The Future Is Bright

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


2. Chapter Two

Sophie trudged behind with a suppressed reluctance. Perhaps it was approaching noon, however it was often impossible to tell due to the absence of shadows, and of course- light. Light. The thickness of the ever-present clouds, which seemed to shroud the heavens, would suffocate any ray of light foolish enough to wander into that abyss, besides it was only members of The Authority who possessed any records of time. James, who seemed to be efficiently completing the task of pacing through the rocky grounds, with what anyone else would have perceived as a misplaced sense of optimism, signalled the girl. “There, is where Nelson’s monument was. Ha-ha, and there, was where the first generation of The Authority would congregate and discuss, in the Houses of Parliament.” The young man waved excitedly with old, tired hands, gratifying his sense of knowledge, his untainted perception of the truth and most importantly, his freedom. However, James’s knowledge of what once existed seemed trivial and essentially inconsequential as he descended from his euphoric state of omniscience and gazed upon the empty horizon that lay before him and Sophie, the rubble and dust that was the now- the present.

There were things which every one knew, for example their names, when they were born, their height, their government survivor number supplied by the Authority, and for the majority of the time, where they were. And then was what some people knew: how much extra food they could con from the ration system before they were discovered (and severely punished), a good area to sleep and avoid developing pneumonia when the elements were at their worst,  or for some of the sharper men- where they could find women. Then there was what James knew.  Apparently, according to information sourced from the Authority, it was the year 2033 and England was in a state of recovery and rebuilding after a destructive natural phenomenon was said to have ravaged, close to the entirety of all land on earth, excluding the Arctic and Antarctica, however the oceans remained intact but are also depleting at a rapid rate which was said to be a continuous effect of the disaster by surviving scientists researching on behalf of The Authority. The natural phenomenon which caused this absolute destruction was never fully specified, identified or described however many suspect the event was a cause of meteors colliding with the Earth or the premature enlargement of the Sun which resulted in catastrophic repercussions on Earth. Moreover, following the aftermath of the event, survivors are being found dead as a result of an illness said to have been created during the disaster. Many of the survivors are certain this was the event foreseen by the Mayans to occur in 2012 though records from The Authority suggest this actually took place during 2020. However, astonishingly, also described to be another effect of the disaster, none of the survivors are capable of remembering anything to do with the event and despite acceptance of Authority information from the fellow male survivors in the London region, renamed Hope Fields, James is unswervingly confident that the truth has been held captive and that somehow Sophie and he are living in a constructed illusion which he intends to destroy.

It was probably late evening now, the gaps of light in the clouds had become fewer and the surroundings had taken a darker tone. James and Sophie had been walking through what seemed like a Savanna of rocks and indistinguishable charred objects since they met at the southern-eastern rationing centre of Hope fields some hours ago. “Where are we going?” Sophie queried for the first time during the entire journey, her face beginning to grow paler in the renewed cold. Sophie trusted James, she trusted him when he spoke, when his hazel eyes stared directly into hers and when he would tuck the waves of his defiantly glowing crimson hair behind his ear, or when he would give his very last piece of bread to her when she was hungry. It was that way since the very first time they met, near the remains of what appeared to be a car close to a popular meeting place for the survivors in Hope Fields, where he saved her. “To meet a friend” James said half-concentrating, continuing to navigate his way through the disorientating plain. Suddenly, in the distance, crept in the sound of crunching stone and a violent engine, “The Authority patrol. Duck Sophie,” hissed James. The sound progressed, in a menacing crescendo, it was one of the armoured vans The Authority used to patrol the out-of-bounds areas survivors were prohibited from, and it was getting closer. James dropped immediately onto the cold, uncomfortable granite, sprawling his legs and moulding his face onto the ground, whilst his companion still stood, confused and exhausted. Realising the urgency of the threat, James, against every sinew in his body, pulled Sophie’s emaciated body onto the ground with a thump. In an instant, the armoured van was only metres away from the pair and James could feel the heat of the searchlight on his ear. The monstrous looking vehicle remained, grunting, sniffing, hungry- its searchlights rotating, surveying the vicinity thoroughly. Fortunately for the two adolescents, they hid behind a small mound of dirt which the searchlight simply could not peer over. “Don’t move,” James managed to articulate with the air trickling out of his lips. Sophie, trusting every word of his instruction with her life, nodded subtly, re-assuring James that she remained conscious despite her hefty fall- the hardness of the rock was capable of breaking bones on impact, yet that eventuality was still preferable to being captured by The Authority. It could almost have perceived as peaceful, that moment, lying parallel with the ground- the pair so close, the night gust tugging at the hairs on their neck, and the metallic drone fading into the night sky. And then, as suddenly as it had appeared, the heat of the eager searchlights had disappeared and the vibrations of the vehicle returning to whence it had came could be felt through cobble-like ground. Naïve as Sophie was, she collected her feet, attempting to rise, only to be pulled down as violently as the first time. “What are you doing?! They’re not gone. You stand up. They find you. They will kill you… And me”

“I’m sorry”, she whimpered, wincing with pain from the impact of her shin with a tenaciously large rock; this time assimilating herself with the ground.


It was rare sound to hear. The sweet tune of a robin, marking its territory, warning all who dare to trespass of ill consequence. Yet it was that sound which Sophie arose to that morning. Beautiful, she had thought, before an intense pain in her right leg shot through her, straining to correct her selective memory, the memory which had all too easily forgotten the happenings of the night before. Removing James’s thin, tattered coat from her body, she arose, on this occasion fully confident she would not be ploughed onto the ground, and gazed at the insignificant mound a few paces from where she was. The mound that had perhaps saved her life. “James.” She called, knowing he would not be able to hear- yet she called his name regardless. “I’m sorry about your leg,” but he did hear, Sophie had realised as his breath told of his presence behind her. “I had to do it. I couldn’t have let you stand up. They would have seen you, and well you know what would have happened. My friend has some herbs that will be able to treat that, but for now all I can do is wrap it up”

“Its fine, its not that bad. I understand. I don’t know what I was thinking. I could’ve gotten both of us killed there. I’m sorry”

“Enough with the I’m sorry,” James chuckled. “Were alive now and that’s the main thing. You look hungry, I’ve made you some breakfast,” he smiled, turning to the fire he had prepared with some stacks of wood he had collected before the journey.

James appeared to be exceptionally organised and experienced. He seemed to know everything, the landmarks, all the prohibited zones, even the Authority’s surveillance methods. Sophie reached the conclusion that he had been planning and preparing this for many months. Whatever it was.

“Are you sure your leg is OK, Soph. You were moaning in your sleep.”

“Yeah its fine must have been something else. Probably a stupid nightmare”

“About what?”

“Ha-ha nothing, can’t even remember it anyway”


Sophie rushed towards the fire. Immediately she began salivating at the sight of the corned beef (a welcome change from the unidentifiable substances provided in their rations) that James had placed on his metal heating contraption, which he had earlier indulged Sophie in knowing, used to be called a frying pan. Sophie was starving. She grabbed the meat from the pan while it was still cooking and shoved it into her mouth in fistfuls. It was as if she was no longer that fragile, pretty girl that obediently followed James but had instead been replaced by an animal which didn’t care if there was any remaining for the boy or not. James looked on, surprisingly not in disgust but instead glad he was able to find something for her to eat- at least, he thought, if she were to die of starvation in her bone-like state, it would not be today. And in any respect, it was more than any of the other men in Hope Fields would have done for her. After her ravenous rage, partly embarrassed and partly filled with gratitude that her hunger had at last been sated, the girl had time to reflect upon the short conversation she had just had with James. She pondered upon how her nightmare wasn’t really a nightmare at all, and how the reoccurring memories haunted her every time she blinked; the frighteningly vivid memories of how she nearly died- because she was a girl.

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