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Anton – Waking Up
Hopefully Sector 7, Tamiku
Probably August 2192
Darkness slowly drifted from my cloudy vision as I regained consciousness. My first thought ripped through my brain like a wildfire, why am I still alive? Vaguely familiar numbness ached in my head, reminding me of numerous sleepless nights. Every nerve in my body pulsed as I tried to sit up, the initial shock of pain forcing my body back against the unfamiliar grey fabric that wrapped the two-seater couch beneath me.
“He’s awake!” A young child, a boy’s voice; broke through my dopey waking thoughts.
Another deeper male voice replied, “Shhh Henry, you’ll wake Mum up.”
“Oops, sorry Dad.” The kid, Henry, whispered.
“Too late.” A female voice sighed.
“Sorry Mum, I forgot you were sleeping.” He apologised.
“It’s okay sweetie.”
By then I had tried and failed at sitting up, somehow even more confused and disoriented than before. Looking around the cramped studio apartment, I tried to work out where the hell I was. Steeling myself again, I sat up, surprised at the sudden decrease in pain, but still wincing as my hand slipped to the wound near the lower left side of my stomach. Three sleepy faces greeted me with smiles that seemed oddly genuine even though I had no idea who they were.
“Who are you? Where am I? What happened?” I asked.
“Slow down mate, you’re in safe hands. My name is Zheng-Shi, but everyone just calls me Zheng.” he said with a smile. “You’re the guy who saved our lives. This is my wife Lucia and my son Henry.” He finished, gesturing to the woman and young boy across the room.
As my mind cleared, I started remembering what happened the night before. Quickly piecing everything together, I looked around the room again. Lived in was a good way to describe it; not a pristine mansion, but not a neglected dump either. The small space tripled as a bedroom, kitchen and lounge with two doors, probably the bathroom and front door. Glancing back towards the young family, I decided that they were probably too innocent to try and kill me.
“What happened?” I questioned again.
Zheng sat down on the edge of the couch and explained. “You were downstairs, taking on that group of thugs. I heard the gunfire and went down to investigate. Your back was turned and the only one still alive had his gun up. I managed to grab a blaster and shoot him, but by then it was too late, he’d already hit you.”
Sitting up, I winced and felt the already covered wound with my hand.
Lucia explained with a smile, “We cleaned you up, dressed your wound and stitched you back up.”
“Uh thanks…how long was I out for?” I asked, still relatively confused.
“You’ve been in and out of consciousness for about three days now. We checked your blood type and managed to replace some of what you lost. I think we’ve done okay for a pair of scavengers, huh?” Zheng said, looking over at Lucia with an amused smile.
“What the hell, how’d you get blood?” I asked in shock, knowing how rare a resource it was.
“Blood transfusions are easy, haven’t you seen the technology?” When I didn’t respond, Zheng grabbed a small device from the table beside me. “From what I understand, it’s a tube with a needle on each end. You connect it to either a person or a blood bag then it self regulates the pressure and how much it draws. Luckily Lucia has the same blood type as you.”
I turned to look at her, surprised but grateful, “Thank you.”
“Again, you saved us; this was the least we could do.” Lucia said as she walked over with Henry by her side.
“Are you hungry? Can we get you something to eat?” Zheng asked.
“I’m okay, but I could do with a glass of water.”
“I’m on it!” Henry exclaimed as he ran past me to the kitchen.
Now that I could relax, confident that strangers hadn’t kidnapped me, I was able to take in my captors. Metaphorically that is. Zheng was middle-aged, he looked around thirty but was actually closer to forty; his Chinese heritage to thank for his age-defying appearance. With short black hair, and kind dark brown eyes, he seemed trustworthy. Even though he dressed the way most of us did on the street; in last years’ style and whatever else we could find in acceptable condition, I could tell that he was a good father. His battered black jacket looked as if it needed replacing and honestly, his blue jeans weren’t much better.
Lucia’s European features contrasted Zheng’s rounder, flatter features. Her naturally curly hair was a medium brown, which she grew long and flipped to the left. It didn’t stay there for long, often falling down to partially block view of her greyish-blue eyes. Freckles lightly dusted her pale face, running under her eyes and across her nose. Similarly to Zheng, she wore an oversized t-shirt that looked like it’d endured years of mistreatment, along with a pair of loose camo-patterned pants that somehow suited her.
As Henry returned with the water, I couldn’t help feeling a hint of envy for the seemingly happy family. Henry was a mix of his parents; dark brown hair with slight curls and hazel eyes that contained every colour. With a medium skin-tone that matched his father, he retained his mother’s freckles and somewhat angular features. I smiled as Henry handed me the glass and retreated to a spot on the couch next to his parents.
After taking a sip of water, I took a moment to think about the choice before me. Whether I told them about Oblivion or not didn’t matter, if three days was when I thought it was, Oblivion was due to attack again tonight. Unfortunately, that didn’t give us a lot of time to prepare and considering my condition, I wasn’t sure how well that would go down.
“So if I’ve been out for three days, what day is it today?” I asked.
Zheng checked his old-fashioned watch. “The tenth.”
The question burned my tongue. “Do you know who Oblivion is?”
Zheng and Lucia looked at each other for a second and then shook their heads.
“Oblivion is the name behind the…attacks in every Sector. They’ve enslaved people in some sick form of capitalism. They’re also the same people who attacked you the other night. What happened was their attempt at taking over another non-Oblivion controlled area. You really won’t be safe unless you move out into the poorer regions.”
“How do you know all of this?” Zheng responded with a suspicious undertone.
“I’ve been keeping tabs on them for a while now. Too many innocent people have paid the price for Oblivion’s self-serving motive; I can’t just sit back and let it happen. You have until around 2am tonight to get out of here before they roll down the street with a horde of soldiers.”
“We can’t just mess them up with a few scavenged explosives?” Lucia asked with a sly smile.
“Not if they have a tank. There’s a fair chance that they’ll bring one.” I said gravely.
Zheng looked thoughtful for a second. “We’re not going down without a fight. As much as the odds aren’t in our favour, we have to try.”
“I agree. We made this place our home, we’re not just going to abandon it because a power-hungry psycho wants to take it off us.” Lucia added.
“If you want to stay alive, that card shouldn’t even be on the table.” I said solemnly, watching as the pair silently deliberated for a moment, before both their gazes ended on Henry. I spoke up again, “Escape and you might have a chance. You’ll die if you stay.”
Henry wriggled restlessly between his parents before Zheng stood up and walked towards the window. I tried to swallow the guilt, knowing that I would feel worse if I didn’t tell them. Glancing at Henry, I noticed his neutral response, a sign of his innocence; something I wish I still had. When Zheng finally returned to the couch, he perched on the edge in a significantly less relaxed position than before.
Lucia started, “It’s just hard to leave this place, it was supposed to be a new start for our family. Instead, it’s just left us in a flaming bowl of poo.”
Henry’s laugh lightened the mood and put a smile on all of our faces. “Mum said poo.” He cackled as we all relaxed and gave him knowing smiles.
“It’s not the place that makes a new start, but what you do there that counts.” I said softly, once the laughing had subsided.
“I really don’t want to leave either, but we have to do what’s best for our family. If that means making our fresh start somewhere else, so be it.” Zheng forced a smile, but disappointment still leaked through.
He locked eyes with Lucia and she responded with a slight nod.
“We’ve got a day to get you guys out of here before Oblivion start another trail of no mercy. I know a place you guys can stay at for a while. Might need some work but it’ll do.”
“Thank you, uh…oh wait, why didn’t I ask? What’s your name?” Zheng asked.
“Anton, my name’s Anton.”
To continue reading 2192: Nerves, check out Chapter 3 here!
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