The Chronicles of Space Echo
#4 – Good news, indeed
A: Have you heard about a bird called cockatiel?
B: I think so, but I cannot remember anything in particular about it.
A: It is said that when a cockatiel loses its mate, it suffers greatly from the loneliness.
Urban legend, as we may call it, says significantly more on the matter - the bird might
even develop a severe case of depression and eventually die from the broken heart.
B: Mother Nature, in her schemes, knows no mercy, as it seems.
B: And what about humans?
A: For them, you see, the case is far worse...
A: It is not their hearts that get scarred...
It is their souls.
'...and when the pain
flies far away,
I want to spend
- ...with you.'
- 'I hear you are still singing that song, fruitcake' A soft voice from the bushes
interrupted my solitude.
I've been sitting here, in the woods for quite some time. Given the chance I suppose I'd not have noticed that it's so late already. I wasn't watching the stars, not that it's possible anymore; the ugly cloud of pollution and small pieces of debris scattered all over the sky's firmanent took that joy away from us, probably forever. But my thoughts were clearly somewhere else.
- 'Didn't notice you. Hey Indo' I replied.
- 'That's because I sneaked on you, like a fox!'
I'm pretty sure he noticed my constipated face and realised that his laughter was out of place.
I could be read like an open book, never hiding what was on my chest. Shortly after, he changed his tone of voice.
- 'You never really told me about him, y' know?'
He sat next to me on the hill, towering above the ruins of our once great city, of which past glory only the charred remains speak.
What a beautiful city it used to be.
- 'You never asked' I answered, knowing that it was not true.
I would feel bad for burdening him with my own inner demons and conflicted emotions. It's been so much time and you'd think I'd have gotten over this whole thing by now.
Life tends to defy the rules we believe it sticks to.
Doesn't that just ... suck?
In all that silence I lost the track of time, but today was in no way a good day to goof around reminiscing stories of the past. I'm so silly sometimes.
- 'I'm sorry' I said while standing up and getting the dust off my clothes.
He looked at me and smiled gently, as if trying to soothe me in a very subtle way. He's a good friend.
- 'Alrighty then, let's hit the road. We have to do some preparations before we embark on our small journey,
I have to admit, he has quite an imagination with those silly nicknames that he manages to come up with, seemingly at a whim.
Before I could gather my backpack and pick up my rifle I felt his hand on my shoulder.
- 'Tell me whenever you are ready, kay?'
We walked together through the burnt bushes, broken branches and fallen trees; all those being a testament to a neverending strife, cursing us for far too long. The surrounding area has been completely devoid of natural fauna, even though most of its flora remained unhinged to the point it could still be home to wildlife.
It seemed that the animals felt it was wrong in here.
Yet we still dwell in those outskirts...
This thought always makes me shiver.
It took us about 15 minutes to reach the encampment and judging by the commotion present at our arrival, everyone's been busy getting prepared for our 'exodus'. One could notice big set of crates, clouding an adjacent square with their moonlight-born shadow. I could only suspect what was packed in them; since for that kind of trip we surely needed all means to guarantee our survival, my bet would be on food, munitions and various medicaments. Taking a moment to reflect on recent events, leading towards such dramatical decision, I realised that it was indeed surprising that we had managed to overcome most of the obstacles and withstand the relentless storms of the unexpected.
But it was high time to get busy myself so I went to talk to Philion to inquire where my help was needed.
- 'Evi! You are back!'
Having heard a familiar voice of one of the biggest loudmouths known to our outcasts' group I knew I was in for quite a conversation.
Ulthia... a small, seemingly adorable and cute redhead with a certain fetish for scarfs and headgear, always willing to share her point of view on something she has no knowledge about, to someone that isn't interested in being schooled.
I assume she will nag me about some nonsense as usual. Normally I don't pay that much attention to her rabbling but today is not the day I welcome such experiences.
- 'Hey Uli, Indo came to get me. Have you seen Philion?'
- 'Wow, wow! What a harsh tone of voice... and that look on your face! Have you seen a ghost?'
I truly hoped she hadn't seen my resigned look on the face.
- 'I'm just tired, and this whole operation is pretty stressful. Don't tell me you don't have any second thoughts?' I tried to distract her a bit.
I was in no mood to continue with her today. Damn, where are you Philion?
- 'Oh, I don't know! Who knows ? Maybe. Well it cannot be worse, can it?'
Chaotically as usual, she sunk her hand into a big bag; far too big for a girl of her frame.
- 'I will go look for Philion, you take care, okay?'
- 'Have fun!' she replied and proceeded with some pointless act of repacking her backpack.
Sometimes I really don't get certain people. But surpisingly I managed to sneak out of this pretty easily. An odd outcome, truth be told.
I took another moment to look around and see how the progress of preparation was. I have to say not everyone appeared to be as happy and cheerful as my latest interlocutor. It is, indeed, quite understandable; the leftovers of once great Dakrhan frontline army didn't intend to give us much time to rest; save allow us to leave silently. Even after the closing of the warp gate they didn't lose their sense of mission. We, however, had enough of all that.
Abandoned we might be, but as long as we breathe, we will continue to hope for tomorrow's better dawn.
Personally I didn't feel well. Not that my body was in a bad condition, but my heartbeat wouldn't let me calm down. I don't want to constantly relive my past. It should remain where it belongs and leave my troubled heart alone.
- 'Evangeline, I heard you were looking for me'
Finally, there he was – our sole leader and mastermind of Earth's resistance forces, as we boldly call ourselves. It came as no surprise that an ambitious, tall, muscular man would claim leadership of refugees and the forsaken. To top that, he was a rather smart individual, knowing when to act. But more imporantly – how to do so.
- 'Hello Philion! Yes, I wanted to ask if you need anything of me. I want to help anyway I can'
He took a quick look at me with his cold, analyzing eyes. Some people could take it as all kind of bad things but I knew he was simply thinking and assessing.
- 'In fact, I could use someone to look after the the weapon storage. They seem to have some sort of delay and could use a hand or two. Please, take Indo with you and assist them.' He said firmly.
- 'Alright, I'll do so.' I replied. 'Philion, do you think we are going to make it ... you know, in one piece?'
- 'You all look better in ... one piece, so let's stay like this, ok?'
I consider this to have been an attempt at joking, but he's not experienced in humour at all;
it seemed rather cute to watch.
- 'Evangeline.' He took a small pause. 'No matter what you think... Don't fight your past, let it become a part of you and embrace it - be it pain or joy.'
How does he...?
No,no. It is impossible.
I never told anyone.
I swear I could notice a small smile on his face, although it was too fast to be certain.
He went away as swiftly as he appeared. As I watched him walk away I couldn't help but wonder what it must feel like to have such a burden upon one's shoulders. I'd never be able to achieve what he does on a daily basis.
It was getting very late. Most of the the crews were done with their tasks, but I still needed to find Indo and assist the weapon storage. You cannot fight a war with words only, can you?
It didn't take me that long to find him in his usual place, sitting under a tree and staring into the sky.
- 'I see that the tides have turned - now I am the one to pick you up'
- 'I can't agree with that; you didn't sneak on me, so it doesn't count' He chuckled.
'Well, what's the plan, cutiepie?'
- 'Ugh..how did you call...' I tried to look less confused than I was but he interrupted me.
- 'Say no word! Actually, I know where to go and what to do. I was eavesdropping!' He had this overdramatic smile, spread all over his face.
- 'You sound way too proud than you should!'
He didn' reply to that and we went to check on the last working crew. I was more than happy to see that there were some familiar faces working on completing said task.
- 'Mayn, Keith, Sigi!' I waved at them from the distance.
They were a rather interesting trio, I dare say.
Keith, a tall, skinny, pale introvert from the lands to which some people still refer as "The Former Great Britain." Even though he exceeds most of us when it comes to intellect and logic, he tends to remain silent most of the time. Then again he seems to enjoy talking to Philion more than anything.
Mayn, a dark-skinned vagabond possessing tremendous outdoor abilities that include hunting, tracking and scouting. He must have earned those in what we call "The Previous Life" - life before our world went down the pit and war ravaged everything we knew and loved. Not much can be said about his place of origin; sometimes it is better not to inquire too much, I suppose.
And finally Sigi, a girl that some would refer to as 'the last viking lady'.
On second thought... only Indo calls her that.
There is a reason, however, why he gave her such a nickname. We found her a year ago, sitting over a Dakrhan's dead body, clenching a sharp, curved knife. What a terrifying, yet somehow pleasant sight it was. Her trademark is a long, blonde braid, gently adorning her back. She is the most outgoing from that whole group; not that there is much competition.
Sometimes I wonder what keeps those three completely different people so close together. Be that a magnetism of the opposites or a necessity of the hard times, I'm as intrigued as I am impressed.
We didn't talk for long, because of obvious reasons. I grabbed a key to a transport vehicle from Sigi and intended to sort the weapon caches and the remainings of our fuel supply. Indo was nowhere to be found and it came as no surprise to me that he ended up wandering purposelessly.
The overwhelming silence haunted the night; it felt like it was a herald of the coming storm. Given the other opportunities I'd call this forest my little sanctuary, but I feel it was more of a cage.
This time I could hear his footsteps.
- 'You can't sneak on me twice in a row, Indo'
- 'Oh damn, I didn't expect that, miss detective!' He replied with genuinely surprised voice.
- 'How's it going, Evi?'
I took a moment before I adressed his question. Actually, that's not true - I didn't adress it at all. I answered the previously asked one.
- 'He was an engineer' I almost whispered.
Indo didn't even move an inch.
- 'Before this war started we... we had a thing for each other. They say falling in love is the prettiest and most
desired thing in the world, but there are some things about which they never tell you... Even though
everything was going fine, the butterflies that made themselves comfortable in my stomach were put to an
endless sleep in no time. My beloved got obsessed with the war effort and since his skills were highly
demanded among the military, he decided to become a cog in the war mashine. I cried, I begged, I screamed
but nothing seemed to cool his burning conviction. Now, when I think about it, it appears that he simply
wanted to feel alive by risking his life. Isn't that just fucking stupid?'
Indo listened to me carefully and he might have even been surprised by the fact than I tend not to swear at all. I continued after taking a deep breath.
- 'Never has he been a fighter-type, feeling the thrill of danger and adventure; he was a simple engineer, willing
to experience things he only heard about in stories.
So he left. He left me behind, with a vague promise of returning one day, which fullfillment I've been looking
forward to since that day. Or at least I used to...'
- 'Used to...?' Indo asked, breaking a short silence that occured after my monologue.
- 'Yes. There is only that much a heart can take.
...I hope that he died.'
The wind swept away the last ember from the bonfire. We finished our work and the night finally won the fight against the day, taking its borrowed reign away.
This time Indo had no adequate nickname for me.
end of chapter #4
continued in chapter #5 – Pillow fort