Living in the Last Sane City on Earth

By Jinglefairy

Warnings/Disclaimers/that sort of thing: This story contains violence, implied sex, implied sexuality of various varieties, references to child abuse, some crude language, horror, occult themes ... basically this story has stuff in it people might find offensive. I don't know which bits might be offensive because, really, I don't find any of it offensive. It's not a story I would show to my grandmother or my other half.

This story does not contain explicit sex scenes or extensive graphic violence. It is not intended to be purely titilating. Sorry.

Summary: Since the Cataclysm the world has been thrown into chaos. The laws of science and magic have fused, creating a new set of laws that are as yet unfixed. Even as humankind struggles to adapt, the world settles into its new groove. Of all the cities in the new world Kallai remains a beacon of sanity amidst the madness, and even she has her lunacies.

This is the story of four adolescents caught up in the flow and flux of the aftermath of the Cataclysm, and how they deal with the terrors of the world and each other.

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Father Brannon suggested I do this, get my thoughts down on, well, not exactly paper, to organise them in my mind and try and make sense of the things which have happened. I don't know if it will help much, but I feel sorry for Father Brannon. He's trying really hard, it's just that the three of us are so messed up, probably too messed up to save.

I'm being negative again. Bad thoughts only make for more bad thoughts, as Julian would say. And then he'd smile, and all the bad thoughts would melt.

I suppose I should start at the beginning, only I'm not sure where that is. Today? Nothing much happened today, except Rowan had another of her tantrums. A week ago when Julian brought us here and life supposedly returned to normal? It's been a fairly boring week.

Or does it start the day I met Falcon?

Yeah, I guess that's the real beginning.

The first thing Falcon ever said to me was, "Where am I?" and then his eyes overflowed with tears which he tried to hide behind his hair. His eyes were grey then, and they still are, pure grey without a fleck of blue or brown or green or hazel. And honest. I think that was what I liked about him first, the honesty in his eyes. Falcon is incapable of lying; the surface of his eyes is like glass, hiding nothing. Not like Rowan's eyes, which are green mirrors that reflect back whatever you throw at her. Except when she's angry, and then they flash like candle-flame on a knifeblade.

But I was talking about Falcon.

Raven had told us that our guest was due to wake up that afternoon, and had asked me to sit with him. I say asked, but back then none of us ever refused her anything so she might as well have ordered me to for all the difference it made.

He looked fragile when he was asleep, and I remember wondering what he'd be like awake. I was nervous; up until then it had only been me, Raven and Sheba, and I wasn't sure whether or not I liked the idea of living with a boy.

But when he was asleep he seemed harmless enough, all black hair and pale cheeks. I sat in the chair next to his bed and read a book. I think it was The Secret Garden. And slowly he woke up, and looked at me, blinking those fine grey eyes.

"Hello," I said awkwardly.

"Where am I?" he whispered, and then he started to cry.

"It's okay," I told him, remembering how Sheba had woken screaming and clawing her face. "You're all right now. This is Raven's house, and she'll take care of you, I promise."

I promised him Raven would take care of him. I guess that makes it my fault, even though he was the one who rescued us all in the end.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

"I don't remember anything," he sobbed.

"No, you won't," I told him, feeling that by-then familiar pang of loss. "None of us do."

"Us?" He wiped his eyes on his sleeve.

"There's two of us, three with you." I smiled as best I could. "I'm Fran."

He nodded, sniffing, and then gave me the same wide-eyed stare they all did. "I don't know who I am," he whispered, looking terrified.

"Your name's Colin," I told him.

"Colin?" He shook his head. "I don't think so, but I don't remember."

"It's sewn into your jumper," I said, and handed it to him. He unfolded the jumper and looked at it for a long time.

"This isn't mine," he said slowly.

"I thought the same thing," I agreed. "But it is. You just don't remember."

Of course, now we know that half the reason the clothes and names felt wrong is because they most likely were wrong and Raven just made them up. Sometimes I hate her. Which makes it feel strange to miss her.

He looked at me then, really looked at me, and that was when I first felt it. A strangeness, or wrongness, as if things weren't the way they were supposed to be, as if the universe had been pulled out of shape like a rubber-band and was on the verge of snapping back. Just for a moment, and then it was gone.

He was still looking at me through his fringe, and I wondered what he saw. Back then I thought I was pretty ugly, boring brown hair and brown eyes and brown skin, but now I wonder. What did he see? A twelve year old girl who was too skinny and wore shapeless things because, let's face it, she had no shape anyway. I wore my hair long then, in plaits. My fingernails were bitten all the way down, and I probably had chalk on my sleeves.

"What happened to me?" he asked in a small voice which made me think he was younger than me.

"It's a long story," I told him. I didn't explain it all then and I won't now. "You were in an accident, and Raven rescued you. She's going to look after you and try and find your family. Like she does with all of us." I must have looked or sounded odd because he frowned at me.

"How long have you been here?" he asked.

"A year."

"And you still don't know where your family is?" He sounded afraid, but to his credit there was just as much compassion as fear in his voice.

"No. But Raven thinks it won't be long now," I said, trying to sound cheerful.

That was three years ago. I'm pretty sure now that Raven wasn't even looking, but back then she was the only thing I had, that any of us had, and I trusted her.

Children do stupid things.

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to be continued