10/03/2022: the assignment i turned in. the beginning may be redundant because i never turned in the first one, therefor i had to recap
this is part of my lobotomy corporation OCs' story, aka the 50th day and the hell that resulted from it and the questionable peace following it. there may be slight differenced in formatting from here than the original because this doesn't really preserve any indents or extra spaces between paragraphs
Mysterious specks of white light floated down from the sky like snowflakes, being shed from the brilliant burning pillar of light that had erupted from our old tattered workplace. We were lost, and cowering in some frightened stranger’s bakery, but we were free.
The building was in ruins after shooting upside-down through layers upon layers of thick, jagged earth. My friends and I had led small groups of evacuation teams out of the building after it erupted, taking whatever chance we had to get out. I still remembered seeing the night sky above the city skyline for the first time in years—I couldn’t rip my eyes away from it, and my coworker had to drag me back into reality.
I didn’t have time to take anything of value. All of the folders of reports and files I had slaved over for all the years I worked at the corporation were left behind in the building to die with it, as I had no choice but to abandon them. I didn't have a bag or anything, just the pockets on my body. They were filled with individually wrapped purple and red hard candies I had stashed away in my office desk, and small scraps of notes my friends had left me over the years that I’d saved. My collection of old video games, the calendar I had woken up to day after day year after year, all my clothes, my writing, the laptop I had saved up for—all were gone in an instant.
There had been a natural split between the workers that day. Half of them chose to stay behind and fight off the creatures escaping from their containment, ravaging the facility in panic from the sudden ascension. The rest of them came with us (the department Captains) into assorted teams of evacuees. Some Captains chose to stay behind themselves, protecting their team—like Narae, the lionhearted man who chose to fight to the end. We picked up whatever employees from their department needed to escape, and they huddled together in fear with us in this strange bakery.
The City had been thrown into a panic upon the sudden eruption of our building breaking through earth, and even more panic had blossomed from the sudden explosion of light. The pillar had grown so bright that the night lit up to closely reflect a morning sky. None of us knew what that light was or why it was coming from our old facility, but once the ground erupted into a grand tremor we decided not to stick around to find out. People were trying to dodge the specks like they were acid rain, some reaching out to try and catch them like snowflakes. My closest friend Eva, the Captain of the Control team, had grabbed my arm along with the arm of his strongest employee and dragged us into the cover of the closest building he could find.
The poor owner of the bakery had been frightened at our sudden intrusion, but seeing as how everyone else behind the glass windows was doing the same, he didn’t deny us.
We had stood in a shared silence together, huddled against a wall crouched low to the ground. Other patrons sat in their chairs clutching their pastries and bags of bread, or stood in corners with their hands covering their ears. We all held a collective breath up until the final explosion shook the air, sending a last tremor into the ground beneath us. The building had finally collapsed under its ruined foundations. I quickly averted my eyes, almost completely hiding away behind my arms. I had tried to remain composed for the sake of my team, but thinking back on the coworkers we left behind, it hurt a little to see the building come down on them. Eva also recoiled next to me, and a few of the members of our evac team shared a few gasps or yelps of horror.
And finally, silence. Real, true silence. The beam still shone strong in the center of the rubble, and the light rained down like divine snow. The night had been interrupted and replaced with the illusion of a morning sun thanks to our facility’s pillar. And there we stood, completely still, finally free from the shackles this corporation had held us under for so long.
“...Hey. Is everyone okay?” Eva’s voice, usually loud and strong, spoke softly to us to break the silence.
“Yeah...” Maki, one of the members of my department, spoke up.
“Mhm.” I lowered my arms and faced the scene. Debris was still floating in the air outside from the ruined building. Scanning the area, I met eyes with the confused shopkeeper. It had been so long since I had seen someone who I didn't see daily under the corporation—I approached him with a bit too much sudden excitement, and startled him even more with the first question I asked him.
“Hey, sorry for coming in so suddenly,” I asked, “but do you know what year it is?”
He looked me up and down silently. I was still dressed in the armor from my work— a long gray coat decorated with a pattern of repeating legs, and a bright blue heart in the middle of the vest underneath. I had bright green night vision goggles on my head and horns protruding from my temples—I wasn’t used to interacting with anyone outdoors, I barely noticed how out of place I looked until I saw his state of bewilderment.
“It is…985?” He finally said.
“Oh man.” Eva said behind me, putting a hand to his head.
It sounded about right to me. In fact, it sounded almost like too little time had passed. Ten years had passed above land since we joined the corporation and were held underground, but as a result of waking up in a loop of time almost daily, it felt like…hundreds.
But to everyone else, it appeared it only felt like five. At least, our bodies only aged five—we didn’t look too different than how we started.
“Thank you,” I said to the man, quickly looking down at his bread display. “...Your bread looks really good, by the way. I’d…get some if I could…” I was suddenly overcome with realization. I had no money, no home, no belongings, I didn’t know where my family was, my job was gone, and I…had nothing left to do in this life.
The corporation I’d slaved under for years was gone. Where would I go?
Eva’s hand coming down onto my shoulder interrupted my sudden rumination. The shopkeeper had asked me something, but I didn’t catch it.
“We’d love some, thank you for your offer,” said Eva, and the shopkeeper handed us two small loaves of bread. Eva took them both and rest one in my palms, looking me in the eyes.
“Hey,” he said. “The others are going to find a place to stay. We should do the same,” he said quietly. He took a bite of his bread and didn’t break eye contact. I simply nodded and did the same. God, it tasted amazing, nothing like anything served at the cafeteria…
“Save that,” Eva quickly said, putting his hand over mine. “We’ll need to save until we can get some money for food.” I nodded quickly and slipped the bread into my jacket pocket.
“Do you have a home around here?” I asked him, mouth still full. “You said you were from the Nest—do you think we could still settle in there?!” Those who lived in the Nest of a district—we called them Nesties, sometimes—were considered very lucky. Compared to the state of the rest of the district, the Nests were always very tidy, rich, and safe. At least so they said—Eva seemed to express distaste at this clean cut description of his old home.
“No chance.” Eva grimaced. “Ten years…I’ve been gone for ten years. And, uh…once a Wing crumbles, they usually start chasing everyone out of the Nest pretty fast.” He looked at me with a spark of worry brewing in his eyes. “We should probably focus our efforts on getting out of this district in general. Once this place is confirmed dead it’ll become a shitshow. And I have…no idea what this light is.”
He threw a glance back at the source of said light. It was still going strong, with bright white debris floating down like feathers from the core. The facility was nothing more than rubble now.
“Luckily I grew up in streets like these,” I said with a grin to try and reassure him. “I dunno Nests, but I sure know backstreets! Maybe I can find us a motel?”
“Alright, but how will we even pay for something like that?”
“Don’t worry. I can probably strike us up a deal.”
The light had softened in the sky above us by the time we finally found a motel not overrun by panicked city dwellers and old Wing employees. It almost felt like evening now, even though it was dead of night. I had taken off my vest due to the possible attention the glowing blue heart could attract to us, and Eva had removed his jingly hat. We still looked a bit strange, but we’d at least have a chance at not getting immediately picked out as members of a Wing.
We entered the motel, signaled with a faintly glowing sign that read Leonard’s Bin. I gently ushered Eva along with me, who had been staying quite close in these streets he was unfamiliar with. I surely didn’t remember much from my time living here, but I had to give off the impression that I did to keep him from losing it.
We were greeted with a small, humble lobby. Peeling wallpaper with dubious stains lined the walls, with wooden floorboards creaking out beneath us as we entered. A single man sat hunched by the front desk, hair messy and tie undone. Weak fluorescent lights flickered above us. The front desk man simply quirked a brow at our exhausted entrance and barely sat up.
“You two blow in from freaktown?” He scoffed.
“...You must be Leonard? Hey, I– we don’t really have that much on us—” I started, heading towards the desk.
“Hell, man. Everyone says that.” He sighed, leaning heavily on his hand. “You better have something good or you’re leaving.”
I thought for a second, a bit panicked. Eva dug into his coat and pulled out his loaf of bread—I quickly nudged it away.
“You need some goggles?” I ducked down slightly and removed the goggles from my head, causing Eva’s eyes to widen in surprise.
“Goggles and the coat,” said Leonard. “N’ was that bread? Hn. If you throw in some bread I’ll let you stay for longer than a night.”
I looked to Eva.
“How long do we…”
“As long as we can get,” he cut in.
I looked to Leonard and hesitated before nodding. I took the notes out of the coat pocket and shoved them into my pants pocket instead, then took the loaf of bread from my coat and placed it on the table beside it.
“If…you let us have an extended stay, I’ll try and get you more,” I said quietly, resigned. Eva held onto his own loaf, watching me silently. “We just came from that building back there, an–”
“I can tell. Your one of ‘em Feathers, aren’t you?” Leonard’s mouth twitched into a smirk. Those working under a Wing were often referred to as Feathers. It grinded my gears, but I restrained my emotion and remained motionless. “You bring me more ‘n I wont rat you out…however much money this coat and goggle set gets me, you’ll start out with that long of a stay. Anything past that is on your delivery, bread boy.”
I didn’t have a chance to respond before he turned to grab our keys. Eva nudged me in the side.
“You..didn’t have to do that, man,” he said quietly. “Where are you gonna get more bread?”
“I’ll work something out with the shopkeeper from before, he seemed really nice,” I sighed. “I just wanted us to sleep under a roof tonight…” Eva nodded.
“Guess we deserve it after…everything” He looked down to his shoes. “...this is really it, huh? The end of our life under the Wing?”
I nodded gravely.
“Yeah. As free as a bird, the two of us.”