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

lunes, 27 de noviembre de 2017


   The mask Arnold was wearing was very tight around his head. It was a very uncomfortable thing to wear but it was the safest way to cross such a horrible place. The Deadland, as some had named it, was a huge marsh land that had always been there but, all of a sudden, had begun to grow and occupy more and more territory. Of course, this happened after the war, a time in which a faction had used the marshland as a hiding place for themselves and all their weapons, including experimental ones.

 It was rumored that an explosion had occurred a few months before hostilities had ended. The problem was, no one could really tell if such an explosion had happened. Some of the elders from nearby towns, people who used to get in their boats and fish on the canals crossing the marshland, were the ones that told the rest of the world about the explosion. As many satellites had been rendered useless in the fight, there was no way to confirm what they had seen or any detail related to it.

 According to the general story, a roaring sound preceded the actual explosion. Some said it was like a gigantic lion roaring in pain or a panther, about to attack its prey. They all agreed that the earth shook violently afterwards and that the water in the canals rose in the most dangerous manner. Some even said they had fallen of their boats. A mushroom cloud then rose from the marshland and it had a very specific feature to it: it was very elongated and the color of a ripe plum.

 The elders said the cloud rose to the sky for several days, until it apparently dropped back again to the ground. It was very strange that, if that was the case, no one had the idea of taking a picture. A woman on the other side of the marshland tried to show Arnold and his team a picture she had allegedly taken but it was as blurry as those UFO pictures people used to believe were real. The woman was obviously in need of much needed attention, so they left telling her she was right about everything.

 Penetrating into the marshland had not been the first idea of the government but, after testing the air and water, it seemed the place was really changing fast in a chemical way, at the very least. The toxicity had grown so fast, that some people had died when passing by the marshland and not even entering. That was what made the government decide to send the team inside and not only collect proof of how that ecosystem was growing and, at the same time, seemed to be poisoning itself by the minute. It was very important to know what was going on.

 Arnold’s team was made up of only five people. The military had sent their representative, as well as one from the department of National Security and another from the Ministry of the Environment. The other two people were him and his assistant Linda, who had asked repeatedly if she could join the team. She had always had a certain obsession with fungus and mold and every toxic thing in the world and she wanted to be a part of the team that went inside that awful place.

 They did so one morning, after eating a very light breakfast. They all put on their masks and carried a backpack, which was half a tank of oxygen and half scientific equipment. Even the military guy had to carry computers and other things to test plants and, if they found any, animals. He carried a large assault rifle and a gun on his thigh, which was clearly excessive. If he misfired or anything bad happened, guns would not be a match for toxins. But he didn’t seem to mind that detail.

 The place was flooded with water and it was right there when they found the first traces of heavy toxicity: the bodies of several small mammals floated all around them. There were rats and raccoons and also squirrels. Many tiny corpses of little colorful birds floated there too and it was clear the possibility of anything surviving such a catastrophe was not very high. They moved on, trying to find dryer land but they couldn’t. So they took out the inflatable boat and paddles and moved on.

 They had decided against bringing a boat with an engine because of the noise it made and because its movement could cause some unwanted reaction in the water. The best idea was not to disturb the environment, even if it was doomed for a prompt death. The woman from the Department of National Security was one of the two people paddling, slowly through the maze of trees and many other plants. It was her who gasped and made everyone look to the side. The boat stopped.

 There was a tree there, which was not very unusual. But what made them open their mouths in disbelief was that it was twice or maybe three times the size a normal tree was. This wasn’t a red oak forest or anything like it. Most trees in these parts would only grow to three or four meters, at most. But that one was huge and, not only that, it featured some of the brightest colors any of them had ever seen. It was almost as if the tree was glowing right there, during the day, with the sun very high in the sky. But it wasn’t. It was a strange mutation, result of some kind of event.

 Arnold began to realize that all reports about an explosion had to be true. Only a cataclysmic event of that magnitude could explain the strange changes that were now obvious all around them. Because there were not only dead animals and colorful trees, also huge bushes that had once been as tall as a medium sized dog and water that seemed to be colored blue. The scariest part of it all was when, out of nowhere, a bird flew from a tree and flew above their head, making them spent more oxygen that they should have.

 The creature was not only bigger than a normal bird from a swamp; it had also developed new features in its body. As a scientist, both Arnold and Linda knew that any other scientist would be thrilled to visit such a place, once they knew about the change that has been done. Mankind had been the one to blame here, that much was true. No creature evolves from one day to the next. So Arnold proposed a slight change of course, in order to look for the source of the explosion and any remains that could exist.

 After several hours of paddling, in which each person did a shift, they didn’t seem to find anything knew. According to their devices, they were about to hit the northern border of the growing marshland, which wasn’t where they wanted to go at all. They needed to go deeper, to the center of the whole ecosystem in order to see for themselves if there was some kind of remnant of the bomb or whatever it was that caused the explosion. It was essential to find the key to explain the existence of such a place.

 The boat moved around several canals and, finally, they seemed to be where they wanted. However, the sun was beginning to descend and that meant they had little time to go around and look for any evidence. Besides, their oxygen tanks weren’t eternal and there was no way to survive that place without them. Arnold descended from the boat and asked for the military guy to accompany him. His weapons could be of use after all. It was not a place to be taking things lightly.

They had barely started their walk when a roaring sound came from beneath the canal, not the trees. Something resembling a tree branch, but much thicker and mobile, appeared from beneath the boat, knocking it out of the way and sending its passengers flying.

 Linda fell close to the men and the other woman swam fast to the edge of trees where she could be rescued. However, the fifth member of the team was impaled by the branch, after he had landed on a nearby mangrove. They couldn’t scream, just run, hoping that thing wasn’t able to follow them.

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, 21 de junio de 2017


   The next plate came in a matter of minutes. In the hour she spent at that restaurant, she tasted more than 10 dishes and almost the same amount of beverages. She only got to taste a couple of desserts because time was running short and she had to make it to a previous appointment. She thanked the people at the restaurant and promised then the review would be out soon. Their faces hoped for a good one but Laura would have to take her notes and think twice before writing one way or the other.

 Just outside the place, she took a taxi and headed straight to her best friend’s house. His name was Samuel and he was celebrating his birthday at home, with a nice dinner and party with many people that he loved to hang out with. Whenever Laura and Sam were together, they were normally just the two of them. It would be one of the only times she would join him in a big party and she did it only because he had always being so good to her, including recommending her to the job she had at the moment.

 As Samuel worked as an software developer, he knew a lot of people in the world of journalism and such. He recommended Laura for a job at one of the biggest newspapers in town and she was very eager for the opportunity but he interview was a real nightmare. It was obvious they preferred to hire someone they knew and, for the looks of it, there were at least three other people the day of the interview that were very well acquainted with the editor that was handling the process.

 She waited a long time until she was called and then she felt he cold attitude of the editor. It was clear that woman didn’t want Laura there, so she just answered her questions the best way she could and, in only ten minutes, she was out of there. She felt so bad after the interview that she decided to buy a big tub of ice cream to eat at home watching cartoons or something. It was only a two weeks after the interview when Laura finally heard from the newspaper. She had been selected for the post.

 The day she went in to sign her contract, Laura asked why it had taken so long for them to call. After all, it was a writing job and those were assigned fairly fast in normal circumstances. The man that greeted her there told her, in confidence, that the editor than had ran the interviews had been fired because of several misconducts and potentially criminal behavior. Besides, the person she had selected was clearly not the best one for the post. Laura did not ask any further. She was very happy to get a job in she could finally do her two favorite things.

 When she got to Samuel’s house, Laura hoped she was early and could talk to him a little bit before more people arrived. However, she didn’t realize her time at the restaurant had been too long and that her taxi ride had been too slow because of the traffic jams that plagued the city at that time of night. When she entered the apartment, she saw several people all over, more than she had ever seen in such a small space. She moved around carefully, trying not to push anyone.

 Samuel had not been the one to open the door. Some girl that didn’t even say a word had done that and she had disappeared almost instantly. Laura moved around, looking for him friend. Eventually she got to the dining room table were all the food was in display. She grabbed a plastic plate and grabbed some of the things around the table. It was an assortment of food, not only sweets or savory stuff. There was a little bit of everything and she could bet Sam had not done any of them.

 Laura turned around to look for a place to eat what she had taken but there was no place to do so, so she stayed put and grabbed a piece of quiche from her plate and ate it whole, because of the size. Something funny was that Laura never really felt full when eating, so she could do it for a long time and she would only stop once she felt really full. That’s why her job was so ideal for her. Nevertheless, the piece of quiche she had in her mouth was not the kind of food she liked.

 In seconds, she grabbed four or five napkins and spit the whole piece of food into that. She placed the ball of napkins and chewed quiche on her plate and headed for the kitchen. She was sure she could find a garbage can there and maybe even a space to eat the rest of the stuff. Although, maybe, everything else was as dreadful as that tiny piece of quiche. She had never tasted something that tasted so bad before. It was difficult to describe, in the worst way possible.

 Once in the kitchen, she found the garbage can and a spot besides the burners. She couldn’t see her friend there but Laura knew she would eventually see him. It was a bit ridiculous to be in his house and not been able to talk to him at least for a while. The thought of her talking to Sam was interrupted by a cramp, one of those that make you squeal. It was very fortunate that the music was so loud. If it hadn’t been like that, people would have heard a dreadful scream coming from the kitchen. Laura grabbed her belly and looked for a glass or something similar to have some water.

 As she didn’t find any and had no problems with shame, she drank directly from the faucet. No one was watching anyways, they were all very concentrated on their conversations. Weary of all other food elements on her plate, Laura decided to smell them and taste only the tiniest pieces. There was one that looked like cake but it was very salty. She had grabbed some cookies but they were rock hard. And something looking like Chinese rice was undercooked.

 There were some other things in there but she decided to throw away everything. She chose the worst moment to do so because it was right then when Samuel entered the kitchen and saw her. He waved his hand but she clearly didn’t see him while drinking more water and then doing this face that made it clear how awful the food was. When she noticed Sam, her expression changed and she launched herself at him, hugging Samuel very hard, as they usually did.

 When they did, she realized she had not taken off her coat because she could still feel the gift she had brought to her friend. It was in a box on one of her pockets. Laura took the wrapped box out and gave it to her friend. Samuel didn’t look very happy. Nevertheless, he took her by the hand and travelled through the mass of people in order to get to his room, which was empty except for a big mountain of coats and similar clothing. Laura was surprised she could hear her own thoughts there.

 She apologized to Samuel for being late and waited for him to open his present but he didn’t. He looked at her with a very serious expression, a very judgmental expression to be precise. For a moment, she didn’t really understand what it was but then she realized he had seen her throwing out the food, so she explained that it was just dreadful. She detailed the flavors for him and advised him never to let his friends cater ever again. It was obvious they had no idea about cooking.

 Samuel threw the box she had given him to the bed and said that his guests had not cooked anything for him. If that had been the case, he would have wanted her to do something for the party, like the cake for example. Instead, he explained how he had cooked every single dish.

 He had wanted to make it a surprise for everyone but especially for her, as he wanted to be supportive of her recent job and just to connect with her in his own birthday. He sighed and left the room, leaving a very confused Laura, whose belly roared as soon as Samuel was gone.

lunes, 24 de abril de 2017

No one

   The floor was cold and the room was very humid. No light entered the tiny space where he was trapped. He had forgotten his name long ago, maybe because of the many beatings he had received or maybe because it wasn’t something that was important anymore. A name didn’t help anyone survive such a horrible thing. Then again, he wasn’t sure he wanted to survive. He just wanted his awful situation to change, one way or the other, it didn’t matter at all.

 All the days were the same so remembering each one individually was difficult and also useless. There was no point in having a good memory when the schedule every day was the same: early in the morning he would be woken up by a plate of water sliding towards him or by cold water coming out of a hose. It apparently depended on the humor of his captor. Then, he was kept there all day unless his captor wanted something else from else, usually to work for him in the most awful way.

 He would knew it was a “work” day when an old mattress was put inside his cell, alongside the water plate and also some food. The food was never good, some sticky stuff that looked like mashed potatoes, but wasn’t exactly that. He ate it anyway but his stomach always complained. Those days, he would have to wait all day until his captor’s client would come. It was and excruciating wait that didn’t get better after it all ended. Of course, he wouldn’t see any of the money the client paid.

 Actually, he had never seen the face of the man that had kidnapped him and kept him there. He always wore a ski mask, so he had no idea what his face was like. But what he did know was that he was a very strong individual. After many beatings, using both punches and kicks, the captured had learned how heavy the captor’s body was. He had an incredible force in his arms and legs, probably because he exercised a lot. But the man was losing his eyesight living in the dark, so he could only go by what he felt was the truth.

 The beatings took place randomly. It was the only thing in his cell life that changed and, of course, it wasn’t something he would look forward to. When it happened, it almost felt like part of a sick and awful routine that had survived for far too long. The man in the cell knew he had been there for a long time but he had no idea how long that was. More than a year? Probably. Five years? Maybe, he didn’t really know. What was true was the fact that the violent man would never use him as the clients did, which the captured always thought was strange.

 But that was only when he wondered about his situation, which was really that often. Instead, he loved to sleep. It was the only way his body felt actually rested and, when he managed to sleep long hours, he was able to dream. Even when nightmares slipped in, it was a good thing for him. After all, he had forgotten what having an imagination was like and seeing all those images that make no sense inside of his head was a sign that there was still hope for him, in a very sad way.

 In the dreams, he was sometimes free. Not every time and that was very strange. One would think that his obsession was to be free in the world. But a recurring dream happened to be a redecoration of his cell, with more light and nice furniture, as if he was restoring his childhood bedroom, which he didn’t really remember anymore. When he dreamt of freedom, it always ended on a stark note, like a remainder that he wasn’t really free and that he might never be free again.

 What he did want, at least judging by his dreams, was to be able to talk to someone. Once, he did have the chance to do so, when another person was locked in a cell beside him. He had thought for long that he was alone wherever he was and that discovery was the best for him. Except the other person was not very interested in talking, instead crying and demanding an explanation to why they were there. Soon enough, their captor moved that other person somewhere or who knows.

 Voices were rarely heard. In their daily routine, not the captor or the captured would talk, even when one would pull the other by the hair or when the beating was especially brutal. No words were heard, as it was an unspoken rule to actually say something. It was better not to taunt danger, not more that was usual. So words were something inside their brains, wondering around and trying to get out in any way possible. He was afraid he would forget how to talk and behave.

 Many of his dreams and nightmares were an exercise on precisely that, trying not to forget every single thing about himself. He would sometimes remember, for example, the faces of his family. He knew who they were but not their names. It didn’t matter because “mother” was “mother” not matter what. So were “father” and “sister” and “brother”. He would normally wake up soaked in tears when he dreamt about all of them but, in a certain way, it was worth it. Because he still remembered, which meant he hadn’t been completely broken down.

 A day came in which his captor did not come. For an entire day, the poor man was locked in that cell with no water or anything that would indicate the presence of another human being. It felt pathetic and sick but he wanted the man to come and, at least, smack hard. At least that felt real, it felt as if it was happening. But having no one, deep in the dark, was very cruel, even more than the usual. That happened for what seemed like an eternity, but were actually five days.

 Then, someone did open the door. He would normally raise his head and wait for the captor to get close but he couldn’t do that anymore. He was too weak, feeling sick and preferring to sleep and dream about something less depressing. With his eyes tightly closed, he dreamt about an enormous bird carrying him to a magical land that was made of many colors and shapes. He hadn’t dreamt hat before and it was the happiest moment for him in a long time, as he felt loved, in way.

 He woke up several more days later. When he did, it was very dark, like in his room, but he realized he wasn’t there anymore. There was a machine besides him making a sound and he was lying on nice mattress, with clean covers and sheets. He saw the light from a corridor near him but, as his head felt too heavy to bear, he fell asleep again. The last thing he would hear were the steps of several people passing by his room. Or that was what he thought it was, he wasn’t sure.

 When he woke up again, it was day. A thick curtain diminished the light, which was a good thing because the sunlight felt like acid on his skin. He felt very tired but also dry and clumsy. A nurse came in and brought a drink in a bag with a straw. By the flavor, it was obvious it wasn’t water but it didn’t taste bad at all, so the formerly captured man drank it all. The nurse didn’t say a word the time she was there. And he wanted her to tell him something, anything at all.

 However, he would have words to share the following days as doctors and policemen visited him. The first group told him what his physical state was. To sum it up, it wasn’t good but he would be able to recuperate in the future, he just needed to be patient. Go figure.

 The second group, the enforcers of the law, explained to him his captor had been killed by one of his clients and that crime had led them to the cell. Apparently the client was mad because the captor hadn’t let him stay with the man in the cell when he wanted. He never understood that part.