Author: Greygreenwolf PM
For the past fifty years, this street has been all but deserted. It hasn't seen a man running for his life for the past thirty. Until now.Rated: Fiction T - English - Suspense/Horror - Words: 1,952 - Reviews: 2 - Published: 10-10-12 - Status: Complete - id: 3064555
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Warnings: Mentions of suicide and mild swearing. Suppose there could be some idealogical stuff in there, but it's pretty hard to spot.
For the past fifty years, the street had been all but deserted. Thin strands of yellow grass grew in between the cobbles, and the buildings were a shambles; visibly falling apart. The only movement was the fat raindrops spilling from the ominous purple sky, giving their landing spots a faint iridescent sheen whenever lightning leaped across the sky and thunder rolled.
The street hadn't seen someone running for their life for the past thirty years.
A tattered man exploded from a side alley, whipping his head from one side to the other. His chest heaved as he started running again.
Run. For God's sake run.
He could feel adrenaline running through him now, almost like a painless fire in his veins.
Right, left, ri- what's that? Doesn't matter, just keep on going!
A large part of his mind was taken up with primordial fear. The animal inside him hissed and howled at the sky, raising its hackles and focusing desperately on the chance of escape.
They're coming! Just keep on running!
Noises came from behind the runner. A whirring sound sounded, before the rat-a-tat of a rifle as he threw himself around the corner. He stopped for a second, eyes wide, letting a feral hiss escape from his lips as he gripped the crumbling brickwork.
They're on to you! Move!
The man started off again, tripping and stumbling over a twisted lamppost as he burst out of another alley. An image flashed in his mind.
Grey eyes staring at the sky, lifeless and cold. Everything that had made big brother big brother had been lost with the light in his eyes, leaving behind an empty corpse. It couldn't be big brother. He wouldn't allow himself to go like that.
I refuse! I refuse to die like he did!
There was shouting behind him, and the whirring became louder. He stiffened, eyes darting around as the need for an escape route once again wormed its way into his mind.
Another alleyway. Perfect. Couldn't follow down there. The clanking monsters wouldn't fit.
Wheels too, remember! Can't follow up the steps.
Steps and stairs usually hurt his legs. By now, they were crying out for rest, shrieking with pain every time he misplaced his feet and put too much weight on his bloodied ankle.
The runner reared back from the exit as black uniforms came in to view. Forward? Backwards? Only a few moments for a decision. Frantic eyes alighted on a corroded iron fire escape.
From the top of the building, he could see the entire stinking city lain out beneath him. His grandmother had spoken of days when the streets rang with laughter and chatter, brass bands and proud men. Nowadays, the only laughter was that of the clinically insane and the only pride arrogance… Today, the city festered.
Get down, you idiot! You're exposed up here!
More shouts, this time containing recognition. Managing to duck, three metal slugs punched into the wall behind him, breaking off plaster as they passed within millimetres of his head. The man stared at them for a second, appearing shocked beyond words.
Too close,fartoo close. Move!
Jumping from one slate and moss covered roof to another was difficult; doubly so as the rain still poured from the sky and gunshots scattered the thoughts in his head. A piece of guttering broke away from the wall as he landed on hit. Scarred fingers scrabbled frantically for purchase on the ivy laden brick as he fell. He managed to catch hold only a few meters from the ground, his heartbeat echoing in his ears. If there was anything out there, thank it.
Drop down and just go dammit!
Pain shot once again up his leg as he landed. That would slow him down again. Damn…
You have a bloody choice! Run or die!
With gritted teeth, the fugitive started off again. These streets were eerily familiar, as though he'd walked them before. Another bullet hit the ground beneath his feet. Exactly like home.
He hurried through an underpass, risking a glance over his shoulder whilst on the straight. More people were following. They wouldn't stop! When he came up in the square, a huge stone monument greeted him. More images.
Red. Red was always her colour. Martyr red, in this case. The blood spattered body of his older sister. An example on the grave of heroes. It stained the ground and stone alter alike, staying there long after they'd taken her body away.
Once, the monuments held names from players in a long forgotten conflict. Entire families were remembered on some of them, or so his sister had said…
It took the squeal of tyres to break him out of his trance.
Look, park gates! There!
Cast iron gates loomed over him. Taking a last look over his shoulder, he hurled himself at them, wincing as a sharp corner bit into his palm. He started to grab at the bars frantically as the wailing of a siren got louder. Try as he might, he couldn't make it over the spikes without a jagged gash down his arm. The man swore heavily under his breath. Shit. Left arm now useless.
Get to cover, right now!
Putting the pain to the back of his mind, he stumbled towards the long brittle skeletons of long-dead trees and poisoned bushes. That hadn't yet happened where he was from… Or had it? Who knew anything anymore…?
A crack echoed behind him as he dropped to the floor in an instant. It was lucky the rock was there for him to duck behind. A shell detonated, throwing pieces of iron and soil in to the air. Even with the rock sheltering him from the worst of the blast, he felt hot iron pepper his lower back. If he'd been standing up, the explosion would have ripped right through his hips and stomach.
They think you're dead; now's your chance!
Ears still ringing, the man crawled forward, keeping his body as close to the ground as possible. A mound rose up in front of him and, once on the other side, he slumped against it, trying to steady both his aching body and frayed nerves.
I can't keep on doing this…
For the first time since leaving the metropolis of Newhaven, a sense of hopelessness engulfed him. It was almost like a slap in the face. With a chair.
I justcan'tdo it, there's too ma-
Through the soft pattering of rain, the sound of barking filled his ears. Tracker dogs. They weren't going to give up, were they? Was that the rest of his life? Run or die?
Not that it had been different for a number of years… When you realised the horrifying truth, life just seemed pointless. Now he could understand why they did it.
Twins. Did everything together. It seemed only fitting that they should plan their final pact along the same line of thinking. Two guns; a bullet each to the head. Instantaneous. Simultaneous. Painless.
Stop with the pity!
His entire body protested as he got to his feet again and moved off. Blood dripped down his arm and sweat ran into his eyes with the rainwater as he half hobbled, half ran on. In his stomach, a cold pit of dread started to form. This was it. This was the day he died.
Don't think of that, it might not happen!
He went on, as if in a dream, through mangled gates and crumbling walls. Through twisted forests of bone and puddles of ink that grew as the sky continued to weep over her fallen child. He finally exited the park and shuddered, a very familiar smell beginning to curl in his nose.
The sea. He was being forced towards it. Herded.
What else are we meant to do? Just keep on running; maybe there'll be an exit!
All too soon, the concrete and grass gave way to slippery wood. Underneath the weather beaten structure, the dark mass of the sea surged and heaved at the pockmarked foundations.
The injured man slowed further as he neared the edge of the pier. Metal safety bars would once have prevented anyone from falling into the churning dark below him, but now only rusted stumps remained.
This is it, I suppose.
There was a click behind him. "Turn around."
The other man's accent was thick, yet vaguely familiar. Perhaps from a city he'd once visited…
"I said, turn around."
The fugitive cast another helpless look over the edge, before taking a deep breath.
You know the one thing they can't take…
The uniform the blonde wore was the same as every soldier of the EDA. No variation, no individuality, from the slicked back hair to the spit polished boots. Nothing. Just thinking of that made the man feel sick. That was him, once.
"Are you Number 346A73B?"
The question was blank, with next to no emotion.
The answer? Anything but.
"My name," the man stressed, faint traces of disgust in his voice, "is Matthew Frang, and I would appreciate it if you addressed me as such.
The other seemed confused. "A name? What's a name, they- we aren't- It's not right!
It was almost pathetic, that such a simple thing could confuse the people of today, Matthew mused. Do one thing different and you were a depraved sociopath. Having a name. The horror.
"I am a human being, with thoughts and a life. And, until the life flowing through my veins is halted, I refuse to be numbered, categorised, labelled or numbered. My life is my own."
Go with pride and honour intact.
For a moment, the soldier looked perplexed. Then his face hardened, and the gun was once again raised. "Number 346A73B, you will hand over the plans you stole, and return with me to the Inquisition for further questioning on your involvement with the FWS, including, but not limited to, murder, thievery, depravation and possession of an illegal label."
The other looked towards the sky, letting the raindrops wash away the blood from his face. A faint breeze blew as he stuck his hands into the pockets of his overcoat and a small smile began to crawl across his face.
His little sister. By now, half way to the New South Canadian Confederation, and within a few days of Boston itself. Around her neck, the tiny data-stick which would change everything.
"Nah. I don't think so."
"Those are you orders!" The man once again looked baffled, this time the confusion intermingled with fear as he shouted the words.
It was the fear that took over as Matthew smiled beatifically at him.
"You see," he said softly, rocking on his heels slightly, "I don't. Call it free will, perhaps?"
Swallowing, the soldier curled his index finger around the trigger of the gun. "Enough of the insanity. Choose. Life or death."
Looking to the sky for a second time, the rebel looked towards the sky. It registered in the back of his mind that, with one step backwards, he would be plunged into the raging monster below him.
"Life or death?"
"Life or death."
He smiled once again; warm and genuine. Then he stepped back.
"I choose freedom."
Critiques accepted and welcomed.
Set in an alternate future, I suppose. Thanks for reading.