YUS. FIRST CHAPTA, FOOLS.
Heh. Not too much different in this one; same sort of thing, but I improved some stuff. So it's still the extremely lame and boring chapter, but you learn what the Corporation is all about and you get to enjoy a Cato and Armando chapter, which means it's AWESOME. Because they are my FAVORITES. xD
Haha, please give me all the CC you've got; I neeeeed to improve. And I didn't proof this chapter because I'm so sick of it, haha.
Also, on a side not, "MGMT" is not pronounced "M-G-M-T," it is pronounced "management," which is what "MGMT" stands for.
And, um... Hm. I had something else to say.
Enjoy and comment, my people!
Alyce in Dystopia
1 – This Dying World
“I guess that this is where we’ve come to. If you don’t want to, then you don’t have to believe me.”
-Believe Me, Fort Minor
“Welcome to the West Confinement Camp of America—home to millions of the sick and dying, egomaniacal psychopaths, and pretentious control freaks who are out to murder us all!” Cato said sourly, his hands spread out wide like an entertainer after a final act. We had reached the end of a long and narrow path enclosed on both sides, where there was nothing but darkness, the sound of footsteps and the dripping of water from the rusty pipes above. The shaft that we had come to overlooked the grey silhouette of a city skyline against the misty, depressingly grey sky.
“Ah, home sweet home…” Ariadne muttered sarcastically, leaning against one to the vandalized walls of the concrete tunnel. She kicked a lopsided grey stone at Armando with the toe of her boot. It had been patched up with what looked like duct tape. I didn’t question it.
“You make it sound awfully bad, you know,” I pointed out, breathing in the humid air. The mist swirled around me, obscuring all the details of the world outside.
Ariadne snorted, amused. “That was putting it nicely.”
It had been roughly three days since my return into the world once plagued with disease, and no one had bothered to explain anything to me yet. Apparently, things had taken a turn for the worse over the course of my four years trapped inside my weary subconscious. I mean, if I was stuck in some sort of underground tunnel system with three random people with duct tape boots, things obviously could be better
I had only started to actually talk a few hours before Ariadne, Cato, and Armando – three refugees in some dying world, they called themselves (and, not surprisingly, that was all the detail they had given me about the condition and state of the current world; what a pathetic joke)–decided to venture off. I had no choice but to follow, seeing as I had no clue where I was or what was going on just yet. I was bound to end up in some pathetic, stupid situation without them, and then I’d probably get myself killed. (Hey, you never know
. Don’t judge.) Blindly, I followed them through a sequence of dark, unlit tunnels that my grey eyes–not very used to being open, let alone forced to work in darkness–didn’t necessarily like.
They had led me to the open concrete tunnel with the curved walls, randomly vandalized with multicolored spray-paint, carvings of names, eulogies to the dead, and big letters that read “WELCOME TO HELL.”
Well. What a nice welcoming gift.
A series of leaking, rusted pipes hung on the ceiling of the tunnel and showered us with a sickly wetness that I really hoped was water and not anything else. The tunnel was part of a labyrinth of more in the hillside. Because of the elevation, the view of the city was spectacular; our placement in the hillside allowed us to be level with some of the higher buildings in the distance.
There was a hint of sadness in the air as I looked out at the city. I couldn’t place it at first, because everything looked… normal
. The harbor in the distance, the roads below, the skyscrapers standing majestically as they towered over everything, the beautiful bridge in the mist–it was all so normal looking.
But that was only the problem.
It was empty. No one was living in it. It was deserted, a reminder of the past.
Ariadne broke the silence as I stared out mournfully at the empty city. It had started to rain lightly again, growing heavier as time wore on. “You see that down there?” she asked, pointing on of her long, pale fingers at a fence. It blocked the hillside and a vast area behind it that we couldn’t see from the desolated city. I approached the edge of the tunnel and looked out, trying to see behind the hills at the rest of the fenced in area. The hillside blocked it, I realized as I looked down at the ground so far below. My heart skipped a beat as I imagined falling to my death.
“Yeah, the fence, right? What about it?” I asked quietly, returning to a place far away from the ledge. My head was dizzy, spinning as I tried to shake the terrifying image of falling that my imagination had conjured up.
“That,” Armando replied, “is the fence that serves as a border. It keeps us–the people whose test results declared them susceptible, the victims–from the outside world, and the outside world from us.”
“Thirty-some-odd feet high, barbed wire coils on top of the chain links, not to mention electrified 24/7,” Cato said enthusiastically. “Voltage so high that you’d die instantly if you were stupid enough to actually touch it.”
“Guarded by Corporation workers at every entrance and exit,” Ariadne added grimly. “Corporation workers with guns and the authority to use them at any given moment.”
Dumbfounded at their words and–once again–confused at the continuous mentioning of the “Corporation,” I asked, “But why? And what’s the Corporation, anyway? And why are they… What happened to my world?”
Ariadne breathed in deeply, inhaling the wetness of the air caused by the storm of last night that had carried on to today. She looked away from us, toward the depressing sight of the city skyline.
“You know, Alyce, I really don’t know,” she breathed, a hint of remorse–maybe even sorrow–behind her words. “I don’t know what’s happening anymore.”
“But… You have to know. Where am I? Who are you? And who am I?”
She looked up at me from the ground, her green eyes narrowed as she glared at me critically. It almost looked like she was sizing me up. “You can’t understand everything, all right? I don’t think you
would understand. You’re just–”
Armando intervened before things got ugly. “Ariadne,” he interrupted warily. “Keep it cool and tell the story, okay? You’re freaking out again.”
“Story? There is
no freaking story, Armando! Is that how you look at this? As a game? Like a story? Yeah, maybe life is a game, but I’m past certain that we’ve already lost. You need to–”
“Ariadne,” Cato said, looking at Ariadne firmly. “Ariadne, you
need to calm down. You can’t start this again. We talked about thi—”
“We didn’t talk
at all! I tried to talk
, but you just refused!” she yelled, her fists clenched until they were white.
“Ariadne. Chill. Out.
Just go and—”
, Cato?” she spat. “Like we have anywhere to go! We’re stuck here, held against our will, and I’ve had enough!”
“But that doesn’t mean you have to take it out on us,” Armando pointed out.
“You know what, you two?” she fumed, addressing Cato and Armando rather than me. She stalked over to Cato with her fists clenched, her face in a furious scowl, and a murderous look in her eyes that meant nothing but trouble. She put something–a box of some sort–into Cato’s hands with disgust and left. From the tunnels, we could hear her say, “I’ll go
then! Enjoy your ‘story time’ while I go do something other than sit in my despair like you bastards! Have fun in hell! I won’t miss you!”
I was beginning to like her less and less.
Armando rolled his eyes and muttered something like, “Yeah, well, I think we just escaped the devil and her vicious claws of wrath, guys.”
Cato walked over to the edge of the open tunnel and heaved a sigh as he spread his arms out like a bird in flight. The rain flattened his hair almost immediately, but he didn’t seem to care at all. His face still turned from the two of us, he said reassuringly, “Don’t worry, Alyce. She’s just got some mental instability.”
?” I mocked. “More like serious anger management issues and a temper that rivals the wrath of God.”
“Ah, that, too,” Cato said, laughing to himself like it was funny or something. Like Ariadne stomping off was a humorously regular occurrence. “She’s a bit… um, unstable
, like I said. She’s pissed at the authorities and acts like all of us aren’t. She sort of thinks none of us want the oppression to end.” He rolled his eyes. “Anyway, don’t take it personally. Ariadne has… problems. She’s just been a useless, angry, conspiring pile of crap lately.”
I laughed, too. “Good to know, I guess. So I don’t make her angrier.” Cato laughed. I kicked a rock back and forth between my feet, watching bits of it crumble off as it tumbled along each time I kicked it with Ariadne’s huge pair of old, beaten up boots.
“I sort of think she won’t be coming back,” Armando said.
I turned toward him, my eyes wide from behind my tangled black hair. “Huh? Why is she not coming back?”
Armando shrugged. “She’s had it out for us long enough. Finally snapped. Just a burden off our shoulders now.”
I didn’t know what to think. I sort of guessed they had been together through everything. Or, well, that was the way they had made it seem.
“So you care to explain a few things to me, then?” I asked finally, breaking the awkward silence.
Cato nodded, his face twisted into a scowling expression that he seemed to wear fairly often. “I suppose if someone’s gotta do the dirty work, it might as well be me.” He sighed and turned back to the city. “What do you want to know, then?”
“Everything,” I blurted out, not even realizing I had thought it before it was out. Armando laughed at my wide-eyed expression.
“Well,” Cato began, his hand twirling the silver ring pierced through his lip. “I think you know plenty about the disease and what it does. How it–”
“Rots your brain from the inside out and eventually kills off all your brain cells, and then you die because you can’t function that way. Yeah, I know,” I interrupted. As of now, I just wanted to get the show on the road. Details could come later.
“Okay.” He tried to find among all his thoughts again. “So I don’t know what condition things were in when you entered the death coma,” he started, “but I’ll just assume things were still looking like they might be all right.”
“If you want my version, I can tell it,” Armando cut it. “Long story short, things aren’t okay, we’re all gonna die–the end!”
Cato shot him a deadly glance. “Just let me do this and stop cutting in, you two.” Armando got a kick out of that. Cato tried to let it slide. “Well, if you died when they said they might have found a cure, I’ll let you know that they never did, and that they still haven’t. In fact, due to the fact that they still hadn’t found a cure for the sickness, a whole lot of people kept dying.
“And they still are, because the government has no sense whatsoever. They tested everyone to see who was immune and who wasn’t—most people were susceptible, by the way—and then they shipped us off to these huge fenced in camps that they called ‘Confinement Camps’ in a way to contain the people who were sick or could get sick just to get them out of the way. Yeah, they didn’t even try for a name that doesn’t sound like prison. There are four of them, each in a different part of the country. You’re in the West one right now, right next to the empty city of San Francisco, as you can see a few miles away.”
So that was what the empty city was. The empty city of San Francisco, beautiful only a few years ago.
That was where I used to live.
“So they tested everyone to see if your results would come out as immune or susceptible, right? If you were susceptible, you were sent off to one of four Confinement Camps–North, South, East, or West. If your test results came back as immune, you’re automatically enlisted in the MGMT Corporation, a shady organization who claims to be ‘building a better future.’ They’re a bunch of fu—”
“They hate us all and want us dead,” Armando interjected, laughing at Cato. Cato looked as if he was about to knock him out cold. “Sorry, I just thought I could contribute a bit.”
“Not appreciated, Armando,” Cato said, inhaling deeply and trying to regain his composure. “Anyway, the MGMT Corporation–we usually just call them the Corporation, obviously, or just MGMT–was created by the government for two reasons: To keep the Camps ‘living in harmony’ as they ‘managed’ things, and to give the people who’re immune something to do with their unfortunate, miserable lives.”
“It’s ironic that you call their lives ‘unfortunate’ and ‘miserable,’ Cato, because I sure thought that you—”
Finally, I decided it was time to keep the peace. I stepped between Cato–who was turning toward him with his fists clenched and ready–and Armando. It made me vulnerable, but I figured it was worth keeping them settled down.
“Both of you, just calm down,” I said. “Let Cato talk, Armando, and don’t kill him, Cato.”
They both muttered and backed away from my outspread hands.
“Continue,” Armando muttered a little louder. “I was beginning to enjoy sitting in despair, as Ariadne put it so beautifully.”
had to ruin that for yourself,” Cato shot back.
“SHUT UP!” I finally yelled as they started to go at it again. “You’re like bickering three-year-olds! Please!”
“Bickering three-year-old, Armando–same thing! I don’t see a difference!”
Before Armando could use one of his witty comebacks against Cato, I cut in again. “I am not here to be entertained by your with, you imbeciles. I am here to know what is going on. But if you’re going to be like this, I might as well—”
“Okay. Enough. I’m done,” Armando said. “I’ll shut up; you get on with your history teacher thing while I return to sitting in despair. Deal, fellow bickering three-year-old at heart?”
Cato smirked victoriously. “Sure, deal. Whatever.” He stood up straighter and looked at me with his big brown eyes. “Okay, where were we?”
“You were talking about the MGMT Corporation and why they exist or something,” I said, trying to calm down.
“Okay. So the government originally had them sort of watch over us and ‘enforce the law.’ It wasn’t too bad; they didn’t really do much. Of course, we still hated everything about them because we were naive enough to think that they were responsible for the Confinement Camp thing in the first place when, really, they’re just the government’s pawns. But it’s sort of hard not
to hate them when you’re not contaminated and still in the Camp.
“Anyway, they actually completely abandoned us for a while. They just stayed off in their little headquarters in modern-day Los Angeles, doing whatever assholes like them do. We tried to get knowledge, but they just played innocent. They’re shady like that. Whatever it is, they’re still working on it, and it’s not going to be good for us, given the state things are in now. I’ve heard… a few things, and it doesn’t look good.
“So, eventually, we had no law in the Camps, so it was a free-for-all. It sucked completely, because we didn’t have any food rations, people were doing stupid things, and we were all at each other’s mercy. No one stepped up to lead, but little conspiracies popped up everywhere. Gangs. Ariadne called it an anarchist’s heaven, which is probably the most accurate way of describing it.
“Years later, while we were just minding our business, a load of helicopters from the Corporation filled with a bunch of workers. Evidently, the government found out about them neglecting the Confinement Camps–or at least ours, that is; I don’t know a thing about any of the others. Still don’t.
“So something obviously changed in the way they operate, because they’re pretty much abusing all the power they’ve been given, and it sucks. They’ve created their own dictator-like law, and they’ve recently gotten into some really creative punishments–no need for detail. So, yeah, while they are still ‘enforcing the law,’ it’s really their own demented, sick and twisted version of that.”
“And it’s a load of crap,” Armando added now that he realized Cato had finished.
I just stared at them, awed at how nonchalant they were acting about the whole ordeal. It felt like someone had taken me from one life and pulled me into another one with no warning.
Come to think of it, that was sort of what happened…
“So… That’s it?” I asked, still half in shock. “That’s what we’ve… what it’s come down to?”
Armando nodded. “That’s it. We’re stuck here, oppressed by a Corporation that’s likely developing some sort of weapon to kill us all, while the government is off in La-La-Land trying to ‘find a cure.’ I think they’ve ditched us by now. I think we’re all going to die soon.”
“Welcome to your new home,” Cato said, a hand on my shoulder as he ushered us out of the overlook tunnel. The glory San Francisco disappeared in the mist behind me as the blackness of the tunnels welcomed me eagerly, pulling me into the darkness of a new age.