Dark Skies, Clouded Minds
The sky was dark, but the streets below were as lively as ever. Guns being shot and people screaming in agony has become a more usual background noise ever since that damned asteroid crashed into Earth. The young man, no more than twenty, turned around to the sleeping bag, where a little boy slept. Looking at his brother, memories of the youth’s past clouded his mind. The day his father left to look for food and never came back. The day his mother was shot in front of his eyes in her back by some looter. The dead body of the looter. Cut up and profaned. His sister, dead, blood flowing from her head; a gun in her hand.
Now the food was at least given out in rations, but looters were everywhere, and the army was focused on the Eastern side of the country, to help with the major destruction there.
All due to the damned colonials, he thought to himself. No one really knows who directed the asteroid towards Earth. The wildest rumours were flying around. Most people he knew say it was the Callistans or the Titanians, but his neighbours said that the Ganymedeans did it. It was irrelevant. To the young man, it was all some colonials. The slim, tall, technologized Callistans, the underwater-living, pale Ganymedeans or these nitrogen-breathing Titanians, it didn’t matter. They were all creations destroying their creators.
The youth looked outside of a window, now almost fully boarded up. He saw tall towers, crumbling, a symbol of this once mighty city. Nowadays, the government abandoned it and moved westwards, but it hasn’t relinquished its fading influence on the city. Troops still patrolled the city, especially in what was once a square of red and white, but the looters, murderers and thieves were everywhere. The army had problems keeping control in some parts of the city and even where they did have control, it was no guarantee the unrest was not going to explode...
This world of destruction and chaos was the new world. The new Earth.
Half the neighborhood must be here, waiting for food. A huge queue waited before the UN checkpoint, in order to get their food in exchange for stamps and to get new stamps. Stamps were very hard to come by and the food was not plentiful. Even so, one could get stamps by working. All income has been replaced with food stamps. The UN had tried to supply the city with water for free, but it hadn’t quite worked out. Still, the supplying was better than six months ago.
The young man looked to the people in front of him. A man in his forties, hair greying already. A young girl of at most 16. A mother with her son. All half-starved, all struggling, all tired. The queue extended several hundred meters around the tall, half-abandoned buildings around the checkpoint. The city stinked of old blood, dead bodies and slowly rotting garbage. When rain occasionally pisses down, the garbage and mud-filled streets usually have half-rotten streams flowing down.
The government didn’t even have much of an influence here anymore, and the UN garrison was too small for such a large city. Whatever troops the government sent from the west were effectively UN troops as well, and the UN was too focused on the Eastern Coast, which had been destroyed by tsunamies and ash following the impact of the asteroid. The army was there too, trying to uphold any semblance of order in the east.
A priest could be heard preaching in the background, a crowd around him. Priests of different religions preach around the UN checkpoints at times, hoping to attract crowds of people to convert. Some people just need a purpose after this, the young man thought. People like my brother and I. “The colonials, they were trying to exterminate us, their rightful masters. We are their masters for they were created by man, and man was created by God. God has created us to his likeness, gave us a world to live and made us prosper. We were grateful and never tried to usurp His authority. We have created them to our likeness, gave them a world, each for every new race. And they rebelled! We are their masters, and God judges them!” The crowd around him cheered. “Their pact with Satan is what brought the asteroid upon us. But we will smite them, as God’s chosen, as God’s hammer, as God’s firstborn CHILDREN!”
The priest went on and on with his preach, and was the only source of interest in the otherwise boring surroundings. It clouded his mind for a while with thoughts about helping the organization. By the time he had gotten the new food and the new food stamps for his brother and him, the sky had already darkened. Time to go home, he thought, but before he left, he gave one of the stamps to the preaching priest. He had dark hair and dark eyes, and a shaggy beard was sported by him. The priest had thanked him and blessed him, for he had helped the cause for humanity’s survival and dominance. The youth was glad he helped.
The youth stood with his brother before the tall, grey apartment building which had once been a boarding school. At half past five in the afternoon, the sky was already dark. It always got darker earlier after the crash.
As time passed by and the young man became inspired by the preaches, he had decided to enroll himself and his brother in this new Christian order, for they needed food and protection. It is for my brother, he had tried to convince himself. But he knew he had grown to believe the preaches of the ex-monks. They were trying to make Earth great again and to reassert the natural dominance.
They were greeted by a woman, herself enrolled in the Order for some time. She showed them their room. There was barely any light in the room, and the door was closed off and locked at night. The room had two beds and a wardrobe. The desks that must’ve stood once in the room had been removed before their arrival. The room was rather dusty, and the window had bars, as to not be able to fling oneself from the building.
The youth threw his duffel bag on his bed and began unpacking. His brother did the same. “Are we going to be alright?”, the little one asked. The older brother embraced him and told him that it will be alright. Though he didn’t know the answer.
After the unpacking, they were led downstairs to a buffet. It had whatever canned food one could get, plus some eggs, which the youth believed were produced by the Order. He had sat himself with his brother at a table, where apparently all the other new recruits were seated. A red-haired young man. A man and his daughter. A strew teenager, who looked like he lived through the worst parts of the city. They ate, sharing the occasional story. The teenager had lived in the suburbia of the city. Must’ve been hell, the youth thought. It will get better for him now, at least. The redhead had been living in the apartment districts, which were semi-controlled by the UN. The middle-aged man mostly embraced his daughter, who constantly asked for her mother.
At some point, an elderly man appeared. His hair was still golden, but the hairline retreating. His jaw was by all appearance a strong tool, which gave him the look of an angry man. But his eyes were the most haunting emerald green. He had a look of a soldier, perhaps even a commander in the space force. He introduced himself as the Headmaster of the Order. He talked about the daily chores and repentance hours. Then he talked about the induction into the priestly order. The speech clouded his mind, as he drifted off from reality into the world of his thoughts.
The pain burned so hard, the young man could barely think. Every night, twice, a confessor came and whipped the inhabitants of the order building, to strike the sins out of the bodies. Another whip slash. And another. And another. The pain never seemed to end. Must… resist… MUST! … For him. For HIM!
The whipping stopped, as the confessor moved on to his brother. He shrieked in pain, as the whip was lashed out on him. The youth gasped for air. His back burned, any movement of air intensifying the pain. Thoughts began to cloud his mind. He thought about the hard training and induction. Films, more in the style of 21st Century movies than the modern standards, teaching about the quest of humanity, preaches, hour-long praying sessions, and hard labour in the garden of the order building, often till the sky was dark. The Headmaster said it was to make the worshippers strong enough for the damnation of the colonial races.
His brother cried hard, as the whip lashes out with a strong force on the small boy. One must be quiet, or else it becomes stronger, harder. He had told his brother this many times, but he never could endure. He was too weak, too young.
“Be quiet or he’ll continue.”, the youth whispered to his brother. The confessor noticed this, and immediately came to the man and lashed the whip out on him.
Must… resist … for my brother … for him … for him … for Him … for Him. Then the youth’s mind went blank and he snapped.
The youth looked around the crowd he had assembled, near the UN checkpoint. Many people around him cheered and praised each and any word he preached. He had become one of the main warrior-monks of the order, as the Order members were called. After he had been enlightened on that highly-praised night, he had been trained personally by the other warrior-monks how to wield weapons, how to fight hand-to-hand. He had been taught the way of speech. The religious zeal the order had preached had spread, and many began to adhere to their beliefs.
The Headmaster had sent him to a rather unfaithful part of the city. Behind the crowd was a queue, people waiting to exchange their stamps for food. People with children, perhaps younger siblings.
His thoughts turned to his siblings. They were weak. They were cowardly and couldn’t see the grace God has given us. He let us survive the devilish pact of the colonial scum. His brother had hanged himself shortly after his epiphany. Weak, he was weak. Deep inside, he knew his parents would be proud. Proud of me, proud of what I am contributing to, proud that I am not weak like my brother and sister. Thoughts of his family clouded the youth’s mind as he preached.
When he had finished the speech, he received many stamps and cans, all to contribute for the order. He had been pleased with the alms they have been receiving. Each and every day, the order had grown stronger, and their preaches acknowledged more and more.
Suddenly, a woman came to give him a stamp. She had not been in the crowd, but had been eyeing the speech from the queue. The man thanked her for the alms and told her she contributed to God’s cause of revenge, justice and renewed adherence to the natural order of things. She said she hoped she did.
When the man turned to leave for the order’s building, the sky had already darkened. It was almost night. And the woman he met today was clouding his mind.