Ozone

I… I don't know! way to put me on the spot!

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Ozone

Postby Apocalyptus » Wed Nov 02, 2011 12:20 pm

A television is turned on.
*click*
“-- 40 year population crisis has reached a head this year with the childhood mortality rate climbing to 90% worldwide. Ongoing scientific investigations sponsored by U.N. signatories have again announced they are still no closer to an explanation for the phenomenon, sparking riots in multiple cities.
The World Health Organisation has today released recommendations for all governments to introduce incentives for population growth where possible, including free housing and monetary bonuses for each additional birth.
We now go live to an exclusive interview with --”
*click*
“-- The worldwide thunderstorms of the last year are showing no signs of abating, so we advise caution whilst outdoors as storm onset tends to be preceded by little to no warning. Meteorologists have theorised that the widespread unusual weather patterns are due to increased solar flare activity. Stay tuned for -- “
*click*
A house falls silent.
---

She smelled ozone.
She smelled ozone and heard thunder.
It was starting again then, and so soon after the last time.
Quickly she checked for the reassuring weight of the mirror in her pocket, reminding herself not to take it out before it was needed and run the risk of fumbling and smashing it. She could always steal a replacement from a supermarket or pharmacy as they were fully stocked and scarcely manned these days, however the time needed for such a venture was often more than one could spare.
She knew that many had learnt that the hard way.
Taking stock of the surrounding street, she was not surprised to find it almost devoid of people. (Could it really be such a short time since it would have been packed and bustling even at this hour of the night? She tried to remember, knowing it was a pointless gesture)
Not surprised, but worried and disheartened.
Jones was picking up supplies from the supermarket while she kept watch outside, and it had recently gotten to the point where even public places in the city could not be counted on for protection.
She was debating going inside after him when he emerged from the sliding doors, pushing a cart piled high with groceries and snacks with a satisfied look on his face. The look was quickly replaced by a flash of panic as a particularly near peal of thunder sounded and he saw the mirror in her hand.
“We have to get back. Now.”
“Do you think I don’t know that, Jones? Quickly, I’ll help you with the cart. Just get your mirror out!”
They started walking quickly in the direction of the safe house as Jones started fumbling around in his pockets.
“I can’t find it, Lewis. It’s not in here.”
“What do you mean? Your mirror has to be in there. “
“I think I must have dropped it. I’ve checked every pocket”
She resisted the urge to close her eyes for an instant while she weighed their options. It would take them ten minutes to get home if they ran, but with the full trolley and only one mirror it was a risky option.
“Alright, you take the trolley. I’ll take the mirror and walk in front. We’ll walk quickly, just remember to keep your eyes on me”
Jones nodded, nervously swallowing as he took the trolley back from her.
They sped up, Lewis looking into the mirror at Jones and Jones watching Lewis, both of them using their peripheral vision to avoid obstacles with practised ease.
“Maybe they won’t be after us this time. Maybe-”
Jones was cut off by a particularly loud rumble of thunder, and both of them noticed without wanting to the crackling sound that followed it.

Wordcount so far: 613
Better get cracking when I get home. I want to get to at least 2 000 by tonight.
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Re: Ozone

Postby smiley_cow » Wed Nov 02, 2011 6:01 pm

Pretty interesting opening. Looking forward to seeing what that mirror is for.
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Re: Ozone

Postby Apocalyptus » Wed Nov 02, 2011 11:20 pm

Blergh this is taking me too long. I think I'm editing too much as I go along.
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Re: Ozone

Postby Apocalyptus » Wed Nov 02, 2011 11:42 pm

“What was that you were saying? Fuck. We’re only half way there, I think we’re going to have to run.”
The shopping district which had been a comfortable dark punctuated by the warm glow of intermittent streetlights only moments before started to flash with a blue incandescence in time with every percussive burst of thunder. The crackling noise only grew louder as their feet pounded on the cement of the footpath.
The few people who still populated the main street they were barrelling down stared as they went past. That would offer some protection, however Lewis knew they couldn’t depend on continued attention. The storm always took care of that.
She allowed herself a small amount of relief as they swung into the street they needed. There was no one about, but only two blocks to go and an elevator ride later and they’d be in the safe house, or safe apartment really, with enough people with watching eyes to ensure safety until the storm passed.
They put on a last burst of desperate speed as lightning flashed overhead and, suddenly, underfoot. Trees, cement, streetlights and buildings were all crackling with whorls of electric energy that pulsed purposely towards them, but didn’t seem to be quite able to make contact.

Lewis gripped her mirror and made sure that her gaze never wavered from Jones. He in turn dutifully stared straight ahead at her, his hands gripping the trolley handle so hard they were turning white. The lightning kept pace hungrily behind them, snapping quickly into the space they vacated. It sparked off the wheels of the trolley, increasing the crackling noise to deafening levels, but neither Lewis or Jones broke their stride.
She appreciated having someone along with her on these dangerous but necessary expeditions, especially someone as reliable as Jones (mirror losing notwithstanding).
Up until recently she had been going it alone, which in the current circumstances was an infinitely more risky venture. At least, that’s what her memory told her was so.
It seemed an eternity, but they finally reached the building. She held open the door while he pushed the trolley through, a difficult task if one is staring unwaveringly at another person rather than the trolley or indeed the door.
Quickly they headed towards the elevator, lightning nipping at their heels as they ran, breathing sighs of relief as they sighted the metal doors.
Lewis ran to press the button for the upper floors, smiling encouragingly into the mirror at Jones.
“Almost th--”
She choked off her sentence as unseen, her foot caught against a heavy box that had not been there when they left that afternoon. She crashed to the ground, her elbow and shoulder cracking against the linoleum of the lobby.
Gritting her teeth against the pain, she turned as quickly as she could towards Jones, but it was too late. The lightning was curling up from his legs, quickly enveloping him in a delicate tracery of light that made him look almost messianic in the dimly lit lobby.

She noticed that he was staring at her, trying to make sure she was safe even whilst knowing it was too late for himself.
She stared back into his eyes, realising it was useless.
Jones’ body contorted, as if trying to shake off the web of lightning that had by now completely enveloped him, while a few tendrils traced the contours of his face before plunging into his eyes and mouth. The rest followed, forming a torrent of light that seemed to pull his substance with it. As the lightning left his legs and arms they seemed to become insubstantial and smoky, dissipating into the air. This continued until Jones had become a node of sparking light, floating unsupported in the air, slowly fading. She watched it until it had faded to nothing.
All thunder gone now, the lobby was silent.
If she’d had any doubts up until know, they had disappeared along with Jones. Hearing from others that the process was happening all over the world was one thing, but seeing it happen with your own eyes was another.

Wordcount: 1 298. Defecit, 3 703. Not looking good at this point for finishing on time.
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Re: Ozone

Postby Kimra » Thu Nov 03, 2011 1:00 am

It's the third day, you can still catch up Apoc!
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Re: Ozone

Postby Apocalyptus » Thu Nov 03, 2011 1:40 am

Well I can try but my pace is really painfully slow at the moment. Mr Apoc
wrote more than I've done total in four hours, the bastard.
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Re: Ozone

Postby Apocalyptus » Thu Nov 03, 2011 11:09 am

Sobbing, she slowly pulled herself upright. There was no danger now, at least for the moment.
It had not even begun to sink in that Jones was gone, and the contents of the trolley were still needed by the others, only a few floors away.
The full force of her grief felt like a weight she could hold off for awhile. Of course she would only need to until sunrise, but she wasn’t sure if she wanted to let it wash over her or ignore it completely until then.
She had a few hours to decide, anyway.
She pressed the elevator button again, and stepped back to take hold of the trolley handle. Where Lewis’ hands had been only minutes before.
Sighing shakily, she wheeled the trolley into the elevator. She still had her mirror, which was good.
The storms had never come this close together, but they had become more frequent with each passing week to the point where it was not wise to take anything for granted.

As the elevator rose through the floors, she focused on trying to slow her heart rate and breathing. She still hadn’t decided whether to break it to the others or not.
She stepped out onto the corridor, heading towards the open door. As things were at the moment, none of them had seen the point in keeping things locked.
Hungry sounding exclamations of joy and relief sounded as the trolley preceded her into the lounge room from the mirrored hallway.
Mirrors of all sizes and kinds were stacked up everywhere in the lounge room, reflecting the bright yellow lights into Lewis’ eyes with painful intensity.
Squinting, she could barely differentiate between the fifteen people who had gathered around her excitedly to rummaged through the loot that Jones had paid so dearly for.

"Tim-Tams, score!"
"Potatoes! Now we can make soup... and chips. I bags not cooking, you guys all know I suck as a chef."
"Oh man, soap and rice crackers; I'm in heaven!"

None of them seemed to notice her face dropping further with each remark. She decided suddenly to not tell them about Jones, reasoning that it was ultimately futile. However the next comment sorely taxed her stoic determination.

“Lewis, you even remembered to pick up that extra copper mesh! How did you know? More than that, I don’t know how you’ve been managing to go on these trips by yourself all this time. When we heard the storm start, we thought you may have been caught. At least one of us really should go with you next time we need supplies.”
It was too much. Looking into Larasati’s dark eyes and seeing the gratitude and only a little concern therein pierced her resolve and dragged a loud sob from her as she felt her face crumple.
“Lewis...?”
The concern in Larasati’s eyes deepened and the others dropped their chosen prizes back into the trolley as the realisation dawned that something was wrong. Even Brown looked up from his work, understanding and even sympathy in his eyes.
There was no way she could prevaricate the issue now.
“Larasati, it’s Jones. He’s gone.”
Confused looks were traded amongst everyone but Brown, who sat silently waiting for Lewis to continue.
“Brown was right. I haven’t gone for supplies alone once since I joined the gang here. Jones always came with me. He was the one who remembered to get the mesh for you.”
“Ha, ha. Very funny.” Teelow interjected hotly. “Just because we’re going along with Brown’s idea that we’re being chased around by lightning storms that can’t strike as long as someone’s looking at you doesn’t mean we have to humour every frickin’ piece of nonsense he decides to spout.”
“Enough, Teelow” Larasati said “Let her finish.” she turned back to Lewis “Will you tell me who Jones is?”
“You really don’t remember?”
Teelow rolled her eyes as Larasati hesitantly shook her head.
“He’s your boyfriend! You guys have been together since you were fifteen. Here,” Lewis grabbed at one of the photos that were lined up on top of one of the bookshelf that took up half one of the walls and shoved it in Larasati’s hands “Here’s a goddamn photo of you together last year at your graduation!”
“Lewis...” Farasati handed the photo back to her. In it was Farasati, looking young, happy and proud, holding the proof of a completed Bachelor in Engineering up to the camera. Standing alone.
Lewis stood speechless, looking at the photo.
Brown stood up from the desk in the corner he had been occupying “It’s what I’ve been trying to tell you people all along. It’s not just the storms. This has happened before, to all of us. It’s just the first time one of us has witnessed it since we started living here”
There were uncomfortable mutters, and Teelow forced a laugh angrily.
“Do you think Lewis is making this up, Teelow?”
“I think she’s been listening to you too much. Maybe she got confused when she was running from the storm. Sounds like one got pretty close.”
Lewis exhaled violently “You think I’m some kind of fucking idiot who makes up random people because she heard a scary story from someone else? Jones is-- was real, and the storm caught him. I tripped and looked away. God Farasati, it’s my fault. I am so--” she bit back a sob “ so incredibly sorry.”
“No use apologising now,” Brown cut in “she doesn’t even remember him. You’re the only one who does now, and even you won’t come morning. You’ll remember that you remembered a friend who was caught by a storm, but nothing else. Before that happens, I need you to tell me some things. I need his full name, where he was born or grew up, and his date of birth if you remember it”
Lewis racked her brains for the details, looking at Farasati though she knew she couldn’t help her.
“Um, Thomas... Russel Jones. I think he grew up around Brighton, and his birthday was in February 1990. Sorry I can’t be more specific”
The computer keyboard clattered as Brown hunched over it to enter what she had told him into his favoured search engines.
“Never mind, that’s got it. Here it is, under death notices in the archive database of The Brighton Leader.”
A fit of jostling broke out as everyone tried to manoeuvre themselves a clear view of the screen.

JONES, Thomas J.
14.2.1990-16.5.1995

Martha and Phillip Jones today mourn the loss of their young son Thomas, tragically taken from them at the age of 5 when he passed away in his sleep. Thomas is the third child to be lost to the Jones family, and is survived by his younger sister Emily, 3. Our thoughts and well wishes are with them at this time.

Even Teelow was silent. They all turned one by one from the computer to face Brown.
“This has been happening all over the world for at least the past year. If Lewis hadn’t seen Jones being taken, none of us, not even her would have known that he ever existed past the age of five.”
He cleared his throat.
“I saw it happen to someone close to me, I can still see it happening in my mind. My girlfriend. But I don’t remember anything about her, and I wouldn’t even know her name if I hadn’t written it down. It had all just disappeared from my mind when the sun rose the next morning. I can’t even mourn her.”
Teelow shook her head “But what do you mean, this has been happening worldwide for the past year? How do you know”
“Isn’t it obvious? The storms. According to weather reports, they are everywhere. And have been for the past year. More than that, it’s the population.”
Teelow looked confused “What about it?”
“The child mortality rate. At the moment the population is about 10 percent of what it should be at this point in history.”
Laughing incredulously, Teelow objected “But the mortality rate has been increasing for the past 40 years. Haven’t you watched the news?”
“Haven’t you realised the implications of what has happened to Jones? From what Lewis has told us Jones was one of us until about half hour ago. When the storm swallowed him his history was erased from after certain point after he reached the age of five, as far as everyone but Lewis is concerned. This has been happening on a massive scale for the past year.”
He slammed his fist down on the desk, making the equipment on his desk and the people in the room jump. “The mortality rate has reached 90% this week. We are being decimated as a species and we don’t even realise it.”

WC: 2770, deficit: 2230. Doing better tonight. Going to try to catch up further tomorrow!
E: Already noticed a glaring plothole that will need to be fixed up after November is over.
Last edited by Apocalyptus on Thu Nov 03, 2011 11:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Ozone

Postby Apocalyptus » Thu Nov 03, 2011 11:38 pm

Why do I click on quote when I mean edit and vice versa? Never mind me
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Re: Ozone

Postby Apocalyptus » Sat Nov 05, 2011 3:45 am

There was a silence punctuated only by Brown’s heavy breathing and Lewis’ quiet sniffling, as what he had said sunk in. Even Teelow couldn’t think of anything to say.
“We all have siblings, aunts and uncles who died as children or before they were even born. We all remember growing up without many friends or neighbours. Except we didn’t. “
Someone cleared their throat. It was Chiu.
“So you’re saying that it could happen to any of us at any time, and unless someone sees us the exact instant we are taken by a storm no one will remember us surviving childhood at all? And that we’re some of the last survivors of a process we haven’t even noticed is happening?”
“That’s-” Brown sighed “That’s exactly what I’ve been saying for the past month. Why do you think the sixteen” he broke off and glanced at Lewis “seventeen of us moved into this apartment and have been huddling in it ever since? Some of you may see it as an extended sleepover or party, but it’s for all of our safety! We know that the lightning doesn’t seem to be able to take you at the instant you’re being observed. Even the mirrors seem to offer some temporary protection”
“He’s right” Lewis said, wiping her eyes with a tissue from one of the boxes that Jones had so thoughtfully remembered to bring. “I didn’t fully believe him at the time, but the knowledge about the mirrors and observation has saved all our lives at least once. Perhaps none of us would be here at all if Brown hadn't been out looking for potential storm victims to rescue. " She had realised a few weeks ago that it was possible that his main motivation had been self interest, in collecting more observers around himself as a buffer of safety in case of storm incursion. However she remembered back to what it had been like alone and running scared from weirdly purposeful lightning without any clear idea why, and knew they were all better off together whatever the original reason. At least for now.

There were some half-hearted mumblings of gratitude directed towards Brown then, but no one seemed to be able to muster any enthusiasm in the wake of everything that they had just taken in. They had all heard bits and pieces of from Brown before of course, but Lewis had the sense that no one had taken it quite seriously up until this point. Even Teelow looked abashed and frightened. She couldn’t find it in her heart to blame any of them, as even she hadn’t felt deep down that the reality of their situation was quite as desperate and bizarre as he had kept telling them.

She felt the weight of gazes returning to her from Brown, some nervous and others sympathetic.
Larasati dropped the mesh she had taken over to show Brown and hurried to her side.
“I think you’d better sit down and rest, Lewis. I can only imagine how terrible you must feel. Did you want one of us to bring you anything?”
All the adrenaline had finally left her body at this point, leaving her feeling shaky, cold and clammy. She ran her hands through her short brown hair and collapsed into the nearest chair. It made a sighing noise and emitted a small cloud of dust. She had been scheduled for a watch tonight, but all she could think of was sleep.
“A cup of tea and a Tim-tam would be amazing” she sighed, surprised as she said it that she had managed to keep her voice from cracking.
“I’ll take your watch tonight” Chiu volunteered as her handed her the Tim-tam “It’s the least any of us can do after all the supply trips you’ve gone on alo--” he broke off uncomfortably.
“Um, I’ll go put the kettle on.” he mumbled before retreating into the kitchen.

Lewis sat and nibbled on the chocolatey biscuit, staring into space.
Brown had sat back down at his desk, figuring out measurements and stopping to confer with Larasati every once in awhile. She had just come back from taking the heavy roll of copper mesh into the unused bedroom in which they had been stockpiling the materials for whatever they were working on together. They’d both dropped hints, but Brown had said it was best not to say too much about it until they were sure they could build it and were ready for construction.

The others had resumed unpacking the trolley, more slowly and with far less enthusiasm than before. She half smiled at Chiu when he walked in nursing a giant steaming mug, but he must have still been feeling guilty and awkward as he handed her the mug, collected an armful of groceries and walked straight back into the kitchen without once meeting her eye.
She realised she was staring into one of the mirrors. With the things everywhere and foil plastering almost every area of the walls not already so obstructed, she was beginning to get sick of silvered shiny surfaces and most of all her own reflection. She reasoned that if she stared at her own reflection long enough she may stop recognising it, and be able to pretend it was someone else.
She sipped the scalding tea, welcoming the warmth on her tongue. Looking around to make sure that no would be bothered, she turned on the small dusty television set that sat amongst the nest of photographs on top of one of the bookshelves. She flipped through the channels quickly, willing the light and noise of cooking shows, celebrity interviews and crime dramas to fill her mind and drown out all thought of Jones, and how many other loved ones she had probably already lost and completely forgotten.
However she embraced the crushing guilt, made all the worse for knowing it would be gone tomorrow.
Kimra wrote:Next they'll be denying us the right to say "We'll rape your arse if you don't come to this fucken country."
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Re: Ozone

Postby Kimra » Sun Nov 06, 2011 5:02 am

Why you no word count?
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Re: Ozone

Postby sotic » Sun Nov 06, 2011 7:20 pm

I do like this. I'm excited to find out the cause of the lightning, and what 'motivation' the world may have for trying to retroactively change time.
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