Geraldine has started a Movie Musings prompt site where she posts a prompt once a month.
The prompt for June was Sometimes The Runner Stumbles.
I wrote a screenplay about five years ago which I abandoned after two drafts because I thought it sounded too much like a cross between The Matrix and Bladerunner.
Anyhoo, as is my wont, I have decided to play around with it and see if I can turn it into a novel instead.
Geraldine’s prompt inspired me to give it another try.
Here’s one of the bits I’m fiddling with –
Image by fdolphin96 at Deviant Art
My name is Johnny Destructo. I am a hunter in the farthest reaches of the blue plateau. It is 2060AD and the earth has succumbed to environmental degradation. Our oceans are no longer life-sustaining. They are stagnant with polyurethane. Our population has been decimated by wave after wave of viral pandemic. Swine flu, avian flu, canine flu. The return of the bubonic plague.
Our remaining arable land is closely guarded. Our natural resources are controlled by the G2 – the two greatest superpowers in the world – Russchina, a merging of Russia and China and the United Kingdom of the States, a melding of what remains of the rest of the world.
Much of the world has been swallowed up by the sea or by what was our true enemy all along – our own garbage. A green haze covers the sun, methane gas rising from the tracts of land which used to be countries but are now garbage dumps.
As I said, our natural resources are controlled by the G2. So we have had to create our own sources of power. The Stewards of the States laughingly call it people power. They say what an honour it is to give yourself in service to your state. To become a wind runner.
I say it would have been better to have contracted the plague.
Our energy is sourced from the wind. It is the only technology we have left. Except that there is no wind. That’s where the runners come in. They are criminals, miscreants, the disenfranchised, the poor, thrown into laboratories and genetically modified so they can run and run and run.
They run in the relay tunnels. Thousands of them like rats turning wheels, powering our cities.
It is not a life. It is not even a death. It is nothing.
The Modifiers say the wind runners wish only to run. They crave it, but I have been down to the tunnels where their feet pound like a lament and I see their eyes pleading for peace.
As I said, I am a hunter. My official name is Venator which is Latin for hunter. The stewards like things to have a mythic connotation, but let me tell you, there is nothing mythic about hunting down a wind runner.
Sometimes they escape. They snap out of their catatonia and strive for freedom. They run. Blindly. Their pale limbs shuddering in the green heat. They hesitate, but they have been conditioned to run, it is all they know, so they keep on running. Always to the sea. Where all paths lead. But there is no respite there. The sea has spent a lifetime dying.
I do not chase them. I watch and wait in my RPV. My Reconnaissance and Pursuit Vehicle which has been powered by the very feet of the runners I am hunting. The irony is not lost on me.
My mission is to capture them, to return them to the Modifiers for re-programming, but sometimes they beg me for mercy. Let me run, they say. Let me run until the end.
My instructions are to obliterate under such circumstances, but I cannot. I have seen their eyes. So I let them run.
Sometimes the runner is swift. He runs to the sea, holding his arms aloft in victory before plunging in. He doesn’t realise he has been programmed to do this as punishment for his urge to escape.The acidic water rips him to the bone but there is joy in his face. He has died a free man.
Sometimes the runner pauses. He is afraid I will shoot him in the back or toy with him as some of the Venator do. I point those runners away from the sea towards the place where some of us believe the forests still grow. Don’t stop till you see the trees, I say.
Sometimes the runner stumbles. His humanity returns in a rush, striking him in the face. It is too much. That’s how I met the boy. That’s how I met all the others who now live in a warehouse at the edge of the city.
He was a boy. Running. For a brief moment – free. I should have done what I was meant to do which was to shoot him in the back, but I couldn’t. He was just a boy.
He couldn’t remember his own name. I took him to the warehouse where I have taken all the others. Over 2oo former wind runners along with butterflies, fish and songbirds.
I have never seen a bird, said the boy. He smiled awkwardly as if his face was being pulled by strings. The next day he could remember his name. It was Max.
Every morning and evening I come and sit with the runners. They touch me like I am their saviour. They do not know that if we are discovered we will all be obliterated.
It occurs to me as I look at their faces that hope is a simple miracle, that it is always there buried in the hearts of men. No matter what. Collectively, we are all running away from tomorrow. From the brutality of it. We dream of rebuilding all that has been lost.
We hold tiny fragments of what was in our hands and wait for them to reform. It is our vigil.
We link hands in the morning and at night. The warmth of our skin is our armour. The day begins and ends in our eyes. It is all we have but it is more than we expected.
I am Johnny Destructo. I am a hunter of men. One day I will see those men run free. The winds will return. Westerlies, easterlies, southerlies, northerlies, tradewinds, mistrals soft as feathers. The winds will come, turning the sun to gold. And we will begin again.