HOPE

We assume that we can attempt, even achieve, a life without emotions influencing our choices and decisions. You find happiness in the smallest things in life. In the people you surround yourself with. The partner you begin to feel in love with. You crave what you desire the most and come to accept what you are given. And as long as you enable one another, you are gifted with a notion of hope, of something better to come.

What if you already had the greatest gift man could receive. And it was trapped inside you. And you are chosen for an amazing cause. One that would set you free. One that you have always desired. One that has its origins, since the beginning of intelligent life.

But what if its basis is wrong. What you be willing to do? Would you change everything you believe in? Would you fight it? Would you be willing to make sacrifices? And when you have lost everything and you realize hope has almost completely faded. Would you give up the only thing left that is real?

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3. Strongest Bonds - part 1

In chemistry intermolecular bonds are a mysterious, invisible force that holds all the molecules together in a solid state. I have a theory that this same force can be intensified in any human being and those with the strongest bonds begin to reflect its properties in their life. And I believe in every small group of individuals, be it a small group of close friends, or a close family, maybe a group of work colleagues; in every small group of such individuals, one above all is responsible for the closeness of the group! The force that holds the group together is invisible and mysterious, and its source is one person, one person with the strongest intermolecular bond. “I think we should get everyone down here, to the conference room and decide what we are going to do next.” I say, as I look up at Ed. “It will soon be five and more people will be ready to leave, they should know what is happening. What is happening?” “I don’t know I can’t even get a proper signal on the phone, which is quite weird, how about yours?” Ed asks. I realize then, that in the last hour, I have not looked at my phone or thought about calling anyone. Would it not have been the logical thing to do, in an emergency situation? I reach into my pocket and pull out my phone. Ed is correct but I wished he wasn’t. He is not even on the same network as me and my network has the widest coverage. I do not pass the question to Erica, I already know the answer. But I do walk to her desk phone and pick up the receiver, I hear a dial tone! “This one works” I let Ed know. “Hmmm . . . try an outside number, any outside number” Ed says and I understand what he means now. The phones are connected to a local exchange in our building, it would always work internally, unless our server was to go down, but the real test is an external number and I dial the number from a stationery catalogue I find on Grace’s desk. “Your call cannot be connected right now, please try again later” I recognize the recording, it’s our own system, and it clearly cannot connect outside the building. I turn to Ed and I shake my head. I hear more footsteps now, they are on the top floor coming down, but I can’t recognize any of them. Their sounds are muffled and overlapping, a group of people, all walking in unison, step after step. A troupe walking down the stairs or up the stairs, I find it hard to distinguish it. I do not have to wait long for answers and soon I see two people walking down the stairs and as they turn to face me, I recognize April and Arwa, but I can still hear more footsteps. “What’s going on?” asks April, looking slightly worried as Arwa walks to Erica and puts her hand on her head and kneels down next to her. “We don’t quite know yet.” Ed replies, “Erm . . . we think there is something outside, in the mist.” I can see his logic in getting to the point. April smiles, I guess she thinks we are joking. “Are you guys winding us up?” she asks. “April, it’s true. Aaliyah was out there, and then John” says Erica, who looks up at April. She looks shattered, her eyes are red and slightly swollen, and her lips were trembling as she spoke, her hair streaking down her cheeks, almost glued in place by the cocoon she had her face buried in. I can’t help but feel she knows more, but she is afraid to tell us.  And then I being to imagine, almost hallucinating, I begin to picture fear take shape, almost like a shadow of a human, dark and grey, standing behind Erica, and his arm wrapped around her chest, holding her back, not allowing her to say much more. “I don’t understand, what is outside? What happened to Aaliyah?” Arwa asks as April is now reaching for her phone. “That won’t work, none of us have any reception and the landlines are down” I say to April, who looks up at me but I see that fear has companions and they are now taking up place. One stands next to April, and the other with Arwa. They are awaiting orders from the main fear, or at least from the fear that is next to Erica. I can’t see fear behind Ed and I turn to the glass inner door, to look at my reflection, and I do not see fear next to me. But in the distance I can see Erica’s fear looking at me, almost mocking me, as it smiles. I realize I can still hear footsteps, and it has been a few minutes since I started to hear them first, surely they should be down here by now? “We are not quite sure what is happening, all we know is Erica saw Aaliyah as she left and briefly saw her hand . . .erm. . . reach out for the door handle probably. Then John came down, on his way home, and then after he had walked into the mist … a few minutes later he suddenly crashed into the door and when we tried to help him in . . . .” Ed’s explanation pauses, I begin to see a new fear appear, and is walking towards him, no doubt beginning to intimidate him, but he fights it, “…he got pulled away in the mist” The fear halts and turns around and looks at the main fear and then disappears into thin air. How many times would we have to repeat this story? I think to myself. To everyone who comes down here? I can still here the footsteps, but I suddenly begin to notice something about these footsteps, I cannot distinguish if they are coming down or going up, they seem to be stationery! Like someone marching in place, but where is it coming from? From where I stand, it seems like it is from the top floor. “Ed, I think we should get everyone together, no one is coming down, those footsteps, they sound stationery. I mean they are not moving towards us” I explain, but the look on Ed’s face has changed, from concern to one of confusion. And I know what he is about to say. “What footsteps?” he asks. I find myself suddenly strong and I decide I don’t want to really say anything more. I know Ed is being serious and he cannot hear the footsteps. And even though they sound distant, they are quite distinct and clearly audible. But for the moment, it is only I who can hear it, no one else can? Is this another one of the mysteries of this night? Why am I so calm about all of this? “Nothing” I lie, “Forget about what I said. But we need to talk to the others.” Ed nods in agreement and I turn around to look at Erica, who is now looking up at me and nods too. Arwa next to her agrees but April remains motionless, her fear now clasping a hand over her mouth, leaving her speechless. I check the inner door, it is closed, and the only entry from the outside is to hold the employee card against the RFID reader, which will release the electronic latch on the door. For the second time that night, the same thought lands on my mind again, I doubt whatever is outside requires a RFID card for entry! I turn to walk towards the stairs, to make my way up. Ed moves from the seat and so does Erica, and she comes up next to me. April and Arwa turn around, almost hesitating, but then follow us as Ed brings up the rear. I being to walk, trying to think of what we should say to the others and how we could make them understand. As I reach the landing between the ground floor and first floor, I turn around and speak quietly to Erica. “Is anyone else downstairs, Kevin? Simon?” I ask. “I haven’t seen Simon all day and Kevin left after lunch” she replies. At least we have not left anyone in the ground floor, but as I look back into the reception area, I can now see Erica’s fear standing with its arms crossed, and the remaining fears behind it. I see that Erica’s fear is no longer looking so smug. Erica’s fear now looks angry! We arrive at the first floor and I turn to the girls “do you want to sit here on the sofa while we get the others?” I ask them. Erica looks at me, and she shakes her head slowly, but April and Arwa agree. I think they need to sit down as they are looking more fragile by the moment. “Stay here, and we will be right back, we are just going down the corridor to get the others and you’ve got April and Arwa to keep you company” I say quietly to Erica, I guess she doesn’t want to be alone right now. She agrees and then sits down next to April. I take a quick look down the stairs. I realize the fears have chosen to stay on the ground floor, why they haven’t followed us, I am not quite sure. But the footsteps, they are louder now, and I am certain now no one else can hear them. Did the fears not follow us up because what is up here scares even them!? “Four-forty” says Ed after checking is phone for reception again, but I do not need to ask him if he found any. We begin to walk into the first floor corridor, but I turn around to see Erica and she is looking at me, and I nod at her, almost a ’you ok’ nod, and she nods back, she is going to be all right. And Ed and I make our way into the first floor. The corridors were always cold here, it always a drastic change in temperature when you walked out of the offices into the corridor. We turn the corner by our office, and I look down the well-lit corridor. I have seen it in darkness so many times, with its little green emergency exit light on the end, it has always looked so much more creepier then, however, tonight even the well-lit version seems just as creepy. And it looks like such a long way down to the end. I turn into Marcus’s office, he is opposite ours. He is not in there, but the lights are on and so is his computer, there is paperwork scattered on the desk, and a half drunk mug of tea next to his keyboard. I walk inside his office, I walk towards his window. Ed moves on, probably to check on Susan, in the next office. I reach the window, and I hesitate, the blinds are shut, I realize that by opening them, I would probably have one of two answers, either what is out there or what happened to Aaliyah and John. The window overlooks the entrance and the car park. I slowly pull on the chain, which twists the sheets by 90 degree, to open the blinds. And I peek outside.

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