The Spiral. Short Story.

Hope everyone had a good weekend, mine was fairly relaxing. A friend came over and we just chilled and watched movies. Was pretty good, watched some old ones, and a few I’d never seen before. All in all was an enjoyable weekend.

 

On with the show!

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Hayley watched as the Spiral grew closer, she moved to the window, ignoring the tour guide for the moment, she rested her hands on the bar, the Spiral was so much bigger than she had expected, sure she had seen pictures, but they didn’t convey the sheer size of it, how imposing it was, how it dominated the skyline for miles around.

 

“The Spiral was originally placed on the plateau as both a defensive system and as an artistic choice. The plateau was, as you may have already guessed, originally flat, but the designers of the city carved into the rock itself to send it spiralling into the sky. As you can see each tier has a clear and wonderful view of the surrounding area. There were five ways to get to the city itself, four roads lead to four gates which were all easily sealed and almost impossible to break down and the fifth entrance was via the air. Of course, this isolation had its benefits but ultimately, as we now know, it was its downfall. When the plans were announced there was quite the furore, it was the largest project of its kind ever created, not just a city, but a city that would quite literally, leave its mark forever. The city itself grew to house just over twenty two million inhabitants. Many famous people of the time bought houses or holiday homes here, there were actors, artists, writers and poets. The rich and famous owned the top three tiers of the Spiral, as those were the most expensive dwellings. Travel between the tiers was an easy affair, there is a large road that follows the spiral upwards, as well as stairs, elevators and lifts that operated between each of the levels. Many of the businesses occupied lowest part of the Spiral as they housed the so called skyscrapers which were built right into the rock itself. The workers would enter the building from the top and work their way downwards to their various offices. If you look to your left, you’ll be able to see their glittering facades. Despite the lack of maintenance, they have held up remarkably well. As we move closer we will spiral upwards, following a path similar to what visitors would have followed almost fifty years ago, of course we will not be leaving the vehicle, the area around it is still classed as hazardous and may be classed that way for some time. It is still a crime to enter the Spiral itself and that shows no signs of changing”

Hayley stepped away from the glass and joined the group that was crowded around the tour guide, there was no great push for space as the vehicle had floor to ceiling windows that circled the entire perimeter. The ride itself was smooth and almost silent.

“Reports conflict on exactly what occurred on that day, but we do know that the Spiral went into complete and utter containment, the doors sealed and anyone trying to exit or enter were stopped with deadly force by the city’s automated defence system, which has since be deactivated. Of the twenty two million inhabitants, just ten survived and of those, only three were sane. The other seven were housed in mental institutions and have been there since. The identity of the ten was carefully concealed for fear that they would be targeted for attacks by extremist groups or by families of those who died inside. Experts speculated at the time that it was a virus burning its way through the helpless community and later, that was proved to be correct, it was a disease that was previously unknown to scientists. Though of course there were many theories including attack from terrorist groups and an attempt to secede from the state. The disease itself was carried by a rare species of bats that had made the plateau their home perhaps thousands of years before. During construction efforts were made to protect the bats, though of course, they have since been exterminated so as the eliminate the danger of the disease itself. We do not know the exact specifics of the disease, however we know from reading the transcripts of the survivors that it was not a pleasant experience for either the sick, or those who had not yet contracted the disease.”

Hayley shuddered, she remembered the stories. She had been told them when she was twelve. Her father had been one of the three survivors that had been sane. He had told her what happened one night when he was drunk. He had told her it hadn’t just been a virus. It was something else, something that controlled people, made them different, empty. They had tried to take over the plateau but the others had fought. Those infected were ruthless. Her father had been fifteen at the time. The last he saw of the infected were when they breached the top tier defences, his father managed to get him to a panic room, his mother had already been infected and, as the door closed, he saw them fighting. Saw his father stab his mother, saw his mother clawing at his fathers face. He didn’t know what happened, he was trapped for almost two weeks, down to barely any supplies when the automatic system allowed him to exit. He was found by army grunts a few hours later. He was kept in quarantine for almost a year before they decided to let him or any of the others go.

The vehicle circled the Spiral, moving slowly upwards, Hayley could see spots of damaged that weren’t caused by the passage of time, marks of explosions littered the bottom tiers, the top ones appeared to be relatively undamaged. As they continued upwards the tour guide pointed out various buildings and their uses, statues and who they depicted. Hayley listened to none of that. She watched as a group of startled birds took off. Her father had never known what had caused the so called virus, no one did, it was why the Spiral was still off limits, for fear that it could infect anyone who entered. Occasionally explorers or plunderers would try to enter, but they never came back. They’d disappear either into the depths or they’d be captured upon exiting. Something glinted in the distance, she squinted trying to see better. The vehicle was bringing them slowly closer and finally she was able to make it out. It was a lift, sparkling in the afternoon light, moving slowly upwards, she held her breath as it reached the top of one of the spirals and waited. The vehicle circled around, nothing left the lift and as far as she could see, there was nothing in it. She let out a slow breath, it was probably just misfiring of old systems. She shivered, her father had told her that had it not be contained, the world would not have survived it.

 

Finally they had reached the top tiers, she studied the luxurious houses, the empty or now swamp like pools. They had come here for safety, but instead they found death. So many people, just gone. She looked at her companions, they didn’t seem to grasp the situation, the severity of what had occurred, they looked greedy, like vultures waiting for the next grisly tidbit. She shuddered and moved away from the glass. She didn’t want to watch it anymore. She took a seat in the centre of the vehicle, hands clasped around the drink she had bought. It was the first time she had been out here, the first time she had seen the Spiral in person. She took a sip of her drink, she would come back out here again sometime. Maybe even hire a personal tour. She had the money after all. She looked around at the people again. Next time she’d definitely do it privately. People took pictures, chatted and laughed quietly while they circled a the mass grave that the Spiral had become.

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About Alan James Keogh

I am a 26 year old writer who somehow tricked U.C.D. into giving me not only a degree in English and Classical studies, but an Hons Masters in Creative Writing too. Visit my blog where I post short stories twice a week (Monday and Wednesday) and an installment of a serialised novel on Fridays. I did consider writing this in the third person, as though it was written by someone else, but Alan is not comfortable writing in the third person as it seems kinda creepy and unbalanced so Alan decided it was probably best to write in the first person. He hopes it went well for him.
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