Chapter 1 – The Good Life
The year is 2048
The moment I glimpse the rising sun over the city sky line. I spark up the rolled up joint I saved from the night before. Leaving me to feel safe underneath my bed. With my joint in my hand I listen with quite intent. Hoping the echo of the distant war doesn’t find me here. The low tumbling ring of thunder tunneling through my eardrum plays poetic tones all the way into and out of inner body muscles. Waking them up to the coming battle drums. Now constrain and tightened i feel and live the new reality of my day. The air raid siren followed by the loud speakers message has become as normal to me as waking up and eating breakfast. After a while I manage to rehearse the tone in my head and I repeat it to my self beneath my iron bed frame. I know it won’t save me when the ceiling comes crashing down. No matter, I still repeat the message. “Run, Enemy airstrikes approaching. There will no further warnings.”
The noise now takes over the rhythm of my heartbeat. I allow myself a selfish thought, Just not Central park O lord. At this point i would rather the natural world live on then human civilization. Life other than us humans deserve some shot at this planet. Humanity had its time for five thousand years and we fucked it all up.
The other day in the park with a blanket of rain pouring over the city. I found a damaged red stone brick building housing hundreds of animals. Many huddled in a corner together in fear. A bird, a white bird fairly large huddled alone near a great gap in the roof. The bird stood out to me. Not for its off-white color or species nor that it seemed out of place. There were plenty of out of place animals around. Many homeless horses roam around the city. Mostly escaped after the District Attorney office disbanded years ago. Within this abandon building I saw all kinds of lizards, eagles, cats, dogs, a few giraffes and even a small baby elephant. The way this white bird captured me and left me with was a sense of anticipation. I felt Something was coming and soon. I felt it told me some bad news but I just forgotten the conversation. What did it want?
I wonder now if the animals were safer than me in my apartment. Would they make it another day? would I? As the siren repeated its message I clutch my eyelids shut. I hope the animals survive another day.
For over 1,000 hours my night sky spin with the constant flow of missile battles. Loud echoing thunderclaps back and forth play the days uproar. I listened closely to make out its beat; get up if you want to live. Before American bombs send you to hell.
After the battle for Wall street. The world went to war. Europe as a collective, England, and the Russian republic declared for the last United states President. They collectively aim their bombs, tanks, transport planes, their combine Navy’s and over ten million soldiers against the Dictators son Augustus Marshal. The new master of Africa. His declaration as the oldest son of Admiral Tristen Marshal divides the country into two factions; rolling out the most destructive weapons technology America had to offer against three continents. Neighbor against neighbor fought for the fourth time in twenty years. Northern governors against southern governors went to war with each other. At this same time the exile dictators son declares himself the defender of the Constitution the American people. His father Tristan Marshal the Great so declared the media in those days. Great was the one thing right about him. Society was held together when his father was a live. All that changed on his deathbed. But could Tristan’s son win against the might of the United States Armed Froces and that of the world’s superpowers?
Manhattan’s government in Albany didnt think he could win. So, they publicly favor the seating U.S president and were promptly given a new weapons system to repeal the boy’s army. They coded named it Sovereigns Iron Dome. Nineteen Advance ￼drones in all would own the skies over the big apple and had a 91% protection rate over the entire peninsula. It’s been nine months since a bomb hit anything. I’ll never forget the first time I saw it in action the day I arrived here. A massive victory over our own American forces outside the city walls. The drones Collectively in full operation saved the city’s power and my life.
I remember feeling a sense relief the good guys were winning after that day.
I prayed softly in my head each time I heard the silencing of the emergency alert system. I didn’t want to experience what the 8% left was like. Thinking it would be my last. But do I have a right to think my side is the right one? Do we still live in a democracy? Is the rule of one man the beginning of the end or only just the continus flow of the collective human condition?
Now I remember why I burn though the joint every morning. I wait for the war to end either way.
Years ago, I had a romanticism about war in my mind. Civil war was good. Global war was even healthier to a lost nation. A way to project strength and recharge the soul of a great people. But no generation can truly understand the cost of war until they go to war. Before I had a chance to change my mind about my views. We were already killing each other. . . for what? To seat at the top of the hill? history shows us no one stays there forever.
It is known to everyone were they can find the face of the war. Where it left its mark. Its here in Central park. One last piece still lay there over the stillness ponds. The only trace of the conflict openly visible. Anyone could see it passing the southeastern end of the park, a colossal toppled bronze statue of Jane Marshal. America will never choose dictatorship even in defeat.
That is one assassination I’d say saved our country. Seems like alife time ago when public assassinations were taboo in America. We all as a collective agreed it was the right thing to do.
Finally, I worked up my courage and after a hot shower I threw on some clothes and head out the door. I had a three bedroom on the upper Westside of Manhattan with five friends I met in the shelters. We pay no rent or light and gas since a former Admiral switched sides and boycotted any type of trade out of the city. The open secret today is jobs are pretty much volunteer based. I took employment at the metropolitan museum of art last summer which almost makes being a New Yorker kind of nice. Honesty, at the end of civilization. I just need a joint and the open air. Maybe that is all I need to be happy. After the battle for wall street. New York city is now the last American city held by the federal government. This is the last place to grow into an individual, have a family, and truly live a decent life. Renew the American promise. What a dream that turned out to be for us all. For the Constitution and the people of America?
I rock my head and shake my one curl up and down singing: Panic Station by Muse on my blue Walkman. The last in my neighborhood still working. There are still some old newspapers laying around where it shows the city back in 2029 the year before the second civil war. I use to walk up and down Manhattan collecting them. Reading about mass amounts of New Yorkers and tourists going about their summer vacations. Breaking news stories about old meaningless problems we were all sure was the most important thing to focus on to protect our democracy. Life seems to have taken a back road to all our hopes in a better tomorrow. The last thing any of us can hold on to now is Individual happiness.
The street corner I entered which use to be the block were an Apple store stood on 5th Avenue just before central park. Now housed the official U.S drafing office. i came across two marines proudly walking in the opposite direction. believing they were on the right side. they moved with the spirit of American pride. They were old school. The first guy was tall with a buzz cut. Same with the other guy walking with him. They must have just gotten their uniforms because it popped a crisp green. Next they will be off to war againt our own countrymen. A bitter, sad, and tragic fair in our time. I still have not found my part to play in it. One of them steps towards me. “Do your part safeguard the homeland by enlisting today.”
As he spoke i thought of an old U.S propaganda poster my mom used to hand out to my school. An old man wearing a top hat with the flag painted on it with clothing with red, white, and blue stripes with a label filling the bottom. ” I want you to join the Unites States Arm Forces.”
The soldier final says to me. “What can you do for your country? Do you remember our four fathers?” Not interested in getting to a debate on the state of the war I did the best thing I could do to avoid their patriotic pleads to influence me. i turned my cheek slightly and raised the volume on my Walkman and kept on walking down the street.
I confess I am not much of a fighter. I stayed in the shelters when they carpet bombed Queens. Growing up in a military family didn’t teach me anything about fighting. I had the same as any broken family. Parents, with no clue on how to rise a family. My other mom never took an interest in me. So I showed her I had zero interest in the Arm forces. Her father served under Tristan and she expected me to join her in defending the Constitution. She often stood up and saluted the American flag shouting next to a portrait of Tristan Marshal. “For the Constitution and the People of America!” many times I asked her against who? her answer was always the same, “The government.”
The first shelter I fled to in the south was a ruined world history museum. The owners had built a refuge for the sick and wounded there. So I faked being sick with the flu to get in. the owners Kim and Andrew quicky took a liking to me and they allowed me 30 minutes a day on the surface to wonder through the shattered gallery’s that once brought thousands of customers a day. Weeks later however, they died by an incoming drone bomb while out looking for survivors.
I made it a point to learn about the past since then. Perhaps, the way to solve the puzzles of our century lay in the halls of museums. Focusing on history has always been a dream come true of mine. However, lately since the outbreak of war my job has come to depress me, specifically when I held tours in the American art gallery. My voice would crack time after time as i’m reminded of how cowardly and selfish my life is compared to the grand statues honoring Americas society changing citizens. These larger than life men of the old United States. Taking up the call to act to perverse the union. Men like George Washington along with men like Melvin Morris and Martin Luther king but above them all one man would bring me straight to tears. Once I saw his charismatic eyes on me. I felt as if I entered the presents of a real superhuman. He had an unbelievable life. President Abraham Lincoln. A man who saved his country and restored its Republic from complete collapse and freed a slaved race. Could this legacy be in me as an American?
“Damn it, I’m late again for my shift.” I said throwing myself into the employee lounge. I started to place my stuff away in my locker and I felt one hundred percent I was in the clear when, “late again?” a voice said. I turn to face towards the sweet voice. “Livia… don’t do that! you nearly sacred me half to death.” – “you could be fired.” she said. “I know so don’t Surprise￼ me like that! And not in this economy – so don’t joke like that Bitch.” She swiped back at me with her coper brown hair “Marcellus, you’re an hour late. I don’t have to tell anyone it s obvious. Secondly Asshole, fuck you. You think I would tell on you. I’m just as much on that bitches list as you.”
“ok, ok fair enough. But where is she?”
“where you need to be.”
“she’s always in the coolest spots.”
The Egyptian art wing has one of the most breath-taking wings in all the museum. Walking in I’m already taken back 3,000 years ago. i can almost see the temple return to youth. the middays sun embellished the mood of the room through the tilting wall glass. a Breath of new life enters the stones. Must have been fantastic back than to behold.
Doctoring the walls lay precisely placed loin heads made from limestone. At the center of the room stood the Temple of Dendur. Even for a small temple it towers over everyone not even the size of the room took away from its glory. its ancient sand brink skin cold to the touch. Makes we wonder about what comes next for us. What would I keep to be remembered?
“Look who showed up. i was beginning to think you signed up for the draft blue eyes.” My bosses voice carried an echo in the empty space. Her expression with it told me she was a mere bystander. Her loyalty was not to the Constitution but survival. And having to get off her ass and do some work was not in her day schedule. instead she spent her time reading about the fall of Nevada to the rebel general Herbert Warren. This was as far as she came to seeing World war 3.
Once this American hero followed under the Constitutions command. Now, he fights against his own country for the son of Tristen. Traitor!
She stood at the left side of the temple. it took me a few steps to reach her.
“My eyes are just hazel.” I said. she waved me over. ” not when the sun hits it. Do not waste your life fighting other people’s wars. find a nice girl and settle down. Soon the war will be over. its time to start living. Not dying in some war.” she said.
Will the war end soon?
I went on working the hole day after talking to my boss about life after things go back to normal. She made a lot of good points and had a lot to say about the legacy of Tristan’s death and the impact that had on many Americans and i can see why so many turned to support his core generals who were also very close to Tristan’s family and why they support his son now. The country just wants stability. and she wanted it too. No matter who won. The President or this exlie.
During my last few hours of work the flow of people coming in died down in my area. So, I sprang over to Livia’s corner of the museum as soon as i had the moment to leave without being noticed. Cutting beyond the dark age art gallery i come to a narrow hallway with a flight of stairs ending at the back doors to her section. Eventually, I spot Livia. She worked in the Roman art wing today and like always she was giving a tour to a handful of peacekeepers: greater Chinese soldiers and the united nations. I stopped for a moment to watch. She pointed to the left then the right where she wanted her group to focus on. There beside the wall lined in two rows layout one by one of busts of different men of Rome. she gazed at them and choose one. “Now this bust here depicts Julius Caesar in profile. He was romans best general who became the first Roman Emperor in the first century. However, you all may know him better as Cleopatra’s first lover.”
After I’ve done enough eavesdropping i decided she needs help. So i walk into the small group and stood with my left hand in my pocket and pointed with my right towards her. Indicating to all i was about to say something important. “He wasn’t the first Roman Emperor.”
“Sorry? she said realizing it was me and sighed silty. I Strolled to the front with Livia taking my place by her side. Swiftly winking at her I move behind the rows of busts and Point to another one. Curious, the group directed their attention with me to a youthful looking bust. “Caesar Augustus was the first Emperor of Rome. His adopted father Gaius Julius Caesar was just granted by the Senate the rank of Dictator. Not at all close to the modern definition of an Emperor or first among equals. And I think caesar would agree he had no equals. A relaxing laugh broke out between the soldiers. They agreed with me. Cutting me short she took back their attention. “Thank you… Marcellus for that… yes many modern historians now agree that Julius was not an emperor nor a king; However, some still believe he held the title. Because he held the title of imperator, meaning commander and chief or general, and finally emperor. Now, how about everyone look around and meet me back here in ten minutes.” She said eyeing me with her blue eyes. She then curved her sexy figure in my direction.
We walk closely to each other and I kept my eyes on her as our chests touched and her tits rested on me. I wave my hand lightly touching her fingers to mine. “Need help?” I asked. “From you no way she said with a smile, “And… shouldn’t you be somewhere else giving tours? You know she’s going to pop a blood vessel if she catches you here.” She pulled away from me and walked behind a statue of Emperor Gaius. Her right leg and half of her face was all I could see. “Catch you later stud, and don’t mess this up alright.” She said walking away in a particular fashion that lit my whole body up like fireworks. I stayed cool “Let her try, I’m the best tour guide here…” I said walking away towards the back doors. She gave a cute laugh and said “hardly my love.” Behind all the smiles I could tell she genially loved me. After all she was the one who got me the job after i ran away from the hated mandatory draft last summer. Yet each time I see her that part of me stuck back at the drafting office returns. Could we live a normal life if we don’t defend our home? To protect what’s ours. Do not let the war come here God, please!
I must be a coward.
It was just turning 3:00 pm and my shift was ending. I headed over to the back to grab my things when I was suddenly gently thrown into the employee locker room. “who the…?” “The boss is gone and there’s nobody around. Their all at the military draft office. Seems like Tristan’s generals are going to win. They say we will have a king soon.”
“Livia stop playing maybe we should go too?” I said stepping back. My back hits the steel lockers door. She pressed her body to mine and kissed me softly. Which seemed to help my nerves relax. She whispered again. “Promise me you wont fight? don’t leave me alone at the end of the world” I grinned at her naked lips kissing mine. “Don’t worry the war wont come here.”
“I love you Marcellus.”
Man, it’s going to be hard walking home thinking about her. The city air is chill, and the breeze feels smooth running through my hair. I can picture old central parks trails in my head. The dirt roads covered with fallen leaves all the way home. I take a deep breath in and exhale out a cloud of smoke. Perhaps I’ll check on the group of animals in the park on my way home. And see that mysterious white bird.
I lightly push my breathe through a cold wind. It was like I was lighting one up back home with my mother. Taking me back to why I love life. Walking down the steps outside the metropolitan museum I hear Livia’s voice calling me. I turn and see her jogging down the steps towards me. “Hey.” She said with a little loss of breath. I smiled as i took my Walkman out and place in a new CD.
“Hey what’s up?” She looked at me nervously. I was wondering if you wanted to go get some coffee with me tomorrow. I know you’re off the next two days and it’s been ages since we spent time together outside of work.” I take my headphones off and walk closer to her. “yeah sure where should we go?” she took out a small card from her pocket and handed it to me. “it’s a small coffee place not far from here on the lower east side. The coffee is free so don’t go begging. I went there once and the coffee was amazing.” I scan the card half wanting go. “The weather is perfect for some coffee.” I said. She pointed to the card. “The address is on there so you can’t get lost. It’s easy to spot its sandwiched between two skyscrapers.” I looked at the card again. “ok, cool no problem see you tomorrow.” “Promise me you’ll be there I will be on my lunch break so don’t make me wait.” She said. “yes.” I said restarting my CD player. “Marcellus!” she tugged onto me. her body calls out to me. I got the hint “I will… I promise.” a nice breeze ran through us as my attention was drawn away to a flying bird above us. it circled over our heads, yet I am the only one who seems to notice. “Nothing but blue sky” Was that the white bird? it was too far up for me to say.
“Hey, forget the bird I have a feeling tomorrows going to be perfect.” she says to me as if nothing could ruin it beforehand. We both fought to not bring up the war. But it was on our minds. I fix my eyes on her as I did, she ripped her hands around my waist and kissed first my cheek making her way up my neck finishing at my ear. “you forget we dated through high school I know how you are, so don’t forget.” she said ending with one of her cherry tasting kisses.
Below the stairs and now blasting my ears i heard an old military recruiter or veteran with a full fuzzy beard shouting to those that are brave enough to defend their country sign up to fight the coming dictatorship today!
“FOR THE CONSTITUTION AND THE PEOPLE OF AMERICA!”
Livia kept her eyes on me and hopped I would ignore him. But many people did go. And followed him to the drafting office. Yet I didn’t go.
I walked through a muddy dirt path in central park. The backdrop of such a peaceful place took me back to the times I stood her up. Left her alone. This fall I will be different. I did not see the bird or animals on my way out of the park. Did they finally find a home or did they go to war too?
Walking into the apartment I share with a few friends I hear the roar of music. The sound of chanter and the smell of bud in the air. House Party, I could not help, but give a big old cool aide smile as I in haled the keys to a quick happiness. All my friends were clustered together in the living room getting wasted at five in the afternoon. They were all draft dodgers, and we all weren’t the best of society I confess, but we all had big dreams. “We all say fuck war, what are we dying for?”
We all made a promise to leave our the shelters if a draft took effect. When it did many of them set out for New York city.
However, I decided I couldn’t wait that long. The sound of gun fire pushed me to run south. So, I left them behind and moved out. The first two years were hard, sleeping on abandon trains all night. I could hardly bend my back afterwards without my back stiffing up. Or giving me a pinch reminder not to lay on it. The weed helps with my nerves sometimes. My best Mate Drew pulled in some money to get this apartment. When I say pay I mean he bribed the landlord to let three draft dodgers to sneak in. That was the last time I ever saw 300 dollars.
A few new faces danced and chanted to their favorite lyrics. mostly rap or some new rapper off the streets of old Atlanta.
I scanned the room. My wandering eye couldn’t help but linger on some of the biggest tits in the crowd. All the girls were dressed to the nines on the dance floor. Now, I consider myself a good host and it would be a shame to leave one of these lady’s without a date tonight. I’m not saying the guys at the party are all ugly, but the king has returned, and its time let loose.
What… time is it? My eyes struggle to stay open the next morning. I feel like I’m in my bed, but I can’t see my alarm clock. feeling with my hands I move through the covers pulling them away softly. Blond hair? I said to myself painfully string at what I hope to be a pretty girl. Awaken by my snooping. She pulls in close to me taking my arms around her without even blinking an eye at me. I pull away and jump out of bed. “Hey… I know this is going to sound bad, but I got to go. . . how fast can u get dressed?” She rose from what looked like a deep sleep: she wiped off some dry saliva from her mouth and then she gave me the eye of death. “You got a girl?” — “Yeah kind of.” I said. Putting on whatever clothes were near me I headed out. “I’m late.”
I rushed through central park in full flight. I couldn’t let any more minutes be wasted. A tight gust of wind bullies the trees in front of my brown stone apartment. knocking trees together creating an echo of whisper noises with the leaves. My legs felt sweeps of frantic wind. Lifting me inches off the ground but as I looked around, not even the smallest of dirt was disturbed nor did any other person on the same trial as me notice the heavy wind.
“What the fuck.” escaping central park in less than twenty minutes I slow down my pace. you would think with this kind of wind parked cars would be flying I thought. all the trees around for blocks scatter back and forth shedding nothing to the ground. Not a bug, bird, leaf, or acorn trashed the floor. the city never looked so clean.
She has eight minutes before work again. she must wait for me. Where is this place? Staggering out of the park I could feel a change in the wind force. The sun shines out as if I had never seen it before forcing my hand to my face. Now falling off their branches the leaves dance with the swirling calm breeze until they all at once get carried off to every street corner for miles. Seeing it made me question why I was gong to this coffee shop to meet her. I knew I couldn’t give her a better life free from the uncertainly of our future.
In truth i never thought of myself as a Romantic. Even my own parents never got a clue what the definition really was. During the last Governors war, they never gave any hits they were a married couple. Its difficult to remember what they were like before the world changed. I do remember my mother Alice womanizing and my other mother Elizabeth heavy drinking and drug use. When things normalized around the country and I had a chance to bury them. I swore on their grave I would be better. And find the meaning that escaped them in life.
I made it part of my new year’s vows each year. Or made it a yearly wish on my birthdays. Yet, when it came to actual change. I either come off as fluctuation or a coward. My mind’s eye would somehow always stray away. Each time I try to be faithful I seem to find a beer in my hand and another woman in my bed and another day dodging the war. In the end like my mom use to coin, “It’s hard to control my wandering eye honey.” I don’t want to be like them. So i hardly ever want to give my heart to Lauren. My whole life’s been about staying away from the war and failing to tell lauren i love her. Two things I seem to come into conflict with.
I felt the weight of my legs pull down on me with each step I took. I walked more slowly to what I could see now was the block with the small coffee shop nailed between two skyscrapers. My mood changed and I couldn’t help but feel like an asshole should I stay, or should I go fight? Immediately the wind chose for me as it quickly picked up. Throwing a yard full of leaves into my face. Swiping most of them away. I heard a loud warning sound pierce my ears; the kind going off during a demolition.
Turning away so my back faced the blistering wall of wind. I saw a man run down the block I was on. his face was in white shock as I was. I worked up the courage to ask him what was happening? the man never missed a step as he ran passed me shouting “America has fallen, Russia is obliterated, Europe has been wiped out. And He’s coming here.”
Right then the pounding wind became a blazered torrent of falling leaves. Annoying and bullying I questioned if I should follow him. I fought my way to the door until I reached the handle and opened the door. The wind behind me stopped whistling and released a few leaves which fell around me. I felt the sun again as I stepped in. My mind flooded with thoughts of my mother Alice. I felt like I became her in this moment. Coming home after she had been out with whatever woman would have her that night. My wandering eye focused. My heart turned close to ice and all I could exhale as I walked toward the small tables where she sat was. “The old world is gone and I don’t care. I love you Livia. Quickly get your things were going to war.”