Read The Rainbow Maker's Tale Online

Authors: Mel Cusick-Jones

Tags: #romance, #mystery, #dystopia, #futuristic, #space station, #postapocalyptic, #dystopian, #postapocalyptic series

The Rainbow Maker's Tale

BOOK: The Rainbow Maker's Tale
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The Rainbow Maker’s Tale
Melanie Cusick-Jones

 

Copyright © 2013 by Melanie
Cusick-Jones

This edition copyright © 2014 by
Melanie Cusick-Jones

 

The moral right of the author
has been asserted.

 

All characters and events in
this publication, other than those clearly in the public domain,
are fictitious and any resemblance to real persons, living or dead,
is purely coincidental.

 

All rights reserved.

No part of this publication may
be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any
form or by any means, without the prior permission in writing of
the author, nor be otherwise circulated in any form of binding or
cover.

 

www.cusick-jones.com

www.melcj.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

For my parents, who taught me
about the wonderful worlds that live inside books and answered my
random questions about ‘The Egyptians’ and acid rain…

Thank you, for always being
there for me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Reality is merely an illusion,
albeit a very persistent one.”

Albert Einstein

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 1

 

It was days like this when I
felt it more than ever: I wasn’t a real human.

Was today’s air staler than
normal?

Perhaps, subconsciously I
detected a musty note to the oxygen that was moving through my
body, and that caused the day to start on a sour note…? Or – more
likely – it was because pretty much every day I struggled to feel
like a human being. I just hid it from myself better than I was
doing today.

Generally, I believed I hid
most things well, myself included. The ability to be invisible in a
small room filled with people was a talent I was confident I had
perfected during my seventeen year existence on the Space Station
Hope.

Existence!

I laughed harshly when I
realised the word I had chosen: not
living
, merely existing.
I acknowledged the distinction grimly.
Ugh
. I was feeling
bitter this morning.

The alarm from the viewing
screen chimed melodiously. Normally it would have brought
wakefulness, but I was already awake today. The sound was
simultaneously piercing and soothing to my disturbed mind. I
sighed. It was
definitely
going to be one of those days.

“Balik?”

I heard Mother’s voice call out
to me as she passed through the corridor outside my room. Her
accompanying knock was a reminder for me to get up, get dressed,
come for breakfast, leave for school... It didn’t particularly
matter what it meant: it was always the same knock and I always
obeyed. Today’s knock meant
get up
.

Kicking away the thermocontrol
sheet that had shrouded me as I lay in bed, I knew I was taking my
frustration out on a harmless, inanimate object. It didn’t stop me
doing it though and I huffed as I pulled myself into a sitting
position.

Why was I so annoyed this
morning?

There was a part of me that
hated the angry beast that dwelled permanently inside me – waiting
to make itself known. Another part of me relished the familiarity
of the feeling that enveloped me when it reared its furious head.
Of all the human emotions I was familiar with, anger was the one I
most particularly disliked, but was also the one that permeated my
moods most frequently.

Screwing my eyes tightly shut I
breathed slowly in and out, in and out. The air pulled deep into my
chest as it filled my lungs – stale or not I couldn’t decipher –
and cooled the heat of my temper. When I opened my eyes again I was
calmer, controlled, and ready to face the world. Or at least, face
my parents.

Entering the living space I
glanced around me. Our apartment pod looked exactly the same as it
always did: polished white and cream plastic walls; empty chairs
arranged neatly around the table. I looked around for a sign that
Father was here, but didn’t see any. That wasn’t a surprise. I was
lucky
if I saw him more than once or twice a week. Who would
have thought that working in the Family Quarter’s Engineering
division would be so time consuming. Certainly not me, but on the
plus side of things, it gave me one less parent to deal with.

My regulatory breakfast sat
waiting for me, its perfect balance of fibre, carbohydrate and
vitamins familiar, as it beckoned from the otherwise empty table.
As always, Mother was there, waiting for me. Today she was standing
in the kitchen staring out of the window.

“Good morning Mother,” I
greeted her politely, as I scraped a chair away from the table and
took my seat, trying to ignore the awkwardness of the uncomfortable
grating noise in the silent space. She turned slightly and
appraised me with curiosity, as though my words had alerted her to
something that I was unaware of.

“Good morning, Balik,” she
replied, after a second or so more of staring. “How are you feeling
today?”

“Fine, thank you.”

I focused on the breakfast
plate in front of me as a distraction, inhaling the familiar smell
of the food. In truth I felt blank and a little numb now that my
earlier anger had passed. All I had left was another day of
existence
to look forward to. But, feeling empty was not
unusual for me, and a blank mind was a regular feature of my life,
especially around my parents.

I had no solid reasoning or
tangible evidence for my conviction that certain people on the
station could understand things about me, when I had never spoken
them aloud. As irrational as it was – usually I was the most
logical of people – this was what I felt…what I
believed
. It
had been a long time since I had allowed myself to think and feel
freely when I was in the presence of anyone else.

My rational mind could only
construe that the expression of my face and the meaning between my
words gave away much more than I wished to divulge when I spoke to
anyone. As I had grown older and found secrets that I wanted to
keep to myself, it had forced me to stop speaking…then I had
stopped thinking… Only
I
knew about the lies I had found,
and until I had worked out why we were being lied to, then I had to
hide what I knew. It was only when I was alone that I was free to
be as angry and frustrated as I wanted.
What a wonderful person
I was!

“Are you worried about your
examinations?” Mother’s voice was soft and probing, as though she
could sense something about me but couldn’t quite put her finger on
what it was.

Her question caught me
off-guard and I froze for half a second, my fork part way between
my plate and my mouth. It wasn’t often she made conversation with
me, especially in a morning; usually she would hover around until I
had eaten my meal and taken my vitamin pills. Then she would leave
for another day of work at The Clinic.

What made today different?

Nothing was immediately
apparent and so, shaking away my question, I answered hers.

“Not especially.” It was the
final day of the school exams, but the worst was behind me, just
History that afternoon and then I would be free.

Well, free of school at
least.
I wasn’t sure I could ever be truly
free
on the
space station given all the limitations we had. But, that was a
whole other aggravation.

I glanced up and saw that
Mother was still standing beside the table, her eyes fixed on me:
she wanted more. I swallowed noisily.

“My least favourite subjects
have all been done and they seemed to go well enough.”

“One of my colleagues at The
Clinic said most of the leavers are going to Park 17 when the exam
is finished. Will you be celebrating with your friends afterwards?”
Mother’s eyes remained unblinkingly focused on my face.

It surprised me that she didn’t
already know the answer to this – partly due to her uncanny ability
to guess correctly things about me that I thought were well
concealed – but more because it was so obvious from my lack of
social interaction with anyone. I didn’t have friends.

It made me wonder whether
Mother truly knew how good I was at making myself invisible among
my peers, or why I might be doing that in the first place. But
then, most of the time I didn’t really understand my behaviour
myself. It wasn’t logical or planned, it just happened that way.
Why should Mother understand me, when I didn’t understand
myself?

I was an outsider. I was
unhappy with the guarded and restricted existence we led on the
space station, but too scared to reveal my true feelings that were
so at odds with everyone else around me. They all seemed happy with
their beautiful cage and didn’t want to see beyond the bars. The
problem was, that I
did
look. And, when you stared into the
shadows, things here felt…wrong.

Shaking my head slightly, I
dismissed the thoughts that were whirling through my mind and
refocused on Mother’s question. “Probably not,” I muttered.

After searching my half-empty
plate for answers that did not appear, I left it at that. I could
tell Mother was dissatisfied with my response, but satisfied that
there was nothing more I had to say on the subject. Returning to
normal, she hovered at my shoulder until I’d finished my food and
taken my vitamins. I was grateful that she let the silence open
between us once again, uncomfortable though it was, it was better
than the alternative of having to converse with one another.

 

* * *

 

Many historians pinpoint the
start of the rapid decline of human civilisation on Earth to the
year 2045. What is significant about this date and the subsequent
events of the period; particularly their environmental and
geopolitical impact upon the human race?

 

The final question of the
examination glared at me from the viewing screen. Of course, we
needed
another
reminder of why we were here! A deeply
resentful sigh escaped through my tightly pressed lips. To me it
sounded like it filled the silent room with sound, but no one
turned around to look at me for making too much noise. I must have
been as quiet as ever.

What was I supposed to write
about?

The acid, churning in my
stomach, told me that I didn’t want to write about how climate
change kick-started a chain-reaction of global events, which
collectively led to the destruction of the human race on Earth in
the late twenty-second century. I couldn’t face writing another
essay on how our ancestors sleepwalked into destroying themselves:
I’d spent most of my life doing that! Why were we still writing
about this stuff, four generations on? It was as though we had to
be told over and over and over again, just how stupid human beings
were.

Ignoring the question, my gaze
drifted above the glowing letters and I focused on the heads of the
people sat in front of me. Every one of them was tilting their face
toward a viewing screen, deep in concentration with an automatic
discourse headset perched neatly on their head. My classmates
looked industrious, bland and indistinguishable from one
another.

The uniform appearance of my
contemporaries – in my eyes – was despite the random accessorising
of their clothes. It was ironic: the trend was specifically aimed
at expressing their individuality, but being individually identical
seemed an odd concept to me. The girls would tie their hair at
random angles, so that it stuck out from their heads like
architectural features. The boys focused on wristbands, brightly
coloured belts and – at the moment – coloured streaks in their
hair. Of course, making your hair green or blue all over would look
stupid, but a single stripe of colour above your ear – what could
look better? I shook my head. Their differences only reinforced
their similarity.

In the next instant – for no
reason I could accurately explain – I felt compelled to be
different from my classmates. I yanked the automatic discourse
headset off, as if it had suddenly become white-hot, and tossed it
towards the holder on my desktop. I didn’t bother picking up the
headset up or re-arranging its position, when it bounced uselessly
against the plastic frame and came to rest untidily beneath the
screen.

I rested my chin in my hand and
slouched forward. It wasn’t going to help me answer the question on
the screen, but right now, I could think of nothing better to do.
It was my last exam anyway, I was pretty sure I couldn’t fail at
this point.

I found my gaze drawn to the
only one of my classmates that I ever paid any attention to. Cassie
sat in front of me – two desks forwards, one to the left. Her hair
hung down her back. It was natural – beautiful, I always thought –
without any silly colours or structured additions. Cassie’s only
concession to the fads of our classmates was a slim yellow belt,
circling the waist of her pale blue day-suit. Other than that, she
was just like me. Of course, she paid me no attention, being as
generally unaware of my invisible presence as my other
classmates.

BOOK: The Rainbow Maker's Tale
3.84Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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