I did it again. I unleashed the most terrifying wail I can muster, louder than the roaring bells of futuristic military tanks that hover around me and certainly more terrifying than the cries of the vengeful spirits of animals that walk around the desolate plains of what I considered for years as my home. But It wasn’t. this filthy land filled with metallic junk and decaying corpses will never be my home. Well, I’ve been telling myself that for 30 years.
I walk around, carefully placing my feet on the blank spaces untouched by glass shards and trash that litters the ground. It’s not like it still mattered, I’m bruised, hurt and cracking inside anyways. I accidentally stepped into what I thought was a leaf, picked it up and realized it was actually a stained newspaper page that was left as the only remnant I have of the past. It seemed like It was just yesterday when it happened but here I am, reading articles of massive bushfires occurring in Australia 30 years ago. I was a carefree teenager then, using my phone and just shaking off reports about the chaos that was happening without a care in the world. “millions of species killed in Australian bushfire”, “World War 3 in verge of starting” headlines splashed on the front page with images from a distant past I can no longer go back into. That time wasn’t peaceful at all, it was the exact opposite actually but knowing what’s happening now, I’d rather just go back.
But that’s gone now, I ripped the papers off and just continued wandering around the streets of my forgotten village, slowly passing by blazing surroundings and haze that envelops the farther end of the neighborhood. I’m 55 years old but despite of that I’m still pretty strong for my age. My hair has now dissipated, my bones are brittle, but not more than the synthetic trees that the military forces put up around my village. Half the population’s dead now, our food supply is scarce and the internet doesn’t even exist anymore. So hoping for just a tiny bit of sustenance, I enter a broken down supply store and glance around the shelves to find food that could help me last just for a little.
“You’re not welcome here”, a deep raspy voice calls out to me in a hushed tone. I looked behind me and noticed a young teenager wearing a dusty trench coat hide behind the counter.
“Leave my damn store, NOW” he orders. He tried really hard to hide it but I heard it, his voice trembles into several pieces of shaking notes and I know he’s scared and that he’s lonely, so I filled up my courage and responded to him with a calm and reassuring manner.
“Look, boy, I was just hoping for a bit of food so if you just wouldn’t mind, I’ll just-“ he cuts me off mid-sentence and hurriedly grabbed me with him behind the counter and covered my mouth. I was terrified and even if I did scream no one would hear me. Seconds and minutes felt like hours before he finally lets go of me. I shake uncontrollably, It happened many times before but being held captive in the first time for months made me remind of the scarring experiences I’ve faced in the hands of the military forces before and the memories came flashing back, I prepared for my death and my face wells up with tears as I look over to the man expecting him to point a gun at me but he didn’t. his face was a mix of sorry, regret and pity. He stares into my eyes and began speaking again
“Uh… Sorry about that… I thought I heard gunshots outside the store.. so… I..”, he explained in broken sentences but I understood what he meant. He steps closer to me with loud echoing footsteps and I froze in place, He looks over and picks something from his pockets and hands me a pack of medicines and food supply and I reluctantly accepted it. He looked familiar, It’s almost as if I’ve known him for a long time but I shrugged it off, stepped back and escaped the store.
I continued my stroll, Dived into the forbidden paths me and my Dad used to walk around, It used to be a busy street but now it’s empty, no garbage around it. Just complete nothingness. I proceeded to the place that used to be a park and just wander around it. I reached into my pockets to take the medicines the man gave to me. And noticed a note placed with it.
“Get the newspaper, meet me in the supply store and take your medicine with you” I read it a few more times and repeat it to myself to make sense out of it but no additional information is included in the note and the ones that were on it weren’t helpful. I slowly walk away from the park and looked around to see if someone’s spying on me. A grim feeling of having eyes glued onto me have dawned. And I saw two no four, no actually, dozen pairs of eyes. I sneakily ran and got out of the park.
“What are you doing, Mayer? Who are you running away from?” an old friend of mine asks me in a worried manner, Celine has always been a fearless woman, she steps against the military and saves all the animals that she can find but I just know that she wouldn’t be able to fight that many soldiers so I whispered in hushed tones and looked into her eyes.
“Celine, There’s a dozen of soldiers spying on me and I think they’re going after the medicine that the man in the supply store gave to me.” I explained
She was shocked, her eyes turn wide for a moment before she finally speaks, “The supply store? The military closed it long ago because they suspected that someone might have used it for time machines and someone from the past accidentally went into our times”
I stared at her face in disbelief and I realized what was said. My encounter with the young man, the weird familiarity I had with him, It all sunk in deep in me.
The young man was me…. from the past
“run and escape with me, Celine” I suggested to her but it just seemed to make the fury in her heart grow bigger, her scarred face turns into a terrifying snarl as she grabs her gun and draws up her fists.
“I’ll stay here, and kill those military bastards and you go ahead and go to the supply store and do what you need to do” She nudges me “Also, say hi to my mom for me” she faintly smiled but I could see that she’s hurt and that she desperately wanted to travel back in time but she hid it nicely behind her mask and proceeded to face the soldiers like the fearless warrior she is.
I ran silently without drawing much attention and I step into the toxic haze that covers the entire surroundings, I stepped into charred skeletons, bones and thrown out machines but I didn’t care, I knew what I had to do, and I’m not going to let my only chance to escape this nightmare go.
I finally arrived at the deserted land where my house used to exist, I searched through piles of trash, dead bodies and stacks of littered garbage. It took a while but I saw the newspaper glimmer in the middle of cracking glasses and mirrors, I grabbed it and ran away to freedom
I’ve never felt so free in a long time, my mouth turns to a smile and I cry tears of victory. Through the screams that covered the whole village and sounds of blazing flames, I find the sound of my own voice telling me that now that I have the chance to make a difference, It’s all going to be all right. That despite all of the chaos, you can find peace and solution. And it filled me with gleaming hope. This dystopian future isn’t what I wanted, This isn’t what all of us people wanted. I walked briskly with my face drenched with tears of joy and I slowly approached the supply store, medicine and newspaper in hand. My feet created a resonant sound. A pleasing feeling that doze on my heart. I stepped carefully through pavements and sidewalks nearing the store and when I have finally arrived, I slowly opened the jaded glass door and turns to the counter to look over to the man and he appears right behind the shelves, with a glimmering smile, He looks over to me. His eyes were full of childhood and young determination, he steps closer to me grabbing my hands
“Are you ready to make a change?”. – Mayer June C. Abelinde