by Caroline Galeotafiore
Only the strongest kind of people can truly love the weak ones.
Only the strongest kind of wall would be able to trap them in.
What my eyes fail to see is still worth my heart believing.
What I cannot feel on the surface is merely hidden deep within.
I am the beholder of my mind,
And only I know the secrets my mind chooses to keep.
I am the beholder of my heart,
And only I can feel the void that runs miles deep.
These miles are filled with hopeless hopes
Crushed by a mountain of faithless leaps.
These miles are filled with dreamless dreams
Drowned in rivers made of tearless weeps.
Only the weakest kind of people can truly hate the strong ones.
It only takes the weakest kind of wall to be able to shut them out.
What I can feel underneath the surface gives me power to hold on.
What my eyes are able to see is still worthy of my heart’s doubt.
I am the beholder of my dreams,
And only I have watched them fade to bud-less flowers.
I am the beholder of my hopes,
And only I can feel them crash like falling towers.
It’s not the years in your life, but the life in your years,
And my life adds up to just two hours.
It’s not the love in the heart, but the heart in the love,
And my heart is bathed in loveless showers.
by Melissa Theodorakatos
The ground felt extremely cold underneath the portions of her exposed back. The remnants of her alcohol induced night remain on her chest and the ground in front of her where she had fallen hours before. Scrapes and bruises were visible on her hands and arms from the cement beneath her. She quickly pushed against the ridged ground until she was kneeling upwards. She squinted her eyes from the sun and wiped the dirt away from her face that had now smeared across her cheek. She had no energy to stand and instead decided to crawl to her purse that was a few feet away from her. As she made her way across the cement, she tried to clear her mind as much as possible. Her memory was entirely blurred, leaving her with no trace of how she ended up on this fragmented sidewalk in the first place. When she finally reached her purse, she felt a sudden pain strike her entire left leg. When she looked down, she saw the huge gash that existed from her knee to the front of her ankle. The wound had collected pieces of sediments during her crawl, which contributed to the strong pain. She quickly turned onto her back to lie and laid still until the pain subsided. While she waited, she was able to rummage through what was left of her handbag.
Everything was gone except for a few candy wrappers and makeup. Nothing remained of her identity or finances, leaving her with no choice but to walk towards her apartment, if she could find it that is. When she felt her leg ease, she grabbed for the garbage pail next to her to pull herself upwards. With every last bit of energy she had left, she quickly pushed onto her legs and leaned onto the pail until she was steady. She stumbled towards the street corner to try and make out the sign. The green strip extending outward from the pole read: 1st Avenue. Across the street another read: 80th Street.
”No!” she called out loudly, startling the birds that had gathered around the garbage pail she had used as anchorage. She scanned around her, trying to find someone or something that could help her. In her mind, she knew walking was impossible; her apartment was miles away, and she had no money to even attempt to endure a subway ride in her condition. A few moments passed when she suddenly felt a knot form in her stomach. Something was terribly wrong. For the first time since she had awoken, she realized how desolate the streets around her were. This is New York City, it is never this dead. She had a feeling she was not the only one who had suffered something tragic the night before.
She walked down the avenue to try and find a clock. The bank across the street was closed, but a small disc shaped object was located above the indoor ATMs. She hurried across, ignoring even looking for the non-existent traffic, and reached the glass doors. 9:30 in the morning. She walked around to the front of the bank to view their store hours, but realized she didn’t even know what day it was. What good would it even do if I knew the day?No one is around here anyway. She continued down the avenue and came across a corner store with an opened front door. A rush of excitement ran through her entire body, leaving her unaware of any pain she felt a few moments before. Almost running, she entered the store and looked around for the owner.
”Hello? Is anyone in here?” she yelled. It remained quiet. “Excuse me! Could someone please help me?” but still nothing, only silence surrounded her. “Great! First I wake up on a cold and wet New York City street that is desolate, at 9 something in the morning, on God only knows what day of the week with an oozing leg and cuts all over my body! Then I find out I am miles away from my apartment, with only damn pigeons to ask for help! And now, the wonderful corner store is open, with no one inside!” Her shouting echoed loudly through the store and faded to silence. She stood there for a moment taking in her situation. She walked around the store till she found the first aid section and peered through the inventory. Of course, why would they have large band-aids? That would be too easy. She quickly grabbed the necessary items and sat on the ground beneath her to begin cleaning and dressing each one of her open sores. Her arms were not too hard to deal with, but her leg gave her a great hassle. Every little touch of the cleanser made her flinch enough to draw tears in her eyes. After applying the sixth and final bandage to her leg, she let out a great sigh of relief.
She dragged her body to the end of the aisle and leaned against the side panel. What am I supposed to do now? She sat thinking for a while but found herself drawn into a blank mental state. Nothing productive would form of her thoughts, no solutions entered her mind. Instead, she sat comatose on the floor of the corner store waiting for something to happen. Suddenly, a ringing sound entered the room, startling her in the process. Her mind quickly snapped back into reality, and she pulled herself onto her feet to scope out the source of the ringing. Is it a phone? I think it’s a phone. How stupid can I be? I didn’t even check to see if there was one behind the counter. Never leave me in a zombie apocalypse; I’d die five minutes after the infection began to spread. She reached the counter and saw the phone lying on the side of the register. She fumbled it in her hands for a few seconds and jammed her finger into the receive button before the other end hung up.
”Hello?” she said in an almost half whisper.
”Who is this?” a panicked male voice responded from the other line.
”M-my name Medallia Stanton. Who is this?” she answered back.
”Are you a human?” the voice growled back.
”Yes, what else could I be? Can you please tell me what is going on here?” she questioned with a confused tone. The knot in the pit of her stomach grew back again.
”Prove it!” he shouted.
”Prove it? I’m talking to you on the phone, wouldn’t that be proof enough that I am a human? Please answer me,” she questioned.
”What is your social security number?” he yelled.
”My social- what? Who is this?” she shouted. Her patience was growing thin with this man, but she knew he was the only one that could actually help her out of this situation.
”I cannot give you any further information unless I have proof that you are, in fact, a human. Respond with your social security number or I will hang up the line,” he replied with a stern and authoritative tone.
She was unsure whether or not to respond with the information he requested, but denying him would only leave her stranded yet again. What do I do now? Think Medallia, think.
”Are you still there?” the voice bellowed into the receiver.
”Yes. I’m sorry, the number is 555–55–5555,” her voice shaking with each number. Her heart was racing, and the pit of her stomach felt as a hand was squeezing its entire contents. She had the sudden urge to vomit and attempted to ease the feeling by focusing on the man’s voice on the other line.
”Give me a second while I process your information.” He was so official, she felt as if she was calling a customer service line.
She waited patiently, hearing the muffled sounds of the man clicking key after key on what sounded like a computer. Every second felt like an eternity, and the urge to vomit emerged again. She quickly moved the mouthpiece of the phone away from her face and heaved the contents of yesterday’s meal on the floor. The smell radiated around her and made her eyes water. She quickly pulled the cord around the counter and moved as far as she could from the puddle, wiping her mouth as she walked. She sat waiting at the phone hoping the man did not hear her gruesome noises.
Finally, the man spoke again. “All right Medallia, we have you in our system. You are in fact a human,” he stated with a matter-of-fact tone.
Well no kidding, I don’t get what else I could possibly be if I’m sitting here on the phone with this guy. It’s not like a cat could just walk up in here and answer the telephone.
”Ok. Can you please tell me who this is now?” her voice was more assertive this time. Between the vomiting and the diligent waiting, her patience had disintegrated entirely.
”Yes, of course. I am sorry for the delay. My name is Martin Hollinsky. I am the chief officer of security for New York City. Sonar popped up on our screens of a life form at your location, and I routed the number to try and contact you. I had to ask if you were a human because our scanners do not differentiate between human and other biotic forms. Is there anyone else there with you?” His voice was much calmer, almost relaxed, now.
”No, I am alone. There is no one on the streets or in any of the stores. I woke up on the sidewalk, and I have no idea how I got here. I have no money and no cell phone; both were taken out of my bag when I was asleep. I have no way of getting back to my apartment. I need someone to please tell me what the hell is going on here.” She began to shake again, something about the words ‘biotic forms’ made her feel uneasy. She wondered what he could possibly be talking about.
”A squad chopper is on its way to pick you up. They will bring you to my headquarters and we will talk then. For now, please remain at your current location and find something to defend yourself with in case.” His voice ended following the disconnection of the phone call.
She stood there speechless, with no way to contact the man or even find out what he meant by any of the information he had given her. Frustration filled her mind. Find something to defend myself? What am I defending against? And how long would this man like me to sit around and wait? It could be days before they send someone. Idiot. He thinks he can just hang up on me like that, well when I -
Before she could finish her thought, a large noise developed above the store. She heard a loud muffled sound followed by a man’s voice amplified by a microphone.
”Medallia Stanton, this is Lieutenant Richards from the NYPD, please exit the area with your hands above your head immediately.” His voice echoed into the store.
Reluctantly she walked out of the store, limping cautiously on her newly bandaged leg, with her hands raised firmly above her head. She looked above and saw the chopper hovering over the building, with a short ladder dangling underneath the base. A man above her tugged on the ladder, sending it closer to the ground. He started to climb down with one hand; the other was holding a gun. When he reached the ground, he pointed the pistol towards her.
”Place your arms out to your side and turn around,” his voice commanded.
She timidly turned around and waited as the man patted down her torso, feeling for a long time around her bra line. She felt extremely uncomfortable and began to flinch.
”Stay still! If you move again, I will have to arrest you!” His voice was louder than the muffled noise of the chopper in her ear. She began to feel the tears well up in her eyes again.
”I haven’t done anything wrong, why are you searching me? Martin Hollinsky said you were coming to take me to him, not to suspect me of a crime!” She began to shake as the words poured out of her mouth. She always hated cops, ever since she was arrested in high school for public defacement. The cop brutally beat her the evening she was arrested, and got away with it. Nothing her or her family said would make the judge convict him of any crime even with the dozens of bruises that were covering her body. Instead, she served a hundred hours of community service cleaning graffiti around the city.
”This is a standard procedure. If you would not like to comply, than you can stay in this deserted city for all I care!” He was getting angrier by the second. She decided it was best to stay quiet and listen. She stood still and waited as the cop searched her, remaining as still as possible. After a few moments, she felt a sharp pain radiate down back.
”What was that!” she screamed before even thinking.
”Stay still! I am extracting a DNA sample, if you move the vial will break inside your skin.” He was yelling again.
”Why didn’t you warn me!” her scream radiated the space between the large buildings around them.
He did not answer; he simply pulled the needle from her back and walked towards the ladder. She didn’t know if she should follow or not, but the pain and the fear immobilized her entirely. What seemed like hours, the man finally poked his head out of the door of the chopper.
”Climb the ladder and hurry up!” he shouted at her.
She hated this man. Even with all the wounds that were visible around her body, he offered her no help. How would he like me to climb the ladder with a leg like this? She quickly looked down and saw the blood stains appearing under the cotton swab of the band-aids.
”I cannot climb this. I have no strength in my right leg because of this wound,” lifting up her leg towards the ladder.
The man yelled something she could not make out and went back into the chopper. Another man started down the steps towards her. He was younger and seemed just as afraid of the Lieutenant as she was. When he reached the base, she saw he had no weapon pointed towards her.
”Can you move your arms ok?” he asked in a quiet and sweet voice.
”Yeah, the cuts are not that deep,” she answered
”Grab onto my shoulders ok and hold on really tight, I am going to climb the both of us up. Pretend I am giving you a piggy-back ride, ok?” he began to smirk a little as he said it.
”I am too heavy, you’ll hurt yourself or lose grip and we will both fall,” she replied.
”You? Heavy? Please, you are as thin as anything, now get on, ok?” and he turned towards the ladder before she could comply. He hoisted himself on the first step and waited for her to join him.
Leaning with her good leg on the first step, she pulled herself up onto his back and locked her hands around his neck.
”You can put your legs around me so they do not get caught on the ladder, ok?” he said in a half whisper. She locked her legs around and used every bit of strength she could to hold on. The pain was excruciating in her leg from the pressure, but she knew it was better than climbing the ladder alone.
When they reached the top, the man hoisted himself onto the chopper and gently rolled on his side so she could let go of his shoulders. Before she could pull herself onto the seat closet to her, the man had lifted her in his arms and laid her down across the floor behind the driver and began to pull the ladder into the chopper. He closed the door and gave the Lieutenant the signal to leave, causing the vehicle to jerk forward. The man stood above her, hunching downward to avoid bumping his head. He reached for some blankets in an alcove attached the ceiling and threw them haphazardly on the back seat.
”Let me put one under your head so you are comfortable ok? And another for under your knee to get some pressure off that leg.” His voice was so soothing compared to the Lieutenant’s. She nodded her head in approval.
”What is your name?” she asked him.
”Oh, how stupid of me, I’m Officer Taylor, but you can call me by my first name Christopher, or Chris for short.” After he spoke, he leaned towards her face and whispered softly “Don’t worry, I am nothing like Richards up there, no one likes him around here, but he’s one of the only one’s left that can drive a rescue chopper, so he goes out on all the rescue missions.”
She nodded again to ensure Richards would not hear them. “Where are you both taking me?”
”To the main headquarters of the NYPD. Well, technically it is not our headquarters, it’s the main survival headquarters. Any officer or medical assistant who survived the attack is now located there. It is where we search for other survivors and send out a crew to retrieve any we find. You are really lucky, no one else survived in your area. We were so shocked when we saw your life form on the radar system.” He grinned widely after speaking.
”What attack? And what do you mean no one survived?” she asked with a confused voice. Everything was starting to come together, and the knot in her stomach emerged yet again.
”I guess the Chief didn’t fill you in much did he? And I also take it you do not remember anything?” he asked.
”No and no. He hung up on me before I could say a word after he found out I was human. And I woke up on the sidewalk with no memory of what happened to me last night. All that I could find was my empty purse and vomit stains on my shirt, and of course, I cannot forget these wonderful wounds,” she said in a sarcastic tone.
Officer Taylor sat down on the ground next to Medallia and leaned slightly on the door of the chopper. He let out a great sigh and closed his eyes. “What you are going to hear will probably make you think I am crazy, but you need to believe me.”
“I will, don’t worry.” She looked up at him as his eyes slightly opened.
“Well, here goes nothing.”
To be continued….