Thursday, February 9, 2012

Bang The Doldrums

On Thursday, Gerard hung a picture on the wall that put Mikey somewhat on edge. It was a painting, likely an old one by the look of it, depicting a little ship floating across a dark sea. It wasn’t particularly creepy for any outward reason; Mikey just didn’t really like it.

According to Gerard, it depicted the “Doldrums”, the area at sea where the prevailing winds were calm. The way he described it, doldrums sounded like a time of rest.

However, Mikey knew the truth of it. The doldrums were a sailor’s worst nightmare. The low pressure zone would make the weather unpredictable. Sometimes the wind wouldn’t pick up at all, stranding them for days, even weeks. And other times it would cause unruly storms that they would have to battle in attempts to stay on course.

Every time he looked at the painting, the young rebel felt like he was there, back in time hundreds of years, on the little ship.

He could just picture the crew, waiting with baited breath for the wind to pick up and send them on their merry way. For days, weeks they waited, each day driving them a little bit more insane. The hot sun would beat down on their red, sweat covered faces and they would attempt to drink away their fears. Yet, no amount of rum could make up for the horrible lack of wind.

And then, one fateful day, clouds would roll in, bringing a bit of a breeze with them. The crew would scramble to their feet, set the sails, and pray that they started moving soon.

The old, creaking ship would eventually begin a steady crawl across the water, bringing relief to the wary crew.

However, the wind wasn’t the only thing the clouds brought. The skies would go dark and then came rain that would pour down in sheets, thunder that would deafen, and lightening that would blind. The sea would turn black and the crew would battle the raging seas, some of them getting pulled overboard by violent waves.

Eventually, day would come, the clouds would disappear, the rain and thunder retreating with them. The now welcome sun would appear a light breeze along with it, letting the poor beaten crew and their ship rest a bit.

However, the breeze would often disappear, and the dead stillness would once again fall upon the sea. Once again, the crew would have to wait for the next violent storm to bring about another breeze. Each time, they hoped this was the storm that would get them back on track, or at least leave them with a manageable breeze.

Until then, they would have to wait and hope that their food supply didn’t run out.

Doldrums, indeed.

The Spot

The last time Frank had gone to The Spot had been the night after he and Toro had left the city. They had hopped the fence separating Battery City from Zone 1 only hours before and Gerard had insisted that they needed to go celebrate their successful escape.

“The Spot”, as it was referred to in the Rebel Culture, was a large vacant lot right on the edge of Zones 1 and 2. The Exterminators never went there because it always appeared to be on fire. In reality, the Rebels used the lot for trades and it turned into one big party. The lot was lined with bonfires on three of the four sides. With the only open side being an easily defendable route into Zone 2, there was little chance of a Raid.

Now, as he stood staring at the sun disappearing behind the wall of fire that faced the west, Frank couldn’t help wondering why they didn’t come here more often.

“What are you doing, silly?” Rhi giggled from behind him. “I thought you were going to get us something to drink.”

A smile plastered across his face as he turned to face the girl.

“I got distracted,” he shrugged. “Why can’t you get it yourself?”

“Because I was helping Odin pick out the music for tonight.”

He glanced over at Odin, a bald man with a handlebar mustache. Back in the old days, Frank was quite sure he would be referred to as one of “Hell’s Angels.” However, now he just ran the sound system that blasted rock music across the lot day and night. In the man’s hand, he distinctly saw Rhi’s copy of “Let The Dominos Fall” by Rancid.

Rhi looked rather proud of herself for the selection and he couldn’t help smiling.

This girl and waltzed into his life and stolen his heart in a matter of weeks. Admittedly, he found it difficult to read her sometimes and attempting to kindle a love connection in the middle of a war with the government wasn’t exactly easy, thus, he had yet to profess his love.

They traded a gallon of gasoline for a fifth of something homebrewed from one of the other rebel groups and soon they were rather drunk. Rancid was still blaring from the speakers, and Rhi was dancing to one of her favorite songs.

Drunkenly she swayed her hips, grabbing Frank’s hand and insisting that he twirl her. Laughing, he obliged and soon he was dancing right along with her. They giggled and had a grand time twisting to the music.

The longer they danced, the more Frank longed to tell her how he felt. It was always on the tip of his tongue, yet he couldn’t bring himself to say it.

Night wore on and chances came and went. They danced on until well after most of the rebels had passed out. Eventually the record was changed to something a little softer and their dancing ceased.

They moved to the car, where they lay a blanket on the sand covered hood, and decided to stargaze. Rhi pointed out star clusters, which she referred to as constellations. Frank had never really been one for stars, but on this night they were fascinating to him. All the different clusters formed pictures, according to Rhi, but Frank couldn’t really see them.

“There’s the Big Dipper!” Rhi was saying. “And Orion. See how he is shooting a bow, Frankie?”

“Yeah, of course,” he lied.

He would tell her anything she wanted to hear, at this point. The stars didn’t hold a flicker in comparison to her.

For a moment he contemplated telling her this, but decided against it.

“My mom used to tell me the stories behind all the constellations. These people called the Greeks named them all. Apparently, they were heroes and the gods put them amongst the stars. Isn’t that cool?”

“Super cool,” he sighed unenthusiastically.

She looked over at him then, big sapphire eyes glinting in the firelight and it was the end of him. He had to tell right then exactly how he felt or he would go insane.

“Hey, Rhi,” he found his mouth saying. “What would you do if I told you I loved you?”

Her mouth opened to respond, but he didn’t give her the time.

“Because I do,” he went on. “I love you more than I can possibly bear. I know it’s stupid and we’re in the middle of a war, but I just-“

Before he knew what was going on, she had practically leapt on him and was pressing her lips to his. He pulled away from her a moment, but she wasn’t letting him go so easily.

“It’s about damn time,” she teased, pulling him in for another kiss.

Yeah, he thought to himself. They definitely needed to go to The Spot more often.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Rabid Monkeys

There is a playground, hidden deep within Battery City, where the children of the city are allowed to play for a few hours each afternoon when they are given a break from their studies.

As a child, this had been Al’s favorite place to go. It was the reason she got up to go to school. Playtime was the best.

The playground was a small haven for the children, a seemingly colorful place in the black and white world that Battery City encased them in. Of course, it was also closely monitored to make sure that the children didn’t use “too much” imagination in their games.

Of all the days spent on that playground, one stuck out in Al’s head above all the others.

It was a warm afternoon. Not the fake kind of warm that usually permeated Battery City, where it was quite obvious that the City was controlling the temperature. No, this was an actually nice, warm day. On this particular day, Korse, the lead Exterminator, decided to come watch the children play. He said he had a special project and wanted to find the child who showed the most promise.

Of course, all the children wanted to be the chosen one, so they all took extra care to be a little more impressive. They ran faster, made extra sure to take charge in the games, and did all that they could to get noticed.

However, Al knew that she would be chosen, no matter what. Her parents were high ranking officials in the government, in charge of ridding Battery City of any and all deviation from the norm. They were in charge of the Exterminators, so that meant that Al had no choice in being chosen. She would follow in her parents’ footsteps.

And yet, as she ran about with the other little children, she noticed that Korse was barely paying attention to her. Instead, his eyes always watched a young boy with short black hair.

Al had never spoken to the young boy before, but she knew from the rumors that flew about the halls that he was really intelligent. She realized that maybe her victory in gaining Korse’s favor would not come just from her parents’ standing in the government.

She decided it was time to step up her game.

By the time they got around to playing tag, Al realized that none of her skills were having much of an impression. Her fast running, excellent hiding skill, and ability to lead to children in their games seemed to have no effect on the man.

As the game of tag began to come to a close, the school officials motioning for the children to begin lining up to go inside, Al noticed that the dark haired boy had climbed onto the monkey bars. Once recess was over, Korse would announce the student who would be helping him with his new project.

In a desperate plea for attention, Al climbed the jungle gym opposite the boy and perched herself on top of them. The boy was steadily climbing toward her on the underside, giving her an open shot at his fingers.

As soon as he was near, she stretched out her feet in, what appeared to be, an attempt at climbing. However, in actuality, it was a successful attempt to stomp at his fingers.

The boy let out a yelp as the hard sole of her shoes made contact with his fingers. She made a point of grinding her heel into his fingernails, barely keeping herself from cackling as he tumbled to the ground.

Tears streaked his face as he lay on the ground cradling his hurt hands. Guilt gnawed at the young girl as she looked down at what she had reduced the boy to. However, her stomach flipped a bit in excitement when she noticed Korse staring at her, a smirk playing at his lips.

One of the attendants rushed over to help the young boy, who seemed to be having difficulty standing, having landed at an odd angle on his right foot.

“I’m so sorry,” Al gasped, now playing the part of the innocent little girl. “I didn’t mean to. I guess I wasn’t watching where I was going.”

“It’s alright, Alarice,” Korse said before any of the attendants could interject. “Gerard will be fine.”

Al nodded, hiding her satisfied smirk behind her long blonde hair. Cautiously she climbed down the monkey bars, knowing that when Korse announced his chosen student, it would be her. She had shown dominance over the only other competition, and that was all that mattered.