It started with darkness, but then again, darkness is what I’m used to.
One day, the sun set, and it never rose again. People freaked out, but the government handled the situation with a calm and forceful hand. Scientists and politicians came together to explain that the sun, the star that we had revolved around for millions of years, was dying, and the only way to save the human race was to listen to their instructions.
New homes were built in record time, ones that would keep the darkness and problems of the outside world out, and keep the humans safe inside. People were carted into these homes rapidly, and soon enough all of the country was secluded in their homes.
I can’t say I was as worried about losing the light of the sun as everyone else was. I am, and always have been, blind, so the sun never made much difference anyway. There was also the fact that I was less than a year old when the dark days began. Still, I believed them and lived in boring bliss writing for The Daily News, the world’s most corrupt newspaper. Alexander King, news reporter. I kept at this for four years until I found a new job.
More accurately, I guess, the job found me. One day during work I received a private message from the Editor-in-Chief of The Underground, inviting me to join his publication as long as I was willing to take some risks. I was craving a real news job, and when they made the promise of leaving my flat and moving around the city, I couldn’t deny.
My first day on the job, part of me was terrified. I stepped out into a world that felt like the sea. The air hung thick around me and put a sharp, metallic taste in my mouth. I met the Editor-in-Chief, Oliver, first. He was the first human I had ever met.
The first thing he did was assault me with questions. I answered what I could and added nothing else. He seemed to approve and asked me to follow him to their flat.
“Actually, I can’t.” I spoke, fearful that when he knew about my eyes he would immediately fire me.
“What? Don’t tell me your legs are broken.” Oliver responded. “No, but I am blind.” I responded, holding my breath.
I heard him let out a breath of air, “No shit? You wrote all of those articles and you can’t even see the computer screen?”
I nodded, “I use dictation and a Braille keyboard, and then have my computer read it back to me. I get by.”
Oliver didn’t miss a beat: “You persevere. Just one more reason I want you on my team.”
Oliver and the others helped me to get by, and to develop my other senses and use them for my aid. The job opened my eyes, figuratively of course, to the government’s plan. I discovered the truth.
Nothing had happened to the Earth. The world only felt worse because the government was containing the city with a field of darkness and stale air. They were tricking their people into believing that the world had been destroyed so that they could control them. I couldn’t say exactly why they wanted to trick them, but everyday we were getting closer.
I worked for almost a year before I met her.
I was running from the deputies, the government who had found out about The Underground and were determined to take us down every time we were out to get a story. I found myself cornered, and knew my only escape was to enter a house. So I knocked on her emergency door.
I’m not sure if I expected her to open willingly, but she didn’t. Luckily, and ironically for an emergency door, it wasn’t hard to force in. I slid into her house, feeling around for the edge of the door, when I sensed the girl in front of me, wielding some sort of large piece of furniture.
I breathed in deep and spoke, “Hello. Sorry about that, I needed a place to hideout.”
That’s how it began. The next morning, I left the girl without intending to ever come back.
Then two months later, I was back. I had more information, it’s true, but not enough. I still didn’t understand why they were doing what they did, but they were on my trail when I tried to investigate, and I found myself next to her house.
She let me in and interrogated me with a fiery passion. I told her what I knew, even though I was sworn to secrecy by The Underground. For some reason, I felt like she needed to know. I mean, she had let me into her home twice.
It didn’t go how I expected, but then again, I didn’t know what I expected. I tried to explain to her that the world was not in ruins, but she refused to believe it. Though I couldn’t see her face, I could hear the fear as it trembled in her voice.
She raised her voice, calling me crazy, and I expected her to throw me back onto the street. But she didn’t. She let me stay in her office again, and once again I was gone before what would have been dawn.
I wandered through the streets, relying completely on my senses to guide me. Something inside me felt bad for driving her to anger, but my more rational wondered why I cared at all. I went back to The Underground, told them what I knew, and got to work on another article.
All in all, my life moved on.
The more the days went by, though, the more I started to think about her. I wondered what she would look like, tried to recall her soft voice, and pondered on how much she trust me.
I couldn’t stop thinking about her, and I knew I should have never entered her house in the first place.
Something inside of me so desperately wanted to open her eyes to the outside world, to save her from the lies she was being fed and was writing, but that wasn’t my responsibility. If she wanted to wake up, she had to do it herself. Besides, if I can’t even see through my own eyes, what makes me think I could open hers?
Funny enough, the eye-opening happened with me bleeding out on her floor. It was four months later and the government had finally had enough of The Underground.
In three seconds my entire world fell into fire and chaos. I smelled it first, the peculiar smell of burning plastic and chemicals, and then felt the heat as it ran over my skin. I heard the screams, echoing with my own, and made my way towards where I knew the emergency exit of the flat was.
Once everyone was out that was still alive, only five of us out of a staff of twenty-five, Oliver gathered us all and told us that this was the government’s message and we would need to move on.
“Go, find medical assistance if you need it, and return to the villa past the border. Be there within the next two weeks. They aren’t going to stop us with terror, and we will bring their secrets to the public.” he said, his voice full of anger and determination.
I needed somewhere to go, and quickly, judging by the amount of pain I was in. Just by standing I could tell I had broken ribs, multiple burns and cuts, and I was losing a fair amount of blood from a wound in my upper arm.
I went back to her.
She opened her door, much to my surprise, but immediately yelled when she saw the state I was in. My head was spinning so much that I fell down onto her cold tile, and within seconds she was moving me into her house’s MedBay.
For hours she patched me up, claiming she knew nothing about medicine but following the videos located in the MedBay’s computer. I explained what had happened as she worked, and then tried to relax.
A week later I was healed enough to move. That morning, she asked me what I would do next.
“We have a meeting place. My Editor-in-Chief is determined not to stop writing.” I answered.
There was a silence between us, in which we both tried to gain the courage to say what was on our minds and to ignore the growing chemistry that had appeared during the last week. I started, “You know, now that a lot of our staff didn’t survive, I could really use a partner who has experience writing and is willing to open her eyes to the world around her.”
She took in a quick breath and I wondered desperately what emotions her face was portraying.
“Are you asking me to quit my job and join you in the job where you just were bombed?” she replied, but I could hear a teasing edge to her voice.
“I’m asking you to accompany me to the outskirts of the city and start a new job where we can figure out the government’s secrets and bring them to everyone. Let’s stop letting them lie to us and take away the Earth we are entitled to.” I finished, smiling.
Her next response was filled with teasing glee, “Mr. King, why would you want me? I’m sure you write better than I do and you can’t even see.”
I smiled back, shaking my head at the compliment. I reached out for her face, the only way I could know at all what she looked like, and ran a hand along her cheek. “Katherine Romanova, I have read your work, and you are remarkable. And more importantly, you trusted me when you had no reason to. For that I owe you everything.”
I felt her lips curve upward into a smile, “I know one way you can repay me.”
And the rest, they say, is history. I took her to the villa, listened as she saw the real world for the first time. I introduced her to Oliver and the rest of the staff, and both of us got to work on rebuilding The Underground.
The more we got to know each other, the more we fell. It was a relationship that never should have happened, that began with me randomly choosing her door to knock on. Every morning I thank fate for that door.
Two years later, we’ve taken the government down for their idea of “using the Earth for extreme natural resource excavation” and lying immensely to their people, and now we have forcibly restored the world back to what it once was.
Humans can again feel the sunshine on their skin, and let it seep into their bones after so many years without it.
Of course, people have been going crazy about the returning light. I don’t feel the same way, but this time it isn’t because I can’t see. It’s because, even with no vision, my sun returned three years ago, when I was running from the law and, by chance, knocked on one very specific’s girl’s door.
So it still needs some editing and some of it is super cliche, as most NaNoWriMo works are, but I really love this idea. Feedback is welcome and encouraged!
Photo used under Creative Commons from Marilena Marchese