“After” – Chapter 1

You can find the Prologue here.

*UPDATED JAN. 23 3:55 PM*

CHAPTER 1:

BOOM! BOOM! BOOM!

“Hey!” he said, banging on the door again. “Hey! 47, let me in!”

I groaned as I walked from the oven over to the door and spoke through the door. “Shut up, I’m not letting you in,” I said.

“It’s not my fault your parents gave you those intials.”

“Go away, Cruz.”

“Not a chance.” I could imagine his stupid grin.

“Seriously?” I walked back to the door and unlocked it. “Don’t you have somebody else to bother? It’s too early for your face,” I rubbed my eyes for the hundredth time, hoping to eliminate the last bits of the fog of sleep, and the lingering dream, from my mind.

“Early? It’s past mid-day.” He said, strolling in. “Hey, that smells good. What you making me?”

“Air, I made you air. Now, eat your own food at your own quarters.”

“That sounds killer.” He plopped down on my one comfy chair. “Did you seriously just get up? Oh man.” He laughed. “Salem’s gonna be pissed.”

“Yeah, and you’re not going to tell him. Anyway, it doesn’t matter. It’s my one day off, he can kiss it.” I flopped down on my bed lazily.

“Your lips or your ass?” He grinned. “I guess it’s not a problem unless the Evarian-”

“Shut up.” I sat up and threw a nasty look toward him. “Don’t even.” I got up and started pacing. “And really? You’re gross.”

“Speaking of the bastards, how many times have they attacked this year?”

Cruz sighed. “You’re not keeping up on this?” He said, shaking his head. “8 times in this sector. Another 10 in 1, 2 and 4 combined. It makes me uneasy.”

“Why?” I started pacing more frantically. “Why do we take the brunt of their shit, why? While we’re at it, if they can do something like The Flash and the White Zone, then why don’t they just wipe us clean?” I stopped and looked at him. “Wait, what make you uneasy?” I said.

“You’re rapid firing again.” He rolled his eyes. “Okay, let’s see if I can do this. I don’t know. See answer one again, and the fact that they’ve attacked less often the last few months.” He beamed his stupid smile.

“That was ridiculously helpful. Thanks.You’d think we-”

Suddenly someone banged on the door.

“Blackwell!” He barked. “You here?”

“Yeah. What do you want?” I asked. This is my day off, he’s not fucking it up.

“It’s yes Sir, and I want you. Out here. Now. Where’s Cruz?” He asked. Yep, he is.

Cruz lifted his finger to his mouth, trying to hush me. “Yeah, he’s here,” I said, glaring at him. “We’re coming,” He winced.

I opened the door and stormed out with Cruz sulking behind me. “This is my day off. My one, single, solitary, only, forever-spaced-out day off, why are screwing it up?”

“You know, before-” Salem started, unshakable in his stature.

“Look, I don’t care about before. Before never existed for me. What. Do. You. Want?” I leaned up against the doorway.

“Earthquakes. Four of them in the last five hours.” He said.

“I haven’t felt anything.” I said quickly, my stomach starting to sink.

“Low 3s. Nothing strong enough to feel. Wishful thinking doesn’t help Blackwell.”

“I know, but-”

“I need you and Cruz in the weapons quarters 5 minutes ago.” He walked off with no chance for reply.

“I’m going to kill every one of these damned things.” Cruz and I walked out of my quarters, and I slammed the door shut. “Price, I swear.” Adrenaline induced shaking started to take hold. “I’m going to-”

“Right.” Cruz muttered. “Because we’ve been incredibly successful so far.”

“Shut up.” Everything that had built up since Price died suddenly exploded. “Shut up. Shut up. Shut up. You’re so fucking pessimistic. If you think we’re so screwed, then why the hell don’t you just fight with them then?” His eyes went wide and I realized what I said. “Oh shit.” I gasped. “Cruz, I-”

“Fuck you, Alice.” He said. His eyes ablaze, he flipped me off, turned around, and headed toward the weapons quarters.

“Cruz…” I started after him, but I knew it was pointless.

I felt horrible. There’s nothing worse I could have said to him. The weapons quarters were calling, but I held back for a moment to create some space between the two of us.

***

There were about a hundred of us grouped on the hill. The lone tree to the north blowing in a gentle wind that gave a deceptively calm air to the building tension, so thick you could almost taste it. We were stationed on the central part of the hill between the valleys to the south and north and smooshed between the iron walls on the east, and the rock face on the west. The cloudless, sunny sky mocked our despairing situation.

“Alright!” Salem barked. “The usual drill. No screwing up this time. Wait for the Heat. When you feel it, say it. I want 10 deep in every direction. You yell out when you feel it, or so help me, I’ll dust you myself. Do you understand?” His eyes were stern and sat strongly on each face as he scanned our group.

“Yes sir!” We took our positions, creating a square that was so near perfection that the imperfections we’re glaringly, and amusingly, obvious.

I didn’t have time to take too much humor out of it though, as the Bellow sounded just after we squared up. Not only the grass, but the air itself vibrated with the deep, metallic resonance. The sound was disorienting as it’s loud, powerful tone ricocheted off the mountain cliffs, making it impossible to know where it came from. We still didn’t know what caused it, and I think that’s what made all of us squirm a little every time we hear it.

I looked over at Cruz to see how he was doing. The acid in his glare hurt, but I couldn’t blame him, and I couldn’t think about that right now. Maybe the anger would serve him well.

“Here!” I yelled as the Heat hit me in the back. I could hear the call-outs coming in a wave, as we all turned north to face our enemy. They would be here soon.

“Find cover!” Salem shouted. “We know where they are, now protect yourself. We don’t have much time. Let’s go!”

Everyone scrambled in an amazingly organized fashion. You would hope so, with as long as most of us had been doing it. In less than a minute, we were all behind cover, ready to blow the shit out of these bastards.

 

[Ivy’s note: Hey sunshines, I really want constructive criticism and feedback. I hope to make this into a full sized, printed book one day, so please let me know what you think, and thank you ahead of time for those who do.]

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