The loud crunching of snow underfoot gave evidence to his theory. He was being followed. Howling winds roared through the valley, creating a swirling vortex of powerful air, pushing against him in all directions, contorting his body awkwardly. Jack, now aware of an assailant, drew his .45 and stopped. He concentrated on any sound coming from behind him. There was nothing, only the thump of the wind hitting trees in his vicinity. The snap of a twig alerted him of the presence on his left. Swinging his arm around, he fired once, twice, three times. Two of the bullets missed their mark, instead ploughing into a tree, but the other hit his attacker in the arm who yowled in pain and began to charge, a large knife apparent in hand, the blades outline was that of a katana. Without thought Jack fired a forth bullet. It whizzed passed the charging attacker harmlessly. The wind was making it hard to aim. Steadying his arm he tried again, this time it ricocheted off a tree, a fragment burying itself into Jack’s own leg. He fired again and again until the clip was empty. The man kept coming. He tried to throw the gun at the katana wielding maniac, but the man was able to duck just in time before driving his blade solidly into Jacks chest. For a moment he tried to breath, but the imploded ribs in his right side denied him. The attacker withdrew the blade and Jack slumped to the floor, gasping frantically. Blood spurted from the wound, colouring the snow around his convulsing body. The man wiped his katana on Jack’s sweatshirt. He then sheathed the blade and twisted around.

‘When you are warned to stay away, you should take that advice. The master said he would not be responsible for any actions he partook in after you ignored this warning. Have fun in the afterlife,’ he glanced back towards the body and spat, muttering his disgust. Game over appeared on the screen.

‘Why the fuck does that always happen! It’s so bloody hard to aim!’ Jack pressed pause on the controller and tossed it to the floor. ‘Seriously, this game is stupid; it’s so hard to kill that guy the aiming is way off.’

‘Well it is meant to be one of the hardest games to complete this generation,’ said Adrian. In his hand were two cans of cola. He threw one to Jack, who managed to clasp it in his hand after fumbling.

‘Yeah you say that, but that’s a lie… you seen that game that makes you travel into a dungeon with only a light? I mean the graphics rock, almost photorealistic but the game play just plain sucks. The graphics in this piece of crap are good but I mean I can’t get passed this level, he always comes from a different angle.’

‘Just admit it man,’ Adrian smiled, ‘the games smarter than you are. Rebecca Colshaw is smarter than you are, hell even the special kids are smarter than you.’ His thick southern American accent seemed to add insult to injury for Jack, who just sat, despondent, watching the 22” TV screen flicker in the pause menu.

‘Yeah… look, it’s not my fault I am not smart okay. Blame my Dad I mean he might be good with ships engines but I think he dropped me on me head at birth’

Adrian laughed, walked to the couch and cupped the control up, un-pausing the game.

‘I dunno man you’re Dad doesn’t look too clumsy, but with all these Brits on here eating their curry we need someone to clean the toilets.’

‘Oh yeah good joke smart man. We are people to you know!’ Jack stood up, enraged by his new friend’s attitude. Everywhere he went on the Transport Class 7 Freighter en route to Mars he found idiots who seemed to love jeering at him for being a “limey”. It wouldn’t bother him but for the fact that he had lost everything thanks to them in the first place. Britain and half of Europe were destroyed, the result of a nuclear war between the USA and the New Soviet Union.

‘I know you’re people. I’m sorry dude, don’t take it personally I didn’t really mean it that way okay I am just a bit loose with my tongue lately. To be honest I don’t care about British guys being on board I am more concerned with them Middle Eastern people that keep to themselves. They might be terrorists or something.’

Jack sighed. The Middle Eastern trio that had been picked up from a New York port two weeks ago were indeed mysterious. Not least because the Middle East had been nearly annihilated already and the continuous civil wars raging in the region meant that people rarely escaped the closed borders. The world had gone to shit, and Jack was angry because he had been there to see it. He had lost his mother and sister in a nuclear blast. His own fortune only happened because his Father, being one who liked to pass on skills to his offspring, allowed him to trek along to the space centre in Cape Town, South Africa. There he was actually allowed to be part of the first group of non-US nationals to travel to the Martian colony. With his other parent and sibling dead, there was nothing left on Earth for Jack anyway.

‘It’s alright Adrian I know what you are like, but remember my family got killed hey it’s nothing to laugh about.’

Adrian surveyed the room trying to avoid the accusing gaze of Jack. It was a cold, menacing, emotionless bare space, much like the rest of the freighter which had been originally constructed to ferry quantities of resources from one colony to another. The metallic walls created a claustrophobic feel, and grey coloured carpet did little to rectify this. There was a bunk behind the sofa they were seated on. Adrian got top bunk, which he felt was appropriate, his father was the man in charge of security in the capacity filled vessel. More than two thousand people were aboard, some of which had to sleep on makeshift beds near the engines because there was little space. Despite Adrian’s attempt at mockery, Jack’s father was in fact an important man on board. He was an engineer and in charge of keeping the engines running smoothly. He was only a little bit less important than his father.

‘I am sorry man, I really am. It’s just boring around here you know. I can only take so much of the game. Console 219 off.’ With that command the machine shut down leaving the screen blank. Adrian stood up and climbed onto his bed, sipping from the can of cola.
Jack remained in the sofa, his mind wandering back to Earth and its polluted atmosphere. He hadn’t touched the can.

The End

1 comment about this story Feed