This is an old, unfinished piece that I’ve felt the urge to go back to. If you used to read Your Dead Mate over on LiveJournal, then you’ll have seen this already – although I am taking the liberty of adding a few polishes here and there while I work my way through to the point where there can be new stuff.
Joe McGuire wasn’t at all sure about his newest client. Oh, the man was polite enough, he supposed. But he was too quiet, too intent. Five days now they’d been out here on the Gulf, in the middle of freakin’ hurricane season, fishing, and the man had spoken to Joe only to give directions.
Diane nearly decided to report the man right there.
And for once, it wasn’t a customer’s winning streak that made her think to report them. It was the failure of a winning streak.
They came, as they always did, to the place of destruction. To New Orleans in 2005, as they had come to London in 1666, to San Francisco in 1906, to Knossos more than 1600 years before Christ. They came, with their ancient lore and still more ancient justifications.
Although aid work was Jenna’s vocation, and always had been, she’d never much cared for domestic work. It wasn’t just the chance to see far away lands and different cultures, although she’d be lying if she claimed that wasn’t a factor. It was the chance to get away from what her country was becoming.
Terry had lost everything when the hurricane hit. Actually, that wasn’t quite true, he thought. He’d lost everything before that. What Katrina had stolen from him was the chance to get it all back.
There had been a battle here once, many years back. Not a battle fought with swords or shot, but with words. But the right side had won, and that was all that mattered to the servant. Seventy four years ago, these islands had been declared a wildlife reserve, ensuring the privacy of the one he served. He still remembered the day, the sense of triumph mingled with shame.
Angela hung up the phone and stared out the window. In New York, far to the north of the chaos wrought by Katrina, things seemed almost normal. If you considered your country being at war to be normal, at any rate.
He arrived at his destination not long before sundown. He hadn’t realized it was his destination until he arrived, but his first minute breathing the air there, he knew. This was the place he wanted, he could sense it. Continue reading
The first of the dancers arrived shortly after midnight. She had swum the last two miles, aided by currents that plucked at her and wanted to take her further. But she resisted them. Choosing a likely building, she found her way inside only after diving down its outer walls several times.
Inside, the building stank of rot. Mould had colonized the carpets, and she was sure she could smell the body of something decaying in the stairwell. This was the perfect place.
She slept for several hours, awaking with the dawn. She stretched through her warm up routine, then got to work. The others would not be far behind her, she knew.
Terry awoke with the feeling of someone’s hands inside his jacket. He grabbed at them immediately, recognizing the familiar feeling of someone trying to get at his wallet. The guy evaded him, but backed off anyway, making conciliatory noises. Satisfied that the he hadn’t been robbed, Terry relaxed a little and took in his surroundings.
The first thing he noticed was the overwhelming smell of muddy water. His clothes were still damp from it, although it was warm enough outside that he wasn’t cold. He was in, well, a room of some sort. He didn’t recognise it, or the building it was a part of. The two panes of glass in the window were both shattered, with only a few jagged edges pointing out of the frames here and there.
For a minute, Terry wasn’t sure where he was, but then memory kicked in. He remembered the horrible howling of the storm, and the table that he had used to stay afloat when the levees broke. He had a vague recollection of drifting, half-asleep, half-mad with terror for a long time, before he’d finally found this place and staggered in, reckoning that any shelter was better than none.
Shreveport has always been a strange town, thought Jenna. At least, it’s always felt that way to me. Shreveport, Louisiana, the town that proudly proclaims itself to be the border between the South and the West – as if that wasn’t some species of schizophrenia. Cowboys and Southern Belles, oh my.
Flying into New Orleans had, on every other occasion, been fun. Angela had always looked forward to her visits to the city. She hadn’t missed a single Mardi Gras since she turned seventeen, and she usually went through there at least once more a year. It was one of her favourite places – well, that weren’t New York City, anyway – and she always looked forward to seeing it again.
She wasn’t looking forward to it this time.
The pictures on the news had not been encouraging – large portions of the city covered in grey brown pools of water, buildings damaged or destroyed outright, the dying branches of trees poking out of the flood. And the corpses, bobbing in the water. No one to bury them, no one even to count them.
FEMA were allegedly on the job, but Angela had a pretty good idea of what that meant – she’d reported on FEMA’s budget and readiness before now, and even met TK Brown in his previous role. Her hopes were not high. FEMA were barely qualified to hand out band aids, in her opinion – and they’d probably manage to accidentally kill people if called upon to put them on.
When the pilot announced that they were coming in for a landing, she looked out the window at last. It was even worse than she’d feared. The city was barely recognizable. If it had been a person, you’d have sworn that the Before and After pictures were two different people – and that whatever had happened between before and after had been the single worst thing that ever happened to either of them.