Terra

2014

Earth, late 2014.

The entire planet is in ruin. The ground is bare and cracked, not a single living plant or shred of grass in sight. Buildings have crumbled to the ground, only the strongest built structures remain standing. The ice caps have melted and cities that were once inland are now coastal. The sky is no longer blue, it’s a murky dull orange, and the atmosphere is toxic.

Yet life here still exists.

Outside a completely abandoned shopping mall in what was once Washington DC, stand a man and his two teenage children. Once upon a time, this would have been a simple shopping trip. Now it’s a mission.

The three of them are dressed in nothing more than sweat pants, t shirts and old tattered shoes. Each of them is also carrying a backpack. Although the air is toxic they aren’t wearing gas masks. But then that’s because they don’t need to, not this family.

“Okay I can’t stress enough that you two need stay together.” Their father tells the two teenagers. He’s a tall man of about 6’3”, with pale skin, sapphire blue eyes and almost golden hair. He looks completely normal, but looks are deceiving.

The two teenagers with him also look completely normal. One boy, one girl. The boy just a few inches shorter than his father, with the same pale skin, golden hair and bright sapphire blue eyes. The girl is shorter, with auburn hair, yet the same pale skin and amazing sapphire blue eyes. In fact all three of them have eyes so blue that from one look, you would know that these are no ordinary human beings.

“When we go in, Zoe you get as many clothes, blankets as you can. Xander you get batteries, flashlights, toiletries, first aid supplies, pain killers, the works. I’m gonna go get as much food as I possibly can and we’ll meet back at this point in 30 minutes you got that?” The father instructs, to which the two teenagers just nod.

“Thank you for letting us come.” The son speaks up. The father just smiles and nods for them to follow him.

“Zoe whatever you do remember do not take your gloves off.” The father speaks to the daughter. “No matter what. If there are people in here don’t be tempted okay?”

“Okay.” The daughter replies.

With that the father leads the way into the mall, through an opening that once had a door, but is now just a big hole.

Inside is like an abandoned war zone. Human bones lay scattered across the floor, covered in copious amounts of dust. The stores all have their shutters open, proof that when the apocalypse happened, this place was very much open and alive. The people who were here had no time, no warning. It’s heart breaking to see, and heartbreaking to think of the anguish these people more than likely went through.

Without a word the father points towards a clothing store, and the two teenagers nod.

“Be safe.” The father whispers, and then leaves the two teenagers to go into the store he’s pointed to.

‘Can you still hear me?’

Both of the teenagers look at each other, and then look round to the door of the store they have just walked into. They haven’t heard the voice verbally, but the fact they can still hear it is a great comfort to them.

‘Yeah’ the boy replies using telepathy, the power to communicate through thoughts.

‘Okay good I’m going downstairs, I’ll see you in 30 minutes.’ They both hear their father again, and turn their attention back to stuffing as many items of clothing as possible into the girl’s backpack.

“Not too many.” She tells her brother. “We still need to fit 3 blankets in there.”

The boy nods, and goes off in search of blankets, it’s not the sort of store that would stock them, but the accessories section might have something.

Suddenly, a crunch echoes out through completely silent mall. In the still and the silence, the sound is amplified. Both teenagers stop, and stand to attention. Somebody else is here, just as their father had feared.

‘Xander.’ The girl speaks through thought.

‘Stay here.’ Her brother tells her.

‘Where are you going?’ The girl asks.

‘Just stay here.’ The boy replies. ‘And keep your gloves on’

“Xander!” The girl raises her actual voice, and then quickly covers her mouth, watching as her brother walks out on her. Silently the girl sits down on the floor, and crawls over to the cash register desk. She sits with her back resting against the dusty and dank structure, and pulls her back pack into her lap.

‘Dad?’ She calls out in her mind.

‘Everything okay?’ She hears her father’s voice.

‘Xander left me’ She replies. ‘And someone’s here.’

Downstairs, the man’s blood runs cold and billions of goosebumps cover his body as he hears his daughter’s words in his head. Within seconds her screams can be heard, and the man knows he has to get back up to her.

Moving as fast as he can the man drops his own backpack and takes off out of the store he’s in to race upstairs.

“Zoe!” He cries out loudly, not caring if anyone hears him. He has to get to her. In the years that they’ve been living their lives like this the man has come to realise that his children have a bounty on their heads by the remaining humans of the planet. Their death sentence by beheading has been set, along with a reward for their capture. If there are humans here, he has to get them out, now.

Back upstairs, the girl runs as fast as she can up motionless escalators, trying desperately to find her brother. Behind her, a tall man completely covered from head to toe I. Black protective clothing and gear chases her. His face shielded by a gas mask. In his hands he carries a blood stained axe, and swings it her way every so often. As they reach the top floor of the mall, the girl trips and falls to the ground giving her assailant a chance to catch up with her, only he suddenly finds his axe flying out of his hands of its own accord, and into the girl’s own gloved hands.

The man stand completely stunned for a second, as if trying to comprehend what he has just seen. It’s a mistake that costs him dearly as in those few moments, an invisible force strikes him, and he falls back down the escalator. Upon hitting the bottom, none other than the girl’s brother appears before him, tangled up with him in a heap at the bottom of the now still escalator. The man in the gas mask though, remains determined, and whilst the boy is faltering, the man slips a knife out of his pocket, and holds it high, ready to strike. The strike never comes though. Instead, silence.

“Zoe? Xander?” The teenagers’ father calls out as he reaches them, and then stops in his tracks when he sees his daughter at the top of the escalator, his son at the bottom, the now unconscious human man, and yet another human. This one even taller, about the same height as the siblings’ father.

“Go.” He tells the three of them. “Take your bags and go. It’s not safe for you here.”

“Thank you.” The father speaks to this mystery human man, and helps his son up, as his daughter comes running down to them.

“What’s your name?” The father asks.

“Just go.” The human male replies. “My name isn’t important but your children are.”

The father doesn’t have to be told twice, he simply nods and begins leading the way out.

Once outside, the three of them stop for a second just to take a breather. Looking back up at the building the girl can see the man who tried to attack her stood in a window watching them. It strikes fear in her heart, and she knows she has to get back to their shelter.

“You dick.” The father scolds the boy as he hits him across the back of the head while they walk. “I told you to stay together and you fucking left!”

“I left because we heard someone! And I had to go check it out!” The boy argues.

“You know your sister can’t be left alone!” The father scolds again. “Now just walk, let’s go. Come on.”

With no more words, the three of them all walk, not once looking back at where they had come from. They walk and walk , down empty roads. Every street is covered in dust. Cars stand still, human remains litter the pavements. Dead trees and crumbling buildings line the roads. Life here has simply just stopped. There isn’t a sound, no movement, nothing. It’s just a complete ghost town. The only sound that can be heard, is the faint crashing of waves on the shore a couple of blocks away.

The shelter they’re headed to, is located along the shore. What was once a busy city street, is now a shoreline, with toxic waters hitting the buildings, causing the structures to corrode and fall. Along this street a little way, there is a parking lot with a gate at the far side of it. It’s through this gate that the father and his children go, and head through a concealed door, before closing it after them, and heading down five flights of stairs, and then through yet another door.

The first thing any of them do is empty the contents of the backpacks that they have managed to bring back, and scatter the items across the floor. Clothes, and blankets lie scattered, along with toiletries, a few flashlights and some batteries.

With a deep breath, the daughter closes here eyes, and reopens them seconds later as a cleansing whirlwind breeze sweeps through the room. The dirt and the dust visibly picks up off of the items, and with a simple nod upwards, the girl watches as the whirlwind vanished up through a vent that lets used air out, but nothing in. The boy then goes over to a counter top that is built into the right hand side wall, and picks up a small device, a Geiger counter, and turns it on.

“Radiation free.” He announces.

The three of them pick all of the items up now, and go through into the main compartment of their shelter.

It isn’t much, just a small one room affair. But it has everything they need. A single mattress, a double mattress each with flat pillows and thin blankets on. A kitchen area with a working stove and a storage space, and a bathroom area separated from the rest of the room by a curtain. The decor is as basic as everything else, 4 metal walls painted white. On the cold concrete floor by the single mattress, lies another small device, about the same size as an old iPhone. The device is a means of communication, and on the device, a light flashes orange, which can only mean one thing, an incoming call.

The father looks at the device and heads straight over to it, picks it up, and sits down on the single Mattress. He presses a green button just underneath the light, and lies the device on the floor. Within seconds a blue holographic projections appears of a woman. She looks to be about the same age as the father, wearing what is clearly all black clothing. Her hair is up in a single braid, and even with the blue of the hologram, her eyes are clearly the same dazzling blue as the father and his children.

“Meda.” The father smiles as he looks at the hologram. The woman smiles and waves subtly, clearly showing that she can see him too.

“Hello Darrix.” She greets. “I just thought I’d call to see how you’re holding up. It’s been a while since we’ve been able to get a signal to you.”

“Yeah we’re good we...” The father replies and trails off as he looks over at his children, who are both sat going through the items that they’ve managed to bring home with them.

“Well, we’re good now that we’re home. Zoella had a close call with a human.” He explains to the woman, whose eyes widen, and she actually turns and looks at the two teenagers herself.

“Are you okay Zoella?” The woman asks.

“I’m fine now thank you Aunt Meda.” The girl, Zoe, replies. “There was actually another human there who helped save me so, they clearly aren’t all that bad.”

The woman nods, and looks down to see Zoe’s gloves hands. She seems to look bemused at this, and turns back to the father, Darrix.

“Darrix you need to trust your daughter with her abilities, she needs to learn not to fear them.”

“We’ve tried Meda.” Darrix relies and runs a hand through his sandy gold hair. “We try a little bit more every week. She doesn’t fear it as such. It’s just that she literally has no control, I’ve actually lost count of how many times she’s electrocuted one of us or herself.”

“It’s true, she electrocuted me this morning.” The boy, Xander, speaks up. “I’m getting used to it now.”

“Darrix I swear the second we have clearance to enter The Milky Way I’ll arrange a transport for you all, we’ll work through this thing together with Zoe together. This is no way to be living, trapped on a toxic planet with no hope.”

“Oh we have hope.” Darrix replies with a shrug. “Just not a lot of it.”

“Either way, 6 Earth years trapped in those conditions I imagine is less than ideal.”

Darrix doesn’t respond at first. He’s too distracted by the bag of chips his son tosses over to him, followed by a bottle of water.

“Less than ideal?” Darrix asks the woman as he holds up the pack. “You see this? Went out of date 4 years ago, stale as hell, sometimes they’re even soft.”

He opens the pack now, and begins to eat, although he has to wash each mouthful down with water due to how dry and tasteless the snack is.

“So while you’re living up there on Sanvey, eating all that amazing food.... just think of what we’ve got we stale food from packs and tins that spoiled years ago, no means of making fresh food because it’ll just die. No meat unless we manage to get to a drop before any of the remaining humans do. There’s nothing here, nothing! The planet is pretty much empty, there’s literally one thriving city left on the entire planet and the world government want me and my kids dead! Less than ideal? Try living in it!

He sighs now and lowers his head, as he tries to calm himself down.

“I’m sorry Meda.” He apologises. “Look, please just try to get something decent to eat and some supplies sent down. Please, I know they can’t send a transport down but please we need help. My kids need help.”

Silence falls over the group now for a few seconds. A silent conversation goes on between Darrix and the woman in the hologram. After a few more seconds the woman rolls her eyes and once again turns to face the teenagers, leaving their father to eat in peace.

“Xander.” The woman speaks to the boy, who looks up at her.

“Yeah?” The boy asks. But the woman doesn’t respond, not out loud anyway.

“How do you know....” the boy asks and trails off, then looks over at his father. “Dad stop it! I already said I’m sorry!”

Darrix just gives his son a look of contempt, and the boy knows not to argue. So he just quietens, and sits back against the wall on the double mattress.

“Meda can you take a message to the Senate for me please?” Darrix asks, gaining the woman’s attention back.

“Of course dear brother.” She replies.

“Tell them that some humans know roughly of our whereabouts. That the bounty for my children’s lives has gone up to 3 trillion credits for each of them, and that we’d be grateful for any help. We understand they can’t arrange a transport in, but please, we’re getting beyond desperate now. We need help.”

“I’ll try my hardest. The Grand President said she’d be calling you within the next few days, so maybe tell her yourself as well.” The woman speaks with a sympathetic and supportive smile. “I need to go now, I have a hearing I need to get to to discuss Lenxar’s future.”

“Lenxar?” Darrix asks. “What did anyone on Lenxar do? That place has never been any trouble.”

“It really is too much to speak about right now.” The woman tells him. “Until next time?”

“Yeah, yeah I’ll see you next week or something.” Darrix waves her off, and then presses a red button on the device to shut down the hologram, and end the call.

A moment of silence overcomes the three of them. Darrix puts the chips and the water aside for a second, and then gets up, and holds a hand out towards his daughter.

Without any hesitation, Zoe reaches up and takes her father’s hand, allowing him to pull her up.

“Close your eyes.” He instructs her, and so she does. “Think of Xander. Don’t think about today, just think about all the times your brother has been there for you, all the times he made you laugh, all the times he made you feel loved.”

As he speaks, his voice lowers, and his eyes change. The amazing sapphire blue vanishes, replaced by sheer white as he focuses on his daughter.

“Keep thinking.” He instructs, his voice calm and low, almost meditative. When he can feel there will be absolutely no response from his daughter, he slips one of her black leather gloves off of her hand, and hands it to his son. A deep purple hue surrounds his daughter’s hand, sparking intermittently, and he quickly refocuses.

“Just keep thinking of Xander, think about everything you’ve done together, how safe he tries to keep you.”

The sparks around Zoe’s left hand cease, and Darrix now removes the glove from her right hand. Immediately sparks fly down to the ground, and Darrix winces at the shock he feels in his feet, but he still keeps his daughter under his influence.

“Okay think of me now.” He tells her. “Think of my voice telling you over and over that it’s okay, that I’m going to make you aware that your gloves are off, and that it’s fine.”

His eyes become blue again now, and he takes a step back from Zoe, who opens her eyes and looks straight at Darrix.

“It’s okay Zoe.” Xander speaks up. Zoe nods and looks down at her glowing hands. A smile crosses her face as the purple fades from around one of them, and Darrix holds his hand out to her. Slowly, Zoe reaches for his hand, but just as their skin touches, a large bolt of electricity courses through her body, and she falls to the floor.

Immediately Darrix and Xander get her gloves back on, and help her lie down on the mattress she and Xander share as tears overcome her.

“I’m sorry.” Zoe cries, and pulls her blanket up over her.

“Why are you apologising to us for?” Darrix asks. “You electrocuted yourself not me or Xander.”

“I tried Dad.” She sobs, and without anymore words, Darrix holds a hand on her head, and she falls asleep instantly.

“I hate doing that to her.” Darrix sighs as he sits back on his mattress now and rests his head against the wall. He watches as his son gets up and goes over to the kitchen, and puts a pot on the stove.

“You can’t cook Xander.” Darrix states, and waits for realisation to hit his son. “Yeah you need your sister to light it.”

“How did she get all the awesome powers and I got jack shit?” Xander asks almost angrily as he turns to face Darrix.

Darrix makes a small startled movement, and looks at his son with a confused expression.

“Dude, you got invisibility, empathy and astral projection, And you’re still developing! One day that empathy will turn into pathokinesis like mine, and who knows? You may end up with even more. You’re totally awesome.” Darrix reminds him, and then looks over to the kitchen, to where a book lies on the countertop, and holds his hand out. Within seconds the book is flying across the room, and into his hands.

“Now go to sleep.” Darrix tells him straight.

No more words are spoken between the two now. Instead each of them just settle down for the night. Darrix reads, while his son falls asleep.

A few moments later, Darrix gets back up, and silently heads outside, and up the several flights of stairs. He leaves through the gate in the parking lot, and takes a look around before he goes back to the gate, and holds a hand out to the side of it, and leans on what is seemingly thin air. However a green flash around his hands gives away that there is in fact a wall there, a wall he himself put there to keep his family hidden and safe.

Across the parking lot, for a split second he is sure he can see a silhouette of a person, but after blinking and shaking his head the figure is gone.

He looks up at the dark orange night sky now, and sighs.

“Please.” He whispers, “please come get us.”

With that, he heads back through the gate and down the stairs, and goes to his mattress, lies down, and let’s himself fall asleep.