Category Archives: Aftermath Chronicles

Dreams Snatched Up

Dream Snatched Up

Just a few more hours,” Deron encourages himself as he throws water on his face. The doorbell rings outside, but Deron doesn’t notice it. His stomach is in knots and he doesn’t want to leave the safety of the bathroom. He then picks up a hand towel and dries his face and hands. The lights flicker slightly, but Deron doesn’t pay any attention to it.

“Deron! Mr. Spencer is at the door,” an elderly woman shouts.

“Be right out grandma,” Deron replies while looking at himself in the mirror. He has a mammoth body, but currently feels minuscule.

Deron softly challenges himself getting pumped up, “You ready?” He beats his chest once and opens up the door.

“There you are, boy,” Grandma June takes Deron’s arm and directs him down the hallway. The whole two bedroom Georgian suburban home is packed with family and friends to support Deron. “D, steaks are almost done,” says his father.

Deron replies over his shoulder, “Thanks Pops,”

“Man, you’ve been in there so long we thought you got stuck,” his friend KP, who is much smaller than him, jokes while putting an arm around Deron. Deron convincingly tries to laugh it off.

“While you were there powdering your nose, we have been keeping Mr. Spencer entertained,” June scolds him.

Mr. Spencer, a well-dressed man in his fifties stands up and extends his hand. “Please madam, call me Sam,” he politely introduces shaking Deron’s hand.

“Thanks again for coming by today, sir,” Deron says with generosity.

“No problem, son. I know how stressful today can be and its best if I’m here to fill you in on trades and rumors,” Sam conveys.

KP states, “Yo, Double S, I’m hearing Miami is trying to trade up,”

Sam tries to smile off the ridiculous name they have given him, “Well, we have a few hours left until the dance so I would imagine a lot more teams will try to jump up,” Sam takes a seat on the couch.

“It would be nice to stay down South,” Deron thinks, hoping his agent can make this happen.

“I’ll see what I can do. Now we just hang for a few hours, eat some barbeque, and relax,” Sam crosses his legs and takes a quick glance at his phone.

Deron takes a seat next to Sam, “You really think I’ll go number one?” Deron cups his hands and looks at the television. On the screen, the sports experts are discussing the draft. Deron sees his name at the top of all the draft boards.

“It’s not an exact science, but I hear from every GM in the league and they all say the same thing about you, ‘Take him now,’” Sam looks at his watch. “Now, the film crew should be here soon,” Sam stands up. “It would be best if you sit in the middle of the couch with your father and grandmother on either sides of you. Sound good?” Sam asks while looking around.

“I’m deferring to you on this,” Deron stands up and moves over a cushion.

Sam says, “I’m glad you listened to me about staying here and didn’t fly up to New York for this,”

“Yeah, why didn’t you want him to go there?” KP asks.

Sam begins to say, “Always best to stay home for these things. Just in case something bad happens,” Deron looks surprised about the “bad” part. “And it looks better seeing you at home with your family,” Sam continues.

“Umm, what bad can happen?” asks Deron curiously.

“Well, like I said, it’s not an exact science. If you don’t go first, then you might drop down a bit,” Sam says while Deron nervously sits down.

“How far is a bit?” Deron wonders.

“Depends. If the first teams don’t pick you then some of the others will start to panic and then you find yourself in the upper twenties, if you’re lucky,” Sam nonchalantly takes out his phone and to answers a call.

Deron feels the knots in his stomach returns and wants to sit down, “No! Just play it cool. You’ll get picked…eventually, and eventually is better than not at all,” he reassures himself.

BUUZZZZZ!” The television makes a quick high pitched sound and then goes black. “See! My boy needs that first round money to pay the bills up in here,” KP jokes, but nobody acknowledges him. The power goes out in the house. The partying stops and everyone looks around.

A firetruck barrels down the street followed by a half-dozen police cruisers. Some of the guests go outside. “What the Hell is going on out there?” Deron’s grandmother inquires following the group outside.

“Hello? Hello?” Sam looks at his phone, “Call dropped and I have no service all of a sudden,” he says to Deron.

The house begins to shake slightly. Everyone starts to steady themselves. Plates fall from the shelves in the kitchen. “Hey, everyone! Come out here!” someone yells from the backyard. Deron runs outside, followed by KP.

Deron swings open the door and stops dead in his tracks, “Move Deron I can’t see,” KP exclaims trying to push past. When he finally does, he stops as well and his jaw drops, “Oh my God,” he utters. Smoke columns rise up in the distance as missiles fly above them in all directions.

In the corner of his eye, Deron sees Sam jump into his car and speed away in panic. Deron is too scared to be angry at Sam. Deron’s father grabs June by the arm, “Deron! Go inside now,” his father orders, leading her inside.

Some of the other partygoers drive off as well. “Pops, should we leave to?” Deron looks around at the people leaving. Neighbors scream in terror as the came outside. An ambulance speeds by towards one of the pillars of smoke.

“We lock up and stay put until we figure out what’s going on,” his father looks to the other people while debating what to do, “Everyone come inside with us,” he says, leading people in. More explosions ring out in the distance.

As soon as Deron goes inside he locks himself in the bathroom. He leans against the wall and runs his fingers through his hair, “This was supposed to be my day,” he looks in the mirror and throws a punch that shatters the glass.

The Prodigal Son

BEEP BEEP BEEP! The heartbeat monitor echoes around the room. An old man, Armando, lays in a bed with IVs in his veins and a breathing mask on his face. His body is frail and liver spots and scars coating his body.

A nurse walks up to the IV and adjusts the dosage. “This should help with the pain a bit,” the nurse assures, putting a hand on Armando’s shoulder. “Cortez is outside. Would you like me to let him in?” the nurse asks. Armando gives a slow nod and the nurse opens up the door.

Cortez takes a long look at the old man before taking a step into the room. He is much younger than Armando and is of English descent. Cortez adjusts a few stray hairs on his head to make sure he looks presentable as he enters.

Cortez pulls up a chair and sits next to the bed. He knows this is the final time he will see Armando. “Does it…” Cortez begins to say but Armando interrupts.

“Stop it! We don’t have time to waste,” Armando exclaims coughing a bit.

Cortez says while quickly looking down, “Sorry sir,”

“There isn’t much time left,” Armando informs taking off his mask. “I need you to be strong and lead this army,” Armando says struggling with his last words.

Cortez pleads, “Why me? Why not Edgar, he wants this more than I do,” hoping Armando is going take this all back.

“Edgar is a brute and that’s all. I need you to lead this army,” Armando forcefully pokes his finger into Cortez’s chest.

“You know, I don’t know the first thing about war,” Cortez says, wondering why he is in this position.

“I have groomed you for this. Even when I found you, I named you after one of the great conquerors to be the heir to my vision. You were bred for this moment,” Armando conveys.

Cortez begins, “You want me to kill millions of people to,”

“To save billions! You must change things, and the only way you can do that is to tear down the walls that have been already built. Will you do it?” Armando asks in anticipation for the right response.

“I will,” Cortez confirms quietly looking down.

Armando sits up, “Promise me boy!” he yells.

Cortez looks up into Armando’s eyes, “I promise,”

“Good. The plan is almost done, all we need are the other groups to finish their work. When that happens, just lead what forces you have gathered,” Armando gasping on his words. He puts his mask back on and takes several slow breaths.

“Now I don’t have much time left. I don’t want you to see me die like this,” Armando speaks as though this isn’t a big deal. “Go!” Armando commands.

Cortez remembers, “Should I send in Edgar?”

“No,” Armando says, leaning back in his pillow.

Cortez wants to hug Armando, but knows that’s not what his dying mentor would want his last moment to be. He doesn’t even take a last glance. Cortez gets up and makes his way for the door. “Thank you,” Cortez whispers as he walks out.

Cortez takes a deep breath as the door closes behind him. “Did the old man kick the bucket yet?” Edgar asks from across the hall.

Cortez walks right past him saying, “Someone sounds bitter,” hoping that would annoy Edgar.

“Why would I be bitter?” Edgar asks while walking behind Cortez. “I’ve known him longer, served under his command for longer, killed more people than you, but somehow he picked you to lead. The son he never had,” Edgar jabs at Cortez.

“You’re adopted too, remember?” Cortez rubs the tension out of his neck, thinking about his next move. He had never led a full army before. Armando has an army of loyal soldiers who all know Cortez is in charge and will not try to supersede him.

“Nothing’s stopping you from going off on your own,” Cortez hopes Edgar would take his advice. Edgar is always in a bitter dispute for Armando’s affection over Cortez.

“Just remember something,” Edgar says pulling Cortez’s arm to stop him. Cortez turns and looks at Edgar’s hand on him. “I’m not going to lick your boots or be your lap dog. You’re in charge, but I will take over if you don’t have it in you to do what’s necessary,” Edgar sternly puts it.

“You’re right,” Cortez concurs and then punches Edgar in the face. Edgar drops to a knee and covers his nose. Cortez walks down the hall, “I am in charge,” he says with a smirk feeling confident about his first act of leadership.

A few soldiers move to the side of the walls to let Cortez pass. “Sir,” they simultaneously say as they stand at attention. Cortez pauses for a moment before continuing on. Word of Armando’s death is already going through the army. Even though Armando isn’t in the grave yet, he still said his goodbyes and made sure the chain of command didn’t come to a halt

I can sure get used to this,” Cortez laughs to himself as he walks up the hallway, but then recalls he has things to do.

I should call Lucas and get an update on his progress,” Cortez thinks as he enters Armando’s office. Cortez flicks on the lights and takes a quick look around before sitting down. The room is mostly a cluttered mess. Books and papers litter the floor. White boards are covered in numbers that nobody other than a select few know what they mean.

Cortez sits at the desk and opens up a laptop. He starts to scroll through a few icons and presses one which reads, “Lucas”. Cortez presses it and sits back in his chair. “He probably won’t even pick up,” Cortez ponders as he waits for a response.

“Hey, hold on one second,” a voice says from the computer. Cortez glances over at the computer screen and sees a fuzzy image. The image starts to clear up. Lucas turns the screen on himself. He is around Cortez’s age, but his hair is more unkempt and looks like he’s been in a room working for weeks.

Lucas looks over at Cortez. “Hey buddy, got something cool to show you. Take out your phone,” Lucas informs Cortez as he starts typing on another computer next to him.

Cortez reaches into his pocket and looks at his phone screen. “Do you see anything yet?” Lucas inquires.

Cortez shakes his head. “Looks normal to me,” he responds.

“How about,” Lucas begins to type, “Now?” he asks pressing a few last buttons. Cortez’s phone quickly flashes and looks back to normal.

“You must be losing your touch, Lucas. It just blinked and that’s it,” Cortez jokes as he puts his phone down.

“I made it blink and extracted every piece of data and messages you’ve ever sent. It even hacked into your emails and the ones you’ve deleted,” Lucas says moving his second computer in front of the one he is video chatting with Cortez on. A list generates on the screen with numbers and text messages. Lucas puts the screen back on the table. “Wow, you take a lot of naked pics man,” Lucas chuckles.

“And that’s just yours and it loaded in a second,” Lucas yawns as he speaks. “I can have every phone in North America done by the end of the week. We can then pull the codes from all the bases and get ready to launch,” Lucas gazes back over at the screen.

“I’m sorry to hear what happened to your friend. Before he said his goodbyes, he communicated that you’re taking over for his outlet and that we are on schedule,” Lucas assumes they aren’t going to be held up.

“All good on our end. We’re stockpiled with enough weapons and ammo to combat any army we’d face,” Cortez starts to think over the list of things to get done. “The underground bunkers are nearly finished. We have actually acquired another group recently,” Cortez says rubbing his eyes. He hasn’t slept well in days and that isn’t going to change anytime soon.

“That’s really good. The plan is in motion. I’m really surprised you’re choosing to go to North America. You know we can house you guys in Paradise until things settle down,” Lucas looks concerned.

“I want to be there when it happens. I can build a massive force out of the ones who are scattered around, rather than wait until they form their own little groups,” Cortez looks down for a moment and pauses. “Do you think this is the wrong thing to do?” Cortez questions, hoping he isn’t alone.

Lucas turns and looks at the screen. “Don’t worry about it too much. All we’re doing is destroying the world.”