Chapter Thirty Eight
I don’t know if it was the mixture of anaesthetic and morphine or simply the longing I’d felt that day for family to talk to but the dreams I remembered from my time asleep were all about my mother.
We had never met her but Will and I had kept pictures of her with us for as long as I could remember. She had died in childbirth, on one of the worst days in history. On that day over one hundred and twenty five million people had died and that was but a small part of the final death toll in the 20 Day Siege.
My mother was one of the last people to die on the last day of the Siege, an event that would take over a billion lives.
It felt so wrong that an event I had no control over had taken my mother from me. The people who had caused her death had been sent to jail or hunted down by the public. Justice had been served but it wasn’t enough for my father. He blamed himself for her death and never really got over it.
He moved us from London out to the small town of Smyth West. It was his way of protecting us from what the other large cities would become; sprawling masses of reallocated population and stark contrasts of wealth anderty. For him Smyth West represented a fresh start and a chance to get away from his past.
Yet it wasn’t enough. We lived with my father until our sixteenth Birthday but by then it was clear that he would not be able to come to terms with what had happened to his wife and our mother. On the day he left he told Will to look after me and explained that he could no longer live with what he had done. He simply could not forgive himself for what had happened. It wasn’t his fault but her death changed him.
Although we were saddened and it took us years to get over it, we knew he had changed long before the day he left. My earliest memory of him was at five years old watching him in his study with newspaper cuttings all over the walls. They told the events of the 20 Day Siege. One word was prominent across all of the cuttings and was circled in red by my father.
In school or at least the large church hall in the centre of Smyth West where people shared knowledge, we had learnt about the deaths that occurred over those grim three weeks.
The first death was accidental. Despite the carnage they would unleash, the Separationists were not terrorists. They were scientists who believed that breaking the Tethers between twins would reduce casualties. It didn’t seem fair to them for someone to die if their twin died of an illness. They hoped that in cases where a twin was critically ill they could find a way to keep the healthy twin alive.
It was a noble idea and having survived the death of a twin I could now relate to what they wanted to achieve. Their research had ceased twenty one years ago but I did wonder if they played a role in my current unique situation.
On the third of June the Separationists made their breakthrough. They were able to isolate the frequency that Tether events used to transfer the emotions and sensations between twins. Their plan was a simple one. If they could replace the frequency with a different sound, it could break the Tether whilst allowing both subjects to live and die independently.
They aimed to test the theory on a small sample of people and not wanting to harm the core population they gained permission to run the study in Javon Prison, which was located in the heart of London.
The World Health Group reviewed their preliminary study and approved the experiment. Ten Government officials poured through their pre study data and gave them the go ahead. This was not the work of mad scientists operating on the edges of the law. This was a fully sanctioned study with good intentions.
Yet it was not meant to be.
They isolated the frequency used by Tethers and added a small noise on the same wavelength designed to block it out. They tested it by using just enough noise to affect the participant in the room with them. Yet as soon as the quiet noise reached the same frequency as Tether events it drastically increased in volume and the researchers were killed instantly by the sound.
Scientists analysed these events over many years and found that the sound did break the Tether between people but it did not replace it as intended, therefore killing them instantly.
Prison guards tried to enter the room to stop the frequency but as soon as they approached the room the sound killed them too. Whilst power was stopped to the entire prison, effectively disabling the device, the signal was already out there and now it had started there was no one to stop it.
Even a desperate effort to contain the signal via a controlled explosion did nothing to stop it. Half of the prison was destroyed, crashing around the device but the signal was out there in the ether growing all on its own.
It was a crisis of epic proportions. The sound wave should have stopped itself instantly but it continued to grow louder and spread. There was no way to block the waves from travelling. Within two hours the prison was evacuated, with those who were not quick enough dying in the process.
Within eight hours the centre of London had to be evacuated as the sound grew in force.
It continued to grow, pulsing outwards and for every person it killed their twin would also die. Within four days the entire City of London had been evacuated. People stayed with family in other cities and hoped they could return home. At this point, the death toll stood at fifteen thousand but it was nothing compared to what was to come next.
The sound wave splintered as it emerged from London and travelled out across the globe, piggybacking its way through telecommunications networks. With no warning people started dying in every city of the world. Every scientist tried to find a solution and ultimately it was a team led by Tobias Zen who would save everyone.
He was only thirty but he had worked with Tethers for years and had a good understanding of how they worked. He and his team built a prototype that could block the wave and tested it in Birmingham. For the next day no one in Birmingham died, whilst other cities continued to feel the force of the sound wave.
It was enough to convince the Governments of the world to proceed. Tobias built a larger scale prototype and successfully blocked the wave. This prototype would turn into the large circular towers that were built around London. They emitted a high frequency noise to trap the signal in the city and pull back the waves that had escaped. The UK’s greatest city was cordoned off from the world and it remains that way today with a weak signal still lingering on trapped behind the barrier. The only people who live there now are those who don’t fear death and who have nothing else to live for.
The remaining population of London relocated and the city of Birmingham grew to the behemoth it is now.
Sadly for my mother the solution came too late. She died two months before she was due to give birth to us, minutes before the solution was turned on. If she’d been able to survive a few moments more then she’d be alive now.
My father had been part of the team that worked on the solution with Tobias, which is why he could never escape her death. Had he worked faster and harder he felt he could have saved her. The truth was she was just unlucky. Will and I only survived because she was in the hospital for scan when she died. Despite all of the chaos in the world a doctor had saved us. A wonderful, kind doctor.
As I lay there reminiscing I knew that another kind doctor would save me now. March.