Awakening: Prodigy - Chapter 1 - 3rd Draft
Parents and children huddled together under the flickering lights of the evacuation centers secured hold. The staccato rhythm of the defense units’ weapons did little to ease the fear of the surviving refugees. A blast rocked the center; one less defense unit.
Amongst the remnants of the surviving refugees was an eight year old girl with ebony black hair. Her carefully selected clothes for the community celebration that day was now stained and torn. She was one of the lucky ones for getting away with a few scrapes and cuts. She cradled her trusty teddy bear between her legs and her chest, hugging her constant companion close while straining her hearing, hoping for some sign that might prove that her father was alive.
Smothered cries of young children were stifled by terrified parents. The young girl watched, silent, wondering if they knew that they were killing their young. She wondered if the parents noticed the weak resistance of their child's small body fighting for air.
Fear griped the remaining townsfolk of Clearwater, but it was guilt that had settled into the girl's soul. She knew that she had lived five years longer than she should have. She feared that the war had been lured to this town because of her; because she survived the slaughter of Ridge Forte.
She closed her eyes against the sight of the child in front of her losing its battle against its terrified mother who had held the child a little too long within the comfort of her breasts.
The palatable taste of fear changed to despair.
Stay quiet, maybe they'll go away. That was the rule. The young girl knew that it wasn't true. The demons would sniff them out and hunt every last one of them down.
Another blast signalled Clearwater's losing battle. Dust shook loose, falling on them like ash. Cracks formed on the concrete walls. The lights flickered out. It wouldn't be long now.
The girl wiped the tears from her eyes, daddy wasn't coming this time.
Glass shattered against the steel shutters. The deep wallowing howl of the zephyr called out and pure silence finally fell onto the center. These people were lost.
The steel shutters resisted the onslaught once, twice, bending and warping a little more with each thunderous attack.
'Daddy's not coming.' The child stood up, her loyal teddy firmly in her grip. No one stopped her. She wasn't sure that the refugees noticed.
She felt light headed and unfocused, as though the world before her had opened itself up to her to reveal the one thing she needed to do in that moment. She didn't feel quite like herself. It was as though as past and future versions of herself had come together to share their collective knowledge. 'This is going to hurt; pure agony. Quick! Before it's too late!' The voice inside her commanded. The child remained in control of her own body, but felt spurred onward by her collective voices.
Light broke through the ruined steel barrier, blinding the girl. Black ooze trickled into the center.
In that moment, that child's world was forever changed. The souls of the last vestiges of Clearwater sparkled like the twilight of some distant nebulas whose names she did not know. The brilliance of their souls were fading as the people of Clearwater resigned themselves to the brutal death that awaited them.
Black ooze pushed its way toward the cowering refugees. It pulled itself upright like a living mass, before hungrily diving onto the townsfolk and bold child who stood resolutely against it, teddy bear gripped firmly at her side.
"I'm sorry," she whispered as the ooze fell over them. For her, that moment stretched out for an eternity. She felt that she could meticulously weigh the pros and cons of her next actions with her past and future selves for as long as needed to reach a consensus.
It was decided that she would not die here, but sacrifices needed to be made. One by one, the diming twilight of the souls around her were pulled into her small body.
The people's lives would not have been stolen for nothing. She would make sure of it.
The ooze fell to the ground blanketing the girl in its hate. All traces of the refugees had been wiped away as though they had never existed. The ooze turned hot, boiling with fury. It plunged its oily tendrils into her small body. She would be made to suffer for as long as her body could withstand death.
The black ooze dove through her, tearing away at her flesh and muscles, filling her veins with itself, desperately seeking the taste is craved. It paused in its assault. It recoiled violently, releasing the child from its hold, leaving her in a clear ten foot vortex of open space devoid of its wicked presence.
The dark haired child stood at its center, eyes squeezed shut, breath held, and teddy bear companion no worse for wear.
It had nowhere to run. The black ooze's fluid mass solidified in seconds, poisoned by the soul it had tasted.
She opened her eyes, now infected with a pale blue stigma, and drew her first breath in an eternity.
The ooze shattered and fell to ground as a heap of black sand.
Howls as deep as insanity, long and mournful, filled the broken center. Black sand danced around the child. The fight for Clearwater was far from over.
The lives sacrificed this day would not be forgotten.