Mostrando las entradas con la etiqueta park. Mostrar todas las entradas
Mostrando las entradas con la etiqueta park. Mostrar todas las entradas

viernes, 6 de abril de 2018

No end


   As everyone celebrated on the streets and in their homes, Veronica wandered through the rubble trying to feel as happy as most people around her were. But it wasn’t possible or at least it was very hard to do so. Even smiling felt like a chore, like something you would do only to please people but not because you really felt it inside. There was a feeling of incompletion around, as if all the sacrifices of the war had not been enough to end every single type of hostility that many people harbored against one another.

 As she walked the streets, some lit and others not so much, she realized that the world after the war would be in chaos. Yes, everyone was cheering and celebrating right now, probably drinking stolen articles and launching fireworks that had been banned for so long. But after all of that happiness, a moment of truth and reflection would have to come and the atrocities of war would have to be addressed. For example, not everyone was on the same side, the winning side. Some people were not celebrating.

 Well, some of them were but just because they had to survive and keep on living. It was widely assumed that trials, of sorts, would emerge from the victorious side, condemning the losing side to many years in jail, banishment from the country or even death. Even if the maximum penalty had ever been enforced legally in the country, many of the victors would want the vanquished to be treated just as them treated others during the war. There were lots of executions, on the streets even.

 Veronica was actually just passing a street she knew very well, not only because it used to be a prime shopping spot before the war, but because many people were forced to stand in front of the former storefronts in order to be killed with guns. It was horrible to think about those moments, the images that would never going to leave anyone’s mind. That could never be overlooked, the fact that a large amount of the people now alive had killed at least one person over the last seven years.

 Everyone’s hands were tainted with blood; there wasn’t a single innocent, not even the children. They were used so many times to lure the kindness out of people, that all of their innocence had vanished. Many children were now celebrating the end of the war, just like adults. And the ones that were too small were orphans or just dead. Every single person had done something horrible during the war and now they chose not to remember that because it was a clear image of how disgusting and vile a human could get. So many atrocities in such a relatively short period of time.

 Veronica reached the gates of the Compound just as the night was darkest. She had to use a pocket lantern she had found days earlier, in order to go inside and check out the place for herself. The prison or camp or however you may call it, had been liberated only a few months before the end of the war but it looked as if it had happened many years ago. The place was covered in ash and debris, and the gates, doors and windows had been torn apart or had simply disappeared from sight.

 She walked from the entrance to a large yard area were she knew people had been selected. You see, not everyone was imprisoned in the same place. They had categories and each category had their own building in the premises of the Compound. The differences between each building were in the treatment given by the jailers. For example, former members of state entities and such would receive a better treatment there than homosexuals or blacks. Just the same as it had happened so many years ago, elsewhere.

 The Compound had surprisingly not been built by the losing side, as one would think. It had been built by the so-called winners, by the so-called heroes of the war. In some parts of the country, people were already designing statues for them to be put in every single park, in every single town. They had been the ones fighting for justice and freedom but they clearly didn’t respect their enemies’ rights at all. They were just as vile and vengeful as all the other people. They were not different.

 Veronica walked through the large yard in order to get to the only building that had been kind of spared by the last bombs the “enemy” had dropped from the sky. That was how the prison got its freedom. It hadn’t been an act of kindness. It was just the result of the last desperate attack from the would-be losers of the war. They had sent the few planes they still had and just bombarded the jail were their family members and friends had been imprisoned. They believed it was better to be dead that a prisoner.

 So pride made them act on that last move. And they succeed in destroying the prison and liberating some of their people from it. But only days later they would realize their days were counted and that their fate had already been sealed, well before the attack on the Compound. Veronica saw on the floor of the building some bone fragments, as well as fabric that used to be made into uniforms for the prisoners. There were also several metal plates and bowls, and a large assortment of cutlery. Maybe the prisoners had staged a mutiny as the bombs lit everything on fire.

 After a short time, she decided to leave the Compound through “the back door”, which was actually a large gap in the tall wall of the complex. She didn’t want to stay there too long in case the “winners” were patrolling the premises looking for someone to practice shooting with. She adjusted her backpack and walked on, towards very dark park covered with grand beautiful trees. The place was covered in shadows but even that way it felt like somewhere one would feel at ease.

 The park was one of the largest in the city and it was used to process many of the prisoners of the Compound. But apparently cold heads prevailed and no one ever really destroyed it on purpose or tore the trees down. Some of them had received damage from the bombs that were dropped in the nearby prison, but the building between the two sites had prevented the fire to really destroy the last green place in the city. It had been a miracle that most people were ignoring in that precise moment.

 Veronica walked along the central path of the park, hearing her steps on the stone and the wind blowing through the tree leaves. Everything felt so peaceful, and she was very glad to be there but even then she felt all of that could not be forever. She knew things were going to be bad for a while and she was alone and no one could just come and be with her. Her family had died during the war and those were not times of real friendship, just of convenient relationships that no one knew how long they would last.

 The best thing to do, maybe, was to leave the country altogether. It was a difficult choice to make and also a hard thing to achieve, but Veronica had nothing else to loose. She was carrying everything she owned on the backpack: some pieces of clothing and a couple of objects she had rescued from her former house. She had also stolen some food from a ruined supermarket, but that was it. She could easily walk her way towards the border and attempt to cross it. Or maybe get into a boat and sail away.

 Whatever she did, she had to do it quietly and carefully, as she had no intent of driving attention onto herself. No one was looking for her specifically, but everything around there was going to become very unstable and she knew that’s when unlikely things tend to happen the most.

 She decided to leave the city that night, taking advantage of most people celebrating the end of the war. As they raised glasses, told jokes, remembered family and friends, Veronica would banish into the night and attempt to forever disappear from that other night, one that would never end.

viernes, 17 de marzo de 2017

Joanna's zoo

   Joanna was the person in charge while the zoo was closed. She wasn’t the girl who fed fish to the dolphins while they were doing their show, or the one that joined the visitors in each stop in order to tell them everything about the animal they were watching. She was just the girl that fed the animal after hours, when everything was quiet and most creatures were sleeping or, on the contrary, just waking up from their slumber. She preferred like that as she had never been a person of the spotlight.

 What she loved more than anything was joining the scientists, the men and women that worked hard in laboratories trying to discover a cure for the many animal diseases that most humans knew nothing about. Just like them, she felt that by learning about those diseases and destroying them, they could all be able to make the human race more resistant and the whole world would see a surge in numbers for many species that had been threatened for years without a reason.

 However, Joanna had only been in school for two years. She hadn’t even completed the first half of her education. She couldn’t be allowed yet to a laboratory or anything like that. If she had a job there being so young, it was because she had almost begged for it. She needed that job to help out at home, where her mother was too fragile to work in anything and her sister Julie was still in school, so she couldn’t be able to help. It was her obligation to bring money to home.

 Of course, taking care of the animals didn’t pay as much as one would think, but it didn’t pay as badly as other jobs such as waitress ones and so on. The thing was she was in charge of feeding them and cleaning their habitats, which could be really disgusting sometimes. The animals didn’t mind doing their business anywhere they wanted, so her work was sometimes a little bit of a challenge because of many factors. And she also had to do some security work, for a couple of hours.

 Joanna actually liked her job. It wasn’t prestigious or different every day, but she did learn a lot of stuff about the animals by just watching them. Besides, the zoo was normally very quiet at night, so she could wander around just thinking about her stuff, her life. It wasn’t that she loved to do that, but everyone needs a place where they can stop for a while and just think about how life is going for them and if they want something more out of it. Of course, the conclusion was, every time, that she would like to have an easier life than the one she had.

 Her shift began when the doors of the zoo closed, at five in the afternoon. She had to stay there for five hours, until the security team hired by the zoo’s administration would come in to do their rounds. They stayed until opening time, at nine o’clock the following morning. So she didn’t have to stay that long but it was a lot of work packed in just a few hours. She had to clean everything and make it look as if it was new in that time, which was hard but she always made it.

 The only times she was afraid of anything was when she had to clean and then feed the creatures in the Komodo dragon habitat. There were five dragons, all adults with a very bad mood. She had to put the food in a special space for them to run towards it and then she could trap them in that place for a while, as she cleaned the habitat as fast as she could. This could only last for a while, as Komodo dragons eat extremely fast and they don’t care about small spaces at all.

 It was scary but entertaining to see all those majestic creatures during the night. Joanna felt she had a private glimpse into the lives of the animals that people rarely saw. She felt annoyed when she thought about all the people that visited the zoo and never learned anything about any of the animals. It was supposed to be a place for education but most people just used it as a park that you pay to go in. Some couldn’t care less about the animals, they just wanted a place to chill with their kids.

 She would often think about how the world could be changed by just ending the whole zoo system. Of course, she was one of its employees but the truth was that, as a student on the subject, she thought that zoos were not really the best way to get to know an animal’s ay of doing things, his way of life. That’s what science needed to know but by standing in front of a cage watching a bird, you don’t really learn a lot about it except that it needs a bigger space to fly and be comfortable.

 One of her ideas for the future was to create some sort of tour agency that would be specialized in getting people in and around ecosystems that have a lot to teach to humans. She would only take adults in those trips and only the ones that proof that they want to be there to learn and not only to take a nice little stroll around the jungle. They don’t have to be scientists or anything related, just interested in animals, like she was. She even had a three at home and her parents had never being against it because she actually did a great job taking care of them.

 Her cat was called Tigress, as she looked like a small tiger. Her dog’s name was Sherlock, as he was very good at finding stuff, although he had been much better when younger. He was now a little bit slow when looking for anything, yet he still was able to find things all around the house. The last member of her animal group was Ranger, a big hamster she had received as a gift from her ex-boyfriend. She had wanted to get rid of it after they had broken up, but the creature was so adorable she decided to keep it.

 When she wasn’t taking care of the animals in the zoo, she took care of the animals at home. And she also had to help her mother and sister, so her work was never really done, only on Sundays when she was given the chance of sleeping late and just enjoy herself by doing things that most girls her age enjoyed like going out to the mall or watching movies and television shows. She rarely did any of that though, as she preferred resting at home with all of her pets.

 Joanna’s story is not one that’s fun and interesting, as many others. She’s just an average person, struggling to come out alive of a situation in her life that seems to go on forever. But she knows, she trusts, that one change it will all change. She will finish college and her mother will get better. Her sister will grow older and will be able to help her around the house more and she may realize all of her dream, the ones she thinks about when she walks around the zoo at night.

 She’s not dreaming too much, she doesn’t think so. Joanna is just an average person, a normal person hoping for something to progress in her life. And she knows it happened because of the animal, because even them are not always the same every single day. They might not be people but they do have temperaments and attitudes. They do change their minds and customs. So, if they change, why not her? Besides, she had way to many plans not to make them a reality.


 Meanwhile, she cleans their shit and gives them meat or corn or whatever it is that she has to give them as food. And she has learned to enjoy it because she’s at peace with them, more than when she shares the room with another person,  fellow human.

martes, 30 de agosto de 2016

A single moment

   The very next day, the garden was covered with a very fine layer of snow covering everything. The most beautiful flowers and the largest plants were all covered in white, giving everything a “frozen in time” appearance. The house inhabitants had never seen snow, so when the first workers saw it that morning, they didn’t really know what to think. The low temperatures that winter were something they had never seen either so it was a very particular season for everyone.

 The first person to see the garden covered in snow was Mrs. Ross, the cook of the house. She had been living there for so many years but had never seen anything quite like that. She was so surprised that breakfast that morning was not ready on time and some people and the family had to wait or go hungry for a couple of extra hours.

As curious as everyone was for what was happening, every person coming late to work, showing up minutes later for a date or simply not coming because they had seen snow, were all excused as if it was the most normal thing. The snowfall lasted for about a week and then it disappeared. People were very disappointed when snow melted and everything they had thought was so magical was now covered in this very thick layer of mud that was nowhere near as attractive as snow. People returned to their normal lives and the winter experience was soon a thing of stories.

 The house were the garden had been covered suffered severe transformations between the first snowfall ever and the following one, which took place fifty years later. Some of the people that had seen it the first time as kids were still alive and they didn’t get tired of telling the story once and again, as if people were not living through it. It was possibly because of the excitement and because not a lot of things happened around there.

 The garden of the house was still there but the place was no longer a private place. It had been converted not so long ago into a museum after the family that had lived there for generations had decided to sell to the best bidder because every single part of their business, now related to the technology industry, was located nowadays in the city and having such a grand state in the countryside was very expensive to maintain.

 So the building had become a place where people could learn about the past but also where they could remember and experience in a very special way the two times snow had fallen in the region. There were pictures and poems and various others artistic manifestations, remembering what had happened in a variety of ways.

 There was even a picture of the cook that had been the first one to see snow. Her descendants came for the opening day of the museum and were very happy to see their relative love forever in such a fabulous space. More pictures, drawings and so on were placed all over the house, which had been decorated in a way it had never probably been decorated before. The museum had disguised the house as something it wasn’t, trying to get more and more people to come and enjoy the place.

 Soon, that wasn’t enough so they had to integrate the various areas surrounding the house, in other words the rest of the state that was still being exploited by a private company. Some parts of the land were used to grow various organic vegetables and others had fruit with the largest portion been dedicated to grapes and a small processing plant where the best grapes were chosen to be sent to another place where they were turned into a very decent wine. It wasn’t the best but it wasn’t bad either.

 The people who ran the museum decided to make it all part of the daily walks around the house. They wanted to show the visitors how farming worked in the region so they also created a small petting zoo and worked with a foreign company in order to use the grapes in the farm to make their own brand of wine. Of course, the first few bottles wouldn’t be very good but with time they could end up having one of the best products because of the experts they were hiring to ensure that everything was as good as it could be.

 People really enjoyed the new additions to the museum. Now it was a more complete experience and many visitors didn’t even care to enter the museum, the enjoyed themselves thoroughly in the fields and with the animals. Various vegetables and fruits were added to the crop selection and the wine started being sold to supermarkets in the city with a very special sticker that invited everyone to witness the creation process of the beverage.

 That proved to be a very good move and visits increased once again. The bad thing was that the museum was not being visited as much as it had been before. The situation was so bad for the house as it was that they decided to make it a free entrance if you cared to buy a pass for all the rest of the attraction in the state. That helped the snowfall story become well known once again.

 The place was renamed Snowfall Fun Park and they dedicated themselves to find new ways to attract more customers each year. After the name change, they were able to convert a small yard that had only been used for maintenance into a small food court selling various foods from around the world. The place was packed daily.

 The biggest news coming from the park was the announcement that they had bought the whole neighboring terrain, which was almost as large as the one they were operating in currently. They would use all that land to build an area for rides and overall entertainment. Every single thing would be themed around snow and winter sports. The main attraction would be a huge roller coaster named the Yeti, which had almost no relation with the region except for the fact that those fantastic creatures allegedly lived in the snow.

 The construction of that area was halted when they discovered some bones and rock alignments that seemed to be very interesting to the scientific community. As it turns out, it had been forgotten that the area had been the place for the old homes of the main house workers were located. The famous cook had lived right there and it was her bones that the machines almost crushed to dust.

 When her DNA was picked up from them, traditionalists in the region were appalled that such a beloved person would have been died in a place no one knew about and now they had discovered she had never been properly buried anywhere. Many signed a petition to have her remains be buried in the garden of the main house, as a gesture of respect to her legacy and the lives of all the other workers and farmers of the region.  After all, she had been a very humble woman, not wealthy or anything like that.

 Some even argued that the remains of the houses should not be moved and should be integrated in the project, in order to bring back the main interest why people would go to that place. The company that operated the park was at first very reluctant to make any changes because of the investors but they eventually saw a way they could win with it.

 The excavations of the remains of the houses were left alone. The design of the roller coaster was changed in order to not have any negative effects over any of the older structures in the park. Every other building stayed the same as in the original expansion plans except for an area where they would have meet and greets with actual farmers and have classes for interested visitors. That was moved to the farm area in order to surround the exaction area with a low fence and feature it as an attraction.

 Five years later, the third snowfall was registered in the region. It had been so many years since the last one that people were happy to have their museum in order to remember the story. Parties and festivals were organized and the legacy of a single moment in history kept on living on the minds and hearts of the people.

martes, 21 de junio de 2016

Aquarium

 He took a bite of the sandwich while looking at the huge shark as he passed by the glass. It was a majestic creature, a real wonder of the seas. Don loved to sit there every day at work and just watch such a creature swim from one end to the other of the tank. It was a very large ecosystem but the sharks had a tendency of always moving around, which made them very interesting.

 Of course, there were many other creatures like manta rays and several types of fish, but none of them had the beauty of the shark, its elegance and just utter grandeur. Don’s lunchtime would soon be over. He only had thirty minutes to eat whatever he brought from home or bought from one of the many stores in the park. He really liked the big hotdogs from the stand by the turtle’s pond. They were always covered in thick mustard that was spicy and so rich and delicious. When he was in a good mood, he bought two.

 It was also the day he had a night shift. He hated it because he had to parade all around the park, walking up and down with a flashlight, looking at nothing because there were never trespassers in an aquarium. Who was going to get in there? Some barracuda thief or someone who really wanted to have a real penguin as a pet? No one would do that. But the company that managed the park was so cheap with their hiring’s and expenses that they rather put him at night with a flashlight than invest in real security like cameras and all that stuff that any other place had.

 In any case, he took that time to see the animals when they were less stressed out and it happened to be really nice. They behave differently, as if a huge weight had been lifted from their… Well, not shoulders but, you know what he means. Don loved to see the penguins sleep because they got all together and put their heads in a funny position and it was like seeing an old man trying to sleep at the park. They were little funny creatures and he had grown to care for them.

 When he was finished with lunch, he had to go to his day job as a janitor. He knew he had to be close to the petting areas because kids always spilt water on the ground there and more than one mom had complained about the puddles there, which could cause accidents and a lot more things according to them but he rarely listened to the whole speech. It was funny to him how they thought he was like the owner of the place or something.

 He always had his mop and his little cart to clean the mop not very far from him. Also a wet rag to clean the glasses and a bottle that left those glasses looking perfect in order for all the visitors to have a good look at every single creature in the aquarium. That was his job and he was kind of proud of it after having done it for more than twenty years. He had to like something about it after doing it for so long.

 That afternoon, just before the park closed, he bought two hotdogs and asked the young lady to put them in a Styrofoam case, in which they sold burritos and nachos and other stuff. She complained because she knew he had the night shift and every one there was kind with whoever had the nightshift. Even Don would always give a chocolate bar to the person that had to do it all the other days. His name was Vinnie and he was an idiot but the surprising part was that Vinnie only worked for that job, four days a week. Don had to do it the other three days of the week. It was a fair settlement, although odd.

 Vinnie was the type of guy not many people would hire: he had been in jail a couple of times and he appeared to show some evidence of mental challenges, if you will. He was very kind, organized and loyal to the place but, he was very dumb, always asking silly questions about the job and the animals, like how they mated in the dark at night or how the manta was able to fly and if the shark could read his thought. He was really insane but people, the other workers, cared for him. He was part of the aquarium family.

 That day though, it was Don’s turn to watch around. He had his food, his flashlight had brand new batteries, and he had brought a bottle of fresh orange juice from home and a magazine he had found in the trash by the tank of the jellyfish. It was one of those celebrity magazines, where they show who has been doing who and how and where. He wasn’t particularly interested in all of that but the magazine had enough information to keep him interested all night and that was the real important part.

 He also wanted ice cream but he had no way to store in order for it not to melt in his hand or his pocket. The weather had recently changed, from very windy and rainy to a dry heat. There were rarely clouds in the sky; no matter if it was day or night, it was really disturbing sometimes. He would have wanted his uniform not to be pants and a thick shirt with a hat on top and those big black shoes. He had even approached his boss about it but he had been convinced that if he wore that in the day, he might as well do it by night.

 Don really didn’t get that logic because, after all, of the other guys in the aquarium got to dress in shorts and nice cotton shirts and sandals. The dolphin trainers were always half naked and no one said anything. There was even a girl in the shark tank that hated to wear shoes. She would never use them, even in winter. Her fashion only included sandals and that was it. She didn’t fell cold or so thought Don. In any case, he would have wanted a changed for the evenings.

 As the doors closed, he decided to change things without telling anyone. After all, no one was even there to tell him anything. He had brought some flip-flops from home and he put them on as soon as the park got deserted. His feet were actually very thankful for that. The black shoes and socks stayed in his locker as his shift started. He watched the main map at the entrance, as he always did, and tried to create a route that would pass once by every single tank or exhibition. That way he did his job right and he had time to read his magazine and eat whatever he had around. He brought it all in a plastic bag.

 It was strange to be the only one making sounds in the night. He thought it was funny how only was person was trusted to stay there at night, to take care of so many animals that needed constant care. Sometimes, he would chat for a while with the vets that came at night. It did happen every night but it wasn’t unheard of that one of the creatures was having problems with its food or something like that. And those men and women knew a lot. The night passed by fast when they were around, imparting their wisdom.

 But that night, there was no vet or anyone else. Don was alone to read about how some celebrity had entered a rehab program and then gone out a week later. He ate one of the chocolates as he stared at the tank holding the sea dragons and then moved on to the sea horses, which he had always considered very particular, because of the fact the male can hold the babies while the mothers do other stuff. It was a little miracle in the sea and he pictured what that might look like in humans.

 A noise good him out of his imagination. At first it seemed to be far, not very important. But then, it seemed to be getting louder, to be more and more serious. He realized it was water and the first thought he had was that he might have to go for the mop right away. As he ran towards the sound, Don thought that maybe one of the animals was restless. He had read about in a magazine, how aquariums weren’t a thing anymore. They had no whale there and the dolphins had a huge habitat but maybe it was them. But it wasn’t.


 The sound stopped before he could arrive. Just as he arrived to the jellyfish exhibition, he saw someone run away. He attempted to follow but he tripped with his flip-flops and his bag of treats slammed against the floor. The Styrofoam case spilled hotdog all over the place. But that wasn’t the worst. The tank was spilling water all over and it wasn’t because of the animals. It was because there was a body floating just above the jellyfish, who seem to carry the dead man. As he got closer, Don’s jaw dropped realizing the corpse was Vinnie’s. He was purple.