Here's my first-ever Sunday Scribblings post:
"I have a Secret..."
They say the ones that got away, the Chosen Ones, went to a land called Paradise, where the sun is bright and the air clear and warm. My grandparents, and the others like them, were left behind to dry like thrown-up food on a rock.
We all know this much. We've been told about Armageddon since we were whelps, but I know more than my cousins. Those brats just nod their heads during storytime and stare into the fire. They haven't looked into the eyes of the Grandparents - they haven't seen the green storms that whirl there.
They haven't once gone up above to feel the snow.
It's not wet like the Grandparents say. It's like dust, but fine and cold and layered with ribbons of grays and blacks like rocks are layered with quartz and mica. The air there is dry also, but it stings. I had to hold my breath, take a look, and then crawl back through the metal-rimmed hatch I had found.
That was the first time.
The second time, I held my breath and looked for animals. Big ones. The kind I've heard that can knock a human over -- not the rats or roaches or worms we eat. I scanned my torch all around, but I saw nothing. The air was thick and dark-white, and nothing but snow still covered the ground.
It was the fifth time I went above, when I brought along a mask I'd made of peat-mud and leather straps, that I found it, just steps from the hatch door. The wall of stone stood out from the snow like a skeleton spine and ran in both directions as far as my torch would light. Gasping through my mask, I staggered in the knee-deep snow to the wall and touched it. It was as real as piss.
The wall only stood as high as my dad at the highest part, but every ten feet or so it dropped a few feet and then rose back up so that the top moved up and down along the line of the wall. I grabbed the gray stone with my cloth-wrapped hands and quickly pulled back. The rock was frozen solid and the cold bit right through to my fingers. I wanted to climb on top, so I pulled up in a huff and threw one leg over on which to stand. I didn't think about it until later, but the top of the wall wasn't covered in snow.
The light from my torch bit through the darkness like a rodent chewing on something soft and fleshy so that only bits of light scattered across the top of the wall, but there in the iceflake darkness I saw the wall was as wide as two men were tall, like a road. I knew in a heartbeat what I had found. It was in the legends the Grandparents talked of, how people built walls not only to keep their food animals penned in, but to keep people out.
This had to be it. The Great Wall had not been destroyed in the ice that crawled across the landscape.
I peered through the shard-like dust snow a final time and then jumped off the wall. I rushed back to the hatch, back to the safety of the caves where the scents of musk and human waste mixed with the tears that fell from the Grandparents' eyes. My hips scratched through the hatch and into safety as I yanked off the mask and breathed in deep, wondering what the air inside the wall would smell like.
My little sister waited for me with hands folded across her chest. She asked me in the lowest voice she could spit out,
"What was up there?" I wanted to tell her everything. She would admire me, call me a great explorer and discoverer, and listen to my stories of what the world was like now, but instead I shrugged my shoulders and said,
"Nothing, whelp. Just wet snow like they say."
I like where this story idea is going, so some day I might do more with it. A short story, perhaps, or another novel. At any rate, it was great getting into the groove again.