The UMA: Benedicts Rising

I don't really write at all, but I figured I'd give it a try. I started this idea in my head a while ago (while I was bored at work) of a not so distant dystopian future. This is just a short initial introduction to a few characters and the world they live in.

I have an idea of where I'd like it to go. I want to include chapters chronicling how the US transformed into this different world, maybe in the form of flashbacks through some of the main characters ancestors. And even though the whole idea is still in its infancy, I think it'd be neat to have a sort of series. Tell side stories, introduce new characters, maybe explore other countries and areas of the world in this future. I hope to put the "historical" stuff in writing soon, so people can grasp how and why things happened.

Like I said, I'm new to writing fiction, but just putting this little bit on paper has been pretty enjoyable. I just want to get some feedback on the idea, the characters, etc.

I hope you enjoy!

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2. Chapter 2

Saturday morning, Jorge was the first one awake in the town. They had a celebration the night before. Two of his closest friends, Charlie and Marie, had just gotten married, with Jorge as the best man. The whole town was there, in addition to some acquaintances from nearby areas. They normally have these kinds of celebrations outside. But Charlie and Marie chose to marry in the winter, so instead they decorated the gymnasium for the event. The walls were covered in flowers brought up from Charlie’s aunt down south. There were long tables covered in white cloths spread across the gym, each section of the table hosting a marvelous centerpiece consisting of flowers and candies, accompanied by a painting prepared by one of Marie’s 2nd grade students. Many other children brought painted signs with clever sayings and congratulations. The adults all brought gifts to help the couple start their new life, everything from new furniture to a new pair of motorcycles, a gift from Marie’s father. They ate, drank, sang, and danced late into the night, not much different from any other Friday night, but at least this time they had an occasion.

 

Walking down the empty sidewalks, Jorge whistled a tune still stuck in his head from the night before, one of those old tunes that everybody knew, but nobody knew the words to. Passing the hardware store, the only snow-free sidewalk in town, he started the song over again and heard a soft whistle join in from above.

 

“Good morning Molly!” Jorge shouted to the blonde girl sticking her head out of the second story window.

 

“Good morning? I think you mean good night! I was about to yell at whoever was whistling out here to shut their piehole. Then I realized it was YOU!”

 

“Come on down! The whole town is sleeping off last night. It’s really nice. Actually kind of peaceful.”

 

“My pillow is peaceful!” Molly yelled, squinting her eyes as the Sun found a tiny hole in the clouds.

 

They stared at each other for several seconds, as if they were locked in some sort of showdown, before both breaking into smiles.

 

“So you coming?” Jorge asked.

 

“Hmmph...I’ll be down,” Molly replied with the enthusiasm of a sloth.

 

Molly came out of her building with two cups of coffee, wearing her usual gray peacoat and, to Jorge’s pleasure, the scarf he had gotten her just a few weeks earlier for her birthday.

 

“Goodness! Where on Earth did you get that beautiful scarf? Looks like something a First Lady would wear,” remarked Jorge with a smile, talking in an accent he imagined people spoke with a century ago. The accent came out sounding like an old Southerner with a mouth full of tobacco.

 

“Oh, this old thing? Some boy down the street got it for me. I think he may be trying a bit too hard,” replied Molly, putting on her corresponding accent.

 

Keeping with their old timer act, Jorge held out his arm and Molly gladly linked with him as they started off down the street. They walked a few blocks to the park, a vacant corner lot with a gazebo. There was still a good amount of snow on the ground from the storm earlier in the week, and the park was full of miniature forts and collapsing snowmen. They sat inside the gazebo and watched the last remnants of the storm flurry to the ground.

 

The town wasn’t always this quiet. Aside from the town-wide hangover, their population had recently reached a low. Almost a third of the boys in the town had just left for the West. They were joining the Libertador fight. The movement was gaining a lot of traction again, especially out there, and was gearing up for some of the largest plans in at least a generation.

 

Jorge wasn’t too occupied with the politics of his people. Of course he supported the cause, but he had a lot of other priorities. He was pursuing an education to become a doctor and had the responsibility of raising his younger sister, Maxine. Not to mention his future plans with the beautiful woman sitting beside him. But he always knew, eventually he would join the fight in some way. It was every Libertador man’s fate. Each had his reasons for joining. For Jorge, it wasn’t the politics. It wasn’t the ideals that either side stood for. It wasn’t any of the noble causes that bring noble men to engage in the ignoble act of war. His reason was purely revenge.

 

Like so many others, Jorge’s parents were both killed at the hands of the Fugares, those that resided in the cities. They both died when he was just a boy, he barely remembered them. Charlie’s family had taken care of him ever since.

 

“That was quite the night,” said Molly before taking a sip of her steaming coffee.

 

“I’ll say. I don’t think I’ve ever danced that much in my life. My legs are killing me.”

 

They reminisced about the previous night’s festivities for almost an hour. Everybody in the town’s name came up at some point. Terry Owenkamp, one of the oldest men in town, was falling asleep at his table. Henry Hatcher’s little boy reached up and grabbed a large chunk of cake before the ceremonial cut. Sarah Decker, of course, was dancing inappropriately with a few married men, one of them being Henry Hatcher.

 

“Well no wonder Henry wasn’t watching his little one,” Molly remarked with a smile.

 

Jorge thought Molly’s smile might be his most favorite thing in the world. Her nose scrunched the slightest bit. Her lustrous blue-green eyes squinted as her thin, rosy lips formed a smile to expose her perfectly imperfect teeth and subtle dimples. Jorge wanted to stay in this moment forever. A beautifully dreary day, alone with the girl of his dreams, the warmth from his coffee permeating his gloves, and that smile.

 

A large snowflake fell on Jorge’s nose, breaking his hypnosis but only widening Molly’s grin.

 

“I don’t think I saw Louie last night,” said George, shifting his brow as he dug deep in his memory.

 

“Me neither. I only saw Lindy for a few minutes right after the ceremony,” replied Molly. “He probably wasn’t feeling well, maybe Lindy left to take care of him.” A good enough explanation. “Speaking of Lindy, I’m supposed to help her make some new school pants for Greggy today. I need to find the fabric somewhere in my jungle of an attic before this afternoon. Thanks for getting me out of the house, I’d probably still be sleeping otherwise.”

 

Molly stood up, kissed Jorge on the cheek, and walked back towards her house. Jorge stayed there a half hour longer before he realized his coffee was cold and so was he. It had to be close to eleven o’clock at this point, Charlie must be awake, thought Jorge as he stepped down from the snow covered gazebo.

 

By the time he got to Charlie and Marie’s apartment, they were both up packing for their Honeymoon. “Shouldn’t you two lovebirds be on the way to a sunny beach right now?” asked Jorge as he entered the couple’s small, second story apartment.

 

“Jorge! Good morning, brother!” shouted Charlie loudly, much to the dismay of Marie’s head. “Hey, thanks again for everything you did to help. You and Molly. We couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful wedding.”

 

“It was our pleasure. Look at that pile of presents! Looks like you got a lot of organizing to do when you get back.” Upon this statement, Charlie and Marie both glanced at the stack of gifts, grabbing their hair at the thought of finding space for all of it. “Hey, did you get Louie’s gift? I didn’t see him at the wedding, Molly thinks he might have been sick, but Lindy was there. He was really excited about the present he had.”

 

“No, I didn’t see it last night. Lindy told me about the gift last week, though. It’s a canoe he built. I guess he’d found an old cedar tree farm up by the river. Lindy said that type of cedar is the best for canoes,” Marie chimed. “If he’s sick, I doubt he was able to help Lindy haul it to the gym, maybe it’s still up where he built it.”

 

Jorge helped the couple pack the rest of their stuff. Charlie’s aunt arrived to take them with her over to the tracks to head south. Jorge decided to go and see them off. They walked the short distance to the station. Upon arriving, Jorge noticed that their two new motorcycles were already mounted on the right side track. Charlie’s aunt’s small two seat car was mounted right in front of the bikes. They’d ride the tracks from here all the way down to the southern coast, near the old city of Mobile. Jorge knew that’s what Charlie was most excited about. He had never traveled this far before and has only seen a few of the old cities, cities that had been almost completely abandoned during the Urbanization period, as people moved away to the Five Cities of the UMA.

 

On their route, they’d be able to stop in the old cities of St. Louis, Memphis, possibly New Orleans, if the women were up for a short detour, and finally Mobile before arriving to Charlie’s aunt’s town of Gulf Fort just past the bay. Few people remained in the old cities, and they were generally friendly. Many of them relied on travellers or wanderers for their livelihood, providing shelter, food, or even tours for a small fee.

 

“I’ll see you guys when you get back,” said Jorge, hugging the newlyweds. “Be careful. As always, watch the skies. Don’t stop in the old cities for too long, you’ll want to be safe in Gulfort before Monday.”

 

“Thanks again, Jorge,” said Marie as she hopped on her new dark green bike.

 

“Thanks, brother. See you in a week.” They started moving along the track, waving to Jorge as they left the station. After about a hundred yards of idling slowly, the vehicles picked up speed and disappeared in the distance.

 

Jorge decided to stop by Louie and Lindy’s place to check on them. He always enjoyed tending to his friends when they were sick, diagnosing them and recommending some medicine. Caring for Maxine when she had the chickenpox is what made him want to become a doctor in the first place.

 

He knocked on the door and waited a few minutes. There was no answer. He knocked again on the thick wooden door and called, “Lindy! It’s Jorge. Are you there?”

 

Another minute passed, and Jorge tried the door. The round brass knob turned and the door swung open. The house was dark. A pair of Lindy’s heels were set right inside the front door. He looked around a bit, no one seemed to be home. He peeked in the bedroom. The dress Lindy had worn the night before was laying neatly across the bed. He could smell a faint scent of coffee in the air, with a hint of cigarette smoke. I must have just missed her, he thought. As he turned to head back out of the door, he glanced in kitchen and noticed something on the table. A note on the edge of the small pine table.

 

Lou,

Went out to look for you. Worried sick and couldn’t sleep.

Lin

 

“Shit,” Jorge muttered. He turned and ran out the door.

 

Stopping by his house to grab a few things, he ran into a recently woken Maxine.

 

“Morning Jorge,” she muttered, squinting as she looked towards the open door. She was walking towards the kitchen with the pace of a monk, her short brunette hair sticking out in every direction. Maxine was only fifteen, but she appeared to be sporting a hangover like everyone else.

 

“What’s wrong with you? Did you drink last night? Look at me. Nevermind, eggs are in the fridge and coffee is on the stove. I gotta go. You’re in trouble when I get back,” Jorge snapped, grabbing his rifle, a box of rounds, and his wool winter hat. Before Maxine could respond to his questions or even comprehend the urgency of his movements, he was out the door.

 

He jogged towards the east edge of town. The streets were starting to host other people as the rest of the town awoke. If he hurried he could catch Lindy before she got too far by herself. Drones don’t normally fly on weekends, but, even so, the wilderness was not a safe place for anyone, let alone a dainty, small framed girl like Lindy. Cedar farm? thought Jorge. He was very familiar with the region south of the town, so he figured this cedar farm must be north.

    

He hiked for almost an hour before he came to the river. His hope of finding Lindy in a reasonable time had disappeared. In the dead of winter the banks along the water are as hard as rock, a blessing compared to the muddy slop present in the summer months. Jorge figured even Lindy could make pretty good time in these conditions.

 

Another twenty minutes brought Jorge to what appeared to be rows and rows of large trees just a couple hundred yards west of the river. “Thank God,” Jorge said to himself, his voice almost startling him in the dead silence of the winter wilderness. Walking towards the rows of cedar, Jorge picked up a somewhat smoky scent. “Lindy! Louie! Where the hell are you? I can smell your fire, and I’m freezing my ass off!” he yelled.

 

Immediately after calling out, Jorge saw a fur hat on the ground in front of him. He knelt to pick it up. His stomach instantly turned. Hair, blood, small grey chunks, fragments of bone within the hat met Jorge with a feeling of fear and nausea. Confused and disoriented, Jorge raised his head and saw a person in the distance, just outside the treeline of the farm, just west of the river. Lindy. Standing in the middle of a charred circle of earth, her white gown contrasting with the burnt ground, and her hand on the side of her head. Just as Jorge realized what was happening, the gun blast sounded, echoing in all directions. The perfectly spaced treeline of the cedar farm seemed to bounce the report back and forth, repeating over and over, as did the image of Lindy’s limp body falling to the ground.

 

Jorge just sat, stared, and cried, trying to formulate a plan. He found himself wishing he could go back in time just a few hours and freeze it like the cold earth he was sitting on. He wished he was back in the gazebo admiring Molly’s smile, wishing his best friend and brother a safe trip, or giving his young sister a hard time. Because he knew those days would soon be over. It was his time to join the fight.


As he started to get up, he instinctively glanced to the sky and saw the faint outline of a drone flying towards him.

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