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July 1st, 2012
The rails of the L-track quaked as the train rode into the station. Groups of White Sox fans were flowing out of the train like when the bell rang on the last day of school. Michael and Lewis Simmons were already standing in the station when they arrived. They had already come back from the game, waiting for the Red Line train to take them home. Lewis had to hold on to his ball cap as the wind carried from the departing train rustled through his White Sox Jersey.
This station was above ground, standing over the jammed, Chicago traffic. A flock of pigeons flew onto the station, avoiding the combination of baseball fans' traffic and rush hour traffic. Each hopping over to their own recipient.
"Shew! Shew!" Michael said kicking at the pigeon with irritated fury.
Lewis pulled a bag of peanuts from his pocket, one he had saved from the game. He nibbled at the shell then looked down at the pigeons. The pigeon looked up at him then continued to peck at the ground for food. He threw a couple peanuts on the ground and all the pigeons rushed towards it like a magnet to metal. He was about to toss some more on the ground until Michael grabbed his hand.
"What the hell's wrong with you boy! Don't feed them or they'll stick around! Don't you read?" Michael said pointing to the poster on the wall that clearly read "don't feed the pigeons".
"Grandpa, I don't understand, why would people want to get rid of the birds?" Lewis asked innocently.
"Well boy, it's not all birds, it's just these birds. It's not even all pigeons. City pigeons are one of the most obnoxious species on the planet. They just walk around getting in peoples' way and feedin' on their trash. They're rats with wings and if you feed 'em, they breed. They're of absolutely no use."
"O.K." Lewis said solemnly. He put the bag of peanuts back in his pocket and watched the pigeons as the peered up at him with those tiny, begging eyes. They looked back at the ground and scampered away.
The red line train pushed on its brakes as it entered the station. The doors slid open and this time no one came out. Bong, bong. They entered the train and sat down in the only available seats. Lewis sat down and plopped his head onto his hand and watched the pigeons fly up and around the Sears tower.
* * *
Lewis opened the door to the apartment and whipped his head back and forth.
"Mom!" his shouts echoed throughout the apartment complex. Michael cut off the sound as he shut the door behind him.
Lewis ran into the living room and heard the familiar voice of the channel six weatherman. ...many of the south-eastern states will be hit by hurricane Derik. We can only hope that it will descend from the F-5 category as it hits land. Now for the west coast... The television made a quick sound of static as Adriane hit the power button.
"Oh, you're home! How was the game?" Adriane asked thoughtfully.
"It was alright." Lewis said like he had said it a thousand times before.
"The boy talks about the game like he wasn't in the front row. Soon he'll appreciate sports like a real Chicagoan." Michael said exploiting Lewis.
Lewis glanced at Michael then started for his room.
"Well I'm glad you boys had a fun time." Adriane and Michael waited in the living room as Lewis entered his room.
"Adrian, I know I'm you're not my little girl any more but the boy needs a man in his life. I want him to fit in better than I did."
"Why don't you think he'll fit in? Just because he doesn't enjoy sports as much as you?"
"No, it's how he acts around people. All he did all day was ask obnoxious question and stuff his face into his journal."
"He's smart because he asks questions. Why does it even matter if he fits in or not? Why should he or I even care what you think about his personality?!"
"You've always thought you know what's best for Lewis since Jim died!" Michael said to end the argument.
"Get out!" Adriane said straightening her arm towards the door.
Michael realizing he earned himself a lose he couldn't get out of, he headed out the door.
Adriane plops onto the couch, sobbing at the image of her deceased husband Jim on the coffee table.
Lewis, ignoring the noise, turned on his television. ...You can see here, hurricane Elaine is an F-5 Hurricane and is about to hit the coasts of California and Ari-. He shut it off. He wasn't in the mood to be depressed. He starred out the window, watching the flocks of pigeons fluttering off the busy sidewalks.
* * *
July 2nd, 2012
"Grandpa's here, mom! I'm gonna leave with him now!" Lewis said shouting at the door.
"Alright son have fun." She replied half-heartedly.
Lewis bolted out the door and down the stairs of his apartment complex in hope of having a better day. The recently risen sun let the trees' shadows stretch out over the parking lot. He heard his grandfather honking at him from the middle. Lewis walked over to him, glad that his day had begun.
"Jeez! Have patience grandpa."
"I fought in Vietnam and Korea. I think I've earned some intolerance." He said praying Lewis wouldn't say anything about war.
Lewis ignored his remark and laid back in his seat. Then he realized he didn't know where they were going.
"Where are we going today?"
"I thought it would be fun to go to the Sears tower. We could look around at the top then go get some lunch."
"And after that?"
"I don't know yet, we'll see."
They maneuvered their way around the neighborhoods of Chicago, towards downtown. Lewis watched the people on the sidewalks: mingling, interfering, changing. Thinking about the future. His head is always in the future. Life seems so normal when you're just living it instead of thinking about. It never seems to change until you're told that it has.
Before he knew it they had slowed into downtown. They leisured through downtown while Michael told Lewis about all the different places. They arrived at the Sears tower slowly but surely. There were very few people there. They walked in like they lived there and got into the elevator.
"I thought you would enjoy something more interesting for once." Michael said expecting a grateful response.
"Yeah, this is alright." Lewis said tormenting him.
"Whatever." He whispered
The elevator made a bing sound as it ascended to the top floor. The elevator door opened to an empty room with windows replacing the walls. Today was a surprisingly sunny day so you could see everything on the streets. He could see everyone's lives in motion. He could see everything public and hidden. It made him feel insecure about being on the streets. Like someone can see you and change your life if they wanted to.
Michael pointed out places he liked as Lewis pressed his face against the window. Lewis looked for those place reluctantly. After he stopped talking he noticed a flock of pigeons blocking off an entire sidewalk. One started flying upwards and the rest followed. They watched the birds trying to figure out where they were going and saw the first one come near the top floor of the Sears tower. It came inches away from the window and started rotating around the top. The rest followed flying in unnatural patterns. They circled the building as thousands of people watched, waiting for one to tell them why.
"What's with these stupid birds!" Michael remarks. Lewis gives him an angry look as he begins to continue.
"Come on Lewis lets go." He concludes without giving a Lewis a say.
They head into the elevator and descend one hundred ten stories down to the bottom. They exit the building and walk across the street to where they can see the birds clearly, within the crowds already there. The birds moved in patterns outside of their circle. They swooped up and down from the rotation, keeping the spectators busy.
"Come on boy let's get some lunch. We aren't making any progress just standin' out here." He says ignoring the boy. Lewis couldn't stop starring at the patterns. They looked so familiar to him. Once what Michael said reached his thoughts it was still hard for him to take his eyes of the anomaly. He staggered backwards and then caught up with his eager grandfather.
* * *
Lewis's Journal Entry: July 2nd, 2012
Surprisingly clear sky. Meteorologists and almanacs suggest more good weather to come.
Big flocks of pigeons began circling top of Sears tower and flying in irregular patterns.
Several flocks of pigeons fly past window to downtown.
Temperature falls by fifteen degrees
Temperature rises twenty degrees and continues to rock back and forth for the next hour.
Starts to heat up as it gets darker. Getting harder to predict the weather.
* * *
July 3rd, 2012
Lewis just finished his last day out with his grandpa, even if he didn't know it yet. He opened his door to be welcomed by the mouth-watering aroma of cooking roast. His mother was cooking for the reunion dinner. They thought this might be the last time to spend time with close relatives before the rest of them come over for the forth.
"Hey mom. I'm home."
"It's only three-thirty. Weren't you checking out the aquarium?"
"It was too busy and he said he needed to get something before he comes over."
"Alright. Hope you had a nice time."
He heads toward his room. He just wanted to relax so he lounged on his bed and turned on the television. Every local channel had something to say about the pigeons downtown. They had stayed up there over night and started circling the building again in the morning. Channel eleven was taping the birds circling the tower from a helicopter.
They said useless things about the birds and random theories of why they would be up there. The shape now was several circles within a big one. On each side was a spike pointed outwards from the direction it was rotating making it symmetric. Then Lewis had an epiphany. He knew what the shape was that they were making.
It was a hurricane.
It had to be coincidence. Lewis stuck his head out the window and could see big distant storms coming from the south east and south west. It was faint and by what he was seeing it should be a while before they get here. Then he thought of how fast they got away from the coast.
He walks out of his room nervously awaiting the arrival of his relatives. He sits down on the couch and his mother noticed.
"Hey Lewis, could you open a window? It's hot in here."
"I don't think we should."
"Why not? It's not like it's gonna storm."
He walked over and opened the window. When he sat back down he concentrated on the wall with his eyes forced open like he had just died. All he did was think and think. He thought about all the different lives in the city. The dreams and hopes of everyone. He knew they would be destroyed and he couldn't do anything about it. These were thoughts that would drive him mad. Luckily, it was only a few minutes until someone showed up.
First his aunt Karen with her husband Pete. Then Uncle Tom, his recently wed wife Sarah, and his children Bobby and Rudy. Then finally his grandfather, Michael, came in and settled with the rest of his family at the dinner table. He exchanged and sly glance to Lewis. Lewis sat and forced himself to eat while everyone mingled and exchanged stories. Whenever he was asked a question he forced himself to give and answer, nothing too informative, just one word sentences. He was able to keep it up the whole time, until afterwards.
"Alright who's up for game of cards!?" Adriane announced.
Lewis quickly lost his head as everyone complied.
"May I be excused?" Lewis asked desperately
"Sure dear." Adriane answered curiously.
Lewis got up and hurried to his room. He shuffled his feet across the floor as he tried not to run.
"He's been acting weird lately. Probably hormones." Adriane said disgusted that she had.
He closed the door behind him and turned on his television. All of the news stations weren't saying anything about the hurricanes. It looked so nice outside but he could see the storms coming closer. He had to do something. He could write a journal entry or a letter about this he thought. Then he realized it might not be intact an hour from now.
Then he noticed something. He looked outside his window where he could see the top of the Sears tower clearly and noticed the pigeons had left. They know it's coming. It must be closer he thought. He decided he needed to get shelter.
He ran out of his room straight for the kitchen.
"We need to get shelter! There're two big storms coming! Come on!"
They all just stared at him until Michael stood up.
"Boy, there aren't any storms coming I checked the new-"
"I can see them!" Lewis said cutting him off. "Meteorologists aren't even right half the time anyway!"
"Okay, even if there were storms coming... how would you know?" Michael asked quizzically
"The pigeons have been giving us signs!"
"You obviously need some rest boy. Why don't you-"
"I DON'T CARE WHAT YOU THINK I NEED! I'm going to the storm shelter and if you want to stay up here and die, go ahead."
Lewis sprinted out door with his notebook leaving the door open. His mother ran to the door to yell at him.
"Lewis come back! Please honey!" Adriane pleaded
She walked slowly back to the kitchen table. She sat down and starred at the table for a minute then decided to speak.
"We should just let him blow off some steam. He'll come back."
They discussed this for fifteen minute and he didn't come back. Adriane decided to go talk to him.
She turned the knob and the door flew open. The wind screamed past hear ears, clogging them. She slowly forced the door shut and headed for the fire exit. she ran down the six flights of stairs to the main hall. She hurried towards the back where she found the storm shelter. She opened the door, and at her surprise, to find a lot of people sitting in there.
"Mom, please come in hear I don't want you to get hurt."
"I see the storm coming Lewis... but I'm not coming in until the sirens sound."
"By that time it'll be too late! Please, just get the others."
She ran up the stairs, jumping over three steps at a time, up to her apartment. She ran inside bent over from exhaustion.
"Please... come with me... to the storm shelter." Adriane said trying to catch her breath.
Everyone stood up waiting for someone to go first. They headed towards the doorway and then Michael stood refusing to comply.
"The storm's not gonna be that bad. I'll just stay away from windows."
"You don't understand..."
"I understand completely and I'm not going to give in to Lewis!"
"It's not giving in when your life is at stake!"
"I'm not afraid of mother nature!" Michael exclaimed over the thunder. "Like I've much to live for anyway." He concluded almost certain he had voided his death warrant.
Realizing she had given up, Adriane caught up with the rest and head towards the storm shelter.
As they entered the storm shelter the hurricanes prepared to converge in a violent transcendence. Thunder roared as the storms rampaged through the city. Lightning struck down buildings and then they were engulfed in horrendous flames. Michael watched in fear of seeing the most accurate vision of hell anyone could every interpret. He watched as the flames raced across the city. He watched the storms converge with his arms held out to bask in this hellish magnificence.
"It's so beautiful!" He screamed uncontrollably followed by the fatal lightning strike that would seize his heart and let the building collapse upon itself.
The storms collided and had a moment of complete silence before starting up again in it's own direction. As to finish the show, a single strike of lightning shot down from the sky and into the Sears tower. The tower split in the middle and it imploded onto itself, adding the final piece of rubble to the ruins.
* * *
July 4th, 2012
To every ones' surprise the sun rose over the hopeless town despite of how much the Chicagoans didn't want to see it.
People cautiously dug their way out from the shelters and out of the rubble. They walked out into their new lives, their new roles in society. They are left here in these ruins without communication, without food, and without self reliance. Everyone in these societies are now completely dependent.
Lewis and the rest of the Simmons family slowly made their way out of the rubble as a single flock of pigeons fly to the north, to persistently send their imminently unheeded message.