Ancestral

The boy woke...
Charlie lives in a post-apocalyptic world, devoid of people, with barely any memories of the past. So he embarks on an adventure...only he didn't expect to end up being pushed around different dimensions by a person who calls themself 'C'.

And he most certainly didn't expect the truth

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1. Prologue

The boy woke.

He wasn’t ever sure whether he’d open his eyes again but it was always a nice sensation to know that you were alive. Moreover, after the third month he’d begun to accept the decaying world around him as normal instead of a disturbing nightmare. In fact, during the rather boring nights of nothing to do, he’d thought of a few words to describe where he now sat; a state of waning trepidation. The sulphuric gas puffing out of rocks and lava slowly squeezing its way through river beds was, to be sure, nothing comforting and far from soothing. The boy was sure that no human alive or otherwise sane would find a volcanic barren world to be uplifting for one’s soul. However, having survived in that merciless junkyard of broken houses and rustic sky for so long, the boy was far from scared by that point. For, on one particularly tedious night, it had occurred to him that the feeling he so often thought to be fear was actually unfamiliarity; just a few years ago he’d been attending school, walking around a massive metropolis and sitting down for dinner with a smiling family...at least, that’s what he’d managed to gather from his cloudy mind.

Now that was all gone. So, therefore, he concluded that yes, it wasn’t fear or anxiety; he was just simply unversed to this newly created scrapyard that lay before him.

He couldn’t remember much; if anything; from before the apocalypse and he’d wandered home in a confused state of mind on that fateful day. But this was his home now and he just had to accept that.

The boy stretched. Bitter air blowing in from his broken bedroom window brushed across his cheek as he stood and stared around himself. It was surprisingly cold for a post-apocalyptic world running with streams of fire and columns of gas. His jumpers, warm clothes and anything flammable had been used for warmth when the weather had turned unforgivingly cold so he had little belongings left.

The boy treaded carefully towards his window, being careful not to step on any broken glass, and peered outside. What greeted his eyes was the usual sight of a desolate, crumbling world that was devoid of a lot of things; namely, other humans. Yes, this was definitely an overwhelming awareness of unfamiliarity that squeezed at his heart. And perhaps, that specific day, an underlying longing…The boy turned away from the window, pressing his bony fingers to his chest and inhaling deeply. Today was the day he’d resolved to venture outside.

He quickly gathered together his tattered school bag and what spare clothes he had left. Then he changed from his pyjamas and into a red T-shirt, jeans and some sneakers; essentially one of the two outfits he still had hanging in his wardrobe. Then the boy became aware of the numbness that was curling his toes and overcoming his hands. The whole point of this exploration could potentially end in disaster and the more he thought about the more adverse he became to the idea.

He simply wanted to find that missing thing; humanity.

Yet, he wasn’t sure if he was even brave enough to even exit his crumbling house. Although, he just couldn't believe that he was the last human. Not on Earth perhaps, but anywhere. In time or space there just had be others and he was going to find them (or that's what he kept telling himself anyway). Another thought that had occupied his mind during the days and nights he’d spent curled up in bed centred on the dream that civilisation was still thriving somewhere.

Anywhere; holding some much needed answers.

With a determined gaze the boy stood with his bag and trudged down the rotting staircase. The kitchen was still mainly intact and functional despite having no electricity or water access. His mother’s cooking books were one of things he hadn’t burnt by that point and were laying on the counter. A discarded fruit bowl was sitting where the kettle once had been; but there was no fresh food, which the boy missed greatly. Sighing, he reached into a cupboard and pulled out the carton of milk, pouring some into his parched mouth. There was barely any canned food left so he'd gotten used to scavenging what he could. The milk tasted a bit stale and had a slight solid feel to it but, overall, it was still edible and he gulped the rest down.

He’d decided against bringing any food with him because he really hadn’t checked the use by dates. Without any medicine left the boy wasn’t sure whether eating possibly dangerous provisions was really worth it. So with a final glance at his house, he headed out the door.

The fires had given the icy wind a slight warmth but it was barely enough to keep him warm. It was days like this that the boy wished he still had his thicker clothes.

 A stray beam from one of the burning houses fell dangerously close to the boy and he cursed as it scraped his leg. It had definitely left a splinter. And after inspection the boy concluded he'd just bleed for a while until his leg hurt too much to move anymore.

For a while the boy just wandered since he wasn’t sure where he were to start with this venture. There was no recognisable landmarks anymore. No school or sports field or shopping centre.

He missed school. At least, he thought he missed school since he couldn’t actually remember if he’d ever been at all.

Really he missed a lot of things ranging from annoying toddlers to tree huggers. He established that he was mainly wandering aimlessly because he was more or less lost. The street signs had been swept away by the lava and the neighbourhood was unrecognisable.

Something dropped beside him.

If it wasn’t so quiet except for the occasional rumble from the cracking ground he probably wouldn’t have heard it. The boy bent down and picked it up. The object felt small and smooth and...new. It had this weird fish like symbol engraved on its surface. New things were so rare in his life that the boy had begun to think they were extinct. Now he was feeling curious. Despite his sore leg the boy managed to place the strange object back where it had originally fallen. The boy didn't want to ruin it.

“Where's dad when you need him? He’d be bound to know what it is.” At least he remembered that fairly clearly. His father was a man called Jeoffory, who had been an archaeologist working with the local university. Whenever the boy had a question he generally asked his father. This was since his mum hated answering ‘useless’ questions. But, like all the other humans they’d just disappeared one morning, leaving the boy on his own. Truth be told, he wasn’t sure where precisely he’d been that exact morning but when he managed to get home, they were nowhere to be found. Thus, he’d realised they must’ve been of the unlucky victims. Then the forests and lakes had begun to disintegrate, which were quickly followed by all plant and animal life.

“And I wish my damn leg would stop hurting,” the boy added as an afterthought.

The boy sat down on a spare piece of rubble and gently rubbed his finger over the wound. It didn't have any fresh blood on it anymore, which meant the wound was healing. Thankfully he didn't have to use what little medical supplies he had. Ever since the fires had burnt up most of the bandages and ointments he’d had to make sure to avoid sickness and any injury that warranted essential treatment. He’d learnt to save supplies. He’d also learnt to become quite the hoarder.

A little light flashed out of the corner of his eye. The boy turned and set his eyes on that small object that had appeared before. It glowed again. This time much more intensely. The boy knelt down on his good knee and picked it up. Once in his hand he could see it was a stone of some sort. “What are you?” the boy asked it quietly.

He flipped what he now recognised to be a type of stone in his grubby hand. For once he was completely wrapped up in something other than depression and loneliness. He stole a quick glance back at his house but when he turned back all he could see was darkness. The boy yelled out in exclamation. Everything was warping into this mess of reds and greys and a devouring darkness. It was as if the walls of this place were caving in and trying to squash him. With outstretched hands to protect himself, the boy realised he wasn't in the street anymore. Slowly lowering his arms the boy gazed at the silent blackness that had enveloped him in its crushing presence. The ruddiness of the flames were completely non-existent and instead replaced with small specks of stars and bursts of light flashing here and there. The air was warmer and…cleaner too. Reaching into his backpack, the boy produced a torch. It didn't turn on.

Then with a sudden jerk the boy was shoved forward. He sprawled out onto the ground to try and stop himself from falling any further. Another jerk almost sent him toppling again but he hung on for dear life. To what he did not know. Yet another jerk almost ripped his arm off. The boy saw something tumbling away from him.

Further and further away.

What was it? He peered through the dark and almost felt his last shred of hope leave his body.

His bag!

He'd taken it off somehow. The boy clenched his teeth together to stop a curse from escaping. He clawed to try and reach it, however the bag was too far away. The boy turned over so his back was lying on the cool, smoky darkness and his face was pointing toward the multitude of lights above. Where was he anyway? What was this place? Maybe this was where everyone else had disappeared off to as well and he would be reunited with his family and friends. Then again, he may just be dying. Perhaps this was what death felt like…

As if to empathise with his distress the darkness seemed to lift like a huge blanket. Bit by bit the boy could begin to make out shapes. Weird and wonderful things that he hadn't ever seen before. An actual city and trees and animals...but no humans. The boy scrambled to his feet and shook himself.

“You're being silly,” the boy told himself, “you're being silly.”

And then he took a hesitant step forward and embraced the oncoming light. It covered him and shone into his eyes so brightly that he thought they were going to spontaneously combust. It hurt for what felt like a million years. Then when he strode out of the light he was somewhere else. Not where he'd been.

Not where he'd hoped.

Whatever this place happened to be, simply had as little evident human life as his world was. Then, with a sinking heart, the boy set off to try and find a way home. But before he walked any further he stopped and turned back. Where he had come from had disappeared. Vanished… The boy felt despairing tears well up in his eyes.

Then a giant, sharp pain exploded in his chest as he fell forward

and

 

§§§

 

C was beginning to become impatient. It wasn’t that childish impatience where one wants their birthday to come sooner or their present to be placed in their hands quicker. It was that childish impatience where one has just spent a very long time explaining something only to be given a confused response to repeat what one just said. C stuffed his hands into his jeans and scowled. This ‘Al’ person who he’d run into must have been dropped on his head as a baby. Most humans were this stupid he had found. Few were the exception of course like Albert Einstein and Beethoven and etcetera but they were all dead so, unfortunately, they didn't count. C hated people like Al. Or rather, he thoroughly disliked them since he’d always been told to reserve hate for the very few people who actually deserved it. Like the great percentage of the infernal population that didn't seem to that think that C’s name suited him. Apparently he didn't strike them as a Charlie.

C really didn't care.

At that point in time he was more concerned about the short, old, tiny-brained idiot standing before him.

“For the last time you imbecile I just want to find McDonalds!” C hissed in exasperation, his eye twitching dangerously.

“Mc-Don-alds? Oh, you mean McDonalds, McDonalds? I mustn't have heard you properly,” Al laughed cheerily, slapping C’s shoulder in a friendly manner. “Sorry about that. I’m going a bit deaf you see so you have to speak a bit louder. Anyway, it’s just down the road. Two shops down. You’ll recognise it.” Al smiled.

C could've grabbed a pole and ripped it out of the ground and bashed Al over the head with it. Possibly send him to hospital? Possibly kill him? All those sounded pretty appealing. Besides, it wasn’t like Al had long to live anyway. C’s blood was boiling beyond the temperature of the sun. He’d been having a very un-stimulating conversation for half an hour for an answer as simple as 'down the road'. He didn’t have time for this! “Thank you...Al,” C strained. Then he shoved past the elderly man and stormed away. Every day C wondered how he, with such a high intellect and calibre, could be of the same race as all these…these…numpties. Technically numpties wasn't even a word, but C liked to think that he was beyond any of those unnecessary English rules and dictionaries. He hated dictionaries; telling him he was spelling things wrong and pronouncing words in a weird way. Ever since he could remember C liked feeling higher than everyone else; more powerful.

It had slightly confused him at first when C was in preschool and he’d pushed another child out of the way to win a race or when he’d told a girl in middle school that she couldn’t grow any taller because then he wouldn’t be the tallest in the class. Then, as he grew older, he’d begun to accept it.

Likewise, the whole thing of doppelgängers, cloning and similar topics had confused him at first. Really it was humanely impossible since everyone, genetically, had to be different in some way and cloning had been a mere fantasy till that stupid sheep, Dolly. Then acceptance had finally over-ridden all logic and C was left open to anything from the supernatural to extra-terrestrial. In a way, the ‘impossible’ was far more appealing to C. Perhaps that’s why he’d been chosen…

Also, he hated things like…McDonalds or Target. It was too…too…humane. C, despite being of the same race, hated humans. They really bothered him. C grimaced at all the people scoffing down burgers and fries and sugary drinks as he entered the building. It was truly repulsive.

“Can I help you?” a half-dead looking teenager, working at the counter asked.

C noted that most teenagers those days looked half-dead and if they didn’t there was something seriously wrong. He grimaced at the grease laden menu items on offer, “yes. Just a coke and small fries…Diet coke actually.”

The teenager punched in a few numbers into the cash register and then wandered off to the kitchen behind the main serving area. C could see the employees bustling around with trays and empty plastic cups. Smells of frying chips and meat permeated into his nose. It was just all so disgusting.

Nevertheless, like a good citizen C waited.

And waited.

And waited.

And waited.

“Dammit! Where is my order?” C exploded. He glowered at the group of people that were staring in astonishment at his sudden outburst. He really didn’t have the time for this! He had a tight schedule! He’d been planning for this day for many years!

A young lady came rushing over from the kitchen, dumped a brown paper bag on the counter in front of him and sped off in the opposite direction like he was going to attack her. Although to be fair, if she hadn’t arrived at that time then C most likely would have mauled someone. C cautiously opened the bag and sniffed. If anything the only thing that made up for the human race’s stupidity was their fast food. He’d always had an affinity for fries. Number one fact: in C’s world hypocrisy didn’t exist.

C grabbed the paper bag and people continued staring at him as he sat down in a nearby chair. He wasn’t that scary was he? C had to admit that his black jacket and angry scowl might give off the wrong impression but, deep down, C was a really caring guy. Albeit, he disliked almost anyone that wasn’t himself. C finished off his fries and chucked the waste in the bin by the doorway before grabbing his car keys out of his pocket and opening the door of his car, which he’d parked across the road. With the quiet whirr of the engine he dialled home.

His mum picked up the phone.

“Hello?” his mum said. She always sounded so happy and C couldn’t contemplate what made her so cheerful every day. Maybe not possessing a superiority-complex had something to do with it.

“Hi, mum. It’s Charlie. I just wanted to call to tell you that I won’t be home for dinner,” C said.

“Oh. That’s fine. Off with some friends?”

“Yeah…that’s right.” Lying to this particular mum had been especially hard at first since C didn’t’ actually mind her. In every other dimension he’d been in, C had found that his parents tended get on his nerves easily.

“Have fun,” his mum continued. “See you later then, Charlie. Bye.”

“Bye.” C pulled out of the parking lot and smiled. If things were going to go the way he’d hoped this was going to be the best few days ever. He checked the rear view mirror traffic then shrugged. He could afford to ignore safety a little. It wouldn’t matter if his car got damaged anyway. He wasn’t going to be in that dimension for long. Furthermore, safety doesn’t exist when you go dimension jumping.

“C,” C said to no one in particular. “You’d better watch out.”

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