Saturday, December 16, 2006

Connected: Chapter 4

The world was burned to a crisp. Cities had been reduced to rubble and life had resumed, only below ground instead of above. The inhabitants of Sloan, California had not seen daylight for over ten years. But that was the way things had been in the 8th Parallel. No light for ten years, then too much light for another ten. Hogarth had been away for the ten years of light. He had found the city of Los Angeles in a parallel earth to be quite pleasing. His family was not happy to find out where he had been.
He told them of the man named Zev and how he had somehow known of the 8th Parallel and had spent some time here before the sun began to die. None of his family believed him. They told him he was a fool for believing the strange shirtless man. Even Hogarth had begun to believe the man was made up. No one they knew in the city of Sloan had been alive for more than fifty years, and if what the man named Zev had said was true he’d have to be at least a hundred years old or older to have witnessed the glory of the city prior to its destruction.
Hogarth had combed through piles and piles of logs and photos trying to find anything that could link Zev to his world. Unfortunately all that the local library had was extinguished in about a week. He needed someone who had archives that went further back. He needed someone who was supposed to be a keeper of arcane knowledge. He needed to talk to Macon Dean, the oldest person living in the city.
Hogarth had made his way to the enormous spired tenement building built deep beneath the mountain ranges of Southern California. He had come alone and bearing gifts from earth to entreat Macon. The asbestos suit-wearing doormen opened the great glass doors and led him to the only working elevator in the complex. They walked back outside but before they did they put on their oxygen masks as a firestorm was coming toward them. Despite being underground, the massive hive city lay beneath the San Andreas Fault line and the fissure that had opened months ago let in the flames that seared the surface of the planet once every week.
The men were covered in flames and then they seemed to have disappeared in a wall of flame. The doors shut and Hogarth traveled farther up the building. He was able to look out of a small viewing slat and saw the guards below him in flames. They walked around as if they were not even on fire. Their suits were protecting them from the intense heat outside. He breathed in and exhaled slowly. The elevator had started to slow and he looked at the floor key. He was on the twelfth floor. The doors slid open with a short ping and Hogarth stepped out into the hallway.
He did not breathe. Everywhere he looked was a sight that he could not believe. Marble covered the floor, walls and ceiling. Hogarth stepped closer to the gilded pillars and saw that they were gold. Frescoes hung on the wall, freshly painted. A red headed woman stepped towards Hogarth with a leather book in one hand and a pen in the other.
“Name, sir?” said the red head.
“Hogarth? Is that a first name or a last name?”
“First name.”
“Your last name, sir?” the red head said again.
“Brennan, Hogarth Brennan,” Hogarth said.
“Very well, have a seat over there by my desk and I’ll go speak with Mr. Dean,” the red head said. She slammed the book shut and walked to some frosted glass doors.
Hogarth could make out the outline of a man and the red head’s shape but could not see anything else. He sat down on the plush leather couch and placed his back against it. He sighed in comfort and closed his eyes.
“So you’re the one who met Zev?” said a blonde haired man with matching muttonchops.
Hogarth opened his eyes and slid down. He was surprised to see the man known as Macon Dean several inches from his face.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you, force of habit, I was an interrogator for the Army,” Macon said. He snapped his suspenders.
Hogarth took in the man that stood before him. Clean shaven, muttonchops, a whites shirt with blue pinstripes, brown pants and matching suspenders and some well-shined brown shoes. He smiled at Hogarth, which was a little odd since no one he had ever met in the 8th Parallel ever had a reason to smile.
“Yes, I’ve met the man called Zev. Do you know him?” said Hogarth.
“He’s my cousin,” said Macon. “Please, step into my office.” Hogarth slid up and walked with Macon. The frosted glass closed softly behind them.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home