Chapter 1 — These are the first things she remembers

2 04 2009

These are the first things she remembers:

The creak of the gate by the empty pool.

The silence of the cicadas and bats.

A single thin beam of light cutting through the gloom of the dirty apartment.

The unfamiliar sound of her full name.

Then things begin to happen quickly: there is a woman and a man, all dressed in black, coming towards her.  She runs past them, all the way into the tiny bedroom, and goes for the window.  She would have gone out it, too, except she remembers the envelope under the bed and has to turn back to the dresser to grab it.  She has it stuffed into one of her pockets and one leg out the window when the man bursts into the room.  She hesitates at the fall – a good ten feet – and the man catches her other leg and wrenches her away from the sill.  Leg hurting, she makes a scramble for the other window, but the woman is suddenly there, in her path, and she knows that any further struggle will just result in pain.

She collapses to the floor and curls into a ball, so that the man literally has to lift her in his arms and carry her out of the apartment.  She has no idea what is happening and she is terrified.

They exit into the sudden glare of a searchlight coming from the sky.  She thinks that she is dead, that Father Gabriel is right about the endtimes, and that she is being lifted bodily towards heaven, but the searchlight materializes into a powerful beam extended below a dark body in the sky.  A helicopter.  Her terror, though it seems impossible, increases.

As the helicopter lowers itself into the empty pool, the noise is immense; she tries to put her hands over her ears but the man holds her tight and she thinks she will go deaf.

He hands her over to someone waiting in the helicopter, and he and the woman climb in after her, and someone else straps her into a seat with her arms clipped behind her back.  Her stomach lurches violently and she looks out of the open door and sees the concrete corpse of the pool falling away.  Further height, and a wider view: all of the apartments, the burned out and abandoned western end gray under the beam of light.  The helicopter spins up into the night, and right before they shut off the light she sees the broken asphalt rising up tectonically on the old road through the desert.  It stretches away towards the Rock Knowledge, and beyond only the Desert Lore…

Then everything goes dark until dawn, some hours later, and she sees that they are flying due east.

The process begins right then, in the glare of the rising sun: she takes her own past and locks it away, deep inside of her.

She knows that there are things that happened before this night, and that they might even be real, but in her mind they hold a mythical quality: they belong to a different age, an age of legends.  When she recalls her personal genesis, she can see how these myths have inspired the culture of her mind, but they have no bearing on her present location.

By default, then, these are the first things she remembers:

Confusion.

Fear.

Pain.

Chaos.

The end of everything.

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