The Reckoning

7 07 2009

Ok…time for more short fiction. This one is inspired by two writing prompts 1)”write a story about an empty glass” 2) “begin your story with ‘The noise escalated behind her'”. It is also inspired by a nightmare I had last night and my secret love of socio-political sci fi movies. 

 

The noise escalated behind her. Bellatrix stood alone in the center of the bridge, concrete pressing upward on the soles of her shoes, while the sounds of the mob swelled up to crash down over her again and again. Her brunette hair had come out of its’ tie, her brown eyes were rimmed in red and her eyebrows mashed together in a point over her broken nose. 

The Black Guard faced her, their faces hidden under polished-metal masks. Under the roar of the mob she could discern the hissing of the Guard’s atmo-filters. They wore black cloaks made entirely of crow feathers- feathers that lay preternaturally still. 

The mob pressed forward. She could feel their heat pressing against her neck, back and legs. She threw out one hand, palm facing back toward them. The metal plate embedded in her hand flashed once. Twice. The mob whimpered and retreated. 

She knelt down, keeping both eyes firmly on the black robed men who faced her. Opening her other hand she set down her offering-an empty glass. A bit of blood dripped from her nose and she pulled her hand back to wipe it away. 

A small figure pushed through the black mob. With sickening speed it leapt from yards away to huddle over the glass. When Bellatrix moved to retreat the creature hissed, pushing air out of its’ atmo’s. It tilted its’ masked face upwards, locking metal eyes with her brown ones. Another hiss and the creature stood, clutching the glass in one hand and pushing it’s mask up with the other. The face underneath was not a new sight to Bellatrix, but the mob screamed with rage and fear. 

Her hands flew up to grip her head. She held the mob back with every shred of strength she had left. If she lost control now the Black Guard would massacre every living thing outside the shield.  The metal plate in her hand burned white-hot, hotter still as the unmasked figure drew close. 

This was one of the High Guard- a sort of commander- and a perfect example of their race. The Guard used to be human, or something close, but centuries of selective breeding combined with nuclear weapons testing had created something disturbingly other.  She held her breath and turned on her personal shield. It didn’t have much power left but she couldn’t risk the radioactive exposure. 

The creature’s twisted lips cracked open, splitting its’ face from ear hole to ear hole. “Why do you fight us, she?”

Bellatrix spat. 

“You did well to bring us what we wanted.” It’s eyes flickered to the mob, to her broken nose and back to the mob. “You do better to hold them back. My Guard wait for one. false. move.” 

She was running out of air and rapidly losing blood- her broken nose was not her only wound. “You will not find us so easy.” She inhaled carefully, tasting the air and wishing she hadn’t. 

“Good. Very good.” One flashing motion snapped the mask back into place- she wasn’t the only one having trouble breathing. The small figure disappeared behind the Guard. The giant bird-cloaked beings turned with military precision and flowed back across the bridge and through their continent-wide shield. 

Bellatrix turned, the concrete sucking at her shoes now where once it hard pressed against them. She allowed the mob their freedom and let them flow around her toward the shield. They could not penetrate it and would do no harm. Their rage was the only heat left in her world- her entire body felt like ice. She idly snapped her nose back into place, reminding herself to find the man who’d broken it as she made her way to the Guard only moments ago. Stupid humans. When would they learn that they would never win this war?

Life was hell outside the shield. Dealing with demons was the only way to keep the human remnant alive. Alive in hell. She spat again. Some deal.

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