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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4. Strongest Bonds - part 2

I see nothing, just darkness, and the floating mist near me. I can’t make out any lights, not even from the adjacent buildings. I can’t even see the halo from the streetlights anymore. I see no movement, just stillness and white. I realize the window beginning to fog under my breath, which seems to have deepened and increased in pace, in the last few seconds. “Susan and James” I turn to Ed who has appeared on the entrance to Marcus’s office, “they are not in the office either. The lights are on and so are the pc’s, but no one is there.” I quickly walk towards Marcus’s computer, I check his screensaver settings –ten minutes before the display is turned off and when there is no activity. We’ve been here a minute or two, there must have been some activity in the last ten minutes, since the display is still on. So, I reckon Marcus can’t be far. I walk towards the door and Ed makes way, I walk into Susan and then into James’s office, both their computers are on and their displays are active. They too can’t be far. The situation starts building into my imagination, and I realize I am starting to fear the worse! “Marcus, Susan” I call out, not too loud for the girls to hear. I begin to make my way down the corridor, the office next to James’s is dark, I reach in and turn on the lights, its empty, but no one usually sits there anyway. “James” I call out again, down the corridor. No response, but I hear something scraping and then footsteps. Two offices on my left are empty too and as we pass the corridor leading to the fire exit. Someone pops out of the end office, it’s Scott. “Are you all right?” I ask Scott. “Fine” he replies, “who are you looking for?” “You better come with us Scott, something’s up” I say and then walk past him to peek into his office. This is where Aaliyah, April and Arwa sit. The office is located at the edge of the building, and from where Scott sits I could look out into the street and the roundabout and the filling station in the distance, but not tonight. Tonight, it’s just stillness, not even the lights from the apartment block are visible any more, and there is no movement on the roads, just darkness. All the beauty of the mist I had noticed before has disappeared. There are no more halos outside. The mist has consumed the city and is probably making its way to the rest of the state, and then the country, and then the world? I walk out of the office and into the room opposite, Ed is explaining to Scott what happened, and Scott is listening intently, with one arm over his chest and the other vertical, a finger placed on his lips – his pose of thought. I walk into the corner of the room, our photocopier sits in the end, but I can see out the other side of the building from the window next to the photocopier. I peek out and see if I can make out anything, but all I see is more darkness, no lights and no movement. All around me, everything seems to have come to a standstill. The footsteps are faint here, but I can still hear them, clear and crisp, and then I begin to realize, I can hear nothing else from the outside. I realize that while I can’t see anything else, I hadn’t noticed that I could not hear anything else too. Usually the buzz of the traffic is audible from my office and on this floor. Tonight, darkness dominates both the outside and the inside of the building and silence follows it closely, providing, or not providing in this case, the sound effects of the situation. I walk out of the room, “I can’t see anything outside, can’t see any lights, can’t hear anything, it’s just pitch black” I explain to Ed and Scott. “Where do you think Susan and James are?” I ask. Without waiting for an answer, I walk back up the corridor, back to the girls. Scott goes briefly into his office to pick up his coat and returns with it on, a man who thinks ahead. I quickly walk past the empty offices and reach the landing. Erica and April are still on the sofa, the footsteps are louder here than at the back of the corridor. I am certain the source is above me. Is it on the next floor? Is it on the roof? “Where is Arwa?” I ask, walking up next to Erica, who looks up at me, she seems calmer and more composed. “She is in there” motions April towards the women’s toilet. “Where are the others?” Erica asks still looking up at me. “We don’t know, maybe they went upstairs?” Ed offers, not wanting to speak his imagination. Scott walks into the men’s toilet and returns almost immediately, “there is no one in there.” “We better go upstairs. They are all probably up there.” I say, as Arwa returns from the toilet, her eyes slightly red, she has been crying and I can only presume that Erica has told them what happened, in detail. But I still doubt she has told them everything. Ed, Scott and the girls start walking towards the stairs leading to the next floor and then begin ascending. Ed leads, and Scott follows, April and Arwa are behind him. Erica then follows and this time, I am the rear gunner. But suddenly, I pause, I hear something, just then I heard something. A penetrating sound. It was sharp and sudden, no echo and lasting for a few seconds. It sounded like a warning or an alarm, something that has travelled quite a distance, something that has woken from a silent slumber. I look up at the others, they all continue up the stairs, all except Erica. She is looking at me, has she heard it too? “What’s wrong?” she asks, quietly, the others cannot hear. I then realize, she has not heard it. Is it like the footsteps? Am I the only one who heard this sound? A sharp high note, which reminds now me of a foghorn. I begin to associate the sound to a being, but I realize that it is not the sound a normal human makes or one from any animal I have heard. Was it from something inanimate? Maybe it’s not from our lands? Questions, which then make my imagination go into overdrive. But then I begin to understand that the sound was real, even if I am the only one to have heard it, and it did not come from something manmade. The others are on the landing between the first and the second floor, Erica is still on the first step, she is now staring into my eyes, penetrating my thoughts. I must have frozen after my realization of the sound. She whispers now, “please come, we need you” she says and nods once. I look at her a few more seconds and then nod back. “Okay” I say to her, and walk towards the stairs and she turns around and walks up. We continue upstairs, on to the landing between the two floors. I take a quick look downstairs, to see if the fears have followed us, but they haven’t and I presume they are still in the reception area. I look forward at Ed, who is reaching for his phone, still hunting for the eluding reception, and so are April and then Arwa. I briefly make out the time on Arwa’s display, when it lights up from its sleep, 16:56 it reads. We are on the second floor landing. I can still hear the footsteps, but I know now where the footsteps are coming from. I know now the source of the sound. The others still can’t hear it. But I can hear the footsteps. I can hear the continuous marching. I see Ed at the door to the top floor office, he opens it slowly and walks in, Scott follows and then April and Arwa. But Erica turns around to look at me, almost as if she was asking for my permission, and then we walk towards to the door and she walks in and I follow.

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