His mind was bound by a gray sea.
He could feel its power tumbling in his chest.
His eyes were cold but his skin was warm.
He saw things as they were not as others wished.
His songs are mostly forgotten now.
But somehow he is still with us,
in the sound of the surf,
in the rush of ocean waves echoing in our ears.
The old ones had grand and glorious machines. They could fly across oceans. Their sailing vessels filled the skies. They inhabited glittering cities of light. They mapped the stars and sent men into space—but they went mad and destroyed themselves. We are their offspring. Z World is so named as it stands at the end of that old world, faint traces of which can still be seen in our world, in ruins and refuse not yet been reclaimed by nature—its rolling hills, farms, forests and streams.
We do not know what lies beyond our shores. Our seafaring vessels are not capable of traversing the globe. Over many generations our people have engaged in battles but nothing like the great wars of the past. We live a peaceful existence. We feel blessed.
We share a common language with the old world, with our ancestors; even so, many of their words seem foreign to us and are difficult to decipher. The old ones were capable of great magic. They were able to record and transmit images of themselves across great distances. This art has now been lost. We do have transcripts of these talking pictures along with faded photographs, ragged books and other deteriorating volumes archived in makeshift libraries.
Sadly the largest of these libraries recently burned. This is why we have decided to compile and distill from the existing archives a few stories that moved us. We are thinking of future generations, that there will be a record not just of sacred texts, of poets and philosophers (of that we have already made abundant copies), but we wish to produce (using the archives and literary techniques discovered in the books of the old ones) a record of the final months, days and even hours before death and the whirlwind overtook them.
Best friends since infancy, Parker Jane and Star adored each other. Star had long strawberry blonde hair and pale blue eyes. Parker Jane had short dark hair and dark eyes. Star was a dreamer; Parker Jane, a realist. Never jealous of the other, they celebrated their differences. Where one was weak, the other was strong. They were closer than twins and would often read to each other from their diaries, sharing their most intimate thoughts and secrets, as only twelve year old girls can.
Star looked up at the sky and pointed, “Do you see those dark clouds?”
“So what?” Parker Jane looked up and shrugged.
“Do you think it is going to rain?”
“I don’t know, maybe.”
“I don’t want it to rain.”
“Not rain. We need rain. We need water, Star. Without water we would die.”
“When it rains people get sick.”
“Everyone gets sick sometimes.”
“But it is happening more and more. Reverend Flowers said
Eurasia is seeding
the clouds with poison.”
“That’s a myth, Star.”
“Reverend Flowers said
Eurasia is the enemy and they want to kill us.”
Eurasia doesn't care about us.”
“Reverend Flowers said they don’t believe in God. They want to take our freedom away.”
“Reverend Flowers is a big bag of wind.”
“Reverend Flowers is the head of this compound. He is our leader. He shows us the ways of God.”
“God,” Parker Jane laughed. “What God?”
“Please Parker don’t say that. You must believe in God.”
“Star, don’t be silly.”
“See," Star held her hands out. "It's starting to rain. Let’s get inside. God may not protect you from lightning, Parker Jane. I’m scared.”
Star was right about one thing. After it rained, people would often get sick, and it was happening more and more often. It had been three hundred years since the first atomic bomb had been dropped on
. After that, the world suffered wars and man-made
plagues. As the art of warfare advanced, death ruled. Hiroshima
Eurasia was the most powerful country in the world. Their
leader, Premier Tsong, ruled ruthlessly. Many people lived in forced labor
camps. Travel was prohibited there. It had suffered through civil wars for a
generation and had been under martial law for just as long.
Parker Jane and Star idolized Princess Larissa. She was so beautiful. She was so much better than any actress or storybook character. She really was a princess. She was the only child of King Harold. She lived in a grand palace, an estate, overlooking the ocean. She wore beautiful gowns. Since Parker Jane and Star were orphans (their parents died in wars overseas), Princess Larissa was both an imaginary big sister and fairy god mother (even though Princess Larissa was barely twenty).
Glamour, fame, charm, Princess Larissa had it all. But she harbored a secret. No one but her father knew. No one guessed.
Princess Larissa looked out at the water and the waves breaking on the shore and sighed. It seemed so unfair. She wished she could be lifted up into the clouds and drift away to another land far from her own country, far from her shame. She was prisoner in a palace and she could not find the key that would set her free.
After the death of her mother, the horrible thing began. Her father heartbroken and drunk stayed in bed for days. She tried to comfort him, she loved him so. One night he awakened her as he slipped into her bed in the dark. He was crying and babbling incoherently. At first, she patted him on the shoulder and kissed him on the cheek to calm him. She stopped suddenly. She could feel his erection pressed against her. Then it happened, he entered her. She was a virgin. It was a strange sensation. She cried out but he continued. “Please stop,” she begged him and still he continued. Finally, he collapsed while still inside her. She pushed him away. He slept. She got up and went to the bathroom; the bathroom light was cold and clinical. She was in shock, she moved around as if in a trance. There was blood between her legs. She showered. She sat in the bathroom on the cold floor all night and cried.
In his Chapel Hall office, Prime Minister Westerbrook sat on a red velvet sofa. Gray and handsome, he sipped on a cup of coffee. Seated on a chair across from him sat a portly, balding man: Chief of Staff Cyril Blakely.
“What about this virus? Where does it come from? Why now? Why are there so many new cases?” Prime Minister Westerbrook asked.
“Yes it is true, many have fallen sick. The death toll is rising. But we have suffered with so many of these viruses. We do not even know if the sick are all suffering from the same disease. We’re not sure about any of this,” Chief of Staff Blakely answered back.
“Is there any truth to the rumors that
Eurasia is behind this?”
“No.” Blakely replied with certainty.
“You seem sure of yourself. How can that be?”
Blakely knew something. Prime Minister Westerbrook could read his old friend easily.
“I only mean to say that there is no evidence that
Eurasia has anything to do with it. That rumor is something that
Reverend Flowers fabricated to stir up the fanatics on the right. His claims are bogus. He is still upset
over all the cutbacks to the military.”
Prime Minister Westerbrook had decommissioned the armed forces and scrapped their machines of war. The people were sick of war. He had been voted into office on that promise (with Chief of Staff Blakely as his campaign manager). Prime Minister Westerbrook kept his promise. There would be no more fighting overseas. The defense system that protected the borders from invaders remained intact; it was formidable and state of the art. But no retaliatory force was left to engage in wars on the other side of the world.
“Still you are not telling me something. Tell me.”
Blakely flushed, his ears turned red. “There is one thing. Not substantiated. It is possible Zion Industries is involved.”
“Zion Industries, Zion Industries,” Prime Minister Westerbrook repeated. Zion Industries funded Westerbrook’s campaign and developed many wonder drugs. They were one of the most respected companies in the land. But after the military was decommissioned, they worked on a secret project developing viruses and vaccines. This worried Westerbrook. His face turned ashen. “I want to know everything.”
“And if it is their bug, do they have a vaccine?”
“Part of the protocol would call for the vaccine to be developed along with the virus. But with this, from what I can gather, there is some confusion.”
“Find out,” Prime Minister Westerbrook was livid.