Choking on Air

"Why is it that starting is the most difficult part? It's really no different then the rest of the book, it's just the first few words." Lark was slumped over his desk, looking over a stack of blank pieces of paper he'd promised himself he'd fill with some sort of interesting tale in regard to his uneventful life.

"Maybe it's a first impression sort of thing." Tybalt called back from the other room, seeming uninterested and distracted. The red head was dragging at a cigar he'd been working on since he woke up; he wasn't much of a smoker, but all the cool characters smoke. He'd returned to consciousness at about midday and had yet to move from his place on the couch, at which he slept each night. Chantesuta was in the other room, avoiding his two room mates with as much effort as was not clearly obvious to them; he didn't want to start a confrontation among his companions. The television (that had been lazily mounted on an easily stored dinner tray) flicked to life upon its own accord, beginning to relay a late broadcast of the morning messages, as it had been programmed to do. There was usually a delay in the programming anyway, so recording it for later in the day only saved hassle and loading time in the early morning that could be spent sawing logs.

"Weather is predicted to remain in the low twenties…" the television babbled.

"Is starting at my birth too tedious?" Lark yelled from the other room.

"Storm clouds are looming over west district…"

"Your birth was likely the most exciting part of your life up until now!" Tybalt called back.

"Chance of tornados... Ninety five percent."

"Not true!" Lark argued, turning away from his empty papers. "I've participated in plenty of fascinating and memorable activities!"

"Chance of hail storms at... eighty eight percent, and counting." The television warned the uncaring youth in its robotic, yet feminine voice.

"Name two!" Tybalt dared.

"Air quality remains critical, please remember to ware your air filtration masks, version point eighty five, whenever exiting your lock down zone…"

"I... I'm writing a novel!" Lark called back. "And I grow my own spices!"

"..Limit out door activities and return to lock down zone during any down pore."

"Then write a cook book!" Tybalt exhaled, shutting off the television set and extinguishing the ambers burning at the end of his half used cigar.

Lark hushed himself and made his way to the kitchen, arguing wasn't getting him anywhere, in fact he was plenty sure it was draining away all of the little inspiration he had reserved. He would likely spend the remainder of the afternoon and much of the following night working in his kitchen and appeasing his quick metabolism. "Where to begin?" Lark muttered to himself, in both reference to his novel and to the many packages of freeze-dried food that filled the storage cabinet near the kitchen.

Chantesuta finally creped out from his room and toward the kitchen for his lunch, not acknowledging his room mates more than absolutely necessary, even as he passed them in the thin halls or made his way into the insignificantly sized kitchen. He practically threw himself into the wall to avoid Lark as he passed by him, it wasn't anything personal, Chantesuta was only witless and out of his mind, like a squirrel who managed to get stuck inside a strange house. The very thought of a verbal confrontation or otherwise frightened him to the core and brought on nervous stuttering even in the safe few inches in-between his ears.

Lark, never the less, was persistent with the coward and tried his best to coxe the other boy from his shell whenever the opportunity arose. Tybalt found such efforts futile, and said so whenever the subject was graced upon in conversation.

The rest of the day persisted in a similar manner until the safe few hours in the outdoor air that Lark used as his working day, going through his paper root on foot. It was one of Lark's many joys which by default added itself to one of Tybalt's many dislikes. The stubborn red head constantly babbled about Lark's futile efforts to maintain normality in such conditions, to which Lark would respond with a clueless recollection of the world outside the one he'd created for himself. Lark was perhaps as stubborn as Tybalt in this way, constantly maintaining the shroud of ignorance yet simultaneously maintaining practicality about the real world that lay outside his mind.

The one who scales clouds.

It was one of such mornings (during the safe hours: when the mist that hid the acid clouds had disburse, yet the day was new enough to breath through proper filtration the remainder of the night cooled air) that Lark departed from his built proof residence to descend into that wearisome town of crumbling buildings and dust filled crop gardens, all who's residence had long since either left or had long since been deceased. Despite all this the houses still received mail, some from ill-convinced family members, going about their lives as they always had (which included sending letters to the homes of dead loved ones), as well as mail from the remainder of the money-starved government, which consisted mainly of bills and wide spread letters about the improvement no one but them had noticed and the compensation checks to those who had served in the last war, the last of which Lark disregarded. Lark went about this futile activity as if it were his one true purpose and with refreshed vigor each day.

A group of scavenging humanoids that resided in the far end of town (mask less and lunatics) often referred to Lark as 'the one who scales the clouds' for reasons not bluntly obvious but apparently in some relation to his futile grasps at his previous way of living. One could not expect to understand those who breathed in the toxic airs, it did things to them, twisted their minds and features around worlds perhaps more abnormal then Lark's, but even with Lark down on solid ground with the latest updated version of an air-mask strapped tightly over his mouth and nose, those air breathers still regarded him with the pretender's level of respect among themselves. Lark had curtsey enough to greet those air breathers whom he ran into now and again, and yet more to regard their delusions as fact and with interest, in this way he was as Chantesuta, a passive, neutral man with no strength to reject another person's world as false.

As the safe times faded and the heat began to scorch Lark's unprotected flesh he would return to his home with mild sun-burns that would flake away and heal over night to be replaced by new burns the next day.

The one born dead.

Chantesuta was an easy child, asleep at birth. The events that led to his discovery are unknown but he was discovered late one day in a cryogenic freeze, sleeping upon lavished comforters he'd never been able to truly appreciate, housed carefully (like a native child cuddled up tight in it's mother's papoose), in a robotically monitored space pod. Slight frost had settled upon his pale complexion, flakes of crystallized moister poised upon his eyelashes and growing thick in his eyebrows and stubble. To those who stumbled upon his would-be grave (Once the machines keeping him asleep yet alive finally ran out of things to feed the still form) it was as large a discovery as the ancient 'Ice-man', but unlike that poor corpse he was not freed from his icy chambers by meager pick-axes and hasty work, instead Chantesuta was removed from his tomb with the finder's pick-up truck. It was a slow process but the pod eventually burst open like a dropped egg, freeing the coward from its systems and waking him up for the first time in perhaps an inhuman amount of years.

Studies were done and data was taken, blood was drawn along with bone-marrow, there were dissections and mental testing, but dear old Chantesuta proved to be no missing link. In fact, once the great and last war arose the coward fought in it, fought in a strange country for strange people whose practices were all alien and beyond his understanding, fought for the aliens so he could live on what was left of their land after the final CBM's settled in the ruin, as the dust cleared he found himself alone, a gun over his shoulder and a helmet sitting crooked upon his head. His face then dusted with ashes, his eyelashes blinking furiously at the air thick with smoke, the chemicals of ruin falling upon him and laying upon his shoulders, entangling and weighing down his sweat curled hair, and yet again he was 'Ice-man', cold and very far from home.