Hollowmen #3

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Chapter 2: Abyssus Porta

Now the valley cried in anger, mount your horses, draw your swords. And they killed the mountain people. So they won their just reward, now they stood beside the treasure, on the mountain dark and red. Turn the stone and which beneath it, Peace on Earth, Was all it said. -One Tin Soldier (The Original Caste)

Nine twenty in the mourning, Paul had over slept. He was suppose to be on his way to New Amsterdam by now. From his Little Falls hotel room to the office would take about an hour and half. His report on the recent murders of five of the top executives of PAX was no where near complete, he had a gut instinct that he was missing the whole story. The murders appeared to be random, but something didn't add up, there was a lack of motive. Maybe, he thought to himself, there was a motive, he just hadn't found it yet. He turned on the television in hopes of getting a traffic report, maybe he could cut his travel time down a bit by taking the 495 straight into York.

The television was going on about the stock market open, gold had hit a new trading high. More unemployment, and the national debt was on the rise. In other words, nothing new thought Paul.

He felt it, even before he saw the flash, the dust cloud, or heard a sound. The hair stood up on the back of his neck, and an overwhelming panic crawled from the hairs on his arms, to his gut. He felt sick, vertigo took hold, and he instinctively looked out the window in the direction of York. He could see it now, rising over the city like a gray skull, he knew what it was at first site. Some one had just nuked the city.

At first he just stood there staring not knowing what to do. Thoughts passed through his head like jumbled puzzle pieces, and he just couldn't think straight.

Which way was the wind blowing, was he down wind, how bad was it, who did it and why? His thoughts were interrupted with the emergency broadcasts system tone coming from the television. That was fast he thought at first, but then realized he had been staring out the window for awhile in shock now.

This is an Emergency Action Notification Directed by the President. Normal broadcasting on this station will cease immediately. This is an attack warning, repeat, this is an attack warning. An attack warning means that an actual attack against this country has been detected and that protective action should be taken.

The alert tone and message repeated.

Paul was still in shock, he waited for further information from the TV, none came. He started flipping through channels on the box, most had the same EBS logo and message repeating. Some were off the air, then he came across a foreign channel.

" Reports are still coming in, apparently there has been nuclear detonation in New Amsterdam, more specifically in the old city of New York", the reporter looked nervous, "We have unconfirmed reports that the blast centered out of central park. The theater district has been decimated, the Empire State building is gone, and Carnegie Hall. " One moment please" Someone off set had just hand him a note.

" We have live footage via our affiliated network coming in now. It is my understanding, that there is a helicopter from our sister network now flying toward ground zero. It appears that only the pilot is in the helicopter as a reporter was not available at the time.”

The seen changed to a grainy picture of the downtown core, it was obvious that the pilot was trying to angle the copter for the best possible view of the crater which appeared to be approximately two blocks in diameter. On one of the turns the helicopter made, the Empire State Building could be seen still standing. All Paul could do was stare at the TV.

After a couple of minutes the scene was cut and replaced by a reporter on the street. "Police are beginning to quartered off the immediate area surrounding Central Park.", she was obviously scared out of her wits. "One of the officers here has told local reporters to pass on the following information. Do not eat or drink anything. There is a chance that the bomb was a 'dirty bomb', and radioactive dust could infect food, and water. Even bottled water maybe a hazard as dust can settle around the lid, and get on your hands. Wait for rescue teams to arrive for decontamination. If you are inside, remain inside and block the air vents and spaces under doors to prevent further dust from coming inside. Rescue teams are on their way.”

She was shaking at this point. "If you are currently downwind of the cloud, but not in the immediate area, it is important that you get out of harms way.”

Paul noticed that ashes could be seen falling on the the reporters hair and shoulders like snow flakes. "My god", Paul thought "she's already dead and knows it.”

Paul decided to check the local channels, surely by now the system had an update, but after what seemed to be an eternity all he could get was the emergency broadcast whistle. He turned back to the Northern Channel Network.

Levi stood outside the doorway to the hospital chapel, looking at the old stain glass window at the far end of the room. There were only two others within the chapel, a woman, and a man. He entered, and approached the alter. He reached into his coat pocket, and with drew a wrinkled and tattered piece of paper. The words were faded, but he was still able to read them.

“ He has gone so far as to try to kill himself, and I think I am to late to help him. Please understand where I come from in this matter, he is my first true love, I cannot rest until I know that you have helped him. Only you have the wisdom, and words to reach him, only you could bring him back to me.”

It still made him feel odd reading those words. She always seemed to raise him on a pedestal, but it was her that had always guided him in areas of the heart.

"O muse, o alto ingegno, or m'aiutate; o mente che scrivesti ciò ch'io vidi, qui si parrà la tua nobilitate.” he whispered.....

The social worker looked into the patients room, checking to make sure he was still asleep. She had been working the night shift for the last week, and hated the first day on morning shift. Besides she still had a bit of a hang over from New Years' day. It wasn't just that, her apartment was freezing, the heat had been off for almost two days now, and the electricity was gone as well, which meant no television, at least here at the hospital she could get a hot cup of coffee.

She saw him first, an odd looking man wandering the corridors obviously lost. He was walking towards her, carrying what looked like a leather made hikers pack. Street bum was all she thought.

"Excuse me, can I help you?" she asked as he got closer.

He looked her over, it wasn't the normal browse that men tended to do to her, most men looked at her chest first, he checked out her eyes in a way that made her shudder, such blue eyes!

"Yes, I'm looking for my nephew, Dan Artie Leigh, I'm here to take him home.” he said.

That was the name of the suicide patient she had just checked on, something wasn't right. He had no next of kin on record, and the only person he had mentioned during the interview was a women named Beatrice. "I'll have to check with the administrator, you can wait in the lobby downstairs, and I'll send someone to you.”

"That would be good, there are many questions I would like to ask his doctor, like what medications he is on, and what I should pass onto the social services

back home, but to be honest I would rather pick him up tomorrow. I've only just arrived, and have had very little sleep that last few days. I only wanted to let him know I was here, I haven't even told Beatrice I arrived, is there a good hotel nearby I can check into?”

She thought a moment about it, he did look tired, and he wouldn't be taking him until tomorrow anyway. "There is the Hotel Due down the street. He's in room 8, you can get the release forms from the front office tomorrow.”

"Thank you”, he said, and slid by her into the room.

Dan was awake and staring out the window when Levi walked into the room. His eyes showed the sadness in him, and he looked tired. He turned his head to look at Levi, then back to the window.

"Beatrice sent me.” Levi said.

Paul knew he was crazy. He was going the wrong way, even the cars that were now heading towards him knew it. It didn't matter anymore which side of the road barrier you were on, all roads lead away from Rome. If it wasn't for the fact that he needed to get the story out, he would have been long gone himself.

After his head had cleared he made the connection between the bombing, and the murders, and ran from the hotel room like everyone else. Only in his case he headed towards the city. Now he was facing oncoming traffic in the wrong lane. It wasn't a terrorist bombing, they were planning on wagging the dog.

He kept spinning the dial on the radio hoping to get some sort of local news station, which ever was up he was going to go to them. But first he had to make it to the office, most of his paper work was there, the proof of what was really going on had been in front him the whole time, he just never saw it. If only he had enough time before the President came on the air.

He had moved off to the outside shoulder, thinking there would be enough room for on coming traffic to avoid him. The yellow electric powered car that he found himself head to head with didn't have a chance against the older SUV.

Paul blacked out after the third roll.

Levi was sitting across from Dan in the hospital lounge drinking another cup of what went for coffee. The taste of beets was more noticeable to him now because he knew it was there. He was tired, and it took all of his mental energy just to get Dan to come downstairs to talk.

To Levi's relief, Dan began the conversation, "What was that you were going to say about oil?”

"It's a matter of context,” Levi said as he took a sip of Krakus. "You would have to go back to coal, and follow the chain from there. A teacher named John Taylor Gatto wrote a book about the history of education, I read it last year when I was trying to figure out what was really going on. The book was a history lesson that I had never heard before. Coal changed everything, instead of children being raised by families, they began to be raised by the state. Instead of men finding fulfilling work, they became part of the conveyor belt we called the industrial revolution. And the reason for it was wealth, coal was wealth. But those in power were afraid of this wealth being accessible by anyone.”

Levi didn't let Dan interrupt him, "It turns out that the best way to train people to be productive, and loyal to the company was to train them to be as stupid as possible. But what I really got out of the book was a different way of thinking about things. Gatto made the connection between the beginnings of the Industrial revolution, coal, and the failed educational system. It made me change the way I was approaching the problem of our society becoming more corrupt.

Instead of figuring out a way to get together with smarter people, I needed to know how information was passed around the country, and do something different. I figured that since coal was the beginning of the Industrial age, and that it had produced the massive transportation system we still basically use today, I would follow what happened to coal, and use that knowledge to predict what would happen next. A way of getting ahead of the game.”

Dan asked him what he ended up predicting, while sipping his drink.

"That the game is over.” Levi said, "We're living in a pipe dream in more ways then one. Although, I did follow what happened to coal, I ended up checking what happen before it. You see, it was true that coal was wealth, but before coal there was gold. Gold has always been the source for financial wealth, and always will be, but somehow we forgot this.”

"So what does this have to do with oil?” Dan asked trying to sound interested, but he was honestly more intent on eating.

"The International Monetary Fund was an organization that maintained the exchange rates of currency between nations, before the 1970's gold was used as a standard to measure a dollar's worth, but in 1971 the United States dropped out of the Bretton Woods system. At the time they controlled most of the world's oil supply and recognized that the world was addicted to oil, so they tricked the other nations into using the US dollar when trading oil, they literally became the biggest drug pushers on the planet.”

"I still don't understand, how could the government trick other nations?” Dan asked gaining a little interest.

"The IMF couldn't hold the monetary imbalances together, and the Bretton Woods system collapsed. Something was eating away at the world's gold based wealth. Just like coal before it, the government made slaves of everyone who needed a fossil fuel. The trick was that money needs something to be based on, since the USA didn't have all the world's gold under it's control they changed the standard, they made the US dollar based on oil, and forced everyone to trade oil in US dollars. Any nation which needed oil was then forced to exchange their currency to US currency to get oil, instead of comparing their monetary value against gold, they started comparing it to US dollars.”

Levi look at Dan wondering if he was getting it. "Everyone thought that the USA was going along with the fiat system of money instead of gold, but they only pretended too. They were actually based off a limited supply of oil. It worked until two things happened, first Argentina started trading in Euro dollars instead of US dollars because they never signed any agreement to be limited to the US. Second, Oil started to run out."

"And now it's all gone, every last drop." Levi finished.

Dan stopped eating. "What do you mean it's all gone, we have at least 30 years left?";

"We've had thirty years left of oil for over thirty years Dan. They've been lying the whole time. And before you say you don't believe me, take a look outside." Levi replied.

"Oh Shit" was the first thought that crossed Paul's mind. He was upside down, and his pants, and shirt were wet.

"GAS!"

Paul panicked, he had to get out, he had to get out now! He tried unbuckling the seat belt, but the button wouldn't release, the adrenaline in his blood was making his head pound, he could not only feel his heart beat, he could hear it. He remembered that he had a small knife in his pocket, he fumbled for it, and got lucky. As he was cutting away at the straps when it dawned on him that something else was wrong, his brain was fogged over, it was hard to think with the pounding in his head. He was missing something, he looked around, did he have anyone with him in the car? No. What was it? What was eating away at his mind, something was more wrong then just the gas "

There was a smell, but it wasn't gas. That's it! If he was covered from head to toe with gas wouldn't it smell like it? He looked up at his pants again. They were wet, soaked right through.

"Oh my God!". It was blood not gasoline.

The accident had almost thrown him out of his seat belt, it was no longer around his waist. Instead his legs had been braced, and were holding him upside down in his seat. If he had been wearing the should strap, he would have had less injury, including the huge gash on his right leg. The seat itself had been shifted when the metal of the car had bent in the process of flipping over. It had saved his life, so far. The seat belt had stopped the flow of blood, it had become a tunic, and he was trying to cut it off, it would end up killing him. Paul now realized that the pounding in his head was due to the amount of blood loss he had. He had to replace the tunic that was provided by God, with one he made himself.

He took his shirt off, moving his arms blow his head almost caused him to black out again. He took the gear shift off the ceiling below him, and used it to twist the shirt into a tunic around his leg. "Good", he thought. He then finished cutting the belt, and landed on his head.

His next thought was wondering if he had blacked out again. He wasn't sure, but his thoughts were quickly shifted to getting out the car. It was then he realized that none of the windows had broken during the accident. He tried breaking the widow, but could not shift his body around at the right angle to use his elbow, there just wasn't enough room. He was still trapped. He looked around at the things that had fallen out of the dash board, his wallet, a book called 'Failed States', and spark plugs for the car were all that he noticed.

There was something important about the spark plugs he couldn't remember. Paul tried hard to think, he was still inside the car, it was upside down, and it was important to assess what was going on. What did he know? He knew that a lot of time had happened since the accident, but he wasn't sure how much. He didn't have anything with him to tell the time, the dash board was smashed. He had his wallet, a book he had never gotten around to reading, and some useless spark plugs. But they weren't useless, there was something about them he just couldn't remember.

Then he remembered. During his first year as a journalist after college he had done the city crime beat. Petty little fluff pieces was all he had been assigned to cover as fillers to tack onto other main themes that were being reported on by more experienced reporters. He had done a report on auto theft, which was reduced to protecting the contents of cars rather then the cars themselves. It was during this time that he was trying to prove himself to the office, and that he tracked down and interviewed a know car thief. He had convinced him to share his secrets of the trade.

The ceramics around the spark plugs happened to be the perfect car thief tool. When it hits the window of the car's safety glass, the windshield shatters. He tried twisting the ceramics off, then tried hitting it against the window directly. Nothing, he was either to weak, or not doing it right. He had to get the ceramics out, then he would have to figure out a way to toss it hard enough. The dash board was twisted like his seat. There was a section of elbow bracket sticking out the plastic coverings, likely the same thing that had cut his leg in the first place, he could use it to snap the ceramics out of the plug. It broke into pieces easy, the ceramics was brittle it couldn't withstand the torque that the hole for the bolt provided. His wallet provided the other need. His wallet had been stuffed with business cards, credit cards, and other useless items, but it had been held together with a large rubber band.

Paul used the elastic band as a makeshift sling shot between his fingers, took a large chunk of the ceramic and aimed at the window.

Beads of glass fell, he was out.

The sun was now beating down on both Levi and Dan. To Dan it was a welcomed friend to finally be outside, to Levi however it was a sign that he had little sleep. They looked out across the garden which slopped downward to the park below, and at the horizon the city could be seen beyond.

Dan turned to Levi, "So what is it I'm suppose to see exactly, it looks normal to me."

"You need to pay more attention to details Dan, and use everything God gave you. What do you hear?"

Levi was now slowly walking down the garden hill.

"Nothing." replied Dan.

"Exactly." Levi said as he looked at Dan over his shoulder with a look that gave Dan pause.

There wasn't anything to listen to. No cars, sirens, bells, or any of the mirth of sounds one normally associated with the city and ignored. At first Dan thought it was normal, just a quiet day, but the silence was more pronounced, there was even the lack of humming of street lights, transformers, and air conditioners. There was nothing. It was if the sound track to a movie had suddenly stop during a scene that required at least a musical background.

"Where are you going?" Dan asked

"Home," Levi picked up his pace a little, "You welcome to come with me, Mary, Lucy and Beatrice are hoping you'll come."

"I should let the hospital know I'm leaving" Dan replied.

"They won't let you leave," Levi had stopped and turned to look up at Dan. "Your a mental patient, you have no rights. You can either come with me now into the forest, or the nurse will notice your out of your room. She will call a couple of security guards to find you, and take you back."

Dan thought about it for a moment, and then began walking down the path on the garden hill towards Levi.

Paul had managed to find his first aid kit in the trunk, and he surprised himself at the bandage job he had done on his leg. His brother had given him an emergency kit which was stored in the trunk along with the firs aid kit, there was also a sleeping bag, and some basic camping gear that his brother had insisted on. He half walked, half crawled, to the top of the embankment his car had flipped over. No one was around. Cars were jammed creating the world biggest traffic jam, but everyone was gone. It was like a scene out of an end of the world movie. He returned to the car, and gathered the emergency kit and sleeping bag his brother had provided. Paul laughed to himself, if his brother could see him now, he's never hear the end of it.


Next Hollowmen 4


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great post

Nice one

Really nice post thanks !!

very good

Very engaging story. I just stumbled across it, can't wait to go back and read the preceding chapter. Followed

I just saw your post and link in the FB group- sorry I didn't make it over sooner.
I am a HUGE post-apocalyptic reader (author but in other genres).

Great part of the book. I saw you have other sections in different posts- I'll be checking those out also

Thank you, still engaged in the story.