Excerpt from Adam
By: James Bushill
The cold northerly wind blew wavelines into the pollution cloud that blanketed the valley, permanently smothering the sleeping city below, leaving only the tips of the skyscrapers visible.
To the east of the hidden city, mansions speckled the hillsides. Outside their garden walls, gnarled trees and yellowing grass struggled for life.
Above the mansions, atop Mount Sentinel, the concrete hospital building glowed golden in the dawn light.
Inside, in a darkened corridor, a gaunt man with close-cropped hair and eyelids underscored by rings of shadow slept, his back toward one wall. It was Victor.
A robocleaner glided along, polishing the marble floor. It adjusted its course to avoid him, passing close to the other wall, a dark glass barrier that stretched from floor to ceiling. Behind the glass were hermetically sealed rooms, their interiors cloaked by darkness.
A number of items were laid out along the base of the glass wall: a red book, a wedding ring, a singed piece of paper, and three photographs in carved wooden frames. The photos showed Maria clad in hiking gear, arms aloft, snowcapped mountains filling the frame behind her; the shipping container lab at dawn; and, lastly, the two of them on a pebble beach, flanked by their wedding party.
Together, the keepsakes and the photographs formed a shrine. Each night, Victor would place them in careful order, before lighting a thick candle to burn through the night. Then he would lie in wait for sleep, his body desperate for rest, his mind drifting through the lonely hours.
Sometimes tiredness would triumph and he’d catch a few hours of restless sleep. In dreams, he’d run through a choking cloud, shouting her name. Then he’d wake in a cold sweat, convinced he was in the old house. Before opening his eyes, he’d reach out to touch Maria’s arm and confirm her presence.
Instead, he’d feel the cruel touch of the marble floor…
If you missed James Bushill’s interview, click here.