Hope everyone has a really awesome night!
I’m really looking forward to going out, mostly because I’m super, super happy with my costume (at least, what I have done so far!) There’ll be a picture of the completed costume on my twitter later tonight, I’ll also throw up a picture here on Monday. If you want to see what the prosthetic I’ve done looks like (sans make up) there’s a picture on my twitter here.
Doug wondered when he’d be able to wander about the city by himself. It was unlikely that Max would let him off today, but perhaps he’d try tomorrow. There was a knock on the door and Doug stood, shuffling his things together, he opened the door to find Max waiting,
“Morning, have you eaten breakfast?”
“I’m not that hungry.”
“Ok, then do you want to get right to it then?”
“Yeah sure, what did you have in mind for today?”
“You wanted to talk to people who haven’t changed yet, I thought we’d give them a visit.”
“Oh, grab a jacket or something, it’s going to rain later on today. We’ll try to get where we’re going before that though.”
“I didn’t think you’d have weather forecasters here.”
“Yeah, the weather inside the walls is different to that outside it, though I don’t think there’s much of a change from the weather before, we seem to get the same amount of rain and sun. We have a few people who can predict the weather, so we rely on them to let us know what it’s going to be like. We use one of the local radio stations to broadcast things like that.”
They stepped into the hall, Doug closing the door behind him.
“It’s pretty handy, we can get news out quickly and efficiently too, though it’s mostly boring stuff. I think our last big headline was that a new train had been added to the system to ease morning congestion a little.”
They walked out of the building to find a car idling in front of it, “It’s a little far away and I didn’t think I’d subject you to the subway system just yet, it’s pretty crowded and that might be a bit intense for you. I figured we’d just get a car there, not many people drive, so we don’t have that much traffic.”
“I saw a few cars last night, I didn’t think anyone still drove around here.”
“Well, we have to for some things, trucks and stuff, we have a bus system too, mostly to ease traffic in the subway. We try to ration the fuel we have, we get some from your government, but it isn’t really enough to keep everyone going. People can apply for a car and if they meet the requirements they’re granted one along with a fuel allowance. There are a few taxi services, but they don’t drive around aimlessly, they have to be requested.”
They sat into the car, Max sliding in first, Doug closed the door gently, the car smelled faintly of cinnamon and vanilla. The driver was hunched over slightly, almost nervously.
“Doug, this is Hank, Hank, Doug.”
“Hi, nice to meet you.”
Hank mumbled something in response, Doug glanced at Max, Max leaned over and whispered into his ear, “He’s a bit nervous around new people. It isn’t you.”
They sat in silence, Doug stared out the window most of the time, looking at all the unusual people who walked down the sidewalk. Max occasionally tried to engage Hank in conversation, but it never lasted all that long. A few moments later Hank switched on the radio.
“I’ve a bit of a weird question, what do you do about clothes? Are they shipped in or made here or?”
“A bit of both. We get some shipments of clothing, not much these days though, and other stuff is made. We have some really skilful workers in that area. There’s things like clothes that don’t stain, ones that fit you perfectly, even if you gain or lose weight. It’s pretty handy, though the prices can be quite high. The shipments of a lot of things from your government has slowed down, not that it’s necessarily a bad thing. The essentials are still coming which is important, at least until we can become self-sufficient and afford to trade things.”
“Have you tried taking the clothing outside the walls?”
“We have, and the effects stay the same if it’s created. We’re looking at selling some of it outside, though we have to be careful. The prices will be quite high and there’s some concern over the money. We’re probably going to tax the garments quite heavily, as will your government I’m sure. We have to strike a balance between what’s fair to the creator and what’s a reasonable tax.”
Hank suddenly flickered, one moment he was there the next he wasn’t, Doug jumped but before he could speak Max put his hand on Doug’s arm. “Don’t worry, it happens sometimes. We’re safe, even if it looks like he’s disappeared, he’s still there.” He dropped his voice slightly, “it’s a bit of a nervous tick.”
“Why would he be nervous?”
“You’re the first person he’s met from the outside since the wall came down. A few of the people here are still nervous about how people will react, particularly when they hear about the soldiers reactions to us in the beginning. There’s some rumours that it turns regular people crazy and other such nonsense.”
Ten minutes later Hank pulled up at the sidewalk, Doug got out, followed by Max, Max leaned into the car and said something to Hank, then he closed the door. The car pulled out and drove off. “He’ll be back in an hour or so. I feel bad making him wait around when he had other stuff he can do. C’mon, we’re just up here. I wanted to walk the last bit of the way, it has a much better effect.”
They walked side by side, there were a few people walking along the path but they gave both Max and Doug a wide berth, Doug wondered if they were avoiding him or Max.
They turned the corner, then stopped. Max smiled as Doug gazed at the building in front of them. It was a large, gothic style church that loomed over them. Around it was a large park, distancing it from the buildings either side, making it seem so much more imposing.
“Nice, isn’t it?”
“Yeah, I expected something much smaller.”
“The priest who used to run this place allows them to use it.”
They stepped through the wrought iron gates, the temperature seemed to rise a bit and the sun seemed brighter. The gardens looked perfectly tended the grass was cut cleanly , the flower beds were perfectly aligned with one another and free of weeds. They walked down the cobblestone path to the large, wooden doors.
“They know you’re coming, though I don’t know how many of them will be here. Some of them have jobs.”
“Really? I would have expected them to have segregated themselves from the local community.”
“They did for a short while, but Father Callahan told them they wouldn’t be allowed stay if they continued.”
Max opened the large doors and the stepped inside, instantly Doug felt the reverent quiet that seemed to accompany all churches. The sun shone through the stained glass windows, casting pools of brightly coloured light. At the top of the church about ten people sat on the pews, a woman stood before them, speaking quietly. At the sound of the door closing she stopped, then smiled.
“I see our guests have arrived.” The others started to quietly whisper to one another as she strode down the aisle. She was younger than Doug had expected, perhaps mid-twenties, with long brown hair and a clear, smiling face. She was quite pretty, and wore a long, floor length skirt and a t-shirt. She shook Max’s hand, then Doug’s.
“Welcome, I’m Angela, you must be Doug?”
Her hand shake was firm and warm, “It’s nice to meet you.” She shook Max’s hand briefly then turned back towards the people.
“C’mon, they’re all looking forward to meeting you.”
She led them both up to the top of the church and introduced everyone, to Doug it was just a blur of names.
“We weren’t sure how you’d like to talk to people, so we figured we’d all just gather here. We can talk as a group or, if you like, individually.”
“I think as a group would be best for now.”
“Ok, perfect, here, have a seat. I’m sorry Max, but would you mind sitting off to the side?”
“It’s no bother at all, I think I might go for a bit of a walk around the grounds.”
Max turned and left, as he did so Angela turned to Doug, “I thought it might go a bit better without him, everyone would be able to talk freely, and you’d know that he wasn’t directing us or anything.”
“Thanks, I appreciate it.”
“Where do you want to start.”
Doug sat down, “Well, why don’t one of you tell me what exactly it is you do and believe. I only got a bit of a gist from Max.”
One of the men cleared his throat, then began to speak.
“Well, as you know the wall came down three years ago, it was chaos, I’m sure you’ve been told. We all saw so many horrible things. A few of us grouped together, hoping to survive, and others were by themselves. As things began to settle we realised that people had changed, they were no longer people, but we were. We don’t really know why. As time went on we began to group together, at first it was a kind of support group I guess, dealing with the changes, the fear that we too would change. We came here seeking Gods protection, Father Callahan was, is, a good man. Despite the change he welcomes us and granted us protection within Gods walls. We think that this is Gods judgement. That he has revealed the true forms of the wicked and that we, the unchanged, were granted God’s grace. We were the true believers.
At first, we were afraid, we segregated ourselves from the wicked, we didn’t speak to them or touch them. To be touched was to risk being dirtied. As time went on we realised that they were still in control, they didn’t give in to their baser desires, they weren’t beasts. We still believe that they are unclean, but that through God’s grace, they can become human again. Some people say that the change will happen to use someday too, that it’ll happen to everyone, but we have faith that our lord will protect us.”
“By God, do you mean the Christian God?”
“No, we don’t discriminate religions. We believe that there is only one God, but that he comes to people through other means, Jewish, Muslim, Christian, they’re all just words but at the end, it means the same thing. It’s one God and he will protect us all. We run an outreach program, where we try to include everyone. Many of us are Christian, and we attend the Christian services in this church, others go to their own churches or worship in their own way. However anyone and everyone is welcome to the support group, whether they’ve changed or not.”
“How many people belong to the support group?”
“About two thousand. The numbers fluctuate as people come and go. People are free to leave whenever they want. We have a meeting every two days and people attend the ones that they can.”
“What happens at these meetings?”
“Well, people share their experiences, their fears. We discuss events that happen in the city, we talk about the plan that God has for us and we socialise. It seems odd to say, but it feels very lonely, being human in here. Every other kind have groups they belong to, areas that they live in, but us normal humans have no such luck. We don’t have our own area, at least not yet, we’re working on moving closer together. It’s a slow process. We want to feel the comfort and safety of a community and the group helps.”
“do you hold ill will towards the other inhabitants of the city?”
“No, even if you think it sounds like it. We don’t judge them. God may have judge them unfit, but there is always room for healing and redemption. God is full of love and he will welcome anyone to his flock.”
“Has anyone had the change reversed?”
“No, not yet.”