The New World: Chapter 6
By The Holland Times Thu. 2 August 2012
The ancient Maya were right. Not about the end of the world, but about the dawn of a new way of life. In the year 1, electricity is a thing of the past and anarchy reigns. Struggling to survive and build a safe future, the fate of civilisation is left in the hands of a remaining few.
More strange phenomenon come to light in Tiffany Jansen's Chapter 6: The Glass Wall.
Never in her life had Patience run harder or faster.
Her heart thudded against her ribs, feet pounding the asphalt. Her every instinct told her to flee to the shed where Aaron had found her not even an hour ago and look for a way out.
But twelve-year-olds seldom pay attention to things like their surroundings, and Patience had been no exception.
She had followed Aaron and Bebé with the blind trust and innocence of pre-adolescence.
If I keep running straight ahead, Patience reasoned, I’m bound to reach the border of town. And a way out.
Her blood ran cold as she recalled the once beautiful faces of Gloria and Rhuma. The now grotesque, lifeless stares that made her wretch and sent her fleeing.
A haze of hot tears blurred her vision as she ran blindly onward. The scene in the barn ran reruns in her head as she tried to make sense of what she had heard and seen.
She knew how it worked. At least one schoolmate conducted the experiment for the science fair held each year. But where they had used a potato half to bring to life a single light bulb, Aaron was using humans to power this Eden of power and electricity.
The most recent sacrifices were her friends and companions.
Patience had narrowly escaped upon learning the horrible secret. A swift kick to the groin brought Bebé to his knees, preventing him from stopping her. He never saw it coming.
But Aaron had done nothing to stop her. He had simply let her go. Why?
Before Patience could honour this puzzle with a guess, she collided with something cold and hard.
The impact threw her to the ground, knocking the wind out of her. She caught her breath and picked herself up.
She examined the space in front of her for the offending structure. Seeing nothing, she pressed forward. Again she was confronted with an invisible barrier. She reached out a tentative hand.
The surface that met the palm of her hand was smooth and clear. Glass. Patience pressed onto her toes and reached her arm as high as she could. Then, she trailed her hand down as she bent to the ground.
Dragging her hand along the glass, she began to run the perimeter of the town.
No door, no window, no hole, no break, no way out. A glass wall. A barrier keeping those on the inside in, and those on the outside, out.
In a burst of fury, Patience kicked, punched, beat, and tackled, but the glass proved thick and relentless.
Exhausted and bruised, she pressed her back against the coolness and slid down the wall to the ground, a puddle of bones and skin.
And she cried. With her glutinous tears, she drowned her parents, her homeland, the life she knew. She flooded the memories of Jackson and Gloria and Rhuma.
The horror, the fear, the sorrow and the hatred came pouring out of the corners of her eyes.
It felt like hours before the tears finally dried up. A chill telling her she was not alone ran up her spine, urging her eyes open. The pair of worn boots before her belonged to Bebé.
“I see you found the wall,” said Bebé. “It surrounds the entire town. Though by the looks of you, I’ll wager you figured that out already.”
Patience said nothing as she watched the shadows of the night dance on the boots, unable to meet the eyes of their owner.
“You were actually asleep for three days, you know.” he continued, shifting his weight from dust-crusted boot to dust-crusted boot.
“I thought it might be easier for you to accept all this if you thought you’d only been out for twelve hours. Guess I was wrong.” He chuckled nervously at his failed attempt at a joke.
When she didn’t respond, he babbled on uncomfortably, “I know what you’re thinking, kid. You think I’m a monster.”
He crouched down to her level. His voice softened. “There’s a lot you don’t know, kid.”
Patience looked up, desperate for a glimpse of her old friend. The kind man who had taken her under his wing and promised to keep her safe. Instead, she saw a sad, frightened man she no longer knew.
Bebé placed a tender hand on her bony shoulder.
“Don’t you see, kid,” he soothed, “it’s for the greater good. We’re safe. We have electricity, food, fresh water. We’re not alone. Gloria and Rhuma would have wanted it this way. This is what we all wanted. What we left Europe behind and came here for. All we have to do is cooperate with Aaron and we can have everything we want, kid. You and me.”
An uneasy feeling tightened its grip on Patience’s gut as she studied Bebé’s face.
She searched deeply, beyond the glossy eyes and plastic smile, for some hint of the man who discovered her stowed away on his boat months before. But this man crouched on his haunches in front of her was a stranger.
“Where are the others?” she asked, slowly, deliberately.
It felt as though the words were passing through another pair of lips. “The others. Jackson, the other passengers... where are they?”
Bebé’s cartoon smile darkened into a flat line and his eyes clouded over.
The hand on her shoulder tightened, the fingers digging into her flesh.
“Patience,” Bebé murmured, “I think you’d better come with me.”
(Image: Sarah Roche)