*This was a story that was written for entry into the June Storytelling Sessions conducted by Ekari and her team. The theme was “cold”. More about her at http://www.ekariwrites.com or on Facebook @ Ekari Mbvundula – The Writer.*
The wind whispered past him as if mourning , in its own way. Its whisper not being understood it instead, kept trying to push him down from his vantage point where he could clearly see the two sides collide in battle.
Shepherd remembered a time when the worst of their problems were loadshedding and “blood suckers”. How fast it had all gone downhill.
Our nation was given funds to accelerate our renewable energy generation but the greed of our leaders took priority and before we knew it we were put under interdict for being a danger to the planet. Meaning whoever wanted to attack us had full rights to do so. Private companies came through with their mercenary armies and took over large portions of land to set up MetroSanctuaries (a fancy for what was once called Smart Cities).
Some surrendered and lived in the Metros. The comfortable solution. You got a house, a job based on your bio and social data profile, and a Trace. The implant that allowed you to get notifications, communicate, download limitless media on to your glasses or DLDs. However, privacy was a myth. So was free choice because the Trace put you online to the Hive Mind.
“Only fundementalists have something to hide.” That was the argument that justified getting a Trace. A Trace also gave you a glowing scarlet ring around your pupils.
Mirrors were outlawed. Cameras and screens took their place. Because mirrors could switch off a Trace for a few moments. Those few moments offline the Hive Mind were enough for anyone to be a “threat”.
Others rose up, trying to take back the land by force. Calling themselves Ghosts. They went in with old weapons. Bombs, guns and machetes Vs. Laser Turrets, drones, and UV Blades. The Ghosts would have success in getting to the Metros and causing havoc but they hardly ever gained land back for long.
Then there was Shepherd and his crew. The ones from Smyrna, the roaming city in the mountains. He turned around to look at his “family”.
On one knee petting his Bulldog with his huge left hand, was the one who had proven his determination to be free by cutting off his own arm to cast off his Trace. Bongani.
Sitting next to him, fidgeting and tweaking the bionic arm she had built for him was Humayra. Her innovations had helped them escape the Ghosts on many missions and avoid Metro drones. Her Greyhound had a spanner in his mouth waiting to be told what tool to get next.
With the usual serious look on his face, sack slung over his shoulder, his Terrier digging at the ground next to him was the ex-Ghost, One Wire. When he opened his mouth it was either to eat or say something a little crazy. His serious face often left you to wonder whether he was being serious or not. One Wire’s suspicious gaze was cast on the figure seated next to Shepherd.
Small, agile, very intelligent and quick to learn. Scary how they found her. She had walked out of a Metro on her own accord but she couldn’t remember what had driven her to get off the Hive Mind.
Her nightmares would tell where battles were going to take place. In her sleep, she would expose the tactics of the Ghosts and the Metro army. Shepherd called her Tumi. But it was Tumi’s eye that was suspicious. One of her eyes had that scarlet glow as if she had a Trace but Humayra had continuously proved that her Trace was offline. One Wire was openly wary of her.
Tumi stood up.
“Now! You will be able to awaken many if you go now.”
Humayra gave her tools to her greyhound. “Just in time.”she chimed
Bongani stood to full height and flexed his bionic arm. It hummed to life as he clenched his fist.
One Wire put the sack down, opened it and threw the balls at his companions. They were about the size of tennis balls. Each of them caught their’s with ease. One Wire paused before tossing one at Tumi. She fumbled when she caught it and she accidentally activated it.
The ball opened into a large shield. Its size reminded Shepherd of those old satellite dishes. It helped shield from the fiery lasers of the Metro army but unlike the matte black shields of the Ghosts, these shields had a polished surface, like mirrors. These were their weapons to set some people free.
Shepherd opened a hatch in the ground and whistled. First, silence. Then one bark and the patter of many paws. Several muddy dogs came rushing out the hole. The last one had a leafy branch in her mouth to show that they had successfully made a tunnel to the Metro. The dogs that had been replaced by RoboDogs were good for something.
“Tumi, today you come with us.” Shepherd said.
“Why?”she asked wide-eyed.
“Because, as the Old Book says, these are the last days. And the love of many has grown cold. Trying to impose their will on others, each side calls freedom. Fighting darkness with darkness. But we are sent to reflect light. To offer choice to people inside the Metro. Switch off the Trace for those few seconds and maybe they will see what they have become and come to Smyrna. To kill the Trace. Not kill the tracked. For what use is a land that has swallowed innocent blood?”
“No. I mean, why now?”, Tumi asked.
“Because I believe you are one of us, the Children Of Light in Darkness.”
“COLD!” Came the untied response from the others.
“Shouldn’t that be COLID?”, Tumi asked.
“Technically, yes.” Shepherd smiled determinedly at the city. “But what fun would that be?”
Shepherd looked up to the sky. “Prosper Your servants this day.”, He asked earnestly.
He jumped into the tunnel and pulled Tumi in with him.
One Wire shouted after them.
“Who knows? Maybe today, you could earn yourself a puppy!”