(Author's note: I've begun to fix Johnny's speech pattern, as it was not quite thought out in the last chapter.
The next few corridors were suprisingly free of robots. Taban searched thoroughly but he couldn't find anything else then dust and metal. There were no alternate paths, just one route that simply kept going foreward. As Taban and Johnny wanted to enter the next room Taban suddenly held them both back.
Up ahead, right in front of them was a metal path of beams. Taban quickly deduced that the floor must have collapsed onto a lower floor, setting off a chain reaction. Taban gazed over the depth below. He could faintly make out heaps of metal…and things. The rusty path ahead was very thing and looked not very solid. But he couldn't see any other way to progress then that.
"That is one deep fall. Johnny, how about you try if the beams hold you."
"Why me." Johnny put his hands on his sides, like a questioning human would do.
"Because…" Taban had to think about it for a sec. "If you fall I can repair you. If I fall, you can't repair me. Get the point?"
"Yes, but I do not like it." Taban moved out of the way to let Johnny test the waters. As Johnny stepped onto the metal beam it creaked slightly, but didn't seem to move, according to Taban.
"It seems to hold you. That's good! Ok, Johnny, try following the path, see if it leads anywhere. I'm going to stay here
"Yes." Johnny started maneuvering himself towards the other end of the large room. Taban held his breath that the path would hold, and it did.
Johnny stepped onto a smaller platform that led to another door.
"THERE IS A DOOR HERE." Johnny put his speakers on maximum power to make sure Taban could hear it on the other side of the room.
"STAY THERE! I WILL BE ON MY WAY!" Taban gulped as he took one more look at the depth below. Step by step he followed the thin path.
"Left foot…Right foot" Taban stared at his feet, checking his every step. One misstep…and….the end.
In his focused concentration he bumped into something. Taban lost his balance and started to scream. His hands moved wildly as they struggled to grab onto used both hands to hold on to the thing until he calmed down again. He was still standing on the beam, but what was more interesting to Taban was the thing that he bumped into. A statue of a rat. A large rat, half the size of Taban, at least, if it wasn't more.
Who would put such a thing there? How did it get on this path?
Taban had so many questions, but knew he had to leave them for now and press on. With his vision now constantly swiching between his feet and what was ahead, Taban made it to the door.
Johnny had already opened it, and was waiting for Taban to enter.
"You're slow, dude."
"Yeah, whatever. Let's go." Taban checked his equipment, but it was all intact to his relief.
"Do you smell that?"
"What is a smell." Johnny asked
"Eh….it's a sense you don't have, apparently. It stinks here, much more than it does outside. It smells like…rot."
"What is a rot."
"No time to explain. But I do believe that it's something important." Taban followed his nose into the next room. It was a central room that led to two rooms, one straight ahead and one to the left. Taban started to smile as he noticed that there was a sign stating "food storage" next to the door straight ahead.
"Johnny! We've found the food storage!"
"That is awesome."
"All we've gotta do is transport it back to the people above. From there we can see what else we can do. I'm not going to die after all!" As Taban approached the door he could hear something fall. He couldn't quite tell but he still chose to jump back.
A large metal device, attatched to the roof by two separate chains had appeared in front of them It looked like a human torso with short, cut off arms. It was painted an odd colour of green on the under side while the upper half was a worn out shade of yellow. Taban could see rust and decay all over the robot, but he could definitely make out that it was only on the surface, and that the robot was still functioning correctly. Or so he hoped.
Two large metal balls, about a quarter of the size of the main robot floated down from above. They both had flickering lights on the end of two small extrusions, and a large square glass eye, only, it was red instead of the brown coloured "eye" of the main robot.
"Executing program." The cold, emotionless words echoed around the room, sending a shiver down Taban's spine.
"What program." Johnny had no real concept of understanding the other robot's intentions, and therefore slowly maneuvered his lazers to point at the large glass eye.
"Protect storage." One of the metal balls produced a beam of light from it's eye that was reflected by the eye of the main robot. Somehow, it amplified itself and was strong enough to leave a large black mark wherever it had passed.
Taban, whom had barely recovered from the shock, managed to jump out of the way of the oncoming beam. Johnny was never quite as nimble as an actual human, but managed to avoid the beam as well. The beam suddenly ended, and the two metal balls silently floated back and forth for a bit
"Johnny, look at the floor." Taban pointed at the damage done at the floor. If they would not act fast the floor could collapse and take them with it. It was in a better shape then the room they had crossed before but he was unsure if it could sustain itself if the battle continued for any longer.
The upper end of both of the smaller robots opened, and they launched 5 to 10 small projectiles into the air. Small rockets flew up into the sky, and fell onto the ground. With every bomb that exploded the ground seemed to shake a bit more.
"GET BACK JOHNNY! NOW!" He waved his hand to Johnny making a bunch of wild gestures pointing at Johnny's back. Taban pulled out his laser, and aimed it at the central robot. It's eye seemed to reflect light and it's armour didn't seem like his laser could penetrate it.
"C'mon, think, think." Taban forgot to blink as he intensely observed the three robots opposing him. The two smaller ones were circling around the main robot, as if they were guarding it. Occasionally they would try to attack with their rockets, that were quite inaccurate but continued to weaken the floor. If he would attack the main robot, certainly the other two would attack him. But then, he noticed the weak spot.
A multitude of wires ran along the suspension chains that kept the robot in place. Taban breathed in and out, trying to control his shaking hand, steading his short. With one large blast, Taban cut through the left chain, but there were still two holding the device up. The two smaller robots moved into position to launch another laser attack, but Taban wouldn't allow them.
He aimed at the second chain, and fired another volley. It took a while, but it did the trick. The large robot was knocked off balance, now only hanging on the utter most right chain. Both of the smaller robot fired their lazer at the central one, but because the eye was out of position, they had no effect.
As the robots struggled to relocate themselves Taban cut the last wire.
The large robot crashed into the ground, its metal crumbeling and deforming. As Taban had predicted the floor collapsed under the weight, creating a large black hole of deformed metal that made the robot disappear into the deep. The two smaller, floating ones, moved in on Taban, who was clinging on to a large strip of metal.
Two shots took out two glass eyes. The robots seemed to lose control and crashed into a wall on the right before rolling into the dark pit.
Johnny reached out for Taban's back and pulled him onto the few last bits of solid metal.
"Thank you, so much!" Taban couldn't'help but hug Johnny. The act confused Johnny thoroughly, but from the way Taban spoke it must be a sign of affection.
"That was brilliant."
"That is my style, brilliant and double brilliant, dude."
"Right. Too bad they wanted to kill us. I would have loved to take them apart and see what we can scavenge. C'mon, let's go check out the food locker."
Taban led him and Johnny across the wall, over the most sturdy remaining path to the door on the other side of the room. The smell of rotting became much stronger, and Taban had to squeeze his nose to prevent it from overwhelming smell.
The room was quite small, but perhaps it was because of the two large metal boxes that filled the room. The walls were filled with fans that had stopped a while ago, seeming of the rust collected on the edges. In the distance Taban could hear a faint noise of dripping water. Taban's hopes fell again as he saw the rotten, grey pulp that came out of the two metal boxes.
He fell onto his knees, examining the pulp. It was made of seeds, all kinds of different seeds, that had started to rot long ago. Not much was left, outside of this mess.
"It's all rotten. God DAMN IT!" Taban tossed one of the seeds at the wall. "What?"
A man was sitting against the wall, his left hand holding something.
"Sir? Hello?" Taban approached the man, and tugged at the brown cloth he was wearing. It came off, revealing that the man was nothing more then a skeleton with hair attatched to it.
"Aah! …" Taban sighed. Despair was boiling in his mind. He was going to end up like that.
"No, I've put up with worse then this." Taban took another look at the skeleton, if there was anything else to it. The bones of the left hand were holding something, clenching it even after the man…or woman died? Carefully to not disturb any other part of the remains he eased open the hand. There was a small seed inside…but one that was still relatively untouched from the rot that had befallen the rest of the seeds. Taban took the seed and put it inside his front pocket, making sure to zip up properly. Perhaps, there was still some hope. Nonsense, there allways was hope. If there was no hope, he would make it.
Taban looked back at the rotten pulp. It couldn't help him…but remind him of the time he found that old piece of meat he found in the back yard. It had all kinds of fancy colours on it, and Taban couldn't resist tasting it. He had been sick for a week after that. If he were to eat the pulp he would definitely get sick.
There had to be something he could do with it. But what? Lucca and him were not much into biology, or plants or any kind of food. They had a little garden in the back yard, but that was it basically.
Another plan came to mind. He couldn't feed it to the people above, not like this. Perhaps, something could be done with them.
Taban remembered a visit from his close friend Steri, an inventor, just like him, but in stead of focusing on science Steri became and expert on food and farming. They constantly showed off inventions to each other, even if the other wasn't very interested in what there was to say. One day, Steri showed up to his house with a rotten piece of meat, just like the one Taban had foolishly eaten. Taban snatched the meat out of her hands, and tossed in the trash can.
"And that's where that belongs."
"I disagree." Steri reached into the trash can and grabbed the meat back out of it. " It's perfectly fine to eat, as long as you treat it properly. Let me demonstrate. If you eat it like this, you will get sick. But…"
Steri walked over to the stove and pulled out a pan. After thoroughly frying the meat for over an hour until it's crust was black and deformed. Then, Steri placed it on a plate, and started to cut off the edges until all black edges had been removed.
"Dinner is served." She eagerly cut out a large part and ate it in one bite. And as she had said, she didn't get sick, or had any problem with eating it. She later patented the practice as Sterilization, named after herself. Taban smiled. He would never even think of calling an invention after himself. After all, showing off the Taban-teleporter would have sounded silly.
Perhaps, Taban could try and plant the seed he took from the skeleton, while trying to make anything edible from the pulp.
The next few days were a blur, like the many days before them. Taban and Johnny brought back the rotten seeds to the hallway below the central room. The repulsive smell would keep any of the people from eating it, but Taban feared that if they would see the seeds they would eat them anyway. From outside, he grabbed some of the dirt below the surface, that lacked the dark, grey colour of the surface but was light brown. Using some water he collected from the water system, Taban placed his precious plant in a improvised patch of dirt placed in the room next to those that was temporarily storing the seeds. Under artificial sunlight, he could only hope that it could grow. While carefully monitoring the seed from time to time, Taban and Johnny turned to making the most of the rotten seeds.
Taban had stripped a large sheet of metal from the room they cleaned from robots earlier and had begun to deform it into a very large pan. With rhythmic strickes up and down he kept building at his next creation. With sturdy supports underneath, Taban had now created a large pan. Around it he placed 8 standards on which he placed 8 guns, aimed at the center of the pan.
Meanwhile Johnny was working on his own assignment. Since Taban didn't want to use the normal (it was barely sufficient for the drinking needs of the people) He added a pan to johnny's back and sent him out to collect sea water. Johnny didn't like his assignment, but really, he had nothing else to anyway. So he moved across the broken path, filled his "pan" with seawater, and made the whole trip back to slowly fill up the large soup pan.
After all contruction was complete Taban set to creating a large spoon that he could use to stir the soup, and along with the spoon came a set of small metal bowls, created out of plate metal just like the larger pan.
Finally, he set to the final fase of his plan. He manually searched through the seeds if there were any that were still usable to be planted, but unfortunately they were all too far gone. One by one he tossed them into the soup, with the seawater-rotten seed soup quickly taking form.
Taban and Johnny filled up the soup pan just below spilling over. One by one, Taban activated the 8 separate guns, that were set a tad below the setting that could melt metal. Then, the tedious chore of stirring the soup began. Taban did it for 6 hours, before switching with Johnny. Johnny waited for his turn, while Taban was constantly checking back and forth to make sure that the structure of the pan remained intact.
Two days of constant cooking. But finally, it was done. Taban wiped the sweat from his eyebrows.
"That should do it. It should be…somewhat edible."
He had completely forgotten to check up on the seed he had planted. As he entered the room he started to laugh. The seed had sprouted, and a small green bump had appeared in the pot. Careful not to drown it, Taban watered the plant gently.
"Yes." Johnny examined the plant.
"This is the most valuable thing we have right now. I want you to guard it. I'm going to call the people down here, and you must make sure none of them even looks at it. Do you understand?"
"Thanks. Remember,if that thing is destroyed all we did was for nothing."
Johnny nodded "No human other then you shall enter this room."
"Good. I'm going to try out our soup before we give it to the others. " Taban pulled Johnny along into the hallway, so that he blocked the entrance to the room with the seed.
"I'll be right back." Taban turned around. He didn't want to try the soup, but he had to be sure he wasn't poisoning those he wanted to feed. Taban stirred around the soup for abit before he put some of it in a bowl.
Reluctantly he put it to his lips. It tasted quite disgusting, like a combination of rotten bread, sand, and a bitter taste that he couldn't identify. The sudden feeling of hunger overwhelmed him and he quickly drank the bowl clean. After two refills his stomach was filled.
After the hunger feelings disappeared Taban yawned. With his must demanding urges satisfied, Taban couldn't help himself any longer and promptly fell asleep.
The metal floor turned into a warm and soft bed, and everything was at peace.
Taban dreamed of his wife and daughter. All was good. He was home, working on a new invention, with his daughter at his side.
After a while, Taban and Lucca felt like going on a picknic. They sat in the grass, sharing theories and ideas while enjoying Taban's fine cooking. All was fine.
At the end of their picnick Lucca hugged her dad, and he hugged her back. His eyes started to well up. Tears were streaming from his eyes.
"I love you so much, you know that right?"
"I know, Dad. Wouldn't you want life to be like this?"
"What do you do mean?"
"Like today. Look at it dad, a bird's nest!" Lucca dragged him along over to a tree.
"Wait, didn't I move that nest away ever since they stole my screwdriver?"
"These birds don't steal, dad." Taban couldn't help but feel slightly confused. He fondly remembered moving the nest away, but here, the birds were not crows, but seagulls.
"Everything here is perfect."
"You know, that's not a word you use often. It's not perfect, it just needs a slight recalibration. At least, that's what I allways see you saying, even after the thing we built is perfection itself.
"Dad, calm down, you're getting worked up over the little things."
Taban looked at Lucca. It was his daughter….but at the same time it was not. She was much more relaxed than usual. As if she had found inner peace, without a single concern on her mind. Then it struck him…Lucca was perfect.
He couldn't quite tell why, but the more he looked around things started to feel off. His mind was starting to doubt if what he saw was real. It looked real, but it was all…better. Everything was better than it was before. He let himself fall into the grass, slowly. It felt wonderful, just as soft and warm as his bed at home. This was heaven, his own personal heaven on earth.
"You never answered my question." Lucca leaned over him. "Do you wish to stay here, for the rest of your days?"
"Yes, of course I would. But I already am here, and I don't plan on leaving."
"Oh, no, you're just visiting."
"Visiting" Taban got back up. "Lucca, what are you babbeling about?"
"Right now…you are lying on a metal floor in the hell dome. But you don't have to stay there, you can come to us."
"I…." Memories came flooding in, of the horrendous place. Of his suffering, and of his work.
"You are never going to escape it. So why bother to wait?"
"WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT!?" Taban grabbed Lucca by the shoulder, and shook her a bit.
"It's simple dad." She said with a wide smile."Kill yourself."
"WHAT!" Taban grasped for breath
"Kill yourself, Dad. End the misery, the loneliness. Just kill yourself and you can be with me for the rest of time." Lucca kept on the same wide smile.
"No." Taban said, slowly backing away from his daughter.
"No?" Lucca tilted her head to the side, her smile turning into a frown.
"No! I am not killing myself. I AM NOT KILLING MYSELF!" Taban yelled, mostly to reassure himself.
"Look around you. " "Lucca" pointed at the surroundings. "You love it here. It's perfect." Her smile was just as wide as it was before.
"I do. I can't lie about that. I'm not killing myself over it. These people….they need me. I can't just abandon them like that. Besides, you are not my daughter!" Taban pointed an accusing finger at " Lucca".
"What are you talking about, daddy?" "Lucca" feigned innocence, in tone and in look.
"My daughter, Lucca, gets worked up on the smallest things, it's in her blood, just like her mother. We never invent without an argument, but we make science work every single time. You…you're perfect. Even better then her."
"Thanks for the compliment, Daddy. So I assume you're going to be staying then?"
"You're better then her, but you're NOT HER! MY DAUGHTER WOULD SUPPORT ME JUST LIKE I SUPPORTED HER! YOU, HOWEVER, ARE A LYING, TREACHEROUS FAKE!"
"Lucca" started to cry, and fell onto her knees. "Why don't you love me, Daddy? Why can't you just accept your fate?"
Taban reached out for Lucca, his spirit suddenly broken by the image of his crying daughter.
"It's ok…" Taban pulled her into a hug. "Please…stop crying. I've….been stressed a lot lately."
"So…" Lucca wiped a tear from her eyes. "You're going to stay?"
"Think so…."Taban pulled his daughter even tighter. "It is wonderfull here."
Taban stared his daughter nthe eyes. All was fine. It was Lucca, his own daughter. And now, they could work together again. Make science like never before.
Then, he noticed the smile. The smile on Lucca's face was just as wide as before. But to a disturbing degree. It was as if she had slipped on a perfect mask of a smiling Lucca. He took one more look around. It was so much better here, so much better then the metal hell he ended up in. But would he really want to spend eternity with a perfect, but fake version of his daughter?
"Lucca…." Taban said, reluctantly.
"I'm going to leave. I'm sorry, my mind is set. I can either make a difference there, or be stuck in limbo here. I'd rather face reality then deny it." Taban turned around, and started to walk away.
"So…" "Lucca" started to cry again."You're going to abandon me again, just like that? Daddy, don't…"
Taban turned around "STOP MANIPULATING ME! I AM LEAVING, AND NO AMOUNT OF YOUR FAKE TEARS WILL BE STOPPING ME!"
"Lucca" looked him right in the eyes. Now, everything about her seemed off to him.
"Are you sure? "
"Definitly, conclusively, and finally."
Lucca started to shake, and a laugh escaped her lips. Her hair suddenly fell off her head, even her eyebrows dropped. Her eyes popped out of here eye sockets, and the sockets disappeared. It was as if the flesh simply fell off her face, revealing a completely grey figure. The only feature remaining on it's face was the very same smile Taban recognized on Lucca.
"IFI CaNT HaVE You THEn No oNe CaN." It was as if a grey figure stepped out of Lucca's body, revealing a nonedescrip grey body, without any feature outside of the giant black as night claws that were sticking out of the creature's hands.
With a scream so loud and high that it pearced Taban's eardrums the creature attacked. Taban acted quickly and decisively. With one full on, fierce strike of his hammer the creature stumbled back and fell over.
In the time it took Taban to blink the creature had disappeared, and "Lucca" lay on the ground injured. Uneasy she got on her knees.
"Why dO yOU hit me like that, DADDy?" The voice was definitely Lucca's, but it seemed quite weak and distorted. "I LOVe you."
"You are not my daughter." Taban approached her, brandishing his hammer. "And you never will be." He raised his hammer into the air, and then let it fall. Lucca lay on the ground, her body slowly disappearing into nothingness. Taban started to cry. As his first tear splashed into the grass it all ended. He fell back onto metal floor. His body rejuvenated, his spirit injured, but never broken. If anything, he knew he would do everything to get back home again. Back home…to his wife and daughter…
Though I'm past a hundred thousand miles,
I'm feeling very still.
And I think my spaceship knows which way to go.
Tell my family I love them very much, they know
Ground control to Major Dad
Your ciricuit's dead, is there something wrong?
Can you hear me Major Dad
Can you hear me Major Dad
Can you hear me Major-
Here I am, floating in heaven
Planet earth is blue, and there's nothing I can do….
Rest in peace, Father.
You might be gone but you are never forgotten.
Your did your best, for me, for mom, for my sister.
I can't do anything but be eternally gratefull to you.
Rest in peace. And in a year of 70 I will be seeing you again. While I do not like to know the fact that I am going to die the feeling that I can spend eternity with you is the most comforting thought I could ever have.
I'll be making you proud, dad. I know you'll be watching me wherever I go.
I love you dad. I have always, and forever will.
You've done your best. And now, you may rest.
I'll be ok.
P.S. he might not even exist yet(and probably won't for a while), but your grandson is going to be named Ad. And if it's a girl she'll be called An. And trust me, you'll be just as proud of them as you were of me and my sister. It is a shame you never lived to see that day, but I guess that is the true cruelty of life.
Your last message to me was that whatever way I could, I just should become happy. I am happy dad, happy though the tears. Happy and relieved. You're in a better place now, free of worries and pain.
You said you trust me, in our last conversation. And I trusted you. I boared that bus, knowing I'd be back the next Friday, back at your sickbed. I don't think either of us knew you would die at the next sunrise. I love you dad, I really do. I do now, more then I ever realized before. You did not die in vain, you have left your mark on the world. You were given three months and took two years. You were a miracle, up to the very end.
The more I see, the more I realize I am putting more and more of my own feelings into this story. Perhaps it's helping me cope. Perhaps not. Only the future will tell.
Life is permanent. Death is temporary.
I can hear the rain coming
Like a serenade of sound
But my feet
won't touch the ground.
P.S: tell grandma that I'm going to be fine. I still think of her every week, less frequent then I used to. Tell her I love her, and that her husband is on his way to her as well. It's sad, but he is simply waiting out his days with alcohol and television. We know he's going to die,the question is how long will he last. It is the saddest thing possible to see a good man slip away. Even when he still has some proper time to do some things, time you never got, but you still defied your odds and took it. But he…just sits and complains. He's thin, skinny even, can't go an hour without taking his next drink. He's a shell of a man. He has no dreams or hopes. It is sad to say, but it's probably better for him to leave this earth. We do our best but there's nothing left for him here.
The only good news is my other grandpa. He's doing ok, and has been declared free of cancer….for now. Change the subject , restart the timer and watch hell play out all over again. But for now…there is relative…peace. Though, I'm not really lowering my defenses. I don't want to do a third speec about a passed relative, but the odds are stacked against me. Just like they always were.
I would like to apologize for the above….dumping of emotions, but after the last scene with Taban and Lucca I broke down and started to write down exactly how I felt. Now, moments later after writing it and reading it two times I simply couldn't get myself to delete the above section.
I'll be continuing this story soon., but now, I put my attention back into my other fanfic.,
~ W. A. J. K
Also, thanks for reading and reviewing.
Edit: you remember my other grandpa. The one that was cancer free. As I got home today I just herd that he's got cancer again, and that he's going back into treatment soon
What the fuck do you do, when everyone is dying around you?