Dystopia Chapter 10

From the Story Arc: Dystopia

Next Story in the Arc: Dystopia Chapter 7 by Krasnaya Zarya (Saturday, June 24, 2006)

(posted Thursday, June 22, 2006)

(Yes, this is the first chapter, and it's number 10. This is intentional. Read on.)

It was a dark and stormy night.

Sofia felt deeply entitled to a dark and stormy night. It fit, in an inexplicable, dangerous way that she found almost exhilarating. And that was ridiculous, because exhilaration should be the last thing on the mind of a person deeply disturbed, worried and, to add to all psychological disasters, soaked through.

This was not a light, summery rain. It was heavy sleet that tended to a downpour, with spectacular lightning and thunders. The wind was high, and it found convenient wind-tunnels amid the canals and narrow streets. There was something in the atmosphere that suited her mood, Sofia thought, all this howling fury, turmoil and whatever else was quite reflective of her own mood. By nature, she was never an unflappable woman. Circumstances forced her to learn the art of remaining calm and placid, even when events ran their worst course, but that was mostly outward control. Internally she often found her emotions a source of discomfort, and rather hard to combat.

The air about her was crisp with the smell of low-beaten dust, something green and earthy, and the deep smell of the canals – indefinable smell of water with the definable traces of gasoline, garbage and gunpowder. They tickled her nose, and she held back the urge to sneeze, melting deeper into the dripping shadows. Raindrops pounded heavily around her. They pattered on the pavement, slid down the walls of houses and little, intricate carvings, wetted columns and faux facades. The faux facades gleamed artificially under the assault, revealing their true nature of newness underneath the constant pretense of history and age. The drops beat on her raincoat, splattering and breaking as she walked.

She hoisted her heavy, uncomfortable rucksack and splotched disdainfully through a puddle. The rucksack, the now-wet shoes, the raincoat and the rain itself were uncomfortable annoyances and the flashes of lightning occasionally tearing the sky were even worse. Each time lightning blazed she could dimly see shapes moving in the shadows – something obscene and slimy, something human and glistening or something pale and flickering. Good neighbourhoods in this town had their hazards. She'd often wondered why the denizens had not yet packed up and left en masse. She would have, had she the choice.

Nor would she have been out in this weather, had she the same kind of choice. She did not, for what was to be done had to be done quietly, without anyone's notice, but it did not make her feel any happier. Possessed of a profound sense of irony and a considerable education, she could conceive of the amusing side of the scene – a woman, alone, sneaking off to an incredible adventure on a night filled with lightning. She could also not help but remember, with the same profound irony, that in books and movies thus begun, the True Love was always dead, in the end.

So why the exhilaration?

Perhaps it was simply the storm. The atmosphere was crackling with energy. Unused electricity in the air. It permeated everything, including her. She was more sensitive to such currents than many people would be. She could almost touch them with the tips of her fingers, and they made her hair stand on edge.

Perhaps it was that always, ever since That Day she and her interests had played second violin to her husband's first. She was not, by her nature, a submissive woman, nor was she initially prone to neglecting her own interests. The change circumstances had forced upon her had not been easy; the acceptance of this new lifestyle had cost her much blood and sweat, metaphorically as well as physically, and her sharp-edged, brusque nature still came through...

Thinking of the situation rationally, as was usually her way, she was more now a shadow of her husband's than ever. His was the deed, his was the notion, and all she had done was react. However, emotionally she had found herself excited at the notion of being out there, all alone in the 'front lines'. She was the one upon whom everything had depended, now. She was the one who had to set it right. And so she measured her pace through the bursts of violent rain.