The year 2009: In yet another alternate reality...
"Uncle Gray?" Opus1432 asked. "How long
are we going to have to stay undercover? I mean, the Kortac have to sleep
sometime, don't they?"
The Gray Zombie sighed. "Opie, we've gone through this every day for two years." He paused for a second, remembering when the teenaged girl had mysteriously appeared outside of this hovel one day. Has it really been over two years now? "You know that there is only day when the Kortac aren't out. It's their new moon holiday, which for them occurs the first day of every third month," he said, kicking a rat out of the make-shift shack they had assembled out of the shambles that were once the great city of Augusta.
Augusta, Gray thought to himself. I used to have a lot of fun in that town. Sure, I always complained about how there was nothing to do, but God, how I wish that city was still around. Gray's mood darkened more. And my swamp. My beautiful swamp! Those Kortac will DEFINATELY pay for the destruction of my home.
His thoughts then shifted to his Capper friends. The good old days. The capping days, before all this happened. Sitting at the computer at all hours of the night, sharing inside jokes with those who he knew through Caption This! on the internet. It was the only thing that kept him sane in this otherwise insane world. A world now ruled by the iron fist of the Kortac. He remembered that fateful day when he received the letter from Tolstoy, and how he and his friends were going to save the Earth from invaders. Sure, things went well for a while. They had beaten the Kortac at every encounter they had. But then something changed the balance. Something from Gray's past.
"OK," Opus said, breaking him from his reverie, "I won't ask again until tomorrow." She smiled at him. "Tomorrow is the first, right? Can we go out and look for things?"
"Yeah," Gray said absently, not really paying attention. His thought drifted back to his friends, and the Kortac. How many of his Capper buddies had he sent to their deaths? It was all a blur. Those damn Kortac, he thought to himself. I was happy sitting at home capping away, working on my web page and writing stories. Maybe Tolstoy shouldn't have recruited Cappers. Maybe we weren't the right ones for the job...
"Uncle Gray? Uncle Gray!" Opus said, gripping him gently by the shoulder.
"Sorry," Gray apologized. "You know how I get sometimes when I think about the past. What do you want?"
"Do you think that there are any other Cappers out there still alive? Holed up someplace waiting for a sign that it's time to strike aginst the Kortac? I mean, I can't believe that they killed all of them. Could they have?"
"Oh, I know that there are Cappers still alive. Some escaped to an alternate dimension, I know for a fact. But on this world, in this dimension, I don't know. I really don't, Opie," he said, shaking his head. "We've been here for two years, and we haven't seen or heard anything, except for those daring young Kortac in their flying machines. That's not to say that there might not be others out there, to be sure. But with the Kortac being as active as they are, there is no way for us to know. They only give us one day every three months to look. And it's a pretty good sized world."
"Can I ask you something else?" Opus continued.
"Sure," Gray said, picking up a rock and throwing at another rat that tried to move into their house.
"Well, I know you don't like to talk about the past, because of how much it hurts. But sometimes, it helps." She pulled her hand off his shoulder, and took hold of his hand. "Tell me a story. Tell me about the Cappers. What happened to them all, I mean." She lowered her head. "That is, if you feel up to it," she followed, her voice trailing off to a whisper.
Gray took a deep breath, and then slowly exhaled. "All right, Opie. Who do you want to know about?"
Opus shrugged her shoulders. "It doesn't matter. Just tell me about one of them. Whichever one comes to mind first."
"OK," Gray said, taking another deep breath. It was hard enough for him to think about his friends, let alone talk about it. But maybe it would help, like she had said. "Let's see. How about I tell you when things went bad for the Cappers, and for the world? How about that?"
"I've always wondered if things happened the same way in this reality. You never were too talkative," she said, the smile returning to her face.
"OK. It was the year 2005. And it was a dark and stormy night..." Gray started.
Opus elbowed him in the ribs. "Come on, Uncle Gray! I'm serious. Tell me what happened!"
"I am serious," Gray said, his facial features hardening.
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