MAYHEM ON EARTH
Chapter 5: Reunion
The city of Rencia was surrounded by a massive wall. Inside were the inhabitants - survivors of the apocalypse who were among the last of the human race. The area inside the walls contained all necessities that humanity needed to survive an apocalypse, including farmland to grow food once their canned supply ran out. It was built by the nation’s government as preparation for the Apocalypse, which they too seemed to have believed in.
Steve introduced Drake to his new life: “You’ll be living here from now on. You’ll get your own apartment and everything. Society works pretty much the same way it did outside in here. You have to get a job, though. There’s no education for the youth.” It was understandable considering the circumstances.
Drake clutched his necklace, which surprisingly seemed to be unscathed after all the events he’d gone through. He stood there for a minute, taking in his new permanent surroundings. It was quite the situation. Everything in his life had changed so drastically.
“Oh yeah,” he asked Steve, “How long have I been out?”
“Wha-! That long?!”
“Nah, I’m kidding. It was only fifteen days. Today’s the twenty-fifth of May.”
“Phew.” Drake was relieved.
“By the way, people are calling That Day ‘The Day of The Apocalypse’.” Steve looked at his watch. “Your timing was great. There’s an important meeting happening later today. Big figures who rule various aspects of the city will be there. You should attend. You being from Beil and witnessing The Crash may help the rest of humanity figure out what these things are.”
Drake wasn’t sure if his observations would help much, but he decided he would go anyways. Any info might be helpful for the city, and Drake wanted to help.
“Luckily, you have some good news also,” Steve said, trying to push events along so that they could get to the meeting, which would start soon. “Follow me.”
Steve took Drake downstairs to the hospital’s lobby area. A man was waiting for him there. He had black hair, brown eyes, and stubble growing across the sides of his face, but not quite reaching his neck. His wavy hair was starting to thin out, a result of the stress of his job. He was sadly only slightly taller than Drake was. He was an average middle-aged man, for the most part. Except there was something slightly off about his facial structure.
Drake immediately recognized him.
“Dad!” He ran over and hugged him.
He was, indeed, Drake’s father: Bill.
“Hey, Drake! How are you feeling?” Bill embraced him.
Drake let go after a minute. “How did you get here?”
“I can ask you the same thing. You were in Beil when it happened. The origin of the Apocalypse!”
Drake wasn’t sure how he had survived either. “I guess I’m lucky.”
“Very lucky.” There was a pause. “Umm… about your mom…” His curiosity outweighed his fear of finding out something awful. Bill had to know what happened.
Drake looked down. His father immediately understood and looked sad. He shouldn’t have had any hopes in the first place. Drake decided to explain everything that had happened to him on the day of the Apocalypse, the way he had told Steve, but this time adding all the stuff that happened after he found Steve. Drake’s father listened seriously.
“I see… You’ve been through a lot…” he thought positively, trying to brighten the mood “But the silver lining is that you still have me. And you got a new friend,” Bill looked at Steve, who was watching awkwardly from a few yards away, unsure of what to do. He gave a small wave.
Drake looked at Steve also. Steve, nervously turned his gaze around the room. He had been a travel companion for Drake for some time that night. He hadn’t seen him much further than that. But now that their lives were no longer in danger, he realized they could probably be considered friends.
“Yeah!” Drake then turned back to his father with a face looking exaggeratedly annoyed. “By the way, you still haven’t explained your story,” he said flatly.
“Oh, right!” Drake’s father stepped back defensively, “I was coming to it. Really. Hmmm…Let me start with my occupation. As you know, I’m a civil engineer, but I also oversee large construction projects. About six months ago, the federal government approached me and asked me to work on a secret project. You see, it was suddenly worried about the Apocalypse, for a reason I do not know. It wanted to build a safe haven for the remnants of humanity. It was called:” he gave a dramatic pause, “‘Project Ark’.”
It was making some sense. “So, then you designed the city?” Drake asked, surprised and proud of his father for handling such an important task.
“Err… No. I was in charge of the construction of the Wall.”
Drake looked out a window at the city Wall in the distance. It was covered in huge, flat pieces of scrap iron, which were already rusting. They were bolted or sometimes welded together in a random arrangement and order. The whole thing had a very cheap and hastily-built feel. Drake wouldn’t be surprised if the whole thing collapsed one day. Despite the look, he tried to trust it, because Steve had said the interior was made of concrete. It should actually be pretty sturdy. One could still complain about the appearance, though.
Drake looked back at his father with a face of straight-out disappointment. “That was the best you could do?”
“It was, with only six months of time and a limited budget. The rumors about politicians sucking the project’s funding dry were true. They took it and built their own shelters. Besides, what matters is that it works. Its base is ten meters thick and it is resistant to any non-nuclear bomb that detonates against it.” Bill boasted, proud of the ‘masterpiece’ built by his hard work. The engineers behind it had no idea what they had to build it to protect against. What exactly would the Apocalypse bring? So, they had to make something that could stand against most weapons.
Drake trusted his father. He had no worries about it being broken down by Mayhems. “Fine. It is good enough.”
“The story of how we built it is interesting,” he continued. “We built up that iron framework as a mould to pour the unfinished concrete into. In fact, if it’s that bad, we can peel off the outer layers of iron. It just takes some time and effort…”
“Alright, alright. I get it.” Drake’s father also had a tendency to go off on a tangent. But unlike Drake, his were when he was talking to someone. He’d just ramble on and on.
“Anyways, we were given the task of building a wall around this city, which was empty when we arrived. We nearly finished with the project, and were putting the final touches: you know, argu-… I mean, deciding whether to remove the metal shell or not…and…a lot of very important work like that.” He was clearly lying. “That’s when the apocalypse happened that night. The blue pulse of light in the sky that showered a curtain of mist—it came down over Rencia as well. Just like across the world, animals in the city, mostly small insects and the like, turned into giant monsters.”
Drake recalled the blue ring he’d seen the Day of the Apocalypse, when he was running through Beil. So that’s when it happened- when the problem became worldwide! That’s strange, though. It started in Beil even before the mist had fallen. The mutants had come out of the woods after the meteorite crashed, but before the mist had spread through the sky across the world. He noted this. It could be useful, so he’d tell the leaders at the meeting.
“We workers hid in the buildings, scared of them. Soon, high-ranking government officials started coming here by helicopter, along with members of the military. They informed us of the situation in the world, and the military took care of the creatures within the Walls. They cleared the city. Soon, people started pouring into the city. Helicopters full of people from nearby towns and cities came, dropped the people off, and then left again, probably headed back to those cities. Once a city was cleared, one went to a further one and started the rescue operations there. This continued for a few days until the city reached its capacity limit.”
Huh? There was enough space for each person to get their own apartment, according to Steve. There was clearly sufficient space to include more lives, especially in a situation determining the fate of human lives. Drake brought this up.
“There is definitely enough space in the city for more people. The problem, however, is food. The farmers and their machinery are sowing seeds in the farmland right now, but it will take a season for the harvest. By then, we’ll barely have any reserve supplies of food left. And even after that, the farm’s capacity to produce yield is slightly less than the quantity demanded by the populace per year. This means we can barely sustain ourselves as is.”
“I see…” Drake understood the situation. He was lucky to get here in time. But food would still be a problem in the future. What Drake didn’t understand was: Why build so many buildings to include such a large population when your farmland can’t support it? They could have built the radius of the Walls larger. Did they not have enough time to? The planning and building of the Wall were too rushed, compared to the city itself. Project Ark had too many mysteries behind it.
“You’ll learn more about the City and its problems over time. For now, I think we should head to the meeting. Steve and I are coming too.”
* * *
The three of them left the hospital and arrived at an official government building, where the meeting supposedly was to take place. Outside the building were stationed two guards. Bill flashed out an identity card, and they let the trio through. Drake had never seen such big and scary-looking people before.
Steve noticed him looking behind at them. “They were apparently part of the military that came and wiped out the monsters in Rencia. They are now part of our defense force against the mutants: The Defense Militia. They are also in charge of other things like protecting government officials.”
This didn’t make sense to Drake. “I wonder why there are so many guards.”
“I wonder why there are so few guards.”
“And why is that? Who would want to attack government officials at a time like this?”
“When people lose everything, they’ll want to put the blame on someone. And they want to take their frustrations out on whomever or whatever they blame. Everyone lost everything in the Apocalypse, and it is natural for them to blame the government. ‘Why didn’t the government detect the meteorite?’, ‘Why didn’t the government take any protective measures when the Apocalypse has been rumored about for so long?’, ‘Why do these government officials get to live when our loved ones died?’, and so on.”
The questions themselves were good. Drake hadn’t thought of them before. He wondered a few himself, but he couldn’t understand the murderous mindset of those people. Why would they try to attack their last hopes of surviving?
“You seem good at psychology,” Drake complimented Steve.
Steve smiled modestly. “I am fond of my ability to understand my surroundings.”
This ability claim made sense to Drake. The ability was probably what helped Steve survive the mutants on the road connecting Beil and Cyll, and quickly assess the situation and get moving in Cyll.
Bill beckoned the two to follow him up the flight of stairs. The meeting room was upstairs, and they were in the lobby. Steve hurriedly followed, looking at his watch and scolding himself for not keeping track of time. Drake took one last look at the guards, who stood behind the glass wall at the entrance of the building. There was something about them that attracted Drake’s attention. They seemed filled with purpose. After a moment, when his father called him again, Drake turned around and followed him to the meeting room...