Sylvania Ave

A Sci-Fi short story by Melissa R. Mendelson

Sylvania Ave

by Melissa Mendelson

  –  Other Stories by Melissaa


Soft moans wrestled against the bedroom sheets. Bodies entwined, melting into the other. Sweat and ecstasy rolled like waves crashing across bliss, and goosebumps were the cool chill kissing flesh. The moans and cries rose higher, building toward the break, but before the moment could come, her screams killed the dream.

Barry threw his headset onto the floor. He lied on his bed, soaked in sweat. His body vibrated and shook, and he was not done. He just needed one moment, one more moment, but she had to scream. And now that moment was lost, and he was frustrated. And she was quiet. Then, he realized that she was standing by his bedroom door.

I couldn’t sleep,” she said. “I thought I heard gunfire.”

That was years ago.” Barry pulled his covers over him, feeling exposed. “That was the Great Black Out when they were going floor by floor. Remember?” He held her stare, knowing that no one was home. “How about you go back to bed?”

I want ice cream,” and she walked toward the kitchen.

Mom, it’s only…” Barry glanced at the wall, and red, digital numbers flashed six a.m. “Come on. The sun isn’t even up yet.” Barry threw the covers aside and pulled on a pair of gray sweatpants. Then, he threw a black t-shirt over his chest. “Mom, wait.”

It is not garbage day,” a robotic voice said. “We do not take the recyclables today.”

Barry ran over to the apartment door. He found his mother standing there still in her nightgown, holding a black garbage bag out toward the guard. She didn’t understand what the guard was telling her. Instead, she was fishing through the garbage, pulling out plastic bottles and offering them to the robotic man instead.

Is your mother not well,” the guard asked Barry.

She’s confused,” and Barry pulled his mother away from the door.

I will need to report that.”

No, it’s fine. She’s fine. She’s just a little confused.”

Does she know what day it is?”

I told you that she is fine,” and Barry slammed the door shut in his face. “Damn it, Mom. If they know, then you know what will happen to you.”

Ice cream?” His mother still held the black garbage bag in her hands.

Yes. Ice cream,” and Barry took the garbage bag away from her. “Azi, two bowls of Rocky Road Ice Cream, please.”

Ready,” a robotic voice said.

Who was that,” Barry’s mother whispered to him.

Azi. He takes cares of us. He maintains the apartment. The lights. The air that we breathe.”

They’re going to gas us,” his mother cried.

No, Mom. They don’t do that anymore. Remember?” His mother started to cry. “Come on. Your ice cream is waiting,” and Barry led her into the kitchen. “We’re okay. Okay? We’re fine as long as we don’t leave the apartment.”

I want to open the window. I need some air,” and Barry’s mother walked over to the window. She tried to open the window, but it was sealed shut. “It won’t open,” she exclaimed.

That’s because it’s sealed, Mom. There were too many jumpers in the beginning, so they sealed the windows. All of them.” Barry glanced at the window. He hated looking outside. “Come on. Ice cream. Remember?”

They’re going to gas us,” and his mother started to cry again.

No, Mom. They’re not. They leave us alone until…”

Until we burn,” and Barry’s mother wiped her tears aside. “Like your father. Like your sister. We have to be good dogs.”

We are not dogs,” and Barry finally got his mother to sit down at the kitchen table and eat her ice cream. “We are human,” but Barry could not find the appetite to eat his food.

They don’t see us as human,” his mother snarled. “And this is their humane way of keeping us under their guns. I hate it. I don’t even know who our neighbors are anymore.”

That’s because they don’t let us outside of these apartments. We have to stay inside, whether we like it or not.” He watched his mother finish her ice cream, and then he gave her his bowl. “You’re not going back to bed, are you?” He watched his mother shake her head. “Well, I need a shower.” He glanced over at the apartment door. “You can’t go outside, Mom. They can’t know.”

They’ll find out. Don’t you think that they are watching us now? They are always watching, waiting to bring us down to the basement.”

Barry flinched at that word. Basement. It used to never be a dirty word, but sometimes, the air would not smell so fresh. The stench of the dead, the burnt would creep upward and out through the vents to remind them all that death was just a push of a button. The floors above were limbo, waiting to descend downward into harsh reality because they won, and this was their humane way until the end. “Do you want to watch television for awhile,” Barry finally said, trying to push the bile back down. “Mom, tv?”

Okay,” and she gave him a small smile. It had been too long since he saw something like a smile on her face. “Maybe, a game later?”

Yeah. My friends should be online later. Azi, television,” and a spidery web emerged from the ceiling. It flickered into life, displaying fiery protests and policemen shooting into the mob. Then, the screen flicked into an ugly orange flag draped over the American eagle. He was going to speak to his people not them. “Turn the news off. Let’s watch something… Funny,” and then Barry remembered that most of the comedians were executed. “Something stupid,” and a Reality program started. He watched his mother smile again and race towards the screen, so that she could watch some woman talk about how wonderful her life was. “I’ll find something better to watch, but I need to shower first.”

Okay,” his mother said.

Okay,” and Barry kissed her on the cheek. He walked toward the bathroom door and turned on the lights. “Azi, run me a shower. Cold, but not too cold.” He glanced at his mother. “Mom?”

Yes, Barry?”

You’re going to stay inside. Right?”

Right,” and she returned to watching the television screen.

Barry closed the bathroom door behind him. He held his breath and then punched the wall next to him. He walked over to the sink and washed his face. He gripped the sink with his hands and looked up at the mirror. He cursed at his reflection for the tears in his eyes. Those tears could not save her, and neither could he. But he was trying. He was trying really hard, but it was a losing battle.

Okay, Mom. Let’s play a game.” Barry stepped outside the bathroom. He felt better and clean. He looked toward the television screen to see some other woman talking about how fancy her nails were and how expensive the jewelry was. His mother was nowhere to be seen, but the apartment door was closed. “Mom,” and Barry looked in her room. She was not there. “Mom?” She was not in his room or the kitchen or the family room. There was nowhere else for her to go. “Mom!” Barry looked at the apartment door, and then he realized that one of the kitchen knives was gone. “Shit,” and he hurried outside.

You’re free. You’re free,” Barry heard his mother scream as she banged on the apartment doors. “Come out. You’re safe now.”

Barry looked at the dead guard slumped against the wall outside his apartment. The kitchen knife was lunged into his chest. He didn’t think his mother was that strong anymore, but somehow, she killed the guard. Now, she was trying to free the neighbors, and even if she succeeded, there were twenty floors below them. And there were twenty guards, and then there was the basement. Barry again flinched at that word.

Mom, stop!” Barry grabbed her by the arm. “We have to get back inside the apartment.” He heard the chime of the elevator. They were coming up. When one guard went down, the rest snapped into red alert, and they were coming for them. “We have to get inside now. Come on!”

But they’re safe. They can go outside now.”

The world turned against us, Mom. He turned them against us. We have to get inside.” Barry knew that they were running out of time. “Come on!” He finally got her to the apartment door.

Can you get your father for me? I think he’s downstairs.” His mother stepped into the apartment. “He might be lost.” She wrung her hands together. “Could you get him?”

Yeah.” Barry glanced over his shoulder and saw the elevator doors opening. “I’ll get him,” and he kissed his mother on the cheek.

What was that for?”

I love you.”

I love you too, Barry.”


Yes, Barry?”

Lock the apartment door, and give my mother whatever she needs. I’ll see you soon, Mom.”

Bye, Barry,” and she watched him close the apartment door.

Barry pulled the kitchen knife out of the guard. He held it tightly in his hand. He watched the elevator doors open wide, and the guards poured out with their eyes shining red. He waited until they were inch away, and then he dropped the knife to the floor. And the guards grabbed him and dragged him into the elevator.

Barry was surrounded, squeezed in-between their harsh metal. He saw one jagged finger push the button, B. He looked up at the top of the elevator, but unless he had super powers, he was not going to escape. Instead, he looked down at his feet, and he could feel the heat. He could hear their screams, but he wouldn’t scream. He wouldn’t show defeat. When the elevator doors opened, he wouldn’t struggle. He stepped forward, and even the guards were surprised. And they were machine, and they followed him down the red mile to the boiler doors. And the smell of the dead, the burnt greeted him. At least, Barry would finally see his father and his sister again.


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