3. Exodus

3. Exodus

A Chapter by Peter Rogerson



Dearest darling diary, today is a day to mark as more special than any other, and there have been special days, like the day Amoeba was born, the little girl in the hovel down the way. A tiny thing, she was, but I was allowed to hold her and the noises she made when her eyes fixed on me were so cute! I would love a baby of my own, but it never seems to happen no matter how many boys I lie with.

But I digress.

This morning when the lights started glowing there was the raucous sound of the horn. We all knew there was a raucous horn. There were occasional rehearsals, though none of knew what we were rehearsing for, but the automatic voice that came from everywhere and nowhere always told us the same thing, that if there was a fire that might endanger lives or any other catastrophe then the horn would sound and we must congregate in the hanging gardens of Nirvana from which place we would be given orders to leave Paradise Hell, and told how to do it.

Normally the hanging gardens of Nirvana are peaceful and quiet and barely a soul wanders beneath what are called floral stalactites, great shining pinnacles that hang from far above, where we believe there might be a roof or some kind of top to Paradise Hell. But today, dear diary, we are all gathered there. Timmy is with me, holding my hand and looking most serious, like everyone is looking serious. Today is different.

I think, maybe, that I’m not so solemn as many of the folks because right next to me, on the other side of me to where Timmy is standing apprehensively, and holding my other hand, is little Amoeba, grown big enough to walk now, and pretty as any picture anywhere.

What is a picture? I know so little yet say and write so much!

Then, when we were all there, and that included some who had been half way through their toilet and were still adjusting their smocks, came the same automatic voice that reassures us during the rehearsals, and I will set down here what it said, or as much as I can remember.

The time has come for our exodus,” it said in the most solemn voice I have ever heard, “the time has come for us to venture out of this place that has been home for centuries and return to the world our forefathers escaped from. If the war still rages we may perish in it, but if we remain here much longer we will perish anyway. Our resources are few and getting fewer as we consume them. We must go,”

And that was that. What are resources?

There was a confused pause and then everyone starting gabbling at once, me included.

What does it mean, Timmy?” I asked, expecting him to be quite certain what the words meant because, well, he’s a boy.

He shook his head, sending his gorgeous hair in a flurry round and round so that I giggled, and then said,

I’ve no more idea than you, Jenny.”

I usually depend on Timmy to know things even though however hard he tried he can’t seem to be able to put me with child. But this time I could tell his ignorance was as complete as my own.

After a while the horn sounded again, and then the voice returned in all its sombre majesty. Here is my memory of what it said:

In one hour from now we will start our exodus,” it said, more melancholy than I would have believed possible, “the orders are as follows: we will go now to our hovels and gather together all that we can comfortably carry without unduly exerting ourselves. Then we will return to these gardens and wait for further instructions. When I appear you will listen to my words, follow my instructions, or you will be punished. Is that understood?”

I understood it quite clearly and along with everyone else replied in a strange unworldly chorus “Yes, sir.”

Why did I call the voice sir?

Then, still holding Timmy’s hand I returned Amoeba to her mother and we went to our hovel.

You might think an hour too short a time to gather our essentials, but they were so few: Besides a spare smock the only thing I owned was the box of health tablets I had been ordered to take when I became too old to be called a child, a small cardboard container that was replenished monthly. I was told they would keep me smiling and healthy and were labelled, in quite old fashioned print, “contraceptive tablets”, though I have no idea what the big word means.

Nothing is called tablets these days! That shows how old they are. Apparently the first people to leave the overground world in their thousands brought loads of them in huge containers so that our health would always be good. They were just for us girls because our systems need supplements more than do boys’ bodies.

Timmy and I returned to the Hanging Gardens of Nirvana with our few possessions, each carrying a small bag, and we waited.

The rest of the people came to that central place in trickles until we were all back under the gleaming spikes, and then the horn blew again, louder this time, and a door that I’d barely noticed before slowly swung open.

Out of it trundled rather than walked a monstrous creature clearly made of metal, and it stood as if it pretended to be a man, its head moving smoothly from side to side as if it was gazing at each of us individually in turn.

I will lead the way, and we must go slowly,” it pronounced, its voice seeming to come from everywhere, “you will all follow me and nobody will lag, or else there will be punishment. The road before us long and we will pause every few hours to rest. Eventually we will come to the Final Door. When we reach it we will have to take the biggest chance of your lives, for we have no idea what we might find on the other side of it. If a war is raging there may be fires and rain that glows in the dark We cannot tell.”

Then its was silent, and it trundled forwards a short distance and we people shuffled along behind it.

What is rain?

© Peter Rogerson, 15.02.21


© 2021 Peter Rogerson

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Added on February 15, 2021
Last Updated on February 15, 2021
Tags: announcement, leaving, exodus


Peter Rogerson
Peter Rogerson

Forest Town, Nottinghamshire, United Kingdom

I am 77 years old, but as a single dad with four children that I had sole responsibility for I found myself driving insanity away by writing. At first it was short stories (all lost now, unfortunately.. more..