All Of a Sudden

Read Chapter 22 “The Voices”

The Corporate Army spacecraft was modest in design but well equipped, all keeping with the Old World’s somehow outdated standards. Patrick made his way towards the bridge, which was small, compact and able to fit only a handful of people at the same time. The commanding officer, much younger than Patrick, watched his every step projected on a big screen. Patrick lost track of the new generation of officers coming into the corporate army a long time ago. So he didn’t know who the officer was or where he was coming from. However, Patrick was hoping for a mature and long enough conversation to give Maggie much needed time to get as far away from this place as she possibly could.

– “Officer” – Patrick extended his hand; the officer shook it.

– “You are lucky Mr Bruce that we didn’t proceed with the full attack as planned and your drone managed to connect with the central system.”

– “Thank you. I’m grateful you saved my life, Mr….? “

– “Thomas Johns.”

– “Mr Johns, a pleasure to meet you. Now do tell me what the Above troops are doing in our humble Down Below.” – Patrick was willing to go to any length to give Maggie the valuable extra time.

– “That is what I should be asking you, Mr Bruce. We’ve been looking for you all over the place. Would you care to tell me what you were doing here?” – Thomas seemed to already know more about Patrick, then Patrick realized.

– “When it all started, I was…” – Patrick started, but immediately got interrupted.

– “I know well enough where you were when it all started.” – blurted Thomas.

– “I was kidnapped by one of the operatives who started the uprising.” – Patrick carried on unfazed.

– “And how did they know about you?” – Thomas moved closer to Patrick, his eyes locked with Patrick’s.

– “Do you really think that the Ecotopians have no Intel on us?” – asked Patrick, moving away from Thomas towards the side window. Right below on the ground, he saw the scattered bodies of the travellers. If it weren’t by pure luck, Patrick would have been there.

In that very moment, seeing the bodies of those young fighters, it somehow triggered in Patrick the full understanding of the immense cruelty and moral bankruptcy the Old World was built on. He knew well what the Old World’s government was capable of implementing but seeing it like this broke something in him. He also fully realized that he had been part of that cruelty for years, consenting to the iron fist of the Old World’s politics.

He didn’t know what triggered this sudden understanding, but whatever that was, he finally opened his eyes, just like Maggie wanted him to do.

– “As a commanding officer of Down Below, you should have known that an attack like that was being planned. Why didn’t you?” – Thomas’s tone shifted. – “You failed”

– “I didn’t fail.” – Patrick was boiling on the inside. He knew what this chat was meant to accomplish. Johns was trying to shift the blame for the Above’s failure. – “The Above has been tying my hands and cutting resources for years. How can I successfully run any operation without having enough right people?” – Patrick replied as calmly as he could. His emotions were high. For years he has witnessed the Corporate Governments unwillingness to admit any shortcomings on their part. As always in a critical situation like that, the officials were on a lookout for a scapegoat.

Patrick was aware that the Corporate Government wanted to get rid of him for a long time. This situation was a perfect opportunity for the Above to remove Patrick from his position. Permanently. It wasn’t going to be hard to find in his stead a younger and definitely more unconditionally loyal follower of the Old World’s order then he ever was.

All his life Patrick blindly followed the corporate rules and asked little questions in the process. He could have gone with Maggie to the other side of the wall at least twice. He could have had a life, a real-life with her but he never did. He wasn’t scared to be a part of the New World. But he was terrified of making a decision that could divert him away from his chosen path. He wasn’t a quitter and didn’t want to give up too soon, regardless of how wrong his path shaped out to be. Deep inside, he was afraid that someone was going to accuse him of changing sides too soon or giving up too fast or too easily. The social pressure he continuously felt, since he was a small child pushed him on a path of anxiety that was carefully masked away from the public view. He never truly trusted himself, and his frightful indecisiveness showed up in the most vital moments of his life.

However, seeing Maggie again, knowing that he was a father and should be responsible for other human beings, somehow unclouded his vision, helping him to understand how his fear and anxiety deprived him of a beautiful life with a woman he always loved and the kids he never knew.

– “So what were you doing here with Maggie?” – Thomas asked sternly. He was itching to hear Patrick’s answer, see him sweat, and trying to wiggle his way out and come up with excuses for not following the Corporate rule book.

– “Maggie? The leader of the Ecotopia wanted to catch up with the people you just killed.” – Patrick was planning to lie as little as possible. It could always come backbiting him on the back in the most unexpected moments.

No witnesses were left alive, so blaming Maggie’s presence in the Old World on those who were dead wasn’t going to harm anyone.

– “What did she want with them?”

– “You won’t believe me if I tell you.”

– “I’m rather imaginative; try me.” – Thomas was really enjoying this conversation.

– “These people, these bodies down there are from the future. She wanted something they had.” – Patrick was certain that Thomas wouldn’t believe in that story.

– “Hmmm, future…” – blurted Thomas, before adding – “We need to go.”

– “Go where?” – Patrick’s voice raised slightly in surprise. Thomas’s reaction wasn’t at all what he expected. He anticipated ridicule and laughter.

– “To the Above of course. They would want to talk to you.”.

– “About?” – Patrick was confused and couldn’t even hide it. Could it be possible that the Above already knew about people from the future?

– “Why, the people from the future, of course.” – said Thomas throwing a half-smile, half grim at Patrick. 

Read Chapter 24 “Life in The Above”