The Past, The Present and The Future
The Tribe fan fiction based on the wonderful A New World book by AJ Penn.
Focused on Bramber/Jamber thing, you can also read it as the missing pages between page 363 and the epilogue.
A note - - all characters are taken from The Tribe series and A New World novel. Nothing is mine; I just made up the storyline and the dialogues. Nothing would be possible without the wonderful masterminds behind The Tribe.
He felt the steel on the skin of his feet. The scorching pain was unbearable; his legs didn't need to do anything to hurt. Everything, from his skin right to the bone, hurt. Had he been at the pain championships, he surely would have won. He would have stood on the top off the podium, with a golden trophy in his hands, hearing the crowd screaming his name. Just like the old days. He would have been the champ. The ''it'' kid in school, popular with girls all looking to spend some time with him. He had been like one of those bachelors in reality TV his mom had watched every weekend. He would have lied if he said he hadn't enjoyed it. Who wouldn't have? Yet it was so superficial.
It hurt so much, he thought of letting go. How easy it would be, just to let go. Give his body some rest. The eternal rest. Because even if he had survived, what would he have done? He had no idea where he was, he hadn't seen a familiar face in… weeks? Months? It felt like years, like years had passed since he last saw her. She was so beautiful. He didn't know what had happened to her. Had she died? Perhaps.
Probably. She must have been up there, in Heaven. With his parents. They must have loved her. She was smart, kind, their cup of tea. A perfect daughter for Dad, a perfect shopping companion for Mum. If there were shopping malls in Heaven.
So why not let go? He would have been with her soon. With her; she meant everything to him, now, in this chaos their world had succumbed to. She was his world.
If she was not here anymore, why keep living? To get caught by another insane tribe and go through it again? He should have probably started thinking of the greeting he would give to Eloise. The hair, that would be a nice compliment, self-loving as she is, she would like it.
Suddenly he heard a voice. Laughter. His body froze as he looked over his shoulder. There was no one to be seen.
Simulation. That's it. It's only a simulation, he thought. He would step on the ground again and there, in the pose of a Superman, Blake would be standing. With a big B on his chest he would be there for another round. Because it hadn't been real. Because it wasn't real. Nothing was.
Or was she? Were memories of her really just … a simulation? Then these people had really outdone themselves. Making you feel pain, that was one thing. But making you feel love, the real one, well, that was an accomplishment to be proud of.
The laughter didn't stop so he looked around again. Rounder, this time. And he saw him, right by the ocean. He was floating in air, just as he was weightless. Laughing. Tears were running down his face, he was laughing so hard. Little Martin. He couldn't have been more than … 7, maybe 8? So small. But when their eyes caught contact, his were blue. As if they were contacts. He was wearing a helmet, with weird glasses. A cop – he looked like a cop-wannabe. Martin, a cop? He had wanted to be many things but police force, that wasn't one of them. It was so … violent for a boy like him.
"Martin?" he whispered. Even his vocal cord felt tired. From what? He didn't speak much these days. To who? He was all alone, not even voices in his head kept him company. At least schizophrenia could be marked out of the list of his everyday problems. That was good.
Martin didn't answer. He kept on laughing.
"Martin?" he repeated.
Something was wrong. But what? He didn't know. But had to find out. It was, after all, about his kid brother.
So he started climbing down, faster. As if the pain had miraculously transformed into strength. Maybe Blake really was a superhero, but he wasn't far back either. He was a fighter. He had been a fighter on a basketball court; he fought for principles, for the ones he loved. He was a fighter. Or was he?
What was he anyway? Because this couldn't be real. Martin, floating weightlessly in the air. His rising basketball career had kept him from many hours of Physics, but he knew enough it wasn't possible. Something was wrong.
His feet touched the ground. His arms finally got a break and his legs weren't happy with it. Feeling left out they made him collapse. Agonizing pain was present all over his body. But he knew he couldn't stop. He had to get up, go on.
Somehow he managed to get up. He started walking. He knew he was leaving bloody footprints behind. God knows what kind of infection he could catch here. These... people, they didn't seem very hygienic.
He couldn't take the pain anymore. There must have been some kind of limit. Evolution had done such great tricks.
He noticed a figure in a distance. Ah, Superman finally arrived. The opponent could fly and he could barely walk. He had no idea how he would get out of this one.
Or was it, the Superman, the figure? It looked more like Lois. It was a woman, no doubt about it.
Those eyes … those eyes he had stared in so many times. Those piercing, beautiful, kind perfect eyes … the eyes he had loved, cherished. He would recognize them anywhere. Anytime. She stood there, she, from all people. Motionless, surprised, even.
It couldn't be. She was from way after, not from now. The virus hadn't even happened yet. Martin was still so … small. She couldn't possibly stand there. He hadn't even met her yet.
So why did he felt this joy at seeing her? This urge to just run to her?
There was another human, standing behind her. Dressed in black, like death, with a small T on his forehead. It was them, it was them who had started it all. Who had taken him away, away from her.
So she was real after all?
She stood motionless. Speechless. So did he. He didn't know what to do. What to think. He didn't know anything anymore.
Yap, simulation. He was now surer than ever.
Suddenly a man moved. Stepped back.
So did her. As if she was on a track mill, she moved back with a still expression. Like a doll she looked as she was fading away. Away from him, again. Déjà vu.
"No!" he screamed. "Please don't go now! Please don't fade away! Not again!"
Nothing changed. The speed of fading increased, she was now only a dot, a beautiful dot in the distance.
"No, don't!" Bray screamed. "No!"
His body made a sudden move forward. He opened his eyes as he breathed, uncontrollably. He looked left from right, but there was no sign of her anymore. Just…
Where was he?
It was dark. A nighttime, maybe? Or another cold, dark, wet floor in captivity?
In the corner he saw a girl. She had a candle in her hands.
His muscles went straight into a fighting mood, ready to attack if needed. Like an animal. Lately he had been doing nothing but constantly fighting or looking out for danger. What a life.
"Who are you?" he shouted.
"Calm down," she said, with shaky voice.
"Where am I? Who are you? What are you doing to me?"
Martin then wasn't real after all. Computer software had messed up his mind more than he was willing to admit. He couldn't distinguish between what was real and what only a program, written in order to play games with his mind. He was giving in. They were winning. Whoever they were.
"It's OK, Bray, just calm down. I am not here to hurt you…"
"It is not ok! What is this? What are you doing to me, what do you want?"
In his confusion Bray failed to notice that he was no longer bleeding. His wounds had been taken care of and pillows under his head made sure he was comfortable.
"How do you know my name?"
Bray tried to get up but his legs didn't want to cooperate. His body was exhausted while his mind was on roller-coaster. This life, ever since he had been taken from that barn, it had been like running in circles, chasing your own tail. From one captivity to another. Maybe they finally succeeded in breaking him.
Lia was freaked out not only afraid for her safety, mainly for Bray's. In delusions he was in, he would easily hurt himself. He was messed up, mentally probably more than physically.
"What do you want from me? I have nothing left!"
But Lia had a secret weapon. Her hand had slowly fallen on the small injection. She grabbed it, stepped a bit closer.
"It's alright, you are safe now."
"Am I?" he yelled.
The injection she had stung Bray's forearm with, had an instant effect. His screams became whisper and his limbs felt number than ever. His body began to fall back, his head completely light.
"I am sorry," Lia said as she watched him fall back into unconsciousness.
Amber sat in the sand, hugging her knees, staring into the distance. The ocean was everywhere she looked. She heard waves hitting the shore. It was like poetry. The sound, the view, the smell, everything calmed her. It was so … stable. Constant. Safe. Everything around her was changing so fast, uncontrollably. The nature was the only stability she could find. A reminder that things would somehow work out eventually. The reassurance she needed more than ever now.
A firework of emotion was going through her. She felt the joy she hadn't felt in a while. It was so beautiful it made her wanna sing, dance, scream. She felt as she could fly. She couldn't quite comprehend what had happened yet. She had tried to come to the terms of him being dead for so long yet now, he was here, just meters away. Everything she tried to get over was thrown at her as a lie.
He was alive. The father of her child, the man she had loved, he was alive. Everything she had dreamt of, it was now real. She had made up million of ways for him to come back to her life. He would just show up one day, just like that. She would wake up and there he'd be, standing by the staircase, smiling at her. Or she would simply be walking around the city when he would bump into her. So suddenly. Just as suddenly as he had been taken away from her.
Yet none of the versions was as beautiful as this one, the reality. So unexpectedly they had found each other. She was almost afraid to blink; scared she would wake up only to find out it was all yet another dream.
She had to admit to herself that she had always felt him near her. His presence; as if he had never truly been gone. Some days she had seen a part of him everywhere she had looked. He had given her so much, taught her so much, he would always be with her. Through distance and time, no barriers could ever keep them apart.
But what if, she wondered now, what if she subconsciously had always known he hadn't really been dead? That he had been out there, somewhere, and that another place and another time would bring them back together? For the sake of her baby, for the sake of herself, she had moved on. She hadn't wanted to be stuck in something that was already gone. Life had so much to offer and she had promised to herself to live it to the fullest.
But now … everything was turned upside down. Like a banana in the mixer, that was how she felt. Life was throwing her from side to side, without a warning. She was now in a mix of the past and the present.
So what now?
Time had passed, things had changed. There was Jay now. The man she was close to now. The man she loved. Really loved, she had no doubt about it.
But she had loved in the past, before Bray. Yet it had been Bray she wanted all along.
She had loved him so much, back in the day. She had been sure it had been the ''it'' love. That it would last, forever. Nothing could possibly spoil it. Not when it had been so real.
And yet it had been gone in a second. A moment, it had been all it took.
All the love she had felt, she had somehow managed to transform into memories, beautiful memories than had warmed her heart, filling her with joy, they had given her strength.
But now, one after another, they were slowly moving towards her consciousness. As if they had been sleeping and now were slowly waking. As if the winter had passed and it started all over again. It was said that winter never really killed anything, only restored until later, better moment. And now the spring had brought him back to her.
The sound of steps woke her from her thoughts. She quickly turned around.
Jay way standing a few feet away from her, his eyes focused on something in the distance. Almost as if he wasn't really there.
She knew it must have been hard on him too. He loved her, he knew about the love she once had had for Bray. And now Bray was back. Even she didn't know what she was feeling, or what she was supposed to feel. How could he?
She was looking for word but found none. Funny how something so intense can leave you so speechless.
"Are you OK?" he finally said.
"Yeah," she said. "Yes."
He just stood there and she almost wanted him to leave, to leave her alone with her thoughts. It was hard enough without looking at him. She felt guilty for being so happy about seeing, touching Bray again even though she was with Jay now.
"He's alive," she slowly whispered.
The ocean's breeze carried her word to Jay's ear. He felt his heart stop, chills went down his spine.
He was alive, repeated endlessly in his mind. As much as he was happy for her, he couldn't help but to wish it hadn't happened. That they had never found Bray. Jay knew Amber loved him, now, but he was also aware that she had loved Bray once. They had a son, a bond Jay couldn't compete with.
He slowly nodded, still without looking at her. He sighed. It would have never happened if it hadn't been for Mega. Mega and his virus. Strange ways life took, he thought. Now his rescue was also his demise.
He slowly turned and walked away. He felt his feet giving in to sand, as much as his life was sinking. The unknown hollows were taking him in, he had no idea where. And how he would escape. If.
Amber followed him with her eyes for a minute, but then turned back to the ocean. It was wonderful.
"He's alive," she whispered again.
Sorry about tenses being all over the place. :)
to be continued.