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By KE Toppin All Rights Reserved ©

Scifi / Fantasy

The Fallouts

“The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.”  Albert Einstein, Philosopher
“More is not always best for we must acknowledge boundaries within the universe. At best, mankind must consciously set such if we are to remain -- guaranteeing a harmonious existence with nature.”
  Irish Asprer, Engineer

It's supposed to take you through college not through life, son. Irish Asprer recollects standing on the veranda of his trailer. I think on my father’s glib. Smiling to himself as I admire the 1975 Volvo Rabbit sitting in his driveway. An eyesore to his neighbors but a treasure to him. One of two personal items my father decreed me.  The other, a gold Rolex watch. Artifacts and symbols of the love and good times we once shared.

The Rabbit’s sports a decrepit exterior and interior but its engine purrs like a kitten. Its mismatched doors compliments its worn and torn leather seats. Sweet! I slouch down on the orange plastic lounge chair on my veranda. I empty the beer bottle remembering my home as a boy. It takes me to the most horrific day and the accident, which took my father's life.

“Sleep in tomorrow, son. I can handle the rest myself. ”

“But … I don’t mind dad, really!”

“Something finally got through that thick skull of yours, huh. Damn… son you did this?

“Yeah Pops.”

"With help from no one?"

"Not a finger. Pops!"
"Hum!  Really! I’ll be damn, son… fantastic what you did with the busted generator… amazing! You’ll make …”  Pops eyes lit up, a tear glistened.  I knew he's proud of me for the first time in a long time. “… a swell engineer one day!” He steps outside the shed... lighting up – looks back squinting through the trailing smoke before his eyes.  His face cracks as he shakes his head in approval.

The following morning a loud crash wakes me from sleep. It quakes the foundation of my home. I bolt out of bed and through the front door. I smell the ash before I see the blaze. The shed engulf in flames. I knew dad is a goner.

As far as nature is concerned, it’s just another day. The DC morning sun peeks out over the horizon smearing the skyline with its golden hue. It is accompanied by shooting orange and red flames encapsulated in particles of ash dancing to the rhythms of a yawning sun.

Four nine whole months, I avoided eye contact with the vicinity where the shed once stood and before I could manage to visit that particular spot. A cross planted in memorial replaces the shed. Kicking about the earth releasing my frustration at my lost, I found it. Partially submerge. It stainless steel shell sits topside. The satellite dish shows no shame; no remorse for what it has taken from me. Its brashness shines out untarnished.

I reach down for last in the case on the veranda floor. "Ah!" Stale and warm, but I finish it anyway. It's frick'in hot today! Relaxing into the resilient plastic fabric of the lounge chair, my tee soaked in sweat, clings to my skin. The sun not apparent but its rays sizzle across the skyline like a wad of crinkled up saran wrap. The heat unbearable for the month of February. I remember how incredibly hot it was last summer and the worst ever known to Washingtonians. At a 100 degrees and climbing, on some days. It is a climate anomaly lately for this area.
Inside my trailer, Irish fork's destroys the three scramble eggs and jelly toast on the plate. I did not notice the coffee inside the mug rippling. My fork reading to victimize the eggs again, only to watch my plate escape with its contents. It slides across the table and to the floor -- shattered. The trailer dislodges into the air -- inches off the ground and returns with a thump. The upheaval sends the remaining contents off the tabletop everywhere. A loud bang resounds outside. It far exceeded the crackling sounds of our family's barn in flames five years ago.

No! No! God no! Disbelief morphs into distress. My heart falls like an anvil to my stomach. On the porch again, the familiar void returns.  However, it is exponentially greater than seeing my father’s charred body being carried away. My instincts tells me this is not good. I am staring down another satellite dish, five years later. It is sandwiched between my Volvo like a piece of meat between two slices of bread. A blast of reality hits hard. Suddenly, heat sears over my arms. In the tub now -- cold water slaps my face frigid. I am screaming but no sounds escapes my lips. The burn intense, my skin raw -- flesh blisters. I peer out my bathroom window to see my neighbor, Mr. Kilorad. He disintegrates before my eyes into a pile of ash along with his pouch -- leash and all. His trailer scorches. Its metal warping in and out against the intense heat outside. Satellites are dropping like rain from the sky. Others renter earth's atmosphere in flames making contact  whatever or whoever stands in its path. Sirens are blares in the distance. Fire trucks arrive with hoses copying my efforts to cool off. They endeavor to put out the flames rampant in the neighborhood. I watch on in disbelief while spitting away the down flow of water from my lips.

I don't recall how I came to be here standing on 6th Street (downtown Washington DC). I am spinning around and around. I think; or is the entire Central district rotating about me. I am disoriented  Everything is aflame and burning. I, alone stand untouched by the flames around me.

I am sitting at a chrome desk on a metal chair.  The room pristine -- constructed of steel even the floors -- furniture, chrome.  The upper tear of the walls solid glass all the way around.  The dwelling or my abode, circular.  I begin to write...

My name is Irish Asprer. It is the year 2045, I am officially the last grey haired man on earth at the ripe old age of 38.

I place the pen to the desk and opened the drawer.  My supplies of writing materials, pen and pencils limited.  Stepping away from my diary, I look out the window.  The eyesores remains. Satellite dishes suspended like chandlers in the frick'n sky. I’m dialed into the reality before me. Reality is merely an illusion, albeit and as Einstein noted. A very persistent one today.  Man did persist but only to our detriment. We thoroughly screwed the pooch on this one and there ain't no fixing it. Sitting again, I continue to pen the events of today.

The remnants of the world’s populace now resides in large golf ball like domes suspended on poles high above the earth’s surface. Affix to upside down metal cones. A city constructed of over one thousand of these structures make up New Columbia. The objects are made of  from some sort of heat resistant material. The nature of which I've never seen before. The earth’s surface is virtually unlivable -- a hot bed.
Our esteem leaders, three beings mononymously known as Sensir took charge of this new world called New Columbia. A thriving city once known as Washington, District of Columbia.
Sensir miraculously appears saving us from ourselves and extinction. From whence they came and by what means they arrive, no one knows. But we are, and will be forever grateful to them for their new blueprint on life.

They say when one door closes another opens. Not to be negative but it also comes with many unforeseen circumstances. We cannot turn back the hands of time so we blindly move forward.  At best follow there lead...
I stop for a moment to admire my father’s heirloom, the Rolex on my wrist. He had intended it to be a cash out for me in times of hardship. However, it is useless in this world but priceless in mine. It is the only thing in my possession, which bridges the past to the present. The remnant keeps me grounded in this new world.  Enough with my soppiness. I write more ...

Sensir allows me the one piece from the old world to gain my favor. They needed my engineering expertise.  All others are stripped of everything from the old world. Our new regime enforces censorship -- books are outlaw and social media oust for their ways of living. Technology has taken a step backward. Our only from of transportation throughout this charred world are trains known as Breezers. The only remaining Amtrak station -- Union City station is now Sensir's Mainstream. It is where their scanners track our meager population each day. Where we, the remaining 1,500, must all gather at dawn to work and at dusk allowed to return to our homes suspended on poles. This is the extent of our lives now.
Putting the pen down again, I did a quick inventory and point check of my surrounding and items I scavenged from the ruins outside. They, necessities and some just memories of a time long gone. I sit within the sub-chamber I secretly built as a secondary wall. An additional room on the outskirt of the newly completed subterranean city called Ammon. Sitting at my makeshift desk, I document more …

I am their lead engineer who is given a selected party of four commanded by Sensir to build their subterranean city. I know every nook and cranny within the city limits and its outskirts.

The domes we once occupied throughout Washington District could no longer withstand the seething heat. The subterranean city complete, we continue to exist under Sensir's rule.  Habitation with Sensir, uncomfortable.  Our women are  forced to cohabitate with beings who are anonymous. Their hooded frocks conceal their true identities from the citizens of New Columbia.

It is on this day, Sunday, May 20th 2046, our leaders’ true identities are revealed.
I have been monitoring their actions daily from my secret chamber. Today’s entry is a first of many revelations to come. A step forward in knowing who they really are.  My heart stops ... my mind races for a resolve…  This could not be good for my people.
Pops was right, I did excel as an electrical engineer. Building their City of Ammon, I had to dismiss many code violations.  However, the one that plagued me the most are the exposed wires throughout their entire city. I oftentimes wonder why Sensir has been hell bent on having all wires expose. Especially those within their chambers. He did not want them capped or plated under any circumstances.

I document further ...

This day, I watch on as one of the three collectively known as Sensir enters their main chamber. There are no distinguishing factors to their robes. Done intentionally and to exhibit a unified entity to their populace. I've watched it several times before (I say 'it' because I don't know if they are male or female and perhaps both). It stands beneath one of the fixture opening in the ceiling. Apprehensively, I watch on.  The exposed wires from the fixture opening above becomes animated. Wiggling wildly like spider feet in flight. They are sparking.  Stops when Sensir levitation commences upward. Sensir beneath the wires, which go rigid. Sensir’s hood falls back against its robe.  Instead of an exposed head protruding wires are visible. Matching wire to wire in color and count fusing together to the ones in the ceiling. The thing beneath and what ever fills the frock, is literally charging itself.  Light visible beneath the cloak pulsates in and out like a lightening bug. The frock implodes to a crumple pile to the floor. To be sure, my nose is to the monitor for a better view of the madness before me. A mass of ... I am unable to identify the composition of the being uncloaked before me.  It is a being. There are remnants of flesh but what of the rest of it -- unidentifiable.
Sensir then transforms into a solid bolt of lightning growing outwards. It rotates about the room along the wall building up its energy force. It illuminates the entire chamber. Its vertical lightning mass sparking and vibrating right before my eyes and in my direct line of sight.  The wires allow the bolt freedom of movement.
My God we’ve exceed our abilities to destroy, even the flesh. It's been ten years since the fallouts and what stands before me is the beginning of ... what?
 My heart sinks … what now! Hope disbars.  Questions flood my mind as my head swims. Sensir is not human by any means. We have no form of weaponry to kill this thing except for... I know how they can be destroyed no ... stopped.  This is neither the time to act nor reveal any of what I've witness until I am absolutely sure. My thoughts run to Mallu Ragiri.

Clanking pipes… I am awake and shivering and lying horizontally in my shallow tub water. Did I pass out while showering?  That's not it. I'm fully dressed. My head hurts like crazy. I must have slipped in the tub; bang my head and went unconscious and dreaming. I realize I've lost an entire day with no recall.
I gazing out the small window above the tub. Shit! I feel disoriented as though I've stepped out of the right place into a day I have already lived.  However, a sane world goes on about its business. Mr. Kilorad walks his dog; typical. The dog takes its daily whiz on Mrs. Pimpleton’s daisies. The activities going on outside is progressing a second behind the tempo of nature, it seems.  A foreboding swells within me.  It is ambitious and unrelenting. It beckons me forward. I obey. Standing at my front door, I am drowning in déjà vu. My Volvo sliced in two. My skin hot. Carbon stains the atmosphere.  I feel the hair on my arm singes. The smell of scorching metal fills the air as though someone had turned on several furnaces all at once. Back inside my trailer, I rummage through all desperate to find it. Christ where did I hide the goddamn ...! Got it! I'm out back door. I race towards the highway securing the Rolex to my wrist and to where ever my feet would take me next. I periodically check my rear.  My breathing labors because the heat in pursuit is devouring the oxygen and fast. Getting hotter in competition with my ever increasing gait, as I endeavor to escape the inevitable roast.
I am the last allowed asylum behind the large oak doors of the District church.  The inhabitants of the church are packed in like sardines in a can. I stand panting before a desperate mob wildly looking ahead and through me. Their terror ridden faces show no signs of hope only fear. The banging and pounding on the outside of the large oak door ceases, instantly. The hush inside the church audible. The look of horror and dismay in the multitudinous eyes staring back and through standing there. Grateful to be on the inside, however my heart cries out to those poor souls on the other side. The deafening silence lasts only seconds before the screams erupt when cracking and popping sounds are heard. The churches doors are giving birth to shooting red and yellow flames. The rush is of the crowd imminent. Pushing and shoving each other to reach the opposite side of the room -- away from the flaming doors.  It is useless. No room to move -- standing room only! The crush is sudden and remorseless. The fallen trample to death. May God forgive us all!

I inch my way to the left and into a large kitchen adjacent to the burning church doors. Frantic, I search the room for an escape as time runs out.  I feel the heat on my back. Surprisingly now one else thought to enter the large kitchen.  Ah come on a little help here ... Dad!  “Give me something to work with ... please!” I cry out.

His response comes in the from of a bright red freezer about six feet long. Its sits without a thought or an emotion for I contain them all.  I discard its contents and unplug the unit. I need to survive the heat, however I damn sure don’t want to freeze to death. I mumble prayer after prayer in side. My body shaking uncontrollably from its cold confines.  Crouching inside, I rub myself down as best I can to remain awake and warm. I don’t recall how long I have been sleeping. Grateful to open my eyes to see another day. I know I am the fortunate one to be alive but hopes not the only one living.
The freezer has since become warmer and somewhat comfortable.  Cocoon there, I didn't desire to face what remains beyond the white guts of the freezer. Nonetheless, I must leave this safe place and get on with life.
The entire church once white interior now black with hints of grey shaded in. One wall remains standing where the torched freezer sits below a small window still fully intact. Not wanting to go out the way I came in or through what remains of the church, I crawl out the window to the street. 

The District Church near Columbia Heights typically holds a congregation of about sixty.  Earlier today it held upwards of one-hundred and it will house them for all eternity -- minus one.

Walking by the familiar landmarks of Washington, District of Columbia. It wears a black-face colored in by specks of grayish soot. Historic landmarks diminish otherwise variances of crackle faces.  Some structures display orange and red discolorations patterns now entrench the partially remaining buildings. Nothing is spared or so it seems. I focus on the buildings in my path. I cannot bring myself to look upon the bodies, which litters the city streets, windows and alleyways, cars, buses, etc. Death is everywhere in a world where its beings have been exterminated despite its intelligence yet due to its intelligence.

The desolate buildings spoke to me. They recite Einstein timeless words, unknowingly.
'Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe.'
Insightful words accompany me on the days and the nights I journey forward hopeful to find another living soul if one exists. What were we thinking to bring our world to its knees? So there we have it in a nutshell.  Darwin chimes in with his reflections on survival of the fittest. Both play ping pong in my mind as I make my way through what remained of Washington, DC.

After three days of trekking across DC, I arrive at Amtrak -- Union City Station. It is untouched standing immune in spite of the destruction surrounding it.  It, is spared by a random act of God.

I stand momentarily acknowledging hope in the form of the brick and mortar foundation. The whitewash face of Union City Station welcomes me. Its flags still flies at high staff.  I gaze at the flag stagnant on its pole amazed. I wonder about the rest of the world -- does it still exist. I may never know. I broke into many homes and some walk ins, along the way before arriving here. I have not made contact with anyone in person, by cell or by land line.
  As I walk the perimeter of Union Station, I endeavor to assess what may have caused this one building's encapsulation. The fires seem to have stalled out around its perimeter. In a two miles radius around Union City walls, is its parking log. Coincidentally, the lot is currently under construction and perhaps one of the reasons why it survived the fires.
I hold my cell high.  The bars jump to maximum.  Looking around me frantically for the source, an absolute silence shushes an entire city that once buzzed with life. The cell tower at the back of the station speechlessly says. "Here, I am use me" And so I did. Today, its ugly whitewash base outstretch metal arms brings me joy and an abundance of hope. Towers, once thought of unaesthetic but no more -- not this day.  It has graduated to a thing of pure beauty -- a fucking life saver. My heart skips. My stride quickens. Standing beneath it, the tower bars remains at max. I place another call. My anticipation of a response depletes with each unanswered ring.

"Hello Irish ... hey, hey! Is that you."  My heart jump starts.
"Shit yeah... Marcus where the hell are you?"  I asks staring up at the tower half expecting it to ignite taking this meager piece of hope with it.  

"Union City, man.  It's the only thing left standing in the whole damn world."

"World!  What! Its the same every where and you are sure of this?"

"We were telecasting outside the studio when all hell broke loose.  Irish ... it ... a satellite dish dropped out the sky.  Smashed the van took out everybody ... fires everywhere... there were more of the same all over the world." 
Random bars swipe down -- dead space. 
Marcus Patton, a long time friend of the Asprers.  Irish met Marcus through his wife, Vashel. They met at one of her Radio City Hall's performances in New York City.  Marcus, a cameraman for WRC-TV, NBC gifted the newly weds with a top quality camera taping of their entire wedding ceremony. It was featured on a Better Homes and Gardens televised special.  Topic: 'Celebrity Weddings done Simply but Beautifully'.

Marcus, a guy with a whisper of a voice could capture the most profound video photography imaginable.  Hoping to God he's able to hold his camera high during the pandemonium, his voice cuts through the once dead space. 
"Hello, Irish ... Hello."

Bars swipes up.

"Hello, can you hear me?"

"Yeah! Yes!" 

"Vashel ... Have you seen her?"

"She's here .... here with me. We're inside Union Station.  If you can make your way here, better hurry. It’s not looking good and there’s some weird …. Hold on …"

“Hello Marcus … are you still ….”  I hear loud sizzling sounds above like bacon frying on top a stove. I look up. My cell still cradles to my ear. Thick, vertical lightning bolts about three inches in diameter like javelins they shot out the sky. One penetrates Union City Station's roof followed by another and still another. 
“Hello! Marcus! Mar...”
The phone went hot -- too hot.  Dropping it, I watch as it melt at my feet. The soles of my shoes goes next -- sticking to the sidewalk. I covers the brick courtyard in a hot minute. Within seconds taking the wide concrete steps of Union Station, two at at time.

TO BE CONTINUED..............

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1. The Fallouts
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