Shop Forum More Submit  Join Login

Henry dozes on the transport to the historical sector. It’s been his commute for years: live in the Pod, commute to Xibalba. He wakes to the lights flickering, images of Holly fading away.

Air scrubbers can’t remove the scent of the euthanasia lab and samples storage. The transport stops, doors opening. “Population Overflow Department,” a pleasant female voice chimes. Henry holds his breath until the doors close.

He thanks every god he knows he was bred as a historian, not a scientist. He probes books; they probe sores, finding new ways to trim the fat off the population. He’ll never stop it. Poor little bunker baby, he thinks he can.

The Historian faces the council of lords, tiered to infinity above him. Projected faces of dead geniuses stare down in apathy. These are the collected consciousnesses of the deceased, converted to data and stored in the servers of Xibalba. Henry speaks to ghosts.

“I propose cultural assessments of the surface. There’s unrest in several sectors; if we can apply new understanding of surface behavior, perhaps we can assert more control here.”

The dead masters of Xibalba confer.

Leaving the transport, Henry heads directly to the elevator. He knows little of the surface, only that they call Xibalba’s elevators “Raptures,” granting ascension to Xibalba’s chosen few.

Special forces wait for him: two of them, decked out in heavy gear. He enters the elevator, wincing as the doors bang shut.

“First time?” one soldier asks. “It’s not so bad. I’m Jacob.”

Henry shakes Jacob’s hand, then the hand of the SO, Iacov. The soldiers team up, getting Henry in his gear: oxygen mask, visor, gloves, skin protectant. Wearing the folly of hope, the three ascend.

The elevator opens. The expanse is revealed: choking sand in place of fresh air, blackened soil where flax and English lavender grew. Despite knowing what it would be, he had still hoped for flowers.

Trading a dingy dungeon for a wide open space, this field drab, flame licked waste, he feels exposed. His mouth runs dry. Sweaty palms, tingling fingers, he sways from sudden dizziness. He breathes fast, fogs his mask; he wants to tear it off.

All he can think of is Molly, suffocating, Molly, out here, pregnant and scared.

“Is his mask malfunctioning?” Jacob stares.

Iacov places his hands on Henry’s shoulders, staring into his eyes. In the deep black shadows of the elevator, his blue eyes seem violet to Henry’s oxygen flooded brain.

“You’re hyperventilating,” he explains, which doesn’t help. “It’s a panic attack. It’s okay, it happens-”

“I-can’t-go-out-there,” Henry gasps. It's nearly impossible to speak.

“You don’t have to,” Iacov has Henry sit.

“That’s it, head between your legs, that’s ok, just breathe,” he coaches. “In your nose, out your mouth. Just go slow for me.”

And with time, it’s okay. It’s really okay. Henry decides to keep going, if only for that tiny idea that Molly could be out here, somewhere. Maybe she survived.

The crater isn’t far. They trudge through the farrow fields, unsown and infertile. The sun poises above them, lingering for its day, twice as long as before the event. The crater is filled with debris, the detritus of life survivors cling to They’ve built a garbage city in the crime scene.

He catches things glinting in the sun. There are traces of beauty left behind: aquamarine in feldspar, opal in granite; to him they seem as exotic fish in black coral.

A mural catches his eye, on the side of a mud hut. A great eye, made of flame, atop a black tower.

“I’ve seen that eye before,” Henry runs his fingers down the mural. “An illustration, in a child’s book.”

Jacob pauses to look,while Iacov tenses, scanning their surroundings.  

Sauron’s eye,” Henry mutters. “Lewis, I believe.”

“Nah, it was Tolkien,” Jacob spits into the rubble, bored with the mural.

“Don’t matter! We need oxygen. The hub is close.”

They pass signs of life: recent fires, fresh paint. They hear screaming, drums beating, pulsating through the crater city. They follow the sounds.

The oxygen hub is here, in the middle of a celebration. Dancing and singing, leathery skin and matted hair, the surfacers lack the emaciated pallor of the sun-starved bunker babies. Tanned revellers undulate in ecstasy to rhythmic drumming.  

“Shit,” Iacov spits. “They’re all over our oxygen.”

The revellers drift into the children of Xibalba, pulling them into the frothing mess of bodies. Henry loses sight of his soldiers. Someone tears his mask off, pours sweet wine down his throat.

Sounds distort, crucifying his brain with auditory phantoms. Colors bleed, shredding into Henry’s eyes. Streaking out, forming halos around souls, the colors are alive. He’s falling into some vast, deep, infinitely disgusting alien armpit, feeling for handholds where there are none.

A woman, belly swollen with child, dances near Henry. Her body is stained with dyes; her water mingles with them, rainbows running down her thighs. She’s a myth come to life, a woman brought to life from rock with a baby inside her, one of Con Tiqui’s humans.

She walks out of amber, fully formed. She dances with Henry as Inca dance with Tolkien. All the stories he studied fragment, reforming as euphoric fever-dreams.

Henry forgets about collision courses and expeditions. He finds his body tangled up with Iacov’s, waking again and again to each new morning, the joy of being setting his veins on fire.

“How many years has it been?” Henry flips through the pages of his battered Silmarillion.

Iacov, tousling his fingers absentmindedly through Henry’s hair, glances down at the historian and smiles.

“About three, I think.”

“And have we seen any asteroids since Xibalba cut contact?”

“Not one, Hen.”

“Well fuck,” Henry closed his book. “Our lives might just be boring.”

Hundreds of miles away, Holly descends into the Earth, riding Rapture into the heart of the Pod sector. She asks the first person she sees to take her to her husband.

"Tell him we had a daughter."




FFM Day 15 (Challenge)

List of colors that exist

Word count: 996
Name "Iacov" suggested by LadyBrookeCelebwen :la:

Gorgeous musical prompt for today

Want to hurl a rock at the earth and read about the damage you did?

ELEMENT ONE -- END TIMES 

Your story must take place in a Post-Apocalyptic setting. All details of the world and said apocalypse are to be left to your discretion.
  • Post-asteroid strike. Dystopian bunker society plus post-event crater civilization.

ELEMENT TWO -- TONALITY

Your story must include a Tone Shift, starting off in a particular manner, and then transitioning into something else. 
  • I started with a bleak dystopian tone, judging Henry's hope and setting up a fairly icky society. Then I decided UMWHUT? is a tone, and the story shifts into the abstract, going for surrealism and all that jazz. It starts to be OK that Henry's OK. 

ELEMENT THREE -- EXPECTATIONS

Include an instance of Situational Irony, in which the reader's expectations of the plot are subverted and the story goes in an entirely new direction. The catch is that it has to be kept separate from your tone shift
  • Tis a spoiler but a lady has a kid and Henry isn't there to want them anymore. It's right at the end, after the move into surrealism and the UMWHUT? tone shift. 


ELEMENT FOUR -- A VARIEGATED PALETTE

Incorporate 15 colours that are also things into your story (e.g. Ebony, Silver, Chestnut, Peach etc). 
  1. Folly
  2. Sand
  3. Fresh air
  4. Flax
  5. English Lavander
  6. Dingy dungeon
  7. Field Drab
  8. Flame
  9. Black shadows
  10. Violet
  11. Farrow
  12. Feldspar
  13. Opal
  14. Granite
  15. Black coral 
  16. And my personal challenge to myself: alien armpit

ELEMENT FIVE -- LOOK FOR THE SIGNS

You story must feature elements from no less than FOUR different mythologies, though again we'll leave it to your discretion to decide just how you should incorporate them.

But here's the rub, only two of your mythologies may be well known (e.g. Greek, Norse, Egyptian, Judaeo-Christian, etc), and the other two must be of more obscure origins (e.g. Bantu, Mongolian, Micronesian, etc).

Inca (lesser known) creation myth: "Out of great rocks Con Tiqui fashioned more human beings, including women who were already pregnant." Mentioned pretty overtly. 


Maya (lesser known) underworld myth: Xibalba, the Mayan underworld. Used as the name for one of the sectors of the bunker civilization. "Even the roads to Xibalba were filled with obstacles: first a river filled with scorpions, a river filled with blood, and then a river filled with pus." The POD sector, where surplus population is dealt with, has sample storage (blood, other organics) and the euthanasia lab (an abstract interpretation of the scorpions.) Xibalba has a council of lords, some of which are realistic mannequins. I added in AI versions of dead people as the court of Xibalba. 

Lord of the Rings (Tolkien wrote mythopoeia, an artificial mythology.) I used Sauron's eye to draw a comparison between a fictional entity of fire and evil and an apocalyptic level asteroid collision. The surface people painted the mural because their beliefs center around the tiny scraps of the pre-event civilization that remain. 

Christianity - The Raptures are elevators that take the bunker survivors to the surface, to a completely different set of cultures. The surface survivors believe the people who come up from the bunkers are chosen to join them. Some surfacers think the rapture already happened and left them in hell, but I ran out of room to flesh out that particular flipside. So the surface is compared to Hell, and the elevators to the rapture.

:flop: 
Add a Comment:
 
:iconkreepingspawn:
KreepingSpawn Featured By Owner Aug 3, 2016  Professional Digital Artist
Marvelous. I'm not altogether sure what happened, but I very much enjoyed the telling. ;)

Jacob and Iacov are the same name... deliberate?
Reply
:iconintelligentzombie:
IntelligentZombie Featured By Owner Aug 3, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks! Haha, good! I went for purposefully confusing on this one, since midway through it's pretty much a bad drug trip. :D

Yeah, I figured they'd probably use variations of the same names for some roles in their society. Jacob and Iacov would have been seen as expendable, so they got mass produced names, was kind of where my thinking went. :D 
Reply
:iconkreepingspawn:
KreepingSpawn Featured By Owner Aug 4, 2016  Professional Digital Artist
Intriguing concept.
I'd be interested to read a 'fuller' version someday.  ;) It seems a potentially rich world and sceanrio to expand upon.
Reply
:icongdeyke:
GDeyke Featured By Owner Jul 31, 2016   Writer
Love this. I'm impressed at the way you worked in the challenge elements - the situational irony was a punchline but not funny, which made it unique, and the tone shift is drastic but also seamless - but even aside from the challenge, this is great. I love the way you worked in the mythologies, and I love the way this is written.
Reply
:iconintelligentzombie:
IntelligentZombie Featured By Owner Jul 31, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you so much for the thoughtful comment! You rock! :blush: :love:
Reply
:iconilyilaice:
ilyilaice Featured By Owner Jul 18, 2016
UMWHUT. :lmao: Put a patent on that.
Reply
:iconintelligentzombie:
IntelligentZombie Featured By Owner Jul 18, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
:dummy: I SHALL.
Reply
:iconag-cat:
Ag-Cat Featured By Owner Jul 16, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
"Alien armpit" should be put in everything. |D
Reply
:iconintelligentzombie:
IntelligentZombie Featured By Owner Jul 16, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
Hehehe, isn't it awesome? So tempting to sneak it into every other flash now. :stare: :giggle:
Reply
:icondragoeniex:
dragoeniex Featured By Owner Jul 15, 2016
O_o Apparently UMWHUT is a tone now, because you shifted into it marvelously. It's baffling how well the halves of this story both contrast each other and mesh together. I particularly liked the beginning, with a lot of world building in very little space. It felt like a natural introduction. 
Reply
:iconintelligentzombie:
IntelligentZombie Featured By Owner Jul 16, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks! :love: I'm glad UMWHUT worked as a tone. :XD: 
I need to stop coming up with ideas cos' this is #47 of the things I'd like to write as books. :faint:

Thanks for saying they mesh and contrast! :love:
Reply
:iconladybrookecelebwen:
LadyBrookeCelebwen Featured By Owner Jul 15, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
This made me cry. I both love it and hate it, so good job! :D (Also excellent use of Tolkien).
Reply
:iconintelligentzombie:
IntelligentZombie Featured By Owner Jul 15, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
Well I like the love part of that. XD 
Thanks! Sorry it made you cry. 
Reply
Add a Comment:
 
×

:iconintelligentzombie: More from IntelligentZombie


More from DeviantArt



Details

Submitted on
July 15, 2016
Submitted with
Sta.sh Writer
Link
Thumb

Stats

Views
330
Favourites
4 (who?)
Comments
13
×