cunningas: (other: cry)
Loki ([personal profile] cunningas) wrote2009-02-08 10:30 am

Only vaguely, loosely related to Loki in the future sort of

The ship is crowded, crammed tight with people shoulder to shoulder and elbow to elbow. They haven't been all pressed in together long enough for too much body heat and too much body scent to become an issue. They only left atmo mere minutes ago, the sensed rather than felt shuddering of the ship against air suddenly ceasing and as that happens it seems the entire collection of humanity pressed together inside the hold lets out one collective breath. They made it out. Now they just have to get away.

Even for the sudden easing of tension, no one speaks. Even for the number of people, there is remarkably little noise. Not enough room to shuffle and move about and no one seems in the mood to talk, not even the children. More than one face holds a rather shell-shocked expression. More than one person is likely still seeing what they left in their mind's eye. Home.

Time to find a new one.

It isn't totally silent in the hold, however. Not with several hundred people all breathing into space. Not with the rumble of the ship's engines surrounding them. Not with the soft sound of barely muffled sobs coming from one corner of the hold where a woman sits, mired in her own despair, as her husband holds her in his arms, stoically staring into space.

Perhaps, if one looked closely, they'd notice the tension in the man's arms and the way his fingers lock together around his wife. His grip is less of comfort and more of restraint. His jaw is set.

Beside him, she whispers in an agonized tone, her gaze directed downward, unseeing. "He's not here."

The man doesn't respond save, possibly, by tightening his grasp just a little. A warning.

The woman raises her gaze to his, searchingly, her voice getting louder. "He's not here!"

Strange was how the people nearest them tried to pretend they couldn't hear, couldn't see, tried to move away the barest fraction of an inch. How the people further away who couldn't see, couldn't quite hear, were turning their gazes curiously in that direction, pressing in closer the barest fraction of an inch.

None of this the woman noticed. She continued, tones of hysteria in her voice, "you said he'd be here," even if they'd both known it a lie, "you said I'd find h-"

Hissing, the man clapped a hand over her mouth, "I lied. There's nothing you could do. Now shut up!" Sit down. Be quiet. Be glad you're alive and not back there.

Back there with the son you abandoned.

For just a moment, hot fury flashes in her eyes and even the man is a little afraid of what he sees there. But then she glances to the side, all around them, the faces of everyone on that ship with them. Everyone else who lost all they had save for what they could carry. The fury dissipates and she slumps. She doesn't speak again.

But she doesn't forget. Can't. Won't. Never will. Not when she closes her eyes and sees those last few moments in startling clarity.

The crowd is jostling around them, pushing them toward the ship's ramp with inexorable force. Her voice is frantic, "where is he? Where's my son?" He was only a little boy and she'd lost her grip on his hand in the chaos surrounding them. He was only a little boy and she couldn't see him among the sea of people. She should have held him in her arms, forgotten the bags she's carrying.

They're almost to the ramp now and still she doesn't see him. "Where is he?" She screamed her son's name, pushing back against the tide of humanity, sweeping her gaze over them. "Where is he?"

A strong hand clamps onto her shoulder, pulls her back toward the ship. "I saw him go on ahead. He's fine."

She swung around to meet her husband's eyes, her own eyes wide. She sees it there. He hasn't seen their son. But he's terrified of getting left behind. This is their last chance. "I won't leave without him!" She declares, shrilly.

He shouts, "you won't leave at all if you don't go now! This is our last chance!" And he's on the verge of letting her stay if he can't drag her along with him. He'll be damned if he stays here.

"Then I won't go!" she's screaming.

"He's on she ship! I swear I saw him! He just ran on ahead!"

And there are people behind them and people in front of them and she's getting pushed along regardless of how she fights against it and behind the last few people are soldiers, making sure things stay orderly, keeping the stragglers from straying too far. Making sure everyone gets aboard. They won't let her go back anyway. And surely her son couldn't have passed them. He must be on board. He has to be.

She lets herself be pushed.

The soldiers follow behind and close the airlock. The ship takes off, leaving everything they'd known behind.

And a small boy looks out from his hiding place among some forgotten, empty barrels, following the light of the ship with his eyes as it disappears among the clouds. Hide and seek was his favorite game but Mama always found him by now. Where was she?

It hadn't started out as hide and seek. His attention had been caught, not by the enormous ship they were headed toward --unlike many young boys, he'd never been very interested in spaceship--, but by something that flashed in the sunlight. He'd squirmed out of his mother's grasp and slipped between the legs of all the big people. No one seemed to notice, none of them were looking at him. And there was so much noise from the ship's engines starting to rumble, from the people all moving quickly toward it, that he never heard his mother crying his name.

His attention was on something else, anyway. On top of a barrel, in warmth of a shaft of afternoon sunlight that had pierced the clouds, rested something he'd never seen before. It was small enough to fit in the palm of his hand and was a glossy, shimmery, iridescent black and crawled along on six spindly little legs. When he reached out to touch it, enchanted, the beetle seemed to sprout wings and fly away.

Only then did he notice that Mama was nowhere nearby. Hiding? Only then did he notice how good a hiding place those barrels would be. And as he crawled in among them, he giggled to himself. What a fun game!

But now the ship is gone and his mother still hasn't come to find him. Even the beetle is gone and everything around him is eerily silent. He lets out a tentative, "mama?" And for his response he hears nothing but the wind ruffling his hair and the rumbling growl of his own stomach.

He looks around. There's nothing that looks like the kitchen his mother makes his meals in. Nothing that even looks eatable. Except...

As they'd been getting ready that morning, his mother had given him a little bag that slung over his shoulders and rested on his back. She'd told him they were going on a trip and she'd packed some of his things in the bag. Surely she'd put a snack in?

After pulling the bag off and opening it up, the little boy was gratified to find several metallic foil-wrapped bars among the clothes his mother had stuffed into the bag. He was a little less gratified when he'd unwrapped one of the bars and discovered it wasn't sweet like he'd hoped. But still, it was food and he was hungry. It would do.

There's little else there with him on the windswept tarmac. Concrete as far as the eye can see. A few pieces of machinery and barrels like the ones he'd found. And what looked like miles away, several buildings he remembered coming through with his parents that morning. On the other side were vehicles like the ones his parents had brought him there in.

That was a thought! On the other side of the buildings was home! It couldn't be that far away.

He started walking.

Of course, his path was meandering as he had to check out those machines first. He discovered they made for a wonderful climbing toy and he clambered all about them before he remembered he was supposed to be going home.

And then when he got to the buildings, he'd first tried calling for his parents, just in case they were in there somewhere, but something about the long, late afternoon shadows being cast in the empty, echoing rooms was a little too much for a small boy to take and he hurried on through out the other side.

There were the vehicles, just as he remembered. But they all looked the same and he'd never find the right one. And as he made his way through the lot, the sun sank deeper and deeper in the sky and the day grew colder and colder. Even when it grew dark, no lights came on and the clouds above obscured stars and moon. Not that the boy remembered either, for there had been clouds in his life far more often than there'd ever been clear skies.

The night chill made his skin prickle and the stopped the sit, curled up, beside one of the vehicles. This was no longer an adventure. This was no longer fun. Tears were leaking out the corners of his eyes, though he tried to screw them shut and hold them in. Daddy always said boys never cried. Unless they were really girls.

The little boy clutched his backpack to his chest and wished in vain for his mother to find him. Or his father. Or anyone.

No one came.

Many years later, the planet is reclaiming the land, sea, and skies for itself. Slowly, greenery begins to cover the buildings and the concrete. Slowly the days become more sun than clouds. Eventually, some day, there will be no remaining mark of man's touch long after man abandoned this world he failed.

But now, in this in between time, peeking out from tall grass, glinting in the sunlight, is a bit of metallic foil, some little reminder of the last of men to rest on Earth that Was.

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