Sunday, May 10, 2009

Filial Piety

Darkness…just darkness. Yet something was changing, tiny cracks appeared in the ai-

PAIN! Burning…agonizing...PAIN! Searing, flashing, crawling through her nerves, tearing at her soul! A thousand knives, a hundred bee stings, nothing could compare to this. Every fiber of her body was aflame, every sense in turmoil, every thought consumed in chaos. Her memories swirled, like broken wrecks in the storm, occasionally flashing out at her, dragging her into their midst…


“Happy birthday to you…happy birthday to you…”

The song stopped, as the gathered people erupted into cheers. There upon the marble table was an enormous chocolate cake, crowned with candles, cream and strawberries spilling over the sides. A little girl sat behind the massive wall of confectionary, her face partially obscured by the sheer size of the cake.

“Smile dear!”



The pain was back, stabbing through the fog in her mind. It wasn’t as intense, thankfully, but her entire body still felt like it had went through a very blunt blending machine. She could feel her limbs now, and judging from the dull aches she was receiving most of her body was still intact. Yet she couldn’t move. Her muscles wouldn’t respond. Neither would her eyes, or her face. Her whole body was numb, numb from the pain.

Yet this meant one thing: she was alive. She couldn’t move, but she was still alive. She could wait. She could think. Yet…yet the question remained;

Who was she?


The same little girl again, except that her soft young face seemed somewhat older and paler, while beads of sweat encrusted her brow. The girl’s eyes fluttered open at the sounds of her approach, accompanied by a barely audible groan.

“Still sick?”


“Poor dear. Here, have some chicken soup,” a hand…her hand(?) reached out with the bowl. In the memory, she was speaking:

“Keeps the body healthy and strong”


“Feeling better?”

“Mmm…*slurp*” a tiny nod and a smile.

“That’s good. Still have the lucky bracelet I gave you?”

“Mhm…*slurp*” a small silver chain flashed in the fading evening’s light. The string of letters gleamed: To Kim, <3 from Mom

“Then you’d be fine. Sleep well dear,” she made to close the door…



“D’ya think that some day, if you’re ill I could *cough* look after you too?”

Miranda smiled. Kids these days…

“Heh, why not? But you still need to get well first. Goodnight sweetie.”




Miranda. She remembered her name now. Miranda. And her daughter…

Kim…it was her birthday three days ago. Just three days ago. The bracelet was a gift…or had it been more than three days? How long had she been out?

Explosions. Screams. A blinding light…

The panic rose in her, like an ugly tide threatening to overrun the shore, yet she had no way of showing it. Her body was still paralyzed, unmoving, and unresponsive to her mental commands to scream, to shake, to simply break down and cry. The shelter had been ready but they had been too slow…

She could feel now though. Her sense of touch had returned, bringing with it full awareness of the pain and aches that wracked her body, and the occasional hallucination: the feeling of another person’s soft touch, a sense of contact that she barely felt, somewhere at the edge of consciousness, the feeling of someone holding her up…



The Air Sirens blared, though their screams arrived too late. Miranda was the first to react, grabbing the nearest two boxes of provisions and running into the basement shelter where they would be protected, surrounded by its blast-proof walls.

“KIM!” she screamed, throwing the last of the water into the corner, “forget the rest of the food! Get into the shelter NOW!”

There was a series of loud thunks as her daughter dropped what she was carrying and hurdled down the stairs. The pattering of her feet echoed off the wooden steps, only to be drowned out by the sudden hum of airplanes overhead...

“KIM!” she cried, her voice masked by the soft whistling sound in the background, growing louder…louder…

Miranda screamed, as the world exploded in a flurry of noise and light.



Pain. Too much pain. Before, she had been like a disconnected server, detached and removed. Now it was like someone had reconnected a cable, sending a flood of information through her senses, overloading her fragile mind.

The explosion. Bricks flying apart. Fire, smoke and light. Brilliant, blazing light. Cries. Destruction. Light, then darkness. And her daughter, still halfway down the stairway, still trying to make it to safety...fading away…

She felt herself being lifted, felt a cool hand sooth her back, holding her tight. Her screaming stopped as her lungs ran out of air. Almost immediately a warm bowl was pressed against her lips before Miranda could gather air for another round. Her emotions raged against the interruption, roaring to get free.

Gradually, her breathing slowed. The bowl still remained, held steady by an unseen hand.

Miranda relaxed.

The bowl shifted slightly, causing a thick, hot liquid to seep through her teeth. Only then was Miranda made aware of how hungry she was. Swallowing was painful, but somehow, she managed it. One gulp. Two gulps. She could feel the warmth spreading through her limbs, breathing life into their cells.

It was soup. Chicken soup in fact. Half-cooked with lumps of preservatives still floating in the broth, but soup nonetheless. Miranda felt her being slowly laid down onto what seemed to be a mattress of sorts, as she gradually drifted back to sleep…



No one was sure about how the war had started. Some say it was the economy, having finally fallen apart after years of patches and billion-dollar injection funds. Others say it was the terrorists, or North Korea, or even Armageddon. Either way, the outcome was the same. Biotechnology, nuclear power…forces once used for production and protection, turned into weapons of mass destruction.

The sirens had come too late. By the time the two of them had reached the base the bombers were already overhead. She had been deep inside, shielded by the stacks of food and water, wrapped in a bio-hazard blanket. But her daughter…

Her mind retreated, pulling away from the memory like a frightened dog, instinctively trying to avoid the pain and sorrow she felt. Instead, Miranda distracted herself with the outside world, focusing on the texture of the mattress, the coolness of the air, the warmth of someone’s body…

Someone was next to her. Someone small. Dimly she knew that this was the same someone who had been feeding her. The same someone who had been watching over her all this while.

Someone was shaking. Crying. Whispering words she could not hear.

Something hot ran down her waist and onto the cold, hard floor.

Miranda didn’t need to think. Her body simply reacted. Despite the pain, despite the effort it took to lift just one little finger, Miranda slowly lifted her arm, bringing it over Someone’s back, her fingers brushing against it, soothingly, lovingly…

The shaking stopped. The whisperings ceased, to be replaced by a soft, shallow breathing. Hair, said her fingers. No, too long for hair. Almost like fur…

Comforted and comforting, Miranda let herself go, drifting slowly back to sleep...


“Hey,” the voice was rough, authoritative, “Hey! You still alive?”

Miranda awoke, to a blinding light. The events of the past few…days…weeks (?) flowed through her mind, pieces fitting together like a simple puzzle being put together at last.

Gradually, as the glow faded to tolerable levels, Miranda looked franctically around, trying to figure where she was. Before her were three men in bio-warfare suits, masks and all. Two of them were carrying guns, while the third was unarmed with one hand grasped on her shoulder, trying to shake her awake.

“Wha-” her voice cracked, as she swallowed and tried again. “What happened?”

She was in the shelter, or so it seemed. The entire front wall where the door was had been blasted to pieces. Piles of twisted metal, mortar and blackened stone framed the entrance, blocking it completely, save for a single small hole by the side. What once had been her basement…was now a smoking mixture of steel and rubble.

“Yer town got a double-whammy the other day,” continued the Suit, tapping on its wrist screen, “First a Rubblemaker to clear out the buildings, then sort sorta bio-weapon. Good thing you were in the basement when the first one hit. I reckon the debris protected ya from the second strike. Really nasty stuff that turned people into friggin mutants, would y’believe it? Bloody things caused even more damage…”

Her eyes were drawn to where two other men in bio-hazard suits were standing around a large mass of fur. Looking closely, it seemed vaguely humanoid in shape…

“…found yer half-buried in this house here, funny thing is that it seemed part of the wall’ere had collapsed see, only that that creature over there somehow managed to dig through with only its claws. Tis lucky that we got to you then, no telling what them mutants might have been trying to do, with their…”

Miranda would have continued listening, if the words had mattered, but somehow they didn’t. Nothing seemed to matter at that point. The voice faded. The background faded. The numbness returned, with doubled intensity, all dams now broken, all currents thoroughly released. Some part of her was aware that she was crying now, that the paramedic was trying to console her, but Miranda did not care…

One by one the walls and debris fell away, consumed by darkness, as the scene drew her in, filling her entire view. The world consisted of only two things: Herself…

…and the small silver bracelet on the furred creature’s hand.


Sometimes when I sleep these scenes tear through my mind, like some sort of drug-fueled emotional high, leaving me breathless and numb in the middle of the night.

Was there any point to this? I don't know. I guess I just wanted to share.

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