Point Zero – Chapter 1


Prologue | Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 4.5 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Chapter 8 | Chapter 9 | Chapter 10 | Chapter 11 | Chapter 12


Chapter 1: Changes, Walking, and Helicopters of Death.

Other than the searing pain and the green fire, the thing that is most etched into my memory is the smell of burnt hair. While my hair had been getting shaggy, for me, it had been completely burned away. That stench still makes me wretch any time I smell it.

The five of us were alone on a plane of emerald glass and four of us were moaning in pain. All of us had burn marks on parts of our bodies, but they looked months old. 

“Frank… Oh shit Frank’s not breathing.” James bent over Frank’s now scarred face and tried to do mouth to mouth and chest compressions. We all reached for our phones to discover there was nothing there. After what felt like much too long, he stopped. 

Gasping for air, James asked, “Why is it so hard to breathe?” He reached up to his neck and felt under the corners of his hoodie. It had two otters on it and said, Otterly Adorable; Mel had given it to him. He said a few curse words before adding, “I have gills. How did I get gills?”

“Where are we?” Jane asked, either oblivious to James’s panic or ignoring it. 

I felt the green glass we stood on and looked around. It stretched for almost as far as the eye could see. Far at a distance I saw trees. “I think I see forest over that way.”

“I have webs between my fingers!” James started to hyperventilate. Mel grabbed his hand and tried to calm him by helping him breathe. It wasn’t working. “I couldn’t save him… He’s already cold…” James was gasping for air and crying at the same time.

“It’s not your fault James. Don’t feel Gill-ty,” Mel punned, but had the good taste to cringe. Everyone stopped what they were doing and we just stared at her. She sheepishly said, “Sorry.” We all burst into manic laughter.

When we were done, James was softly sobbing. Mel and I picked up Frank’s body and we started walking towards the trees. 

After the burning feeling, the cold was almost a relief until it became too much. My head was the first part to get cold and I looked at my friends, “Why am I the only one who doesn’t have hair?”

“Hey, at least you don’t have gills. Wait, maybe I’ll actually be able to breathe underwater.” James started to sound excited instead of upset.

We were all dressed for September in Northern Ontario, but the weather was closer to winter now and our long sleeves and hoodies weren’t cutting it. We were all shivering and the sun was hiding from us behind clouds.

“Man, I wish the sun would could out of those clouds. I could at least pretend to be warm,” I said. Trying to be funny was Mel’s thing, but I need to talk.

The others stopped and looked at me funny, Jane tilted her head and said, “It’s the middle of the night? We can barely see each other. The only reason we’re going this way is ‘cause you said you saw trees.” The rest of them nodded in agreement and I looked up. The bright spot behind the clouds wasn’t the sun but the moon.

“I can see clearly all the way past the glass. What the hell happened to us?”

We moved slowly towards the forest and just as we were giving up hope of ever feeling warm again, we were blinded by a bright light and the loud noises of helicopters. Someone over a loud speaker yelled, “This is the RCMP please lay down flat on the floor and don’t make any sudden moves.” We all swore, some of us in surprise and others in fear. Mel’s dad was native and both of them had been harassed by the cops more then they should. RCMP were always called in during a protest to protect land or anything else to do with the local Reserves. We had all been arrested for loitering in a provincial park once while camping; that wasn’t fun.

We started to move but I guess we hadn’t moved fast enough, ’cause I heard gunfire. I was looking at Jane and she turned bright white before completely disappearing. I threw up my arms and bright green lightning formed a dome around us that the bullets just bounced off of.

“How are you doing that?” asked James who was starting to hyperventilate again. “We have to get out of here.”

Whatever I was doing to create the protective dome felt like running at top speed. I tried to breathe like they’d taught us in gym class, not that I paid much attention, but I tried. Unfortunately, the effort was too much and I fell down gasping. “Sorry.”

“We’re not dead, you did great.” Mel put her hand on my shoulder. She was looking fuzzy like a chalk drawing. I assumed I was about to pass out.

“Lay down on the ground and no one gets hurt,” the loudspeakers shouted at us.

A small flash of light appeared beside us and Jane grabbed our hands. “This is going to hurt. Sorry.”

Bright white light and searing pain blocked everything out for me. When it was over I felt like every nerve had been poked with a very sharp stick.

I looked around at the dusty old furniture and asked, “Where are we?” 

Read Next Chapter (February 2020)


While you wait for the next chapter, check out previous serial stories:

Serial Story 2020 – Point Zero

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

You voted and were quite clear on what story should become this year’s serial story.

This year’s serial story will be Point Zero!

Point Zero

Setting: Our world after an alien attack that destroys several small towns before the aliens disappear.
Genre: Disaster, Post Apocalyptic, Super Hero

Follow Sam as they and their four best friends must deal with an alien attack that leaves the world irrevocably changed and the superpowers that it’s given them.

Every generation has a disaster that is etched into their memories. My grandparents had JFK, my parents had 9/11, and we had first contact.

It was a cool August night in my childhood hometown. It had a name at the time, something nature related that no one cares about; now it’s called Point Zero. It was a small town barely numbering in the four digits. I sat on the duck in the grade school playground, it sprung back and forwards every time I took a drink from the bottle of vodka in my hand.

Go Read the Rest of Point Zero

What is a Serial Story?

A serial story is a story that I write every month. I don’t plan ahead, I don’t have any idea how it’s going to end.

If I miss a month, you are rewarded with a bonus chapter. Yay!

It’s that simple.


I’ll have have Chapter 1 ready some time this month.

Thanks for voting and reading,

Éric

While you wait for the next chapter, check out previous serial stories:

The Ottawa Shooting

Captain_Canuck_by_rodolforever

Yesterday I was one of the quarter million people working in downtown Ottawa who were put in lockdown after the shooting. I wasn’t in danger, I saw nothing, and all my news came from internal emails and social media.

I’ve made Ottawa my home for the past twelve years and I’ve always felt safe. Even when I lived in the less savory areas, I still felt safe. Yesterday for the first time in twelve years that feeling of safety was shattered.

The thoughts that passed through my mind were so stereotypical it almost hurt. “But this is Canada?” or “How could this happen here?”

Being in a situation like this made me think of, and appreciate, the writing of John Windhelm. You’ve most likely read one of his books in high school. He was a science fiction author who worked for the Ministry of Information during the Second World War. In a lot of his books he deals with disasters and the way he does that is by giving snippets of information from news sources or from word of mouth. Never explaining anything as the narrator. The style makes the reader feel the same way as the characters, unsure and wanting more information. He does is so wonderfully that I felt that I could be in one of his novels yesterday.

Everyone has coping mechanisms for trauma. When I was in early high school, my brother and I played catch and I tried to be fancy and jump for a ball. The ball bounced off my glove and hit me in the face. My K9 tooth pierced the inside of my lip and boy did it bleed.

On the way to the hospital he made jokes. It wasn’t mean but his way of dealing with the situation. I needed five stiches in my lip and still have the scar today.

My brother is someone you want to be around in an emergency, he’s a smartass but he’s calm and always seems to know what to do.

I have three ways of dealing with emergencies, when there are other people around. The first is to help, the second is to joke, and the third is to cook. When I say help, I mean I’ll help you whether you want it or not.

When I’m alone I like to write, and yesterday I couldn’t. All I kept thinking was, “If I could write the perfect sentence, I could make everything better.” There’s no such sentence, not for those who lost someone, and not for those who can’t help but see Ottawa differently.

The theme of this morning seems to bet Ottawa Strong, or Don’t change Canada. It’s a lovely sentiment but it’s just that a sentiment. The truth is that Ottawa has changed, these events have proved that Ottawa isn’t immune to these kinds of attacks.

If I can climb on my soapbox for a little I’d like to address my fellow Canadians. What happened was a tragedy and an affront to what we, as Canadians, hold dear. It is not however a license to judge, persecute, or attack anyone based on their race, religion, or skin colour. Don’t let this tragedy provoke hate.

Thank you,

Éric