A Time of Learning, Death, and Revenge, Part 5

In the USA September is marked as “Emergency Preparedness Month”. And since this is the last post of September I thought I would mention that back in April of 2014 I did a 4 part series on emergencies titled, “In an Emergency”. So if one is interested I suggest going to the sidebar under April 2014 and read the series. Remember to read from bottom to top since it is listed as newest to oldest for the month. And now on to this week’s post.

With the death of Edward Carson the sister and brother are truly on their own. For the first time in the history of “The Deeps”, the ones who are in charge of the facility are from the outside, from a society that is primitive in comparison, and who had no knowledge of their true past or where they were technologically. His passing allows Jay and Elsa to relive those early days back when they first entered. It is here they compare what they know to what they have learned from the teaching of Edward Carson and what is available in the libraries.

This week we continue with them looking briefly back and continuing to make those comparisons between what they’ve always known to what is now available to them personally, and the changes this has brought about. Yet for any of us, until we join Ed in passing, time continues to move. And we must personally also move on. Just a quick question: If what is now available to the siblings, considering their past, fell into your hands what would you do? For any who has entered into this series of short stories late I’m posting a link back to a post that gives a synopsis of the ones you may have missed. https://windmillsmetaphor4writing.wordpress.com/2015/08/22/a-review/ (If you missed the first parts of this story you can find them under August 2015 and September 2015, or under Short Stories in the sidebar on the right.) And for your reading pleasure is part 5:

This brought her back to the present. And yet she remembered one other thing that had been a surprise. The clothing . . . oh my, so many fine things. Again, from her time of growing up and living in their small town the life style determined what one wore. While the town was supported by the semi-precious stones they mined, theirs was never a rich town. So all the clothing, even the ones who seemed to have more, were made in the town. And because she, as well as most of the other women, worked the fields, things like dresses were only worn for special occasions or get-togethers where one’s finery could be shown. Normal day-to-day stuff was pants, heavy shirts, and when one could afford the materials, course undergarments.

Here, in The Deeps, what was revealed to her seemed beyond comprehension. Such finery, so many choices, and undergarments were beyond anything she had ever dreamed of, or imagined. Was this how it was for the women of old? She wondered. Then she learned about how women handled their fertile cycle, and after all the mess and such she and all of the other women were used to dealing with, it was a shock to learn that these ancients had come up with better – so much better – ways to deal with the bleeding. And for once back in the Welcome and Processing center she had been happy to see that old thing arrive. It meant she wasn’t carrying one of the raider’s children, and she could get on with her life. Well, maybe, since she still bore the scars, mostly inside, from that encounter.

 

Jay continued to watch Elsa knowing that the pain and suffering she had endured during her time under the control of the raiders had left a mark. She tried to hide it but he knew her too well. And with Ed now gone and not harassing them over doing something wrong, or pushing them to do their lessons, he now had more time to concentrate on her. Although he had to admit there was plenty of work to keep the two of them busy.

When they had first been introduced to this place he thought how wonderful it all was, so many strange and wonderful things – so many conveniences to take over something that they used to do themselves. So many changes and ideas, and stuff well beyond his imagination. Yes, their ancestors had created much. Yet, now, as both of them had learned about all of this stuff, studying hard, trying to grasp concepts they had never heard of until now, it was becoming obvious this stuff wasn’t perfect. He wondered how Ed had ever stayed on top of this place. It seemed the maintenance was never-ending, and things broke all the time.

Ed had explained the reason for this had to do with both the limited time the ones who had built this place truly had, and the fact this place was old. This meant simply age could cause things to wear out, to break, and to fail without any warning simply because it was well beyond its expected useful life. That didn’t mean he or he was sure Elsa liked to be wakened by some type of alarm letting them know something needed to be fixed. He really did wonder how Ed stayed on top of all of it.

It was during this time of one of the many repairs he began to realize how far Elsa still had to go to be her old self, if that was even possible. It got him to thinking about the raiders, and how they were the scourge of the earth. And if only they weren’t around then such tragedies as what happened to their town, and to Elsa, could be eliminated. Well, if not eliminated, because there were always those individuals who did bad things, at least reduced. It was then, in the back of his mind, as he again watched his sister, and the lines of stress he saw, that maybe with what they had learned, what they had available, they could do something about it. Maybe it was the reason they had been led here in the first place, so very long ago. It was the only thing that made any sense.

They had personal experience of the danger of these people. Maybe because of this they could be the ones to eliminate them and allow the world to grow again. And because they were here in the desert it would be the last place the raiders would search, if for some reason the two of them screwed up, and botched an attack. Here in the badlands within this vast desert would be the last place someone would expect to find any living thing. And if they were followed back, once in the badlands it would be easy to lose them. And most of the ground was sand, leaving no tracks to follow, making it more likely they would never be found.

One day as they were replacing a pipe in one of the hydroponic greenhouses he decided to broach the subject. “Elsa . . .”

“Yeah Jay”, she answered absent-mindedly.

“You know we are in a unique situation here.”

Here she smiled, “Yeah, you’re telling me.” She stood up and stated, “We, from a world where none of this exists, and now living here, the home of the gods.” She then returned to what she had been doing, trying to keep the smile off her face.

“Ah, right. Look I know, and don’t you deny it because I can see it. Anyway I know that what happened to you still weighs heavily. I’m your brother and I can see it in your face, see it in the way your eyes appear to be haunted when you let your guard down. It’s bothered me that I haven’t been able to help you.”

She stopped what she was doing, stood up once again, turned and faced him, with her hands on her hips. “Yeah, I know, and I really had hoped by now I’d be mostly over it. I’m not, and I still have nightmares. I still wake up screaming, finding I’m soaked in sweat. Having the need to get up and take a shower. To wash it all away, like the soap suds did when you rinse off, but it hasn’t gone away. Lessened somewhat I think, but not gone – why do you ask? It is my problem and someday one way or the other I have to come to terms with it.”

“That’s probably true, but that doesn’t change the fact that I’d like to help you, but can’t.” Here he paused before continuing and stood up himself with his hands on his hips, like she was doing. “I’ve been thinking, and no don’t you try and lighten this up by saying something smart. What do you think about payback?”

She had a questionable look on her face, “Payback? Payback for what?”

Taking a slow breath before replying Jay said, “Look, there has to be a reason we found this place, and then was allowed inside. I think with what we have available to us we can seek a little revenge on the raiders. Think about it. We don’t even have to get close. We can strike from a distance and let a lot of fear and uncertainty into their lives, like they did to you, like they do to all the towns and villages. And maybe in time we can track down the ones who did this to you, and indirectly to me, and give you the satisfaction of taking them out and in the process maybe help you heal and have some final closure to all of this. I don’t want an answer now, only for you to think on it. Besides, we will have to study, and then practice. All of it will take time.”

He could see that she was thinking about it. He turned back to their repair work and let it lie for now. The seed was planted, so to speak, now it would be a waiting game. And because of where they were, and the time they still had available to them, the answer didn’t have to come tomorrow, or many tomorrows in the future. But he suspected in the end she would agree. And with those thoughts began to prepare for what was ahead.

 

Elsa wasn’t sure if what Jay had proposed was a really good idea. Still she had to admit that after all this time since her abuse by the raiders she still had nightmares and woke up in cold sweats. She still would get the feeling she was being watched and at times feel the fear and the desire to run push into her conscious mind, which she had to fight down so she didn’t panic. And she had to admit getting a little revenge for the ones who had suffered at the raiders’ hands and subsequently died wouldn’t bring them back, but maybe, just maybe it would even the score somewhat.

She could feel herself almost smiling at the thought of seeing the ones who had done this to her and the others of the village dying with her either witnessing it or being directly involved in their death. Still she hesitated. Was she really ready and willing to take this step? To become a killer? She was a woman, a person by her very nature is nurturing, and willing to save lives, not take them. Still what Jay had said, and at least she would give this to him, he hadn’t pushed once he had presented his idea, had a certain appeal, one she couldn’t deny. To actually give them what they did to others would, would what? Here she smiled as she imagined them dying in droves never to bother anybody again. It was this more than anything else that appealed to her. No more worries, no more problems from those lawless ones who cared less for others.

 

Jay felt, as both of them continued working the many areas that required the constant maintenance, she was slowly processing what he had suggested, but knew better than to push. He knew personally he could be stubborn, but knew from experience Elsa had as much if not more of a stubborn streak in her. It seemed to be one of the family traits for which all of them were constantly reminded over time. So he remained silent and simply carried on the small talk that family and friends always did. Talk that five minutes after the words were spoken would be forgotten.

He found on those days where they had time off from their schedules he would return to the Welcome and Processing center, followed by going out into the desert through the original entrance he had discovered so many years ago. He knew it was probably wrong to leave the wall entrance open during these times, but there had been no one but them. While during the time of the original inhabitants they had finally given up on finding anyone alive on the surface, Jay and Elsa knew better and had periodically reviewed the recordings. And other than seeing themselves there had been nothing. Not even a desert animal. It was as if they were the only ones in the whole world. No wonder Ed and the others had believed what they did.

* * *

Such an offer, such a suggestion. After living through the hell that both have, to maybe return the favor can be quite tempting. Still there is only the two of them. Even with what they have at their disposal will this be no more than a pipe dream, will Elsa agree, or like so much that happens in our own lives, will it die and remain as ideas only? Next week we continue with part 6. Have a great week and God Bless! (fdbrant.com)

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A Time of Learning, Death, and Revenge, Part 4

Alice and the Looking Glass, the red pill or the blue pill, Oz, in every one of these stories the world for the protagonists change. And so it will be for Jay and Elsa as they sit in the park. The question in their minds become, “Do we follow Ed, or do we remain with what we know?” For all of us we have or will enter situations where a similar question arises. We know if we do continue that there’s a good chance we will be changed. And all of us have a tendency to go with the familiar – what we know. So it is natural to be nervous, to have some trepidation about that unknown future event. So many questions enter our minds at these moments. For some they build up such a fear that they turn around and leave. Never going forward to either validate those fears, or prove them to be false.

Last week the brother and sister are in such a situation. As they watch Ed disappear they hesitate and are unsure. Still what choice do they have? At this moment there is no way to return to what they knew – not that what they knew still exists anyway. So in some ways their choice has been taken away. Still they have the promise from Ed stating he’d allow them back out into their world. Will he, and is the story he related to them true? And as we know, time waits on no one. For those who are coming into this series of short stories late I’m providing a link back to a post that gives one a synopsis of the previous episodes which relate to the one I’m presenting here. https://windmillsmetaphor4writing.wordpress.com/2015/08/22/a-review/ This week we continue, A Time of Learning, Death, and Revenge, with part 4 (And if this is the first time here part 1 is under August 2015, with the rest under September 2015, or under Short Stories, in the sidebar on the right.):

How long had they been here? It seemed the years had flown, and the lives they knew, their true past seemed more of a dream than reality. The wonders this place held had left them fearful and in awe of what their distant ancestors had created and accomplished. Even in their wildest dreams or nightmares neither had imagined such existed. Ed had been a harsh task master. They knew the reason. He was an old man and his time was limited. And he was left with the question of how do you take someone who knew nothing, to one who could actually understand and become proficient enough to keep up the maintenance of this place? Overall it was a daunting task, and one both Elsa and Jay felt Ed had done admirably. He had even taken them through the tunnel where the pipes fed the water to the facility and had shown them the repairs he had made, answering the question about what had changed when Jay had been by the natural tank.

But for both of them it was a sad time for the dreaded day had arrived and Ed was dying. It brought both of them back to their past when their family had been killed by the raiders, and while this wasn’t quite as hard, it was close. The previous incident was unexpected while this one both knew was coming. Ed had been in his bed for days trying to hang on, but while the spirit was willing the body had reached the end. So both sat next to him watching him breathe his last. And in his sleep he passed quietly away to wherever one went after death. For the longest time neither moved nor spoke being lost in their personal grief and memories of the one who was no more. Finally after the longest of times Jay said, “I guess we had better move him into the crematorium. It was his final wish to join the rest who had lived out their lives here.”

Even with those words, which seemed much too loud, both remained sitting. They had to admit it would be difficult to go on without seeing him around. Finally Jay stood and gently lifted Ed’s body onto the gurney and together they went to this final place. Once inside the small chapel they performed the simple ceremony, read from “the good book” as it was known, and sent Ed on his final journey. Later, at his request, his ashes would be scattered in one of the many parks to remain part of this place forever.

They retreated to one of the many kitchens grabbed a small meal and headed out to one of the many eating areas and over the meal reminisced about their time in the Welcome and Processing center, the time of fear when both had been separated, and the time of first meeting Ed in person, and realizing all their fears and worries in the end were unwarranted. Then came that first true walk inside The Deeps. It had been difficult for them to understand the sheer immensity of this place. It was well beyond anything either had ever seen or experienced. How was it such a place could be built?

This was followed by too many wonders to even remember. And as promised the first thing Ed did was show them how to open the outer door, or the moving wall as it appeared to them. Then came the libraries. Wow, once again who’d have thought there could be such a concentration of knowledge in one place? Yet here before them lay the totality of man’s knowledge, education, entertainment, and everything in-between. It was then they learned how Ed first discovered them and what they had called “windows that saw into the distance”, became known as monitors and the cameras that did the actual viewing. As far as they were concerned it had to be magic. How could something look out far away from this monitor and then put that same image here for them to see?

Ed had tried to explain it. But when you didn’t know the words or understand the meaning it hadn’t worked. Then both of them were ushered to their own rooms. And now that the population of The Deeps had increased to 3 once again, they were given rooms with plenty of space and with connecting bathrooms. This had been a shock to both of them since the rooms were larger than the house they had grown up in. Of course these bathrooms, privies as they would have called them then, were something neither had seen before. The privy was outside in its own small building, and one washed down in one of the small rooms in the house using a large portable tub that one stood in using water from a pitcher and bowl. Then it was a simple wash down with cold water and homemade soap. Repeating this happened, basically every couple of weeks at the earliest, and it could stretch out to a full moon cycle now and then.

Part of the reason for this was the number of people living in the household. And because of their location, close to the desert, water wasn’t as plentiful as other places. Water was more important for the animals, the mining, and keeping the fields and food growing. So bathing, if it could be called that, was last on the list. To find such a thing where all the elements were combined had been a shock. But the surprise was the showers. Ed had explained what a shower was, but the only thing they could equate it to was when it rained. Ed had to demonstrate how it worked, and showed them where something called towels were located. Again something they knew nothing about. In town they simply used old clean rags which left them somewhat damp. By going outside afterwards the air would finish the job. Of course they were fully dressed. No one would go outside without their clothes.

Both protested such places. They felt they didn’t deserve such fine rooms and all that came with them. Yet, Ed insisted. Elsa remembered her first encounter with the shower and remembered feeling quite nervous. Even though Ed had stated a number of times the private areas were never, as he called it, monitored, it still bothered her. She remembered going into the bathroom, turning on the light – being able to actually do something like this without lighting a candle or lantern, who’d have thought – closing the door, turning on the water – again to have actual running water – waiting until it felt comfortable – hot water what a concept – undressing and stepping gingerly and nervously into that flowing water, and realizing at that very moment how wonderful it all was. Then finding soap that smelled nice, and something Ed called shampoo for her hair, followed by something else called conditioner?

She remembered she had remained under the flowing water what seemed like forever. And her skin had become wrinkled from being in too long. Then she got out and used one of those towels for the first time and felt the fluffy softness and really thought she might be dreaming. Was this something everybody from their past shared and took for granted? One thing she knew for sure, she would be returning to these things more often than they did when living in their own home. The bed, what could she say about this? Sheets, she had never experienced sheets, let alone blankets so soft and warm. And the bed didn’t require tightening of the ropes. She remembered her first time of carefully sitting on the edge and felt it give. She smiled and with a mischievous thought jumped on it and was rewarded with a big rebound which brought laughter to her. It all seemed to be unreal, and yet Ed seemed to take it all for granted, as if it was common and nothing special. I guess if one has lived with this all their lives it would make sense. But I haven’t and I have to admit I love it!

Then came their introduction to their education and schooling. They literally had to start over from scratch. Back in the town they had careers ahead of them, Jay would have worked in the mines, and Elsa, with other women, would have worked the fields and such. All of it hard work, but satisfying in the end. Here their education became the means to an end. And now with Ed gone it would come down to them. No longer could they go and ask the expert for he had passed on, and now they would have to be those experts. At least they had the libraries to do research if necessary.

After they got over their initial shock, and after becoming a little more comfortable, both were sitting in one of the eating areas, thinking about all of this. Again to have food so easily available was a real surprise. Let alone the variety they found here. Nowhere in their previous lives were there so many choices. It was meat from the herd animals, grains from the fields, and fruits and vegetables when they could. Even though this sounded like there were many choices in truth it really wasn’t so. But here the choices seemed almost infinite.

Ed came in smiling and signaled for them to follow him. He seemed to almost be secretive, and kept urging them on, finally saying, “I’ve something to show you. I think you’ve gotten over your nervousness, and there was a time where I ended up being pretty lonely. (They hadn’t discovered TV’s yet.) So I set up a room to see how it felt to be surrounded by the crowds from the past.”

Jay stopped a moment and asked, “How is that possible? I mean if it is the past how can one be a part of it?”

Smiling Ed stated, “Ah yes, one would think it would be that way, wouldn’t one. You’ll just have to trust me one more time. Let me warn you though, you haven’t experienced anything like this in your life. It might scare you and make you want to run away. I can understand if it does. After all, I had problems myself once I got it working.”

“Working? What do you mean working?” Elsa asked.

“It’s better if I show you.” They continued down one of the too many hallways and he stopped in front of one of the closed doors. Next to it was a shelving unit that had some items on it. None of them were familiar at all. “Okay, let me explain what we need to do. It’s not really complicated, and I’m only going to run the simulation for a short time since I only have the one chair in here. Yes there are some hard benches you could sit on but they become uncomfortable really fast.” He explained they needed to put on the ball caps that had some weird device attached, and to carry something he called glasses they would need to put on once they were inside.

After donning the equipment and carrying those “glasses” inside with them Ed said, “Now be prepared for this. What I’m going to do is surround you with people, but they won’t really be here. Put on those glasses. Now are you ready for this?”

Although nervous, both nodded yes. Ed had a big smile as he sat down reached for something and suddenly they were in one of the large stadiums surrounded by thousands of fans. It made both of them jump, and almost scream. Even with the warning there was nothing that could have prepared them for what they were witnessing. Breathless, Jay whispered, “How are you doing this?” He tried reaching out and touching the people around him but all he touched was the air. Turning towards Elsa he could see an incredulous look on her face as she tried to both talk and touch the ones around her only to fail.

After a short period of time suddenly they were back in the same empty room. Breathless Elsa asked, “How? This is crazy! They seemed so real.”

“Yes”, Ed replied, “Didn’t they? You’ve got to understand they are real, or were real at one time, but have been dead for a very long time. What I showed you is something that was popular before the bombardment, and what was happening back then was the beginnings of what was called the 3D revolution where, with the help of this equipment, one can create the illusion of being surrounded by images like in real life.” It was one of the many revelations that lay before them.

* * *

A sad time when a loved one, a close friend, or a family member passes on. For most who were close to the one who died, it is common for one to think of this person, the good times, what they may have accomplished, and feel the sadness with their passing. In this episode we find the sister and brother remembering back to when they entered into “The Deeps” for the first time, just beyond the park. All the wonders they were first presented with, the time with Ed, and now the sadness with his passing. Suddenly they are the owners of the last great creation of man. Yet this truth hasn’t fully settled in. Next week we continue with part 5. Have a great week, and God Bless! (fdbrant.com)

A Time of Learning, Death, and Revenge, Part 3

If you had been the one sitting and listening to your true past after living in a world where such a past didn’t exist how would you react? Would you feel, even with the small amount of evidence you’ve personally seen, that the words are no more than a fairy tale? So many impossibilities have already been revealed, so are these impossibilities magic, illusion, or can there be some other explanation? Still as this past is revealed would you have empathy for Ed, and the ones who had lived out their lives in “The Deeps”?

For Jay and Elsa, they are facing so much change in a short period of time that it is probably good they are young. It seems that it is easier for the young to adjust to new situations and be flexible enough to accept those changes. Of course there’s the other side to this and it has to do with the lack of experience. This lack can lead one into situations where their very lives could be at risk. And because of this lack of experience not realize it until it is too late. And as the story of their past is presented will they want to continue or will they have a desire to leave? For any who has entered into this series of short stories late I’m posting a link back to a post that gives a synopsis of the ones you may have missed. https://windmillsmetaphor4writing.wordpress.com/2015/08/22/a-review/ This week I present part 3 of A Time of Learning, Death, and Revenge (If this is the first time here part 1 is under August 2015 in the sidebar and part 2 is under September 2015. Or you can find it under Short Stories.):

The two of them sat in awe as the words of their true past flowed from Ed to them. Nothing had prepared them for what he revealed. It seemed impossible for any of what he spoke to be true. Yet, where they were presently fit the bill for the same impossibility. “You mean that what we’ve seen so far doesn’t come close to what you are about to show us?” Jay asked, even though Ed had stated this earlier.

Ed smiled, even though it was a sad one. If only I’d known there were others years ago, I wouldn’t . . . we wouldn’t have had to spend our years alone. But I guess I’m lucky enough to see that we as a species will continue on. And it’s quite obvious we would have even if I died in ignorance – what a tragedy. “Yeah, that just about sums it up.”

Through these additional revelations Elsa remained silent. It was almost too much to take in all at once. And so far it had only been words. Still where and how they had lived the past days had been proof of a knowledge greater than theirs. And now to learn there was so much more than what they had already seen, already used personally. I guess for me those privies, or what was it he called them – oh yes, public restrooms – such a strange word – and to direct water like that is worth the price. This gave her pause as the implications of this struck her. There was no way that she knew of, to do any of what appeared to be common in this place.

She saw the sad smile on Ed’s face and the slight shaking of his head and wondered what he could be thinking about. It was obvious from the faraway look in his eyes that it had nothing to do with what was happening at this very moment. Then again, maybe it did in a weird way. Anyway it was private thoughts and she felt she had no right to intrude. “You know, I just realized that even the few things we’ve seen and experienced appear to be common and ordinary for you and I guess I can say our ancestors. Yet we can’t do it today, which means we’ve lost so much.

“It makes me wonder if this has happened before. No I don’t mean some rocks falling from the sky, and who’d have thought such could happen? We had myths saying so, but as a child, I believe is the term you’d use, I considered them tall tales. Still you’ve confirmed that it actually happened. So I wonder what other myths we’ve grown up with have some truth behind them.”

Jay looked at Elsa, who was sitting next to him, and marveled at what she had revealed about herself. While he had his own thoughts about what had just been revealed his hadn’t gone nearly in the direction as hers. “Elsa, I really didn’t think about it, but you’re right. I was thinking more practical. What I mean has to do with how much better we could live, and it would be so much easier to be aware when the raiders were close and to be better prepared. And we are basically miners, I bet there are some methods in, ah what was it you called them Ed, oh yes archives which could improve our output. Not that it’s important now since almost everyone died in the attack.”

He looked with brotherly love at his sister and smiled. Like Ed’s it was a sad one. It had only been a short time ago when he in his innocence wanted to climb the peaks, to take on that challenge, and to build his personal confidence. And on that fateful day their world changed forever. He saw Ed stand up and Jay asked, “What now?”

“There’s a saying from my time that states, ‘A picture is worth a thousand words’, so I guess it’s time to show you. This day has been moving on, and my stomach is telling me it’s time to eat. Besides, I need to get the two of you set up in your own rooms, and somewhere along the line get those packs you left in the Welcome and Processing center. There’s much that has to be done, and unfortunately with my age I don’t know how many years are still available to me. I have centuries of knowledge that must be passed on. And the two of you have to unlearn everything you know. Well not everything since you both have survived out there – a place I know I can’t.

“But somehow I have to teach you the technology, how the systems work, and the knowledge of keeping this place running. It’s more than a full time job for me, and with the two of you as assistants it should get easier. But I know when we start it won’t be, simply because you know nothing about anything here, let alone how it works. For example I heard you call those things I know as monitors, ‘windows that see into the distance’. I have to admit I’ve never thought about it, but I guess that’s exactly what they do.

“And as your sister called them, and I suspect you did too, the restrooms. I know Elsa and I had a discussion about them.” Here he laughed as he recalled her shock that they could be seen almost everywhere, and her relief when she learned it wasn’t allowed inside the restrooms, or privies as the two of them called them. “Anyway we need to get moving inside. All I can say is be prepared. I know you both consider where you’ve been to be large. But the actual facilities could fit your town or village inside at least a hundred times over.”

This brought light laughter from the brother and sister with Jay stating, “You’re joking right? We are underground, and from what I can guess quite deep really. I’d guess that what we’ve seen so far would be as large as one would dare build. The ground above is heavy and there’s nothing today that could support something as large as you are saying this place is.”

Ed smiled a knowing smile. “Ah yes, by today’s standards you are probably correct. But you must remember this place was built many centuries in the past, and the ability to do this was common then. Not easy for sure, but it is only the size of this place that makes it different from any of the other projects that had been done in those times. Okay, enough of this. Let’s go see whose lying and whose telling the truth.” He bowed and swept his arm out asking, “Shall we?”

In a sense Jay and Elsa were both shocked and surprised by what had just been revealed to them. It had to be an elaborate joke. Nothing like this could exist – could it? So were both of them unconscious and somehow having the same dream? Or was it something where both were asleep in the underground building, and each having separate dreams only to have each other in them? Yet, looking around, feeling the movement of the air, smelling the blossoming plants all spoke of reality, not the dream world.

Looking at each other they weren’t sure if they wanted to continue or not. What had been found and seen so far had been enough in their minds. Still a sense of adventure was there and both of them stood up with Jay saying, “I don’t know how much of what you’ve just told us to believe, but what is around us kind of supports it. And what’s happened to the two of us speaks of things we know nothing about.” He looked back at Elsa and could see the sentiment reflected in her eyes. “So I guess we’ll go ahead and follow you for now. No, I’m, or we, aren’t threatening you. I know you said we could leave at any time, but at this moment our only way out of here had been closed to us, so we cannot even be sure if what you said is the truth.”

Ed smiled, because he understood their feelings. How else could it be? He wondered if he had heard the story he had just told them if he would believe it, especially if he had just come from a primitive society like theirs. In fact he felt it would almost be impossible. Only by seeing could there be any proof. “Yeah, that’s true. But I do have to protect myself. And if you really think about it, what can I do to keep you from doing anything you want? I’m not young, for heaven sake. And the two of you are. So in all ways, other than experience, I’m the one outclassed here. While I know you must trust me, think about my situation. I’ve allowed the two of you in here where it would be easy for me to be on the losing end. So who’s risking more here, you two, or me?

“I had to do something simply because of my age. I’m the one with no choice here. What if the two of you had been part of those raiders who destroyed your town? Can you imagine what they could do with what’s here? There would be no one in your world that could fight and defeat them? And what would really suck for me is that I would be the one who led them to this unfair advantage. And believe me it is. What is here would give them unbelievable power over everyone. So for me the decision to let anybody in here was close to impossible to make. It would have been just as easy to keep this place closed up, forgotten and unknown, to die, and to let this secret die with me.

“The dilemma I face is overwhelming. From the little that I observed the two of you I felt there was a chance, a chance to bring you down here, and let you see your true past and where we were at one time. But I’ve only been able to see you, and believe it or not, understand you for a very short time. And in that short time I’ve had to come to some kind of decision based on very little real information. I could have guessed wrong. I know when I first observed the two of you, you were arguing about something. I have to admit that at the time I didn’t understand a word of it. It took time before I could get past your accent.”

Here he laughed. “No don’t say anything since I know to the two of you I have one. Plus over time languages have a tendency to shift. Words go out of favor, and others replace them as popular. Then there are always new words entering the language. After all, that’s why it’s called a living language. So I had to study the recordings for a long time before I began to understand.”

He paused a moment and looked at Elsa with a serious look on his face. “And on that subject Elsa, what happened to you? I know something very bad did just by the condition you were in when Jay brought you into the Welcome and Processing center – and if you don’t want to tell me now, maybe later when you’re ready. I haven’t had a chance to go over all of what was saved when you, Jay found this place, yet.”

Elsa could feel her face reddening and felt the flush of heat. How does he know something happened? Am I that obvious to him? This is scary, and no I’m not ready to talk about it. Heck I really didn’t say much to Jay other than the basic facts. “No . . . no I’m not ready to talk about what happened, and what do you mean saved or recording?”

Ed was silent for a moment, “Okay by me. I know that whatever it was it wasn’t nice or pleasant, and you paid a heavy price. And I guess the only way to explain what I mean by a recording or saved is to show you. Now come on I’m ready to go back inside. Even though this is what we call a park, a place that represents areas outside, it’s still almost too much for me to spend a lot of time here. So once again shall we?”

Ed headed back in the direction Elsa saw him go when she went to meet her brother. Both lagged a little behind being nervous about what the immediate future held. They were about to enter a realm they never imagined existed. Filled with many, what they would call, magical items. And even though Ed had called the stuff the result of technology, they really didn’t know the word, let alone what it meant, or how it would affect them in the end.

* * *

Ah, the moment of truth approaches. After all the conversation, all the catching up with the past history, Ed tells them it is time to head inside “The Deeps” and all the mysteries that await within. Jay and Elsa watch as Ed retreats and they lag behind still unsure. What awaits them beyond the park? Next week is part 4. Have a great week and God Bless! (fdbrant.com)

A Time of Learning, Death, and Revenge, Part 2

So, as a reader and being far away from their situation, how would you act and react if you were Jay? Again, only you personally can answer since we are all different. When we see Jay and Elsa it is difficult to remember that all of what is happening to them is taking place in a short period of time. Weeks, versus the years they have lived their peaceful lives back in their village. It means that their reactions to these changes would be tentative to say the least. To go from a home to nothing, and to have the loss be complete can leave scars and fear. An example we can use is the one where you fall off a horse. What is normally stated is get back on immediately. Why? Because human nature is such that we will begin to build up such a fear that we may never try again. And when we compare this to what the two of them have experienced it is no surprise they have a reluctance to continue into the unknown. “What if’s” seem to be everywhere. I’m providing a link back to an earlier post that gives a synopsis of the past episodes, which will bring any who have jumped into these series of short stories late an overview of the complete story.  https://windmillsmetaphor4writing.wordpress.com/2015/08/22/a-review/(Last week began this short story, and is available in the sidebar under August 2015 or the short stories subtitle.) And for your reading pleasure is part 2:

Ed watched as Jay, once he had come close to the entrance to The Deeps entrance, stop. He listened as Elsa implored him to continue. Still Ed could understand his reluctance. Jay was about to enter a world he had never dreamed existed. And if someone had told him about what he was about to discover, Jay would have probably considered the one who spoke these things to be insane. So he remained silent and let Elsa do the talking. Even though he could still monitor the situation, and as far as he knew, these two were the only ones close, he hated to leave the wall open. So he could feel his impatience growing with every second that passed.

Ed almost began to speak, and bit his tongue and held back. No, he doesn’t know me, not that she does. Still we’ve had a chance to talk, to see each other. And I suspect she realizes that if it came down to it, they could control me, which is a worry I have to admit. Still, like them, I have to chance it. I suspect this is my last chance to find anybody, and to pass on what we’ve lost. Well, apparently lost, looking at what they are wearing and the fact from what I could see watching Elsa that none of this is something she understands or has seen.

He saw her turn and grab both of Jay’s hands and gently pull him towards the entrance. At first he resisted slightly before allowing her to lead him into the tunnel. He would give them enough time to be safely through, and then before actually closing the wall, verbally tell them. He watched as they slowly advanced. He, at that moment remembered the stuff Jay had brought with him and wondered if it was a good idea to leave it there. Because if it was left there and someone else found this place they’d immediately wonder where the owner or owners of this stuff was, leaving them curious enough to want to explore further. And this was the last thing Ed wanted or needed. He knew he would have his hands full with just these two, and he wanted no other problems or interruptions.

Jay could see the shadows in this new tunnel, and unlike the first one he had gone through this one seemed to have some kind of lighting that allowed one to see. It wasn’t very bright, but it was enough so there really were no deep shadows. Still, as long as he remained within the original building he felt safe. As they got closer he could feel the nervousness building, and he suddenly found himself in the tunnels. They went a little further and they heard Ed say, “Okay, I’m closing the wall now.” Jay stopped and looked over his shoulder and watched as the opening sealed itself, and now there was no turning back. Like Elsa, he was committed.

Jay pulled his hands gently away from Elsa and looked around. He asked, “When I was on the other side how did you know I was back and looking for you?”

“I was further down in this tunnel. At the base . . . oh come on I’ll just show you.” At this point she led off and Jay shrugged. There really wasn’t much else he could do. Standing here with the wall closed there was only going deeper in this unknown world. When he came around that last corner with Elsa still ahead of him the lights came on in the segmented way Elsa was now familiar with, but caused Jay to freeze for a moment. She turned when she felt him stop. She smiled and said, “Yeah I know, and it gets stranger. I don’t know how they work either but suddenly we have all this light.” She pointed further down saying, “And you can see the counter down there. Not all of it, but enough to know that’s what it is.” Once again she headed on down, since she was on semi-familiar ground.

In a sense he didn’t want to continue, but again what else could he do? Finally he came to terms with it and followed her down until he was next to her as she had awaited his arrival. She leaned on the counter and pointed to the desks and the narrow windows that were in the wall behind the desks as she explained. Then she led him over to the double doors, stopped so he could examine them, and pushed through. When the door was open briefly he caught a flash of green, and it floored him. Like her he knew they were deeper underground now and what he caught a glimpse of was impossible. Nothing should be alive down here. And if he wanted to be honest there really shouldn’t be any light. He knew this for a fact. He’d been in the mines, and it was only the torches and candles that provided any light at all. Yet, it seemed that he could be outside, how was any of this possible?

Since he had remained by the double doors for what was a longer period of time than Elsa expected she pushed back through the double doors, and again he was surprised. The doors swung both ways. “Come on bro, there’s more to see, and I suspect Edward is probably waiting for us by those benches by now.” She held the doors open by leaning on them and with a sweep of her arms invited him to go through.

He shrugged again. This place, yeah, this place unsettled him. There was no other way to describe it. “Okay sis. I know you’ve been here before. But for me this is my first time. Give me a little slack here as I get used to this. So, what I’m saying, I guess, is this time you are leading instead of me when I found the place above here.” He tentatively stepped by the door, and once again stopped. “How is this done? I mean just having this much light down here is impossible, but to have trees and bushes and grasses, really?”

It was Elsa’s turn to shrug. “I don’t know. It’s all beyond me. Like I said, or I think I did, you’d swear you were in an oasis out in the middle of the desert. And look at these paths. Have you ever seen anything like them?”

Jay looked down and had to agree with her. He shook his head and simply said, “No.” He paused a moment as he looked around this place before adding, “Lead on, since you know where we are going.”

She smiled, nodded, and took off in the direction that would lead to the center of this impossible place. “This way”, she said, as she pointed. Soon they were what he considered close to the center of all this greenery. He noticed the pathway they were on widened somewhat and on both side sat benches. On the one to the right sat an old man who stood as they approached. He smiled although it was a nervous one. Well, Jay could understand that. All of them had to be out of their element here. He was a stranger to this old one, as much as the reciprocal. The old man put out his hand in a friendly fashion grabbing Jay’s right hand. It was somewhat awkward as he had never been greeted this way.

“I guess things and times change. It is a way of greeting between friends, business partners, and such. As your sister knows, my name is Edward, or Ed for short, and welcome to The Deeps. I know you are Jay”, at this point he looked over at Jay’s sister saying, and you of course are Elsa, the younger sister.” Turning back to Jay he said, “I heard the question you asked Elsa about how she knew you were back. Let’s just say it was by accident. It turned out one of the cameras had been connected to the speaker above the counter you just came by and she heard you asking for her.” He saw the look that told him that Jay hadn’t a clue as to what he was talking about.

Here he smiled and said, “Look, almost everything here must seem impossible. Heck, I was surprised myself when I saw the two of you. And yes, once I knew you were here I have been watching you. Although I have to admit when I first listened I couldn’t understand a word either of you said. I had to listen for the longest time before I could discern any of your words. Such a heavy accent, and the natural shift in language over time, can do that. Yeah, I know, to you I must seem to have one also. Still as we become more familiar with each other, and continue to talk this will disappear and become common.

“Look, where we are going from here is most likely going to make you feel really uncomfortable.” Seeing some fear in their eyes and an unconscious reaching for their weapons Ed smiled, “No, not that way. But you see, from what I’ve observed, nothing about this place is familiar. Nothing here makes any sense, and as far as you are concerned this is a place of impossibilities, and could only be created by the gods from myths and such. What you’ve seen so far is nothing to what you are about to experience.

“Look let’s sit for a little while. I need to bring you up to date a little bit so what you see here, what you are about to experience, makes more sense. It will be a much shortened version, but should help you wrap your arms around it, so to speak. So please be seated, because even the shortened version will take some time.” He then sat down and motioned them to sit where Elsa had when she and Ed first met. “You’ve got to understand that this place, The Deeps, has been here a very long time. And I don’t know how you found it or why, and I’m sure as we get to know each other, your past will be given to me as well as mine to you. Okay, enough of this. Now for the down and dirty version . . .” He then went on to explain the how and why of the place commonly known as The Deeps, but officially known as Helms Deep.

* * *

I know from talking to one of the readers of the stories that they have been waiting for this moment. The moment when the three of them finally get together for the first time. Still now that it has finally happened Jay and Elsa really don’t know what their future holds or what is beyond the park. Their experiences are limited to their world, and this new one is well beyond their personal knowledge and understanding. And as they sit and listen to Ed they learn their true past and are most likely in awe of what they are hearing. Still until they enter the facility all are only words. Next week is part 3 of, “A Time of Learning, Death, and Revenge”. Have a great week and I hope to see you here on Saturday. God Bless! (fdbrant.com)

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