Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Lonely Space - Chapter One

A new idea I had. I want to post occasional chapters of an ongoing story. I have not actually written the next part as I post this.

Lonely Space

by Floyd Looney

“Get moving!” her mother told her over the phone as she raced to pack a bag “You don't need to take anything with you for crying out loud!”

Tamita dropped the bag she had been filling with clothes and other items. Things that would never make it to the destination anyway. Why was she suddenly doing this? She needed to be at the space port as soon as possible. It was no time to get cold feet.

“Yes, mama”

Tamita looked out the blind of her window, nothing was stirring, and in the daytime this was worrisome. She lived in a public housing block of 10,000 units and the walls were concrete, the windows plexiglass and the front doors were steel. It still wasn't enough protection.

She took a deep breath. “Are you sure they are out there?” she asked her mother on the phone.

“They are there, just hurry”

She put the phone in her jacket pocket and unlocked the bolts and chains from the door, before peeking out. Then she slammed the door all the way open and ran for her life, past the graffiti covered walls and blood-stained concrete floors. She rounded the corner and saw the yellow truck at the curb, her brother was in the back holding the AK-47 to keep the gangs and criminals at bay.

She jumped into the opening passenger side door and slammed it shut behind her.

“I'm in the truck, mom!”

“Thank God, now for the hard part” her mother said. Meanwhile Tamita paid no mind to the seat belt, instead she bent over and kissed her father who was driving. He was already flooring the small truck, its tires squealing as they laid down rubber.

“My little girl is going to make it out of here!” her father said, determined “None of these fools is going to stop you!”

The city was in chaos, everything was broken, busted, looted or on fire. With nothing left to steal, the gangs and desperate started killing each other over the smallest things. Society had broken down and she knew this was being duplicated everywhere on Earth. Some kind of blockade was ahead of them in the road being set on fire, a man with his face painted holding a machete was standing in the way.

“Don't look, darling!” her father said as he pushed the truck even faster. The truck slammed into the man and then the burning barricade, tires and trash flew all over the place, some burning rubber stuck to the trucks front end. Her father didn't seem too worried about it. Then a mob of people from both sides of the road tried to stop them, she heard the gun her brother carried in the back starting to lay down fire.

“Going to go plowing today” her dad muttered just as the truck starting hitting through the crowd, the sounds of wet things slapping the truck as they sped through the crowd was sickening but it was quite necessary. Her father grabbed her hand that was holding the phone and pulled it to his face.

“The traffic is crazy today Hildy!” he said as they left that group of crazies behind. There was still quite a trip to the space port. There would only be one shuttle from this location and she wanted to make sure she was on it. She didn't go through the effort to win a slot on the ship just to get left behind.

Then suddenly she got that ache in her stomach again. Her father and brother were risking their lives to get her on that ship. She would leave them behind to die along with her mother and her friends. The whole world was going to die and she would be safe, with some other privileged people in the depths of space. Earth couldn't be saved, it was time to abandon the planet.

No more urban blight, no more ghetto, now it was an apocalypse. So was everywhere else. “It's going to be okay, Tamita” her brother said, putting a hand on her shoulder through the shot out back window to calm her “It's your place, up there. You will carry on the family, there will always be a Koroma with you safe”.

“My baby girl is going to live! Thousands of years from now, my girl will be living on another world safe and sound” her father said proudly.

They passed broken down, burned out and looted vehicles as they headed toward the spaceport, once or twice the barricades had to be rammed again. There was no way her father was going to slow down on this trip. Tamita could not help but notice that the last one had caused the engine to make struggling noises. She wondered how they would get back to their walled home outside the city.

All of a sudden there was another vehicle behind them, they could see several people in the back of that truck shouting and waving guns in the air. They had just gotten onto the Kissy-Tagrin Bridge over the mouth of the Sierra Leone River, this bridge was a little over 7 kilometers long before reaching the ground again in Tagrin.

Her brother laid down in the bed of the truck and tried to take out the vehicle chasing them, he tried to hit the driver and the tires but the old Kalashnikov rifle wasn't accurate at this distance. What was worse was that the other vehicle seemed to be gaining on them, they knew these burnt out vehicles better than her father did.

It was almost a miracle that she saw the other vehicles tire blow out and saw it swerve to the right and bounce off a burnt out lorry and then through a broken area of the side railing and down the 200 feet to the water below. Her brother still lay there, there was blood all over the bed of the truck.

“Henri! Father, Henri has been hit!” she screamed “Henri”

Her father didn't say anything, he grimaced and was pretty stiff. Then she noticed there was blood on his back and the back of his head too. “Daddy!” she said.

“I will” he said grunting “Get you there”

It seemed like forever before they reached the other side of the bridge and started up the Airport-Ferry Road. This stretch of the trip was dusty, the hulks of buildings crowded both sides of the road, it was eerie to see nothing stir.

She was scared and crying for her brother and father. There was no way they were going to make it, and she wasn't going to be able to tell her mother because there was no longer any cell coverage, probably hadn't been for a long while. Her father was slumping in his seat but he was still driving, sheer determination being the thing that kept him alive.

She kept touching his arm “Dad” she said, trying to say it without the fear and sadness but failing.

Finally they reached the gates, there were soldiers guarding it. As soon as the truck stopped her father slumped forward against the steering wheel. “Dad!” she yelled, knowing it was futile. Several armed soldiers were looking in the windows and in the bed of the truck.

“You're Tamita Koroma, right?”

She nodded, unable to speak through her tears. The door opened and she was pulled out, partly carried through the gate as she tried to look backward. The future was the other way but she hadn't really accepted the loss of her past just yet. Still she was carried forward, it was too late to do anything about the past now.

“The shuttle is ready to leave as soon as you board, ma'am” the soldier said as they pulled her toward the hatch. She could see a few others inside, they were watching her, they were impatient to leave this doomed planet. Tamita was looking out the window next to her after she was strapped in and the hatch was closed.

She felt a lurch in her stomach region and the ground fell away, much quicker than she thought possible, as if life had been put on fast forward. Soon she could no longer see the ramshackle city or the dirty backwater corner of Africa, she just saw sea and clouds and it looked beautiful. Strange that Earth was still beautiful in its death throes.


Link to: Chapter Two (All Aboard)

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