Saelieni Chapter 2 by Gregory Harvey

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SUMMARY: Chapter 2 The Collector


"Who are you?" His voice echoed into the halls of the long abandoned shopping center. Constructed by humans... abandoned by all except two.
The sunlight, as constructed as the rest of the reality (and all realities), drifted in from the outside. Even though, as the man knew, outside was a place of darkness. A place of monsters.
The yellow taxi was parked on the second floor, its driver, a short man wearing an odd, purple uniform, stood beside it. He had driven in from the outside, the taxi smashing through one of the doors on the ground floor, somehow ending up on the second.
"I am Unknown," the driver answered, "I am the voice from the void."

***

Although Arthur didn't know it, the café he now sat in had all the resonance of that long ago shopping center. Even before all of what was happening, it had been abandoned. It's owner, a man who had also once owned the town's theatre during the war years, had died. It was technically owned by his son now, who lived a hell of a long way from Yulumson. As those words went through his head, Arthur found himself longing to be far away. As far away as possible from the death and desertion all around him. He'd walked into three houses before coming along the café. All three had people in them. People who had been killed by falling junk.
Arthur didn't even bother trying to think of a rational explanation. What good would it do anyway? It wouldn't bring anybody back to life.
As he walked down the highway, he had decided to duck into the café, as he knew there would be no bodies in it. He knew he might be able to rest. He was sitting in a chair that had cobwebs hanging from its legs, and dust caked onto the wood, but all that was insignificant now.
Arthur looked down at his shirt, there was a growing red stain there. He lifted his shaking hand to his forehead, contemplated touching the wound, but thought better of it. He needed help. Immediately. But who was left to give it? The blood continued to pour out of his head, down his neck, and into his shirt.
How much blood was he loosing? Why had the wound erupted so quickly after discovering the bodies? How much longer before he passed out, and, inevitably, died?
"Don't worry, be happy," Arthur said to himself.
What a joke.

With the pounding in his head, Arthur had stopped noticing the rumbling noise (almost like thunder in fact) that pervaded every second. It wasn't until it rose in volume that he actually remembered it. And then there was a knock on the café's door. A single tap. The noise subsided.
What the hell?
Arthur rose slowly from his chair, taking a second or two just to make sure his balance was right. The pain in his knee, although lessened, was still having an effect on his movement. He approached the door, and opened it very slowly.
He looked out across the street, to his left and to his right, but there was no one to be found.
There was a small, blue, plastic box on the front steps of the café however. Arthur hesitated in picking it up, but eventually took it inside with him.

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