Jump to content

A Story

Sign in to follow this  

Recommended Posts

This is a draft of something I've worked on on-and-off again for a while, I would appreciate it if you read and gave me feedback, if you liked it, what I did well, what sucks, what I need to fix, and if you want more here. The overall story is a sort of dystopian crime drama and, oddly, a romance tale. and sorry, I can't seem to make an indention work here so paragraphs will have to do. Enough rambling, here you go:

 

The slow rhythmic pattern of rain sounded upon the roof, silver streaks in the night past the thick steel bars and old warped glass of his single window. Four dull greenish-grey walls sat unadorned to form his dwelling. Civilian Housing Unit 489370002438-B72. Simple wooden furniture and a hard uncomfortable bed with a mattress that was practically rotting. He had lived fully half of his adult life here, divided between this and his appointed work station. A dull hatred for this room, like a lump in his throat that would never go away, had slowly built up inside of him across as far a time as he could remember. He thought back now that, truly, he had always hated it, from the first moment he had seen it. Now that he had the occasion to really analyze it, he thought that that hatred had been the only real emotion he had felt in possibly his whole life.

 

There was nothing particular about this residence, in fact quite the opposite--it was the perfect example of the typical unit a single person of his position would be assigned to by The State. Perhaps that was why he hated it so. It was, he thought, a coffin. A coffin exactly alike a million billion others, through his walls, and out that window, infinite rows of identical coffins. The world was a gigantic cemetery of cold gray tombstones, waiting to be filled.

 

That metaphor was particularly apt, for he knew he was to die here. He had known it from the first moment he had crossed the threshold and the door been sealed behind him by the automatic system. Every day, every moment, every glance at another person, every second, had just been a countdown to his last, to this night. They would be here soon, and then he would be gone. He wouldn’t just have died, they were not that merciful. He would be erased, forgotten by anyone who had ever even seen him, eliminated from existence itself, such was the degree of power they wielded over reality.

 

And then, tomorrow, the sun would rise anew and another person, a woman or a man--it mattered not, freshly groomed into an adult and in need of a housing unit, would be assigned 489370002438-B72, and they would make the journey across the city, its identical buildings of glass and steel slowly descending in size until they reached this District, imputed their code into the panel, and stepped through the doorway to the same four walls; simple wooden furniture, and uncomfortable, deteriorating bed. It would be their coffin, their tomb, without a trace of anything at all that a man had spent nights filled with cold rain looking out at the city, he would leave no mark, no indication that he had existed, no warning for the death warrant that lied invariably upon the head of any who attempted to perform the act of living in the gravedigger’s world. In time, he was sure, they too would disappear into the night and from memory just as easily. It happened all the time.

 

 

Beyond his window, across the street, for less than a second a small flash of orange light burst into the otherwise impenetrable darkness, then faded, leaving behind a single mote of orange glow in the black. A cigarette. Its faint glow just enough to discern its wielder, a tall person in a long dark coat, a hat on the head. The face mostly still obscured in shadow, but a single feature stood out, long locks of deep crimson hair draped over the shoulders of the coat. It was a woman.

 

This was the sign he had been waiting for. Only They smoked.

 

less than a minute later, as if knowing she was being observed from inside, the light grew briefly to its highest intensity, and then disappeared, quashed beneath a boot. Seconds passed, slowly, and horribly. The longest and most horrible length of time in all his life.

 

The mechanical sound of the electronic lock disengaging and the door opening. The silver barrel of a gun in a gloved hand. Two bangs, deeply suppressed to barely audible levels, a spatter of red across the greenish gray. The mechanical sound of the door sealing the room shut again.

 

It was that simple. It happened all the time.

 

 

Heavy footfalls splashing through deep puddles on concrete in the dark. A wooden door gently opening in the softly lit foyer past the armored exterior door. A drenched coat rested on a rack to dry. Across the spacious loft, which was more than three times the size of the lifeless gray cube from earlier in the night, thick cloud-like tufts of hot steam rose and drifted out of the white marble washroom.

 

The woman emerged from the steam. She remained naked, strands of deep red hair curling just past her breast and far down her back, not yet completely dry. Shelves filled with books, alcohol, and many numerous other materials, which would warrant an instant death sentence if discovered in the possession of one not of her level of qualification, lined several of the walls. Those appointed for her line of duty were afforded vast luxury. She scanned a row until she came across what she wanted and pulled it from the shelf, a cardboard sliver and inside of it a black vinyl circle. She carried it across the room and placed it in the center upon the square machine, made of golden mechanical parts and fine wooden panels.

 

It began to fill the apartment with a slow, winding tune, full of deep tones from instruments long forgotten, unplayed in time immemorial.

 

She sat in her favorite chair, reclined in its velvet-like upholstery and looked out at the city and the rain through the large segmented window, waiting for the dawn to break. A glass half full of a golden-brown liquid at her side and smoke rising in twirls from her cigarette.

Edited by Guest (see edit history)

"That which you do not know, is not a moral charge against you; but that which you refuse to know, is an account of infamy growing in your soul. Make every allowance for errors of knowledge; do not forgive or accept any breach of morality."

Share this post


Link to post

Pretty good. Although I'm not a fan of stories of this kind ;) Very depressing beginning doesn't make me that curious what happens next ;d I'd say, the descriptions and thoughts and feelings of the man from the very beginning are a bit too long for me. I was waiting when the acton starts. Less is more, but of course it's a question of taste.

 

In general, well built climate of a story.And after what you already put here, as a reader I'd expect some more action and/or introducing some more intrigue. Maybe new characters. A dialogue would break a heavy mood (for me it's heavy) as well.

Ross's girlfriend (IRL) Twitter: @AmazingMagda follow me! ^^to somewhere! ^^

Share this post


Link to post

Could use a bit of editor's touch here-and-there... A few grammatical fixes and misspellings... I would volunteer, but I'm already editing another two novels, and trying to learn Linux.

Don't insult me. I have trained professionals to do that.

Share this post


Link to post

Alright, its been a bit since I've posted any of this, so here you go. That first bit was a prologue introduction, intending to establish a bit of the world and its people the reader's going to see in the story to come. What's coming up next is the first part of a much longer chapter that follows. Hope you like it and give feedback. And I know I made a MAJOR mistake in giving away The Chief's name in that first part, and I've edited it out in my drafts (and minitrue act speedwise as well on this page)

 

__________________________________________________________________________________________

It was the middle of the city. At this time of the day these Districts were a rapidly flowing sea of people. Each trying to be where Government machines said they would be, under threat of penalties they would rather not think about. Amidst this ocean of unremarkable blue, grey, and brown civilian uniforms, a black coat and heavy military boots was instantly recognizable. This wasn’t a Military or Police District where such clothing was common, here it was a practical icon. Of fear.

 

He strode calmly down the sidewalk, allowed to take a degree of leisure in his commute unthinkable outside his profession, and merged into a school of men in a path exiting the stream of foottraffic into a building. It was the typical city office structure, a structure of steel and glass almost identical to its sisters and enduring for longer than any man had ever lived with no remarkable or distinguishing features to be seen.

 

The lobby was a mess of intersecting processing lines; people moving towards the few desks to present their identification before being allowed to take an elevator up to their floor. The system was designed to load up full lifts of people traveling to the same floor and send them up in timed bursts, but it almost never performed that way. It was slow by nature, the entire deskman’s profession was inefficient in the extreme. The constant threat was that The Government labs had developed a new machine which would replace them all and they would be mass reassigned to other Work Sectors and wages redistributed accordingly to account for the influx of new personnel, but despite the perennial persistence of the rumors, every season men and women continued to be dispatched to identify and authorize daily the access of workers to their urban jobsites.

 

The man in the black coat didn’t have to deal with any of that. He bypassed the lines, no one daring to question him. It was a much smaller elevator than the general access, not quite individual sized, with no clerk hovering near it, only a simple slot to read his access card with a small screen to display the status of the request. A negative result here would incur one of the highest charges of treason and sedition with immediate, deadly results. After a few seconds the screen lit up, displaying in pale blue mechanical lettering: NATHANIEL STILES, CODE 3148839921748x ACCESS APPROVED

 

The golden plate doors split open and Stiles stepped through. He knew now just as he had since the first time he had taken this lift years ago that cameras and recording devices lined the walls of this small metal box, sending recordings of the 25 year old through wires to the daily information processing centers and from there to be filed away in secure databases should the need to recall them ever arise.

 

Stiles looked good and he knew it, his stance and manner almost always a calm confidence bordering on arrogance at times. He likened himself to one of the stars in the old motion pictures locked away in The Government’s vast vaults, real ones, not the trash the State Film Bureau pushed out. He was of slightly above average height on a slim yet muscular frame with short

blonde hair cropped into small spikes.

 

His small neck ended in an angular face with short rounded chin on a square jaw. His lips two small regular shapes of pink, barely parsed and contorted into a sort of snarled smile, white tips of teeth barely visible beyond.

 

His nose was slender, ending at a sharp angle. His eyes were a wide half crescent under a heavy brow; pale blue in color.

 

The nonchalant way he carried himself and conducted what was usually very grim business often served to shock those he was dealing with when he would often seem to shift into another person entirely when he acted with the sudden, immediate ruthlessness needed to survive in this line of work. He was not here for his looks. Those who had spent enough time around him had come to know the extent to which he could perform, but were often left with the residual feeling that it would be unwise to allow him to walk behind you.

 

He wore the semi-standard uniform of agents who served in this particular capacity. A dark coat reaching down to just above the tips of his boots, full of deep pockets and made of heavy leather and blended ballistic resistant material was worn above the inner jacket which was black cloth covering a primary layer of further bullet protection and a simple standard issue military shirt underneath that. Black twill material pants, dark socks, and reinforced combat boots completed the ensemble. It was distinctive and intimidating as well as rugged and protective, and while iconic at a glance even in a crowd it was excellent for hiding in shadow or cover of night.

 

Stiles pressed the single button inside the lift and the unit responded by grudgingly motivating its doors to shut and urging itself to being its regular ascent through the building’s structure. Its destination was unmarked on any of the standard elevators, a special section formed from the 13 through the 15th floors which was dedicated to the sole purpose of housing the operation of Stiles’ employer, The State Special Command Authority of the Bureau of Executive Action and Investigation.

 

The proper noun They was a common catchall term to refer to anyone with any association of any degree greater than the common citizenry with The State, but specifically, when a man sat alone drowned in dread at the imminent doom which was to soon arrive; when a person simply ceased to be, taken away by the ominous dark claws which were never to be named to a place of darkness from which not even light itself could escape, The Bureau, most often unknowingly, were in fact the eponymous They to which the term referred. If The Government was paranoia personified, They were the implied threat in its existence. They were Death on swift wings in bodies of cold blood and iron.

 

That was the myth anyway. The reality was that their specific assigned duty was the identification and immediate elimination of any and all potential threats to State security, including internal regulation of any other State Bodies. This left them often serving as a combination of a dedicated military strike force, a police service, and internal review system for every other branch of The Government, which caused their membership pool to be drawn from select personnel in these Departments across The State. The work would rapidly shift from long stretches of filing miles of paperwork through Government channels to subvert and influence lives, to firebombing tenements and gunning down fleeing survivors from armored aircraft, but no matter the specifics, once this department involved itself only one thing could result: blood, a never ending sea to drown in.

 

Stiles made sure never to forget that last bit, every single one of his compatriots were his accomplices in the filling of a mass grave of an impossible size.

 

He could feel the car slowing, then lurch past its destination and correct itself with a slight degree of force and a groan of metal against metal in the structure around him. The door opened up to the expansive office. This floor and the one above consisted primarily of an open floorplan of rows and rows of desks, workstations commonly covered in paperwork in varying degrees of organization and boxy gray plastic computers with dull green displays. The Third floor was reserved for the small number of higher ranking administrative staff, with individual offices.

 

Stiles strolled quickly past a few other agents to reach his desk, acknowledging the looks of recognition a handful of them gave to him as he passed. He was eager to actually begin his day’s work.

 

His desk was a chaotic disarray of forms coded for a hundred different departments, consisting primarily of printouts of transcripts of electronic correspondence over varying timescales ranging from days to years spread out in the space not dominated by the bulky grey terminal and its square mechanical interface. Many of the names on the papers belonged to people who no longer existed, erased by agency’s special touch, often by Stiles’ own hand. Reading the words of dead men was a duty he served all too often.

 

He directed his attention at a pile on a far corner and sorted rapidly through it, retrieving the thick file,which was held together weakly now by a single thin metal staple whose partner had already escaped and composed of faintly yellow stained stationery heavily worn from so much contact, that had been the focus of his activities recently. Its ink had begun to smear in places, and it was covered in short scribbled notes of Stiles’ doing across its pages.

 

He was extremely familiar with the contents at this point, it was the accumulated profile of a single individual, Citizen Number 91148742676326, a man named Jordan Ralston. At a surface glance he was a citizen of almost extraordinary blandness, a single face lost among billions, but Stiles had learned well long ago not to trust initial evaluations of people. He was certain he could exploit certain opportunities Ralston presented, but for the moment it had exhausted him and left him with little progress to show for his efforts, a personal disappointment for certain, but vastly more important was how he knew it looked in the eyes of-

 

“Stiles,”

 

The Chief. Her voice interrupted his thoughts and her presence demanded his attention.

 

Stiles was privileged to know of many legends and myths that had been prevalent throughout the ancient cultures now lost in the rubble of the world and buried beneath the foundations of The State, but he knew of no one whom he would associate with the term “legendary” except The Chief. She had a veterancy within The Government, the accolades of which Stiles had been subject to since the infancy of his service and which would seem to be the accumulated work of years beyond his lifetime, yet she looked not a day over thirty years.

 

She was tall, towering over Stiles. Her long hair flowed over her shoulders. It was the rich red shade of blood. Her skin was a pallid sheet over a gaunt angular face with a small brow.

 

The Government prized its inability to be personified. It had no public figurehead looming with a scowl over monitors across every street to be its icon. It was an all encompassing mire of shadows that surrounded you at every turn, and penetrated you; pervaded every part of your being. But, in the mind of Nathan Stiles, its identity was most completely embodied within the titanic woman who stood near his desk. Her boots marched calmly across fields of corpses with pause only long enough to reload; her gaze was as firm and cold as the steel in her soul.

 

He quickly unburied his head from the array of papers, looking up to meet her eyes. There was a confidence within them that was almost impossible to find elsewhere. Stiles could never lock vision with her beyond a moment's time, yet he could never completely resist the challenge. In them, there was the piercing force of judgement, a quiet verdict of guilt that he couldn’t bare. It was always there, upon ally and victim alike.

 

Stiles wasn’t afraid of facing a hail of gunfire. He wasn’t afraid of the stories detailing her grim harvests that had been repeated to him. He was deathly afraid of those unwavering pale grey eyes, and worse, the woman behind them.

 

“Don’t bother with that 138, he was a dead end.”

 

Her voice always kurt and full of all of the authority she wielded.

 

“But,” Stiles began to protest.

 

“I’ve dealt with him already,” she answered. He dropped the subject, knowing her meaning. Her words were absolute commandments, never to be questioned.

 

Stiles had been a field operative within The Bureau for a good number of years now, being drafted into service alongside her on his first day dispatched to this office. “Your orders are wrong. Your assignment is dead, you’ll be working with me. Follow closely,” was the first thing she’d said to him.

 

”Don’t disappoint me.” She hadn’t actually said it , but he felt the threat implied and terribly real then and ever since. When he’d attempted a friendly greeting of his new companion, she instantly corrected him, briefly flashing her ID noting her status as the ranking Unit Sub-Captain. That set the tone of their relationship. She wasn’t his friend, his partner, or even his associate, she was his commander and a Government gun at his back, waiting for justification to strike.

 

Considering that all their communication via computer was transmitted based upon their numerical identification codes, and he never had the occasion to need to refer to her by name, he had been forced to invent his own nickname, which she had seemingly accepted as suitable enough to allow to persist. It would be over a complete year of working with her on a daily basis before he learned even her last name, Grahm, and this was second hand through their Commander requesting her presence in his office. Her first name would take much longer to discover and under circumstances Stiles deeply regretted.

 

“I’m guessing you’ve found the lead I’ve been looking for. Alright,” he said as she brought flame to a fresh cigarette. Smoke was his answer.

 

It was rare to ever see a minute pass without her smoking for its duration. Cigarettes were heavily restricted, and completely banned for a majority of Citizens. They were coveted by those above them who were rarely distributed packages. Because of this cigarettes were commonly traded as currency in place of the proper Requisition Notes for things such as bread, water, or electric service and held at a higher value by those who had the ability to do so.

 

Agents of their caste possessed the luxury of near unlimited access to cigarettes and other controlled contraband, but still most refrained from exploiting it to anywhere near the degree to which The Chief did so. Stiles himself always kept a single one, of the high grade variety which were marked with a distinctive clearly visible green band, on his person for the express purpose of utilizing its instant capability to make it immediately known the available wealth of Government power its wielder had. Naturally, this was incredibly valuable for its remarkable intimidation factor in situations where it would be inconvenient to make it clear what his exact qualifications were.

 

She had already turned and began walking away. He hastily returned the file to its place in the ramshackle filing system that no one would understand but him that controlled the placement of the sheets upon his desk, assured that he wouldn’t need to recall it perhaps ever again, and instinctively followed after her stroll to the auxiliary elevator across the floor.

"That which you do not know, is not a moral charge against you; but that which you refuse to know, is an account of infamy growing in your soul. Make every allowance for errors of knowledge; do not forgive or accept any breach of morality."

Share this post


Link to post

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in the community.

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  


  • Who's Online   0 Members, 0 Anonymous, 42 Guests (See full list)

    • There are no registered users currently online
×
×
  • Create New...

This website uses cookies, as do most websites since the 90s. By using this site, you consent to cookies. We have to say this or we get in trouble. Learn more.