Friday, January 20, 2012
"I'm not sure how long I was unconscious. When I came to, the inside of the house was a mess. Mrs. Levy was collapsed on the floor. I called her name and she opened her eyes a little, murmuring that she was glad I was safe. Then she told me to give her my hand. I reached out and Mrs. Levy gripped my hand, but her grasp was weak. She said her son's hands had gotten too big for her to hold now. She asked me what it was like outside. It was morning; outside was a mess just like inside the house."
Denzel continued talking with his head down, and Reeve listened with his eyes closed.
After going outside, Denzel turned back and looked at Levy's house. There was no glass left in the window frames. When he looked around, he saw the windows of the other houses were broken too. There were houses missing roofs and houses with holes in the walls as well. Everything turned out the same after all. It would have been the same even if I hadn't broken the window, he thought. But with that thought he grew angry with himself again. Levy tried to protect me and though those horrible things happened to her, I'm trying to pretend it has nothing to do with me.
He went back inside the house, and Levy was as she left her. Her face was calm and she seemed to only be asleep. He grew uneasy and tried shaking her shoulder.
But she showed no sign of waking up.
"Mrs. Levy!" he said, shaking her harder this time.
A trickle of black fluid started streaming from the corner of Levy's mouth. Thinking this was an omen of death he hastily wiped it off. Then the black liquid started pouring out from her hair. He'd never seen anything like this before and it made him sick, seeing something like this malignant black blood coming from a human who was alive not long ago. Fear ripped at his heart and he ran from the house.
"Dad! Mum! Help me!" he shouted. He went on like that for a while, calling out every name he knew, and when he finally wore out the last of his voice, he sat down and started to cry.
"Chin up, kid," someone said from beside him. A large hand took his chin roughly and lifted his face upwards. A man with a jet-black moustache was standing there. Behind him there was a small truck with around ten people sitting in the back. "So what're you doing here? Didn't the TV say to evacuate to the Slums?"
"I didn't watch TV," Denzel said.
"Oh, bloody hell! Same as this lot. 'Oh, I didn't know' or 'I thought I'd be safe,' they said!"
The men and women in the truck shuffled around embarrassedly.
"So, where's your family?"
"Mrs. Levy is inside."
"His name was Gaskin," he told Reeve. "He buried Mrs. Levy in her own backyard. The people in the truck helped too. She was buried with her sewing things and her son's books. Everyone was surprised at how deep the soil was. They said you'd normally hit the Plate at the rate they dug."
"Perhaps she was planning on growing vegetables or something. A lot of the old folks from rural parts did that."
"...I think she wanted flowers," Denzel answered as he stared at the flower pattern on the handkerchief. "Her house was decorated with all sorts of fake flowers and floral patterns. But I think that really, she wanted real ones. She lived in Midgar since her son worked for Shin-Ra, but she'd collected enough soil and was going to...oh, sorry. I'm rambling a bit."
Reeve nodded as he listened.
The truck soon stopped at the station where the train bound for the Slums used to leave.
"The train's not running, and there's not a chance it's going to get repaired. But luckily the tracks still lead down to the ground. If we walk, we can get reach the Slums," Gaskin said.
"Is Midgar safe?" someone asked.
"That, my friend, I don't know. But for now, it's probably safer on the surface, don't you think?" He turned to Denzel. "Don't slip. No one's got any time to spare to help. You'll just have to look out for yourself."
The truck made a U-turn and drove away. There was a crowd of people gathered at the station. The destruction of the white light had affected the whole of Midgar. People whose homes were destroyed and others who thought the city might fall had come to escape; many of them were hesitant about walking the tracks all the way to the surface. But everyone was downcast and grim. There were no cheers celebrating the destruction of Meteor, just complaints about the nearly nonexistent evacuation instructions. I'm glad dad's not here, thought Denzel. Pushing his way through the drove, Denzel headed for the platform and jumped down onto the tracks. He didn't know what was waiting for him beyond here, but since Gaskin was the only one showing people the way, he thought it was obvious that he should follow his command.
He could see all the way down to the surface below through the spaces between the rails laid on top of the iron support pillars. At this height he wouldn't have a chance of being saved if he fell, so he walked down warily, spiraling downwards around the outer circumference of Midgar. The track was drearily long but he was too focused on not slipping to notice how far he'd walked.
Ahead of him, a group of several people who were also taking this route came to a stop. It looked there was some hold-up in front. Elbowing through the crowd to the front, Denzel could see a boy of around three years old sitting amidst a web of rails in a hole in the track, his legs locked around them to keep from falling. Denzel wondered why nobody just walked around him. He could hardly call that a roadblock.
"Where's your mummy?" someone asked the boy.
The child suddenly screamed "Mummy!" then looked down. He lost his balance and waved his arms to keep himself from falling. At once Denzel ran over to him and grabbed one flailing arm. Then everyone behind him started talking.
"Watch it, that kid's infected!" one of them said.
"Don't touch him! You'll catch it too!"
"Wh-what do you mean?" Denzel said. The kid looked scared, but other than that, nothing seemed wrong.
"Come on, get outta the way!" someone yelled.
Denzel wanted to say something back, but he couldn't tell whose voice it was and decided against it. He wrapped his arms around the boy's waist and dragged him to the top of one of the iron panels used to fix the rails to the support pillar. Why didn't anyone help him? he wondered, and looked down to see that the boy's back was soaked through with some dark fluid. He jerked his hand away. It's that same stuff... that came out of Levy.
The path had cleared and the people started walking again. The boy kept crying and whimpered, "It hurts. Mommy..."
Denzel remembered what one of the adults had said: "You'll catch it too." He wanted to cry. He was angry at the boy. But suddenly he remembered Levy. How he had felt sick at the sight of the black liquid coming from her, the one who had been so kind to him. How he had fled in fear. A sense of guilt filled him. Maybe if were nice to this kid he could make amends. He wanted Levy to forgive him. So he crouched down beside the boy.
"Where does it hurt?" he asked
"On my back."
He gently placed his hand on the boy's back. Whenever his stomach hurt, his mother would rub it and the pain would disappear. The same when he bumped into something. Maybe I can use some of mum's magic, too. Denzel started to rub, trying to ignore the sticky black liquid coating his hands. At first the boy grimaced with pain, but eventually he fell asleep.
Three hours. Perhaps a little longer. Denzel continued to tend to the boy, occasionally taking a break. The people ignored Denzel and the boy and went on down the track.
"He's already dead."
Denzel looked up to see a woman with a tired face standing there.
She had a baby strapped to her chest with cord, and was holding hands with a girl around Denzel's age.
"That's a girly shirt. He's weird. Mummy, can we go now?" the girl said.
The woman she called mummy took off of her daughter's blue jacket, gave it to Denzel, and said, "Put this over him."
Her daughter, having had been made to wear three layers of clothing, looked relived.
"Take it. It's my older sister, so it'll be big enough" the girl said.
Denzel looked at the boy curled up sleeping beside him. He couldn't hear him breathing anymore and the strength left his body. The girl took the jacket from her mother and quickly covered the boy.
"He's with her now," the girl said.
"Thank you," was all he could manage to say. The mother had already started walking away, and the girl followed, sliding her hand into her mother's. Like his own, their hands were stained pitch-black.
As Denzel stared at the chocobo bag the girl was wearing, he though to himself, Are we going to die, crying in pain with this black sticky stuff bleeding out of our bodies? Are we going to get sick and die?
"Back then, we didn't know anything about Geostigma. Those who were exposed to the Lifestream have black pus leak from their bodies and die. There were some who said it was spread by physical contact. In actuality, it was the will of Jenova mixed with the Lifestream that...no, forget it. Even if we did know that, it wouldn't have changed the situation."
"Especially for the children."
"I thought about it while I was on the track. I wished I was an adult soon. I was hoping that then there might be just a few less things that I didn't understand."
Denzel watched the people who had come to the Slum train station to escape walk past him, seeming preoccupied with something. One after another people came down from the upper plate, walking onwards as if they thought they'd die if they stopped. He thought he should do the same, but it might be worth staying here to see if he could find someone he knew. It was unbearable hunger that shifted Denzel out of his half-hearted state.
He walked around the station looking for food when he saw a large pile of luggage a small distance from where he stood. He could see several men further up ahead working on something. It looked like they were digging a hole. The scent of decay was on the wind. A man carrying a young woman arrived, and softly lowered the woman into the hole. A temporary graveyard. He turned and tried to leave, not wanting to see this, when he noticed a familiar bag in the pile of luggage. There was a Chocobo printed on it. Driven by some unfathomable impulse, he seized the bag and looked inside. There were cookies and chocolate. Denzel thought about the girl who used to own the bag. She's gone now too.
"Eat them," a voice called. It was Gaskin.
Denzel looked up, glad to see him again.
"Worried about getting sick? It's just a rumor. Maybe it is true, but for now it's just what people are saying. Besides, you'll die anyway if you don't eat anything. If you're going to die, might as well be on a full stomach, yeah?" Gaskin reached into the bag, helping himself to a cookie. "They're good. Still edible. They'll go bad if you don't eat them. And that'd just be a waste. So eat up."
Denzel ate a cookie. It was delicious.
"Thank you," said Denzel focusing on the bag.
Gaskin ruffled Denzel's hair roughly. Even though he was a completely different type of person from his father, Gaskin reminded Denzel of him when he did that.
Denzel lived there for about a year. His first job was looking for food from inside the luggage. He soon made some friends as well. They were all children who had lost their parents. Gaskin also got more colleagues. Gaskin called them a bunch of idiots, dead from the head up and not content unless they were moving around. In the beginning, the group spent their time burying the dead. Now and again Denzel noticed himself smiling. He felt like he was back to his old self. However, in about two weeks the number of people evacuating Midgar had decreased, and the people recuperating at the station left too. Gaskin and his group's work was coming to an end. Denzel had many sleepless nights, anxious about the future.
A man was walking around one day, as if he were looking for something. Soon the man approached Denzel and his friends.
"I need some iron pipes. The more the better."
The children looked for the iron pipes. They were able to find a lot in the ruins of Sector 7. The man said his thanks and left. Afterwards the man returned several times. After the third visit he started bringing some colleagues who were also searching for things. They said they were starting construction on a new city on the east side of Midgar, and were looking for materials to use. In return for delivering the items they asked for, the children received food.
Denzel and his friends called themselves the 'Sector 7 Expedition'. They had a lot of job requests. They were proud of themselves for working and living like adults, and enjoyed their work everyday. There were nights when they would remember their parents and cry, but they would cheer each other up afterwards. 'Share the fate'. That was their favorite saying. However, fate wasn't as reassuringly connected to everyone as Denzel and his friends had thought.
One morning, Gaskin gathered together all of his colleagues, namely the children and adults of the Expedition, and suggested that they all move and help with the construction of the new city. After everyone had agreed to do what Gaskin suggested, one of the children had noticed that Gaskin rubbing his chest as he was speaking.
"Mr. Gaskin, are you feeling okay?"
"Not quite," Gaskin said as he unfastened the button on his coat. A familiar sick feeling coiled in Denzel's chest. His shirt was soaked through pitch black.
"Mr. Gaskin died a month later. Everyone helped bury him in a special spot. The good people always die, don't they?"
Reeve nodded in agreement. Denzel brought his cup to his mouth and took a sip of coffee. It was very bitter. He hated coffee, but he wanted to grow to like it soon. That's what the adults did.
Source : http://www.adventchildren.net/ff7ac/extra/prologue/1-3.php