Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Amulet: Business

High atop the mountain range in New Los Angeles sat the hospital known as Te' Luma Health Systems. Since 2110, the corporation had provided a way to reverse the onset of natural aging. For hundreds of years prior, getting older was just a way of life and the complete result of it, but Te' Luma discovered the secret.

Locked inside every human is a very simple trigger lying dormant in a very specific set of amino acids. When each is triggered in a specific sequence, they begin to systematically reverse the effects of aging. Mental acuity is reestablished to its twenty-year plateau, physical prowess becomes that of a typical, moderately fit thirty-year old, the standard signs of aging such as wrinkles and graying recede almost completely, and the person nearly wholly returns to an age where ageing is never even an issue. It's nothing shy of a miracle. But how did Te' Luma find this God-like cure-all? It depends on who you ask.

Local legend tells of a man by the name of Martin Derrick, a man, who it seems, is coincidentally the great grand father of Te'Luma's founder, Ivan Derrick. From stories pieced together over the years it is known that Martin, sometime in 2021 was out plowing his farmland just before planting season. He was tilling the soil when suddenly his machine grinded to a halt. As he stopped to investigate the source of his troubles, he discovered something foreign lodged in the tilling disks. After some finagling, Martin was finally able to remove the piece. The item he held in his hand was a pewter-colored (albeit filthy) circular object roughly the size and shape of a tea saucer. After some cleaning in curiosity, he held the disk to the sun and noticed runes and hieroglyphics scrolled across the surface of the outer ring. The center hummed and lit with a dull crimson phosphorescence that spread like blood-filled veins into the writing. It shook, almost unnoticeably, with a numbing thrum that seemed to set off all the nerves in Martin's hands as he held the amulet... yes, that's what it was: an Amulet. And it somehow beckoned. Beckoned to him.

As the years passed, Martin began to regain some of his youthful fervor. He tended to daily tasks with a bit more aplomb and whimsy than his age would let on. He was up at four, tending to the animals and the land, in by noon for a hearty brunch, and back to work till sundown. This was daily, and he thought nothing of it, especially as he kept the amulet with him at all times. It wouldn't let him have it any other way. And Martin was content. But he couldn't help thinking, as he said his prayers and kissed his wife, that there was something else he could be doing with his new found vitality. And there was, at least one thing: his wife bore him his first and only child, Emmit.

As Emmit grew and began to take on likes and dislikes of his own, it was clear to his father that farming was not in his boy's blood. Emmit was adventurous, daring, risky, and far too scatter-brained to focus on tending the Earth, so, when he turned eighteen, Martin helped his son pack -including the Amulet hoping beyond hope that it would impart the same luck and youthful exuberance it had for Martin, though at the same time quite reluctant to see it go- and sent him on his way to make his fortune in the city. A fortune that would become the basis for the end of death as we know it.

To be continued...

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Amulet: Kindred II

Kimmy and Molly lay curled up on the couch. It was a little after three a.m. and neither had slept. Tanner arched his eyes restlessly at the girls as though begging them to give him some purpose... something to do. For tonight, even the dog was an insomniac.

The girls had spent several hours writing. They found some paper and a few Sharpies and set about coming up with some semblance of a plan. They had to leave, of this there was no doubt. But where to go? Kimmy knew that she had an uncle who just lived about ten miles away out past the mall, so they had thought about going there. But that would require quite a bit of walking, an exercise neither was to thrilled about. Molly suggested they head to some place like her church, which was a little closer to town, and was full of food and things. They considered this option, too, until the conversation got weighed down with the constant numbing pull of a recent past filled with, of all things, their now dead parents. Then they just sat, silently wept, and stared, with hollow emptiness, into the room. And so it went.

Kimmy stretched, reached out and patted Tanner on his ignorant head, and smiled, sadly at her blissfully unaware dog.
"Tanner... you have it so lucky. You're just a dog... you have no idea what's happening and you have no reason to care," Kimmy choked back a sob and swiped her sleeve across her face.

Molly nodded, sighed, and yawned. She wished just a little that she could be Tanner, too.
"Kimmy... I'm really hungry. What's left here to eat?"

Kimmy and Molly raided what was left of the decent food in the fridge consisting of half of the cherry pie they'd begun last night, a bag of carrots, two plastic cups of yogurt, and some very cold -and probably a little old- lemonade. They found quite a few cans of food in the pantry along with several boxes of crackers and other snacks which they decided would be best saved for their trip neither really wanted to discuss. Tanner sniffed, muzzled, and knocked over his kibble and lapped up a few pieces feigning hunger more than fulfilling any real desire to eat. The pink elephant in the room hung around like an impending piece of terrible news; Kimmy and Molly had to get down to the business of forming a cohesive plan. I was time to go.

Kimmy went to her parent's bedroom closet and found a small suitcase on wheels and a tennis duffel bag. She spread the bag open and unzipped the luggage on the floor. The girls filled the duffel with all the canned foods they could conceivably carry along with the much lighter crackers and snacks. Kimmy, in turn, found a few outfits in her room, including a few she'd just outgrown that would likely fit Molly, and may just be a bit baggy. She asked Molly if she'd brought a toothbrush to which Molly literally guffawed a big, boisterous laugh. Kimmy laughed, too, and found a spare that had never been opened from its package. They glanced at the medicine cabinet and felt it best to only take things they were sure about and decided on Band-Aids, bandages, cotton balls, a bottle marked Aspirin that Kimmy knew was for aches and pains, and a package of her mom's pantie liners. She hadn't begun her period yet, but there was no sense in tempting fate without some kind of protection. After another thorough check for anything they might need, Kimmy tossed a kitchen knife and the meat tenderizer into the bag. Then she shut both, handed the handle of the suitcase to Molly and slung the heavier duffel over her own shoulder. She leashed Tanner (just in case), snatched the hatchet and slid the handle into her belt. Molly decided against the cumbersome pitchfork and instead opted for the kitchen cleaver.

The girls stood at the door. They stared into the open expanse of the world beyond. Under Kimmy's shirt, dangling from her neck, the amulet slowly pulsed.