Cries… by Mark McConville

Dreams wither in her head as she sees the decline of the world. Moments of terror hit the streets, and hearts can’t be recycled when they’re spooked by gunshots. Life is hanging in the balance and this young tearaway knows she must tread carefully through smoky boulevards.

People lie here, some alive and desperate, but some pulverised by the demons of today. They’re not superhuman, they’re callous and greedy. They don’t have powers to bring the city down as a whole, but piece by piece they’ll prevail.

Behind a burned out car she sits. In her pocket she carries some change and a broken cellphone. There’s no communication device now, only her and the rest of the escape artists. They say escape artists never die, on this occasion she might meet the end of the line.

The signals dead anyway. The world seems upside down. Clara feels like she’s floating in and out of mania and the hysteria seems unparalleled in this small segment of town.

Clara closes her eyes tightly and craves to wake up from this nightmare. She opens them back up and sees a bloodied man crawl in her direction. His guts and rib cage are vivid reminders of the war these innocent people are facing.

He places his hand on her right leg. He can’t verbalise, as he’s stricken with pain. A thunder storm kills this somewhat poignant embrace.

The man hands Clara a key. Before she asks what it unlocks, he gasps and life drags itself away from him. She closes his eyes in respect.

The rain becomes heavy. A torrent of blood soaked clothes circle in the wind. Street lamps flicker, voices which were crackled become clearer. It seems, Clara will be detected if she doesn’t find a way to a promised land, or close to it.

Her heart tells her to run. Fear cuts into her usually potent defences. She could be shot dead in an instance.

Voices veer closer. She can almost hear their sickening heartbeats, their lungs exhaling. And in time, they’ll dominate this city with their capitalism and sneers.

Almost all of the architecture has been subjected to oblivion. This city had style, grace, and paid homage to the heroes of days gone by. It’s now broken, bullet laden, and crippled by insincere human beings.

Clara knows she must move. The latch key kid crawls under the car and waits until the bastards walk passed. When they’re not looking, she moves into an abandoned house.

Inside, the smell of rot makes her heave, but she carries on through to the living room. There’s bullet holes in the couch, there’s blood residue on the walls, and there’s children’s drawings on the coffee table.

In the kitchen, rotten milk fills the sink. The fridge door is hanging open revealing rotten meat and a smell so pungent.

Although the house is in a bad way, Clara feels safe. Her youth hasn’t been linear or normal. She has been dealt blows, and her life has been through many whirlwinds.

Clara sits on the bullet laden couch. Her eyes settle on vibrant, evocative, paintings. They’re unique and dull out the raging war that’s brewing outside the confines of this interesting space.

She’s sleepy, but can’t close her eyes for too long. Her dreams are decaying piece by piece, and the optimism she felt before this war has dissipated.

Clara then begins to hear cries coming from under her. Swollen cries. They become more apparent and loud as she walks across the thin uncarpeted floor.

She opens a door to a long stairway which leads down. The smell of urine is strong. The cries echo.

‘’I’m coming, I’m coming’’

The door is locked and heavy. Clara has no answers to the cries until she envisages that hurt man from outside. The glint of a key.

Clara places the key into the lock and turns it. In front of her stand two children and a baby in a cot.

They look frightened. Their hearts beating almost out of time. Their faces dirty and their eyes wet. Clara consoles them. They want warmth and kindness.

The man died to save his children. He placed them in the basement, out of sight.

And Clara is ready to try and carry them to the promised land.

Mark McConville