Published: October 20, 2012
More Than One Side
Chapter 1: You
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You're sitting on the roof of your shelter, gazing at the sunset far out across the wasteland. The setting of the sun is a familiar sight to you, one that you enjoy seeing often. In this ravaged, once metropolitan area that you live, it is your one link to the past. What events could have happened all those hundreds of years ago when the world was whole and unscarred as it is now?
The heroics, the villainies, and all manner of things in between happened as days and years ticked by. In these ever-changing events, few things remained the same. Now, in this torn and broken land, the sky seemed to be the only thing left untouched.
You let out a sigh as the last rays of the great sun dip below the distant horizon. The time of the sun has passed. You now walk the realm of the moon. It is time for your shift in patrolling the decadent roads of the shattered city.
You switch posts with Jed, the previous guard, while he goes off for a well earned night of rest. For you, there is not much to do. There is no real threat that you need to look for, the watch is just for safety measures.
During your rounds, you take time to scavenge through the rubble along the way. Despite all the various things you find, there is one treasure you value more than anything else: books. For you, these books offer a way to look back in time and see what the world was like before the infamous "incident". You treasure even the shortest of stories that you manage to save.
However, the others don't seem to understand what is so great about the books. Sure, they understand the need for the more informative ones. But they appear totally incapable of grasping the beauty that is within the stories, the song of poetry, the imagery of the fiction, and the drama of the novels.
Tonight, you manage to acquire a few new stories. Carefully, you hide them in a cache for later. Tomorrow, you'll take these books to a small cave in the near mountains. Over the years, you've collected about a hundred of these books. And with that many, you needed a place to keep them safe from the others. That nook at the base of the mountains proved a useful place to hide your treasures.
The cave was too small for practical living space, but it was perfect for storing the growing collection. And whenever you managed to, you'd sneak off to that special place and be transported to another world. You've read about pirates and dragons, enjoying the thrill that the words provided despite their age. You've also attained some medical and technological knowledge from the more practical books.
Yes, books are such a wonderful treasure.
Your shift passes with no unusual events, just another run-of-the-mill night for you. With the rest of the day free, you decide to bring your latest prizes to the secret cave. You let the others know that you're heading off to the mountains for a while. And as you depart, you gather up the new books that you found.
Between the city and the mountains is a small stretch of desert wasteland. Other than the sea of sand, an occasional outcropping of rocks or metal may come up. You are just about to reach the foot of the great mountains when you sense something.
You stop and sniff the air. A light breeze blows by you. Living in these conditions all your life has taught you a great deal. You've learned some of the signs telling what nature will bring next. These signs that you now observed pointed to one thing: freak sandstorm. You know that you're too far to turn back to the safety of the city. But can you make it to the cave in time?
The storm builds behind you as you race for the mountain side. The path to the cave requires you to slip through a small canyon. The cave is located along the wall. You manage to make it to the canyon entrance and hurry as fast as your legs can carry you and the books.
Despite your efforts, it is not enough. The storm has followed you, and quickly at that. You can see your target, an opening in the face of the canyon walls. Just a bit more and you'll be safe.
Suddenly, a rumble comes from above. You look just in time to see stones falling towards you. You let out a scream in desperation, then
Slowly, your senses come back to you. And the first thing you notice is the pain. Without even opening your eyes you can tell that you've been badly beaten. A rock must've fallen on your head and knocked you out. You control yourself and will the pain to go away.
The next thing you notice is the coolness around you. "Strange," you think to yourself. You were outside when you were knocked unconscious. Shouldn't you have overheated from the sun after the freak storm passed?
Slowly, you open your eyes. To your amazement, you are in the secret cave. "How did I get in here?" you mumble to yourself. You pick yourself up and you immediately feel a sharp pain in your left leg. Rolling up your left pant leg, you find several bruises covering the skin. "No wonder it hurts so much," you think.
You roll the pant leg back down and begin to massage the lumps. As you do, you wonder how you managed to get inside the cave. A loud snore interrupts your thoughts and you carefully drag yourself towards the noise.
Peering around a bend in the cave, there lays a giant creature. It was the size of a human and the only way you can describe it is that if looks like a "kangaroo" from your books. Strangely though, the creature wore clothes similar to humans.
You put your hand to the wall next to you and a few pebbles fall lose. The creature's ears twitch at the sound and its eye lids open droopily. But upon catching sight of you, the thing's eyes open wide and it rises to its feet. It lets out a yell and bolts out of the cave.
You're left stunned at the sight. The creature could have easily killed you, what stopped it from doing so? And, was it the one that brought you into the cave in the first place? Plus, why would it do so in the first place? As these questions dart though your mind, your head begins to hurt again. With nothing else to do, you let yourself fall back onto the ground, exhausted from the short crawl.
While you slept, the creature came back. It saw you lying uncomfortably on the floor of the cave. With strength that no normal human could have, the beast lifted you up and set you back in the rear of the cave. It then went back to the entrance and sat down, waiting for you to awaken once more.