So I finished a rough draft of what might be the first chapter of this story. I would really love some feedback on this, so please let me know what you think. Keep in mind, this is rough, and I’ve not gone over it to edit it yet so don’t be too mean.
The wasteland was barren, the air was frigid, and the young man was growing weaker. Rory, this specific young man, was around his late twenties. He stood at about six feet tall, and was relatively well built. The large overcoat he was wearing did little to protect him from the elements, and he didn’t have much in his bag to warm him up either. Rory had been wandering through freezing temperatures for what felt like years in an attempt to reach his home of Camp #5. The mind has an interesting way of perceiving time in order to play tricks on us. Trials that feel like days are simply months, months are simply weeks, weeks are simply days, days are simply hours, and hours minutes. Time is all relative in the wasteland, and it has a cruel way of turning lonely, starving seconds into unbearable and unforgiving hours. Because of this, Rory had been experiencing his last few hours for years.
The freezing air became increasingly windy and started to tear at the man’s face and sting his orifices. Every so often, when the wind died down ever so slightly, Rory managed to glance up at the sky only the see the clouds that shone with a hint of pale green from radioactivity begin to stir. Slowly at first, minuscule snow flakes that wielded a subtle pale green tint began to drift down from the sky and land on the man’s face, melting almost instantly and leaving a stinging mark from what was originally there.
As more began to fall, red spots started forming on Rory’s skin. Burns from the sheer amount of radiation in the flakes. It slowly started becoming harder and harder for the man to see where he was headed as the snow filled the air with their pale green tinge, but this didn’t stop him. Not immediately at least. Once it got to the point where Rory couldn’t see even three feet in front of him, he decided that the weather was simply too inhospitable to continue to Camp #5. Seeing as the sky wasn’t visible in the slightest, Rory had no grasp of what time it was. He estimated he’d been walking maybe a bit more than an hour, and decided this would be a good point to seek shelter. A cave, an abandoned building, or maybe an alcove of some sort. Anything would do.
After searching for such a thing for another twenty to thirty minutes, and after a good two inches of snow had accumulated, he finally saw what appeared to be a shack in the distance. He couldn’t tell the condition of the building but, at that point, it didn’t matter. Shelter was shelter.
As he drew closer to the building, it seemed to be a sort of store that was abandoned even before The War. It was interesting, he thought to himself, that such an old structure would be in such remarkable condition after all this time. Remarkable being a generous term, what with the reality of the whole situation. He approached the door and attempted to open it with a rough push. It didn’t budge. He tried again. Nothing. He stepped back from the door a few feet, prepared himself, and threw the entirety of his 170 pound body into the decaying door, knocking it onto the cracked concrete floor on the other side. Dust and bits of shattered glass flew up from beneath the door and flew into Rory’s face. Hacking and wheezing, he picked himself up off the floor and surveyed the room he was in. There piles of dusty, decrepit boxes strewn about the room in a haphazard fashion. The air in the whole place had a sort of weird magenta tint. It was odd, Rory thought, because he couldn’t quite tell why.
He tiredly shook the grit out of his hair and brushed the dirt off his face. He dropped his bag, causing another small cloud of dust, and rolled up the sleeves of his coat. He slowly wandered around the room, brushing the dust off random boxes and looking deeply into the pre-war posters all over the walls. There colors were faded and they all had words on them like “Only YOU can prevent nuclear warfare!” and “Be a proud AmeriCAN! Not an AmeriCAN’T!”. Rory thought it was mildly comical, the lengths the government went to to make the people feel like they had a say in the war.
There was very little, if any, remains of the world before the war. Small refuges such as the one Rory was currently in were all that really remained. There certainly weren’t any humans. This is probably true because of the fact that it was hundreds of years ago conjoined with the fact that it was the most devastating unnatural disaster in any recorded history and even then, not much of what was recorded is even left. Rory had heard legends, on cold nights, not dissimilar to this one, when him and his cabin mates would gather around their heaters, of giant pillars of cement that scraped the sky and weren’t just shells of a world that once was.
On top of one of the piles of boxes under a torn poster that read “The only winning move is-” there was a small booklet. Rory picked it up and read the title aloud to himself. “The war and you!” His echo woefully replied with the same. He flipped to a random page, page five, and started to read it aloud. “In case of a bomb being dropped, make sure you locate yourself to the nearest possible fallout shelter, stay away from potentially radiated individuals, be sure to equip your Anti-Rad Rad-Away Brand Sunglasses, avoid looking outside, tune your radios to Channel 1, and await official instructions.” Rory scoffed and threw the booklet back onto the boxes. “Lot of good that did em, I’m sure.” He continued to patrol the room.
In the back of the space there was a bright red trapdoor, with no dust on it at all. Confused, Rory decided this was worthy of investigating, seeing as he had nothing else to do when the weather was like this. The door was made of metal, and there was a handle on one end of it. Rory readied himself, reached down to grab the handle, and tugged with all his might. He let out a powerful grunt as he lifted the bright crimson trap door revealing a dark, damp looking tunnel with a rusted ladder leading into some abyss that Rory couldn’t make out any discernible end to.
Rory stood up and gazed around the room, to see if there was anything left for him. While doing this, he felt a sort of hopelessness. Was there any real reason he was about to venture into this abyss? Of course not, he thought. There’s no way there could be anything significant to his existence. But what existence, had to ask himself? Was the current life he was leading an existence? Well of course it was an existence, he reasoned with himself. But was it a life? Rory was less sure of this. Sure, he could breath and feel and think, but that didn’t mean he was alive. He felt a sort of futility toward the whole situation.
This wasn’t the first time Rory had felt this way though. He was more than familiar with the general stream of consciousness. Most times he found himself thinking about these things, he shook them off with the idea of it not being worth to consider, and this time was no different.
Rory grasped the tarnished ladder in his calloused hands and slowly brought himself down it, careful not to allow to to collapse under his weight. As he descended, the light from the room above him faded, and the tunnel started to adapt a noticeable stench. It smelled as if it was a mixture between damp rock and rusted metal. Having watched the placement of his weight for the duration of the descent, Rory was not prepared for what was about to happen. Suddenly, the rung that his foot was resting on snapped. The man scrambled to maintain a grasp of the ladder, but it was too slippery and he lost his grip. Rory fell a good 10, then 20, then 30 feet before there was anything solid to break his fall. When the concrete floor showed up beneath him, he landed on his feet only to experience and terribly jarring feeling up his legs and into his chest. His legs bent, and he flew forward into a crumpled heap on the ground, landing in a puddle of water that had dripped from the ceiling above.
“Aw shit.” he groaned as he tried to recompose himself, still lying in the puddle. The young man slowly stood up, massaging his aching joints and sore muscles. He looked around the room he was suddenly in, and it too had a sort of red lighting about it. Rory decided it couldn’t be any bigger than the previous room, but its appearance was entirely different. For starters, there was no dust. Unlike the room above, this room wasn’t dry and dead, it was damp, similar to how the tunnel felt on the way down. The concrete floor was cracked and had mold and algae growing from it. There were what appeared to be control terminals, mostly composed of flashing lights and unlabeled buttons.
But before Rory could assess his situation properly, he heard a whoosh of air from behind him. He ducked in just enough time to avoid a lead pipe from breaking his head open. He stood up fast, and stuck his hands out to the shadowed figure that just came into his vision. Rory saw the pipe in the hands of this individual, and decided that he’d very much like not to have to dodge the same pipe twice.
Stepping back from this person, in an attempt to bring them into the faint reddish light, Rory waved his hands frantically while simultaneously shouting “Woah woah woah hey hey hey!” as a way to discourage them from attacking again. To Rory’s relief, they didn’t make a second swing, but instead shouted
“Who the hell are you?!” It was clearly a mans voice. It sounded somewhat older than Rory. Confused and scared, Rory shouted back,
“I’m you from the future! You don’t want to hurt me, you’ll feel it later!” The man was rearing back the pipe for a second swing, but hesitated out of pure confusion in regards to Rory’s response.
“…I…what…that doesn’t make sense!” he swung again, but Rory was ready this time. he caught the pipe, and ripped it from the man’s grasp. The previous owner of the pipe put his hands in the air, defenseless. Rory threw the lead pipe on the ground behind him and shouted
“Okay, please just, where am I? And who are you?” The man, realizing he had no way to fight this unexpected visitor, stepped forward and brought himself into the light. He was an older man, somewhere around his late fifties. His head had an impressive bush of white hair, sticking out at odd angles, clearly not kept for or looked after in years, and a stubble of prickly white hairs all over his face. His skin was clearly soft and wrinkly, sagging underneath both his eyes and on his cheeks. Although this man wasn’t any older than his fifties, it was clear to Rory that he was incredibly old mentally. He was wearing a shabby lab coat that draped down far past his knees and a pair of decrepit black loafers.
“My name is Doctor Victor Hall.” the man said. “And if you don’t mind me asking, again, who the hell are you?” Disgruntled, Rory replied
“The name’s Rory.”
“Well, Rory,” the man said, incredulously, “I apologize for the would be blunt force trauma I’d have caused with my pipe over there.” Victor motioned to the object on the floor behind Rory. “I hope you’ll find it in yourself to forgive my caution in this god-forsaken place.” Although Rory was still mildly shaken from the incident, he replied with a mutter of approval. The man cleared his throat and mumble “Yes, well…” he extended his arm to Rory, “It’s a pleasure to meet you, young man.” Rory stared at his hand in trepidation, before finally returning to gesture by shaking the Doctor’s hand.
“Well Doc,” Rory sighed, “you still ain’t answered my question. What is this place?” Rory asked, stretching out his arms to show he was referencing the room the two of them were in.
“It’s a control center.” The Doctor said, enervated. He wandered over to a nearby rolling chair at a panel on the far wall. It was obvious the encounter had left the man fatigued.
“Control center fer what?” Rory asked, more curious than annoyed at this point. Victor sighed, looked at Rory and mumbled,
“Well, quite frankly Rory, that’s none of your business.” Rory looked taken aback, and he wasn’t quite sure how to respond to such a response. He opened his mouth, ready to blurt out something along the lines of
“You’re none of my business.” but realized that probably wouldn’t go well for him. he didn’t have to say anything however, because the Doctor followed up his last sentence with
“Tell me Rory, what are your affiliations?” Rory was aware of the gravity of this question. Not only would his answer change the way this Doctor Hall viewed Rory, but it would also change the situation entirely.
In this world there were two primary factions. The New World Union and the People’s Republic of Novustellus. What with political, economic, and social differences, neither of these factions were too fond of the other; while nothing had happened between the two, physically that is, it was obvious to everyone that tensions were brewing and it was only a matter of time before something gave in.
Both the New World Union and the People’s Republic of Novustellus were intent on controlling the world around them by any means necessary. Neither party was above using tactics that were less than morally sound to gain notability and a sense of presence towards the other.
It was just a few hours ago that Rory had heard of a small party from People’s Republic of Novustellus heading off a group of of Union officers on their way to deliver supplies to one of the New World Union supply depots. Normally this wouldn’t disturb Rory too much, but the fact that the party that had been sent to deal with the officers was commissioned by General Steven Price himself is where the issue arouse. It wasn’t too common for the General to order sneak attacks on seemingly innocent member of the New World Union. This is why Rory was traveling back to Camp #5, he was previously at Camp #1 in an attempt to discuss the incident with the General, but he was “unavailable for comment on the situation.”
“I’m with the Republic.” Rory finally let out, tentatively. He was nervous at to what the Doctor’s reaction would be.
“Oh thank the maker!” Victor exclaimed. Rory let out a sigh of relief and responded with
“Ah, you are too? What camp ya comin’ from?”
“Ah no, I’m not with the Republic, I’m a scientist for the New World Union.”
“…excuse me?” This didn’t make sense to Rory, why would a scientist of the New World Union be excited to a see somebody from the Republic?
“You know I have been waiting for somebody from the Union to come along. I need your help.” Still confused, Rory said
“Well help with what?”
“Tell me Rory, can I trust you?”
“I guess…help with what?” Rory asked again. The Doctor sighed, readying himself for the explanation.
“The New World Union is planning an attack of monstrous proportions on the Republic. I know this because I’m the one who is spear heading this project. Very unfortunately might I add. While yes, it was initially my idea, I tried to convince the President that it was a bad idea, but something you have to understand about the President, he’s a very powerful man. Probably the most powerful in all the world at this point. I’ve been waiting for somebody from the Republic to come along to this facility so i can get the word out.” Rory’s eyes widened as the gravity of what this man had just said hit him. Rory scrambled for words, but he couldn’t find anything to describe his utter confusion and fear towards the entire idea of a Union planning an attack on the Republic. Depending on how much time was left before the attack, it was likely that a fully scale invasion and the destruction of Camp #1 could spell the Republic’s utter demise. “I understand,” the Doctor said in reply to Rory’s ghastly expression, “it’s a lot to comprehend, yes. I’m sure you’re whole world has just been flipped. Are you ready for what I have to show you next?” Rory didn’t respond. “Right well, prepare yourself.”
Doctor Hall pulled a lever on the control panel he’d been sitting at and a faint red alarm light began flashing, illuminating the whole room for a brief period of time every so often as it did so. On the wall above the control panel, a metal partition began to slowly descend to reveal a window. Tinted red, smudged, cracked, and scratched, it was slowly revealed to Rory like a man being introduced to the gallows that’d take his life.
Once the partition had been hidden completely, the window was full from any obstruction. Victor said nothing, but looked at Rory and motioned to the glass with his head as if to say “Go on.” The young man did. Slowly, he stepped toward the window, not sure what to expect, but scared for it nonetheless.
As he reached the window, he gazed out into a huge room the size of an airplane hanger and was immediately struck with the grandest sense consternation he had ever experienced. The room was full of something Rory had heard many rumors of, but never seen with his own eyes. Thousand upon thousand of mechanical men. Robots. Lined into rows that must have been more than one hundred abreast. Their columns stretched as far as Rory’s eyes could see and the young man was completely speechless.
The faces of these monstrosities were horrifying. Something menacing, neither man nor machine, rather, stuck somewhere in between. Somewhere in limbo. Their stillness pierced Rory and left a scar right in his chest where it did so.
“But…that’s… that’s impossible.” were the only words the man could let out.
“Well my new friend, I hate to break it to you, but the impossible just became the reality.”