The story goes that, with the guidance of the Partitioned, we witnessed more than a century of peace. Well, that’s how the story goes.
The evolved started to emerge in the mid-1900s. They began to surface more and more until the public had no choice but to acknowledge their existence. They were given a name, the Partitioned, by those that wanted to keep them separated from the rest of the world. Camps were erected to house these “beasts”, for no other reason than the fear of something different. Something they were biologically inferior to. A decade later, several world leaders banned the camps, to the dismay of many, and welcomed the Partitioned into their respective societies. Hate and distrust lingered but the Partitioned found community together and soon integrated into the rest of the world. Several years later in the Western continent, you could find many Partitioned in positions within the government. The rest of the world would soon follow suit.
Life went on like this for years and peace was found. Many believe this peace was brought about from shady dealings within the Partitioned community, but the results could not be argued. So for a century, no soldier died on foreign soil. Countries’ economies bloomed during this period, people lived longer and times were happier. They had found a way to maintain peace. But in times of peace, the natural instinct to survive weakens, people get comfortable.
On May 23rd in the year 2073, that comfort was interrupted. Hidden from the world, a group of men and women finally unleashed a plan that would solve their problems. In this century of peace, people with abilities had become the majority. This scared society. It scared those who heard stories from their grandparents of how these beasts were locked in cages and starved to death, the way things should have remained. They launched a synchronized attack on major Partitioned communities throughout the world, heavily crippling them. Then the hunt began for those that were left, for those that hadn’t realized what they were yet, and for any Partitioned sympathizers. The camps were brought back, and the genocide of a people began. Terrified that there was some way for the evolved to resurrect themselves, they burned the bodies. The president of the western land shut his borders from the outside world and began bombing his own country, leaving many places uninhabitable.
This happened Seven years ago. There aren’t many Partitioned left, they’re either in the camps or hiding with no intention of fighting back. Seven years ago the Turn happened. And just like that, peace became a distant memory.
The western continent was the first to erupt into war. From miles away, cities burned black. Smoke clouds obscured any view of the beating sun. Everything was slipping from their lives, everything they’ve come so far to build. Their worst nightmare was becoming a reality, and the onslaught was brutal.
Without warning, homes were stormed. Soldiers in black tore through communities within hours, ripping children from their families and throwing them into transport trucks. Mothers were screaming out for their children as they were shoved to their knees. The walls were painted red. There could be no error in this eradication.
“Go! Get Inside!” said the father.
The little boy ran into the house and latched onto his mother. Tears formed in the little boy’s eyes. Three soldiers in masks approached the father, as the family stood frozen in silent fear of their fate.
“We haven’t done—“, choked the father before being silenced by a punch to the gut. He gasped for air on his knees. A soldier pulled out his sidearm and aimed it at the father’s head.
The little boy watched in terror. His mother kneeled down to grab his face in her hands, looking deep into his eyes.
“I won’t let anything happen to you,” she said. Bang! She flinched with a gasp. The soldiers turn to catch them in the window and immediately prowl to their next target.
The mother hugs her boy tightly, tears washing both of their cheeks,
“I love you, I will always love you.”
The soldier who fired at the father continued to stand over his body. He had removed his mask. His autumn red hair blended into the background of fire. His gaze was flooded with the chaos of the town, and landed on the mother, seconds before her trigger was pulled. He wiped sweat from his lips. They called to him but he felt so distant. This was the first time Felix had killed. And for some reason, he couldn’t move.
It’s hard finding your footing when you’re dragging your boots through a swamp of ash. Distant gunfire rang out, without any suggestion of where it was coming from. But the steady hands of a professional indicated the drop of a body following every shot. Daunting voices on loudspeakers alerted all, the city was under lockdown. A group of soldiers held a family out in the street, barking orders. They were shoved to their knees. The familiarity of this position was becoming terrifying, as if to kneel before your overlords. History was repeating.
CRACK! A father fell with a bullet passing through his skull. The soldier moved on the mother raising his gun to her. A loud succession of shots rang out from several yards away, and now it was two soldiers who had fallen. The remainder of them, alert, turned their attention to two snipers perched on a rooftop. The soldiers unleashed a flurry of gunfire towards them.
“The roof!” yelled one of the soldiers, only to drop his weapon and grasp his throat moments later where a bullet lodged into his windpipe. A small team from the opposite direction diverged on them, dropping the soldiers one by one with precision. In a few short seconds they lay dead before the family. The family was huddled together, afraid to lose anyone else.
The two snipers were already on the street level running to join the team. A young man, no older than 17, led the ground squad to the family.
“Get them inside, secure any entry points,” ordered the young man, the team followed his word. The snipers took up positions in an alleyway across the street covering the team while the young man removed the masks of the soldiers.
When he came to the last soldier, before he even removed his mask, he recognized his eyes. He took off the mask and looked upon the man’s face. He went to school with him, laughed and had conversations with him. That’s when Barret knew that there were no lines in this war that wouldn’t be crossed. Brothers fighting brothers, families at odds with one another. His team was ready to move, but he remained knelt by his fallen comrade, thinking. He took his rifle in his hands and ordered his team to move out.
At that moment it was clear to him that he would have to keep his people safe at all costs. Though, he didn’t know what exactly that would mean at that moment.
In a small apartment, a teenaged boy sat at a circular table picking at his food. He took a spoonful of food into his mouth. He sat very still, his mind began to wonder to his lost biological parents. They could never—SLAM! A stumbling man in a military outfit came to the table.
“Boy—“ said the man. He slammed a bottle of liquor on the table.
“Captain Warner,” mumbled the boy.
“Father! How many times do I have to—-“ blurted the Captain.
“Father, I’m sorry.” Spoke the boy.
“Good boy. I’ve got some news, some very exciting news,” slurred the Captain. He stared at the boy, looking for excitement in his eyes that reflected his own. The boy stared down at his food. The Captain scoffed.
“These beasts will finally be put down.”
With that the boy looked up at his adoptive father.
“Our people— they came up with a way. We can stop their freakish ‘powers’ that they hold so dear,” The Captain said mockingly.
“Why— are you telling me this?” said the boy.
“Because, now, we will be back at the top of the food chain! You don’t know, but there was a time we lived without their kind, those people…”
“Yes, people! Just people, like you and me. I know the history of our world too. We, our kind, have a history of war and destruction. They have helped us—“
“They aren’t people!”
“You just said—-“
“I don’t care what I said! What’s getting into you boy? Don’t you see how this could help you? You are still looked down at for the color of your skin— That make any sense to you? When there are real monsters on our doorstep threating our species? You’re my boy and with you standing by me throughout this, no one will ever look at you sideways again. Don’t you want that?”
The boy fell silent. The man gave him the same side eyed look he’s become accustomed to.
“Where would you have been without me? Huh?.”
“You’re so stupid, not seeing this for what it is. Your dad was right, just a stupid boy. No direction, always too stupid and blind to see the truth of the world. The true world. You’ll hang with those monsters. I can’t protect some stupid boy that—“ the Captain berated.
That was enough. The boy rose and sunk his fist into the Captain’s cheek. He fell, shocked. The boy stood over him and continued to pummel his fists into the Captain’s face. No end in sight, the boy’s skin began ripping away from his knuckles, as the Captain choked on his own blood. Something inside him held back his next fist. The boy knew what he had done. The captain was right. He would hang with the monsters, he could not go back. But he would take his humanity with him.
Hours later he found himself in the wilderness, cleaning his wounds. Stillness overwhelmed him with fright as he thought back to his parents. Their voices played over and over in his mind, “Oster, shut up!” “Stupid boy.” “You will never be anything.” “Fool!”
Oster stared at the stars. There was no path for him within them. Maybe they were right, that stupid boy couldn’t live up to be anything. That terrified him. More than anything else he could imagine.
She walks into a seemingly deserted, barren town. She stops, looking among the scarce buildings. Oster catches up to her, breathing heavily, he stops. “Which one—,” Grangers starts in the left direction before Oster cuts her off. “The small one there.” Oster points to a small building on the corner of intersecting roads. Granger nods and leads.
They enter the building. There’s a man sitting behind a caged counter. He’s dirty and thin, his clothes hanging off of him. He looks as if he’s drunk but the duo know that more often than not, people now are just exhausted. Behind him are several guns hanging off the wall, some are standard weapons, some are hand-crafted with utensils that could be found around the house. There’s also water and food with flies hovering above. A woman sits next to him, asleep.
Oster walks straight to the counter and drops a large bag that’s been hanging off his shoulder. Granger hangs close behind. She places her forearms atop the counter, and leans forward onto her toes to hide her challenged angle. The thin man stands and tries to get a good look at the bag.
“What you got to trade?” the thin man whispers.
“Some top grade ARF rifles,” Granger says flatly. “Completely hacked, so there won’t be an unlocking fee.”
“You ain’t traded with me ‘fore, so don’t spec’ me to trust ya. Only us shop owners know how to unlock the fingerprint tech. So I am gonna charge ya’ll that fee—“ The thin man quips.
Granger goes into the bag and retrieves three of the rifles, placing them on the counter in front of her. She takes the last one in her hands and aims it at the thin man’s head.
“You pull that trigger girly, that thing’ll send so much volts into ya, I can use ya as a space heater tonight,” He laughs.
She pulls the trigger. CLICK! The thin man flinches. He looks at her in disbelief.
“I ain’t buying them stol’n goods off you. Get outta here before I make you.” The thin man barked. Granger grabs the entire bag and shoves it through an opening in the fence. They drop at the thin man’s feet. He looks at her angrily.
“I said I ain’t—“ the man croaked. He’s shaking. A gleam washes over Granger’s eyes.
“You’re taking the guns and you’re gonna give my friend here all the water you got back there,” there is a soothing calmness to Granger’s voice.
The thin man slowly walks towards the water jug, his body jerks in and out of every move, as if fighting what his mind was telling his body to do.
Once Oster had all the water he could carry, the thin man’s knees buckled slightly as though all the weight of his body came rushing back to him at once. “You damn thief!” The thin man shouted. Granger smiled as they walked to the door. A moment later, they hear the pull back of a hammer. And the man shakes again. His arm jerks in defiance until the muzzle of his pistol is pressed straight up into his mouth.
Oster puts the waters down and kneels down in front of Granger. “He’s angry, leave the man be, Granger. We don’t need—“ pleads Oster.
“WE aren’t doing anything, I am. Go outside,” orders Granger.
Oster rebuts, ”Bren, stop this.”
“I won’t ask again. Out.” Granger stares into his eyes. She’s terrifying, he picks up the waters and exits. Granger stares at the man and walks toward him to lean onto the counter again. “You think I’m a monster, don’t you? I promise, you just aren’t seeing the big picture yet.”
He sits at a table in the corner of the dark room. A woman in a torn up sequin dress stands on the stage singing through the smoke in the room. Despite his disinterest in her she’s quite lovely, in fact his disinterest opposed the rest of room who couldn’t keep their bloodshot eyes off her.
He takes a full glass of some makeshift alcohol and pours it down his throat, refilling from the 2nd bottle placed on his table. His mind was somewhere else, he couldn’t sit still, and something was always moving. His lips, his fingers tapping away at the table top, with the amount he’s drank, being comfortable should have been a given.
A man sweeps through the front door, he was no made man in a striped suit but he was by far the cleanest, well-dressed man in the room. He looked like he might’ve even taken a shower that day. He makes beeline for the man in the corner, takes a chair from the opposite end of the table, and joins the man. He takes the bottle in his hands and reads the label before making up his face and putting in down.
“That stuff’ll kill you,” Mr. Clean snorted.
“That’s not your problem, is it?” our man retorted.
“It will be if you work for the boss,” Mr. Clean smiled and winked.
Our man stares at the well-dressed Mr. Clean, examining him.
“That’s what this job gets you? You get to pretend the world didn’t come to an end?” our man asked.
Mr. Clean laughs, pouring some of the alcohol into an empty glass, “This is the beginning for us. Things are finally going our way. No rules for us. Just cold ass killers getting rid of what needs to be rid of. As for what this job gets you? It’s what you put into it pal.” He hasn’t taken a sip yet. He pulls out a pack of cigarettes, takes one out and places it in between his lips. He offers one to our guy, but he declines. He lights the cigarette and take a long drag. Mr. Clean waves the cigarette over her shoulder, leans forward so very slightly, and blows smoke to our guy.
“Why are you here, Hunt? I’ve known you since we were kids; you’ve always been a noble sap. Why change now? Actually, I heard you were working with that prick Barret, trying to save the world. What happened to you?” he asked.
“That’s none of your business,” our guy, Hunt, snapped.
“Come on, this is my job. I find out why you want to be in our employ. Are you trustworthy? Do you get the job done? Y’know? So cut with your bullshit and talk to me or trust me, all those years knowing each other—I will tell the boss that you know too much about the operation, that maybe you need to be next on the list,” he said matter-of-factly, smiling.
He takes a sip from his glass. Hunt stares at him, “No, I don’t think all that time we’ve known each other mattered in the first place, Jack. But I’ve seen Joel, your boss, we’ve already hashed out the details. I got my first assignment tonight.”
Jack puts the glass down. His smile has faded away. Hunt leans forward to Jack, “You’ve been stealing, haven’t you Jack?”
Jack starts to sweat. “Now, wait a minute, Hunt.”
“No, calm down. You go for your weapon, I’ll put a bullet between your eyes,” Hunt places his hand on the outside of his thigh.
A moment passes and Hunt leans back into his chair. “Truth is I wanted to save the world, but these people don’t want it saved, they like the destruction,” he said angrily.
For the first time, Hunt looks to the woman on the stage singing. Jack slowly tries to take his pistol out of it’s holster, but in a split second Hunt points his own pistol at Jack’s head. He stops, putting his hands up slightly.
“I’m sorry, Red, just let me go—“ a bullet rings through his skull. His head lurches back before crashing forward on the table. The room goes quiet, including the woman on stage. Her dress trembles, sparkling at Red. He can’t stop staring at her dress. The white flashes danced in his eyes like fire. Red stood there, frozen, hoping to be blinded, or better consumed by the flames.
She stands in front of the clear case, the blade lay peacefully inside. Her chocolate eyes are steady as she continues to stare. Finally, she opens the case and takes the knife in her hands, her eyes still locked. Swift steps echo behind her, she quickly retreats behind the podium the knife once sat upon. A man in black military clothing comes through the door. His face is kind but concerned as he scans the room. The girl crawls from behind the podium.
The man smiles, “It’s time to go.”
The girl nods and goes to him, sharing a smile with the man. In the halls they walk quietly but quickly. The man peeks around a corner and sees another soldier walking towards them, patrolling.
“Stay put, I’ll be right back,” said the man.
“But—,” the girl whispered.
“Don’t move, okay?” he asked.
She nods and he disappears behind the corner. Though she cannot help but peek out to see her friend approaching the other soldier. The other soldier stopped and saluted, but her friend didn’t return the gesture. They began to talk, though she judged their conversation turned by the angry gestures her friend made. After his tantrum, the other soldier saluted again and went off in the other direction.
The man returned to her and urged her to move quickly. They arrive in a large garage that has crates piled all around. A crew lingers at the entrance, filling a large flatbed truck with some of the crates. Out of view, a worker sat on an opened crate. The man and the girl approached him.
“Hendricks,” said the man.
Hendricks stands, looking up and down at our duo.
“Lawrence— this is his daughter? This is much too much,” Hendricks pointed out.
“She needs to get out, and this is the only way I know of,” Lawrence pleaded.
“This is treason! If we’re found out—“ Hendricks whispered.
“This won’t lead back to you,” assured Lawrence. Hendricks sighed and nodded his head. He was in. The girl examined the crate, old blankets lined the inside walls.
“What’s in the crate?” asked the girl.
“It’s for you. It’s how you’re going to get out of the city. A couple miles outside of the city, I will have to push the crate off the truck,” said Hendricks.
“What?— You’re going to do what?” asked the girl, in panic.
“That’s what the padding is for. We can’t chance trying to get you out once they reach the processing area,” reassured Lawrence.
She takes a deep breath and nods, her usual mantra. She gets into the crate and the two men seal it.
Lawrence leans in close to the crate, “As soon as you’ve stopped moving, take your knife to the corners and pop off the lid. Go North.”
“And then I’ll find her,” the girl said to herself as the crate started to move. The two men go to the truck and start to load the crate. Another worker comes by to them, “What’s this you guys got?” he grumbles.
“Some more contraband we don’t want in the hands of the rebels,” Lawrence said.
“Really? We got all the illegal items on board already, that’s what the list says,” he says matter-of-factly.
“This is directly from the President. It wouldn’t be on your list,” Lawrence quipped.
“Oh, the prez’s private stash. Alright, alright, load it up,” the worker laughed and went back to his duties.
Once out of sight, Lawrence leans down again, “Eeli, be safe. Once I have the chance, I’ll come find you.”
Eeli was terrified, but that was nothing. Her true fear lied in that woman’s face, and never being able to see it again.
It’s a quiet day. All the members of a scavenging group sit several yards outside their camp. An older man is situated in the middle of the group with his hands flat on a bench. The man cries to himself, his tears wetting his white beard. A tall young man pushes past a wall of people to the center. He carries an ax, resting on his right shoulder.
He stops finally in front of the old man. He looks up at him with blurred vision but can still recognize the young man, the leader of this band of scavengers. He kneels down in front of the bench, looking into the old man’s eyes. He had plastered a smile over his anger at the old man, until he could no longer hide his distaste.
“What do we do with thieves?!” the leader screamed. “Huh? What should we do with you?”
“We are thieves,” pleaded the old man.
“No, we don’t take from each other. That’s not our way,” said the Leader through gritted teeth.
The conversations around started to grow. In the back, sitting up on a branch to see over the crowd, was a young teen. His sandy hair drooped over his blue eyes. He was concerned. An older but still young girl sat below him next to a boy around her age.
“What do you see?” she called to the boy above. “Devon toying with him?”
“Yeah, he’s playing leader,” said the younger boy. “Forcing us to watch him, knowing he’s not gonna do anything anyway.”
“Sure, likes to bring out that ax, though, doesn’t he?” she joked.
“Ass,” the boy quipped.
“Shut up. I can’t hear anything with you two in my ear,” complained the older boy.
“Someone’s serious today,” she said as she shoved him.
“Come on, Sienna,” the older boy was not in the mood to play.
She looks at him for a second before throwing her hands in the air. “Fine,” she agreed. She stands up and moves to lean against the base of the tree.
“He looks up to Devon, don’t let it bother you,” assured the boy.
“That’s the problem, Devon’s a bad role model,” she takes a deep breath, “Let’s get out of here, yeah?”
“Yeah, let’s go,” said the boy. He’s about to jump down-
“You!” shouted Devon. The young boy looked up. Devon started pointing the ax at him. He froze, staring at Devon. “Come here.”
The boy jumps down and slowly pushes through the crowd. “Don’t embarrass me,” ordered the older boy. He stops when he reaches the edge of the group.
“Naw, come on, man. To me,” Devon said with a laugh. The boy steadily approaches Devon. Devon steps to the side to open the boy’s view of the old man. The boy stares at the old man for a long time. He doesn’t even notice Devon speaking. “—Do with thieves?” asked Devon.
The boy could hardly get a word out, “Huh?”
“What do we do with ‘em?” Devon slowed it down for him. There’s silence. He hands the boy the ax. “We teach em’ a lesson. Pick a hand,” said Devon. The older boy in the back stands, the girl joins him and pleads to stop this. They all dismiss her.
The young boy continues to stare at the old man for what feels like an eternity. He holds the ax out for a passing moment before dropping it at his feet. Devon laughs, but again it is laced with anger. He wrings his fist and strikes the young boy across the face, sending him to the ground. Bright read immediately flushes his cheek.
Devon points toward the older boy, who hasn’t moved an inch since he stood up. “Go to your brother and thank him that you’re still considered family,” Devon said.
The boy stands up and begins to cry. He moves straight for Sienna, who hugs him hard as soon as he’s within reach.
“I’m so sorry. Don’t be scared of him,” said Sienna.
The boy looked into her eyes. “I’m not scared. They’re the ones that are scared. It’s being scared that turns them into animals,” he said.
“Scared or not, Hesh. That man is dead, could’ve done him a favor, but now that’s on you,” said the older boy. “You’re scared just like the rest of us, the difference is we’re adapting to survive, and people like you are always going to hold us back.”
The older boy shakes his head and walks away. A terrible scream rings out from behind Hesh. Sienna can only hug him closer as he cries for the old man.
An unusual fog slithered through the scavenger camp. Dying campfires scattered throughout their area, everyone had slunk into their makeshift tents already. Despite the fog, the moon was still bright, pushing through. It was beautiful nights like these that pulled these people through the gruesome days they’ve had to endure. They could finally exhale, a long awaited, repressed breath.
Until a sharp whistle rung through the camp. Stillness and silence followed, strangely. Just then a rush of feet sped through the camp. Three sets: one girl and two boys. An older boy was slightly ahead of the other two, scanning the area in front of them. Out of nowhere, a man from the camp cut them off. The older boy quickly sidestepped the man and lunged into him with his shoulder, bringing himself and the scavenger to the ground. The girl and younger boy stopped in their tracks, slightly ahead of them.
The older boy looked up at them, “Go! I’m right behind you, Sienna!” He urged them on and they reluctantly took off into the woodland. The older boy pummeled his fist into the scavenger’s face several times, eventually knocking him out. The boy stood up with nothing but a sigh and allowed himself one last glance back at the camp. Then he started for the woods.
“Hey, where you going, man?” yelled Devon. “Merrick, I’m talking to you.”
Merrick stopped cold. He turned back to see Devon several yards off.
“I’m leaving. Hesh and Sienna are already gone,” Merrick shouted.
“Naw, I don’t think so bro. You don’t get to choose when you leave,” Devon said as he started his stride over to Merrick. “You got a problem? You tell me your problem, I’mma deal with it, every time— But you can’t just go running out on me. We’re your family, we took you in and taught you how to survive like us. And c’mon, does anyone do it better than us?”
“That man died after what you did to him,” Merrick said lowly.
“I didn’t see you coming forward to protect him!” screamed Devon who was now much closer than Merrick wanted. “Oh, no. That was your little man. We’ve got rules and you know em’. I can’t keep letting that kinda shit slide! I’ve worked very hard to keep us together and I’m not about to let your feelings about our set of rules, that were put in place before you goddamn got here, ruin that! —- So you ain’t leaving unless the people see it’s cause you died. And believe me, it’ll be only because you really died.”
Merrick fought hard not to show it, but he was shaking. Devon was older, stronger and faster than he was. He couldn’t fight his way out of this. People from all sides peered out of their tents as Devon tried to send them back to sleep. Merrick had nowhere to run.
“I’ll stay!” Merrick shouted to get his attention.
Devon smiled back at him over his shoulder. Coming back to him to pat Merrick on the shoulder, he asked sincerely, “That a promise?” Merrick nodded. “Good, now go get the little man and Sienna. I’ll see you tomorrow.” Devon started to walk away as Merrick stood there, confused.
“Alone? You don’t think I’ll run?” Merrick asked.
“No, I don’t. You promised.” Devon said disappearing behind some tents. Merrick looked around at the folks still poking their heads out and let out a breath that he felt he’d held in for hours.
Sienna and Hesh sat together waiting several hundred yards from the camp. Merrick finally approached them. They both jumped up and Sienna ran to him for a long awaited embrace.
“Finally, let’s get out of here,” Sienna implored.
“I’m staying,” said Merrick coldly.
“What are you talking about?” Sienna’s eyes widened as Hesh stood quietly behind her.
“Take her to the orphanage. I’ll come meet you within the month. Just get there and wait for me,” Merrick pleaded. Sienna couldn’t erase the look of shock on her face. “I made him a promise.”
“That man is a maniac, Merrick!” Sienna said through gritted teeth.
“He’ll find us if I go with you now. Let me do what I promised and soon he’ll let me go. But trying to slip out in the dark of the night was a mistake. He feels betrayed,” Merrick explained.
“He’s not going to let you leave,” Sienna said as if drained of her emotions.
“I have to try. If I want us to live for more than just the dirt under our feet, I have to try.” Merrick managed a smile. He hugged them both goodbye “Look after her, please.” Hesh nodded. Merrick took off back to camp, leaving Sienna and Hesh to themselves.
Rain crashed down onto the dirt. Violent winds whipped the earth from side to side. Thunder cracked the air followed by a light show of white. A battered girl stood under the elements as they enveloped her. She remained focused. She could feel as if a weight pushed her farther into the softening ground.
A small camp of around 20 was nestled a ways in front of her. She studied the bumbling lookouts to memorize their routes. She could not see more than a few feet in front of her but she could sense every step these men took. Every breath. She’d been here for hours planning her course of action.
Finally she took off towards the camp, as she neared it she removed a knife from her waistband. A soldier patrolled the area; his hand trying to cover his eyes from the rain. He turned towards the darkness. Within a small moment a knife plunged into his throat. He gasped for air as he choked. The battered girl pulled the back of his neck towards her, pressing the knife deeper. She threw him down in the next instant, moving on.
Mere feet in front of her stood two soldiers shouting at each other. She moved swiftly. She quickly knocked the hilt of her blade against the head of the nearest soldier, pushing him to his side. She quickly slid the knife across the throat of the other soldier. The first soldier regained his footing only to have the knife enter and exit his stomach several times in quick succession. He fell dead.
Several seconds past as another soldier stumbled upon the dead bodies and just as quickly a hand wrapped around his mouth from behind with a knife grazing his throat. He froze still.
“Scream and you’ll already be dead,” spoke the girl. The man nodded nervously. The girl removed her hand. He didn’t make a peep. “Where’s your general?”
“You’ll just kill me once you get what you want,” protested the soldier.
“I’ll get it either way,” assured the girl.
The soldier silently cursed his situation then nodded. “He’ll be in the large tent in the far northwestern corner—But you can’t tell him I told you where he was,” pleaded the soldier.
“What’s your name?” questioned the girl.
“No, you won’t get to him and when they’ve got you as a prisoner, you’ll throw me in with you!” said the soldier.
“You’re right. I don’t care what your name is,” confessed the girl as she cut his throat.
The girl walked quietly through the camp. She had the general’s tent in view. Determination painted across her face. Just then a hand grabbed her wrist, she quickly turned to attack but recognized the face. She held herself back.
“You’re not supposed to be here, let’s go!” proclaimed a man in black gear.
“This is the end. I want to look it in the eyes,” explained the girl.
“You’ll only get yourself killed. The timing’s not right,” said the man.
“When, Barret? He’s here. I see no better opportunity,” replied the girl.
“I’ll give you a better one once we get back,” urged Barret. The girl looked into his eyes. She knew he meant it. She knew he was here only to protect her. She didn’t care. She ripped her arm away from him and marched towards the tent. Barret followed after her and just then they were completely surrounded by soldiers with their guns pointed at them.
In that moment both Barret and the girl tried to teleport away but both fell to their knees screaming out in pain. A piercing ring bounced around their brains. They were swarmed by the soldiers and taken into the tent she so desperately wanted to visit.
A gruffish military man stood in front of them. A smile smeared across his rough face. On his left hand a glimmer shone from what looked like a family ring. He would constantly press his thumb into it, fiddling.
“No. This can’t be, Sara? Little Sara Holden. I’ve been looking everywhere for you— Not truly, I had my money on you being dead but— They’re going to go crazy for you back in Landing,” the gruffish man smiled sincerely. “And the ever elusive Barret West. You’ve killed a lot of my men, you know that?”
“Yeah, I’ve lost count,” admitted Barret.
“Oh, that’s funny? Yeah, it’s kind of funny. These guys aren’t worth a lick these days,” confessed the man.
“I understand. What are you going to do?” asked Barret,
“Isn’t much to do,” said the man. He walked over to Barret towering over him. He slowly grabbed the back of Barret’s neck with his right hand and stared into his eyes. “Are you scared Mr. West?”
“A little, yes,” said Barret.
“You should be,” said the man with a smile. He pummeled his left hand into Barret’s cheek. Holden screamed out but was held back by a few soldiers. Once he was done, Barret had several bleeding wounds on his face. Two in particular rest on his cheek below his eye, bleeding much more.
The man let go of Barret’s neck. He crumbled to the floor, breathing heavily. The man turned his attention to Holden. He smiled at her.
“Why’d you show your face? You could’ve made a nice life for yourself out in the country in seclusion. Why show your damn face? — Seriously, I need to know. Because it just feels like pure stupidity,” admitted the man.
“You’re a monster,” spat Holden.
“Created by your wretched race! I would’ve been happy being a family man— son’s about your age, having cookouts, with a white picket fence but when your people decided to run our lives— It’s only right, I had to step in,” said the man.
“You talk a lot, you know that?” asked Holden. The man cracked her across her face as the last word left her mouth. She turned back to him with a large gash across the bridge of her nose.
“I’m sorry, I sometimes let my emotions run me,” said the man. He tried to literally shake off the bad vibes. “You’re quite annoying, anyone ever told you that?”
She sat silent. “You ever hear the one about your parents? It’s a pretty funny one. What happened when your parents tried to cross the road? Nothing? All right, I’ll tell you. I burned them alive,” The man said laughing hysterically.
Holden was visibly shaking with anger.
“How are you going to get out of this one? I heard you wanted to look the end in the eyes? Well here I am, the end. Is the view good? I sure hope so because we’ve got a long night ahead of us, don’t we?” questioned the man.
At her core, fear had finally begun to manifest. She was stuck. Here with this monster. That she created.