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Zola & The Heart

by what means

By Meagan DionPublished 2 years ago Updated 2 years ago 9 min read
Zola & The Heart
Photo by Steve Halama on Unsplash

The Prophet paced the floor and wrung his hands. “Oh the world burned again, just like it always does,” he complained. “Consume the people with sickness, and their love for blame destroys them. Literally—it didn’t take long for the bombs to drop.” He held an hourglass in his hands and peered into it, “see, there they go… run little scavengers. Yes, pull yourselves out of the rubble and create your factions to survive, that will work.” He sighed.

“Do you ever just get so weary of it all?” He collapsed, defeated, into his tall throne. His companion sat stoically next to him and remained silent. “Who do you think will make it this time?”

Zola Wright emerged from the radioactive cave with something cupped in his hands. One hand was flesh and bone and the other was bionic. He pulled off his gas mask. His eyes were welling with tears and his mouth gaping in astonishment. Carefully, he unwrapped the rags from the precious discovery. There lay a tin, heart-shaped locket, featuring a clock face on its surface. The clock's hands read 3:00. Zola looked up to the purple sky and checked his time with the sun. Accurate. He looked down at the locket again, but this time It read 2:59.

Quickly, Zola fumbled for his journal and turned to the last written page. He moved his mechanical index finger along the line “retrieve me, time wanes, take the journey, peace will reign.” Long had the story been told of the locket that held the key to peace, but what exactly was inside the locket was unknown. The power-hungry and revenge obsessed were convinced that the heart was a nuclear weapon, one that could eviscerate the enemy once and for all. Others, like Zola, believed it to contain an antidote. It was for that reason that Zola didn’t fear the locket exploding and hung it around his neck, tucked safely just under his shirt.

Just as Zola reached for his pack, something whizzed past his ear. He gripped the pack and somersaulted along the dusty ground as two more arrows went sailing over him. From behind a Gamma-soaked log, Zola cried out “who’s there?” From just within the radioactive forest came the response Zola hoped would never come.

“Give it here Zola! You know the heart’s rightful place is at the front lines! That weapon will end this war once and for all.” Diesel King leaned slightly out of the shadows, with his hand raised to call off the arrows. He placed a half-burned cigarette to his lips.

“Diesel, you dirtbag! There’s nothing but an antidote in this locket! If you take it the opposite direction of the Capitol we’ll run out of time!”

“Oh! What a dreamer you are Zola Wright.”

Diesel took a drag and then nodded in the opposite direction from his position. Arrows began to fly again. Zola reached up to his temple and pressed lightly as if it was a radio device, “Hollis, come in. I need that exit now.”

“10-4,” a woman's voice replied.

Arrows continued to fly through the air over Zola but there was something else overhead. A small metal Zeppelin emerged from the trees. A ladder dropped from the gondola door. Zola swung his pack onto his shoulder and gripped the rope ladder with his one good hand. Diesel, chuckling, called off the arrows and then shouted to Zola. “Where’d you get that thing?” As he gained height, Zola waved his bionic hand and called out “traded for it!”

Zola could hear the voice of Hollis, his aircraft’s fully automated programming system, reporting the zeppelin’s status. As he pulled himself onto the gondola floor he began instructing Hollis to set course for the Capitol, but then the sound of beating wings silenced him. Suddenly Diesel appeared before Zola in midair. He was flying with an aviary contraption resembling something from Michelangelo's mind. Two mechanical wings attached to a pack held him aloft in the sky.

“Where’d you get that?” Zola attempted a laugh while fighting panic.

“Traded for it” Diesel replied with a smirk. Zola swallowed hard, knowing that Diesel had a debt to pay.

Before he could tell Hollis to close the hatch, Diesel alighted the door jam, retracted his wings, and forced his way into the cabin. He grabbed Zola and pushed him up against the controls by the shirt collar. “Increasing altitude” Hollis reported as Zola’s back jammed the instruments. He could feel Diesel’s hot nicotine breath on his face.

Zola brought his arm up and over Diesel’s arm, breaking his grip, then jabbed him in the throat. Diesel quickly retaliated with a blow to the face. Zola tried to reason as he held his bloody nose, “please, this isn’t the answer, we need to...” Diesel brought his knee up firmly between his legs. Zola crumbled to the ground.

Diesel stood over him and grasped at the back of Zola’s neck feverishly for the rope to the heart. Zola hugged Diesel’s left leg with both arms and knocked him down to the ground. Zola mounted Diesel and Diesel flipped Zola onto his back. This skirmish continued as they rolled across the floor all the way back toward the door, smashing Diesel’s aerial pack with each fall. “Just give me the Heart, Wright” Diesel grunted. The tumbling had finally worked the heart out from behind Zola’s shirt. Zola had Diesel pinned by the shoulders right next to the edge of the cabin, but the Heart hung above Diesel’s face. Both men eyed it.

Fluid was leaking from Diesel’s flight contraption. Now he had no escape. This made Diesel more desperate to gain control. Diesel wrapped his forearms around Zola's, breaking the hold he had on his shoulders, and flipped Zola one last time. Both men grabbed for the locket. Zola’s hands were wrapped around the rope and Diesel’s gripped the Heart.

Zola could feel the air outside the cabin. He could hear the hands ticking on the locket. He had to protect the Heart. There was only one option. Zola bent his knees, planted both feet firmly on the ground, and then thrust his trunk upward. The momentum flung Diesel’s body forward, breaking his grip, and with no time to regain balance, flung his body out the door— into the expanse below.

Zola lay on the metal floor clutching the Heart, tears streaming down his cheeks. All he wanted was peace. Peace. He lifted the Heart to read the time. 2:30. “Sir, the altitude is too high. Risk of combustion possible,” Hollis reported.

Zola jumped up. He had forgotten they hit the controls in the skirmish. Even though his airship was equipped with the newest tech, he was unable to trade for helium to make it buoyant and was forced to use the old tradition of hydrogen. The control panel was going berserk. He had one escape. “Hollis, how close are we to the Capitol?”

“Reaching the Capitol in eight miles.” Zola grabbed his parachute and said goodbye to Hollis while he strapped in. Just as he jumped, the tail ignited. Small explosions slowly grew throughout the vessel and then consumed it. Zola hit the ground just as his beloved ship began to fall.

The hike was exhausting but it was the emotional toll that tired him the most. He never meant to hurt anyone. He just wanted to take the heart to the Capitol, to the Seat of Realization, and save mankind. That was the most important thing. If someone had to die so millions of others lived, then it justified it—right?

He kept repeating this mantra as he finished his walk to the Capitol. “It had to happen so I could save others.” This acted as a balm to his soul. But the best relief was seeing the crystal citadel rising over the horizon.

As he approached the glass steps to the Seat of Realization the Heart read 12:30. A man in a long robe stood at a door. Zola hurried to him calling out “I have the Heart! I have the key to peace!” The man appeared to be bored by this but slowly opened the door.

“Down the hall, first door on your left”, he nearly yawned.

Zola found this to be odd. “I have the key to peace. Aren’t you excited?” “Yes”, the man replied dryly.

Zola climbed the glass stairs, traversed the long hall, and then took the first left.

“Oh, hi! I’m the Prophet!” The man before Zola appeared to have come straight out of a fairy tale.

“I’m Zola,” he said slowly.

“You found the Heart! Good for you. Give it.”

Zola slowly lifted the precious item from around his neck, the thing Diesel had died for, and gently placed it in the Prophet’s hands. The Prophet held it up to his silent companion. “Looky, looky Love. Here’s your locket.” Love stood to hold her prized possession.

“It’s hers?” asked Zola. “How did it get in the cave?”

“Oh, easy. We put it there,” the Prophet said nonchalantly.

His glib behavior soured Zola’s stomach.

“You? Why? What’s in it?”

The Prophet peered at Zola with distaste. “Love, show him.” Love held up the locket, Zola could see that it said 12:15. Love slowly pressed the clasp on the right side and opened the locket. Zola gawked at what he saw, or what he didn’t see—which was anything. There was nothing inside the locket, no weapon, no antidote, nothing. Zola’s knees buckled as he replayed the scene of Diesel dropping to the ground, for nothing. On his knees, he wept.

“Oh yes, see… you decided that you had to do anything to get what you believed to be right. That’s the biggest mistake you could have made,” the Prophet informed him coldly.

“What is this?” Zola demanded. “Some sort of joke? The world is in ruins! Who are you?”

“I told you my name,” the Prophet replied. He then turned to his cohort “Love, he’s getting hysterical. Better speed up the last few minutes, and start over again.” Zola looked on in horror. Love waved a hand over the heart. The clock hands spun rapidly around until the very last minute.

“Why are you doing this?” Zola wailed.

“So you learn”, replied the Prophet.

The clock struck 12:00 and Zola disappeared. The Prophet picked up an hourglass and turned it over. With a sigh, he said, “You’d think they would learn but they don’t. I’m always surprised they don’t realize what the Heart is symbolic of, Love. Go ahead and say it, you always do. Maybe someone will get it next time.”

Love wiped a tear from her eye, exhaled her grief, and quietly uttered the words, “As long as the ends justify the means, the Heart will remain empty.”

Sci Fi

About the Creator

Meagan Dion

My life is a little crazy. Four kids, homeschool, hotel clerk, write, create and coffee. Coffee is a verb. Do you coffee? I aspire to blow glass and finish / publish my novel. I would like to have an impact. Also, coffee.

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