Chapter One: Now

Eriq Fortier rolled his eyes and gulped down the last few drops of wine from the crystal plated glass filled with red liquid as his mother Angela Fortier introduced the party's entertainment. Eriq quickly made his escape by slipping through the steel plated door in one of the corners of the room as a group of actors dressed as animals crawled and hopped into the middle of the cold, gray steel floor. Each dull and predictable guest at the party clapped and smiled kindly as the actors ran about the room ridiculously, easily making fools of themselves as they tried to get the crowd involved in their performance.

Eriq was discussed by it all and was glade when he entered the other room to be raid of it all. Eriq looked around the ornately furnished room before him, uncomfortable couches and chairs littered the floor in fashions that were once abundant while living on Earth but were now rare and considered delicacies by those who still had them. The cold steel floor had been polished a thorough twelve times by the servants until Eriq's mother Angela was satisfied, and now the metal sparkled like old gold.

Eriq could hear his parent's guest's laugh and gawk at the actors in the other room, and he realized that he would get no peace staying in the little room. After taking a deep breath of stale air he began to make his way to his room. Casually he placed the glass on a table top that he paced, not caring if the remaining liquid inside stained any of his mother's expensive antiques from times gone by.

When he entered his room he sighed with relive, his eyes immediately going to the old Chinese rug that hung over his bed. The beautiful red and black designs fit him perfectly. The rug had been a gift from his mother, though it didn't fit her taste at all and he still found it odd that she had gotten it for him. When he got close enough to his bed he let himself drop, the soft cushioning hit his stiff body with ease. With his body on the bed he lifted his arms up and began to untie the confining white shirt and tie that had held his neck and back completely straight during the party; a look that only made his mother all to proud. Once his tie was off and his shirt unbuttoned, he reached his hand out to the bedside table near him. Grabbing a cold metal remote with several red bottoms protruding from its metal base. Eriq pushed his finger into the red button on the top of the remote and one of the walls of his room began to separate. Sliding away from the other walls and curving into the corner like a folded piece of paper. When the wall was moved it revealed a thick plate of glass behind it. Eriq lifted his torso up, and twirled off the bed, approaching the window.

Through the glass a cotton-like orange cloud fussed dust into the air and surrounded everything in sight. Eriq desperately longed to see what might be beyond the orange cloud that had been his only glimpse into the outdoor world for the three years that he, and the thousands of other people who had survived got of the outside that was once called Earth. Eriq remembered little from the last years that he was in the outside world, his parents told him that the cloud of pollution made him sick and put him into a coma for almost a year, that same story had happened to hundreds of other people but he was the only one who survived. It was in this room, in the caves underground that civilization had fled to that he had awoken those three years ago. The strange life here quickly became his only reality, with only few memories from before coming to the surface.

Eriq touched the glass wall with his warm fingers, from the glass he could feel the heat that was coming from the atmosphere outside as it trapped itself in the glass and heated it to unimaginably hot temperatures. Eriq could only touch the surface for a moment until his fingertips began to burn, then taking them away he felt the loss of the world. All of the people who were unable to make it into the caves, now dead, or living a unimaginable life of hardship in a uninhabitable world that Earth had become.

Eriq tore himself away, pushing the top button of the remote once more and turning his back as the walls unfolded themselves and covered the window again.

The room became its usual dim color after that; the overhead light in the middle of the ceiling burned its white rays on everything in the room as Eriq began to undress. Pulling the untied tie off of his neck and twisting his arms from the sleeves of his white shirt, then pulling off the stiff black pants that his shirt had been tucked into.

Once Eriq was in a comfortable pair of sweats and a T-shirt he again dropped himself on to the soft foam that made up his mattress, and pulled up the covers over him. "I'm exhausted," he breathed, and his eyes slowly fell shut over his skin.

Eriq's eyes opening again suddenly, his body alarmed for a reason that he did not know, I heard something, he reassured himself, pulling his upper body up from the bed. It was only then that he realized his skin was dripping wet with a glistening layer of sweat, and his clothes were soaked through with sweat as well. Eriq was still alarmed, even though he could hear nothing anymore. He lifted his entire body up from the bed and stalked across the dark room. His fingers quickly hit the switch and light immediately filtered on the strange situation that Eriq found himself in.

Eriq heard a sharp click from behind him and he immediately twisted around. He was taken aback suddenly when he saw a young girl with shoulder length brown hair, and an oval face crouching on the floor near his bed, a long black shawl covered her otherwise naked body but left her bare feet uncovered on the floor. She looked like she was his age, and her face painted with lines of loss and pain. "Hello?" Eriq asked the strange girl, the girl didn't acknowledge him, but moved her head farther back so Eriq really couldn't get another good look at her. "Hello?" Eriq asked again, taking a small step closer to the girl, who was still crouched on the cold steel floor. "Are you lost?" He asked, extending his hand out to the girl, expecting her to take it, she didn't even look at him though, and Eriq took another step toward her.

Eriq nearly jumped when the girl rushed to him, standing up and throwing her arms around his neck and back, embracing him as though she were a child clinging to a beloved lost toy, her arms and body trembling as she held on to his tightly. "Its ok," he breathed, wrapping his arms around the girl as well, not knowing why but feeling a deep sense of sadness for her. He tenderly stroked the back of her neck and twirled his fingers around the tips of her hair. Immediately after that the girl was stilled, her violent trembling stopping but still her arms held on to him forcefully. "Are you lost?" Eriq asked her, feeling the thin fabric of the black shawl around her and her exposed breast against his chest. Eriq looked down her back, seeing that the shawl only went to her knees and otherwise the rest of her body was bare. She must be from the lower halls, he thought, the girl again starting to tremble, and again he stroked the back of her neck. "Do you have a nam-?"

The girl stopped him, lifting her head from his shoulder and pushing him back with her hands at his shoulders. The girl looked deep into his eyes, Eriq was lost in the deep oceans of her deep blue gaze. "I told you it wouldn't work." She hissed desperately, clenching her fingers tightly into the skin of his shoulders, her fingers clutched so tight as though she hated him, but her eyes gave off only love and desperation.

Eriq's eyes opened violently, finding his room dark again, and realizing fast that the encounter with the girl was just a dream. Eriq let out a breath, standing up from the bed quickly and ignoring his stiff legs. He brushed his fingers against the light switch drastically and twirled around, just as he had in his dream, making sure that the strange girl really wasn't there. Eriq sighed when he saw that she was not. He lifted his hand to his forehead and pushed his hand against his skin, trying to relieve a piercing head ach and the feeling that the girl was still here. Don't be an idiot, he ordered himself, feeling a layer of sweat on his skin and in his clothes, just as their had been in his dream. Quickly he pulled the cold shirt off, and throwing it on top of the twisted sheets and blankets on his bed.

He approached his closet, trying to search out another comfortable shirt when he heard a faint whisper in his ear, "Eriq." Eriq turned, searching out the room again, recognizing the voice as the same voice of the girl from his dream, Eriq listened again. "Eriq, please." Eriq searched the room again, walking from corner to corner but still he could not find her. The voice felt like it was coming from all around him, above, below, and from all sides of him. "You've got to remember." The girl pleaded, her voice lower then a whisper but he could ear her as if she were screaming.

"Remember what?" Eriq asked.

The voice was gone.