A Life or Business?

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic
This was for jelicawriters competition all. She had pictures to choose from and I chose the picture that is in the story below. Do enjoy :)

Submitted: March 06, 2011

A A A | A A A

Submitted: March 06, 2011



A life or business?


‘Mummy please don’t leave, we haven’t opened the presents yet,’ my little daughter Felicity cried, running towards me. I bent down to her level as her four year old body came crashing into me. Thin arms wound around my neck as if trying to keep me in the house by force. I looked up to John, my husband, seeing the frown appear on his face.

Things like this always happened, I would be guaranteed a holiday to spend with my family, and then I would get a so called urgent call from that boss of mine who cared about nothing more than money.

It was Christmas that day and Felicity had woken up extra early, crawling into the bed John and I were still asleep in. Her thin black hair had tickled my nostrils and I had opened my eyes to see her large doll blue eyes staring straight at me.

‘It’s Christmas Mummy,’ she had said with so much joy, like nothing could go wrong if it was Christmas. She had taken my hand and John’s tugging us from the bed and into the lounge.

‘Can we open the presents now?’ She had asked and we both nodded, large smiles across our faces and she had started across the lounge to where the large Christmas tree had been set up, with trillions of presents set up underneath.

Then that cursed phone had rang and the low male voice had filled my ear.

‘Charlotte, darling, we have a new case, we need you here pronto,’ Michael, my boss said faking a niceness. In truth, he just wanted the money I brought, not me as a person. But I guessed that was what all boss’s wanted these days.

My job brings in a steady income, a lot more money then John brings in, almost triple his income. And if I said no to a job, Michael would give me one chance, and my job would be gone, that’s how he worked. That was why I knew I couldn’t say no to his call, despite it being Christmas.

‘I’m sorry,’ I said to Felicity, stroking her hair. ‘Mummy has an important job to go to. I will call you, I promise. And then you can tell me all about all your presents. You can tell me what Santa gave you,’ I said hoping that would satisfy her for now. Every time I had to leave Felicity for my work it broke my heart. It really did, it felt like I was choosing work over her, and in a way I was. But we needed the money, without my pay we would go seriously into debt, and I wanted a good life for Felicity.

‘Okay Mummy,’ she sighed, dejectedly. I held her at arms length before leaning in close and kissing her on the forehead.

‘I love you baby girl,’ I said.

‘I love you too Mummy,’ she said in reply and I stood up while she scrambled over to the Christmas tree. I grabbed my car keys and gave John a quick kiss on the lips.

‘I’m sorry,’ I said to him and he just looked away. The job was tearing us apart; he no longer said we would do it another time. Instead he passed it off like it never happened, which hurt more, as our conversations slowly had less and less things to talk about.

I walked down the white stairs, my hand trailing down the brown marble handrail and out the front door. I clicked a button on the keys and the black Mercedes beeped, unlocking. I stepped into it, the beauty of the car not even a comfort of the silent battle that had just been fought inside. It was silent, but still one of the worst things in my life.

The car flew through the streets, my pain flooding out from me, being taken out on the people in the cars closest to me. I knew road rage wasn’t allowed but I couldn’t help myself. I had a very short temper at that time. I was driving along when someone pulled out of the supermarket driveway and I cursed aloud to myself. I rolled down the window and beeped my horn.

‘Watch where you’re going, learn the road rules,’ I shouted out the window, having to restrain myself from saying anything further or making any rude gestures. Finally I pulled up to the multi-story building that I called my work, Bensons and Croil. We weren’t the average workplace, with pens on the desks and a computer set up to write on. No, we were far more then that. We had computers alright, the type of computer’s the FBI would have, DNA processers, fingerprint recognisers, all the technical stuff.

Out the back we had a full scale airport with helicopters, jets, planes, even bombers. We travelled the world daily, and risked our lives daily, but from the outside our building looked normal, except for the security cameras at every entrance and exit, posted right along all the walls.

As I pulled up at one of the entrances I had my hand scanned, eyes scanned and a voice recogniser before I was allowed in. I continued to drive through until I pulled into the car park. I parked the car, and walked to the entrance to the building. Again my eyes, hand and voice were scanned before I was allowed in.

Before I had even made it to my office I had been spotted by my boss, Michael, and ushered out the back of the building, to the airfield out the back.

‘What’s so important Michael?’ I asked and he just shook his head.

‘It will all be explained on the way,’ he said cryptically. A bag was passed from one of the people we passed and Michael shoved it into my hand.

‘What’s this?’ I asked.

‘The clothes, weapons and everything else you’re going to need on this trip,’ he said. I was rushed to a helicopter already running and Michael and I ducked down to avoid the wind of the blades. He all but pushed me into the helicopter before running away from it, and back inside. A headset was passed to me and I placed it on my ears. It blocked out the noise of the helicopter and let me hear the others in the helicopter.

As soon as the door was shut we left the ground and flew through the air.

‘Now will someone tell me what’s going on?’ I asked into the microphone on the end of the earpiece.

‘We discovered a city; we thought you would be best to check it out. It’s completely in ruins, and we don’t know why,’ the man opposite me said. He was dressed in an olive suit, covering his whole body. I opened the bag I had been passed and noticed it was full of similar suits for me to wear.

‘And you want me to discover the cause of destruction right?’ I asked.

‘Of course,’ the male, Devin, answered. ‘And I will be your partner,’ he added. And with that silence fell over everyone and we flew for a few hours, to this city. Once the warning was given that we would land I pulled my shirt off revealing a singlet, and pulled my jeans off. Devin turned away respectively and I pulled one of the many suits on. I rolled the sleeves up, put a pair of gloves on and placed boots on over the top, all the same olive colour.

The helicopter finally began its decent, it landed not long after and the engine was switched off. The door was flung open and we stepped out onto the rood of a large building.

I stepped off first and Devin followed shortly after. The air smelled rank, but the breeze was cold and refreshing. Slowly I walked to the edge of the roof, dumping my bag next to the helicopter. As I reached the edge I looked out over the city.

The buildings were all in good condition still, the air was misty and the whole place was deserted.

‘Do you know anything?’ I asked turning to face Devin. He nodded.

‘We know a little. Starting with the air, first put this on,’ he said handing me an oxygen mask. He placed a similar one on his face and I placed mine over mine, securing it so it covered my mouth and nose.

‘We can’t breathe it in?’ I asked him and he nodded.

‘It’s some form of toxin, that’s what destroyed this city. A lot of people left, they became scattered in the wild. But once enough of it is in your lungs it can kill you. A lot of people died, they didn’t realise what happened. We need to find where this air is coming from,’ he said. I looked back out over the city again. The air wasn’t clear, it was visible, something I was not used too.

‘So we have to find out what polluted this place,’ I said more to myself. Devin nodded anyway even though he knew I was slipping into my own world. Slowly I walked around the roof until I found a hatch. Pulling it open I slipped through, feeling my feet connect with old wooden steps. I climbed down until I felt my feet hit the solid ground and then I kept exploring. Finding another set of staircases I made my way down them too. I vaguely heard Devin following behind me but I took no notice.

Eventually I came to the bottom floor and I exited through the rusty doors out onto the empty street. In the distance I heard a vague squawk from a bird and I looked up carefully. As I squinted my eyes to see past the gas mask I saw the faint outlines of birds, crows to be precise.

‘Hmm,’ I murmured under my breath and strolled through the desolate streets, turning several corners until I came across the object of the crows attention, several rather dead bodies. Devin came up behind me and I heard his intake of breath.

‘They have been dead for a long time,’ he said slowly and I nodded. Their bodies showed just how long they had been dead for, what could have possibly done this.

I bent down and peered closely at one of the faces. Not quite visible anymore but I could tell the child, a girl, was the same age as Felicity. I felt my throat constrict and I struggled to keep the tears back. I wished the image I was seeing in front of me wasn’t of my own daughter lying there dead, but unfortunately it was. Reaching down I picked up the old, worn teddy from beside the girl.

I stood back up and brushed the dirt from the teddy bear and eyed it carefully. That poor girl would have been so innocent, so would all of these people have been. They say God protected people, so I seriously started to doubt he was around if he had let such a thing happen to a whole town.

Devin placed a hand on my shoulder.

‘Come on Charlotte,’ Devin said and led me from the bodies. As I walked I must have dropped the teddy. Felicity, what would she do if something happened to me? What would I do if something happened to her more importantly?

‘Devin, who could have done this?’ I muttered. My question was met with silence and I let it be. He did not have the answers I was searching for. A buzz interrupted the silence and I pulled out my phone. Of course because of the line of work I was in it was the top technical type, typical. It got service just about anywhere.

The number I knew off by heart. Pressing the talk button I raised the phone to my ear.

‘Hello,’ I said. Instead of John’s voice I was greeted with Felicity’s more child-like one.

‘I miss you already mummy,’ she said.

‘I know sweetie. I miss you so much,’ I replied. Felicity spent the next twenty minutes telling me about all the presents she had gotten and how much she had wanted me to be there when she opened it. I heard John’s voice calling from the background and then Felicity spoke softly into the phone.

‘I have to go mummy. I love you,’ she said in her sweet voice, I almost broke into tears.

‘I love you too sweetie. I will see you soon,’ I said and then she hung up.

Devin and I made our way back to the building our helicopter had landed on and when we made our way up the roof again our bags had been removed from the helicopter. Looks like this was where we were staying. Once our tent had been set up and our sleeping bags were unravelled I walked to the edge of the roof and looked out. Buildings were falling apart, cars were in the streets rusted to the point where they were just parts lying on the ground and the faint outlines of bodies in buildings and streets.

‘Do you think anyone is out there?’ I asked Devin, who had snuck up behind me. I could almost hear his shrug even though I couldn’t see him.

‘I don’t know Charlotte, I really don’t. Don’t get so into the mission okay? The quicker we solve it the quicker we can go home,’ he said without a hint of emotion in his voice. Anger flared up inside me but I remained silent. How could I not get so into the mission? I didn’t know how he didn’t. He looked upon all the deaths as if they were nothing.

‘Well shouldn’t we check?’ I asked him.

‘And how do you propose we do that?’ Devin asked in return. There was a loud crash and I looked over to see the pilot lying flat on his back. He sat up in alarm and grinned sheepishly at us.

‘Sorry, tripped,’ he said. I shook my head and walked into the tent. I rummaged through a small bag until I found what I was looking for; signals. Pulling three from the bag I went back to where Devin stood and crouched low. I light one, then another and then the last. I dragged Devin away from them and seconds later they flew into the air. Shots of red exploded from them and three large bangs echoed around the city.

I moved back to the edge of the roof and looked over the city carefully, looking for any sign of movement. Devin also looked out to the city but minutes passed and there was no sign of movement. Disappointment settled in my stomach and a loud groan erupted through my lips.

‘Ugh!’ I cried and stormed off. Just before I reached the flaps to the tent Devin’s voice stopped me.

‘Charlotte!’ He called. ‘There was movement!’ I whirled around to see him pointing excitedly off in the distance. I made my way back to the edge and peered out; movement far away, some a bit closer, and even more to the right and left of the building. There was a lot of movement!

‘There are people alive!’ I cried joyously. Devin grinned at me and nodded.

‘I know Charlotte. I know,’ he replied. Not long after several people emerged from the buildings and streets. I smiled and ran back through the building, down several flights of steps and out the front doors of the building. A group of around twenty people were gathered around the entrance, lost looks on their faces. All looked starved to the bone and as dirty as could get. They all also had gas masks on.

‘Who are you?’ One man from the front questioned, a rather large man to be precise.

‘My name’s Charlotte. I got sent here to find out what happened here, why this city turned out like this. Can you help me?’ I questioned. The natives, I didn’t know what else to call them, exchanged weary glances before all eyes returning to me. I felt in danger all of a sudden and butterflies swirled in my stomach. The group as a whole took two steps forward until I found myself being pressed back into the building.

‘Do you have any food?’ The same man from before asked and a large smile spread across his face. My breath left me in a rush and I smiled in return. A nervous laugh escaped me and the butterflies left my stomach. I nodded.

‘Yes we have a bit,’ I said in return. I led the way up the building again, Devin was halfway down the stairs to meet up with me. He saw the group and smiled, turning around and walking back up the stairs with the group.

Once on the top Devin walked to the helicopter and pulled out the several items of packaged food. We didn’t know how long we would be here for so they had packed us as much as they could fit. He returned to the group with his arms overfull with food and dumped them on the ground. As soon as the food was in sight the natives had dove for them; ripped them open, lifted their gas masks and started eating them as quick as they could. I knew after a certain time of starvation you shouldn’t eat a lot of food or rich food or else your body will go into shock but this food wasn’t rich and there wasn’t enough there for the group to go into shock.

‘Now can you tell us what happened?’ I asked the group. Only once the food had completely disappeared did they answer my question. The man from before, who I assumed to be the leader, stood, replaced his gas mask to his face and clasped my hands.

‘Thank you Charlotte. We have been here so long, we have rummaged for our food, that truly was a feast,’ he said. ‘My name is Brian,’ he continued. ‘A long time ago, I do not even remember how long ago, we have lost all track of time, we were a good city; honestly we were. The government however had this pride thing, they wanted to be the best of the best. They were doing this experiment, we didn’t know of this until it was too late. They never gave us the details,’ Brian said. I listened closely; this was what we were here to find out.

‘All the government talked about was how this experiment could change the world. A few weeks after it started these things started happening. People were just dropping off dead, one way or another. Cancer numbers went through the roof, a few smart people thought it would be safer to take all precautions; gas masks being one of those,’ Brian continued indicating the people around them, their faces cloaked by masks.

‘Eventually the population just kind of left, some moved, most died, we survived. We lived off the food that was still around for a while, a few years maybe, and then we ran out. We had to keep going further and further away from the town to get food, but you see our town is quite a way away from other towns, and once the cars broke apart, there was no option but to stay put. Food was very scarce, and that leads us to now,’ Brian finished. I nodded thoughtfully.

Devin walked away from the group and I took a seat on the roof of the building.

‘So your saying the government let out the toxin in the air?’ I asked.

‘Exactly what I’m saying,’ Brian agreed. Shortly Devin came back with a phone in his hand.

‘I’ve contacted Michael, he knows of our progress. He asked if there was any way possible that these people could come back to our city. Would you all be willing to come back with us?’ Devin asked.

‘We’ve been here so long, I don’t know if it’s a good thing to leave or to stay,’ Brian said.

‘You need to be able to live properly,’ I said. Brian nodded.

‘Yes I guess you’re right,’ he agreed.

An hour later we had half the natives asleep on the roof. We had allowed as many as could fit into our tent. We had removed our bags so there was enough room for about five of them. It was mainly the younger ones and oldest ones who were asleep. The adults however were still sitting around the roof, discussing the idea of being somewhere other then in this city.

I sat leaning against the helicopter. I must have dosed off because when I woke up the sky was black except for a few rather bright lights that were moving around. There were loud humming noises that all slurred in together and wind was rushing in gusts away from the flying objects. More helicopters had arrived.

I stood up quickly and looked around. As I turned around some of the buildings behind ours had a helicopter perched on top of them. I walked to the tent and pulled the flaps open. The people inside it were all sitting up awkwardly and I smiled at them.

‘They’ve come to take you away from here,’ I said to them and there faces switched from concern to happiness.

The helicopters were switched off once finding an appropriate place to land before the pilots made their ways over to our building roof. With no word said everything was packed up and the natives were ushered into groups small enough to fit into the helicopters. To be safe on numbers the natives were split into groups of five and put into the four waiting helicopters. Brian, one other native, Devin and I were pushed into our helicopter we had arrived on.

The bags were put into our copter as well as we had the most room and soon we had lifted off from the buildings, one at a time. Settling into my seat I prepared for the long ride.

Of course with all the spare time I couldn’t help my thoughts drifting back to Felicity and John. Getting married to John had been a whirlwind. It was like love at first site, the high school romance. We got married as soon as we were out of college and a year after Felicity came along. Did that old spark with John still stand? Definitely; it was just blocked by all my work. I never got much time off; it was really affecting our marriage. I hadn’t been able to watch Felicity grow up properly. It was like I was watching a movie, walking away for a few minutes and coming back for about a minute. I only ever caught glimpses.

Felicity was four now, so John and I had been married for five years. We were still young but both of us were successful in our careers, although John’s didn’t take up as much time. What even got me into my job? I didn’t even remember. I just liked new places I guessed.

‘Charlotte,’ someone said as they shook my shoulder gently. I snapped out of my thoughts and looked up to see Devin looking at me.

‘We’ve landed,’ he said and it was then I noticed there was no noise from the copter engines. I was ushered out of the helicopter to see Michael waiting for me. That would have been one of the quickest missions I had been on; some went up to weeks in length.

Michael spread his arms and when I was beside him he linked his arm in mine.

‘You did well Charlotte. Now I’ve another mission for you. You don’t mind do you?’ He asked. I shook my head and he ushered me into his office. ‘Now,’ he had begun. After that I didn’t pay much attention. Could I really keep going like this? My marriage was at stake, and I had always wanted my daughter to have a mother who was always there but I wasn’t fulfilling on that wish.

‘Charlotte!’ Michael said and I snapped my head up to meet his eyes.

‘Yes?’ I asked.

‘Did you even listen to a word I just said?’ Michael fumed and I ran my hands through my hair.

‘No Michael, not really. To be blunt I don’t often listen to much you have to say. I can’t do this any more,’ I said as I stood up.

‘What?’ Michael asked confused.

‘You pulled me away from my family on Christmas day. My littler daughter and loving husband Michael! I can’t keep putting them on the line for my work. I’m sorry, I can’t stay here. So Michael, I’m sorry to say, I quit,’ I said and with that I turned on my heel and walked out of his office. Oh how I would have loved to see Michael’s face once that door had closed. I walked straight out the front doors, passed the security tests and to the car park. Slipping into my car I drove straight out.

Adrenaline coursed through me at what I had just done and a large smile spread across my face. I had finally quit! To be honest the idea had never come to mind before, I didn’t know why it hadn’t. I wish I had have done it sooner; this feeling was exquisite!

I pulled into my drive and ran as fast I could into the house. It was around four in the morning and Felicity was in bed I knew. Climbing the stairs I creaked my bedroom door open to see John’s beautiful sleeping face. I pulled my clothes off and pulled a nigh gown over my head before crawling into bed beside him. John stirred and rolled over to face me.

‘Charlotte?’ He murmured and I leant closer to him placing my lips over his.

‘Yes I’m here,’ I whispered.

‘What are you doing back so quick?’ He asked. He sounded happy to see me, a sign I hoped that he still felt the same, but he also sounded confused.

‘You won’t believe it John. The mission was quick but you won’t believe what I did!’ I said, my voice rising with excitement. He wiped the sleep from his eyes and propped himself up on his elbow.

‘What did you do Charlotte?’ He asked as if he was humouring me.

‘I quit,’ I said. I didn’t know how he would react, I was glad I did it, but the money was our main income. We had enough to keep ourselves up for at least a few years, and I would get a payout, I knew that for sure. John’s face was first surprised, then confused and then finally the emotion I was looking for, glad. He smiled largely and reached down to press his lips to mine passionately.

‘Oh Charlotte,’ he murmured after he broke his lips apart only to reclaim them once again. ‘I love you,’ he whispered between kisses. Every time I heard those three words I felt so amazing, the original buzz of that very first time had never disappeared and now it was even stronger.

‘And I love you too,’ I whispered, shortly after falling asleep on his chest.


2 Years Later;

Felicity started school this year; she was a late bloomer. It was good though; I spent so much more time with her, school would definitely cut into our time so I was glad I got that extra year.

I was making my way around the house, ever since I got a new job as a real estate agent I had a lot more time to just wonder around the house for no apparent reason. I made my way into the kitchen when a god awful pain hit my stomach. I clutched at it and threw a hand out to reach the bench to steady myself.

‘What on Earth was that?’ I breathed and then heard the front door open, then close.

‘Charlotte?’ John called but I couldn’t reply. His keys clanked into the key bowl and he made his way into the lounge. ‘Charlotte?’ He replied with a hint more of concern in his voice. Finally he made his way into the kitchen. By that time I had made my way to the ground and was leaning against the bench, slowly breathing in and out.

‘John,’ I muttered.

‘Oh my God Charlotte,’ he cried rushing over to me. He let out some not so pretty words before picking me up and rushing me to the car. Buckling me in he walked around to his side and jumped in before starting the car. He drove at the speed limit, but I could almost tell his foot was itching to press down on the pedal to speed through.

Shortly after we arrived at the hospital. That pain was still shooting at my stomach but we were made to wait, the queue was long. I didn’t know how much time had passed before I was allowed to see a doctor. Several tests were taken and John sat in a chair with his head between his hands the whole time. I lay on the bed while the doctor was surveying the results. I didn’t know what was happening.

About ten minutes later the male doctor who had taken tests previously entered back through the door with a smile on his face. John shot out of his seat with a worried look.

‘What is it? Why are you smiling?’ John cried. The doctor looked from me, to John and back to me again.

‘You’re pregnant.’

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