The Hanging Garden

Submitted into Contest #42 in response to: Write a story that ends with the narrator revealing a secret.... view prompt

11 comments

Mystery

A man sat at the edge of his bed in a darkened room. Everything there was clean and in place. All except the man himself. He sat staring into the wall as though it had some great knowledge to give him. The wall had no reply. The entire room was silent. The man finally arose from his seat and left the room. He entered into a large living room, similar to the bedroom, which was very clean, and the walls were all painted white. The light of this open room finally revealed what this man was wearing. It looked like a jump suit, all in white. The entire room was filled with furniture, paintings, and appliances, all spaced out and organized like a room should be, but there was no life to it. The only life in the room was what was moving around in the form of this man. He walks across the tile floor as his shoes echoed off the walls of the chamber. There he finally approached what looked like a telephone, but far more advanced. He pressed a large button on the front and walked to the kitchen. The digital voice echoed across the room after him.


“To ensure maximum efficiency subject, JOHN MARTIN, must temporarily cease their current occupation and report to Area G111-9 for reassignment no later than 0900.”


The man, John Martin, was in the middle of pouring a cup of coffee when he produced a sigh. With the cup in hand he slowly made his way over to the couch and sat. With a flick of a button the television hummed to life. What appeared to be the daily news played on the screen. The endless monolog of talking heads rattled as usual but the conversation took a casual turn to a crisis.


“We need to consider the consequences! We may have back up plans in place but, if we go through with this, everything else will be lost.” The man on the TV spoke.


“Of course, there may be a bad outcome, but we are already living and operating in the shelters. Even in the worst-case scenario we already have all we need in the shelters. We would lose nothing.” A woman across a digital barrier from the man replied.


“Nothing! Except all we built from the last hundreds of years and not to mention the rural population.” The man rebutted.


John was busy drinking his coffee. As though he had already heard this argument a hundred times. ‘Calamity is inevitable’ He thought ‘Whether it be from war, plague, or some other thing.’ John appeared to use this as an excuse to not bother with current events. The television continued on without him. This time it showed large white sturdy structures with a sign displayed on the front reading BABEL CORP. A man began to narrate as the camera toured these large buildings.


“Here we have the shelters. Our, possibly to be, future homes. Well not for the future for some! It is estimated by BABEL Corp. that 50% of all urban population has taken residence in these new abodes and countless more are on the way. These state-of-the-art designed skyscrapers are meant for comfort, safety, and efficiency. With the current climate of today’s politics and relations with other countries, these homes offer what no one else can, protection! Whatever disaster awaits us, these things are prepared.” The screen began showing many images of large public and social areas all inside the confines of the shelters. It then showed some of the different rooms, some larger for bigger families and some smaller. All of them had that white spotless appeal.


“Not only is this a great place to out live the end times, but it also features an advanced self-regulating system.” The narrator continued. “An AI program has been put in place to predict what resources are lacking and in response, assign priority jobs to those areas. So, if you were ever to run out of water, the system will know months ahead of time and send the best qualified of guests to sort it out immediately. Humanity can stay here till the sun burns out, but don’t take my word for it. Up next we have an exclusive interview with the genius behind it all, right after this message.”


               A commercial flashed on the screen but John’s gaze had not shifted from his cup. The clock on the wall slowly ticked to the time 0845. John fiddled with the mug in his hand and drank the last bit of what was left out at the bottom. A voice on the screen spoke once again. This time John’s head rose, and his eyes narrowed, finally acknowledging the man before him. On the screen he was sat on a chair and across from him was a woman who was the interviewer.


“So, this is your great hanging gardens so to speak, your greatest accomplishment to go down in history. How do you cope with such success and what inspired you for this idea?”


“Well you see throughout history there has always been a rise and fall of every great empire. I hope that fall is not soon, but I think it is perfectly rational to prepare for one. I admired many of the ancient structures that had stood the test of time throughout history and are still there today. I thought, why can’t our legacy be built as well? Now we are not only going to have our legacy survive but we ourselves will outlive whatever nature throws at us, whatever God himself throws at us!”


“It will indeed! Mr. Bruegel, thank you for your time.”


The interviewer was saying something else, but John wasn’t really paying attention anymore. The clock in the room finally hit 0855. He got up from the couch and walked over to the wall. This wall had a large indent in it and a button at the side. John pressed the button and the indent began to open layer by layer. This indent was not a wall, but a window. As the last reinforced layer pealed back, the sun light streamed in from the outside world. The light from the star overpowered and dominated whatever artificial light that once lay claim to the inside of the room. Once John’s eyes adjusted, there was revealed a vast city all completely and utterly in ruin. Great skyscrapers collapsed and overtaken with vines and trees. The city had fallen, and nature had reclaimed the land once more. John scanned his eyes across the expanse. There was nothing. A tower stood not far from his that once held the label BABEL Corp. but this tower like the others had fallen. In fact, if John could have had a view from the outside of his tower, he would have witnessed that his was the only that had not fallen. Behind John the clock on the wall beeped, signifying the hour change to which it read 0900. John did not leave where he stood. He continued looking out the window upon the ruined city. You see, John was not late to reassignment because there was no reassignment. The only life produced from the television and the phone where simply echoes of what once lived. The only life in the city was what was standing at the window in the form of this man.

May 22, 2020 20:06

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11 comments

Jexica Marcell
02:37 Jun 03, 2020

OMG, when I read this, I relized how good it is! Keep on writing, and if you can, could you review my story. Thank you

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Andrew Zaino
18:10 Jun 03, 2020

Thanks a lot and yeah I'll look at your story!

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Jexica Marcell
18:12 Jun 03, 2020

Thank you so much. I hope you like them!!!

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Jexica Marcell
18:49 Jun 03, 2020

I just wrote a new story

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Vrishni Maharaj
13:11 May 27, 2020

Love this!

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Andrew Zaino
16:14 May 27, 2020

Thanks!

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Cynthia Prokarym
00:57 May 23, 2020

Great story and use of vivid descriptions, as well as the building up of suspense. :-) I liked it!

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Andrew Zaino
18:39 May 23, 2020

Thank you so much for the feedback!

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Andrew Zaino
23:25 May 22, 2020

If anyone is curious, this story is very loosely inspired by the painting 'The Great Day of His Wrath'. The artist's name might sound familiar.

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20:11 May 22, 2020

Hi Andrew! I liked this one for the fact that it kept me interested and in the dark until the very last paragraph. You do a wonderful job of building up the setting, hinting at his loneliness, and ultimately showing us the destroyed world around him. I especially love the apocalyptic and Biblical undertones to it. It adds a nice dimension to the story here, making you wonder, what actually happened? Overall, great job!

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Andrew Zaino
23:21 May 22, 2020

Thanks for the feedback!

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