A depraved blessing, p.1
A Depraved Blessing, p.1D.C. Clemens
A Depraved Blessing
By D.C. Clemens
Copyright 2016 D.C. Clemens
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Table of Contents
From the author
It would be prudent to refer to this galaxy as Nimbus, for that is what it is known as by its assortment of inhabitants. While Earth’s human denizens share in its crowded history, their presence is not yet necessary and their account is forthcoming. The species that will occupy our consideration can be described as humanoid in their leathery physique and their level of technology has yet to make exploring their own system an economically viable option. Also, as most primeval species believe, they think themselves alone, having no tangible evidence to state otherwise.
Their world, Evon, accommodates two moons in its elliptical orbit. The largest and uglier of the pair is the brown-shaded Tess, while the other is a buttery little sphere named Newt. The tectonic forces proceeding in Evon are sluggish compared to Earth’s, consequently presenting only a few mountain ranges across the face of their world. The equator appears the most earthlike with its green pastures and strips of woodlands, but is otherwise drier and more windswept the nearer one travels to the northern and southern poles. Much of the planet’s surface is covered in arid landmasses, with the remaining third filled by relatively shallow seas.
Some among Evon are believed to have been blessed by their deities. These few are able to wield the elements and their states of matter, but whether this sacred gift can aid their species in their time of uncertainty is yet to be determined.
My father was taken from the realm of the living quite early in my life. So young was I, in fact, that I had more memories of being in mourning than of his actual presence. One of the sharpest of these remembrances transpired soon after the memorial service. The presiding cleric strode over to me, and while I remembered his traditional blue robes more than his face, I do recall the words he imparted to me. As he leaned down to meet my glassy, yellow eyes with his own, he began to preach that no matter how difficult the looming years might seem to me, to know that today was actually the first day of healing. I remember thinking at the time how it felt much more like the first day of the end of the world...
“Goood morning citizens of Dirth! The time?”
“Way too early for us!”
“Well, can you at least give us the weather?”
“It’s the start of the hot season, meaning we won’t see last week’s temps anymore! You can bet your life savings on that! Expect today and the next few days to dip no lower than 95 degrees, and the midday temps to easily reach a blistering 135 in most areas.”
“We have the cure for those balmy temperatures! The cooling songs of Sir Sa-”
I snappily hit the snooze with the ball of my palm, allowing me to hear the more pleasing voice of my wife across the hall waking our son to the newly roused light, which pitilessly made its way to my listless eyes. I could not help but become mesmerized by Lizeth’s songlike tenor within my sluggish state. Her whisper beyond was soft and soothing, echoing a melody into my ears which could never be imitated by any other. She could make a blind man fall for her with that voice alone, even if she were spewing the vilest of curses at him.
Much to my reluctance, we performed our morning ceremony. We would go to the same place, at the same time, and do the same things. Nothing was changed in that respect for the last several years. It was all so monotonous sometimes. What I wouldn’t give now for it to have remained that way. I was sitting at the breakfast counter eating slices of grilled fruits and toast with my wife close by me, although, she was more concerned with arranging the pantry than with any thought directed at me. Meanwhile, as I was meditating on my upcoming schedule of the day, my son walked in. Once our eyes met, his innocent face lighted up like a firework. He always carried his biggest of his smiles in the morning, as the nine year old obstinately seemed to enjoy the prospects a fresh day brought, unlike his father. He settled himself on the stool to my right.
“Dad, can we go to the shockball game tomorrow?” he asked in a rapid sort of manner, as if hoping I would not notice his newfound venture at maturity.
“Dayce, what do you mean by ‘Dad?’” I asked in return, acting more serious than I actually was. “What happened with calling me ‘Daddy’?”
“Seaver says only babies say ‘Daddy,’” he stated as his excuse, slyly grabbing his share of toast from the plate before me. “And I’m not a baby.”
“Well, I guess that means you’re all grown up then. Good, I can kick you out of house soon. Wait, that also means you can buy your own ticket for the game tomorrow. I’ll see you there.” I stood from my stool and half turned my back to pretend I was leaving him.
“No, Dad, I don’t have a job yet.”
“Now that’s too bad, because only ‘daddies’ buy tickets for their sons.” Then, after contorting my face to imply I was thinking through an unsolvable problem, I sat back down and placed my full attention upon him. “Okay, how ‘bout this. When it’s just you, me, and Mommy, you call me ‘Daddy’ and in public you can call me ‘Dad?’”
The signature grin stamped on his bright face approved of my idea. After gobbling up the last piece of toast from his hands, he replied, “Okay, Daddy.”
“All right,” said Lizeth, looking at Dayce and placing my packed lunch near me. “Now that I know you still need school, it’s time for you to go. Hop in the car my little prince.”
Our son complied, snatching his backpack atop the dining room table behind us before heading out the front door, though not without leaving me his farewell firecracker.
“I’ll see you after work,” she told me, barely looking in my direction as she reached for her purse on the table. “I should be home early today.”
She pecked my cheek with the brink of her lips, but as she attempted to walk away, I held on to her blue blouse.
“Hey, sorry again about yesterday,” I said, giving her an overzealous apologetic look that I knew could melt her heart at any time, which is why I used it sparingly.
“Forgiven and mostly forgotten,” she responded, her serene expression letting me know I was indeed forgiven.
“You know, we never officially made up,” I pointed out teasingly. “Think Dayce will be back in the next five minutes?”
“Going for a personal best?” she asked, matching my humor. “I might be able to wo
After a longer and more doting kiss, she parted.
I reached my office about half an hour’s drive later. It was located in the fourth floor of the university’s science department, a building infamous for having an antique elevator that would take two miracles to work, never doing my morning any good. I had always felt suffocated inside my compressed and dismal office, not even the sham of a window on the back wall could save that reality. There was a day shortly after I had moved in when I attempted to enliven the space by adding a few pictures of the most beautiful streams and wildlife ever seen on this world, but they only served to cause the place to become even more sorrowful than before. I knew they did not belong trapped alongside me. The semester mornings were pretty much clockwork for me. I had an early lecture, progressing more leisurely than I was used to, and any time I had alone was filled with the grading of biology assignments, which was generally quite relaxing for me, not taking into account the times I met an unforgivable error from a student’s paper.
My second class began not long before the sun was grazing the highest point in the sky. This particular session was always filled with the greatest agitation out of all my classes. Many were just beginning to feel the effects of low blood sugar and were impatiently watching the clock tick by until the designated time to eat arrived. For my part, I was starting to sense I cared more about my words than anyone else in the room, which was, sadly, never unordinary, but when I was about to show a video about the cardiovascular system on the projection screen, I began to hear the voices swelling in the room. They were not by any means loud exchanges. In truth, their conversations ascended so gradually that I couldn’t even distinguish exactly when they were created. I also would not say they were disruptive, for they were only whispers, and yet, even whispers could reveal more distress than in the loudest of screams.
“May I ask what all this commotion is about?” I inquired, not without a little aggravation in my tone.
As I turned to address the crowd, I realized that this was the first time I had truly examined the state of the room. Much of their attention was fixed toward a student in the center of the dimly lit auditorium, with some acquiring seats near him for a better view. They were leering on his laptop resting before him, the light of it reflecting off their fretful faces. In spite of me, everyone was so enthralled by their recent interest that their subtle murmurs continued on. As I remained reticent for a moment, though it could have been longer, their conversations ceased. They must had finally sensed my stillness, for all their eyes soon fell on me and the room was filled with a silence only ominous news could bear.
A bolder student, who was involved in the center circle, said, “Um, Professor Rosyth, something happened in Dorvale. There was a big disaster. A huge explosion of some kind. A lot of people could be dead.”
It took a moment to fully grasp his explanation. Dorvale was one of the largest cities in the potent Valland Nation. On a globe, Valland was situated almost directly opposite from Dirth. Before I could ponder a guess as to what had happened on my own accord, I was already staring at the early reports on my computer. I did not even recall taking down the cardiovascular video I never had the chance to explain. The news bulletin was also mirrored on the projection screen to the left of me. I looked back and forth between them, as if I could not believe what either screen showed and hoped that one of them would change to a less harsh truth.
Every headline I came across stated: “Breaking News” in bold red font. The words afterword did not bring much promise either, generally stating: “Rescue operations underway as massive detonation plunges Dorvale into chaos and takes out power to much of Valland. Dorvale and much of the surrounding regions are obscured with heavy dust and smoke. This does not appear to be a nuclear strike as no nation has declared responsibility or detected a missile launch, however, the Valland military is on high alert.” I kept seeing the same words over and over again on other articles, like a never ending sequence of bad news déjà vu.
There was an off chance someone may have spoken to me before my ears ultimately picked up a female voice asking, “Professor Rosyth, what do you think it is? Could it have been an asteroid?” but given that I was so enthralled by the information portrayed to me, I did not hear them. I didn’t even recognize whose far-off sounding voiced had reached me; my eyes never reached hers.
“It’s looking that way,” I answered her. My words were mindless, there was no sense of self-control. “The Valland have no active volcanos or calderas, which are the only other natural sources that could possibly affect such a large area.”
“How many live in Dorvale?” another student asked, originating from the far left side of the room.
“Isn’t it about six million?” added someone new near the top right.
“Shit, millions wiped out!” were the last words I heard to snap me out of my trance.
I raised my head and looked at the class, feeling like I was no longer a professor to them. Most of the students were still speaking over each other, louder than they had ever been. “We don’t know if it was a direct hit or not,” I said in my soundest voice, hoping to obtain everyone’s attention, which succeeded. “Let us all thank our ancestors it didn’t hit a few hours earlier or later. Dorvale is nearly at the same latitude we are and only a minor time difference might have saved us. We should pray to the Spirits for those who are affected.” I was not really the religious type, but it felt appropriate to say, given the circumstances. “Listen, I’m not saying to go crazy or anything, but I know a sizeable asteroid strike can end up affecting the weather for the next few years, and Valland trade will definitely be impaired, so the price of food and numerous items will certainly be on the rise shortly. I advise all of you to stock up on nonperishable food items as soon as you can. You are all dismissed for the day.”
As soon I gave my consent to leave, they were gone. They could not have departed any faster if the room was on fire. I did not feel the same eagerness they felt, so I stayed behind. I don’t think I wanted to feel the collective foreboding that was to be expected after a tragedy of this magnitude. Furthermore, I liked the idea of being alone for a while, understanding it would be difficult to achieve afterwards when I and the rest of the world would be obsessed for new information for the foreseeable future. All the while, I stared blankly at my computer screen, eventually staring at a sleeping monitor. If there were any new reports being made, I didn’t want to know about them.
In the midst of my solitude, I received a message in my cellphone. I knew who it was from and what it said before I read it. My assumption proved correct. It was my wife asking if I was okay. It was just like her to think that way. A disaster occurred halfway around the world and she was concerned about me, as if I had perhaps gone there without telling her. At that instant I recognized where I needed to be. I immediately felt guilty for taking time for myself, knowing how worried she was about me, no matter how senseless. After replying back that I was heading home, I left as fast as I could, though not before forwarding a message to my students and leaving a note on the auditorium door that classes were canceled for the day.
I reached home in due course, remembering little of the actual drive there. All I discerned was that when I had arrived and opened the front door, my wife fell into my arms. She was trembling and must have been for some time, but as I wrapped my arms around her, I could feel her nerves unwinding throughout her body. It was easy to forget how emotional she could be. I always did take pride in knowing that I was one of the few who had an incredible easing influence on her. Her parents could never hide their amazement when I would put their daughter in her most tranquil state of mind without much effort.
We made ourselves lunch, though we had no real intention to eat it, while we watched coverage of the catastrophe. No new reports were being made. It was the same phrases I had read before, except there were faces behind the words. We did come to see the first
“Oh, Roym,” were the first strained words Lizeth said to break our long silence. I almost didn’t hear her low voice above the broadcaster. “Dayce will have a lot of questions.”
Comforted that the muteness was finally ended between us, I was assertive enough to say, “Don’t fret, Liz. I’ll take care of it.”
“Please, try not to scare him. You tend to be too blunt with him. Do you remember telling him the sun will eventually explode? He cried in his room the whole day.” She sat down on the arm of the couch next to me, indicating her allaying mind.
“This is a natural disaster,” I said to her, a little annoyed that she thought I couldn’t be tactful with our son. “Maybe if it was a terrorist attack or outright war I’d understand your worry, but you can’t sugarcoat a dust storm or volcano. Besides, Dayce is older now, he must have only been six when I told him about a star’s lifecycle. He shouldn’t cry now.”
“He doesn’t have to cry to be scared,” she responded, carrying the same stressed tone she started with.
She became silent, but again rose from her place. I followed, positioning myself behind her. I then wrapped my arms around her waist and pressed my chest to her back.
“Many will be afraid, there’s no helping that,” I said as calmly as I could express it.
“It’s just so randomly horrible though, isn’t it?” she asked, pulling away from me. I nodded back to her. She took a quick glance at the television and said, in a voice suppressed with lively antipathy, “I can’t stand some people at the firm. You know, I overheard Alun today, do you remember him? That fat fuck from my boss’s party last year? I heard him complaining about how this would affect his quarterly numbers, and I know he wasn’t the only one thinking it. Working with people like him makes me hate my job sometimes.”
“Don’t I keep telling you? Join me at UKI and you can teach some business classes. You’ll be much happier there.”
She stared at me with her most serious look and said, “But the pay is so shitty.”
I cracked a smile. She followed my lead. We then burst into a fit of contagious laughter.
Lizeth managed to remain home and didn’t return back to work as she would normally have done. In the interim, my hunger returned to me and I realized just how starved I really was. I ate the sandwich that I made earlier, with no heed to how long ago I made it, and immediately lamented leaving my hearty soup in my office. After shoving the miserable sandwich down my throat, I went to go take a quick shower, which took longer than I anticipated when Lizeth joined me. I suppose being reminded how fragile our existence was could make some feel the need to emphatically embrace life’s most precious moments. We remained in this blissful physical and mental state until the moment I had to go pick up Dayce from school. It was time for us to return back to reality.
A Depraved Blessing by D.C. Clemens / Fantasy / Science Fiction have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on20 votes