Stories from Refuge – 113 – “If I were a better person maybe I could forgive you.”

(c) Serjio74 | Dreamstime.com

Refuge: an underground city built to save people from an apocalyptic world. But how will its people save themselves? Read the stories in any order, or start with the introduction at part 1.

Reconciliation Council report B-91, dialogue between S.J. and Min 62B, recorded by James 72A
RY 100.12.22

So I’m supposed to sit here and talk about what you did to me and let you say whatever you can think of to justify yourself and then I’m supposed to forgive you. Is that it? That’s the idea people have here? How often do they really think that works? Sure, you didn’t mess me up as much as you could have. I have a friend who got interrogated once, ended up with nightmares so bad she drank herself to death trying to drown them out. My cousin, he had a run-in with the Empath they call Richard – he made a point of telling my cousin his name, and making him remember it, as if he wasn’t sadistic enough. He made my cousin break his own fingers.

No, then, you weren’t as bad as you could have been. Is that how you’re going to justify yourself? No nightmares, no compulsions, you just asked me questions and read me to see if I was telling the truth. Real nice of you. I should congratulate you or something. But you were still part of that system, you kept it going, you made sure that machine kept running and mowed all of us down with it. If I were a better person, maybe I could forgive you, but I don’t want to.

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Stories from Refuge – 112 – “That was the minute I changed my life.”

(c) Radist | Dreamstime.com

Refuge: an underground city built to save people from an apocalyptic world. But how will its people save themselves? Read the stories in any order, or start with the introduction at part 1.

Reconciliation Council report B-90, dialogue between W.A. and Min 62B, recorded by Beatrice 75C
RY 100.12.21

I was going in the wrong direction, I knew I was. Back when I was a kid, and the guys I knew in school were always talking about starting riots, how they were going to rush the Military section and break into bot storage and send those hunks of metal to kill the people in charge for a change. Maybe a lot of it was just talk, I don’t know, but it stuck in my head. When my mom was killed that was the only thing I could think of – rushing Military and letting the bots out.

So I got caught and I got interrogated. They tell me it was this woman who did it, and maybe it was, I don’t remember anymore. I started imagining her differently over the years. But I should have remembered her better, since that was the minute I changed my life. It was like I was just waiting until then, waiting until a riot broke out, waiting until bots killed someone close to me, maybe even me, waiting until something swept me up because it never occurred to me to decide what I wanted to do. That was when I decided what I did want to do – when this Empath caught me and she leaned in close and I was freaking out and waiting for the nightmares to start and then they didn’t. They put me in a cell by myself and I sat there thinking about everything I ever did and everything I never did, all the choices I refused to actually make, all the times I shrugged my shoulders and pretended like there was nothing I could do. Then they opened the door and let me out.

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Poetry Corner: Photo op

She knows –
Every time I see her
sleeping in some cute pose,
some irresistible moment
I just have to capture,
picking up the phone
and creeping close,
silently as possible,
turn on the flash
because she’ll surely hear a wall switch –
But she hears me anyway,
flicking open those eyes to catch the flash,
laughing in her half-sleep
at humans and their ruined photo ops

Poetry & photography (c)2018 Michelle M. Welch

Stories from Refuge – 111 – “Every person I saw I thought it was him.”

(c) Svedoliver | Dreamstime.com

Refuge: an underground city built to save people from an apocalyptic world. But how will its people save themselves? Read the stories in any order, or start with the introduction at part 1.

Reconciliation Council report C-27, interview with Min 62B, recorded by Mary 80C
RY 100.12.20

I think I really do have paramania. Someone came in and woke me up and told me I didn’t, told me they would take me off the sedatives and I had to go talk to some people, told me… told me… told me I didn’t have paramania but I think I do. I think I… What was I saying?

It’s not losing words, that’s not the paramania. That’s the sedatives. I lose words all the time. I’ll try to ask for something, I’m thirsty or something and I’ll try to ask the techs in… in… where I’m at, see, I’ve lost the words… 5 North, Confinement. The techs try not to talk to us or let us talk to them, they get scared when we start babbling and can’t think of the words so we just say Get me Get me Get me. They get scared, I can still… I can still read that even with the sedatives.

Losing words… losing words, that’s not the paramania. That’s when I start seeing my brother and it’s like I’m running to him and my… my heart starts pounding like I’m really running and I try to catch him before he… before he jumps… before he…

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Poetry Corner: Seventy thousand of your closest friends

Down the escalator to the exhibitor hall lobby at Phoenix Comic Fest

Build a four-day city in the desert
Fill it with color and costumes,
shopping and art
So many photos –
pose and flash
Shouted compliments from passers-by
– Thanks for wearing that
– Thanks for being here
A hug from a stranger
for dressing as her favorite character
Then the closing show
the waiting crowd singing along
with the intro music, thousands of voices
And walk back to the hotel,
squinting in the Arizona sun,
sweating in a much-too-hot costume
watching the event workers break down the site
so sad to see it end

Poetry & photography (c)2018 Michelle M. Welch

The attendance statistic for Phoenix Comicon (as it was formerly known) is outdated and possibly misremembered; I didn’t get the count for this year’s attendance.