Ch. 1A Chapter by Nicole
Chapter 1. Enjoy!
Six years ago I lived with my dad and my older sister in a little old farmhouse in North Texas. That was before anything had happened yet and Project Archangel had just been started. A lot of people boycotted Project Archangel initially, including my dad. You couldn’t turn on the TV without seeing riots, protests, and picketing mobs with signs that said “KEEP HUMANS HUMANE” and “NO CLONE COPS.” I watched a lot of DVD’s back then.
I really don’t know much about project Archangel apart from what I remember my dad saying; I was only fifteen when it all started and he tried hard to protect us from most of it. We weren’t allowed to talk about it.
“You girls don’t need to worry about these adult issues,” he would say while sitting on the edge of his recliner in the den. “Just let me worry about all this.”
I do know that it began with one man named David Rickard, a young wealthy CEO of a company called Sanctum Industries. They engineered weapons and protective body armor for soldiers and cops, as well as being involved with some biological engineering projects that were supposed to help end genetic-based illnesses and deformities. David Rickard seemed to have good intentions, but the worst things are done with the best of intentions. That was what my dad said.
Rickard began a new project that he said would “prevent the unnecessary loss of human life” in jobs that were considered hazardous. Cops, firefighters, soldiers, EMT’s, and security officers made up the bulk of what they called hazardous professions or ones that would value an unfeeling, calculative mind in moments of great stress.
It was all grounded in the sciences of cloning, gene manipulation, and neurological alteration which made the project highly controversial and an easy target for conservative skeptics or anyone that didn’t like the notion of tampering with the natural evolution of humanity. Rickard used himself as the primary guinea pig for all the experimentation and it was his DNA they used to make the clones. He was young and ambitious and really stupid for thinking people would only see the good in what he was trying to do. He used his company to make thousands of these clones, altering them and creating four basic “models” of himself that would be engineered specifically for whatever job they were needed to do.
The military was the first to jump on board, using one type of model as substitutes for foot soldiers. They would follow orders without question, had no emotion to impair their judgment, and wouldn’t allow themselves to fail even if it might cost them their own lives. They were flawless and a few even threw themselves on grenades to save normal human soldiers. After that, the police forces and firefighters started using them too. Then hospitals and emergency services used them for EMT’s in situations where emotion might cause someone to make a mistake that might cost someone else their life.
They were supposed to be perfect for whatever job they were “programmed” to do. Their minds were supposed to be mechanical and robotic in that they were altered so that they didn’t question orders, feel empathy or emotion, experience a sense of free will, or have any kind of independent thoughts that were beyond their genetic programming. They were supposed to serve and obey and take a bullet for the 40-year-old father of 3 that might have died on the job. They were basically machines made out of flesh, as my young mind understood it, nothing more and nothing less.
Their faces all looked the same, being clones of the same man, but they had different hair and eye colors to differentiate between the different model types. Apparently those physical qualities were easy to manipulate in their genetic code. To eliminate any kind of threat to the public, they operated under the strict word of the law and never made any mistakes when it came to the proper course of action. They were all sterilized so they couldn’t procreate and the portion of their brain that produced the sexual hormones was permanently impaired. All of a sudden an army of robotically minded eunuchs consumed the nation, trying to make everyone feel safer and prevent the unnecessary loss of life.
David Rickard called them Archangels because they were supposed to protect us and yet blend in with the human backdrop of our world. Invisible guardians that looked just like people. He ended up with 4 models that went into mass production, all named after four biblical angels to distinguish them. They had tattoos on the back of their necks telling what kind they were, what model number, and gave them a sense of mechanical uniqueness almost like a personal computer.
The strain on the public they caused was insane and you could practically feel it in the air. They took away jobs from low-income families that needed it; that was what my dad always said. It was only a matter of time before something went wrong and one man’s attempt to do something good got a lot of people killed.
For me, their impact on daily life was different. I didn’t see changes and problems with the economy. That kind of thing wasn’t important to a teenager. It was weird to go to the mall and see five security guards that all looked and sounded exactly the same. But when my dad found out our local community had utilized some of the new Archangels, he didn’t let my sister and I go out very much. He didn’t want us to be around them and at first I thought it was simply because he didn’t trust them. Looking back on it now, I think he could sense that it was only a matter of time until things started in a downward spiral. That’s why we didn’t really kick up much of a fuss about it.
We had an old storm cellar out behind our house, built entirely underground except for the small, round steel door that opened up to a deep dark hole plummeting a good five feet straight down. It was made for that time in the spring when the storms always bring tornadoes so that we would have a safe place to hide. A ladder, like in a manhole that goes down into a sewer, was the only way in and out of it. My whole life that shelter had been more like an exterior basement where old baby highchairs and rusty tricycles went to retire indefinitely. But as Project Archangel generated more controversy and tension, my dad started cleaning it out and stocking it with food, lots of food, and a lot of other random supplies like cans of gasoline and a pair of bunk beds.
All of a sudden, my sister and I were made to sleep in the same room at night and we didn’t watch TV anymore unless he was there with us. Dad showed us how to lock the steel door on the shelter, which he’d modified to seal closed like a vault, and how to turn on the ventilation system he’d installed to keep the air clean and breathable for long periods of time. There was a little portable toilet that was easy to empty, but we weren’t allowed to use it. We weren’t allowed to eat any of the food he was saving up down there and, above all, we couldn’t tell anyone about our shelter.
It wasn’t really a mystery to either of us why he was doing all this.
In the end he was right.
It was later that same year that everything started to unravel in a hurry and we all sat in front of the TV in the kitchen and watched the world fall apart.
It didn’t have anything to do with project Archangel, at least not at first. No one really knew where it started or even when, only that the spread couldn’t be stopped and there wasn’t a cure. There was no time to generate any kind of cure or vaccination; the spread was simply too fast and too devastating. It spread from one coast to another and there wasn’t a soul on earth that it didn’t touch.
I remember hearing that it might have been some kind of divergent strain of rabies from somewhere in South America. It infected people with a great many unpleasant symptoms that came in swift but definable stages, the last of which was death.
First people thought it was airborne, because of how fast it was spreading. Hundreds and thousands of people by the day were becoming infected. Schools shut down, people fled from cities, and we moved into the storm shelter in the backyard. We still didn’t eat any of the food or stay in it during the daylight hours. After all, there hadn’t been anybody in our part of the state who’d been infected yet. We were sort of segregated from any large cities, perched on the outskirts of a rural farming community in Texoma.
Then they decided that the infection, true to form for a rabies type of virus, was transmitted by saliva or body fluids and more commonly by being bitten. Normally, this wouldn’t have been a problem but, just like the known rabies virus, the final stages of the virus included psychosis and uncontrollable rage so a LOT of people got bitten by patients in a state of psychosis. You could catch it from any kind of exchange of body fluids, so it was easy to see why it had been able to infect so many people as quickly as it had
It spread and no one could hide from it.
Not even us.
My dad got sick first. Some woman at the local grocery store bit him and a few other people before someone finally shot her. Apparently, her husband was trying to get her to a hospital in Miami that had a “cure” before she lost her mind. Poor b*****d. If he’d loved her at all he would have just shot her before she had to suffer and before she killed anyone else. But he didn’t. And so a bunch of other people got infected because of it. Because of his foolish hope for the impossible, for a cure.
There isn’t a cure. There never was and there never will be.
We were still living in the house during the day so my sister and I were cooking dinner when my dad came home and told us he was going to die. The virus took three days to fully manifest and cause the neurological symptoms that made the people who were infected so dangerous.
On the first day, dad showed Sparrow and I how to fire, load, and clean his guns. I’d never seen him look that pale before and Sparrow said his fever was almost 105 degrees. He could barely walk and his hands were shaking. It was the most fragile I’d ever seen him.
On the second day, he showed us how to unlock his gun safe in the laundry room, how to use the water-purifying canteen he’d bought, and how to work the solar powered flashlights. The fever had him bedridden before he could teach us anything else. Sparrow wouldn’t let me in to see him but I could hear him throwing up no matter where I went in the house. You couldn’t hide from it.
On the third day, before Sparrow and I had come out of the storm cellar where we were sleeping at night, my dad dug a grave for himself in the front yard. He put his Jericho 941 semi-automatic pistol to his head and shot himself before the psychosis set in.
Sparrow found him and together we buried him in the grave he’d dug. Suddenly we were alone, armed with everything he’d taught us and left behind for us to take care of ourselves. We had food, safety, and each other. But that didn’t last long either.
I didn’t find out how she got infected until a year after she died. She wouldn’t tell me and at the time, it really didn’t matter how it had happened. I watched my older sister die for two days. I held her hair while she vomited, kept a cool rag on her forehead as she trembled with fever, and tried to convince her that everything would be okay.
Sparrow ordered me to shoot her before the psychosis started. She said she finally understood why dad had done what he did; he didn’t want our last memory of him to be of one of us shooting him as he tried to kill us in a foaming, psychotic rage. She didn’t want that either. She’d presented with some of the less common side effects from the fever and had almost gone completely blind. So she didn’t have the physical strength to get out of bed and hold the gun to her head.
But I was only 15. I couldn’t kill my sister. I didn’t want her to die and be left alone. Without her, I was going to be condemned to a kind of solitude I hadn’t imagined possible.
So I used duct tape to tie her down to her bed in the house. It was our compromise since I didn’t have the guts to shoot her. I stayed with her and kept her talking until the last stage of the virus finally started to take hold. Her eyes glazed over and turned a milky, glassy color. Her mouth seeped a pinkish bloody foam. She didn’t recognize me anymore.
Then I let her bite me. Just once on the forearm.
I just couldn’t stand to keep on living without anyone.
Sparrow died late that night and I covered her with a sheet. I couldn’t stand to do much more than that and so I shut her bedroom door and never went back into that house again.
The food dad had saved up in the storm cellar ran out a year later. I had no choice; I had to leave. But that really didn’t break my heart. There wasn’t much left of it to be broken anyway and there was nothing left for me there. So I packed up everything I could into one of dad’s camouflage-print backpacks and started walking.
I never had any kind of plan or a destination, but I couldn’t stand to keep on living in that cold, dark hole in my dead family’s backyard. I couldn’t stand looking at that house and knowing my sister’s body was still rotting in her bed or seeing the grave where my dad was buried in the yard. It was too much and so I left, going nowhere as fast as my legs would get me there.
Before the virus hit and my small, very limited world went dark, I didn’t really have any idea what had happened to the rest of the country. Outside the rural protection of our lonely house, things became very clear very quickly.
I learned 3 things pretty immediately:
First, probably less than several hundred thousand people in the nation had survived. No one really knew about other countries since communication was down pretty much permanently. But even fewer people had an immunity to the virus like I did. Some people liked to say that they did, but the truth of it was that they had managed not to be exposed. My immunity was special and there weren’t many other people in the world that had it.
Second was that t had had nothing to with project Archangel. In fact, just about all of the Archangel models had gotten infected and died along with everyone else. They were human too, after all, if not genetically altered and super-enhanced ones. They could still get sick and were just as vulnerable to getting infected as anyone else. So most of them died from m infection and the rest were thought to have been killed off trying to prevent riots and save people from the chaos of the world unfolding upon itself.
Lastly, and most important of all, was that no one else was looking out for me except for me. Nobody could be trusted, no matter how sad their sob story was. Anyone left alive now had a sob story, so that didn’t earn you any special treatment anymore. And it certainly didn’t entitle you to any kind of trust either.
My first months outside the shelter were the hardest. I had thought I was used to seeing death and suffering, but nothing really prepares you for something like that. It was a numbing, eerie feeling to see so many dead people that all looked exactly the same; the Archangels were all clones of Rickard so their faces were the same, even if their hair and eyes were different. An army of Rickards lying everywhere like broken dolls was strange and it took a long time to get used to.
I’d seen disaster movies before, but this was nothing like that. I wasn’t prepared for it and I wasn’t invulnerable to it. I learned quickly about what it meant to be alone and what the meant for my own survival. I kept things as simple as I could and never went ten feet without my dad’s 1897 Winchester pump-action shotgun in my hand and his pistol tucked through my belt in the back of my pants.
Finding food was not really a problem; there weren’t enough people left to compete for what you could find in freezers, vending machines, and grocery stores that were still standing. The world, or at least what I could see of it, had gotten really empty really fast.
People I did run into typically came in three categories: other survivors like me, desperate or crazy people who had gotten infected somehow, or those who worked for a man called the Collector. The latter was the most dangerous and unfortunately, the most common. The world had gone primal and it wasn’t a pretty sight.
The Collector was just that, nothing more. He’d taken up some kind of kingly role to a group of other survivors, using brute force and violence to impose his will on anyone and everyone he could. To those who would work for him, he promised food, protection, and sex with as many women as they could get their hands on as long as they did what he wanted them to do. It was a pretty good campaign for the caliber of people left in the world. A bunch of desperate fools with nothing to live for will do about anything as long as they feel like they’re a part of something.
The Collector sent out hunting parties far and wide to capture any other survivors they found and bring them back. Some became slaves, usually children and women, some got offered a chance to work for the Collector. Death was preferable to what fate would await me if I ever got caught and I’d sworn that I’d shoot myself before I ever ended up like that. If fate or God or whatever had brought the world to this state was going to force me to keep on living in it, I wasn’t going to lie down and be a victim. This s****y existence was going to be on my terms.
On the rare occasion that I did run into other survivors like myself, I’d noticed a trend that had seemed so strange to me at first. Races that had once been so hell bent on equality and peaceful blending of their cultures in America’s great “melting pot” had split off. They lived in what were almost like colonies, usually, and were just about always exclusive to one race or another. Of course, it makes sense to me now. They don’t want to be around people they don’t feel like they can trust and who better to trust than someone who looks and comes from the same cultural background as you do. Those colonies were rare and usually so well fortified that it was just best to make a wide berth and leave them be. Being a rogue, I didn’t like forcing myself on people I didn’t know and certainly didn’t trust.
I had no destination. There was nowhere I wanted to be and nowhere I needed to go. My purpose was simple in that I had none. I was drifting, rolling wherever my feet took me and casually observing the broken pieces of the world. Keeping to the main roads was always risky. The Collector’s followers patrolled the streets in search of survivors, but they usually weren’t very discreet about it and so it was easy to avoid them. Being alone made it easier for me to be overlooked and I was able to keep those roads in sight.
The names of cities really didn’t matter anymore, so I never paid attention to where I was or any of the signage that was still standing. This city was no different and I didn’t really care where I was. But the air smelled faintly of ash and smoke so I knew immediately that this had been one of those places where Archangels and SWAT teams had fought against riots. These conflicts always had evidence of the same kind of outcome. There was mutual destruction, carnage, and insane slaughter as far as the eye could see. The smoldering embers had died out long ago but the smell of charred chaos in the air still lingered.
The days were hot and made my hair stick to the sweat on my neck and face. I’d have to cut it soon. It was getting too long. The sound of my tennis shoes crunching in rubble or broken glass was the only sound for miles. There’s no word for that kind of solitude. I walked, backpack on my back and shotgun slung over one shoulder as I entered that city and took it all in.
Buildings were cracked and blackened, cars were smashed on each other, and the overgrowth of plants climbed the rubble as nature tried to reclaim the world. It wasn’t any different from the rest of the cities I’d seen and there wasn’t any sign of any other survivors anywhere. Just the way I liked it.
Six years of solitude and survival had taught me many things, but foremost was to never turn a blind eye or let my guard down. Tragedy does horrible things to the minds of good people. I probably wasn’t an exception to that either, but I had found my own way to cope. A specialist would have probably termed it as some kind of emotional withdrawal or disconnect from reality. They could call it whatever they wanted, as long as I kept breathing.
The sky was beginning to turn smudged shades of intense orange and warm lavender as the sun ducked back behind the horizon. It’d be night soon so I made headway towards the nearest towering building whose remains at all resembled a hotel. Hotels were usually safest and even, in some rare cases, still had electricity. Running water was a lot easier to find in cities, but only a few places still had electricity. This city didn’t really show much promise of it though, so I didn’t get my hopes up.
The world grew dim and the air started to get cold really fast. I untied my jacket from around my waist, glad to feel the warmth of fleece against my skin. Even in the silence, in the darkness and choking solitude, I couldn’t shut off the part of my brain that was now forever programmed to be constantly watching. Always listening, always tense, always waiting for something to go wrong. Because the only thing more rare than electricity was when things went the way I wanted them to.
I kept an eye on the shadows and a finger on the trigger, making for what appeared to be an only slightly charred Holiday Inn Express. Only the top right half of it was destroyed and I preferred the ground floor anyway. More exits on the ground floor and a girl couldn’t have too many available exits these days.
The streets were jammed tight with cars, most with smashed out windows or crumpled hoods and roofs. It made me nervous as hell to walk through them because you never knew what could be hiding out there. I knew my best bet was to keep my gun hand jumpy and get where I was going as fast as possible.
Nothing moved or made a sound as I wove through the gridlocked cars. Every now and then I’d happen by one and, even in the darkness when I could barely see my hand in front of my face, I knew there were corpses in it. I could smell them. I could hear the flies buzzing by the hundreds. And I was glad I couldn’t see them. That was something I never got used to.
The Holiday Inn felt cavernous as I stood at the doorway, looking at my reflection in the hazy, splintered glass front doors. I couldn’t see inside through them, but it was dark in there, very dark. I hesitated a minute before I could work up the nerve to go inside.
The lobby wasn’t so badly damaged, at least not that I could tell in the gloom, and I paused again just inside to pull my flashlight out of my bag. The air smelled faintly of smoke, but otherwise the place looked nearly untouched and I wound my way through the first floor hallways unhindered, selecting a corner room to be my own for the night.
No signs of life. No signs of recent occupation. Nothing. I was satisfied and opened the door to room 124. The power being out made all the electronic locks to the doors not work, but all hotel rooms have those nifty deadbolts and chain locks. There really was nothing like a little security in this day and age. Not to mention hotel doors are pretty damn tough, so I always felt a little better staying in a room like that.
I scanned the room extensively from floor to ceiling. I checked the bathroom, under both beds, and in the little closet. When I was satisfied that it was just me and the cheap upholstery, I locked myself inside and drew the shades and curtains closed before setting my bag on the little table under the windows. Too bad there wasn’t any power, the little coffee maker was still sitting there on the table with a few packets of sweet and low and creamer all ready to go. Coffee would have been a nice taste to have in my mouth when I left in the morning.
The water still worked, albeit it wasn’t warm, so I took the time to shower with the free hotel soap that was still on the bathroom counter. I rinsed my clothes out and hung them over the shower curtain rod to dry, changing into my only alternate set of clothes. A pair of old, saggy-butted jeans and a gray tank top that had been white once upon a time. As nice as it would have been to sleep in pajamas, I had to be ready to run at any moment. There was never any time for mistakes.
It’d been a while since I had seen my reflection and I narrowed my eyes at the wild-eyed young woman that stared back at me in the bathroom mirror. I stood there, brushing the tangles out of my wet, blonde hair, looking at the way my cheeks were a little sunken and I had huge dark circles under my yes. Haunted was a good word for how I looked. My shoulders and chest were bony but leanly muscled. A long silver chain hung around my neck, a battered old high school class ring hanging off of it that had belonged to Sparrow.
It struck me how different I looked each time I saw myself. I always had the same reaction of shaking my head, promising myself I’d try to do better. I’d try to sleep more, eat more, and find ways to make myself look healthier the next time I saw my reflection. So far, I hadn’t succeeded and it was like catching snapshots of myself withering away right before my eyes.
I didn’t sleep much, even when I did get the chance. But the hotel bed was soft, if not a little musty from six years of dust, and I made myself at home under the blankets. With any luck my stay here would go unnoticed, but I still put my dad’s pistol under the pillow and kept my bag at the bedside. If I had to leave in a hurry, I’d be out a change of clothes at max and that was something I could live with. Clothes were easy to find.
The world had gotten so quiet. There were no car horns in the streets outside. No people in the hallways making a ruckus. Not even the drone of the air conditioner in the room could fill the silence. It was still deafening, even after all this time, and I laid awake like I did on most nights, waiting to hear something until exhaustion finally took me under. That kind of sleep is never restful and it never lasted very long.
There was a noise in the dark.
My heartbeat stuttered in my chest as I gasped awake, hand going immediately to the grip of my dad’s pistol underneath my pillow. I lay still, listening, hardly breathing, as the echoing of voices rang out from the streets outside. There was someone else in the city. My heart hammered painfully in my chest and for a moment I couldn’t breathe. Get up, Wren, I had to tell myself to get my mind out of that state of shock. I slid out of the bed quickly, cramming my feet back into my shoes and grabbing up my bag to sling it back over my shoulders before I grabbed dad’s shotgun and went to the window.
My breath fogged on the glass as I slowly peeled back one of the curtains just enough to look outside. There were lights in the street nearby. Several flashlight beams waved back and forth as people moved through the tightly packed cars in the street. I heard their voices more clearly, men’s voices, and counted four by the number of beams of light I could see from where I was.
My hands trembled for how I feared that they might find me, closing the curtain again and moving towards the door. I stopped, pressing my ear to its cold surface and listening. I heard nothing beyond it, at least not yet, but depending on what kind of people these were, they might have been stealthier than your average refugee. Until I knew what kind of people I was dealing with, I couldn’t be too careful.
I stuck the pistol back into my belt against the butt of my jeans, clicking the safety off the shotgun, and reaching around into one of the pockets of my bag to pull out a few extra shells to put into my jacket pockets for easier access. With a deep breath I opened the door, gun barrel leading me, and stepped out into the dark hallway. Staying in the hotel room with so many people prowling about was a bad idea. If they worked for the Collector, it’d be one of the first places they’d search for possible victims to kidnap and take back with them to be used as slaves or worse.
There was an emergency exit at my end of the hall and I made for it, keeping my back to the walls and not using my flashlight. Luckily my eyes were still well adjusted to the dark and I could see well enough to manage. I had to get low and hidden quickly, somewhere defensible that they might not think to check. I was small and fast, short and lanky, so it was easier for me to find nooks and crannies I could pack myself into for protection.
The air outside was very chilly and it shocked any lingering bit of sleepiness from me, leaving me numb against the heat from my anxious sweating. The beams from their flashlights passed nearby, accompanied with masculine shouts and the crunching of footfalls. I ducked into a shadow behind a dumpster, finger poised on the trigger and eyes narrowed into ruthless determination, as one man came very close to my hiding place.
“There’s nothing here,” the man’s voice complained, standing not twenty feet from where I was. “This is a waste of time.”
Another voice answered him from farther away, “The dogs don’t mistake a scent. There’s one here somewhere. Keep looking.”
Dogs. Not good.
They did work for the Collector and I was pretty certain about that now. Slave hunters, and usually armed and dangerous from what I’d seen. I had to get moving and find a way to throw their dogs off my trail. The man near to me moved on and I fled through the back street behind the hotel. My breathing was frantic and I was dizzy with fear. All the years of my survival, of learning to live like this, boiled down to moments like this one. I ducked into corners and shadows whenever voices or lights came too close, I retraced my trails a few times, hoping to slow the tracking dogs and give myself some distance to work with.
My refuge was a river of s**t… literally. I found a ruptured sewage line behind a library that was all but completely destroyed. The sewage had seeped out into deep puddle on the street and I walked through it, kicking around in the rotting sludge a moment to stave off my scent. I let my scent pool there, mixing and confusing with the stench from the vile puddle of crap, before I went any further. It was all I could do to hope they might lose my scent.
The library that was so badly damaged was my last hope for a successful hiding place. Buildings that were so ruined usually offered tangled places to hide in that bigger people couldn’t hope to reach or fit into. So I waded around in the sewage for a few seconds more and set out to check around the cracked, crumbling remains of the building for a way inside.
It was only after I was able to worm my way in that I was actually able to see that it was a library. Or at least it had been at one time. Half-burned volumes and scattered charred pages lay everywhere. Shelves were smashed and the floor was buckled such that I had to climb over the debris to get further inside. The giant hole in the ceiling let in enough pale, silver moonlight that I was able to see how a similar, deep crater in the floor mirrored it. The hole was like an enormous dark chasm that cracked its way down into the library’s sublevels. It looked like something had crashed in through the library’s roof, leaving the building utterly destroyed and plummeting into the ground leaving a huge hole. Whatever it was it had been something BIG. Something big and airborne like maybe a plane or a bomb that had never detonated.
Water from a splintered water line dripped and pooled in various places, making walking even more treacherous. I made my way down carefully through the rubble, clinging to cracks in the walls and descending into the sublevels of the library through the huge crater in the floor. Down there it was dark, terribly dark, and the air was even colder; a good place to hide if I’d ever saw one.
Hanging onto a ledge with nothing but cold open air to my back, I couldn’t see how far down the drop was. But instinct commanded that I not let go of my hold on the side of the massive chasm as I made my way down, inch by inch. Water seeped and trickled past me, dripping into my eyes and making my feet slip and my heartbeat hammer in the back of my throat.
Overhead, I heard the faint echoes of voices and stifled a gasp. Dogs were barking and men were shouting somewhere outside the library. It was far enough away that I couldn’t make out anything they said, but near enough that it made my body shake and my movements become clumsy. My foot slipped and I groped desperately for something, anything, to grab onto. And then there was nothing but darkness all around me as I fell.
It felt like fell forever into the darkness, out of reach of the moon’s light. If I screamed at all, I don’t remember it. But I told myself not to. Just breathe. Don’t yell. Don’t cry. It will pass.
Everything passes with time.
© 2012 Nicole
Wichita Falls, TX
AboutAbout Me... My name is Nicole Conway and, yes, I'm an author. It feels wonderful to finally be able to say that. Believe me, I've worked very hard for it. Writing is not just a passion, not just a .. more..