The Fallen Bell - Part 1

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
A world, distant from our own. Where work is no longer a choice, but an obligation. Where death isn't frightening, but more of a way out of a putrid life. Seen from the eyes, of a boy.

Submitted: December 20, 2011

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Submitted: December 20, 2011

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I lay awake in my bed, idly waiting for the military siren to sound and give my work day a kick start. I rolled over and peered out the window, today was going to obviously be a dreadful day. The wind was strong; it forced the sand and rocks to beat hard across my window causing scratches and dents along my house’s walls. Knowing exactly how this house was built, hastily and cheaply, I knew this wind could rip my home off of its foundation at anytime. I arose from my bed and reached for the wood planks stacked across my work bench with plans to reinforce the corners of my house. The clay nails went right through the cheap wood as if it was water. I looked at my masterpiece with pride as the house shook and swayed less and less as the sandstorm began to die out.

A knock at my door shook the house again, drawing a heavy tired sigh from my lips. In a flash I moved and opened the door to let my fireplace shine light on the visitor. It was Emily. She wore a white dress her grandmother must of made by hand, and it complimented her tan skin. Her long blond hair was slightly coated in dust, and her face was covered by clothe to block out the sand. She came bearing a breakfast of beats and cabbage with very dry toast.

“Morning neighbor! My grandmother and I thought you’d be hungry.” she blurted out.

“Aren’t you a bit too bright this evening?” I replied with awe at her energy.

“There’s a really good rumor circulating around the slums!”

“And what could that possibly be?” I asked while gesturing for her to enter.

Emily was indeed a beautiful girl, although years of her working on the wall have indeed showed its toll on her frail skin. Her eyes still glistened, and her hair shined like the hair that belonged to the wealthier healthier city woman. If her skin and hair never had to be tainted by the hard dust storms of the outskirts, I’m sure she would be a goddess among gods. She walked into the cabin, stumbling over the garbage I had lying around.

“You’re still a mess you know, just like old times. You never change” she snapped.

“And I hope I never have to change.” I replied.

“We all change someday Chase, it’s up to the person whether they will or not.”

“How’s your grandmother? “ I asked.

“Still as feisty as ever, she thinks the government is hiding something from their people, especially the wall workers, and people who live in the slums.“

I stumbled on my words for a second, but decided to change the subject. I knew where she was headed, but I didn’t feel like bringing up painful memories when it was almost time to work on the Wall.

“Wh….what was it you wanted to tell me about again? A rumor of some sort.” I stuttered while clearing the table for breakfast.

“Rumor has it, that the wall is almost finished! And when it’s done, they’re going to let all the people living in the slums back into the city!”

“Haven’t we heard this every year? That the wall is almost finished? It’s just rumors created by desperate slum dwellers with dying family members, hoping that the day will really come.”

“It’s hard to live in these conditions without hope Chase.” Emily said while peering out the window towards the sandy miles of the desert. She turned her head back to me and smiled.

“Hope is just about all we have out here.” I say.

“We also have each other.” She said smiling.

I put tea on top of the fireplace in the center of the make shift cabin. Before steam could even flow from the pot, the bells piercing sound echoed through the walls of the slums shaking and shuddering windows with its loudness alone. One by one, children, woman, men and elderly poured out from their doors and began walking in the direction of the cities wall. While walking you could see the massive bell at the top of the city tower swinging back and forth. The suns light gleamed off of its bronze glaze, and burned my eyes. When they reached it, people began splitting up, some going to the left, and some to the right. I myself headed to the right .Today was the 20th day of the month, which meant that my job was to work with half of the other civilians to lengthen the right side. Ten days from now, I’ll be back on the left.

Within an hour, the hoard I moved along with reached the edge of the right wall. Transport trucks which arrived long before us began heading back. Unlike us, they were on the inside of the wall, we condemned to the outer regions. Heavily armed guards surrounded the wall, their faces completely covered by their damage resistant mask, but you could tell by their stature and their ominous silence, that they were watching us. I removed my gloves from my backpack whilst I lined up with the other young males. One by one the guards scanned the barcodes engraved upon our necks. The ones imposed upon our skin when the raffle chose us to become workers. After my scanning was complete, I strutted over to the wall and began my job. I was Plaster Boy today. My job was to lay the strong adhesive gunk in between the massive clay blocks placed down by the Loading Men. I also helped nail in the large metal beams that truly held up the wall.

After hours of working, thousands of nails, and gallons of plaster, my 20 minute break time came. I removed my gloves and let the blood from my blistered finger tips ooze out. After a short cleanup at the washing docks, I placed my gloves back on. My gloves applied little aid to my hands while working, but it was better then nothing. The sun was rising now, and once it reached directly over our heads, every person there removed their city supplied sun visors from the utility belt then secured them to their heads. This supplied little shade from the sun, but just like the gloves, it was better then nothing.

“Hottest day of the year… I hope they’ll be ok.” a young boy muttered while walking past me to return to work. I peered in the same direction he was staring, and saw several elderly people sitting in the shady area of the wall seeking refuge from the suns rays.

Rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrraaaaaaannnnnnnnnnnnnkkkkkkk” the siren from the city rung again. It was time to return to work. I arose from the sand dune that acted as a chair for my rest, and began walking over to the wall, just like the thousands of other workers did. In the corner of my eye, I caught a glimpse of 10 guards running over towards the area where the elderly people sat. The elderly people had reached there maximum work capacity. Even if they wanted to, their bodies would not move, their limbs would no longer reply to their brains no matter how much it begged and pleaded.

“Stand up and return to work.” demanded one of the guards.

“Stand up now or receive punishment.” echoed another.

The elderly men and woman all tried to move, all failing in their efforts. Two of them stood after 2 minutes had passed and begun moving their aching bodies towards the wall. While they all tried, one elderly woman sat still, not moving one bit. It was a face I could recognize anywhere, it was Emily’s grandmother.

“I have spent these 30 long years of my life, since I was only 8 years old on this wall. My body no longer listens to me, today’s efforts… were in fact my last.”

I begun approaching the wall, bursting into a full sprint. I know Emily was on the left side today, she didn’t know a thing of what was happening. I finally made it to the wall, panting and choking on my words I reached out to offer her a helping hand.

“Its ok child, my time has come. This brittle body will no longer move.”  She replied to my gesturing for her to stand. Her eyes met mine, and for a second, and I saw a bit of sadness. “Watch over Emily for me, she is as defiant as me, but when she is with you she finally seems to…to act like a young lady again.” She croaked with a warm smile. Then she turned away to the guard, regaining her cold, angry stare.

“I understand mam.” I agreed. “Emily will be in my care.”  I nodded, and walked away.

I heard the clicks and clacks, as the firing squad raised their gun to their hip. A guard approached her with a scanner, scanned her tag then returned to another guard, which seemed to be the general of this platoon.

“Sarah Soulchild, are you sure you can no longer move and complete your duty as a worker?” He questioned. After a moment, she began to speak in a loud strong voice.

“I will not move, I will not stand. You government officials tell us we are building this wall to protect ourselves... I’ve been out from the city for so long, I have forgotten what it even looks like. Why should I continue to destroy my body building a wall meant to protect it?”

The guards didn’t reply to her speech, instead they asked the same question.

“So you will no longer work for your city?” They asked.

“No I will not.” She snapped while closing her eyes.

I caught glimpses of parents turning the eyes of their children away, some older kids blocking the eyes of their siblings as well. I began to cover my own view, until I noticed something. She had reopened her eyes, and was looking directly at me. Demanding I watch her final moments. I obeyed her command.

The bullets thundered out with a roaring force. The sound of the barrage grew louder then the sound of the work bell. Why use such force on an elderly person? I thought. But then I realized why she demanded my attention. Her eyes remained open, even in her death, and there was something else I noticed. Her arm was laid flat, straight out from her body. Blood that had poured from her corpse remained on one side of her arm, and continued to ooze until she seemingly drowned in it. I peeled my eyes away when the guards ordered workers to haul the bodies away.

After a couple of hours later, the night crept up on us, and the end of the work day came. The ear piercing bell signaled for us to return, and we made the long walk back through the desert. From the wall you couldn’t really see the bell, but you could hear it clearly, and you could just imagine it swinging. I made my way to my shed, and found two of the windows broken. I sighed when I realized the door was open too.

Inside, the entire place was turned over, and several of my ration stashes had been raided. I wasn’t going to be able to eat well tonight, and I probably have no choice but to skip lunch tomorrow. I dropped on my bed, unable to fall asleep, haunted by the memories of Emily’s grandmother’s death. 


© Copyright 2017 LJ Walker. All rights reserved.

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