The Future Is Bright

A dystopia where the physical world is destroyed and humans live as scavengers

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1. Chapter One

Sophie peered into the bleak horizon, scanning for anything that might be of use. Or even for a sign of life. Life. The rubble beneath her quivered as her adolescent feet struggled to gain balance; the crumbled stones, remnants of an old world- a forgotten world. The light of day had not begun to reveal itself and the lifeless dawn held a stinging chill. However, it was always cold; the densely carbonated air makes short work of photons as well as vulnerable lungs. Sophie dismounted from the rubble, dazed and gasping for air. She reached into her tattered khaki overall and dug out a minute piece of stale bread (which had also inherited the soot from her fingers) and an ancient, withered map of Greater London. Frantically, Sophie attacked the piece of bread; still ravenous, she took a pause to study the map. With a face lined with frustration, the girl tore the map into shreds for it was of no use; all the streets and landmarks and houses had vanished and had been replaced with scores of enormous craters as far as the eye could see.

 A grey, armoured van rushed past spewing dust and rock in its wake. Sophie winced as the vehicle announced the usual meaningless messages through its tannoy system “Stay calm- food and clothing will be supplied. Preparations are being made to evacuate all civilians. Stay calm.” The recorded, mono-tone voice had been playing for months and none of the promises had yet been fulfilled. James called it “The Authority’s feeble attempt to maintain stability.” Stability. James was Sophie’s only friend just as Sophie was James’ only friend. They relied on, confided in and reassured each other- yet even as they did so James had to remain very cautious. It was rationing day, meaning Sophie and a hoard of other civilians were to report to the southern-eastern region of the Hope Fields to collect their measly bread rations. Yet again, the increasingly scrawny hand entered the overall pocket to retrieve a barely readable ID card. S-1-9 it read in previously black now diminished grey letters. Survivor 19.

Sophie McNulty had arrived at the rationing centre to a hostile reception. What seemed like millions of raging, judging eyes gazed at her, and now and again the odd courageous voice would scream, “Get out of here! You, you, you…Woman!” And the eyes would watch, glistening with a silent agreement. The centre was outdoors, consisting of a stall manned by a silhouette in a bulky bio suit, a dirty ID scanner which matched the code held by the magnetic strips on each ID card to The Authority’s outdated list of survivors, and boxes, infinite rows of boxes filled with the most grotesque ‘food’. Sophie’s face lit up with joy as out of the swarm of savages she managed to find James; all the sorrows seemed to fade from her face away into the toxic clouds “James. James! Can you see me?!”

James had seen her. Nonetheless he ignored her, whipping his attention back to the stall without a morsel of anxiety- or so it seemed. He condemned her existence with a wave of his thick, crimson hair. James knew he had no choice but to deny any association with the girl, any evidence of him doing so would result in death- for both of them. He could imagine the execution, vividly, too vividly. He could picture the biased jury roaring and sharpening their monstrous teeth ready to annihilate him. Who is he to befriend this devil? Who is he to laugh and jest with this abomination? Who is he lie with this scum? Who is he to plot and converse with this scheming demon? Who is he to know this…Female?  The terrifying thoughts rang through James’ mind. Yes… he definitely had no choice but to ignore her. No matter how agonising it was.

“Are you insane?!” James snapped. The pair had found a quiet patch, void of rocks and rubble, away from the ruckus were they could talk in private.

“I’m sorry. I’m awfully sorry. I don’t know what I was thinking.” The trembling frame stuttered.

“Alright, its fine- it’s over now. Now Sophie, I’ve got a proposition for you”

Sophie’s face lit-up once again, partly in anticipation and partly because he had so readily forgiven her for her grievous mistake. “What is it James…?” She said solemnly trying to contain her excitement.

 “Listen Sophie, listen carefully. Would you like to know the truth? Would you like to know why all of London is one massive blast crater? And moreover why hundreds of people are dying on a daily basis due to this “unknown” illness? And why the food never fails to taste disgusting? And why there are these suspicious men sneaking around in bubble suits? And most importantly of all, why you are here?”

“James, what are you talking about…I think there was something funny in your ration bread.” Sophie knew exactly what he was speaking of. She had observed these things day after day and often asked herself the same questions. Now that she was going to find the answer to these questions… Sophie was scared; she was beginning to comprehend the magnitude of James’ proposition.

“Sophie…”

The girl stood there. Silent. Then, after a few seconds and what seemed to James like an eternity, Sophie nodded; her head swimming with uncertainty and fear but for James she would put on a wry smile.

 “Ok. Then follow me.”

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