The Final Rectitude

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The Park

It smells like freshly cut grass. It's hot and humid but I'm happy. People around me are happy. The bench is uncomfortable. Her hand inches towards mine. Gentle eyes. They lock me in place and I can't move. Even physically. She wants me to stay... I want to stay. But I know it will kill me. Over there... it will kill me...

I'm almost stuck. It seems like forever that she stares at me with beautiful jade eyes. I know this isn't real. But I want it to be. Just like yesterday... what almost could have been...

Before the fireballs fell from the sky.

I'm too much of a coward.

One last second of the park.

Hiding in a place with no push or pull.

Gentle eyes.

I want to see them alive.

And that's when I knew it didn't matter if I suffered or not.

I slam into focus.

"Geni... G-G..."

Real world.

I'm swaying. Can't see anything clearly. My welted hand against the hot, moving metal feels like striated cheese. My good hand is being rubbed raw and is cramping. I'm gripping the metal leg so hard my palm is bleeding profusely. I keep swaying.

Geniene.

I'm fighting for my- no, for her life.

In his temporary loss of control, I use the momentum to swing my body on top of the pod-like center. With elbow grease, I am able to pry the pipe free. There are no footholds, so I wobble clumsily as the machine regains balance. As its equilibrium stabilizes, I attack rashly and stab the pipe into the glass. I close my eyes to avoid the debris taking flight. Warm liquid shoots up and enters my mouth. It tastes like pennies. The pilot shrieks, throwing me off with a jolt of the control column. My meeting with the ground is unforgiving. I hear a sickening crack echo loudly throughout my whole body.

My... something.. all, everything is shattered. I scream a little. But it can't come out of me. I'm muted, but I hear a sharp, high-pitched sound reverberating inside me. The world becomes a stage for a while. White flashes. I'm dancing around it.

It takes my scattered brain a second to process the grotesque damage I had created. Heat. It burns and I'm burning. Blood paints the cockpit window. The pipe distends cleanly through the roof of the walker... and beyond. The body twitches for a few moments, like a fly in a spider's sticky veil, and dies.

I could feel the rumble of the earth as the spider walker fell over, but my interest was elsewhere. I called for Geniene. I sound like a helpless kitten.

The current surroundings are crawling with spider walkers, probing wrecked cars and building windows carnivorously. She pops her head out from behind an alleyway, makes sure it's safe, and rushes to me.

She can't speak. Her eyes are enough. I tell her not to move me.

She doesn't cry. Her voice is stern. "We have to move you somehow. I've been watching, and it's going to collapse soon."

"What?"

"That bridge, up there?" She points above to a raised highway not too far in the distance. "It's too unstable. Those machines moving across are going to collapse it."

Just our luck.

"You... Geniene. You have to leave... leave me."

Her lovely jade green eyes have swirled into a storm of grey. She bites her lip, an old habit she's always had. That's when I know I can't persuade her.

She worriedly glances up at the bridge. An army of spider walkers and tanks march across it. "We're going to move. I'm... going to carry you."

"Genny... you can't-"

"I'll drag you if I have to!"

A dull crumbling sound in the distance.

I hiss as she drags me feet first. Tears blur my eyes.

"Please, it hurts... go on without me. I can't move."

"It's better than you being dead." She drags me another foot. I cry; it's excruciating.

"It's not working. Go."

"What good are you to me dead? I'm not letting you... Kurt I can't let you..."

"I'm no good to you alive."

"Shut up! I'm not leaving you! Just..." She grunts with my weight and I moan. I'm about to pass out from the pain. "...stop talking! We don't have much time before-"

Unfortunately, her warning drowns in the surrounding chaos. A deep rumble drums in my ears, which are pressed against the ground. I shake along with the tremor. It's dizzying. Suddenly, our intended path transforms before us. Just as Geniene had forewarned, the nearby bridge was collapsing from its own weight it could no longer support. With the roaring sound of a freight train, a storm of machinery, metal and concrete explodes towards us. Evading it is not possible.

I lost her sometime then. We were alone for the rest of the catastrophy. I hear people yelling at one point. There were explosions. Then nothing happened for a very long time. The world would shrink and become still.


When the loud confusion became deathly silence, I finally had the courage to open my eyes to my new world. The universe seemed not to be entirely against us. We were cocooned in a suffocating prison of metallic beams, alive.

Geniene had ended up a few feet farther from me, tossed ungraciously. Somewhat relieved, I tighten into an awkward position, frozen by shock and my searing discomfort. I expect myself able to move by my sheer willpower to go to her, but the intensity of my condition brings tears to my eyes. Our vision is now dominated with unsettled dust, so I can't see if she's badly injured, though the chance of that plagues me.

There are no overt possibilities of escaping, though sunlight tantalizingly streams through the wreckage. I spit the dirt and blood out of my mouth, wiping away the moisture from my eyes embarrassingly just as my Geniene's face comes into a decent view.

"You okay?" I ask.

Her response is a cough and a little vomit. She appears mentally shaken, but otherwise only bruised and scraped. She crawls to meet my gaze, plopping herself next to me, clinging to my stray arm nervously. I exhale heavily. She rests my head on her thighs and combs my hair comfortingly. I gather my composure.

"It was the Russians."

I struggle to maintain a sense of coherence. "What do you mean?"

"Maybe...maybe it was the North Koreans."

Her fascination with such a trivial matter confirms that she suffered no lasting damage. However, she must have sensed my outcome was not as lucky, because she swiftly switched concerns.

"How bad were you hurt?" Geniene's green eyes stand out like emerald's in the barren scene, watery and shaky as she looks to me for a nonchalant answer proving a decent prognosis.

"I don't know." To confirm this, I attempt to re-position some of the toppled rubble off me, hissing in pain when I tolerate all I can. The movement of my limbs is possible but draining, my battered insides moving around awkwardly inside like a bag of grounded stones.

"Stop. Just stop it." She breathlessly orders me.

The desperation in her tone silences me and my attempts. Sleep seems the only remote relief. Passage of time is nonexistent here. All that is within my strength is shivering, feeling utterly pathetic as Geniene has no choice other than watching me deteriorate. Strangely enough, drowsiness comes to me easier than expected, and slumber becomes inevitable.


I awaken several times, at first scared that I had died and left Geniene alone, then it coming to my mind that the sunlight had retreated for the night, leaving our claustrophobic prison swallowed in pitch black. I could hear her grunts as she tried moving the stones. I doubted her strength.

"Damn rocks! Fucking...stupid...rocks..."

Her cries were the only thing keeping me wide awake in my delusional pain. Many times I found myself wishing to wrap my arms around her, quiet her fears and close her eyes to the grimness of the situation. But of course I was paralyzed. I realize I had always been paralyzed. Our childhood had consisted of awkward moments we always passed off, and it hurts me to think of how restrained our relationship had become. It seemed I was always paralyzed with doubt, that this was the way it was to be, couldn't be anything more. I curse to myself as I lay helpless with this new revelation, only dreaming of having quieted her fears with a soft kiss those many times before, with no doubt at all. I wish I had realized this sooner, that I could go back to the park, green grass and gentle eyes, locked there forever, and there would be no escaping it. Us, together. I was in love.

Now, it's almost ironic. Nothing could escape here.

Sometime later, Geniene's attempts ceased. She collapsed beside me again with suppressed sniffling, and I followed suit into unconsciousness soon after.

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