Steel Awakening

10. The Way Up

I never thought Id see the day, am a big sister now.

Once more, I have a reason to fight.

But, after the frost comes off, what I behold sinks me into turmoil, my…my brother.

Hes still a baby.

Wait, no, this can be.

I need to check the message again, wait, wheres the holokeeper. where did I keep it.

No, Ive lost it, my brain forces me back to the storage room, it had to be there I lost it.

Or was it in the generator room?

”Ahh. ” I can think, why? why would he still be a baby?

I head to the generator room first, since its the closest, my footsteps have never been louder.

The patting sound my feet gives off rings into my head.

The quiet is so loud its maddening, am trying to gather my thoughts, but its a failed attempt, am nothing but a ball of confusion right now.

It doesn make sense.

Am at the door leading to the generators, I attempt to rush in, but the memory of what happened last time freezes me in place.

I gently send my feet forward, followed by the other.

I am aware I shouldn run down stairs, but now am a snail on my way down.

As my back feet leaves the last step of the stairs, I cascade through the room, first making my destination to the console.

I look everywhere, on top the console, behind it, below it, under the chair, everywhere associated with the console.

I scour the room, but at the end of it all, a wasted effort.

At the last minute, my stomach screams at me, a scream powerful enough to knock me off my feet.

All this time, Ive been repressing the urge for food, but now its coming back in full force.

My mouth begins to water, but not because of cravings, it seems to hurt, I can stop a full stream of saliva gushing out of my mouth.

The more it gushes out, the worst the hunger becomes.

I don understand what this is, it gets worse by the second, I can bare it.

”AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH. ”

I can catch my breath, it stops, it finally stops.

How many times, will I be knocked down like this?

What, what have I done to deserve this?

Just what?

I want to lie there for a little while, all my strength is completely gone. I don know what that was, but it was horrible.

I remain motionless, my gaze fixated underneath the generators.

I notice a clam shaped object, covered in shadow, underneath the generators, I push my hands against the ground, and my body rises.

My hands feel as though they could easily break off, but I ignore it.

I try to erect myself, but I end up hunching over, I barely make it, I bend over, my hand slithers below the generators, I grab the clam, and its brought into the light.

Ive found it, I try to turn it on again, but it doesn agree with me.

I lean on the machines, am tired, and my energy is missing.

This can be real, why wasn he put to sleep when he grew a little more? Those creatures are out there, much, much more.

I can barely, no, I can protect myself, let alone someone so frail, if I go out with him, its a death sentence.

Why must this sort of thing happen to me, from the moment I left my pod, Ive been running everywhere like an animal seeking refuge in a storm.

My lids fall, I don hold it back.

Millions of images run through me, its headache inducing, they just keep coming, some images real, some imaginary, some, I don even know what they are.

A horrid image pauses in front of me, the frozen creature breaks free.

”No! ” I get off my slum, a little energy surges in me, I was asleep, maybe thats why I feel a little better, but for how long?

I race back to the pod room, but I still myself at the door, I don want to go in.

A little further down is the freezer room.

I need something to eat, I walk down the path leading to the freezer room, I slow my pace as I approach the creature.

The beat of my heart speeds up, and my footsteps are louder than a boulder thrown from a high rise.

Time stands still the closer I get to the creature, luckily, its still frozen solid, my heart rate returns to normal. I freeze in my position for several seconds, before retracting my gaze.

I make a 180° turn, and I keep going.

I search aimlessly, I don find the cafeteria, it seemed easier to find before.

After the turn I make, I find the the vault door, and the scanning room but a few feet away, the doors steadfastness seemed to have dissolved.

The door leaves a small crack across itself, I sneak a peek into the crack.

I see a central hub, linking every level of the Zoar, and a giant beam in the middle, shooting straight up into the sky.

The way out of this Zoar is at the top.

My hand slowly reaches for the door, but I don let it.

I just remembered where the cafeteria was. It doesn take long for me to reach it, as I walk in, my focus is shot towards the wall, where a map once occupied.

My footsteps continue to break the deafening silence the Zoar inhabits.

I walk past chairs upon chairs, and tables upon tables, I finally reach the edge of the cafeteria, and am ready to enter the kitchen.

My hand claims the door handle, I fear it could be locked, am tired of running everywhere to find this or that.

I push on the door, it gives in.

Alleviation circulates through me.

I immediately open every cupboard, drawer, fridge, anything that could possibly store food, and in everyone of them I find nothing.

Only one thing remains, the freezer room, I push the handle, and cold air sweeps through me.

The open door reveals a plethora of food crates, everything is in a crate.

In a split second, am at the crate, luckily, it isn sealed, I pull on the cover, and am astonished of how much tasteless dehydrated food bars are stored in the crate, and to my relief, water.

I remember trying one of these bars, I hated everything that had to do with it.

I reach for one, it isn solidly frozen, but it remains cold, I peel off its wrapper and my mouth begins to water again, the same painful sensation.

I gobble the whole thing before the sensation escalates, sending the dehydrated food bar down my throat quails the rising ache in my stomach.

In a span of a few seconds, I chew through more then a dozen, before I resemble a Christmas chicken.

I grin at the thought of Christmas.

The taste of the bars fall into insignificance when hunger comes knocking, am full now, but it won always remain that way forever.

I need a way to carry as much of these as I can.

I grab a bottle of water, after gulping it up, I make haste, I don want to spend more time here, before another of those things comes for me, and….. and my, brother.

I stop in my tracks, my body becomes flimsy.

I stand, wasting much time, but am lost in a void.

I get myself out, and I shake it off. My sprint to the storage room continues.

I check every crate in the storage room, I find clothes and what I need, a bag.

I wonder how it hasn occurred to me that I haven come across a bath all this while.

The stains on my clothe isn exactly the most attractive sight ever.

I think back to the map, I remember getting a glimpse of something like a bathroom.

But it doesn really matter, does it?

Is running water even still available in this Zoar? Or anywhere else for that matter.

I pick out clothing my size, and it fits like a glove, I grab a bag, and I search through the rest of the crates.

I find one ominously sitting alone at the corner.

I walk to it, and upon opening it, memories flood through my neurons.

I hear screaming, crying, explosions, buildings crumbling, vehicles trudging.

I fall back, and my breath overtakes me.

I get up and turn back, but then I remember the creature. My skin crawls at the thought of that weapon, but I need a way to protect myself.

I try to pick one out, but my hand refuses to pass the threshold of the crate.

I bolden my will, and I grab one.

The device is cylindrical in shape, a Nix, as its called.

A sliding button sticks out the side, one slide and a push will transform the Nix into a variety of four weapons.

From a gun, to a sword, to a whip and finally a shield.

I want to test it out if it works, but am not eager to use this abomination.

It doesn take long to return to the freezer and stock up on supplies, I pack so much that the bag becomes too heavy, I don know when Ill find food out there, if those creatures don get me first, am sure hunger will.

But those creatures will definitely get me if am unable to run.

I painfully loose some extra weight, a decision that doesn sit well with me, the holokeeper falls to the ground along with other items I discard.

I have to be more careful with this device, I place it in a safe zip in the bag.

Finally, am ready. I make to return to the pod room, but time seems to slow down during my walk there, my steps echoes throughout the Zoar, reverberating a hundred more times in my ear, to my brain.

This sound upheaves my nerves.

I come across the vault door, and my body refuses to leave it, but my brother.

I try to lift my foot towards the direction of the pod room, but it is firmly planted on the ground.

Lifting it towards the vault door feels like butter sliding through a surface smooth to the touch.

I let my feet guide me, my heart tries to fight it, but the path towards the door is a thousand times stronger than I am.

I feel my pulse, this action am taking isn right.

If I go alone, there is a greater chance of me surviving, but if I take him with me, its sure that well both be dead in an instant.

Hes a liability, I can , I can …..

The last step I take draws my mind to a blank.

Its not fair, not to him, and not to me.

But, if I go without him, Id never be able to live with myself.

A grin forms on my face

”Darn it all. ”

If we die, well die together.

I push through the darkness, and I push through the barrier keeping me from him.

I make it through.

My dash to the pod room continues its echo, highly emphazising the emptiness of the Zoar.

A depressing thought, but I drop it, and clear my mind.

I take a second to catch my breath when I arrive at the entrance of the pod room.

The walk to his pod feels like treading on broken glass, but I force myself to make it through.

My hand is heavy, every fibre of my being refuses to do the right thing.

But, I won leave him, I lift my hands up, and I push the thawing switch.

It gives me a countdown, one hour.

I make myself comfortable on the ground, leaning against the pod.

I wait for as long as possible, but the minutes refuse to progress, I sit still, waiting.

My thoughts sprout a million different roots and stems.

Will we really be able to make it to Crescent Zoar, how long will it take, how much of those creatures are out there, what happened to this Zoar, did the same happen to Crescent Zoar, is there truly hope left in this world, are there other people left, or is it just me and my brother left, if its just us, would we be able to survive in a world full of monsters, has the world healed, how long will our food last, if we eat the last morsel, will we find more?

I jump out of my head, if I continue to entertain these thoughts, I won make it past the vault door.

I rise up, to check the countdown.

It should have been about thirty minutes by now, but am slapped in the face by a reduction of only five minutes.

I revert to the ground, my thoughts gnaw at me, but I don let it have its way, my lids become heavy.

I struggle to lift it, but why? I let it down.

”Monia, Monia. ”

I open my eyes immediately, another voice I would never forget.

”Monia. ”

”Dad? ”

”Monia, you fell asleep on the porch, way to worry me. ”

I wrap my arms around him.

”Wow, Monia, you okay? ”

I squeeze him tightly, his presence surrounds me with a feeling of safety, security. I never thought about it before, but Ive always had someone looking after me, now I have to be the one looking after someone, the weight of it all is bearing down on me. my throat becomes sore, and I feel a stinging sensation in my eyes, a droplet falls from my cheek to his shoulder.

”Wait, are you crying? Let me look at you. ”

He pulls at me, I unwillingly let go, and I wipe the tears from my eyes.

”Why, why are you crying? ”

”Nothing, its nothing really. ”

”How can you say its nothing? ”

My words refuse to manifest.

”How long have you been awake? not too long, and yet youve been through so much. ”

My eyes light up.

”You… know? ”

”Of course I do, am your father. ”

”Its really difficult Dad, and this is just the tip of the iceberg. ”

”How do you know that? ”

”I saw.. on the scanners. ”

”Oh, is that so? ”

He sits next to me.

”Your alive aren you? ”

”Am not sure. ”

”Hahaha, still got that humor of yours. ”

”I wasn joking. ”

”But it is funny, because your still alive, youve got two eyes, two hands and two nose right? ”

His comment forces a chuckle out of me.

”Your being silly Dad. ”

”Haha. ”

He throws his head in front of me.

”Youll be fine Monia, you always find a way, and you always will, your a fighter, daughter of mine, and I, one hundred percent believe in you. ”

His words lift my spirit, my house fades away into the light.

”Welp, we
e running out of time. ”

Without warning, he embraces me.

”I love you Monia. ”

”I love you too Dad. ”

I sink into his arms.

”Take care of yourself, and your brother, also, look both ways before crossing, well anything I guess. ”

I can help but smile.

”Oh, and by the way, you should probably give your little brother a name, bye Monia. ”

My surroundings disappear, and I open my eyes to a beeping sound.

Am on my feet, the pod is partially open, I can hear squirming, mumbles, and chuckling.

I raise the cover of the pod, and I find my little brother, I feel a warmth in my heart looking at him, his actually here, in the flesh.

I pick him up, and he seems to relish in my arms as I lift him, he smiles to me, and reaches for me.

”Your my responsibility now. ”

He chuckles.

”Right, you don have a name, well at least Dad hasn told me yet. Is it okay to even name you? ”

I will get batteries for the holokeeper, Dad should give me a name.

”How about a temporary name then? ”

He smiles once again, he seems so happy.

”Ive always admired the name, Liam. How about it, do you like it? ”

He reaches for me.

”Ill take that as a yes. ”

He rubs against his eyes. Here he is, theres no turning back now.

”Ill do everything in my power to make sure no harms comes to you, well both make it, I promise. ”

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