I am serializing my book, The Only City Left, here on G+ for Saturday Scenes, and also on Wattpad. Links and more info below the story, if you're interested. If you'd like to finish reading it sooner and/or support my work, please consider purchasing this book or one of my other works on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Andy-Goldman/e/B00LXKVD3E/
Story begins here: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+AndyGoldman/posts/14QWbZJbsgC
Chapter 2.2: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+AndyGoldman/posts/9bPPFQXapMYThe Only City Left Chapter 2.3
I moved forward through room after room like this, each one telling the same story of cramped living and meager, decayed possessions. Every few rooms, doors opened on either side into slightly bigger living quarters.
This was the same hallway Scratch and I had been walking through since leaving the elevator, except this portion had been converted into makeshift dwellings. It seemed hard to believe someplace this empty had once been so full of life the residents couldn’t spare any space between their rooms.
As I walked through the accumulated junk they had left behind, I imagined the life they must have lived. The stench of so many bodies packed together. The cacophony of voices. Kids running and screaming. People eating, burping, farting. Everyone tripping over each other on the way to the bathroom or to work or whatever it was they did to fill their days.
My stomach tightened at the thought.
All that remained of those people was slowly disintegrating. Most of it was so far past its expiration date, it fell apart at a glance. Nevertheless, I kept an eye out for potentially useful artifacts, which is how I noticed a faint blue glow emanating from beneath a side door.
Anything still running under its own power after all these years was worth checking out. Some old tech—like the City itself—was built to last, and I prided myself on my ability to scavenge and repurpose those hidden gems.
I kicked aside a bunch of gray, featureless stuffed toys piled in my way. One of them hit the floor with a thunk and let out a shrill laugh, startling me and making Scratch jump half out of his fur. Landing, he hissed and arched his back.
“Shuper Shmi wants to play,” the toy said in a warped, electronic voice that sent chills down my spine.
Scratch growled and pounced on the pile of ancient toys, tearing the stuffing out of each one in turn.
I left him to his work and pulled open the side door. Instantly, I wished I hadn’t. The blue glow didn’t come from a power source, but from a ghost sitting on the floor, rocking in place and humming to itself.
Its back was to me, but from its small frame and long hair, I pegged it as a little girl. My heart ached at the thought of this pitiful creature, all alone in that room for who knew how long. What kind of existence was that for a kid?
Furrowing my brow, I said, “Didn’t know you were here. Excuse me.”
She didn’t acknowledge my presence and I backed out of the room without another word, not wanting to disturb her more. I eased the door closed behind me.
Scratch had found and was gnawing on Shuper Shmi’s metallic heart, a tiny box that continued to beg for someone to play with it.
“Leave it alone, buddy,” I said. “It’s someone else’s toy.”
I moved on to the next room, checking once to make sure that Scratch was following. Not that I cared if he stayed behind or not. As far as I was concerned, life on my own was perfect. Look at what had happened to the fools in this sector. They spent their lives all crammed together and what was there to show for it? Nothing but ghosts and broken toys.
Scratch caught up to me and brushed against my leg. The poor thing was obviously rattled from his encounter with that old toy, so I stooped over and petted him behind his ears. He responded with a throaty purr, which returned some warmth to the lifeless room.
Warmth was in short supply in the sector. The further we traveled down the hallway of ramshackle rooms, the more ghosts we passed, each lost in their own universe of memories. I thought of Mom and Dad, dead now for three years, and thanked whatever gods were left that my parents hadn’t been converted when they died. It didn’t seem like a pleasant way to spend eternity.
The sheer number of ghosts in this sector was giving me the creeps. I was already pondering giving up and turning around when the next room I entered left me no choice. It was a dead end.
I slapped my palm against the far wall, where the next door should have been. Solid as rock.
The only other door in the room led to a tiny toilet/shower combo. The tile walls had yellowed and cracked with age. The floor was covered with rodent droppings and sagged beneath me when I took one tentative step inside. Scratch perked up at the evidence of nearby prey and shoved his face to the floor, his nose scrunched and his whiskers twitching as he snuffled around.
I was less excited.
“There’s got to be a side passage I missed along the way,” I said, and turned around to retrace my steps.
To my annoyance, two ghosts blocked the only exit to the room, a man and a woman. I could have walked right through them, but I hated the icy, slimy sensation.
I stood my ground and asked, “Hey, guys. Would you mind getting out of the way?”
I knew it didn’t matter if I was rude or polite, but it was worth a shot.
The female ghost moved.Hey, it worked after all
, I thought.
Except she didn’t move to the side.
She floated closer to me, staring me right in the eyes, and said, “You don’t belong here.”To be continued next week.
Or, if you want to read along at a faster pace, I'm releasing the story 3x/week on Wattpad: http://www.wattpad.com/story/34658555-the-only-city-left
You can also pre-order Book 2 in this series, The Fifth House, due out May 11: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00VNBZQUE
For other great free reads on a Saturday or any day, search for the #saturdayscenes