Ch. 2 'Atonement'

 

“Noah, there’s water over here!” I turned to the subway and looked for Merrick. Lights in the subway flickered like from a cliché horror movie. Glass lay scattered amongst large pieces of concrete that had collapsed from support beams and the ruptured ceiling. In the fires light they shimmered and reflected a northern lights show on the ceramic tiled walls. As I continued in the direction of Merrick’s voice I noticed the bathrooms. Porcelain fragments of the toilet, sinks, and windows were mixed in large chunks of wood inside, blood was splattered on the entrance wall. Suddenly a hand grabbed me from behind, without a thought, I twisted the aggressors arm and brought my empty rifle to his face. Merrick’s eyes just glinted back as I released his arm.

“Nice reaction time,” he grinned “still want the water?” I took the water, staring at the simple pleasure that, for most of my life, I had taken for granted. Why was I alive, what did I have to look forward to? Hell on earth didn’t exactly ease my thoughts. Electricity crackled through the one of the broken trains and a scream tore at my ears. I shivered, falling to my knees, memories came flooding back, flashes of a young women and child giggling on a front porch. Their voices echoing in my ears.

“Noah, come to dinner!”

 “Come on daddy.”

The almost ghostly figures materialized in a scene before me. They walked into the kitchen and sat at the homey dinner table. The women smiled.

“I never want this moment to end! Say my name…Say my-”“Noah!” The voice shot through the memories, shocking me back to reality. My sight flickered back to the blackened subway. Merrick stood above me, sweating bullets as he sat me up. He was shaking and very agitated.

“Merrick are you-”

“I’m…fine” he growled weakly. He slowly stood then helped me up.

“Come on there’s food this way.” We walked through the rubble and roach infested hallway. Ahead was a familiar neon sign with a big M. McDonalds, I gapped at our luck but I wasn’t going to question fate. Merrick went around behind the counter and pulled out a large dusty crate of food. We both sat at a table as my stomach growled audibly.

“You should put some of those water bottles in your bag just in case.” I nodded and place four large bottles in my backpack.

I don’t know how long we were sitting in the half destroyed McDonalds, eating the leftovers from orders before the blast. Finally Merrick stood and headed for the door, taking a bite of the last burger I followed after him.

“We have to find a way out of here,” Merrick spat over his shoulder. We moved from train car to train car, hoping there was one we could use to back track to a better station. Merrick poked his head into the next train car; I followed and wasn’t prepared for what I saw. Blood and bodies were lying on the seats and twisted metal. Merrick turned away and walking but I was glued to the spot. Encased in the gore and destruction of the car was the figure of woman. She twitched as she looked up from her slumped position, she didn’t speak or make a sound. Her glazed emerald eyes just looked and pleaded with her eyes.

“Merrick,” I yelled “there’s a woman over here!”

“There are plenty of woman in this accursed city, I didn’t know you liked ‘em cold. Remind me not to intrude when you’re having a moment.”

“No, she’s alive!”

Merrick froze, looked at me, fear flashed behind his darkened eyes. He slowly moved to the car and looked at the woman, caught in the illusion of her life. She had darkened brown hair that flowed down her shoulders, illuminating the slight tan of her golden skin. Merrick looked at me with a deep anger in his eyes, I knew, he knew. I jumped at him taking him to the ground. He shot me a twisted grin as a searing pain shot through my head. Merrick threw me off as he took control. He grew more and more in control, laughing as I became the apparition he once was. I slowly became trapped in the cage Merrick was once in.

He had been a second personality of mine growing up and was almost like a brother and when anything bad happened he was always there, non-existent to everyone else but me. He had never taken control of me before and now I was the one being trapped in the darkness.  The last thing I saw through my own eyes was Merrick’s twisted smile.

“Ah, Noah… I always knew you were weak but thinking about your wife and kids?! We can’t have any of that.” Noah sat on the ground weakly in front of me, now he was going to play hallucination.

“Leave her out of this Merrick,” he coughed “she had done nothing to you.”

I picked him up by the collar, bringing him right up to my face.

“Quite the contrary, she brought back those…” I shuddered “memories, you remember don’t you, left us these scars too!” 

I pulled back the camouflage sleeve from my wrist to my elbow. Noah looked at his arm, he remembered what happened. That night in his house, it was pouring rain. Dinner was ready and

 Noah’s wife and child had just sat down for dinner. I shook my head.

“That’s enough reminiscing; now let’s take care of this woman before we have anymore nasty thoughts about home. I pulled a fresh clip from my back pack and slapped it into the rifle. Noah tried to stand but he fell in a weakened stupor. I racked the bolt and placed the cold barrel of my gun against the woman’s head. Tears began to fall from her eyes as she whimpered at her own mortality.  I glanced back to Noah, he was crying too. Then I felt it, a tear fell down my face. I whipped it away and redirected my attention to the woman.

“Sorry, but in this world it’s better to be humane than loving,” I growled. With a defined conviction, I pulled the trigger.  Her head opened like a flower splattering brain and blood across my face and uniform. I backed out and shut the train car door.

“You sick freak!” Noah’s voice rang out in the eerie silence. I looked at him, violently shaking with rage. He glared at me, the readiness to kill burning rebelliously behind his mellow blue eyes.

“It had to be done,” I whispered. Noah forced himself to his feet and began to stagger towards me. “Noah I onl-” Noah threw a left hook that crashed into my face like a freight train and tossed me against the dirty and cracked ground. I could have avoided it, but I didn’t. Some force of feeling had surfaced inside me, which I couldn’t quell. In some sick way, I guess I deserved it after all the horror I had brought to him. I had tortured and killed the two people he had loved the most. He had to sit and watch as I murdered his child and his beautiful wife. Then I doused their bodies in gasoline and set the house ablaze. The police never suspected me, but how could they see was Noah weeping, knowing that the murder was there the entire time. He was in shambles for months after that night. In the end I hid the memory and kept it hidden until now.

“I only did it to protect you!” I said spitting the blood from my mouth. This was the first time I felt the experience of fiery emotion burning in the pit of my stomach. “I swear Noah It wa-”.

“Liar!” Noah screamed kicking me hard in the ribs. The sharp pain tore through my chest knocking the wind out of me, sending the ache like lightning up my spine. I rolled onto my back, trying to breathe in the dying air. Noah just stood there, angry and vengeful. He wasn’t finished but the exhaustion of emotion and our previous ordeal with the mechanical beast had finally caught up with him. He collapsed next to me, sobbing into his arms.

“Oh Linea, my sweet Linea…” His heart broken cries over took the calling for his wife. With reserved disgust, I slowly sat up and looked at him. I couldn’t take it,, not matter how much Noah and I hated each other we were still a part of the same person. Wincing at my cracked ribs, I moved next to Noah and wrapped my arms around him.

“I’m so sorry Noah…” was all I could manage without sobbing myself. Then I felt the stinging sensation of tears on my face. Emotion was something I was used to but they were there running rampant in my head. They were bringing us back to the one person we used to be. I quickly retracted from Noah, grabbed my gun, and stood. Noah looked up at me defeated.

“Come on,” I said coldly, staring off into the darkness ahead.

“Why go anywhere? There’s nothing left!” he sniffed. I spun around on my heels half surprised, half perturbed at Noah’s new pessimism.

“There’s always something left!” With that I took off into the train station, running past shops and newspaper stands. It was like a museum. They were artifacts of the not so distant past; strollers, purses, luggage, and many other items that had once held value to someone. Now they were a standing monument to the chaos of the Darkest Day. After walking for another 10 minutes I saw it. A small glint of light, freedom.

“Noah, “I called over my shoulder as the sound of footsteps thumped behind me. We moved closer and closer to the exit that manifested in a half bent door. I kicked the door off its remaining hinges. I hurried up the steps and onto the sidewalk. When we emerged I felt disgust and anger, but I also saw a strange beauty in the bloody skies and burning landscapes. The devastation wrought upon humanity was complete. Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory must have been atomized as well. Leaving all the souls nowhere but this earth to remain upon.

“A harsh but not undeserved atonement for our sins wouldn’t you agree?”“Noah, there’s water over here!” I turned to the subway and looked for Merrick. Lights in the subway flickered like from a cliché horror movie. Glass lay scattered amongst large pieces of concrete that had collapsed from support beams and the ruptured ceiling. In the fires light they shimmered and reflected a northern lights show on the ceramic tiled walls. As I continued in the direction of Merrick’s voice I noticed the bathrooms. Porcelain fragments of the toilet, sinks, and windows were mixed in large chunks of wood inside, blood was splattered on the entrance wall. Suddenly a hand grabbed me from behind, without a thought, I twisted the aggressors arm and brought my empty rifle to his face. Merrick’s eyes just glinted back as I released his arm.

“Nice reaction time,” he grinned “still want the water?” I took the water, staring at the simple pleasure that, for most of my life, I had taken for granted. Why was I alive, what did I have to look forward to? Hell on earth didn’t exactly ease my thoughts. Electricity crackled through the one of the broken trains and a scream tore at my ears. I shivered, falling to my knees, memories came flooding back, flashes of a young women and child giggling on a front porch. Their voices echoing in my ears.

“Noah, come to dinner!”

 “Come on daddy.”

The almost ghostly figures materialized in a scene before me. They walked into the kitchen and sat at the homey dinner table. The women smiled.

“I never want this moment to end! Say my name…Say my-”“Noah!” The voice shot through the memories, shocking me back to reality. My sight flickered back to the blackened subway. Merrick stood above me, sweating bullets as he sat me up. He was shaking and very agitated.

“Merrick are you-”

“I’m…fine” he growled weakly. He slowly stood then helped me up.

“Come on there’s food this way.” We walked through the rubble and roach infested hallway. Ahead was a familiar neon sign with a big M. McDonalds, I gapped at our luck but I wasn’t going to question fate. Merrick went around behind the counter and pulled out a large dusty crate of food. We both sat at a table as my stomach growled audibly.

“You should put some of those water bottles in your bag just in case.” I nodded and place four large bottles in my backpack.

I don’t know how long we were sitting in the half destroyed McDonalds, eating the leftovers from orders before the blast. Finally Merrick stood and headed for the door, taking a bite of the last burger I followed after him.

“We have to find a way out of here,” Merrick spat over his shoulder. We moved from train car to train car, hoping there was one we could use to back track to a better station. Merrick poked his head into the next train car; I followed and wasn’t prepared for what I saw. Blood and bodies were lying on the seats and twisted metal. Merrick turned away and walking but I was glued to the spot. Encased in the gore and destruction of the car was the figure of woman. She twitched as she looked up from her slumped position, she didn’t speak or make a sound. Her glazed emerald eyes just looked and pleaded with her eyes.

“Merrick,” I yelled “there’s a woman over here!”

“There are plenty of woman in this accursed city, I didn’t know you liked ‘em cold. Remind me not to intrude when you’re having a moment.”

“No, she’s alive!”

Merrick froze, looked at me, fear flashed behind his darkened eyes. He slowly moved to the car and looked at the woman, caught in the illusion of her life. She had darkened brown hair that flowed down her shoulders, illuminating the slight tan of her golden skin. Merrick looked at me with a deep anger in his eyes, I knew, he knew. I jumped at him taking him to the ground. He shot me a twisted grin as a searing pain shot through my head. Merrick threw me off as he took control. He grew more and more in control, laughing as I became the apparition he once was. I slowly became trapped in the cage Merrick was once in.

He had been a second personality of mine growing up and was almost like a brother and when anything bad happened he was always there, non-existent to everyone else but me. He had never taken control of me before and now I was the one being trapped in the darkness.  The last thing I saw through my own eyes was Merrick’s twisted smile.

“Ah, Noah… I always knew you were weak but thinking about your wife and kids?! We can’t have any of that.” Noah sat on the ground weakly in front of me, now he was going to play hallucination.

“Leave her out of this Merrick,” he coughed “she had done nothing to you.”

I picked him up by the collar, bringing him right up to my face.

“Quite the contrary, she brought back those…” I shuddered “memories, you remember don’t you, left us these scars too!” 

I pulled back the camouflage sleeve from my wrist to my elbow. Noah looked at his arm, he remembered what happened. That night in his house, it was pouring rain. Dinner was ready and

 Noah’s wife and child had just sat down for dinner. I shook my head.

“That’s enough reminiscing; now let’s take care of this woman before we have anymore nasty thoughts about home. I pulled a fresh clip from my back pack and slapped it into the rifle. Noah tried to stand but he fell in a weakened stupor. I racked the bolt and placed the cold barrel of my gun against the woman’s head. Tears began to fall from her eyes as she whimpered at her own mortality.  I glanced back to Noah, he was crying too. Then I felt it, a tear fell down my face. I whipped it away and redirected my attention to the woman.

“Sorry, but in this world it’s better to be humane than loving,” I growled. With a defined conviction, I pulled the trigger.  Her head opened like a flower splattering brain and blood across my face and uniform. I backed out and shut the train car door.

“You sick freak!” Noah’s voice rang out in the eerie silence. I looked at him, violently shaking with rage. He glared at me, the readiness to kill burning rebelliously behind his mellow blue eyes.

“It had to be done,” I whispered. Noah forced himself to his feet and began to stagger towards me. “Noah I onl-” Noah threw a left hook that crashed into my face like a freight train and tossed me against the dirty and cracked ground. I could have avoided it, but I didn’t. Some force of feeling had surfaced inside me, which I couldn’t quell. In some sick way, I guess I deserved it after all the horror I had brought to him. I had tortured and killed the two people he had loved the most. He had to sit and watch as I murdered his child and his beautiful wife. Then I doused their bodies in gasoline and set the house ablaze. The police never suspected me, but how could they see was Noah weeping, knowing that the murder was there the entire time. He was in shambles for months after that night. In the end I hid the memory and kept it hidden until now.

“I only did it to protect you!” I said spitting the blood from my mouth. This was the first time I felt the experience of fiery emotion burning in the pit of my stomach. “I swear Noah It wa-”.

“Liar!” Noah screamed kicking me hard in the ribs. The sharp pain tore through my chest knocking the wind out of me, sending the ache like lightning up my spine. I rolled onto my back, trying to breathe in the dying air. Noah just stood there, angry and vengeful. He wasn’t finished but the exhaustion of emotion and our previous ordeal with the mechanical beast had finally caught up with him. He collapsed next to me, sobbing into his arms.

“Oh Linea, my sweet Linea…” His heart broken cries over took the calling for his wife. With reserved disgust, I slowly sat up and looked at him. I couldn’t take it,, not matter how much Noah and I hated each other we were still a part of the same person. Wincing at my cracked ribs, I moved next to Noah and wrapped my arms around him.

“I’m so sorry Noah…” was all I could manage without sobbing myself. Then I felt the stinging sensation of tears on my face. Emotion was something I was used to but they were there running rampant in my head. They were bringing us back to the one person we used to be. I quickly retracted from Noah, grabbed my gun, and stood. Noah looked up at me defeated.

“Come on,” I said coldly, staring off into the darkness ahead.

“Why go anywhere? There’s nothing left!” he sniffed. I spun around on my heels half surprised, half perturbed at Noah’s new pessimism.

“There’s always something left!” With that I took off into the train station, running past shops and newspaper stands. It was like a museum. They were artifacts of the not so distant past; strollers, purses, luggage, and many other items that had once held value to someone. Now they were a standing monument to the chaos of the Darkest Day. After walking for another 10 minutes I saw it. A small glint of light, freedom.

“Noah, “I called over my shoulder as the sound of footsteps thumped behind me. We moved closer and closer to the exit that manifested in a half bent door. I kicked the door off its remaining hinges. I hurried up the steps and onto the sidewalk. When we emerged I felt disgust and anger, but I also saw a strange beauty in the bloody skies and burning landscapes. The devastation wrought upon humanity was complete. Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory must have been atomized as well. Leaving all the souls nowhere but this earth to remain upon.

“A harsh but not undeserved atonement for our sins wouldn’t you agree?”

The End

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