It was the size of a finger and not all that pretty
This caterpillar, it did not live in the city
Instead, it lived in a snug town, and it liked it that way
It was satisfied with its life, it was never in dismay
It had friends, it had love, this caterpillar was never alone
It had so little, yet was so grateful
It felt safe there, at home.
It sometimes felt hateful,
But little did it know, that was not the way to go
It soon found itself,
In what seemed like a shell
A cocoon, which was a tight fit,
It could barely even see through it
It told itself it wasn’t so bad,
It was going to get out soon,
No use in being sad.
Sooner or later it hatched, this cocoon
Alas, the caterpillar was set free
But what it found as it slipped out, did not bring it glee
Out spread some elegant wings,
Some colours, some patterns, all sorts of things
This caterpillar’s friends had been jumping with joy
They thought their new wings was a sight to enjoy
But the caterpillar disagreed,
“I want my old self back!” he would plead
Its loved ones had left it unintentionally
They flapped their wings and soared freely
But the caterpillar stayed there, as a new found butterfly
It did not wish to leave, it did not wish to fly
It cried and it wept all day,
It was no longer at home, the wind swept it away
It found itself lonely, no one nearby
To reassure it instead of wanting to die.
It did not like this change, did not like this life
Inside it was always a caterpillar, not a stunning butterfly
At night, it thought about everything it left behind, lay there awake
But there are some decisions that are just not yours to make.
In my forest I sit and wait
I wait for someone to come help me escape
But no one ever stays
Well that's just great
I don’t know how I got here
I don’t know how to leave
Won’t someone help me escape this forest
Please oh please?
People come and go
And although I beg and plead
They simply just ignore me
Won’t even help me to be freed
For a while I tried
I tried to ask for help getting out
But it never worked
So eventually, I stopped all my shouts
I hate it in this forest
It’s dark and dreary
So why people even bother visiting
Makes me very weary
It makes me want to cry
It makes me want to scream
But I don’t out of sheer terror
That someone will end up stuck with me
So that’s what I do
I sit amongst these huge trees
I feel like they are going to swallow me up
And I wait for the day that I will finally flee
A Flower bloomed
It was a warm spring afternoon
The snow had just melted after a cold winter
The sun was out,
The sky was blue,
And the birds had just returned home
A Flower was blooming.
When the kids came out to play,
A Flower was hoping to share its beauty with them.
The kids crushed the flower.
A Flower continued to bloom
Still hoping to share its beauty.
More children came and stepped on the flower
A Flower struggled to keep blooming.
A mother and her son walked by.
A flower wanted to share its beauty
With them though it was damaged.
The boy smashed the flower with his foot.
His mother didn’t notice.
She continued to walk.
A Flower was damaged.
It turned gray and shriveled up.
It was gray as the cement that paved the road.
All it wanted to do was share its beauty with the world.
Instead, it was destroyed,
And its beauty taken
I woke up on a cargo plane, with what seemed like a hundred people aboard, sitting and waiting. I saw hands shaking, legs shaking, fingernails being bitten. Not one person spoke, they avoided eye contact. I was unaware of what was happening, and how I got here. The intercom broke the silence, everyone jumped and looked up.
Someone with a low and raspy voice spoke, “Attention passengers, in approximately one minute, we will be arriving at our destination. You will find a number on your left hand, this signifies your group, please identify your other group members before arrival. Upon arrival the cargo doors will open and you will jump, a parachute has been provided under your seat. Your objective is to scavenge for supplies, and kill anyone you may see, last one standing wins… Oh and watch-out for the radiation and bombing zones... “.
My heart was going a hundred kilometers an hour now. We were then assigned teammates. I saw the cargo door open and right away people jumped. I couldn't believe what was happening. I heard over the gusting wind “EVERYONE WITH THE NUMBER 18, JUMP NOW!”, I looked down and saw inscribed in my hand the number 18, I looked up and saw my group jump out, I followed.
I woke up on the ground, my teammates surrounding me looking at something. I was cold, I felt the snow go down my shirt and into my boots as I sat up.
They started to shout, “LET’S GO! RUN! NOW!”.
I looked behind me and saw what looked like a giant blue wall made of some sort of gas. It was coming fast and I crawled and stumbled when getting up. I began to run. We entered an open field and I started to hear the distant sounds of gunshots. We were still running and the wall was closing in on us. I saw one of my teammates get sucked in. We got to a road and saw a car. The only problem was that the road was parallel to the wall. Would we have time to get to it? There was only one way to find out. We started to run. I felt the adrenaline,which was already pumping, go crazy. The snow made it hard to run. Every breath froze my lungs. Finally we got to the car and sped off as fast as lightning. We looked behind us and saw people getting devoured by it. Some running, some shooting at our car.
“Desperate, aren’t they?”
“What was that?” I exclaimed.
“I have a feeling that was the radiation the operator was talking about,” one of them said.
Another one spoke, “Probably to bring us all together to the fight…”.
There was a moment of silence, until the driver spoke, “So, what’s your names, mines Jerry.”
“Dylan, ”one of them said.
I was the last to say my name, “Tyler”.
“I guess we’ll never know what our other teammate’s name was…”Jerry said.
There was silence.
“No..no! No!” Jerry said while hitting the steering wheel, “Out of gas…” he said looking outside.
“Already?!” I said leaning over the seat looking at the dash.
“I think it’s about time to get some supplies and gear," Dylan said.
We opened the doors and popped our heads out. We scanned the area to make sure nobody was around or following us. With caution, we ran across the road. There was a house big enough for all of us to loot. The first things I found were a Glock 19 with 9mm rounds and an energy drink. I then soon found a suppressor and stangelly, a frying pan which doesn’t seem that helpful but I pick it up just incase, you never know when you’re going to have to smack someone over the head to spare a bullet. When we gathered back outside I was surprised to see my teammates with larger assault rifles. Dylan also had what looked like a sniper rifle. I looked down at my gun and looked back up at them who were staring at my finds. Jerry start held back his laughter while turning around.
I spoke, “What? Does size really matter?”
Jerry said while smiling, “Some cases it does," he looked at Dylan and back at me.
“This is one of those cases…do you have another problem with that case?” He started to laugh with Dylan.
I exclaimed, “Oh come on guys, seriously, is this really the time to be making inappropriate jo...”
An alarm cut me off.
Dylan and Jerry ceased laughing.
“What was that?” Dylan said with a worried face.
We looked around and by luck, I looked up. I saw what looked like white dots coming down to our location fast.
“Umm… guys..” I said.
“What?” They said.
I pointed to the sky. We started to realize what was falling down. It was an air strike.
“SCATTER,” I screamed.
We started to run to different locations. I saw Jerry run into a shed, I proceeded to run into it with him but as soon as I got to the door, it slammed on me.
“JERRY! IT'S ME! LET ME IN!”
I ran to the window and started to knock on it, screaming for Jerry to let me in. He did nothing to help me. I hear the first missile hit the ground then the second. Each one made my bones rattle. I closed my eyes, I was ready. I prepared for impact. The next second, I felt my body get lifted off the ground and a burning feeling on my face, my ears rang and suddenly, darkness.
Next thing I knew, I woke up, disoriented. I touched the snowy ground and dug my hands into it. I opened my eyes, the brightness of the sky reflecting off the snow hurt my eyes. I touched my face and felt the heat radiating off the right side as it was burnt to a crisp. I put my face in the snow to cool it. I then realized where I was. I started to feel my body, making sure I wasn’t missing any parts. I was fully intact. I lay back down, closing my eyes. -“thank god”.
I turned my body around to face the ground and went on all fours. I slowly stood up. I squinted, while looking around, because the sun was making the snow blinding. My eyes finally adjusted to the light and I was able to distinguish footprints leading from the shed out to a field. I heard a sound come from the house behind me. I turned around. I thought maybe it was Dylan, but it sound like multiple people. I slowly walked towards the house, my pistol in hand. I got to the deck and attached my suppressor, but as I was screwing it on, I dropped it. The sound of it hitting the deck was enough to make a pair of footsteps move towards me. I quietly ran to the other side. I heard the door open and I hid right at the corner of the house. I heard footsteps come towards me. I quickly attached the suppressor. I was ready to take the shot, but the footsteps stopped. I held my breath. I unable to control my heartbeat, and I was worried it would give away my location. I was relieved to hear the footsteps start to head back to the door, so I started to make my way to the front door. The slightest crushing of ice that my boot made was enough to make my heart and the footsteps stop. I heard what sounded like a name call then he walked towards me. I drew my gun and pointed it in their location. As soon as he stepped out from the corner I shot three rounds before he dropped to the ground. I slowly ran to the other side and into the front door. I crouched by a pair of windows in the front porch. I saw them, they were reloading their guns. I exited the front porch and snuck around to get to a better angle to fire. By the time I got to the living room, they were both gone. I slowly entered the room that they were once in and saw one of their feet in mid step exit a doorway. I followed. I turned the corner and was behind one of the guys. I took out my frying pan and wacked him over the head and held his body in front of me. The other man turned around and started to fire his assault rifle at me, but the body was taking all the shots. I threw the body towards him and ran into another room . I went to the front door and got outside. I looked ahead and saw Jerry’s body. He was shot from behind. I ran over to his body and turned him over. I looked at my hands, they were bloody. Had I lost my mind, I’ve already killed two people. Suddenly, a flash bang was thrown right beside me. A flash followed by ringing made me fall to the ground. I felt nauseous. I rubbed my eyes, my head and blocked my ears trying to make the ringing and brightness go away. I could hear the footsteps right behind me. I crawled to get Jerry’s gun. A boot plumided to my back. I got pinned. I tried to reach for my pistol on the ground but they kicked it away. There was another man. I guess I didn’t notice or see him inside.
“Well, well, well… Look what we have here…” One of them said.
The other looked up and pointed at something. I turned my head and saw the radiation. It was stationary at this point. I tried to crawl and wiggle my way out but one grabbed me. He started to drag me by the hood of my sweater. I grabbed at my neck as he was choking me. An idea popped into my head. I grabbed my zipper and unzipped my sweater. I stood up but was shot in the leg by the guy to my right. I grabbed my leg in pain and screamed, but they picked me up by the arms and feet and started to move me towards the radiation. I tried my best to get out of their grasp, but nothing helped. They proceeded to throw me into it. The second I hit it’s surface, I felt pressure slowly crushing my head. I opened my eyes. My vision was blurry and tinted blue. I could feel my legs and arms become numb. I tried to crawl my way out, but my legs were so numb I could barely move them, or at least I didn’t feel them move. I looked back at the men, and heard a distant gunshot. After a full second, they both fell to the ground. A bullet went through both of their heads. I soon after passed out.
I woke up on a bed, inside a house. My leg were wrapped in bandages and a wet cloth was sitting beside my face. Dylan was sitting by the window, looking outside. I tried to get up but Dylan rushed over to me and sat me back down.
“Here take these,” he said as he passed me some painkillers.
I laid my head on the pillow and popped the pills in my mouth.
“I thought you were dead… I guess not…” he said while tightening the bandages.
“Yeah, by some miracle I guess,” I responded.
“It’s a good thing I found you or you would have legit been toast,” he said.
“Ya, thanks back there by the way…” I replied.
“I’m surprised I got you out of that radiation, I’m also surprised I was that good of a shot.”
We both turned our heads to the sound of gun fire in the distance.
“We should really get a move on, the radiation is probably on it’s way. Oh, and also grab a gun...” he said while walking to the window revealing a pile of guns on the ground.
I got up and surprisingly I was able to stand up and walk, but with a limp. It must have been the painkillers acting quickly or I was still numb. I grabbed an assault rifle and followed Dylan.
We probably walked out five meters before we heard more gunshots coming from another direction, but this time a lot closer. We got to a wooded area and I checked my ammo clip to make sure it was full. Me and Dylan scanned the area before proceeding to walk forward. We saw movement in the thick undergrowth. We drew our guns and aimed. Suddenly, we saw flashes deep in the woods before bullets went flying in our direction. Some hitting the ground, others hitting the trees and some going right past our heads. We ran behind thick trees. The gunfire continued. I never looked back. I was so scared that a bullet would go through the tree I was up against, even if I knew it was big enough to stop a bullet.
“Okay, here’s the plan…” He stopped and looked around the tree.
“You don’t have a plan do you…” I replied.
“No..no I do not… should we make a run for it?”
I nodded at him.
“Here, drink this energy drink, it will get your adrenaline pumping.” He said while passing me a redbull.
“I think my adrenaline is already pumping enough.” I said with a slight chuckle.
He counted down from three. “Ready? Three, two one...”.
We got up and ran as fast as we possibly could. We saw the bullets hit the ground right next to us. We took a couple shots towards them while running. We were very close to getting to better cover but that's when we heard a very loud blast come from the woods. Louder than a normal assault rifle. I swear I saw a 50 caliber bullet in slow motion line up perfectly with his leg. I tripped over his body as he fell to the ground. I struggled to get back up on my feet, but bullets smacked the ground right in front of me.
“Leave without me! Run,” he shouted, trying his best to crawl to a tree.
“No way! You’re staying alive!” I shouted back.
I hid behind a tree shooting rounds out the side. I put my back against it and looked at Dylan. He had a grenade in his hand.
“Just run man, LEAVE ME," he said.
“No! We are winning this together," I shouted shooting more rounds.
“I’m just going to slow you down,” he shouted.
“Look at me! I got shot in the leg, and I’m fine!” I shouted back pointing at my leg.
“Look, there’s a difference between a 50 caliber bullet and a 5.56 millmeter bullet. They are probably some of the last ones, we’ll never hit them with our rifles, they’re too far for one of us to throw a grenade, I’m already injured so I can run at them and throw it.,"Dylan said.
He got up and I grabbed his arm.
“Are you sure about this…” I asked.
He nodded and started to run towards them. I never looked back. BOOM! I got up and started to run. I got to cover behind a small stone wall. I looked over expecting gunshots but Dylan got them. I turned around and saw a man standing with his back to me looking around. I got up slowly, that was enough to make him spin around shooting. I closed my eyes. I heard the faint click of the gun. It was out of ammo. I looked beside me to find bullet holes right beside my head. He looked up at me with a worried look on his face. I raised my gun, pulled the trigger but I was out as well. I took out a frying pan as he took out his grenade. He threw it towards me and I whacked it back with the pan. It hit the ground beside him and he looked up. I ducked behind the wall and the blast made my ear rings. Debris fell all around me. I crawled away expecting another person, but the radiation slowly disappeared. I sat there confused. Am I the last one standing? Thump. A blunt object hit me in the back of the head.
I woke up in a room. A meal provided in front of me. There was a man looking at me.
“Eat," he said.
I looked down. I was so hungry and without caring, I grabbed a chicken wing and took a bite.
I woke up on a cargo plane, with what seemed like a hundred people aboard, sitting and waiting. A dreadful expression came over my face, a scenario that was all too familiar.
It never fails to amaze me that every time I walk into a saloon all eyes end up on me, I guess to size me up. This dive was no different. It didn’t help that I was dressed head to toe in black with a trench coat and brimmed hat soaking wet from the rain. As I start walking towards the bar I’m stopped by an 8 foot gorilla of a man, who was obviously heavy into body enhancements, probably some cybernetics too. Without saying a word he points to the basket that says “WEAPONS”. Angering the local muscle is never a good idea, especially when they were 2 feet taller than me. I walk over and drop my new and improved Colt M1911 Pulse pistol inside. The saloon looked no different than any of the other 4 that I had visited in the other ghost towns, shop upstairs, gambling area somewhere in the back and of course drunks everywhere. This place did stand out more than the other places, though it did have more high tech equipment and more hired help like my gorilla friend at the entrance. Could be the right ghost town I’m looking for, sure hope it is. I make my way to the bar and ask the trash can looking robot bartender for a shot of whiskey, the good stuff and I flash it a silver token for payment. I Show a little coin and hopefully it will draw the right attention. After 2-3 shots I get a visit from a lady who seems to be the main mistress of the saloon. She was wearing a fine dress that was a bit revealing but not too much. She introduces herself.
“Name’s Cali, - what’s yours cowboy?”
I don’t say anything. She continues anyway, “Strong silent type eh? - I’ll call you Bob, you look like a Bob,” she says with a smile ,“so Bob, what’s your pleasure, .. gambling…”
I finally respond, “Information.”
She responds with a disappointed voice, “Well that’s boring! But I might be able to help. What are you looking for?”
I say, “Tech, black market tech for a client that would rather not go through regular channels.”
“Avoid the red tape huh?” She says with a smile.
“Exactly” I say “Avoid the red tape.”
“And this item is?” she asks.
“A clone synetheziser,” I respond.
“Oh I can see how that would be something that would require a lot of channels and questions. A very expensive request,” she says.
Without saying anything I pull out a gold token, basically a small fortune. She snaches it out of my hand, walks away and talks to someone in the back of the saloon. After a couple of minutes of heated discussion between them she comes back to me.
“Get a room at the hotel across the street and come back tomorrow night - someone will be here you can talk with but don’t waste his time or you might find yourself in trouble”.
She doesn’t wait for my response, she just walks away. I finish my drink, retrieve my gun and leave.
Still raining... I see the hotel she told me about but I’m smart enough to know that me going there is a trap so instead, I head to the hotel at the edge of town. Bit of a walk but good way to see if I have a clue. Even in the rain, the town is alive. People using buckets to collect the rainwater to drink and live. Kids running around splashing each other and mothers screaming for them to come in or they would catch a cold. A cold here could be a death sentence with no medication but they don’t care. Ghost towns are joyless cities, any fun is worth the risk. The buildings are stacked together and house dozens of families, the poor and the unwanted. All this because the government collapsed and the corporations took over. They built gated cities, those who could afford to live there stayed. Those that couldn’t were forced out to these ghost towns, controlled by the ruthless, a perfect place for crime and black market tech. The criminals would go into the cities and steal the tech to sell or use and come back to the ghost towns to live. Police would not go after them so they would hire people like me, TekHunters, to retrieve the stolen goods for money and a chance to live in the city. Not a great life but better than living in this hell. I get to the hotel with no incidence and get a room. I setup my usual traps incase I get unexpected visitors at night, strip my jacket and boots off and fall asleep in my damp cloths.
The next morning I am woken up by a knock on the door. The first thing I do is reach for my gun that's on the nightstand next to me. I make my way to the door and crack it open a bit. I see no one at eye level but I look down and see a kid standing there. I hide the gun behind my back and open the door fully. The kid turns out to be a boy but I couldn't tell with his long hair and dirty face. Without saying anything he hands me a note. I take the note and the boy remains there waiting for something. I reach into my trench coat pocket hanging next to the door and hand him a bronze coin. He looks really surprised to get something this valuable. He starts to leave my doorway but I feel bad for the little guy so I say, “wait,” and he turns around clutching the coin thinking I was going to take it back, instead I toss him a snack bar that I had in my jacket pocket. He looked like he needed it more than I did. He mouths the word thank you then runs off.
I close the door and look at the note. The front had the name Bob on it. It took me a few seconds to figure out who Bob was. With a smile I open it up.
“I guess you’re not good at listening to simple instructions, hopefully you can follow these ones. Let’s meet at the church at high noon to discuss the information you're looking for.” It was signed Cali.
I chuckled to myself thinking, “so much for no one tailing me”. I check the time and it’s 10:30 giving me enough time for breakfast and to prepare. A church isn’t a likely place for a trap but you can never be too sure.
The church was in the middle of the town. I looked around for Cali but instead found my gorilla looking buddy and a bunch of his friends. I walk over to them starting to feel a little nervous but still keeping my composure. Before I could say a word gorilla man points to the confession stand. I’m starting to think that the gorilla is a mute. I open the door and go in. I jokingly say, “Forgive me father for I have sinned”. The slot in front of me opens and someone starts talking.
“I hear you’re seeking some information,” a mysterious male voice says.
“I am looking for some information but if you have the merchandise here then we can deal right now and I can be out of your hair,” I say with a smirk.
He responds by asking, “You have the money now?”
I tell him that it’s somewhere safe. We agree to have some of his men come with me to go get it, then they would bring me to his warehouse. Once we exit the church I think to myself that this is really easy, a bit too easy, that’s when I see my gorilla friend smile for once, then I feel a powerful hit to the back of my head and everything goes black. I wake up from a splash of water to the face. At first I don’t know where I am. I start looking around and notice that I’m in the warehouse that the mysterious man was talking about. In front of me are two really big guys that don’t have any weapons but I guess they didn’t need any considering how big they were and I was tied up. They step aside and out comes Cali, no longer dressed in her dress but instead in army clothes.
She starts, “Sorry I had to do this to you.”
I didn’t say anything, I just give her a pissed off look.
She continues anyways, “I have what you’re really came looking for.”
From behind her back she pulls out one of the most expensive, most valuable tech known to man. God’s Hand - capable of recreating dead cells, torn muscle tissue and even bone marrow. Only the beta version was whispered to exist.
She guessed right, this was indeed my actual target.
“How did you managed to steal it from the Corporations?” I say with a little awe in my voice. Stealing this sort of tech must have been an impossible mission.
“You people are so dumb sometimes. We didn’t steal this, we made it. These silly Corporations are the ones doing the stealing, not us,” she says
“So all this time the Corporations have been the thieves, not you guys?” I respond
“Exactly! We are the ones making all the tech so we can survive but somehow the Corporations find out, lie to people like you then send you over here to take our tech,” she says in an annoyed voice.
“For all I know you could be lying to me,” I say
“You’ve seen the security the Corporations have, do you actually think we can simply walk in and take anything? We are left here to die! This tech is the only thing keeping us alive, keeping my boy alive,” she says.
Out from the dark the same boy that I gave the token and food to this morning runs to Cali and holds her hand.
“WE SHOULD BE THE ONES RULING THIS WORLD, NOT THEM,” she screams. “I RULE THIS TOWN BUT I COULD BE SO MUCH MORE, WE COULD BE SO MUCH MORE!”
She motions her hand and someone appears behind me, cutting my bonds. The big guys move closer to Cali but don’t stop her. Cali reaches her hand out and says -
“Join me, join us and help us take over these damn Corporations, help us take back the world.” She looks back at her son and then back at me. “There is kindness in you.”
I hesitate for a minute and then reach out and grip her hand. I bring her closer and whisper -
“I’m sorry but it’s too late.”
I quickly let go of her hand and duck down. A concussion grenade comes crashing in through the window blinding everyone. Dozens of Corp military troops break in guns blazing but thankfully I got to cover behind a shipping container. It doesn’t take long, these guys are merciless. I come out from my cover and see a bunch of dead bodies on the ground including that of a little boy. Merciless. I look around and find Cali. She was dying from a shot to the chest but her eyes were on her dead son. Then she looks at me with pure hatred.
I walk up to her and say, “This was over before it began,” I continued. “The moment I got a knock on the door I figured I was followed so I activated my tracking device to call in the cavalry. I knew all along that it was a trap and I would end up in a situation like this so I played along by going to the church and talking to the man in the confessional stand. I even took a hit to the back of the head to end up here,” I said this while rubbing the back of my head.
Cali didn’t care - her eyes were open but she was gone. I close her eyes and move her next to her son. I pick up God’s Hand and rejoin the team as they head back to the helicopter. I look back one last time at Cali and her son, feeling my eyes watering up. The soldiers don’t say a word. For them this is routine, the poor are lesser beings so not worth caring about much less shedding a tear. I sold my soul a long time ago for money and a nice bed in the city but sometimes I realize how bad a person I really am but it never lasts too long. As we sit in the helicopter and it starts taking off, I hand the prize to the lead sergeant who hands me a bag full of coin and a folder. My next mission, where I have to do this all over again.