The Thunder of Chaos

A Sci-Fi Short Story by Melissa R. Mendelson

The Thunder of Chaos

by Melissa R. Mendelson
* Amazon

 

Good morning. It’s time to get up. Come on, sleepyhead. Rise and shine. Time to wake up and smell the coffee. It’s a beautiful day, and the sun is shining.”

Jennifer threw the covers over her head and groaned. She could still sense her presence near the bed. Those eyes were piercing through the covers and down to the bone. Finally, she surrendered, and bright sunlight blinded her from the window. She groaned one last bout of resistance and slowly moved away from her bed.

Please, take a fifteen-minute shower. You were in there for half an hour yesterday. The school bus will be here in approximately 45 minutes. Oh, please don’t wear that. It’s inappropriate.”

Jennifer looked at the black leggings in her hands and the black t-shirt of a rock group that her parents used to listen to. She peered into the closet at the plaid skirts and white blouses. She then turned toward the brown shoes piled up on the floor, and she reached over them to pick up her white sneakers.

Really, Jennifer?” She crossed her arms over her chest. “That’s weekend clothes.”

It’s Friday,” Jennifer replied, but the stern look did not melt away. “I’m in mourning.” The stern look flickered. “I’ll go back to routine on Monday.”

Maybe, you should take a Mental Health Day like your mother. I could notify your school,” and she started to close her eyes.

No! No. I don’t want to be here either.”

I could arrange a trip. A small travel might do you well. Would you like a country drive?”

I would like to shower,” and Jennifer slammed the bathroom door in her face.

Twenty minutes later, Jennifer was dressed for school. Well, not appropriately dressed, but she didn’t care. She slowly made her way into the kitchen, where her family was eating breakfast. Her father sat in his chair with a pair of glasses on his head, watching the news, and resting in his hand was a large mug filled with coffee. Her mother poked at some eggs and bacon on her plate while staring into nothing. Her baby brother downed a bowl full of sugar cereal, babbling incoherently about dissecting a frog in Biology. Then, Jennifer’s gaze shifted over to the empty chair, and a pain shot through her heart.

Good morning, Jennifer. What would you like for breakfast? Eggs? Bacon? Toast? Cold cereal? Coffee…. You’re too young. Hot chocolate?”

I’m not hungry,” Jennifer replied.

You should eat something. I will make you toast,” and she started to make the toast.

I said that I’m not hungry.”

Jennifer, eat something,” her father replied.

You took twenty minutes in the shower. That will come out of your allowance.”

Dad.” Jennifer watched him drink his coffee. “Mom.” Her mother did not look at her.

Fifteen minutes,” her baby brother said. “Fifteen minutes.”

Shut up,” and Jennifer flinched at the toast that was dropped on the table before her.

What would you like to drink?”

Fuck you.”

Jennifer.” Now, her father took off his glasses and stared at her. “Knock it off.”

Why? Would you rather I be a zombie like Mom?” Jennifer snapped her fingers in front of her mother. “You’re all zombies,” and Jennifer grabbed her schoolbag nearby. “I’ll be outside. Maybe, I’ll be hit by a bus.”

You didn’t eat your toast,” she said. Then, she looked at Jennifer’s father. “I should report this.”

Give her time,” Jennifer’s father said. “It’s only been a week,” and he put the glasses back on his head.

Okay. A little time,” and she closed her eyes.

Why are you being a bitch?”

Jennifer looked at her baby brother. She wanted to smack him. Maybe, it would snap him out of it, but all the kids his age were docile. There was no saving him. Her older brother knew this, and again, she felt that pain in her heart. If only she had listened. If only she had helped him. Maybe, he would still be here today.

You’re thinking about him. It’s his fault, you know? He tried to break the system,” and her baby brother boarded the school bus.

Good morning, Jennifer. Are you sure that you would like to come to school today?” The bus driver flickered before her as he smiled.

She spoke to you, and yes, I’m sure.” Jennifer climbed onto the bus.

The other students lowered their glasses and gazed at her. Some girls giggled at Jennifer’s clothes. All the seats were taken, and Jennifer was forced to sit behind the bus driver. It was probably deliberate, and the bus driver watched her like a hawk as the bus drove to the school. Jennifer didn’t care. Instead, she stared out the window and watched the town flash by the window.

It was a good thing that Gym was her first class, and Jennifer played soccer with a vengeance. She knocked one girl down and pushed past another. She almost punched another girl, and that’s when the Gym teacher flickered and blew her whistle at her. Jennifer was benched for the rest of the class. As she sat there, watching her classmates play, a boy approached her and knocked her schoolbag over.

Really,” Jennifer declared, not seeing the note that the boy dropped by her feet. She threw her stuff into the bag and then found it. The note read: You should have helped your brother. “Hey,” and Jennifer ran after the boy.

Jennifer had just made it out into the hallway when she saw the black uniforms of security. They had cornered the boy, and the boy was yelling things back at them. He was saying that they were not slaves. He said that the system would break. They found a way, and he wouldn’t talk. He would rather die than submit, and the security guards dragged him away.

Your brother was a hero,” the boy yelled at Jennifer as he was dragged off.

You should be in class.” The principal was a large, round man, whose job was basically to babysit us, his students. “Why are you in the hallway?”

I have to go to the bathroom,” Jennifer replied, and she walked away from him.

Jennifer was about to go into the girls’ bathroom when she found herself instead walking over to her brother’s locker. It was never cleaned out. Her parents were supposed to do that under the principal’s supervision. Her father kept putting it off, and her mother… Her mother was just useless, and it was against school policy for Jennifer to even consider opening his locker. But nobody was around, and she knew the combination.

At first, Jennifer was disappointed at the contents inside the locker. There was his sweater, and it still had his scent. She put the sweater in her schoolbag. There were some school books, required reading and his glasses. There was also something wedged all the way in the back. It was thin and square, and it took a little effort to pull it loose. She dropped it in her schoolbag just as a teacher appeared and hurried over to her.

You are not permitted to be in his locker.” The teacher frowned and flickered. “What did you take?”

I didn’t take anything.”

I will report you. What did you take?”

I took this,” and Jennifer pulled his sweater halfway out of her bag. “It smells like him.”

I’m sorry,” but the teacher’s voice was electronic. “Are you sure that you want to be here today?”

No.” Jennifer looked at the sweater in her hand. “I want my brother back.”

I can’t help you with that,” the teacher replied. “There was no saving him.”

You really believe that.” Jennifer wasn’t asking. She knew it was self-preservation. “I’m going home.”

I will call a car for you.”

No. I’ll walk,” and Jennifer stormed out of the school.

Jennifer lived maybe ten miles away from the school. She had no interest in returning home. Her brother once showed her his hideaway behind town. It looked like a rundown shack. She hoped that it was still there, and as she made her way there, she paid attention to the cars and buses and trucks that drove perfectly to their destination. She watched the people move by while wearing their glasses, having conversations in their heads, and being alerted by the system to stop at the corners of the intersection to avoid being hit by vehicles. Dogs were walked by flickering images, illusionary people that focused on Jennifer as she walked by. Everything was being monitored, but somehow her brother knew that outside the border of town, there was a blind spot. And in that blind spot was the shack.

The shack was still there, and its door was broken with jagged nails. Jennifer had first cut her hand on that door when her brother took her there. She remembered and avoided those jagged edges. Once inside, her heart dropped. There was a written letter in there for her from her brother.

Dear Sis, if you’re reading this, then the system killed me. It’s been watching me and my friends, rounding each of us up, making us disappear or dead. It can’t take any chances. It figured out that we knew how to stop it. I can only pray that you got to my locker first and found the black box. All you need to do is push the button, but if you’re here and reading this, then the system is aware of you. It will see you as a threat, so there is no time to waste. You have a choice. Go home and accept this life. Push the button, and take back the world. Choose now. Either way, I’ll still love you.”

Jennifer burst into tears. As she cried, she placed the letter in her school bag. She pulled out her brother’s sweater and put it on. She could feel his arms wrap around her. Then, she pulled out the thin square, and as she pushed its edges downward, it changed into a box. She felt a hum run through her as the box doubled in size, and a small button on top of it turned red. Just as Jennifer’s finger touched it, two black uniforms of security stormed in, but it was too late. Jennifer pushed the button.

The security guards flickered into nothing. Loud, terrible sounds filled the air. Dogs barking. Cars crashing. People screaming. Jennifer hurried back into town, and a bus barely bypassed her with people screaming on board. The bus rammed into a traffic light, and an army of dogs on leashes bolted past her. People stood outside, caught in a daze, and some of them shook their glasses frantically as if that would turn them back on. It was chaos and zombies, and Jennifer ran home.

She wasn’t waiting there for Jennifer like she always was like a suffocating mother. There were no more false smiles and empty greetings. There was just her father in the den, shaking his glasses, trying to bring back the world. Her mother was in the bathroom, screaming for her pills. Her baby brother was still at school, and for now, he was safe there. But her older brother was still gone, and so was the pain in Jennifer’s heart. She pulled his sweater tighter around her as if he was hugging her himself, thanking her for being brave, but the bravery did not last. It was drowned out by the thunder of chaos that would soon reach her home.

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