Re: Ascension – A Community Development

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Terrence Anders
The New Zealand Consulate, Wan Chai, Hong Kong.

11 Hours after the Invasion.

I fucking killed someone. With my mind. Hong Kong has been invaded by god know who, and now I’m sitting in a broken down subway train, below ground with a only fire to light this scraggy notebook (a fire in a subway car, okay..) I’m not alone, I mean, that’s rare enough in HK, but I usually find myself in the company of suits. They’re still here, along with the tourists, the street vendors and some guy I’m pretty sure is Triad. None of it makes much sense. I just need to get this down on paper, I don’t know how it’ll help, but I need to get this out. So where to start?

I used to feel at home in Hong Kong. There is a certain degree of familiarity woven into the anonymity of a bustling metropolis. Safety in numbers, or something like that. But all of that changed today. Well, the anonymous became known, at least. We all now have something in common. Fear.

I used to crave being here, brief stints over the years filled me with a hunger for this bite sized, accessible little Oriental morsel. It had the food, the exotic people, the bustle of metropolitanism, the smell, and felt all the more alive for it. But the Hong Kong I returned to was not the same. It didn’t have her.

Our travels here together have repaved these busy streets with memories, and everywhere I turn I am confronted with the realisation that I chose this over her. My work at the embassy, I told myself, would help to build our futures. But as I left, I knew I wouldn’t be back, I knew she shouldn’t be expected to wait. My career was so important that I avoided believing in the degree to which I’d miss her. I try to fill my days with paperwork and phone calls, my nights with hard liquor and cigarettes. None of these burdens dulls the pain, not when I lay there, late at night, on my stony mattress, in my shoe-box apartment, staring blankly at the ceiling (do they use asbestos here?) wondering what she’s up, where she’s been. New Zealand seems a life away. I love this place, but I hate that I love it. Am I homesick? I don’t want to leave, I just don’t want to be alone.

But yeah, so that’s not an option after today. Not really even relevant. Work is now irrelevant, where I live is now irrelevant. Missing, longing, pining, crying, it’s all really background noise to the big, bat-shit crazy event that has turned the world on it’s head. And yet even that doesn’t dull the pain. What. Is. Going. On?

Okay, so I’m trying to piece this together in my head. I don’t even know who I’m writing this to. Is it for you, dollface? I don’t really know. So I was out having my lunch with my friend Shada, from the Saudi Consulate. God, poor Shada. It was a regular Tuesday, she was having issues with her big-wig CEO husband, I was nodding politely, listening, but not really. Drinking problems, infidelity, the usual stuff. We were in our usual spot, out on the Expo Promenade, with the incredible view over Victoria Harbour. It was just a normal day. Suits drifting past, buses and taxis honking, panicked tourists sprinting after them, my cigarette heavy in my throat and going moist from the humidity. Regular. Unlike any other day. That’s how I’ll remember it. Separate from what came after.

I suppose the strangeness started a few days before really, with this vivid dream I had, one of those dreams that you’re not quite sure is actually a dream. A shadow of a dishevelled man inside my little apartment, with, what, a syringe? I remember a stinging sensation as he stood over me, not unlike a mosquito, but I absent-mindedly fell straight back into a deep deep sleep. I’ve been scratching at the little square shaped groove on my elbow ever since. Given the circumstances, I’m beginning to doubt that it was actually a dream. Anyway…

The rumbling came first, low at first, barely breaking above the constant drone of air conditioners, but it grew quickly, in seconds really, to overshadow everything else. Then followed the literal shadow. I don’t know what they were, giant triangles in the sky, blotting it all out. Ships, I guess, carriers. The noise was horrendous. Hong Kong moves quickly, but people were scrambling. It gets a bit blurry from here. I remember an explosion on the horizon. Some have said it was the airport, others say that the power cut out immediately after the bang. (God, how many people are trapped in elevators right now?) Then came the gunshots. Gun blasts? I’ve played a lot of video games, these weren’t your standard issue assault rifles. Similar speeds but, I don’t know, thuds. Thuds that got ever nearer.

As these ships got closer to the surface, Shada and I bolted inland to escape the torrent of water being forced up from the harbour. I think that was probably a mistake, now. People were everywhere. Again normal, but these people weren’t vertical. In the distance we saw a group of people. At the time though, you’d be forgiven for wondering if they actually people at all. We turned and ran in the opposite direction, because, I mean, what do you do? We were actually getting a bit of distance on them, when I tripped over a policeman. A dead policeman.

I recall yelling at Shada: “Don’t stop, keep running, run!” but she didn’t listen. In the end she was a better friend to me than I think I’d have been to her. Those many months, talking, offering advice, but being mentally elsewhere. As those glowing orange bullets (beams?) entered her chest, that’s what I thought about: why didn’t I care about her more? Why didn’t I go to a greater effort to support her? Why was I so caught up with my own shit that I couldn’t be a good friend? I am so selfish. Even as I watched my friend die, all I could selfishly think about was how selfish I was. I’d like to think what happened next came from a good place, out of sympathy and anguish for losing a friend, but I think, mostly, it came out of shame for myself.

Whatever came from their weapons glowed like hot embers, an evil orange which I was sure should have cauterized her wounds. They didn’t, and I felt the warmth of her blood splatter upon me. I spun to the side, we had been flanked. I don’t think I really caught it at the time, but my mind is clinging to the image of some kind of trooper, a white, nonchalant fellow with a dense beard and a greasy ponytail, like Steven Segal in one of his terribly acted atrocities from the late 90s. His torso was covered by incredibly intricate armour, but he had these arms, black and metallic, inhuman. CNN and TVB Pearl had been all over the stories of nano-augmentation, of military grade prosthetics, but to see it in the flesh (..or not) was an entirely different story. He was armed to the teeth, teeth which wore a grin. You prick. You fucking prick. I wanted him dead, I wanted him gone. I so I made that happen.

He rose into the air, the smile slipping from his face. My arm was in front of me, dripping at the elbow with Shada’s blood. I squeezed. He popped. End of story really. The next thing I remember I’m bolting down O’Brien Road, ages away, as the sky falls around me. Those ships were still over head, a layer on top of burning buildings and falling debris. I’m sure those soldiers were behind me, but I wasn’t looking back. Just panting, and wondering what I’d done.

Out of nowhere a heavily tattooed Hong Konger tackled me, dragging me towards the Wan Chai MTR entrance. He was yelling in Cantonese what I assumed to mean “We have to get out of here, what are you doing, you stupid guilou?” I at least caught the guilou part. And now here we are. Dwellers below the surface of Hong Kong. At last count there were thirteen of us, but it’s hard to be sure. More come every day, from further along the tunnels, I’m not sure. The entrances have been boarded up but to be safe we all left the terminal itself this morning to hide in the subway cars, the assumption being if these things turn on, ours should start moving. Better than getting hit on the tracks I suppose.

So, my apparent super powers. Did it actually happen? I don’t really know. I’ve tried to replicate it, move around some tins, you know, generally what you test it on. I mean, I don’t want to try and explode a person again. So is it triggered by rage? Yeah.

One reason I don’t doubt it is, well, the Triad member, the one who tackled me. I’ve been watching him, (from a good safe distance) every time he lights a cigarette he lets the fire travel up and down his arm, like some sort of pet (Show off). So this super powers bit might be a thing. I guess I’m willing this, but he keeps scratching his elbow too. I mean, his arm is on fire once every couple of minutes, (chain smoking) so there is that, but I wonder if he has a mark too? I should really approach him, if only to thank him for saving my life. But those tattoos. I’m so prejudiced. You can take the boy out of the privileged West, but you can’t take the privileged West out of the boy, I guess. In any case, it was he who lighted the fire. Toxins, suffocation and immolation aside, we needed the light. My mobile needed charging before this happened, and nobody has been able to get reception since then either. The consensus is they have cut communications. Ugh, so much to think about. Who exactly are they? They were white, at least the one I saw (killed). There were no flags, nothing to identify them. One of the ‘survivors’ (I guess that’s what you’d call us) pinched a set of armour, the only thing that resembles an insignia is this strange stylised triangle, almost like the letter A. So hey, we have some armour, but not a clue who we’d be using it against.

And despite all this, I just miss you. I’m laying here, trying to remember and articulate everything, but I keep staring up at the roof of the subway car, wishing you were here. What a horrible thing to wish for, given the circumstances.

Okay, so apparently we’re moving in twenty minutes (your typical corporate PR guy keeps harping on about flooding if they bomb the subway, which makes sense, I just kind of wish someone else was harping on about it. I’ve got a lot of American friends, but this guy’s accent, ouch), so I better wrap this up. I don’t know what will happen here, but baby, if this is for you, I guess it is, I love you and miss you, if this reaches you back down there in New Zealand, I hope that it is under clearer skies.