I feel like a slight preface is required before my entry reveals itself. If you have been following this for awhile, I hope you expect something strange in my writing. Yet, if you have just started following me this may be a good place to start. The “gardens” theme for this challenge, threw me a challenge from the beginning. I was torn from a creative perspective trying to think of a direction that I would allow me three things. The first of course to stick to the contest’s theme. While the second was do I write something more fantastical in nature, or do I go towards more of science fiction setting. Both of them had great potential to work well within the context of the theme. Given the 1000 word limit, the third thing was how do I manage to satisfy myself and the readers, that the story is conclusive. I do feel I managed to do that, within the parameters I wanted. Managing to keep to theme, while giving it my own spin. I appreciate any full critiques or any comments/questions anyone has. Without further delay, I humbly present my entry to you.
Guardians in an Atomic Garden
As a child, I had grown up after the first generation atomic gardens had been constructed. All the children had been warned to be careful of the radiation, and the odd mutants that lived inside. My parent’s worked opposite shifts, maintaining the garden in some way. My father was an entomologist, and my mother was a botanist. They always told me about the danger of what they did. Sometimes carrying in odd flowers to show me, that they could study. Other times bringing in small damaged clear containers, filled with horrific looking creatures. Yet the more I aged, I realized how fascinated I was by their work. Watching the tall, domed wall around the atomic garden at any chance I got. Ready, and waiting until I was eligible to start working for the city at the age of sixteen.
Now, after I turned sixteen I was now eligible to work on the atomic garden. Stopping, and getting the potassium-iodide pills from the medical center, I was required to take daily to get even close to the garden. Walking to the transition center ,where all who worked the garden. Waiting for decontamination before entering and leaving the garden. That was the first time, I had seen the bright, silver radiation suits. Complete with the creepy, orange tinted astronaut-style helmet that had an air tight seal. Leaving only two small narrow, clear tubes that led to the oxygen cleaning machine that went on under the suit. I looked at the dingy, scratched mirror before me. Seeing myself in the suit for the first time. It was an imposing sight, in my opinion.
Waiting only a few minutes before I was cleared to enter the atomic garden for the first time. Blinded some by the artificial, intense blue light that greeted me. It took a few minutes for my eyes to adjust, to light. Taking in the odd variety, of bright polychromatic flowers that filled the garden. Large half mechanical, half organic trees separated the flowers into sections. The trees possessed a brown and silver bark, with thin lines of blue and, green ran up the bark. Silver, tentacle-like arms radiating outward from the top of each tree, aiding in supporting the dome. Each small section of the tentacle, emitting the bright blue light that fed the plants and illuminated everything.
A few large, mutated dragonflies flew by me, as I walked around. Each had a bright orange color, with green thin banded circles on their sides, seeming to chase each other. Their thin, wings filled with a red membrane under the clear skin of their wings. I smiled some under my helmet, watching them with curiosity. Considering following them, hoping they would lead me to the mysterious women who I was told about as a kid. Trying to stay out of their way I followed with patient steps.
They stopped at the rightmost corner of the garden. Floating above, a section of flowering hybrid plants my parents created. The stem of the plant was a dark, almost black shade of purple, with lines of white up it. On the top of each stem was a wide octagonal flower, that alternated its color depending on the time of day, and its health. Right now its center was a fluorescent shade of violet, encased in alternating colors of red, and white.
I must of hit something as I approached the plot, as I heard a loud click. The next thing I noticed was beginning to descend somehow. Into a vast dark place, that the garden must have been covered up as construction began. Something that had survived the nuclear war, that scorched the planet centuries ago.
A voice echoed in the darkness, “Follow the light,” as weak, glowing white lights begin to turn on. Leading me on a forward path,buried under the garden. Doubting I had much choice, I followed the light.
The light guided me to a large, poorly lit chamber. Various computer screens were mounted on the walls. Each screen showing footage of the gardens from different angles. The screens had white cables pouring out of them, like small rivers. Twisting and warping towards the center of the room. The cables vanished as they entered this strange, person sized alabaster egg. A thin layer of dust covered the egg. Wiping the dust away on my sleeve. I uncovered a block letter engraving. The engraving read, “Project Mithra.”
I started to step back, realizing I should get someone more knowledgeable and return. Something slamming shut, behind me made me stop dead in my tracks, frozen in fear. The voice from before returned, “You cannot leave it,” as something released a loud hiss of air.
The egg was cracking itself open, from within. A large, grotesque, twisted, metallic claw-like hand punched the egg open. Something must have been hit inside the egg, as I watched the egg starting it tilting itself towards the wall. Making itself almost parallel to the wall, with a slight angle revealing something was inside. An opalescent blue liquid started to leak out of the egg. Moving towards me as if it were alive. The more the fluid leaked out, more of whatever was inside revealed itself. A shell of silver protected whatever was inside. Odd round disc shaped protrusions covered the shell, each one having a cable attached it to.
The voice returned, “My body is dying, child. I need a replacement as the guardian for this garden. My time is ending child, and I’m afraid you don’t have much choice,” watching the cables break free and rocket towards me.
I wanted to scream and run away. Feeling the needle tips of the cable began to pierce through the suit, and into my body. Several of the cables had attached to my body, forcing me to walk to the egg. Pulling me in from the back, I watched the egg seal with a hiss of air. Drowning me in a sea of darkness, and blue liquid.
Critique level: FCA Word count: 985