When my parents were born in the Age of Night and Day, by their twentieth, they had experienced so much more than I, their only so Accepting the changes the New Government forced upon them, no matter how confining, they adapted to global segregation and lived out their few remaining years until their passing.
Now, we, the Daywalker’s, are those divided from those who walk at night, forced, as they are, to spend their lives in either daylight, or night-time.
The old buildings that once made the city so spectacular have been replaced by bone-white cylindrical structures known as Homesteads.
I reside in HSDT37LON-EN. That is, the 37th Homestead built for Daywalker’s in New London, England.
Within these mammoth structures inhabit 100,000 men, women and children. The central floors of the tower hold Leisure facilities, an international food dining hall, and places of congregation.
On the outer rims, are Haven Units – tiny pods for one or two to sleep.
Each Pod comprises an InterComm, which not only provides access to the International Network, but also communication between Pods, an emergency urinary facility, and a pressure sensitive mattress which determines the presence of an occupant.
If a Pod is empty at the time of curfew, ten Republic Officers beam from the nearest night time Homestead to investigate. A Homestead-wide quarantine is initiated, and all access locked from inside and out as the surrounding city is meticulously searched for the escapee.
Most are found alive, returned to the Homestead, beaten, and barely able hold themselves upright.
The last to escape was Old Abe. Even now, after six months, people still speak about him and his wild riddle – “The streets are empty”. Yet, it wasn’t so much the riddle that shocked, but the manner by which he enabled himself to speak.
The Main Hall had been converted into an execution arena. In the centre of the great room, a large glass dome rested on a wooden stage.
Old Abe, dressed in red, with his face hidden by a crimson execution hood, fought against the Black-robed Republic Officers who dragged him through the maddening crowd.
His wrists were cuffed behind him, and his legs bound by thick plastic cord. Multiple times, he staggered and fell, but the Officers dragged him to his feet.
All residents of the Homestead, including the children, were forced to attend the execution. The CPA – Central Presidency Association – wanted everyone to witness their fate should they not return to their Homestead at sunset.
Escorted roughly up the wooden steps leading to the glass dome, he was forced into a large leather chair, where somewhere beneath, cyanide capsules awaited the liquid solution that would bring them to effervescent life.
The glass door was locked, and all who looked on awaited the final signal.
Strapped to the chair, Old Abe began attempting to break free, and before the button could be pushed, with what remaining strength he had, he tore loose from the shackles around his wrists and ripped the crimson hood from his head.
The old wisps of his grandfather-grey hair were gone, replaced by shaven baldness, and his face was covered in dried and fresh blood.
From my position I could not see the particulars of his face. It was only as he tore his hands loose of the remaining straps that bound his arms and he flung his hands to his face to wipe at the congealing blood, that I witnessed the nature of his wounds.
His eyes, which had been protected by round rimmed glasses since I had known him, were bloody and weeping. As he wiped free the dried blood we could see that his eyes had been sown together by black cotton.
The sign was given, and from within the glass dome a yellow cloud appeared from the floor below him.
Now, he tore at his mouth, for it too was sewn together from the bottom lip to the top. He did not merely pick at the fiber’s but scratched at them, ripping them through his lips. Bright fresh crimson blood flowed from the flaps that were once his mouth as he screamed at those nearest to him through the wall of glass.
Over and over he repeated the same words; the riddle, “The streets are empty!” trying desperately to speak through his torn lips, and hoping that someone would understand.
And then, he collapsed, and died.
Being a Daywalker is no different from being a Nightwalker. On the outside, there remain places to roam; shopping centers, restaurants, parks and even some schools closely situated to the Homesteads.
The difference is merely the absence or presence of daylight, and between being a child of the sun, or the moon.
For us, come sunrise, we are free to roam as far as we choose from our Homestead. But, if we do not return by sunset that same day, we are considered on the run; a fugitive.
And this is what I became, to see what had been taken from me at birth – the beauty of the moon and the stars.
I bade farewell to my friends at sunrise and set off for the Great Forest of London, for it was in that man-made woodland that a rumored underground access tunnel was located.
Was it worth dying for such a cause? Worth having my eyelids and mouth sewn shut? Ask yourself, if you could never see the moon, or the stars, would you feel complete? My answer was no.
So, I ran. I ran like never before. With no transport I had only twelve to fourteen hours to find the Great Forest, and the hidden underground passage.
As I stood on a hilltop overlooking the Great Forest, I wept as the setting sun descended, casting its shadow across the forest’s canopy, changing it from olive, to jade, and emerald to grey.
Other than the pictures and cinematic pieces accessible on the International Network, I had never witnessed a sun setting, for it was at this time I would have been expected at the Homestead.
Now, before me, the splendor of the golden orbs farewell to the sunlight hours had left me overwhelmed, and yet, for each bitter tear there fell one that was sweetened by thanks; a tear which awoke in me the appreciation of the moment I was sharing with the world; a moment which I knew I may never witness again. I knew I had made the right decision and yet the fear of uncertainty echoed in my mind, questioning my future course. What if I couldn’t find the access tunnel? What if it didn’t exist? And if it did, would this to be my home forever? Would I forage from the land, eating nuts and berries, whilst using pine needles to sew my clothes?
Soon, darkness would permeate the land, and I, having no sensitivity to the dark, would find my vision unhelpful in my search.
I ran down the hill, dodging wayward branches and bushes as cascading rocks and stones shadowed my strides, and came to rest at the forest entrance.
Pine cones, fallen from the trees, lay at my feet, and as I bent to pick one up, I heard a sound; brief, but distinguishable from the wind that howled softly through the branches. I ducked behind the nearest pine tree, and waited.
The sound came again; the crunch of leaves a short distance away. I held my breath, and steadied my heart against that which was awaiting me in the darkness.
Nearly a minute passed as I listened for the hushed tones of Daytime Republic Soldiers, and the cracking undergrowth beneath their boots, but all was silent.
I peeked around the trunk of the tree, and there only meters away, a young buck nibbled on the leaves and shrubs fallen from the trees.
It stopped, sensing my presence, and raised its head to gaze upon me with deep brown eyes. It seemed forever I was lost within them as it looked not just at me as an oddity, or something to be feared, but into me as if it could feel my fear and wonder.
I stepped from behind the tree, and like a child, lifted my arm towards it in an attempt to connect; to communicate. The young buck bolted into the dark forest, leaving only the sound of cracking branches in its wake. Moments later there remained only the silent stirrings of dusk once again.
I smiled, with a new feeling of hope. But, my journey was not complete.
At the mouth of the forest, the upper zenith of the sun barely shone above the trees. A smell of damp, stale air, gusted from within and the branches seemed to open their jagged maw to my expected entry.
I ran into the forest, opening my eyes wide to allow in whatever light remained. I feared, in the darkness, I would sooner get lost than find my prize; the underground access tunnel.
‘It is there!’ Eldrid had said.
We were children, no older than seven or eight, whispering between Mr. Davis’ Biology lesson.
Years had passed since and yet his words still echoed in my mind.
‘I was in hydroponics; my mother was bartering for fresh tomatoes and oranges, with fresh fish my father had caught. I got bored and went for a walk. Most of the researchers were spraying nutrient solutions on the plants, but there were two, in the far corner – a man and a woman – who were speaking in hushed tones.’
‘I heard them talking about it. Weeks later they were gone. Disappeared.’
I skulked around the forest, searching the undergrowth for hidden passages and signs of metal or concrete entrances. But, as the sun continued its descent and the way ahead darkened further, my search became more frantic.
Like a stubborn child, I tore up the bushes, dug my heels into the earth, and kicked at the pinecones that blanketed the forest floor.
Ding! The sound of a rock ricocheting off something metallic stopped me in my tracks.
As I listened for the fading tone of the struck metal, the pain in my broken toe and the smell of blood from the deep gashes in my palms showered my senses.
The sun had nearly set and all that remained were the rays that shone through the branches.
I fell to the ground and scampered towards a large bush. There, the glinting of metal shone like a beacon beneath the undergrowth.
I moved to stand, ready to tear the bush to pieces with no thought for the deep gashes already in my palms, but stopped, realizing the fortunate position of such an important entrance.
I scampered into the bush, ignoring the needles and branches digging into my arms, piercing my legs and face, and found myself sitting in a small hidden alcove beside a hatch with wheel connected to a metal plate.
Ever since I was a child, my desire for freedom took me on imaginary journeys where Ahab traversed the ocean for signs of his nemesis, the great white whale, Moby Dick. I imagined myself standing before the wheel of the ship, my hair blowing in the icy wind, and turned the wheel, counter clockwise.
‘Who the hell are you?’ a metallic mechanized voice barked behind me.
I froze, and released my grip on the wheel.
The Republic guard shouted for me not to move but it was too late. His partner slammed his multiphase rifle into my skull.
Stars flashed before my eyes and I fell to the pine covered ground. Yet, as I lost consciousness, the wheel continued its squeaky turn.
I awoke to darkness in a dank and musty room. Nearby, water droplets fell to a metallic floor. Ding, ding, da-ding.
Unaccustomed to the darkness, my eyes took time to adjust.
My head throbbed from the blow, and my back ached with the discomfort of having slept on the floor.
The hiss of an opening hydraulic door flooded the room with artificial light and a silhouette stepped inside.
‘Are you okay?’ a soft female voice asked.
I was suddenly overcome with fear and moved my hand to my lips. They were not sown shut.
‘Who are you?’ I asked, confused, and frightened to move in case she had a weapon.
The woman stepped forward, her hands out and palms turned upward; the common gesture of one wishing to be on peaceful terms.
‘My name is Megan; I’m a Nightwalker. You’re a Daywalker, aren’t you?’ she asked, the excitement in her voice clear to me.
‘Yes, but I…’ I stopped as my eyes further adjusted to the darkness. Her features were becoming clearer now and I could see she was wearing one of the Republican Guard uniforms.
‘It’s okay you’re safe now,’ she whispered.
‘Where am I,’ I asked, suddenly desperate to hear her speak again; her voice was soft, melodious and as she spoke, I could now see her lips move in the gloom.
She turned on the light, to set me at ease I believe, and her beauty at once struck me.
Her hair was as black and her eyes, though squinted in the light, which surely hurt her Nightwalker eyes, shone sky blue.
‘I’m sorry, please excuse me.’ She reached inside her open jacket.
I pushed myself against the cold dungeon wall, expecting her to retrieve a weapon, but instead she pulled out a large pair of dark sunglasses and slipped them on.
‘My apologies,’ she whispered, her hands raised upwards again, ‘the light, it hurts my eyes.
Please, come with me,’ she turned and pointed at the doorway. She seemed self-conscious, as if I had offended her, by my anxiety.
The hallway continued for some twenty metres. We passed a number of doorways into adjacent rooms, some locked, others open.
‘Keep going,’ she said as I slowed to look in a room of people working in darkness at computer terminals, the lenses of their sunglasses reflecting the light of the glowing phosphorescent monitors. The sounds of clanging metal and grunting brought me to the next room where Republican guards fought hand to hand and with knives and swords.
‘Take the next left,’ Megan said.
The room looked like the control centre of a submarine. Not that I had ever seen a submarine. Computer terminals and plasma monitors lined the walls with people pouring over maps and diagrams. In the centre of the floor, miniature plastic effigies of World War Two army men brandishing rifles, machine guns, pistols, grenades and bazookas, lay spread out on a large table.
‘Please forgive our crude attempt at military planning,’ a man dressed in the now familiar Republican guard uniform walked towards me.
As he strolled towards me I sensed something different between him and the others.
‘Hello,’ he held his right hand, ‘my name is Artimus.’
I introduced myself and shook his hand. Whatever it was that set him apart from the others so distinctly continued to elude me, but I watched him closely, searching each movement for the oddity which so struck me.
‘I welcome you to our humble dwelling. May you feel as welcome here as my own flesh and blood.’
And suddenly, that which served to fill me with distrust and confusion now drew me ever closer to him as a brother, for he like myself, was a Daywalker!
I then noticed the familiar glasses worn by the Republican Guards were in fact not worn by many at all. Out of a room of twenty, half were without glasses.
‘Please, allow me to introduce my second, Megan.’ Artimus said.
‘We’ve met,’ my voice faltered, not out of fear, but wonder, and curiosity – and excitement.
‘You must have questions?’ Artimus asked.
‘Y-you’re a Daywalker?’ I asked.
Artimus smiled, ‘Yes, I am. There are many of us who have seen the true light…
But, please, follow me.’ Artimus walked towards a large plasma monitor, touched the screen, and using a series of menus opened a video file.
You should see this first,’ he said as he stepped back from the screen.
The grainy form of a familiar man sat behind a desk came into view.
‘And so,’ his voice sounded metallic and the picture was grainy, ‘from this day forward, due to the unforeseen circumstances of our superior public health system, and the extended life this has afforded us, the Day/Night initiative is now the only option we have to ensure our population is protected from the daily rigors of progress.’
Our schools are full, our offices are crowded, our shopping areas are teeming with shoppers where the lines to buy food extend beyond the stores themselves.
‘We have become a great human swarm, pressing, pushing and forcing our way through daily life. Soon, like the bees in their honeycombs, we too will be forced to crawl over one another to work, to live, and to eat. This is not the world we envisioned.’ The picture disintegrated, to be replaced by another.
A tall, muscular man, holding his helmet in the crook of his right arm and dressed in an early Republican Guard uniform stood straight beside the man just seen.
‘Allow me to introduce Captain Jonathan Ridge, the director of operations for the newly formed Republican Guard. The Guard have been created as a means of protecting all of us throughout our waking hours, and whilst we sleep.’
The video stopped, and the montage of video shifted again.
Captain Ridge stood before a crowd of onlookers.
‘The process of population shift within the United Kingdom is now complete.’ he said.
‘The Homesteads are built and functioning for both Daywalker’s and Nightwalker’s alike.’
The crowd applauded and cheered.
‘In addition, the day of changeover remains unaffected by those who oppose the Day/Night Initiative.’
An egg flew across the stage and smashed into Captain Ridge’s face. As the yellow yoke trickled down his nose, a large group of men and women ran from the crowd onto the stage screaming and shouting.
The camera wobbled and another egg went flying towards Ridge’s face. He lifted his helmet in time as the egg smashed against the clear plastic faceplate and in a fluid movement; he wiped the faceplate clean on his arm, placed it on his head and signaled for assistance.
Republican guards, outnumbering the horde five to one began their brutal offensive.
Ridge could be seen in the background as his men pummeled and beat the crowd back with their fists and trungeons.
The sound of cracking skulls, screams and the sight of blood and sputum splattered against the camera lens before the scene shifted once again.
‘…the Government has awarded full authority to the Republican Guard to manage national security.’ A female newsreader spoke.
‘All government security agencies, including the metropolitan police, the army, and naval corp are now disbanded and superseded by the Republican Guard.’
The screen went black.
‘But the story doesn’t end there,’ Artemis whispered and touched the screen again to highlight and open a folder.
He tapped on another video file named ‘The Truth’.
At once it opened to reveal the quavering voice of a young frightened woman.
‘My name is Danielle, I am a Nightwalker.’ she whispered as tears flowed down her face.
The sound of gunfire echoed behind her and she flinched.
‘The rumors are true!’ she spoke hurriedly. ‘Since losing contact with the Portsmouth Nightwalker Homestead nearly a week ago we’ve heard only that they were attacked, but by whom we know not.’
‘Why are they doing this?’ she pleaded to the camera, ‘they’re here to protec…’
The door behind her burst open and a Republican Guard stepped into the room. Without a word he raised his rifle and as Danielle opened her mouth to scream, he shot a bullet into her head.
The guard then grabbed the camera, looked into the lens, and threw it to the ground.
The screen went black once again and Artemis reached across and touched the screen again. The picture froze.
‘We came across the camera week’s later.’ he said, ‘The hard drive was damaged but we also found this.’
He touched the screen again and the video continued.
The camera focused on a small gap in the branches of a bush.
‘Oh my God, I can’t believe this is happening!’ a voice stood out amongst the screaming Nightwalker being cut down by gunfire as they fled from the main entrances of their Homestead.
Bursts of flame shot forth from the automatic gunfire of the Republican Guards.
‘We’ve got do something!’ a feminine voice said.
‘Shhh, keep you’re voice down!’
‘Please, Levinia, don’t go! You cannot help them!’ Another voice spoke but this one seemed familiar. It was Artemis.
He nodded at me as I looked at him.
‘She did not listen to me; she never did.’ he said as Livinia jumped from the bushes and ran, weapon drawn, screaming at the Guards.
She managed only ten steps before a great bloody cavity exploded from the back of her skull.
The screen went black for a final time and Artemis turned towards me.
Time seemed to stop as my mind reeled with questions.
‘The Nightwalker’s are extinct. Those you see before you are all that survive.’
Artemis awaited my response, but my mouth was dry and I could think of no reply.
Only one thought continued to echo through my mind. Old Abe’s last words, ‘The streets are empty!’
‘Almost a decade ago, with everyone locked in their Homesteads throughout night or day, the National Intercomm informed the people of Britain of a simple change of management between the Government and the Republican Guard.
A formal statement followed by the Prime Minister to further enmesh the Guard in everyday affairs of the state, and thus allow them – after his departure – to undertake all duties related to the countries welfare.
What the people were unaware of however was the Guard had systematically murdered all Parliament officials in a coup and Captain Jonathan Ridge crowned himself Commander in Chief of Britain.
The Intercomm message made by the Prime Minister was a hoax; doctored.’
I shook my head, ‘Is this true?’ I looked to Artemis and Megan.
‘I’m afraid it is,’ Megan said.
‘But tonight, my friend, the truth will be shown to the world. We’ve planted a virus to disrupt the system which has allowed us to upload the video’s you have just seen.’
Tonight, we begin our first offensive. Tonight, the War begins.’