The Beginning - first chapter
Very Veronica| Published
1184 days ago
Chapter One: The Beginning
Pebbles fell around us as we grappled for holds on the dead gray rock. It was hard to believe that just half a century ago, this mountain was teeming with life, color, and light. Filled with the amazing things that we had only heard about. Now, it was only hard and sharp, not even close to the enriched environment that had lingered so long ago.
A sharp point cut through my dark blue glove, slicing the middle of my palm, making me hiss as the pain hit me. Beads of blood welled up along the edge, creating a line of red on my pale, cold skin. The howling winds and biting temperatures were enough even before we started the deadly climb up, but a cut on my hand, a limb essential to the climb forward, could just put me and the rest of my team behind our schedule.
Vincent, a boy climbing below me notices my pause. "Are you alright?" he asked. Weariness was creeping into his voice.
I don´t pause to look into his eyes. The moment I saw them, the acorn colored irises looked like the dirt that we were supposed to find. Rich in nutrients and wet with dew. Right now, they remind me of our mission.
"Fine," I call back. "Just scratched myself." After pausing a moment more to wipe my bleeding palm on my black pants, accidentally knocking the rope that reached downward connecting me to my friends in case any of us fall, I started upward again.
We stopped twice more to rehydrate ourselves before setting off again. Each time Vincent asked me if I was doing well. His concern is endearing and my palm bled every time we paused, but we had to get to the top of the mountain before nightfall.
An hour passes before we reach the top of the mountain. It was a final overhang that made the level area above it worth it. Here, thousands of feet up, the world is blanketed by milky white clouds, fog. It seemed like eternity passed since we had started our ascent and almost none of us believed we had reached the ledge that awaited our presence.
"We´ll set up camp here," I said once everyone had soaked up a few minutes of the breathtaking site.
Twelve of our team moved off, repositioning their woolen hats and the sleeves of their mediocre jackets after untying the rope around each of their waists. Amelia, the closest thing we have to a medic, walked up to me, readying her medical kit.
"Ro, your cut. I need to see it," she told me. Amelia´s voice was muffled by the makeshift cloth wrapped over her mouth and nose but it still came out with a chime. Her smoky ocean eyes peered into my own as she waited for an answer. In response I lifted my hand, palm up, so she could examine it. She tugged off her own gloves before pulling the one covering the cut.
I let out a soft hiss as the injury came into full contact with the icy air. Amelia took my hand into hers and brought it closer to her face. Small pieces of stone and pebbles had mixed with the blood from our climb up. The area around the laceration was red, and the skin was jagged where it had been torn by the rock.
"You won´t need stitches, it isn´t too deep," Amelia concluded. "But we will need to wash the wound and bandage it." Amelia faced me again. "I´ll give you the bandage, I trust you´ll wash it out."
I nodded and used the limited supply of water I had in my canteen to wipe the dirt from the cut. Amelia made sure the cut was completely clean before quickly applying a stinging antibacterial cream on it and wrapping a pristine white bandage over it. Satisfied with her work, Amelia walked over to where the others were making a fire below a low overhang. The yellow glow made their shadows dance as they bustled around busily.
Turning my back to them, I faced the edge of the cliff and looked down over the fog. The sun was slowly setting, casting long shadows across the ground. The wind was slowly dying. We were almost to our new life. Only a day more and we would reach our destiny.
Our dinner was made up of dehydrated food that had been packed tightly together to save space in our already bursting packs that had been provided by the Organization. The meals were not very tasty, nor appetizing, for that matter.
The Organization was the place that sent us on our way, to create a new settlement. The Organization was made up of old nations that had survived the numerous disasters and had grouped together to fight a common enemy in the war that had been waged by the near-sea countries and the middle lands. When the floods came sweeping in, many of the near-sea countries were flooded, resulting in thousands of deaths all over the world. After that, the energy usage was strictly regulated, the light pollution dropped, and a rebellion was formed to bring down the nations that had banned together, the nations that had refused to help. Now, the Red Law vexes the border of the Organization in an endless war that neither side has the strength to finish, but both have the stubbornness not to surrender or propose a parley.
Over time, the lands, mountains, valleys, and forests have recovered little by little from the bombs that had long since been blown and the war that had moved on.
I mixed the mushy food around in its small cup with the gray spoon. Home was so far away. My mother have come home from her office by now and my father would be making dinner. A trace of homesickness throbbed in my heart. The familiar smells of home that had lingered on my clothes the first day of out journey was long since washed away, now replaced with a dusty scent of dirt and sweat. Everything I knew from home was now just a faint memory in my mind.
And it hurt. So badly it pounded through my heart, makin my eyes threaten to spill over. Home. Gone from me. I didn´t even know if I could go back there again.
Pebbles crunched under feet from behind me, the direction where the others were still setting up. The footsteps stopped beside me and someone squatted down. Vincent.
"Are you alright?" he asked me, his voice soft.
I cleared my throat incase my voice cracked. "I´m fine."
Vincent hesitated a moment before sitting down and rummaging through his backpack for rations. He was mixing his own meal in an iron pot when he spoke again.
"I miss them, too, you know," his voice gave out and cleared his throat.
Moving to face him I asked him, "What were they like?"
He shifted on the ground and mixed his food as he spoke. "My dad is a doctor, a therapist. He always knew how to calm people down." Vincent laughed. "Helped me once or twice."
"And your mother?"
"She died in childbirth. The baby - my little sister - died an hour later."
"I´m sorry," I said.
"No, no," Vincent sniffed once. "It´s alright. I was five, too young to remember. What about you?"
"My dad was a law keeper and my mother was a obstetrician."
We both fell into silence, listening to the faint crackling of the fire and the distant chatter of our team.
"Were they happy?" Vincent asks, out of the blue.
"Were they happy? With their jobs, with their life?"
I think back to the time I last saw them, before we boarded the plane to be dropped off at the safety point outside of the Organization´s border. My mother had been tearing up and my father had been crying. But they both looked happy. And proud.