As predicted by the Future War Cult, the Collapse brought forth trials and unseen snares. My father and mother, though mocked and taunted by their beliefs, sent us away just hours before everything turned to ash. Us meaning me and my older brother, Solomon. A strong and extremely stubborn person with little to no will to leave when negative events are overcoming the positive. As you can hopefully guess, he wasn't one for agreeing on going in a cargo ship to nowhere. Literally, nowhere. But anywhere was better than there, according to our parents.
In the densely packed room, I clasp onto his wrist for safety and security. Human bodies rub up on one another for the hope of becoming comfortable. I, on the other hand, was hoping for some fresh air, I don't do closed places. And a section full of hot, anxious and nervous people makes my lungs beg for unused oxygen. For this is a drastic setting to be thrown into. My heart ached for the stale dusty breeze, wide open plains with tattered boulders and hidden caverns. That’s what I use to call home.
“I can't breathe.” My grip on his tattered shirt fluctuates. Solomon throws his elbows around attempting to create an alley to his side, but my fingers fall from his mangled clothe. My body becomes a loose object that I cannot control, but others can. I'm pushed, bumped and forced in multiple directions and end up sticking to the side of a wide window. My eyes gaze upon the horror that to some seemed impossible and unbelievable, but came.
From the dark and lifeless depths of space haunting shapes appear. Vivid green portals erupt made of black smoke and taunting lean forms come forth with an ominous presence. Then from the other side; pale, elongated ships with a sharp tip piercing the void, then come smaller less developed figures to its side. Two whole fleets approach Earth and what humanity remains alive on the planet. A faint motion catches my attention as an obsidian, bulky aircraft blocks the sun. Gasps fill the air, now I know what my parents feared.
Ships. Alien ships. Unknown forms that can destroy life without mercy or even a hint or remorse.
A dull and cold blue light begins to form as that action looks vaguely familiar. My brain wracks up a memory, one that left a sour taste in my mouth, but it was necessary.
The first time I held a gun.
Solomon and I were exploring the abandoned grounds, nothing lived out here, not in the Barrens. Nothing ever could live out here, but my mind never came up with the possibility that another being could thrive. Just one that isn't human.
“You know what Nat, I bet one day we will travel to the moon. And I hope to be on that ship when it happens.” Solomon’s eyes beam with a burning desire, but only being fifteen he has some problems with his dream. Not saying that he shouldn't pursue it. For it would only be a matter of years till our feet would drift off from the ground and into the universe.
“I don't think they'd accept you, brother of mine. You'd still be too young.” I say with a sly smile. With my smart answer I receive a shove on the shoulder.
“Everyone says little sisters are so cute, innocent and adorable. You clearly don't understand what it means to be a little sister.” He says with an eye roll. I shrug his comment off and give him what he deserves.
“And everyone says older brothers are supposed to be protective and nice to their younger sister. You clearly don't know and understand how to be proper and like a gentleman.” Solomon clicks his tongue and runs off without having a comeback. Noelle what, thirteen to Solomon three? And it’s only the beginning of the day. His figure slowly slips away into the distance as I kick stones and pebbles to pass time.
Sure, this isn’t the thrilling life of someone who lives in the bustling and bright City, but for most of us, we live in the Barren Wilds where small villages or groups form a community to support one another. Life as a kid here has its rough patches, especially since there aren’t that many children around anyways. There use to be, but, they just disappear. Where have they gone, no one dares look into it.
But some believe a tale.
Father’s knee’s knock at the thought of traveling beyond the Mourning Mother. A wall of solid, twisted rock formations and when the wind howls through her figure, the eerie sound of wailing can be heard. And you know when parents strictly put a barrier down for their children not to cross it, they find a way around it. Now even going near there is forbidden, but our guts have another idea.
“Solomon,” I groan as the coarse substance grinds on my heels. “Are we there yet?”
This is my first time coming here, and will most definitely not my last.
“Yeah!” he grabs my hand and drags me over the uneven stones and we enter the sacred ground. “This is the place and we will find them! All of them, I promised I will.” his thick hand squeezes mine as I’m sure a few bones were about to break. He turns around determination burns in his eyes. I can’t help but admire his undying courage and will to bring anyone and everyone home safely. I know I wouldn’t be able to do that, I’d fail for sure.
“Where do we start? I mean, there are tunnels and caverns that you haven’t even explored yet. How will you remember where to go?” Solomon grins as a dark spark ignites the fire even more. His plan continues to unfold, just the way he designed it.
“Well, to my memory someone has lead us here, without even coming here before.” I scrunch my face, I don’t understand what he’s attempting to pull together. His shoulders slouch and he points to me? “Nat. You’ve never ever been to the Mourning Mother before, yet you lead us here.” he folds his arms over his chest and I glance around in dazed confusion.
“No, you ran out ahead of me, you lead me here.” he shakes his head and pulls me over toward the grand rock entrance. Solomon lowers his head and whispers in my ear words that send pure electricity down my spine in horror.
“You know where you are, you always do.” A snake-like hissing noise fills my ears. I look to the left. Nothing. Mr. Tall and Mighty marches forward and soon disappears into the sinister and perilous structure with a stuck up smirk on his face. “You know where to find me.”
“You know where to find me,” I mock waving my arms in the air, a grunt follows in defeat. I am forced to go left towards the unknown sound, great, just great. I murmur stupid insults under my breath as I reluctantly shuffle into the darkness.
My eyes adjust miraculously fast, just a special ‘power’ or trait I’ve always have stored away in my hidden talents box. The ridges on the wall fascinate me, my fingers capture every detail as a permanent memory. It’s rough, ragged, pattern like almost, clumps of sand that are stuck to the surface, then damp.
A mysterious vibration makes fear grow in my heart. I turn to the right, nothing. But what my eyes fail to notice my ears pick up instead.
That sound, like stressed air passing through a hole. Sharp and precise with only one purpose, being able to breathe. My conscious screams for my legs to move but they don’t know what to do. At first, I thought it was a figment of my imagination, the shadowy physique is just formed from earth reaching out to touch the sweet air, but rocks don’t move, or breathe. Never ever in my life, I thought I would come across something inhumane, dare I say exotic, rare, foreign, or maybe alien. The vicious green eyes glare down at me as a glint of light reflects two thin blades that are easily able to slice through skin. I gulp as a tumbled pebble wrenches both our attention to the intruder.
“Nat? Nat. Seriously how far did you wander? Couldn’t have been that far.” the creatures chest deflates as the target has been moved. It slides into the mineral formation as its cover successfully does its job, makes it unseen. I sprint over to Solomon and hold on to his arm for dear life. “Hey, there you are. I’ve been looking for you, for a while now.” I gasp as my unwavering eyes continue to glance in every direction. That beast, it’s in here, somewhere.
“Sol, we need to go. Now. There is something in here and it’s heading this way.” I tug at his limb but he doesn’t move a muscle. All he does in this stressful situation is laugh. Laugh and make fun of my child-like fear of the brooding dark.
“Nat, there is nothing to be afraid of. There isn’t anything here at all to frighten you. Unless you want to leave of course.” he says with the knowledge that I don’t back down from a challenge or bet. But in here, it’s different. This whole situation and event is unnatural, sure if it was eating a handful of sand or some odd dare then I wouldn’t back down, but this? Oh, no.
“But there is something in here,” I state, again. A shadow swiftly changes its shape and I resume attempting to yank my older brother out of the cavern. He scoffs and just let’s go, I fall to the ground with an echoing thud. It vibrates through all the tunnels and unexplored caves just like the chime mother has to signal “it’s time to come home”, but for whatever else that lives here, we just let them know that someone is home. The remorseful wind goes silent as the noise of unsteady breathes fills the death abyss of stone. I slap a hand over his mouth, he grunts in retort at my “unnecessary” actions. I lean up to his ear.
“Do you hear that?”