Crumbling Earth

While we all go about living our lives, a small group hold, possibly, the most important information in the world. The Earth is crumbling.

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1. Chapter 1

Thunder growled threateningly above the rooftops of the apartment. It barked out its displeasure and whipped the sodden brick walls of the building, before receding back into the dismal storm's eye. Kailen Port tapped her finger against the window before her as a raindrop formed a path down the glass. It shuddered for a moment then wormed its way out of her sight to pool on the windowsill. She gazed up at the murky blue sky; it stared back at her with a dangerous vigour. Shivering, she stood, shuffled back on the matted carpet, which had developed more than a few holes over time, and her eyes fell on her father's sleeping form. His lids were fluttering up and down, with his beer can held loosely in one hand. The TV he'd been watching loyally was now static, the storm having disrupted the already fragile connection in their area of the city. The lights flickered around them and returned in eerie yellow. Moments later, they blinked out again.

 

"Damn," Kailen hissed. She reached over and gave her father's shoulder a rough shake. He jumped awake, immediately noticing her figure looming over him.

"What?" he grunted. Despite the cacophony of noises outside of the thin walls, he'd been peacefully resting. To him it was all rest: morning, afternoon, evening and night. That's why they lived here. The least attractive place in Miroria.

"Lights have gone out," she told him. An incoherent grumble escaped his lips.

"For pity's sake, Kailen, you're 15. You can take care of yourself. That storm's been coming in all day. Would think you'd expect it, living in The Bin," he said, barely twitching as he berated her. The Bin was the street name for their little corner of the city, named so for its uncanny likeness to that of a dustbin. Even the adults and the more fortunate residents (the upper class) used the foul nickname. Kailen couldn't think of one person she'd met that didn't.

"What am I supposed to do, sort it out myself?" When she looked to him for a reply, his eyes were once again sealed shut. "DIY it is, then."

 

The Bin was linked to the city-wide power supply, the government hadn't forgotten them completely, however that link was weak. Too weak. Eventually, the neighbourhood's manual labourers had gotten together and fixed up their own power source. Without the proper materials, storms wrecked havoc with both sources of electricity and left those who could brave the weather to tend to it.

As it rattled in place, Kailen pushed it open and braced herself for the rain. She could see it bouncing off of the pavement in odd patterns. The walk to the power source was one through water-logged streets and darkened little alleys and it didn't normally phase her. But, today, something was wrong.

 

"Penny for your thoughts?" a voice hummed behind her. She jumped and her eyes darted up to the tall boy (even though he was only an inch or two taller than her) beside her. Shifting, she turned to look at him.

"Grey, stop sneaking up on me like that. It's freaky," she said. Grey Foster took up position against the brickwork of the passageway so their bodies weren't mere inches apart. His hands slid into the pockets of his maroon hoodie.

"Fine, fine. You're off to fix the power, I'm guessing?"

"You guessed right. Dad's getting lazier every day..." Kailen grumbled, before setting off at a decent pace again.

"Maybe you should cut him some slack. The guy's got nothing to do. Nothing to live for, really."

"Grey..." she gave him an exasperated look "...I tried. He has no job, no girlfriend, he doesn't pay the bills and he's not even trying to find any work. Mum disappeared years ago."

"If my wife disappeared randomly, and I didn't have a clue what happened, I think my life would pretty much stop too," he admitted sheepishly.

"You have a wife?" she questioned him in an attempt to steer the conversation away from her rapidly deteriorating home life after her mother's disappearance. They finally arrived at the remote, back-alley building that housed the makeshift power core. Grey produced a set of keys and let them into the confined space.

"Let's get this over with..." He leaned in to examine the machinery, then turned towards the ladder leading onto the roof. "That new 'lightning rod' thing's damaged. Coming up to look?" Kailen nodded. She gripped the rungs, feeling the rusty solid beneath her fingers, and pulled herself up.

 

 

The wind revealed its full turbulence on the roof, throwing Kailen's already mussed (yet previously straight) brown hair out of the way of her matching irises. Grey sucked in a chilled breath and rubbed his hands together. It felt as thought frost had begun to crowd around his extremities as the tough, rain-dampened structure beneath him leeched off of the warmth in his bones. He snatched a glimpse at his companion to see if she felt the same draining pull. She was staring away from him at the equipment protruding from the building. Upon following her gaze, his eyes widened.

"What the..?" The metal had been distorted beyond recognition. The wire at the base was hideously torn, and seemingly all too easily, making the two of them wonder just what had done it. A sickened twist developed in the pit of Grey's stomach.

"...Hell? I don't think that covers it." Kailen gasped as a wild streak of fear darted through her. "What do we do? Just push it back together and tell the adults later?"

"I think I have a trick, my dad taught me," Grey replied, leaning forward to get to work. But she pulled him back by the shoulder of his billowing t-shirt.

"Do you think that's a good idea? You could seriously get electrocuted here." She sent him a glare that was daring any poor soul to defy it.

For heaven's sake, doesn't she trust me? he vented. I know what I'm doing... Mostly.

"Don't worry." He laughed it off. Though, when she surveyed his features, a small part of him betrayed a smidge of emotion. The storm above them grumbled in malicious encouragement as it poured droplet after droplet onto the street. Grey stared down at the water-logged pavements and dripping drainpipes. Dustbins had been lined up along one wall, lids propped open to allow the world to peek at the repugnant contents.

She's right... I could fall and land on those. Or worse, for all I know. He pondered the danger.

 

"Just leave it for the others. We're not kitted out for this. We're kids," she argued. Whether she knew what he was thinking or not, the decision had been made for him.

"You might still be a kid but I'm not. I'm 15." He stopped and turned to her, an almost patronizing look in his eyes. She scowled. He'd somehow undergone the transformation from friend to glowering superior in mere seconds.

He never did like being told what to do... The thought crossed her mind, accompanied by an unimpressed signature eye roll.

"So am I."

"Act like it." The sharp way in which he shot back made Kailen stumble back a pace, and stop just before her heels collided with the raised ground of the roof's edge. Hurt darted across her irises. She held a fisted hand at chest level like she was grappling for a dagger he had planted there.

"What is wrong with you today? First, you're all 'give your dad a chance' and then you tell me to act my age!" she protested. "You usually agree with me. Like, a lot. And we're not always mature, either."

"Look, forget I said anything. I just want to get this fixed and get back home." He turned away, having shrugged off the hand lying on his shoulder when she moved away, and poured over the mess of wire and metal. So, he didn't notice when she shot him a sorry - although slightly vexed - glance. One that told him she (and her sodden body) wanted exactly the same. "Here it is."

"Are those bite marks?" Kailen had knelt beside him, with her face pressed close to the wire tear his fingers supported. The perplexed side of her had scurried out the door when her curiosity took command.

"No, they can't be. Kailen, animals can't climb stairs," Grey pointed out. At least, he sincerely hoped they didn't.

"It could be a rat," she shrugged.

"What rat do you know that can cut through over a centimetre of machinery?" She made a lip-zipping sign at his statement, silently declaring her error. "Exactly, none. So what did it?"

"I've no idea. Nobody from The Bin would do it - it'd be like shooting yourself in the foot. And, forget the roof, the people on 'the outside' wouldn't dare come down this alley." She curled her lip in disdain. "The storm didn't do it... I'm not that stupid."

Kailen flopped backwards, Grey rested on his heels and they exchanged confused looks. Miroria wasn't far from nature but the streets weren't said to be crawling with all manner of creatures: lions, tigers, birds... However, there were plenty of insects.

 

"So, what was it?" Grey rested his arms on the bend of his knees as his face took up an expression of deep concentration. It didn't make sense. The heavens had opened (it seemed to seep into every nook and cranny), there was a gaping hole in the metal, the wire appeared to be torn by teeth, and there wasn't a single thing or person that could've sabotaged it.

Who'd be stupid enough to bite a wire, anyway? Forget sabotaging the power, he noted mentally.

"I have no idea." Kailen bit her lip. Living in a city full of high tech vehicles and low tech buildings, accidents were normal. Unexplained accidents weren't.

"You were right, we've got to tell the adults. Besides, the storm's getting worse, we need to get back." Grey stood and fixed his clothes, before climbing down the ladder with numb fingers. His companion took one last look around, with an involuntary shiver, and scrambled after him into the dark room below.

"Maybe we should stop for food on the way home," she suggested when they were both stood in the shelter. The temperature rose a little, the shabby brickwork doing its best to insulate them, and quelled the chattering of her teeth. Grey turned and raised an eyebrow.

"I don't know about you, Kailen, but I like my fish and chips when they aren't soggy and mushy." His tone was doubtful but, nevertheless, he tried to recall whether he had money about his person.

"I-" She began to protest but a creak interrupted her words. They froze. She scraped the scene with her eyes, trying to find a source. Another creak. Grey turned. And just in time to catch sight of the origin of the ear-splitting noise as it came crashing down upon the two of them, brick-dust and all.

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