on her bed. It looked really cute right there, looking at her at closing its eyes, visibly tired but also happy to have had something to eat. It seemed so fragile, a little bit as the children of the small town who had no spark in their eyes anymore, just a glaring sad look.

 Then, Gaby heard footsteps nearby. She looked at the window and realized there was no more rain on the other side. Just in time, she grabbed the small bird and put it inside her bag, along with a few other things from her shelf, which made her seemed worried when other girls entered the room.


 An hour later, a large group of people was crossing the woods. They thought they had been able to escape their doom but then a strange sound was heard all over the woods, which made the woodpecker cry for the first time. It was a clear cry of death.

miércoles, 13 de septiembre de 2017

Claudia's new life

   Rain had fallen all night long, forming little ponds all around the house. As it was surrounded with dirt, the water had converted the landscape into a horrible mixture of mud and overgrown foliage. However, the weather had improved over the morning, which Claudia took as a permission to go outside and check on her beloved plants. Normally, she would have carried all the pots inside before the tempest but that storm had come in such a way, no one had predicted it to land just there, on Hownhall.

 The small town still preserved much of its architecture and every year one of them was chosen as the prettiest in the entire county. The contest was only a month away and Claudia had a lot to do to make her estate be at its most perfect. She had already won the prize for two consecutive years and she planned to do so for the remainder of her life. Being seventy six years of age, she knew that wasn’t much of a time window but it was something to put her mind into.

 Her husband Jim had died only two years prior and that same year she decided to enter the contest. She had loved the man for many years, but he wasn’t the type to like a lot of people in the house. They would spend entire days enclosed in there, reading and not talking. To Claudia, that was torture. She liked when the children visited and brought the kids but Jim had always dreaded those visits because he had never really being into children, which explained why their own had such a tense relationship with him.

 So when he died, Claudia decided to do something that made her feel alive and still willing to contribute something to society and to herself. She got the idea from the weekly newsletter written by several women of the county. They were a small group that gathered often in the town’s main square and discussed the many ways that they had at hand to improve their lives and the coziness of the region. They loved their part of the country and wanted everyone to know about it.

 So once she entered the contest, Claudia decided to simply be the best at it. She went out of her way to get the most beautiful flowers ever seen, which she bought from people that did walks on the remote mountains and in areas that were difficult to access. Practically no one else had all of that in front of their house, so it certainly gave her an edge. The other detail was that, when she was much younger, Claudia had learned a lot about design from her deceased brother Remus, who had been one of the top designers in the capital, a great artist in every way.

 As she prepared once again for the contest, stomping the mud and cleaning all the leaves and overgrown branches of the trees, Claudia heard some rumble in the house that was closest to her. As she lived in the outskirts of the small town, only one other house was close to hers and it hadn’t been inhabited since before Jim had died. An older couple had lived there for years but they had both died and no one had ever come to reclaim the property. However, that was about to change.

 Claudia continued to use her gardening tools but she moved slowly towards her fence, from where she could easily see the entrance of the other house. There was a moving van in front of the gate and two men dressed in couple carried boxes into the house. More voices came from there but Claudia couldn’t really hear much more than the typical noise people make when moving things around. Later, she was tired of not seeing anything and decided to leave work for the day.

 At night, the woman would always make herself a hot cup of chocolate, with some small marshmallows to enjoy in front of her favorite dramas. Jim had never really liked sweet foods or drinks, so now she enjoyed them continuously. Her doctor had told Claudia that she should measure her consumption of sugar a little bit but seeing she was and older person, he also told her it wouldn’t be wise to cut on any food. So she didn’t and decided to treat herself every night.

 A powerful revelation on her soap was obscured by a scream, a loud and powerful scream coming from the neighbor’s house. Claudia didn’t got up from her armchair. She clicked on the “mute” button of her remote and tried to hear something else. It was possible at her age to imagine noises, so it wasn’t really that scary. But then, a weaker scream was heard. She decided to stay still and think what the best response would be. Seconds later, she was calling the police.

 Granted, the police always took a while to arrive. Such a small town did not have a police force to help people in need. They came from another county, which made their trip around twenty minutes. Claudia did not hear another scream during that time. She didn’t stand up either. She didn’t want to get so involved in the matter. She just wanted to clarify what happened because maybe her neighbors were simply loud people and she wanted them to know early on that she was not going to stand up for that. She had learned to be like that from Jim.

 A young female officer and an older male officer arrived exactly twenty minutes after the call had been made. Apparently it was still raining in their part of the country because they were drenched. Claudia did not let them inside her house and simply repeated what she had heard that night. The officer looked at each other and they decided to investigate. She knew they had decided not to believe her but that didn’t matter. Anything to live at peace in her home.

 She entered the kitchen as they left, preparing them some tea. It was a nice custom to give a beverage to people that came to help. True, she wasn’t going to let them get the floor all wet, especially after seeing their boots live a trail of prints on her property. But she had to be gracious and look as if she was accepting of everyone. Claudia clearly wasn’t, as she had been prejudiced for a long time, in part because of her husband but also because of her very conservative upbringing.

 Actually, she had noticed that the policewoman was not from those parts, or at least her parents weren’t. According to what she saw on TV, she knew it was wrong to feel that way about people but she couldn’t help it. It was as if something manipulated her from inside her head. She tried to change her ways but, in the end, it didn’t work. So she simply did what she had done with her husband for so many years: she kept her mouth shut and didn’t get into “difficult” business.

 The police officers came back in a matter of minutes. However, the man ran to the police car, not saying a word to Claudia. The young woman entered the house without being properly invited, grabbed the phone on the living room and started dialing. As she waited for someone to answer, Claudia was livid: there was mud all over the entrance and on the beautiful white carpets. They were ruined. She looked outside and saw, in horror, that they had broken a pot with gorgeous roses when coming back to the house.

 Claudia did not hear when the policewoman alerted her precinct that a double murder had taken place. She didn’t hear the gruesome details, of how the wife had been decapitated and how the husband had been found without his genitalia.


 The older woman only cared about her contest, about her little world. And it was all thrown to the abyss because of that silly murder. She was so enraged at the matter that she decided to find out who had killed the couple by herself. It couldn’t be more difficult than her topsy-turvy life.

martes, 15 de noviembre de 2016

State visit

   Everyone at the airport was ready. The staff had put on their best clothes and every single corner of the small terminal building had been cleaned to the last millimeter. From very early in the morning, people had arrived to help organize every single part of this impromptu visit. After all, it was the president of the most powerful country in the world. And theirs was one of the poorest and most isolated ones on the whole planet. However, the presidential plane had to refuel somewhere, so the small nation had received the honor of hosting the president for a few hours.

 From the moment they had been warned about the impending arrival of the plane, hundreds of people were put to work. Not only those in the airport, people who only really worked on weekdays and even then only in certain time frames, but also every single operator and technician available. They wanted not only the people to feel welcomed but also to make the best work possible with the plane. They got fuel from the city’s reserves, as the amount they had on the airport was not enough to refill a plane the size of the one they were going to see in a few hours.

 The process required almost every person in the capital, a city of about a thousand people, to wake up and also help by cleaning the streets of the city and the authorities enabling the movement of fuel reserves from where they stored it to the airport, which was fairly close to the city. People took to the streets with brooms and mops and every single cleaning help they could get, but the truth was no one really knew if the president was going to land and stay on the plane or walk around a little bit. Many people were curious like that.

 The president of the tiny nation was the one that was moving all over his house, calling the right people and asking everything from food to more cleaning products. He wanted to send a message through TV but the people of the studios were helping around so he decided to send it through the radio. It was much simpler and more effective; as it was the medium of communication that people listened to while they were preparing the city for the big arrival. Every single person in the country heard it and everyone understood the importance of the visit.

 To the eyes of the world, it was practically a miracle that their country actually existed. To be honest, it had been a thing of luck and one of those strange coincidences that happen out of nowhere. They were too isolated and unimportant. Practically everything they had came from their neighbor to the east. So they had known starvation and real poverty because when that neighbor didn’t have enough for themselves, they suffered too. But the world in general never really knew anything because they weren’t watching, until now.

 The country had no army but its people did behave like one once the president’s message had reached every single person. They knew they had around six hours to have everything ready. With luck, the weather up in the clouds would delay the plane a bit more to give them more time but they constantly checked with the aircraft and that didn’t seem to be the case. Everyone had to do their best in the time given. Only an hour after the president’s announcement, everything was coming up nicely and all citizens were helping, even elders and children.

 A huge amount of people arrived at the terminal in order to use the old kitchens that some rundown businesses had not used in several years. The idea was to cook a good amount of their national food for the people arriving, as well as other dishes that they might like. It wasn’t crazy to think that they would be very hungry, even at that early hour of the day. After all, this was all going on in the darkness of the night. The president was scheduled to arrive around eight o’clock in the morning, so they had to wake up or not even sleep.

 The cooking team was led by the nation president’s chef, his own wife. It wasn’t like in other countries were the president has everything and the people below him have nothing. In that nation, everyone was basically the same. People hadn’t starved in some years but they weren’t rich or even close to that. So the president’s wife decided it was best if someone close to the government like her supervised the food. It was the best way to guarantee that it would be perfect for someone with such a high profile as the ruler of the richest country in the world.

 They acknowledge that all those people in that plane, around two hundred according to the information they had shared with them, had been and eaten in places much better than their small country. That was obvious and they didn’t feel bad about it. But they wanted them to leave knowing a little bit more of their culture and about what they loved to eat and drink in those lands. The menu had been defined by the president’s wife and she was very confident that it was going to be one of the best feasts in the recorded history of their nation.

 It consisted of a special recipe for meatballs using a kind of cheese that was made from goat milk, which also happened to be used in their national beverage, which was kind of like a milkshake but less thick and richer in flavor. They also cooked the goats in various ways and were very proud about their vegetables and mushrooms, of which they had a very large variety. Various dishes were cooked with all those ingredients and some spices too.

 The small country’s president arrived in the airport only two hours before the arrival of the plane, to check everything out. The terminal had been painted in record time by volunteers and the control tower was bursting with life when, in normal days, it would only have one person and not even all day. He thanked everyone there and then went to the terminal’s commercial area where his wife and helpers were giving the final touches to the food. The smell had flooded the building and it was very delicious, so much that many stomachs growled loudly.

 Then, he went outside and did a walk around the tarmac and the runway. There wasn’t a single spec of dust anywhere, which he thought was absolutely magnificent, especially for such a windy part of the country. It seemed as if the weather was also helping them achieve their goal. The red carpet in the tarmac was the same one that the president had stepped on when he was inaugurated for his term, more than three years ago. A president’s term was five years and he couldn’t be reelected, which he personally thought was a good idea.

 He decided to check the band that had been practicing for hour in the cold and congratulated them for the amount of love they were showing the country. He stayed a bit to hear them play and, to be fair, they were not as prepared as he would have like, but there was no way of getting better musicians with only an hour to go. They would have to do. What made them special, at the end of the day, was that they played their instruments with real passion and the idea of making their country proud. And that was more than enough.

 The president decided to wait for the plane in the control tower. There, he would be able to know every detail about the upcoming visit. When he stepped in, the plane had crossed into their airspace. It would be only thirty minutes until they touched down in the runway. The atmosphere was really special. Every single person in the tower, in the terminal, in the tarmac and even in the city was ecstatic. This was, by far, the most exciting thing to ever happen in their country. And they had all worked together to make it the best day possible.


 The plane came out of the clouds and landed, in a very soft and elegant manner. Everyone applauded and greeted the people inside through the radio. The president ran outside, getting ready with all others. Many people from the city had come out of curiosity and they had been allowed to stay a bit further away. The plane parked exactly where they had determined it should go. For some minutes, nothing happened. Then, the door opened and everyone stopped breathing for a second. Their moment had come.

sábado, 20 de agosto de 2016

Big versus small

   Amanda hated that big departments store, the one that had being opened just a few months ago by the highway. It was mainly because every time she drove past it, it was packed with people and everyone from every corner of town had at least been there looking around. Besides the crow factor, she really disliked all those big brands that didn’t really specialize in anything, instead selling every single thing under the sun. It seemed greedy to her, from a business point of view.

 Everyone else loved it, even her own family. The day they had the idea to go to buy some of the Christmas supplies to decorate the tree; she was adamant in buying them in the Christmas store she had always gone to in the neighborhood. It was owned by a very nice woman who brought all of the objects from her town, where many of her family members helped in the process of making the ornaments. But now the number of people going there was diminishing a lot due to the new big store opening so close by.

 She decided to due that shopping herself in the small store from the neighborhood and found everything she needed right there. It was appalling it see that there was not one other person buying anything in the store and it was the precise season to do it. The owner of the store was so grateful, so gave Amanda one extra box of silver handmade balls for the tree. She didn’t wanted to accept them but looking straight in the eye of the woman, she decided it was best not to argue.

 When she returned home, she discovered her family was not there. Amanda was very angry because it was clear they had gone against what she had said. Of course, she hadn’t forbidden them to go to the big store but she was very disappointed that her own family was not supportive of the people they had known their entire lives. When they arrived with bags full of stuff, she ignored them and had an early night.

 Her husband even attempted to have sex with her but she refused, turning all the lights off and giving her back to him. There was no way she was going to have sex with someone that didn’t respect her convictions and everything she stood for. So she just closed her eyes and tried very hard to go asleep fast. She took several hours to do so, whereas he fell asleep in a second.

 The following morning, she discovered the fridge and the cupboard had been filled with products from that big store. Every single thing from there was twice as big as a normal product: the cans of beans left no room in their space, the soda had to be displaced next to the fruit to fit into the fridge. And the ice cream occupied almost the whole freezer compartment. To Amanda, it was obscene.

 Every time in the following days and weeks leading to Christmas, it was really hard to pass by the small store and seeing how no one was entering. One day, she decided to do something about it. She stopped by and looked for the owner. She spoke to her briefly about wanting to help her make the store the preferred Christmas store once again. The old woman was not convinced as she thought the big store was too attractive for people to stop going there.

 She confessed Amanda to have been there and told her hat the boxes of decorated balls and other ornaments for trees had many more product inside and the cost was ridiculously cheap. It was practically impossible to sell something cheaper; it would be like giving it away for free. She seemed very sad about her discovery; maybe even to the point she wanted to cry. But Amanda told her they could make something about it.

 The first step of her plan was doing what Fanny, the owner of the small Christmas store, had done before her: Amanda had to go to the big store and see for herself what it was that people bought there and why they all went there instead of shopping for nicer things in the small family store. It was difficult for her to confess that she had to go there and that’s why she waited for everyone to be busy to do it. Her husband and kids were in their final weeks of work and school, respectively, so it was perfect timing.

 The day she went to the big store, she was able to find a parking space in no time, even with most of them being already occupied. For a moment she felt please but then remembered what her mission was there. Inside, she decided not to ask anyone where to go because she thought it would look kind of strange if she ask for Christmas decorations and days later the other store got new things.

 So she wandered around, looking at the frozen foods section, which consisted of five very long aisles, the pet area that was like a small city and the automobile department, which had a very strong smell of new car, an aroma she had always loved. It was something very difficult to ignore but she was able to do it once she finally got to the Christmas ornaments area, which was packed with people looking for stuff.

First, she took pictures with her cellphone of what they had on display. Then, he paid close attention to the items that people seemed to be buying more. She pretended to be curious about some teddy bears to hang on the tree every time a worker went by her. She knew they wouldn’t appreciate her corporate spying at all. After an hour or so, she decided to go back home and analyze the situation.

 The very next day, she visited Fanny to have a talk about the ideas she had for the store and its products. The first thing was to give it a new look, inside and out. So she did a whole presentation, kind of a proposal to Fanny, of what to do and how to it. Fanny was so moved by the passion Amanda had put into it that she decided to go along and let her try to make her store an important part of the Christmas tradition again.

 Amanda’s family began to wonder where she went every single morning and afternoon. Her and her car disappeared so often that her children began to miss her mother’s presence, even if it was only to complain about something or if they needed her to take them somewhere in the car. Those duties were passed on to the father, which was definitely not very pleased to be the new chauffeur of the house.

 Back in the store, Amanda and Fanny had bought supplies in order to start the remodeling. They weren’t going to do something very deep because there was no time to hire professional to do any profound work. Besides, Christmas was not very far away and they had to take advantage of every single day they had. The idea was to have the store ready by December the 1st, in order for Fanny to get at least three weeks of good sales. Amanda felt they could do it easily.

 The first thing was to ask Fanny’s family in her hometown to change the design on the balls. They had to make new designs, more modern but still hand made. They decided to go with new colors and themes for each of the boxes. The idea was to make every single box of ornaments a very unique one. Fanny’s family was very happy with the idea and they got to work immediately.

 The second part of the remodeling was decoration. They spent a whole afternoon looking for the right paper with the perfect colors to do the decorating inside and outside. They also bought a 3D projector, which illuminated a wall in the outside and gave nice images of Santa Claus and other Christmas characters. That was the most expensive thing but she assured Fanny that it was going to be a great investment.


 They worked together intensely for the remainder of November and when December the 1st came, they held a big inauguration party where they invited every single person in the neighborhood. The new ornaments arrived just in time and they flew off the shelves, having to order a second bigger batch the next day. The store was a success and it was Amanda who had made it possible. She felt really proud of her work. She had proven everyone, including herself, that she had a very good head above her shoulders.