June 07, 2010


8. Air Strike

The Night After it all
Ashton Dews; Nazareth Hospital

Tattered and lifeless lays the body of a once-courageous fool. Sown-up and bled-out he remains petrified as he played the recurring events in his dreams. He slept alone in the small but pleasant hospital-room. The air was so thin and still, it was as if time itself had stopped.

Ash was patched from his lower abdomen to and around his lower back. The bandages crossed over most of his torso; he could feel them squeezing his stomach as they tread across the small hairs of his chest. The mountains of pillows beneath him were much too uncomfortable to rest in, but Ash had laid there speechless since his outlandish cries earlier that day.

His dad had come and gone around 6 pm, giving him an earful of false heartache and remorse, followed by the hours of ear-piercing frustration that Ash had heard many a time. Ash’s father was a businessman, he was sharp and he had almost no time to spare even for his own son. After the death of Ash’s mother 3 years ago, he spent a lot of time screaming and asking questions to strangers he would bring home, and once finished he would pay them off. Ash - the curious boy he was - looked into what his dad was working on. He eventually discovered a few pages of life-insurance scripts with Ash’s father listed as one of the beneficiaries and he figured that it was only typical of someone like his father to be worried about something so ill-mannered. The distance between the father and son became colder and colder since then. It was a divergence without words, without faces and without sentiment.

Ash had become used to his silence around his father; he would simply listen to him whenever he needed. There was no need to talk about what had just occurred that day, about how Ash had almost died from some magical deviant, which confused him even now. It was fine, as long as Ash lay quietly while his father lashed out at him with words of disillusion and the silent rebukes of condemnation.

The moonlight was hovering over Ash’s bedside and with it came all the fear and confusion Ash was shielded from. It was a lady. A lady dressed in white. Though, the moonlight caused a blue inkling in her outward glow. This blue and white lady was also illuminated by the moon, but her face was not so fortunate. Her face stayed hidden behind the black shadows even as she approached the sleeping teenager. There was no one to question her intrusion, or to ask of her purpose with an unconscious young man. It was this same lady who was in control of the frozen time, and her presence left not a single scar to the air that hovered so silently around them. She reached inside her blue and white pants to pull out something very peculiar.

Ash made a silent moan and shifted over to his side, the silence around the entire room made him very tight and uncomfortable. Ash’s eyes took a peek around whatever he could catch in his singular eye-shot. He saw the floor with the alluring white veil of the moon and his shadow’s cast as he lay in bed; but Ash noticed another cast, and this one was larger, it stood taller and it was gripping something in between its two hands. A tree, he thought, but he knew a tree didn’t have fingers, and a tree could not move as fast as this shadow did. The fastest he could, he turned over to his other side and he saw the shadow-caster.

She was now plunging the peculiar object into Ash’s stitches and causing him to scream out, but she kept her hand over his mouth. Ash was far too weak to knock her away and the pain was too great to withstand. Ash was fading back into another dream and his eyes were closing. His best attempts to see the face of his murderer was too far-gone, but he tried none-the-less.

The assailant was over top of her victim, she covered his mouth and stuck her weapon in between the cavity of his wound, her face still draping in the darkness.

Ash had lost the struggle, he had fainted, but his resistance hadn’t left him with nothing, he had seen it, the face of his killer, and even though he had fallen, he felt victorious. His brain had left him with one word: Mom?!

The room was forced once more into an unmistakable silence. The air was thin and still, but this time the room was shaken. The room was disturbed with the dirtied smell of blood that came from the lifeless body that lay in Ashton Dews’s hospital bed; and the room shivered with the final words of the blue and white assailant.

“Good luck.”

3 Days Later
Lunch Break; Abraham Lincoln High School

“Alright, explain this to me one more time.” Lou sat in the cafeteria eating his bologna sandwich. He mentioned to his friends about what had happened the day of the large earthquake.

“I already told you, the lady in white came at me with some kind of rock. I thought I was going to die.” Ash sat on top of one of the many tables in the large area. Every student was on break and they sat with their tiny lunches chatting with their tiny groups of friends. The four usual friends sat altogether at one of the smaller tables listening to Ash confess his murderous fantasy.

“As impossible as that sounds, it could have been a hallucination.” Stan was back to normal after witnessing the incident at Bradford Park, but he still could not believe everything that had occurred that day. He tried putting everything behind him and leaving Lesley safe from that conversation. “It could’ve just been one of the nurses, they wear white too, you know.”

“It wasn’t a nurse. Plus this lady was wearing pants.” Ash kept his story moving. “The weirdest part of it was that this person looked like my mom.” Small giggles came from Lesley Belial. Ash jerked over to her. “What?”

“It was a dream Ash. Just let it go. What I want to know is how you managed to heal that deep gash in just a single day.” Lou finished off the last bites from his sandwich. “There’s no scratch at all?”

“There’s nothing. I felt so much better the next day. It was like a hangover, you know? It only kills you for the first hour or so.” Ash lifted his shirt to find not a single cut on his body. Stan raised a question as to how that was even possible, but he insisted on leaving that behind him as well.

Ash got off the table and sat next to Stan. As soon as he was about to dig in to his own sandwich he felt a tap on his shoulder.

“Ashton. I heard you were in the hospital. I hope you’re all better now.” A girl in the same grade: Alex Cerise was a popular and very attractive cheerleader that ordinarily dated the very large of football players. Ash stepped back and dragged Alex with him. Question marks grew on the faces of Lou and the gang. They tried their hardest to tune into what the two of them were talking about. Ash came back with a larger smile on his face.

“Did you just see that? Well?” He began bragging too early as Alex was still only feet away from them. “That’s like the second girl today.”

“Hmm, two girls? Are you sure it wasn’t just the same girl twice?” Stan joked.

“Yeah, that is two more than usual.” Lou followed up by stroking his chin. Stan and Lesley began laughing at Lou’s joke.

“Laugh if you want, but because of that I got a date this weekend.” His grin became much wider as he sunk his teeth into his tuna fish sandwich. “Ouch.” Ash felt a kick from his teeth, almost as if the tuna fish was rejecting him.

“What is it?” Stan asked him. Ash checked his sandwich.

“I dunno.” He put his hand against his cheek. He then wiped the sweat off his face. "It's so hot out today."

“It’s the middle of November, Ash. It’s like 45 degrees out.”

“I just feel… warm…” Ash put his hand over his head. “Whatever, it’ll pass, I hope.” He wiped the sweat off his forehead with his sleeve. All four of them wore the Lincoln high uniform. A golden polo shirt over top of a white long-sleeve shirt, and lastly a pair of black slacks. Stan and the rest of them had taken off their polo shirts, usually until the break was over. They remained slouched into the seats of their table even after they’ve finished their lunch.

Lesley had stepped over to some of her other friends from the school’s choir. Her casual pastimes included skating, singing and helping Stan with his study groups. She had few girlfriends of her own, but she always found it much more entertaining with her three companions.

“So we’ve got that assembly-thing happening after Lunch today.” Lou reminded his two friends.

“That’s right. I almost forgot. Stan,” Ash zipped back over to Stan and began jogging his memory about the usual routine.

“I’ve got the equipment ready. All I need to do is set them up.” Stan petted his backpack and grinned at what was inside.

“Excellent.” Ash acted out the famous ‘Burns’ hand movement from The Simpsons. “I’ll help you set them up. Lou, we’ll see you and Lez at the usual place.”

“No problem. Just don’t get caught, alright?” Lou packed his stuff and stole Lesley away from her friends.

Every month, when an assembly was brought up by the principle, the gang would pursue some kind of prank, just to make the presentations more entertaining. Ash and Stan had begun these pranks for the first time when they were both in their freshman year. It was one of their most favorite hobbies whenever it reached the middle of the month. After setting up their famous pranks the two of them would join Lou and Lez outside, where they hid a bunch of chairs and a mini-fridge. The entire thing was always observed from the camera Stan had hooked up over the auditorium so they could watch their pranks in action.

The two of them joined Lou and Lez after they finished with the preparations.

“Hey, guys. Want a coke?” Lou tossed one over to Ash as they sat down to their comfortable arm chairs.

“When does the assembly start?” Lesley asked. She was deep into one of her books that Stan had requested to her.

“About 10 minutes.” Stan checked his watch.

The four of them relaxed. They were not usually the bunch to skip out on such occasions, but the fact of the matter was that each assembly was as boring as the next, and they decided that it was only fair to listen through a computer screen while they lounged in their comfy seats. Stan took this opportunity to ask Lou of what had happened after he escaped that day.

“Lou. You said that after you were saved by the couple they talked to you about some location. What exactly did they say?” Stan whispered over to Lou as to not disturb Ash and Lez.

“I was mostly told to just keep quite and keep hidden.” Lou sat back and reminisced very patiently.

Moments after Lake’s Execution
Lou, Sam & Lily

“You idiot! You almost died!” Sam released Lou from his fastened grip and began questioning away. This same circumstance felt very familiar to Lou.

Lou took further steps back from the two killers, having been deceived by them before.

“Listen. I don’t know who you guys are or what’s going on, but I don’t want to find myself on the ground again listening to you talking about ‘magic’ or whatever.” He kept the both of them in sight and eyed Lily’s hands especially.

“Calm down, twerp. You think we busted our asses to save you just so we can kill you?” Sam sat down on a nearby log and held his head upward. He kept his right hand over his left shoulder. The same shoulder Weston had pierced with a couple of his arrows.

“I-I don’t understand you two. You turn from friend to foe to friend again, all in just the blink of an eye. And-and that… whatever happened over there,” Lou pointed at wherever he thought they had come from. “You expect me to believe that whatever just happened over there was real?” His erected arm had unsteadied itself. Lou felt his nerves jumping all inside his body. His mind blew back to the second he saw Lake jump up and shield him from his death, the image was forever burned into his memory. “One second I’m running and then the next…”

“We don’t expect you to believe anything, Louis Crowley.” Lily had shaken off the fear from the overpowered Weston Valor. She became quite and content once more. “What we want you to remember is this fact alone,” Lily paused and forced her shoulder to stop bleeding. “They will never stop, not until you are erased from this world. They are the reapers that haunt you in the night. If you were lucky enough to escape from them today, you will regret not dying the day they first caught you.” Lily leaned onto a small tree and whimpered for her bleeding shoulder.

Lou almost couldn’t hear Lily over the panic of escalating fear that struck him the moment she had spoken those words. His recollection of the entire ordeal was faint and he could only think back to the moment the whole nightmare had begun. “They were fast… they had guns. They were so fast.” His blank stare left him frozen as he imagined the speedy Weston flip over another arrow straight towards him.

“HA!” Cried Sam, his head rose to its full extent. “Kinda puts your whole ‘basketball all-star’ league into perspective, doesn’t it?” He snickered a couple more before shooting a dead glance at Lou. “But if you think they were fast than you haven’t seen anything yet.” The cut from Sam’s right eye had stopped bleeding leaving a small trail from his temple to the start of his ear. “You’ve entered this world and now you can’t get yourself out. It was bound to happen some time or another.”

Sam stood up. He walked over to the wobbly Lou and threw his large arm around both his shoulders again. “Let me tell you something I probably should’ve told you hours ago.” They began walking. “Magick is a weapon of the mind, so naturally ‘the smarter you are the stronger you are’.” Once more, Lou felt all of Sam’s weight on top of him, and he was being dragged along with the strange beast. “Our teacher wants to help you. He thinks that there’s hope inside of you. I on the other hand, couldn’t care less. But last time I followed those instincts it got us right back to where we are now, so we’re going to play by his rules and keep you alive this time.” Sam smiled, Lou could tell it was false but there wasn’t much he could do about it. “So, here we go…”

Sam whispered into Lou’s ear. After releasing him once more both Sam and Lily shot out and left Lou to his vexed confusion. Lou believed what he had always believed, but now he was baffled at the occurrence of these two strange beings. It was Lou’s beliefs against theirs and he didn’t know what to think anymore.

“Incredible. So there are even faster and stranger people than those two?” Stan kept his voice down and scratched his head. “That same archer though, if it hadn’t been for a call he got, he would’ve murdered both Ash and myself. This was right after Ash got a call from you. Ah, that reminds me,” Stan pulled out his phone, “I tried calling you when we got to the hospital but your phone was off.”

“It was the weirdest thing actually. Later, after I got home, I checked my pockets but my phone was gone. I might’ve dropped it back at the cemetery.” Lou hated the thought of going back to that place, thinking of all the blood he witnessed coating the graves of the dead.

“So, in the end they told you about an old folk’s home, and a trail?”

“Yeah, they told me November 18th at 3:32 pm on 8580 Verree Rd.”

“Okay, so tomorrow we’ll check it out. After everything that’s happened I’ll be relieved to hear some answers.” Ash brought them back noting that the assembly had begun. The four of them watched the small screen in front of them.

“Alright, so when the principle finishes his speech we’ll pull the switch.” Ash giggled as he chugged back his coke. Lesley had to ask what their plan was this time.

“I hope you guys aren’t going to do the firecracker bit again.”

“Nah, but that was funny. I’ll let you explain this one Stan.”

“We basically set the speakers to another microphone. At the receiving end waits the largest sound we know. By the end of the assembly everyone’s eardrums are going to burst.” Ash and Stan high-fived and watched the rest of the lecture.

The hour-long lecture flew by as Lou thought more about who Laken Courland really was. They hadn’t known each other for very long but to Lou he felt as if he had known her for several years. She was dead now and he knew it, he could still see her praying to her mother’s grave and he wondered what went wrong. She wasn’t sad when she held him, on her last breath she held Lou as close to her as possible before being murdered by the golden-haired archer. There was nothing Lou could do anymore, but he didn’t want to give up like this. He would find answers, and he wouldn’t stop until he answered the question: ‘Why?’.

“He’s finally done. Wow, a whole hour, how the hell does he do it?” Ash was almost asleep by the end of it. “Let’s do it.” He smiled and pulled a remote from Stan’s knapsack. “Kablooey!”

Just then the loudest and most atrocious sound came from directly in front of the four teenage students. All four of them looked up to find a large gust of wind forcing them backward for a good 10 seconds or so. It was painful and erratic. The four could not see past the strange breeze that had toppled them backward, but the ever-elusive sight dangling in sight was their very own school. Their school was colored with a beautiful red and orange and was peculiarly dark despite how much day was in the sky. The heat given off the school grew larger and larger, the deafening cry that came from it was enormous and it left the heaviest set of bells in all four students’ ears.

Stan rose. He winced as his hands covered the two carillons to the sides of his head. His vision was coming back to him and he looked up at his school. His face cringed even more at what he thought was only a dream. The large building that stood before them not 30 seconds ago was completely destroyed. The char that was left from the explosion left the grass covered in darkness. The bricks that were blasted meters away from their foundation found themselves caught into the pavement and into other buildings. Stan had found the hole towards the top of the once-proud establishment; it was a catastrophe if he knew one. The entire building and everyone in it was destroyed, the bodies of brilliant professors lay next to the millions of bricks and ceiling tiles, the classrooms had transformed into a simple black cave that begged for disintegration. The ruins of their kingdom, barely standing was a pile of ash and smoke.

Stan helped the three of them up and watched as they imitated Stan’s expression only moments ago.

“We-we didn’t do that… did we?” Ash commented.

Lou remembered back to what Lily had told him. “They will never stop, not until you are erased from this world… If you were lucky enough to escape from them today, you will regret not dying the day they first caught you.

“Is this… what it means to be hunted?”


tima said...

dem this book is awesome!!!!!!!!!i cant wait to read the next chapter

Crow said...

=D Too kind. It's a long story coming and I'm done with the introduction. We'll get into the good stuff soon enough.

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