#1: White Sun, Black Water
“What should we do with the body?” whispered a gruff voice through the darkness.
“Dump her in the river,” replied a second, feline- sounding voice. “NONE of them will ever have to know about our MISTAKE.” Then, the footsteps came, each one louder than the last, sharp and echoing like lightning and thunder. Next, the hands, rough as sandpaper, tossing around a small, lifeless girl like nothing more than a broken toy, ready to be thrown away. Third, the light, the blinding sun turning everything white, as if the whole world was glaring, COMPLETELY UNSYMPATHETIC, at the sinners and their little, dead doll.
The girl was thrown onto the floor of a beaten up van; the doors slammed shut behind her. The engine roared to life, and the van tore down the streets, recklessly throwing the small body back and forth. Every turn resulted in squealing tires and long black screech marks,etching out a path of darkness.
Only after the screams of the wheels turned into the gentle swish of tires on sand did the vehicle roll to a stop. The back doors of the van were thrown open, and the white sun once again shone down upon the MALICIOUS rough hands and their victim of MISFORTUNE.
The girl’s body was dug out of the van and thrown onto the ground. She was dragged along the riverbank by her long, once beautiful, blonde hair until the sand beneath her became damp and began to stick to her legs. Then, her body was whipped into the river, smacking the surface and then slowly sliding beneath the currents. She DESCENDED deeper and deeper, until the white sun’s rays became so DISTORTED and faint that the water seemed to turn an inky black. In that darkness, something strange happened. Death’s hold came UNDONE. The girl opened her crystal blue eyes, and like a celestial, or perhaps simply SUPERNATURAL, being she began to swim.
#2: Crystal Eyes
Kade Winthrow awoke to the sound of his bedroom window slamming shut. He slowly sat up, trying to pull away from the TRANSPORTING, warm embrace of sleep. After a few seconds of silence, Kade sighed and let his head plop back down onto his pillow.
Light flooded his room, turning Kade’s visible world into a wall of white.
Kade groaned, his hands shooting up to cover his eyes, and slowly began to sit up, only to be slammed back down. Kade felt a pair of small, wet hands tighten around his windpipe. The blankets which had, just moments before, cuddled him into a warm cocoon, now bound his arms and legs like chains. “You!”screeched a broken, female voice. “You did this to me!” As the hands tightened, Kade’s eyes began to pull shut, bringing his assailant into focus.
Long strands of clumped, blonde hair dripped water onto his forehead, as if anointing him before his death. A pale, doll-like face glared down upon him; her HOMICIDAL, crystal blue eyes were filled with enough hatred to rip Kade’s very soul apart.
One year earlier…
“Dude, you have got to stop ripping yourself apart.” 17-year-old Kade Winthrow stood at the end of a long line of darkness. He hated funerals. The slow line seemed to be dragging out his feeling of dread as if taunting him. Standing by Kade’s side was probably the last person who he should’ve brought to an event of mourning, his best friend, Davin Josley. “You’re a volunteer fireman, not the freakin’ Hulk!”
“Would you quiet down?” whispered Kade. “People are staring.”
“Of course they’re staring,” snorted Davin. “You saved, like, a million people from that GENEALOGY lab explosion! You’re the hero of the CENTURY! Everybody thinks you’re, like, the new Mr. INCREDIBLE, minus the tights!”
Kade eyed the small, black huddle of people quietly crying around the distant casket. “Not everybody.”
“Whatever, man.” After that, Davin stood, silent and still, for exactly 15.2 seconds. “This is totally lame,” he said under his breath. “I’m going to go wait in the car.”
A few minutes later, Kade found himself at the front of the line. Before him stood a fragile-looking, tear-stained, old woman. “Hello young man,” she sighed. “How did you know my husband?”
“Um, I’m afraid I didn’t,” Kade fuddled. “See, I’m Kade Winthrow. I just wanted to say I’m sorry and-”
“Get out,” hissed the woman.
“You’re that DULLARD who made the stupid DECISION to save some pregnant teenager over my husband!” The old lady was shaking with anger, her words like MISSILES, threatening to blow his heart to pieces. “Get out!”
Kade stumbled away in shock. When he reached the back door, he threw it open and started to run. He didn’t care where he was going, just as long as it was away. He ran and ran until his lungs burned. Then, he dropped to his knees and screamed. He screamed because, even when he did something that he thought had been so right, it was still wrong.
When Kade had nothing left to give, he took a slow, shaky breath and stood.
“That was some yell,” rang a small voice behind him.
Kade wiped away the tears from his pale cheeks. He hadn’t realized he was crying.
“Are you alright?”
Kade slowly turned around to face the most CAPTIVATINGLY beautiful girl he’d ever seen. Her long, golden hair cascaded down her back in soft curls. Her porcelain skin gave her doll-like features an almost angelic glow, but most amazing were her eyes: perfect ovals, AQUA blue, as clear as crystals.
#3: The Burning
Photo Credit: Fire
The wall of flames roared in anger. It’s red and orange tips clawed savagely at the black sky. Firemen tried in vain to wash away the monstrous SPECIES that is burn, but their hoses only enraged it.
In the belly of the beast stood Kade Winthrow, his skin slowly cooking in his protective gear. “Winthrow!” The radio strapped around his waist screamed. “Get out of there! The whole building’s cumin’ down!”
He pushed deeper into the fire. Kade dug his way through the smoke, listening.
“Help!” A voice pierced the flame’s crackle for a brief moment. Kade followed it through the threatening waves of red, until he stood before an old man and a very pregnant teenage girl. They were doused in sweat and had wondering, unseeing eyes.
“Don’t worry!” Kade bellowed over the sinister cackle of the flames. “I’m gunna get you outa here.” His words began to slur from pure exhaustion. He shook it off and hoisted up the girl, who promptly passed out. “Sir,” Kade eyed the man, “can you walk?”
“Yeah.” The old man slowly stood up. Kade could practically hear the elder’s RESISTANT joints creaking.
“Alright.” Kade turned reluctantly. “Follow me!”
“Wait!” The old man pressed a small package into Kade’s already full hands. “Give this to my daughter, Tommy, if I don’t make it out of here.” With that, the old man turned and walked into the tongues of fire.
“Wait..no!” Kade growled, frustrated. He looked at the young woman in his arms. He had no choice. He had to get her to safety. With that, Kade raced out the EXIT, into the night.
Five days later…
Kade’s mouth hung open as he stared at the dazzling teenage girl in front of him. It took him a minute to process that she had asked him a question. “I’m okay,” his words clumsily plopped out.
“Well,” started the girl, a small smile sneaking onto her full, pink lips, “most people who are okay don’t go off to the middle of a nature reserve yelling like banshees.”
“Oh…” Kade paused. He didn’t know how to respond.
“I’m Tommy,” she laughed, her voice like wind chimes. She EXTENDED her small, perfectly manicured hand. Kade shook it timidly, realization dawning on him.
“Tommy… as in the scientist’s daughter?”
“Yeah,” her beautiful smile melted away. “You’re probably wondering why I’m not at his funeral.” Tommy sighed. “It’s just…he wouldn’t want to be REMEMBERED as an empty coffin. My dad… he always wanted to be cremated so that he could rejoin the earth. He said that, maybe then, he could finally understand all of its mysteries.” Tommy paused. “I guess he kind of got his wish, dying in the fire.”
“Sorry,” she said a moment later, smiling to herself, “that was kind of heavy.”
“There’s nothing to apologize for,” Kade whispered. He took a deep breath. “In fact, I should be apologizing to you. You see, I’m-”
“Kade Winthrow,” Tommy finished. “I saw your picture in the newspaper.”
“And… you don’t hate me?” Kade asked, puzzled.
“Of course not. My dad was a stubborn man. You couldn’t have forced him to leave that building.” Kade half-smiled for a moment, but his features quickly hardened.
“I was supposed to give you this,” Kade pulled a small bundle out of his jacket pocket. “Your dad… it’s from him.”
Tommy gingerly took the package and unwrapped it. Inside were two items: a small piece of paper and a long syringe. She carefully read the note. Kade watched as a single tear glided down her rosy cheek.
Find the arson. Find the brother.
Tommy picked up the syringe, her eyes glazed over. Four words were written on it in black sharpie: PROTOTYPE 1-TELEKINESIS, TELEPATHY, OMNISCENCE.
Tommy plunged the needle into her arm.
Photo Credit: Hands
#4: The Brother
A silent figure slipped through the black silk of night. Like an angel of darkness, the woman held a regal essence about her, even as she danced away from the searching flashlights of the buzzing night guards. With agility like a gazelle, she leaped over the nine-foot iron gates, landing quietly. Moving like a fox in the midst of hunters, the woman darted forward without a sound. Reaching the cement steps, she finally stopped, her journey at an end. The dark angel reached into the deep folds of her black cloak and pulled out two, small creatures, one glowing like the sun, the other with skin that shifted from a pale white to a translucent , watery surface. She gently placed them on the ground in front of her. The woman softly kissed the small beings, tears forming in her eyes. “I’m sorry I am not strong enough to save you,” she whispered to them, ruby tears dripping down her bloody cheeks. “Goodbye, my sons.”
17 years later…
Tommy crumbled into Kade’s arms.
“Tommy…” Kade shook the unconscious girl, trying to wake her. He frantically checked her pulse: faint and fleeting.
He gently lowered the unconscious girl to the ground, and picked up the menacing needle that had brought this fate upon her. Kade glared at it, as though the small piece of metal had injected all the world’s problems into his life. He angrily threw the syringe at the nearest tree and watched it shatter upon impact, a thousand tiny glass pieces slicing through the sunshine.
To his right, Tommy began to groan. The noise rapidly grew louder and more distressed. Within seconds, Tommy was shrieking as her body convulsed, her eyes still sealed shut.
“Tommy!” Kade shouted, once again trying in vain to shake the beautiful girl awake. Tommy’s screams crashed into Kade like a wave, puncturing his heart and drowning out the rest of the world. Before he knew what he was doing, Kade placed two fingers in the middle of Tommy’s forehead. He watched as his skin, starting from his fingertips, slowly became paler and paler until it was like ice, translucent and glowing in the summer light. A sense of peace washed over his entire body, whisking away all his worries in one whisper of the blowing wind. Kade felt an inner-breeze float down his arms and through his fingertips, like a waterfall of tranquility, into Tommy’s mind. He could feel her thoughts calming, her body relaxing, and he knew before Tommy herself did that her eyes would flutter open, looking into his own.
“How did you…?” Tommy whispered in a voice caught between wonder and disbelief.
“ We don’t have time.” Kade replied. “The clan can sense when one of their monarchs makes a selection.”
Kade took a deep breath. “Look, what I just did, healing you, my clan sees it as a claim.”
“To what?” Tommy mumbled, slowly sitting up, her head feeling heavy and water-logged.
“ To you. In their eyes, I just chose you as my queen.”Kade drifted off, his watery skin morphing back to normal and reddening in a blush.
“Hold on… you’re not-” a tremor through the earth silenced Tommy. The sound of thunder shook her whole body as the air itself seemed to rip apart into a magnificent, lightning-encrusted black whole; savage- looking men and women emerged, pounding the very grass beneath their feet into submission. They surged out like black-robed parasites, swarming the little doll and her savior. All the oxygen rushed out of Tommy’s lungs in desperate gasps. She couldn’t even see how far back the crowd spread, but still more seethed out.
Suddenly, a shrieking noise screeched through the air, and the black hole collapsed in on itself, cutting off the dark populous. The crowd of dark corpses rippled as a man who looked exactly like Kade, but with tanner skin, stepped forward, his fiery red cloak shocking against the waves of black.
“Well, brother,” Tommy flinched at the venom in the red man’s voice, “I see you found a mate after all.” Slowly turning to Tommy, the girl felt the air sizzle around her as the man hissed, “I hope he chose correctly.” Coldly extending a rough hand, the man’s gray eyes seemed dormant to the girl. “You, my dear, may call me Lord Arson.”
“I’m Tommy.” The introduction felt more like a final eulogy.
#5: The Rift
Sirens screamed, their red lights bleeding into the New York sky. The streets were infected with frantic humans, scurrying about like rats, crawling over each other just to gain a few millimeters that dragged them away from the inevitable.
Behind them, the world was writhing in white fire. It ripped apart the city in its savage, flickering teeth. It spread to every corner and ally, ruthlessly clawing apart all those too weak or frightened to fight. The unison of the tortured cries of the dying and the doomed washed over the cities in waves, rippling into the tears of the running.
In the charred heart of the burning fury stood an Arson who intended to decimate the Earth with flames.
— — —
Kade’s fist planted in Tommy’s side, giving root to yet another member of her ever-growing garden of bruises.
“You have to at least try to defend yourself.” Kade’s invisible frown conveyed in his words.
“What’s the point?” Tommy threw a sloppy punch at his chest. Kade sidestepped gracefully, watching as Tommy’s momentum carried her right into a face plant.
“Combat is the best way to manifest your gifts.” Kade replied dutifully, just as he had the last three times she’d asked the question.
Tommy picked herself up slowly and shot Kade a glare as she rubbed her swelling nose.
“How do we even know I’ll manifest?” Tommy roundhouse kicked for Kade’s head. He swiftly ducked and kicked her balancing leg out from under her. Kade stood hesitantly, watching her carefully.
“My claim to you wouldn’t have been recognized by my kin if you didn’t have the potential to-” Tommy barreled into Kade’s chest, knocking him onto his back while she pinned his arms. In one swift movement, he hooked his foot behind her neck and flipped her off of him as he rolled over his shoulder.
“I think that’s enough practice for today,” Tommy sputtered out through a few bursting breaths. Kade held out his hand to help her up, but Tommy pushed it away and gave a half-hearted attempt at immitating Kade’s over-the-shoulder roll. She ended up back on her stomach. Kade gently lifted her up, his small smile all too visible. He lead her to the corner of the gym.
“You’ll get it one of these days.” Kade sighed. He’d been training Tommy for a couple weeks now, prepping her for her imminent and vital rise to queen of the dynasty. Other than the surplus of black and blue spots that now dotted her, though, there was very little apparent change in her abilities- defensive or otherwise. “You just have to imagine it like…. like reaching across a dark rift for a speck of light. Your gifts will come, and when they do,” Kade timidly placed a hand on her shoulder, “you will do great things.”
Tommy watched as Kade stood and slowly walked away, leaving her alone with her thoughts. She closed her eyes and and imagined the darkness, the rift, and the light. She imagined reaching across the gap and grasping the glow of power. She saw her thin fingers brush against the radiance.
Suddenly, a raging boom of sound slammed into her mind. Tommy grabbed her head, desperately trying to claw out the noise. She let out a strangled shriek of frustration. The noise thinned into crying voices, the screams of burning souls like detonating dynamite in her brain…. And then Kade was by her side.
“Tommy!” He yelled, his voice resonating in the mayhem. “What’s wrong?”
“Voices,”she whispered, eyes wide and wet, “voices, voices, VOICES!”
“Tommy, focus on my voice, just mine. Find my voice, Tommy.”
“They’re burning, Kade! They’re burning alive!” Everything went black.
Started a new story. I got bored with the last one.
Photo credit: “tributes of old life for new death”
Chapter 1: Sky Tears
The sunrise was gray. It had been for days now. Sometimes, the skies would clear up just long enough to cry, dripping water onto the cracked, winter earth. It hadn’t snowed in a decade, but drops of cold rain still kissed the tree tops, anointing the ruined world and anyone left on it. A single string of LUCID water slipped along browning leafs until gently dropping on the town their trees encircled.
Lana sat just shy of the circle, letting the sky’s tears collect in her soft hands. She watched her see-through reflection shine in the tiny CURRENT running over her wet fingers. Sometimes she felt that she must be a ghost, with how TRANSPARENT a few drops made her look and feel.
Lana slowly stood, letting the small stream PLUMMET to the ground. The Company would ask too many questions if she did not show for the morning meal.
She let the gentle, morning breeze guide her willowy body back through the field where she had sat, feeling the tall flowers tickle her knees playfully. Lana bent down, plucked a PRIM, white lily, and tucked it behind her ear. She knew her Guide would see it and wonder where it had come from. After all, most of the plants had fallen, TRIBUTES of old life for new death, weeks before.
Lana smiled to herself as the nearest patches of grey grass sprung to life beneath her feet, spiraling up in defiance to the bitter bite of the surrounding winter frost. She loved her gift. Everyone in the Company had one, but her Guide simply thought she hadn’t developed one yet. Sometimes, she almost told him her SECRET, just to see the shock on his face. After all, there hadn’t been a Lifeline born to the Slegna tribe in over a century. Lana’s smile folded in on itself as she remembered the stories of the Company dragging her great, great grandfather around the world, forcing him to shove his power into rich men who had cheated both in life and death. Ever since the gifted man had died, the Company had been carving Lana’s tribe apart, clawing for any grain of resemblance to his gift.
A small part of her knew that one day the Company would come to their senses and see that she was the only one of her TRIBE who had failed to produce a power. Lana just wanted to put it off for as long as possible.
As the Mess Tent came into view, Lana let the TRANSFORMED emerald greens of grass slip away from her, fading back into the death that surrounded it. She quietly merged with the CONGREGATION of people filing past the meal counter, where she had a choice of unidentifiable brown soup or unidentifiable gray soup. Lana sighed and ladled the dirt-colored liquid into a styrofoam bowl. She broke away from the conveyor belt of tribesmen, and was making her way to the nearest empty seat when a strong hand yanked her elbow back. The brown soup in her hand ERUPTED onto her green jacket as she whipped around to face a tall, gangly man with a bushy Mohawk that made his head look like a dead skunk had been duct taped to it. He grimaced as a single drop of the the dark soup sunk into the thick fabric of his white suit.
“Guide Xavier,” Lana mumbled by way of greeting as she absentmindedly tried to soak the moisture from her sweater with the single napkin each tribe member was given for the morning meal.
“We need to talk, little girl.” Lana sighed inwardly. All of their previous talks had consisted of Xavier demanding that she ‘hurry up and grow powers,’ to which Lana would reply with a detailed description of female development and its limitations until Xavier got grossed out and walked away.
She followed him out of the tent. As soon as they were out of earshot of the nearest person, Xavier whirled to face Lana, his now wet, skunk mohawk doing a 360 on his head. A grin slowly spread across his face, exposing his small, yellowed teeth. “I know what your gift is, and your going to make me very rich.”
The sky was crying again.