[This particular scene is important to me because this is the specific moment that describes the dream that inspired this book. I tried my best to capture every detail of my dream, from the desks to the sand to the gutted books. This isn't the dream in its entirety. You'll just have to read the rest! Enjoy! A lot goes down following Genesis and Violan's arrival at this point. Read it soon when "Genesis" drops on Amazon Kindle!]
“Looks like this is as far as we’re going today,” I spoke into the communicator.
I continued on at a slower pace, removing my goggles to see more clearly as we entered the cluster of rubble and old buildings. Mercy’s engine was quieter than others, which allowed me to hear what was around us. It seemed still. Life was an uncommon thing to find in the Waste, but when it was found it was found in gutted buildings, seeing as they were some of the only shelter available. The oldest cities, from before the six Arks began to migrate, were sinking into the earth. Disappearing. It was as my father used to say. The world was just a piece of what it used to be. Dying and dried up. People who still tried to survive in it were not the same kind of humans that thrived hundreds of years ago. They were children of a savage world now. A world that played with its food until everything was driven to madness.
“Sounds like a graveyard,” Violan said through my earpiece.
Halfway through the town, I stopped us in front of what used to be a library. The letters were etched smooth above the entrance, but I could still read them. It was an wounded building made of brick, but the front doors had been kicked in long ago, its wooden frame warped from decades in the dry weather. Desks littered the sidewalk outside and some books sat empty of their pages near blackened stains on the floor where their contents had been used to make fires. Without the parchment to fill them, they looked like empty boxes.
I parked Mercy on the side of the road and stood up, slipping my face mask down around my neck. Violan followed, keeping a sharp eye on things behind me as we entered the building.
“Wow,” Violan said. “I’ve never been inside a library. That’s what this is, right?”
“Yeah,” I exhaled, looking around the dark building at the nearly empty shelves and dust-ridden floors.
From my belt, I pulled a small flashlight and let it light the way as we explored. Ahead was a grand stairway that led to the second story. It was all so strange. I was born in a moving city, but I had heard stories of what the world was like before the infection. I’d seen photos. Every time I ventured through a town or an empty metropolis from before the creation of the moving cities, I wondered what it was like when it was alive and functional. Back when people walked on streets that didn’t quake beneath them. Back when the sky was blue and there was grass and trees to color the earth.
“Are all of these books things that people wrote?” Violan asked, examining some of the novels that were scattered on the floor.
“Yes,” I answered, running a finger across a dusty shelf.
Poe. Tolkien. Tennyson. They were classics. People, no matter how desperate, didn’t like to mess with classics. It was a reminder that the world wasn’t always a barren wasteland. Instead, they burned the dictionaries. The magazines. Law books. Some newspapers had been fastened to the walls for travelers to see as they passed through along with charcoal writing and graffiti. Some people talked about god and how he was supposed to save us. Then someone would come along and scratch that message out and say something to contradict it.
“You think anything here talks about the Therians?” Violan asked innocently.
I shook my head. “No one knows where they came from. Even a library this old can’t tell us. One of the many mysteries that fucked the world.”
“My uncle said the Therians crashed here. They gave us the technology to play with genetics and pre-design human embryos, but human greed made us betray them for more so…” she paused. “Well…they ended the world.”
“He’s not the only one that says that. Guess we’ll never know.”
“Other people say they knew the Silverloid would kill us from the beginning. That it was some kind of pre-planned attack.”
The building was a mess. There were blankets in the corner. A pair of old shoes that someone saw no more need for. Dishes.
“Is someone else here?” Violan asked, looking at the supplies.
“No. Someone might have left it to lighten their load or maybe someone couldn’t come back for it. There’s a lot of talk about god on these walls. Someone could have left this stuff for anyone to use if they spend the night. You see that a lot in the cities where people might stay for a time.”
“Should we take it? Could come in handy.”
“No. Leave it for the next person. We have enough supplies.”
We walked on up the stairs to look around for any other inhabitants. Threats. Anything that could compromise our stay for the night. There was a restroom, but no running water. I walked in and took a scan of the room, pulling Achilles from my holster. I had been out enough times to know what areas to check and to know how it felt if something was off. There was a smell in the air that made my nerves tight. Places where things might look for shelter were always dangerous at first. I tapped each bathroom stall door open to look inside. Nothing. Nothing again.
When I opened the third door, I was startled by a figure standing right in the middle of the stall. I jumped back and hit the wall, about to fill it with bullets when I realized it wasn’t standing, but hanging. It was dried out to the bones. A man. Perhaps six months dead. Things dried to leather in the climate of the Waste. He was hanging by the neck, his feet just inches from the floor. He must have stepped off the toilet in a pathetic act to end his suffering. So much for god. I scoffed at the thought and turned away from the corpse, about to put my gun away when I heard what sounded like a metal barrel tip over onto the concrete floor.
I pulled Achilles from my belt once more and pivoted my body on my toes, preparing for the worst, when an orange tabby cat slid around the corner. It stopped in the light of my flashlight, its eyes glowing silver. Half of the feline was hairless, its shoulder blade protruding from its skin, covered in Silverloid. It stared at me and then ran off into the darkness. Yet another product of Earth chewing up its food and spitting it out into the Waste.