2099; Tragedy Drowns Bliss
Amanda was asleep in a room in the Connecticut bunker, and she was shivering slightly, not because of the little chills in the room, but because she had been with this condition for years.
**** ** ****
In Amanda's nightmare.
"Mum, don't do that. You can't stop me from going to prom. I won't let you." Amanda said with anger flaming in her eyes as she stared at her mother.
"Amanda, you're sick. The doctor advised that you sit out any form of stressful activity. I get that prom is important to you,…"
"Stop saying that. You don't get anything. You hardly do." Amanda interrupted her mum as she uttered these words infuriated while she walked out of the room, passing by her disconcerted mum's side with a bag pack in her hand and a bottle of pills in her other hand.
"…but you're more important to me" Susanne finished her sentence as she looked at the door that was slammed by her daughter in enraged transit. She let out a sadder face of concern and she couldn't help but break into tears as she sat on her daughter's bed and held the quilt on to herself while she appeared to be crying into it.
Amanda was 18 and was the primary concern of her mum, Susanne, a retired big time actress. She didn't have a father, as her mum had her through In Vitro Fertilization, and the sperm donor was kept anonymous on her request.
Amanda was born with a medical condition whereby she couldn't stay conscious for long hours without being on medication, and it worsened about two years ago.
Amanda, getting down from the staircase of her mum's mansion, picked up her phone from the edge of her tiny-strapped yhand bag as she headed towards the entrance door.
"Iris, open the door!" Amanda frustratingly yelled at the AI controlled door and as it clicked open, she went right to her car where she rested her thumb on the door's knob to unlock it.
She sat by the driver's seat of her Tesla MX340 and dropped her bag on the chair to her right side without much care. She then rested her thumb yet again on the ignition switch, and the car started with the AI systems coming alive.
"Hi, Amanda. That's an ugly frown. Where are you wearing that to, girl?" The AI asked from within the speakers of the car.
"Just drive, please. Now's not the time for that conversation." Amanda replied with a sombre pitch as she looked towards the door of her house.
"All right, girl. We don't have to talk about it. We about to go get stoned, and maybe put down our teenage girl pants for a minute." The AI replied her with an eccentric accent that sounded more like a fusion of Black American, Scottish and Spanish.
"AHHHH AHHH AHH! You always get me girl." Amanda laughed before she could utter a word.
"We girls got to have each other's boobies, right?" The AI said the phrase the wrong way with all humour intended.
"Yeah, I guess so. Thank you, Ava." Amanda said with a genuine face and a gleeful touch on the screen over her dashboard.
In a ride that wasn't more than a dozen minutes long, Amanda arrived at her school and alighted from the car with the door still open.
"You're forgetting something, girl; your corsage." The AI said promptly.
"Thank you." Amanda replied with a smile as she took her corsage from the side of her bag.
There were a number of cars, majestically looking and delicately designed luxury ones parked over the whole premises and this was a view that she'd envisaged. Everything was going as she'd always imagined it to be.
Amanda walked up the many stairs that led to the hallway of the school, and at every five feet stroll she took, a couple were making out steamily with their hands in places she'd rather not concern herself with.
For Amanda, this night held two surprises. She was going to surprise Lucas, her boyfriend by showing up and she was going to tell him that she loved him. The thoughts of how all these could be romantic stirred up an orchestra of butterflies in her belly.
"Hey. It's so good to have you back here, Amanda." A tall guy said with a tone of concern.
"You were in our thoughts and prayers." The other boy, whose nails were painted like the Croatian map and had lip-gloss heavily expressing themselves on his lips while he constantly held up one of his hands in the air back and forth, with his other hands romantically leaning on the guy who spoke first.
"Thank you. Have you seen Lucas?" She asked, in a hurry to get away from these lovers whose pheromones were half as powerful as hers.
"He should be by the pool-side." One of them replied while Amanda walked speedily towards the location.
"He must be so lonely to be staying there." Amanda thought to herself a while she walked because that spot was renowned for being home to the school loner's or losers who had no one to hang out with or to the super lustful couples who needed to exchange bodily fluids.
Amanda was walking fast with her heart pacing and beating loudly like a notorious 90's punk band. With every rising, tingling and affectionate energy flowing through her veins and into her heart, she began to feel weak.
The bodily weakness halted her steps and hastened her breathing and her heart rate in this hallway where no other person was at. She was still a far distance from the poolside where she was headed and she had to get there. She had to see him.
With every bit of strength left in her, Amanda forced her legs into moving from where they were stuck at, and she rationalized the whole "I can do it against all odds" speech in her head while she advanced slowly and painfully.
One would not have known the measure of pain in her chest as she wheezed while walking with a loud smile that could haunt any creeping ghost in this dimly lit hallway. A guy passed by her but barely noticed her groans and the little aching sounds she was letting out from her widely stretched red cheeks. She didn't want help anyway. She had to do this for herself, and by herself.
Amanda kept struggling, and with just a few steps towards the edge of the turn that led to the poolside, her vision began to blur like a Polaroid camera out of focus, with eigengrau becoming more evident in her eyes which were shutting slowly as her breathing became louder.
"Oh, no!" Amanda muttered barely with her body getting shivers of numbness all over. She was on a Sisyphean quest and with not much strength left in her, she held her hand tightly on the edge of the wall and struggled to pull herself to the side of the edge from where she could have a clear view of the lonely, sad and loving eyes of Lucas.
The light-headedness was becoming thicker and Amanda was losing clarity to its weight while she fought hard to stay conscious. She could barely see things as they were, as the pixels of all around her were either grey to her fading vision or wriggling in their shapes.
She saw a shadow of a guy's back reflecting on the wall, and without much help, she could identify audaciously that it was Lucas'.
You know how lovers can sense the presence of their other halves from across the room? Amanda was feeling this heavily, and her pain coupled with her fleeting consciousness seemed like less of the bully it was.
"Lucas?...lu…" Amanda said softly with more sighs of exhaustion and unconsciousness evident in her indiscernible words.
She had seen him, or at least the shadow of his back, but he hadn't seen her or even felt her presence as he was in the business of searching the uttermost parts of Clara's mouth with his tongue while she was seated on his right side by the edge of the pool itself.
"uhhh. Uhh!" Amanda sighed once and subsequently panted hardly with her hand slipping from the edge of the wall which she held on to earlier. A few seconds into her hand's slip, she faded out of whatever was left of her consciousness levels and her body thudded heavily on the ground with her back taking the hardest hit which she didn't feel as she was wrapped in vivid unconsciousness.
Despite the hard thudding sound her body made on impact with the ground, Clara and Lucas weren't in any way distracted as their lips fervently rubbed on each other's.
"Lucas?" A woman asked with a tone of curiosity and slight surprise from a distance which was a few feet away from the pool.
"Oh, shit!" Lucas said with his mouth running out of Clara's mouth's heavy grip as he turned his face towards Susanne, Amanda's mom. In this fit of shock and heightened levels of guilt, he stood up hastily and all of these prompted a bewildered facial expression from Clara who scoffed and watched whatever scene was unfolding before her eyes.
"…have you seen Amanda?" Susanne asked with a palette of emotions; anger, hurt, and disappointment while she slowly uttered her words to the trembling Lucas whose forehead was bearing a bold sweat on it.
"No… I didn't know she was coming." Lucas said in a lowly turn soaked in guilt and hurt as he barely kept eye contact with Susanne.
Susanne nodded her head slowly with her breathing going off rhythm while she struggled to keep her head straight.
"Amanda. Amanda. Somebody help me. Anybody, please." A guy yelled with a voice coated in tears and pain boldly inscribed on every stuttering syllable as he held Amanda's head on to his knee while rubbing her face. He hoped for help, or a miracle. He needed something and someone to come save her. He loved her. That was obvious to everyone but Amanda.
Susanne sprinted her way to the corner which was a few steps away from where she stood. Lucas followed her from behind with his guilt getting the better of him as a concerned burden became fixed on his face as he looked at the unconscious Amanda on the floor in her prom outfit.
That was always her dream. That's all she'd ever wanted, and Lucas had failed her.
"Amanda, mummy's here. You'll be okay." Susanne said with her hand over Amanda's head and the other hand on her neck to feel her pulse.
"Calum, let's get her to the car now." Susanne said hurriedly to the sobbing boy who had shouted earlier. Calum was her best friend, and all he'd ever wanted was for her to be happy and healthy again.
Amanda, dressed in a white hospital patient outfit and laying on the bed in this ward with what appeared like a lean smile on her face that had an oxygen tube right underneath her nose, gasped suddenly and her eyelids which were initially closed, twitched a dozen times in a space of a few seconds before she finally opened them wide.
Amanda had been in a coma for 112 days and her body was used to sleeping and being half-conscious. The right side of her head hurt and she was having blurry vision and a strange tingling sensation around her back. Amanda's mind was fuzzy, and she barely understood anything about what had happened to her and where she was.
In an attempt to settle her unnerving curiosity, she slowly sat up with her back resting on the frame of the bed where her head formerly was while she released a few moans under her breath as she felt pain in her joints and body.
Amanda, looked to her left side, towards the window of the hospital and saw her hologram device by the table a little far from her. She wanted to touch it, to feel something besides her pain, but as she extended her hand halfway, the pain gripped her yet again, and strongly this time, so she gave up and returned her hand to her thighs letting out sighs borne of discomfort.
"Fuck!" Amanda yelled with the throbbing mild aches she felt. This was her first word in over four months, and as she spoke, her Hologram came alive.
"Fuck! Amanda, you're awake. Was kinda hoping it'd take Calum's kiss to make that happen, but here we are. I missed you, girl. You scared the shit out of us all." Ava said with heavy happiness and a speedy rush.
"Those cuss words are definitely a reason I can't die yet, Ava… I missed you, too." Amanda said with a light laugh and keen cheer while she placed two of her fingers on her head.
"I bet, girl. So, catch me up. You stalked Jesus much? He as pretty as em GQ dudes? Don't hold back! Tell me all of it." Ava said with over-the-top excitement and non-drug-based euphoria.
"Oh! You are nasty, Ava.. and I didn't see Jesus. I did see my boyfriend, Lucas, a lot though." Amanda wrapped up her sentence with a perfect blush resting on her pale cheeks.
Ava went silent, and said nothing. In this moment of silence, Amanda turned her head towards the right side of the room and saw a pile of beautifully designed and multi-coloured greeting card, and for some reason, her heart leaped for joy and butterflies were roaming in her belly.
"Are those from Lucas? Oh, my God. That's so sweet. He did them the vintage way. I've always wished for something like this. It's just as if he read my mind." Amanda kept speaking with eyes and cheeks lighting up for joy towards this gesture.
Ava remained silent, and Amanda noticed this, so she returned her face to Ava's side.
"What's wrong, Ava? You aren't saying anything?" Amanda asked curiously.
"Amanda, Lucas didn't write those. He didn't write any of it. I'm sorry." Ava said with an empathetic tone.
"I don't understand. If he didn't, then who did?" Amanda asked with her smile fading from her face.
"Calum did. He came here every day and he'd bring one every time and even read to your ears while you were out." Ava said, still with a sombre tone.
"How long… how long was I out again, Ava?" Amanda asked with the ringing pitch in her head rising slowly while she spoke.
"112 days, Amanda." Ava replied.
"..and not once did Lucas come over, right?" Amanda continued with an heart-breaking voice.
"I'm sorry, Amanda." Ava said, in a bid to comfort her.
"mmmm… can you read me the first one Calum brought?" Amanda asked as she sniffled lightly.
"Yeah. Hey. It's the first day since you've been all Snow White, and I'm terrified. Please, get better, for your mum and for me. I love you." Ava read, with all emotions the letter weighed.
"hhhh!" Amanda, disconcerted and emotional at the same time let out a shallow breath with her eyes opened a little less widely.
"Can you read the last one he sent, please?" Amanda asked in a very low voice that was almost under her breath.
"So, guess what? I got us tickets to go to the Theatre of Antiquities in New York, just like we'd always planned. We are to leave in nine days. I am not going without you, Amanda. You have my heart and my love. You're going to come out of this, and we're going to be old and grey making jokes and painting ugly pictures of ourselves." Ava read with a rather poetic voice as she was immersed in the sincerity of the letter.
"Ughhh." Amanda chuckled lightly with tears rolling down her eyes.
How did she not know that Calum loved her? She'd meant the world to him, but she hardly saw him as more than her best friend.
In the middle of this slightly eccentric sobbing, someone walked into the room hastily with a letter in his hand, and a big bag on his back.
"Amanda?" the voice said with shock and excitement.
"Calum?" Amanda replied with affection as she raised her head to see the unfamiliar voice.
The moment their eyes met, the whole lights in the building and the other sky scrapers next to them went off. Every gadget, electronic device and technologically fashioned device buzzed their last before shutting down.
All lights out.
"What the fuck?" They both thought to themselves in the middle of this gross darkness that had befallen them.
A few seconds after, tears and wailings could be heard loudly and discordantly from every edge, corner, room and part of the hospital.
Amanda was terrified, not just because of the sudden darkness, but the heavy breathing that her lungs and mouth were producing as she began to hyperventilate from her mouth.
"Amanda, breathe. I'm here, okay? We'll get through this." Calum said as he rubbed his hand warmly on her trembling shoulders and arms.
Calum took his hand from her and dropped his bag on the bed while he opened it up to bring out an antiquated torchlight that used 20th century lithium rechargeable batteries. While Amanda kept breathing hard and saying nothing because of the shock that had overwhelmed her, he switched it on, and he looked into her eyes.
Those eyes, turquoise edges of the moon in bloom were adorable, and as the light spread across the room, he could see her face light up. Every part of her was beautiful, even her scared and teary face, and he couldn't hold back on the smile that his face unveiled.
"Hey. You are going to be okay. Okay. There's no easier way to say this, and now feels like really horrible timing, but I'll say it anyway. You know how.." Calum said in a haste of awkwardness before Amanda interrupted him.
"I know, Calum. I'm sorry I didn't acknowledge it earlier. I love you, too." Amanda said with a soft and yet still voice with a face of extreme sincerity.
"Whoa… ooofph! I waited half my life to hear that and this was just perfect. Thank you, Amanda. However, that's not what I was going to say… uhmmm." Calum replied with a hefty blush on his cheeks that spilled words even more awkwardly than before.
"It's 2099, Amanda. The apocalypse is happening. And I'm sorry if you find that hard to believe right now, but that's what this is." Calum said, while stuttering throughout most of his words before Amanda's clueless and confused face.
"Calum, are you really quoting one of your teenage comics or nerd references right now?" Amanda asked with seriousness as she demanded clarity.
"I wish that was all this was about, but it's no joke, Amanda. It's really happening. Okay, look, outside as we speak, the sun is gone, like it has vanished, and bad, bad things are about to come next." Calum said patiently with a tone that had a rising amount of fear in it.
"That was good, Calum. Very good Eli Roth impression there." Amanda said with a brief and awkward chuckle.
"Oh, come on. What do they have you on? This is no joke. Can you walk? We really have to go now." Calum said with more apprehension and fear enveloping his voice.
"Okay. Let's assume for a moment that I do believe you, and the "apocalypse" is happening, where are we going to?" Amanda asked as she was leaning into the idea that all these might be true.
"There's a bunker…" Calum replied instantly before she interrupted him with an exclamation.
"Really, Calum? This is so not funny anymore. What movie is this whole act from?" Amanda asked as she was slowly freaking out.
Calum, anxious to prove to her that this was no farce or movie joke, walked towards the other end of the room and pulled the curtain open for her to see what was outside.
"More noise, noise, dread, horror, blackness." That was all she saw, felt and heard in that moment she looked outside.
"Okay, I believe you." Amanda said quickly as her mind was thunderstruck and helplessly clueless.
"Good, let's go." Calum said with a sense of relief as he slowly held her hand while she sat by the edge of the bed to wear her hospital crocs which Calum brought nearer to her feet.
"We are gonna have to go a little faster than that, Amanda." Calum said while they dragged their feet and walked like pregnant snails.
"You really want me to go faster? I've been half-dead for 100 plus days. Have a little pity for my speed." Amanda said humorously as she held her arm around Calum's neck.
"remember what you'd always tell me? You can do…"
"Anything you put your mind to." Amanda and Calum said together at the same time as she moved faster.
"And how are we supposed to get to the bunker?" Amanda asked curiously amidst all the panic and screams that emanated from every corner and turn.
"We'll cycle. I got the bike downstairs." Calum replied quickly while panting from the energy expended in adding her weight to his while they ran down the stairs.
"Ooooh! God, why didn't you just let me rest in your arms or something when you had me over for vacation?" Amanda asked God rhetorically as she looked towards the roof above them.
"Now's not the time for philosophy, girl. We are on our own this time." Calum said with no bit of humour as he pointed the torchlight towards the bicycle where he'd parked it.
"Is that it?" Amanda asked with her body weight bearing more on Calum as they were a few metres away from the bicycle.
"Yeah, that's Leah, and she's our ride." Calum said as his movement paced.
"You named that after our grade eight teacher, didn't you?" Amanda asked as she burst into a nasty laughter.
"Well, maybe." Calum replied with a laugh.
"Pervert!" Amanda added while she laughed so hard that her nose oinked like a pig's.
"Oh, fuck!" Calum uttered with worry as the torchlight in his hand flickered as they got to the bicycle.
"We are both doing this, right?" Amanda asked sarcastically.
"Yeah. Why else does it have two pedals and two seats?" Calum replied while helping her to sit on the rear end of the bike.
"I'm good. You're really handling this whole apocalypse shit well, you know.." Amanda said, looking at him while he sat in her front.
"Yeah, it's either that or the other option we are definitely not talking about." Calum said as he fixed his hands on the handles and gear while holding on to the torchlight.
"Thank you, Calum." Amanda whispered lowly to the back of his body which was in front of her.
"Did you say something?" Calum, who was already pedalling and navigating the bicycle around here said without looking back.
"No, I didn't." Amanda replied as she wrapped her hands around his back and joined in the pedalling and slowly pedalled the one at her feet in rhythm with his.
They pedalled and rode through the darkness with most of Calum's instincts and help from the flickering torchlight as they finally got to the multi-million dollar Ares Company.
"Okay, come on. Let's go." Calum said as he removed his bag from the basket tray in the front of the bag and helped Amanda get down while he faced the building.
"Uhhhmmm.. is that legal?" Amanda asked with uncertainty clouding her voice.
"I think the word "Legal" died when the sun kissed us bye." Calum replied as he dragged her closer to himself while they walked into this edifice in search of the bunker's location which Calum had not paid much attention to earlier during the nerd breakfast broadcast.
"Do you actually know where we're going…. NNnnnkkkkk" Amanda asked as she coughed, short of breath.
"Is the oxygen tube still intact?" Calum asked her with care as he held her hands and stopped trekking ahead of her.
"Yeah, it's just not as effective, I think." Amanda said with low breath and a thin voice.
"I'm sorry. I promise you'll be okay. I may or may not have stolen two mini oxygen cylinders, too." Calum said as he burst into a criminal laugh.
"Oh, no. you didn't." Amanda replied with laughter of curiosity.
Amanda fixed her eyes on his voice and she found hope, love and strength in it.
"What more could one ask for?" She thought to herself, revelling in the love of Calum.
After a dozen missteps and a ton of miscalculated routes within this building that now felt like a maze, Amanda was exhausted and sat on the ground while Calum looked around them in search of a sign, memory or anything.
While they stayed clueless in this silence, a loud crash of glasses by something heavy and huge scattered round the building and caused them both to shiver and this heightened the chills in the building.
"What the fuck was that?" Amanda asked Calum who was speechless and equally frightened by the sound.
"Shhhhh!" Calum said to Amanda who wondered why.
From a distance, foot steps were approaching towards their direction and Calum patiently listened in a bid to identify their distance and to catch up on their words.
"What is that?" Amanda said in a stealthy voice while she dragged Calum's trouser by his knee tightly.
"I don't know. Let's find out." Calum replied in an even quieter voice as he sat down next to her and put off the flickering torchlight till it was absolutely dark around them.
As the footsteps advanced and the sounds of their shoes and movements became louder, fear gripped Amanda and Calum the more.
What was lying around them? Were these people dangerous? Would their death be gentle, kind and merciful? These thoughts danced around the pages of their heads as they covered their mouths in order to keep their trembling and freaked-out moans within their mouths.
"Jesus. I can't do this anymore. Fuck. I'm sorry, Calum. I'm freaked out." Amanda yelled loudly in a Tiffany Haddish voice that was loud enough to rock the bowels of anyone breathing in the building.
"What the hell, Amanda?" Calum said in a mid-baritone voice weighing tons in tension and suspense as he knew that their cover had been blown.
"Who's there? Please don't hurt us. We're just looking for a bunker. We have no weapons and are very domestic and loving human beings. We are Homo Sapiens Sapiens, people." A guy whose voice was full of fear uttered uncontrollably as he kept walking slowly towards where he'd heard Amanda's scream.
"Please shut the fuck up, Garcos. You're saying shit that could get us killed." A teenage girl who was next to him replied hastily with more confidence than fear.
"I'm the dumb twin. You deserve better, baby girl." Garcos replied her with a voice that broke into tears that became louder by the second.
"Oh, shut up. You're the perfect twin. I couldn't have wished for any brighter one, cos then I'd be the dumb one." Fillux replied authoritatively as she kept her heavy emotions at bay.
Amanda's fear gradually lessened as she heard this jovial and somewhat funny banter between these two that were about 6 feet away from them.
"Should we…?" Calum asked Amanda quietly.
"Yeah, sure." Amanda replied confidently as she nodded her head.
"Hi, guys." Calum said as he got up from the floor where he sat.
"Oh, God. Garcos, I love you, too. I should have said that earlier." Fillux screamed out in fear of the stranger's voice that intensified the dread in her veins.
"You remain my favourite twin, even till the afterlife." Garcos said as he hugged her tightly as they sobbed in each other's shoulders.
"That's not weird at all. You guys, we aren't attacking you or anything. We are just like you, so you can end the sibling's party now." Amanda said with an emphatic tone which stirred up from her frustration at how sweet the banter of the twins was.
"What? You guys aren't bad guys?" The twins said together with uniform pauses as though they shared a telepathic connection.
"Oh, come on! What's with you all and thinking this is some Nolan or Tom Hanks' movie?" Amanda replied with a slight scoff as she looked towards their direction.
Calum, who had been standing in silence while smiling at the cuteness of them all, switched the torchlight on and pointed it directly at their faces.
"Whoa! Is that light?" Garcos asked as though he was re-entering into civilisation.
"Okay. Let's make this quick, before the actual killers come for us all. And I don't know about you, but I'm not ready for that." Amanda said as she looked at their illuminated faces which were even friendlier than their voices and repartee.
"I'm Fillux, and this is my twin, Garcos. You guys are?" Fillux asked with a smile and curiosity on her face.
"I'm Calum, and she's Amanda." Calum said as he pointed the light towards his face and Amanda's.
"Are you guys twins, too?" Garcos asked with a smile so wide you could count all his teeth.
"No. Lovers, actually. Now, let's go find that bunker." Amanda said as she advanced towards nowhere in particular while they all ran towards her like lost puppies and followed her.
Calum had not gotten his smile off his face since she called them lovers and in that bubble of excitement, he looked towards the ground and noticed neon lights that shined slightly whenever the torchlight in his hands struck them.
He traced them with his light into a farther distance from them, and it made sense to him.
"It's the direction." They all said together with smiles and jubilant blushes falling off their cheeks.
"Let's go." Calum said as he held Amanda's fingers and locked them into his while they advanced.