Short Story Sunday | The Turning of Times (part 1)

After a short break Short Story Sunday is back! I actually started to write this story for my high school creative writing class years ago. I’ve been mulling it over ever sense and have been working on it all through college and have finally finished it! I’m going to post it in sections because it is fairly lengthy.

The Turning of Times

Prologue

“Darling, when I was your age the world wasn’t like this,” my grandmother loved to tell me stories from her childhood. Though we all knew she was senile in her old age I didn’t care. She gave me hope. “People weren’t always controlling and seductive; if only you could see that. My dear child…” There was a certain pain in her voice when she spoke. Distant. Almost as if she was living in a world only she truly knew. She would talk of colors; green, pink, purple, yellow, orange, and how beautiful the forest was in the spring. She often spoke of delightful tastes and smells that only she could picture. My mother told me she only said these things in her old age. One hundred years is a long time to breathe in this hostile air. To me her concepts are foreign. I only wished they were real.

Government. That’s all I know. Gray bland copies is all I see; it’s what we all see. That’s how it’s always been since the beginning of my time. We have no freedom to decide anything for ourselves. Is this really how it always was? Were my grandmother’s crazy stories true? They couldn’t be… they just couldn’t. There is one way of life; heaven forbid if we think differently.

1

A sick feeling rose from the pit of my stomach as I watched the guardsmen lower my grandmother’s body into the fiery abyss. The dense black casket looked weightless with intimidating steel cords attached to it. My mother had a stiff arm around my shoulders almost as if she was trying to contain me. I was numb with the pain of losing my grandmother. I couldn’t help thinking about how nothing would feel real anymore. I glanced up at my father. He was planted firmly on the opposite side of my mother; his mouth in a hard line across his face. He always seemed to look series or angry in that way. Even during this depressing time, no emotion crossed their faces. A tear trickled down my cheek but no one was there to wipe it away.

This is no way to celebrate my grandmother’s life on this earth. She was the only person I knew with any visible emotion. I reached in the pocket of my gray uniform and pulled out a gift she had given me before she died. I knew the studded diamond cross pendant wasn’t coded but I didn’t care. The silver shimmered in the light when I moved it back and forth revealing wondrous colors in the dull light. I shoved it deep in my pocket so no one would see. “Lets go Piper,” Mother said, “we’ve seen all there is to see here.” I followed my parents out of the crematorium. So that was it. My grandmother’s death was just another day that came and went.

We were lead back down a long gray hallway; all the hallways are this way but this one seemed much longer than it did just moments before. I felt cold and empty walking with these strangers I call parents. A door opened at the end of the hall and we were shuffled into the Rail Car along with fifty other men, women, and children.

We halted abruptly, stopping at several train stations before finally coming to a stop at V24. The closest station to our villa. We waved our regulation tags in front of the scanner, which turned green. The doors made their swoosh sound and we wiggled our way through to the outside. Of course we weren’t really outside; never have been. All of the villas are covered by dome shaped containers and are powered by artificial light. In school the teachers tell us that the outside is nothing but death and the inside is the “safe zone”. I’m not sure why these thoughts popped into my head now. Anything exciting or intriguing left with my grandmother.

The three of us stepped into the all too familiar commons area. As always, people all looking the same, were busy at work. Everyone has a job and set schedule for every hour of everyday. Right now we were supposed to be in our living quarters for dinner. Unfortunately, it’s the 9th day of the month for month 8 so everyone is required to attend our villa’s meeting, “Mother? I asked, with as much enthusiasm as I could muster, “Can we skip the meeting tonight?” The little kid in me came through when I asked this even though I didn’t mean for it to.

“You know that is not possible Piper.”

“But Grandmother…”

“The sooner we all move on the better.” I tried to ignore the harshness in her voice.

“It’s hard to just forget your best friend,” I whispered to myself. I knew she hadn’t heard me and I was glad.

We walked across the commons to our villa. C12 is where we laid our heads at night but it never felt like home to me. Grandmother’s villa, C10, felt like my place. My parents disappeared into their bedroom and everything was completely quiet. No part of me wanted to stay here so I quietly opened the door and snuck out to C10.

Everything was just as it was. Nothing had been touched yet. I knew that the guardsmen would be here soon to take everything away. I looked all around, so many of her things that weren’t coded would be found. Grandmother had a lot of books that I had read thousands of times. None of which were legal of course.

Every day I would come here after classes and she would scold me in some way. She would say, “Pip! You’re better off reading these stories than the garbage you read in school!” A small smile crept across my face. I loved her and her ways. I opened her bedside table and shuffled through some of her things, glasses, pill bottles, but my fingers brushed up against something stuck to the underside of the drawer. I dropped to my knees to investigate. A small brown book was attached to the underside. It took all my strength to pull it off. “What is this?” I mumbled to myself, “Hmm.”

SMACK! I heard the door hit the wall hard. The guardsmen are here. I unzipped my uniform a little and shoved the mystery book up against my chest. I stood and walked to the door.

“Young lady you need to return back to your designated area as quickly as possible! Do you understand?”

“Yes sir. Right away.” I turned and ran as fast as I could back a short distance to C12.

Once I was tucked safely away in the privacy of my own room I pulled out the brown booklet. I turned it over in my hands trying to pinpoint what exactly it was made of. Leather. I’d only touched something like this once before, it was a small purse that Grandmother had kept from the old days. Its distinct smell gave it away. I untied the knot that held the small book shut and opened it to the first page. It was blank except for a small jet black inscription in the middle of the page. Property of: Jane Park. “Who is that?” I asked myself. I turned the stained yellow page, almost afraid of ripping its delicate corners.

June 12, 2012
I don’t know what I can do, if anything, to save my family from this disaster. Dr. Akeldama is responsible for everything that has happened to our world. His “great” discovery to cure the most simplest of things has altered the human race. Whitney died last week. There are so many others. Mom and Dad are sick now too and it’s only a matter of time… I can’t go on now. All that’s left to do is hope and pray for rescue or some kind of answer.
-JP

I was really confused. Who was Jane Park? More importantly, why did my grandmother have this? Grandmother’s name was Janice Hidmen, so that rules her out. I let my thoughts wonder.

“Piper?”  Mother, knocking lightly on my door, brought me back to reality.

“Yes?” I replied and swiftly hid my new treasure under my mattress.

“It’s time for dinner.” I listened as her slow moving footsteps left my door. I glanced at myself in the mirror next to my closet.

“I suppose I should change into a fresh uniform,” I thought to myself. The funeral and the fear of the guardsmen had left me sweating. I opened the tiny door that was my closet and pulled out an identical outfit, freshly cleaned, pressed and up to the standards the President Colt demanded. I hadn’t noticed before how uncomfortable it really was. The thick plastic like material and the fact that it was one piece, zipped up the middle hadn’t bothered me until now.

I joined my parents at our dining table set for three and as usual a perfectly balanced meal was before us. I ate my carrots with no complaints. The dull orange sticks never appealed to my appetite. No one spoke. Just dead silence.

“How are you Father?” I glanced his direction hoping for at least a smile in return.

“Fine Piper,” his expression the same as always, “I have to work in the new kitchen all this week.”

“That sounds intriguing. I suppose the renovations are going smoothly then?”

“Indeed.” This was typically the most I could get out of him. But I guess I didn’t really mind much before. I’d always had… well things were just going to have to change.

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