Regarding Broken Levees
rating: +23+x

1

“I can’t do this,” sobs Director Alice Wistuba in the arms of her female lover in the rare moment they have together and when her pager beeps softly three hours later, she is still out of bed before waking, stumbling drunkenly, eyes scanning, lover abandoned behind her because there is a hierarchy of things that must be done and this is number one on that list and it is day one-

2

- “Open up!” yells Junior Researcher Natalie McCreed on day two. The words leave her lips in broken half-screams, cracking, jumbling in desperation, tripping and falling as she bangs on the sealed blast door. “Please!” she begs, and they do not open the blast door for Junior Researcher Natalie McCreed as she stands in her ripped clothes with an empty gun at her side and the heavy breathing of something she is not cleared to know about creeping up behind her. They do not open the blast-

3

-”I’m here, it’s okay,” begs security operative Alex Whittingham from behind his protective helmet that manipulates his voice into a monotone drawl. The person he speaks to is bleeding out onto the hard linoleum floor because they knew it could happen but it would never happen to them, it would never happen here, would it? Could it? Even on day three when the days fade into nights fade into days and the bars on the windows cast long striped shadows on empty break rooms and empty bedrooms and Alex Whittingham comforting his dying boyfriend on the cafeteria floor under harsh fluorescent light and a voice filter used in interviews and containment logs, never saying talk to me but meaning a similar sentiment, breaking rules but also-

4

-”Don’t drink that!” orders D-43248, a skinny man in his early twenties who did something he regrets but is smart enough to tell the other five that he’s leading through dark hallways and endless staircases in hushed tones and garbage fires to not drink the water from the water fountains on day four because the sewer lines were smashed the night before and the water coursing through the site’s vast pipes is likely no longer safe. They find water leaking from the ceiling above and water on the floors as they walk but good god what water can they drink? Is any water potable? Did anything breach that could have contaminated the water? How would they know? Why do they care? It seems ridiculous that in the groaning confines of the site and smatterings of friendly fire in the distance they would be concerned about water of all things, but it’s with cracked lips and cotton mouth that they drink the water that comes from the 3rd level tap on day six. It’s grey with rust and particulate when it comes from the sink and D-43248 still drinks, hands under faucet to mouth, not the worst thing that’s ever happened to him here but still enough to fear that after all they’ve been through it could be the water that does them in-

5

-”Almost there-” breathes Maintenance worker Colette Dale to the older woman half-slung over her shoulder, barely breathing. The stairs they climb are concrete and cold, but it’s true that they’re almost there, almost there, just a few floors left to go. The older woman does not respond in the small space in front of them illuminated by her LED flashlight beam in the early morning of day seven. Dale moves faster-

6

”Chin up, kid,” says Containment Officer Simon Lorell to his son, who is standing there alive with tears streaming down his filthy cheeks and dripping onto the gun he holds that Simon would never have let his seven year old child hold in any other situation. He smiles to him and hugs him with his remaining arm. They’re almost out. It’s day eight but they’re almost there-

7

”We got the motherfucker!” yells Mobile Task Force operative Lora Wimae in joy on day nine with her semi-automatic in one arm, kevlar rubbing against her bruised ribs, drenched in rain and dirt and blood in the dark forest surrounding the site with a mobile containment chamber the size of a train car loaded onto a semi truck bed behind her-

6

”See? We’re out,” says Containment officer Simon Lorell from where he lays strapped to a gurney in the medical evac helicopter on day ten. His seven year old son winces as the medic tending to him disinfects a gash on his leg. When the helicopter takes off, his son is buckled into one of the seats, and Lorell waits until he’s sure he’s asleep before he rests himself.

5

”You saved me,” says the older woman to Colette Dale. She’s taught her everything that she knows, and Dale doesn’t think for this reason that she’s really able to be thanked in this situation, but in plastic tents set up outside the ruined site on day eleven she can’t say no when she hugs her.

4

”You built a mobile osmosis system?” asks the regional disciplinary officer to D-43248 as he sits across from him with a raised eyebrow. D-43248 looks up from his shoes on day twelve to meet his superior’s eyes. He might not be as deep in shit as he expected.

3

”Alex?” croaks Alex Whittingham's partner of four years from where he lays in a hospital bed on day thirteen. Whittingham told himself many times that he wouldn’t cry, especially not now, not when the two of them were six hours from home dressed in street clothes in the soft light of the lamp he’s been reading by to pass the time for the past few days. He does anyway. His boyfriend does, too.

2

”Don’t touch me,” snarls a frazzled and violent Natalie McCreed to the rescue workers that pry open the blast door on day fourteen. They look for the too-high-clearance-level-hot-breath-being that should be there with her. They only find its body.

1

”That’s fine,” replies Director Wistuba over the phone from her temporary apartment far away from the site she runs. The man on the other end of the phone is far above her in rank, and when he tells her to start rebuilding, she does, because containment is like two lovers sharing breath; there is a give and take, a rise and fall. The water pushes against the levee and the levee pushes back. It’s rusted in places; it was built by someone before her. Sometimes, the water builds too much, and the levee breaks.

Sometimes, it’s just a matter of swimming until the tide recedes.

It is day fifteen when Director Alice Wistuba begins constructing a new levee at the waterline.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License