The Last Hope of Sin
Currently a work in progress.
Oupia is an Adult Science Fiction / Post-Apocalyptic work in progress.
Dive headfirst into a post-apocalyptic world where a deadly virus has segregated the population, and one remains unaffected.
Read the first chapter draft below. (Last updated: 1.04.17}
I. TWO TIMES NONE
Green once blanketed Earth, in a time before the planet became known as Sin. The colors of life have since faded, falling victim to the overbearing blacks, dominant browns and inescapable glints of red. Death swallowed and corrupted everything it touched as a thick fog. A suffocating black smoke. An unavoidable mark.
The descent continued, my body cutting through the dense atmosphere, wind whistling in my ears and through my hair. A transition from the purity of Verluth, above, into air twisted and tainted with a tinge of destruction. The grit of ash coated the tip of my tongue with each inhale. Bitterness lingered. Acidity cut like a blade. A taste so vile it questioned each breath I took. A product of the eternal fires burning at the core of the planet, polluting the once clean atmosphere. No longer could you consider the vibrant planet, with all its former glory—the Earth we all knew and loved—viable.
Death, destruction, corruption; the lines so far blurred the three have become one.
Electricity radiated off the soles of my feet, pillowing my landing when I touched down against the beaten-dirt path, kicking up a plume of dust on impact.
After a jump like that, I shouldn’t have been alive. The miles spanning between Verluth and Sin were enough of a reason, but certainly not the only one.
Once the dust settled, a tangible void took its place, as if a black hole has turned itself inside out. I chose to walk toward whatever emptiness I faced. It mattered little the direction I began my search. The stubborn landscape would remain—endless.
The pitiful sky differed from the land by only a faint shade of gray. My unwanted presence on Sin introduced a new spectrum of colors against the otherwise monochromatic backdrop. The teal pigment of my iris mocked the sky, teasing it with a semblance of the natural shade it should resemble. A silver-plated waterfall of hair cascaded down my back. Without the sun, its faint purple hues vanished, leaving its appearance white with even fainter hints of blonde.
Eventually, the dust in the air would leech the life out of all colors—even my own—desaturating them until they were the same shade as everything else. Gray and dreary. In a world where neutrals reigned, colors faded into remnants of the imagination. Yellows and greens soon became as mundane as the grays and browns. The red of blood, as bleak as black.
And as prevalent.
To those living in peaceful bliss on Verluth, the surroundings might come as a shock. To me, on the other hand, they appeared as expected, left unchanged, no different than the time before my permanent relocation to Verluth above. And it’s still a home to many. Those unable to escape. Those banished to death.
And yet I’m here—now—willingly.
My footsteps echoed through the deafening silence of a defeated planet.
I passed the carcasses of forgotten trees, lined along the perimeter of what had been a bustling street. Skeletal, with branches like broken bones, arms outstretched, searching to embrace any form of life. Against their trunks, where tattered and weathered bark should have clung in solitude, an unusual glow of velvety green and yellow broke through the rough exterior. The unusual coloring of fresh buds added a dimension of life to the otherwise decrepit figures.
Touching the trunk of one, I passed a quick surge of electricity from my fingertips and into the blooming buds. The energy forced them open, before withering them to a crisp. They fell to the base of the tree.
Nothing escaped the stifling grip of death.
If even the planet struggled with maintaining life, what hope was there for the rest of us?
"Welcome home, huh?" I grimaced, and continued toward the next tree. Each zap of electricity into the trees transferred my tracking mark into their core, allowing me to surveil its surroundings from any point on the planet—
The path took me beside the depressions of deep, empty caverns. Many littered the horizon. Each divulged an untold story, giving way to the demolition of our homes, our lives, and our sanity. Once mighty buildings now lay in ruins, destroyed by the hands of the Government, thirsty for power and control.
We willingly gave up both so easily.
My line of sight ahead appeared like a graveyard for the deceased structures, all the same muddled grey, painted with the wispy strokes of char. I glanced to my left, the crumbling bricks and stones teetering atop one another, unable to support the grand structure from whence it came. A deteriorating sign rested against the base of the boulders, failed to proclaim the buildings name, letters scratched and weathered away.
At least, the name of what it used to be, a life now long forgotten.
I walked past, offering a silent nod of acknowledgement to the symbols representing what we came from, and how far we’d fallen.
In its prime, Chicago reigned as the metropolis of the Midwest. Now, the gaping grotto where it once stood became the only remnant of the bustling city, its people scattered to the shadows. Hundreds of refugees still littered the infected planet, Sin—cleverly named after the experimental drug Sindothyn, and the cause for everything we now knew.
The Government, corrupt in nurturing a false sense of security, cared little for its infected citizens. Those fighting to stay alive knew leaving the few sheltered—and more importantly, green—areas on Sin meant suicide. Yet, there were those filled with desperation, grappling for any form of restitution, who saw it as the only option—
And took it.
A sad realization of what’s become of us. The will to live only a smolder of the mighty flame it was before. Humanity exists with only shades of what truly made us human.
The Government’s attempt at a blissful future instead beckoned terror, leaving a scar on all our souls. As a witness, I saw the world fall apart before my very eyes. Torn from the ground, Chicago had been one of the many cities chosen to join Verluth, floating in the skies above. A time when the governments of Earth’s most powerful nations banded together to initiate the L'oque Era—the separation of Earth into three new planetary levels—Verluth above, Oupia below, and Sin in between.
And the last memory the modern world shared was a beam of blinding light, ripping through the core of planet Earth.
We hadn’t even been given the hope to barter for our lives. But how could we? The alternative was to succumb to Sindothyn, a death sentence for the entirety of mankind, a death sentence, which still hung over the heads of many.
The light of the L’oque remains holding the three pieces of the planet together through their center. An unavoidable symbol. But “Earth” as a whole, as we knew it, no longer existed. And life spiraled into nothingness.
I paused. A faint humming vibration danced atop my skin, signaling an incoming call from Verluth.
I didn’t need wires, currents or a network to connect. The world of Sin hadn't possessed wireless connectivity since the L’oque. Its absence transformed Sin into a desolate land, stripped of any technological advancements made over the centuries. Within a single moment, Sin dwindled into a Stone Age state of existence. And, walking through now, it became more than evident.
I didn’t need any of it, because I was it. My one and only encounter with Sindothyn disintegrated my nervous system, leaving a scar of electricity coursing through my core in its place. I became a walking wireless port.
The humming continued, echoing through my skull like the buzz of a fly trying to escape. I answered the call, initiating communication with only the sound of my voice.
"Kishon, this better be important," I said, speaking as if she were standing beside me, but her voice resonated clear through my thoughts.
"Rome? You’re alive?” Her excitement, though shock was more likely, disappeared quick enough. “Count yourself lucky. It’s only a matter of time before you get yourself killed. I don’t want to tell a corpse ‘I told you so.’" The condescension in her voice reminded me of a mother yelling at her daughter, despite my seniority and rank in comparison.
I rolled my eyes. She knew I would answer the call, and attempted to scold me further—
"You realize I can hang up on you without a second thought," I snapped.
"And why’s that?"
The tree line I had been following soon ended, but my movement pressed onward.
"You know you're going to need my help."
Again, my eyes danced circles.
"With what?" I questioned with a harshness in my voice. Not only had Kishon warned me, but the almighty and protective Government constantly advised their people to stay on Verluth, and made sure of the lethal consequences for those who disobeyed, or even attempted rebellion. They needn’t try hard. In comparison, even the most pitiful, minuscule of lives on Verluth were still better than those on Sin.
And then there were the “lucky” ones. The Government took it upon themselves to segregate the infected from the "clean"—those without the mark of Sindothyn—sending drones across the emptiness of Sin to transport those who fell under the latter to Verluth, the Eden of the three new planet levels. But there never were any. The Government knew it, too, but some things had to be done to keep up with appearances.
Anyone left on Sin they labeled tainted. Dangerous.
Outcast like lepers. Left to rot away and die.
And Oupia? Uninhabitable. A frostbitten, frozen and gluttonous landscape that devoured the remnants of former planet Earth. It consumed the land to form the largest wasteland of the three levels, and yet, no life could survive on its surface.
Kishon continued, "They know you're on Sin—"
“And they would keep me here if they had any say in it. So why are you wasting time telling me this?”
The unexpected clatter of moving debris sounded from up ahead. Though likely caused by a force of nature, the rising hairs on my arm revealed a different story.
Before her response, I cut in. “Shit. Kishon, I’ve got to go.” The call went silent without a second thought, not allowing Kishon a rebuttal.
My blade slid down the back of my arm, and into my palm.
Any advantage to fighting with guns disappeared once the Government began tracing them. They were better left for the cowards, anyway. By nature, a blade was quick, silent and—best of all—conducted electricity. My blades measured nine inches long from hilt to tip. I kept them close; one shielded beneath my left forearm for easy access, and another folded on itself like a switchblade and fastened to the inside of my boot.
Buzzing resumed through my skull as Kishon attempted to reconnect. It went dead when I cut off the only wireless link between the two worlds.
I closed my eyes, and allowed temporary blackness to infringe on my consciousness. All sounds appeared clearer in the darkness, as if a sixth sense unveiled itself in my blindness. I bent to my knees and placed my fingertips against the ground. A vibration reached toward me from ahead, spiking the nerves in my fingertips. The scuffling of one, maybe two individuals further on my path. Their soles chafed at the dirt with heavy steps. Wind whipped past my ears, and the faint whistling of air broke against their bodies.
A confirmation: there were two.
I reached for my second blade.
Resuming my stance, I flattened my body against a nearby wall of one of surrounding shells of a building. I held my blades crossed over my chest and inched towards the two bodies, closer and closer. Animal or man, I knew to prepare for the worst, prepare for bloodshed.
Moving toward them, my footsteps danced through the dirt in a silent and quick rhythm. Their scrambling voices amplified in my pursuit, further exposing the two as human. The shadows off the ruins offered a veil of stealth for me to move through. Had the two been more alert, my ambush would have been met with their weapons.
“Don’t move,” I warned, blades visible and ready. “Show me.”
Their muscles refused to twitch with life.
I persuaded them further, ”Get up, arms where I can see them, and show me. Now.” My blades inched closer to their skin.
Their hands rose above their heads, one of the two rose to their feet. The first pulled down the sleeve of their tattered shirt and revealed their branding, healed over and scarred into a deep bruise black. It wrapped like a cuff around his bicep. The other lifted the side of his shirt to expose his torso. Another branding appeared. Dark. Permanent. Almost complete, just like his counterpart’s.
I sheathed my threatening blades and secured them back in their respective holsters.
“It’s only a matter of time,” I concluded, walking past the two.
They were marked by Sindothyn. The tattooing on their bodies revealed infection, appearing first as a small marking the moment the drug hit their bloodstream, just as it did everyone else infected by Sindothyn. It also functioned as a sort of countdown. As the pattern grew larger, less time remained. Everyone was at the mercy of time before they became monsters, masked within a frame of humanity, to conquer Sin and any of its remaining inhabitants.
“You—you’re marked too,” one of the voices yelled out.
Audacity would only carry him so far.
“And your point?” I questioned in return, pulling down my sleeve in an attempt to hide my own, intricate branding. The ticking of a clock I couldn’t avoid.
I kept my distance and turned back toward them.
“That means you know what’s going to happen to us, is–is going to happen to you!”
“Then please! Help us!”
My gaze fell to the two weapons laying beside them, hidden in a blanket of dust from disuse. Even the dust on Sin consumed as a beast might.
“Help yourself.” I gestured to their own weapons.
“There has to be a way,” the man who had been silent broke through, pleading tones accenting his request. The help he searched for could only be brought by death.
They knew it.
I knew it.
Everyone knew it.
I wouldn’t give them the benefit of my blades. Not today. I turned away. “If there is, figure it out yourself. Then, why don’t you get back to me.” It wasn’t a question, because there was no answer. And if there were, they wouldn’t be alive long enough to find it.
I let their silhouettes disappear into the distant backdrop as my steps carried me forward.
It wasn’t worth my time, or their blood. There was no cure. Only the prospect of death could disguise the inevitable final stage of Sindothyn. For them, it would become a constant struggle, a battle: end their lives with their human consciousness intact, or forfeit their humanity, grasping onto threads of life until the final moment, only to return as a monster.
From behind me, the whirl of bullets cut through the air. Life escaped the two in a final gasp and shriek. An easy escape.
One more death. One less monster.
But, sometimes it was the only option any of us had.
No one wanted to live in the Sindothyn-tainted world Earth had become. Most weren’t even given a choice. They became an accessory to their surroundings, just another body hidden beneath the shadows of the animals. And their shadows cast long and far.
Sindothyn caused the animals to mutate, becoming monstrous beasts who appeared as skyscrapers silhouetted against the horizon, scraps of foliage growing over their hides. As with the humans left to live—or really, to die—on Sin, survival of the fittest never played a more crucial role.
The humans die off. Animals reign. Some circle of life we were given.
Observed from a distance, men and women, or shells of their former selves, interspersed with the giant beasts of Sin. Souls, once ripe with feelings and flesh, now decayed into unrecognizable monsters, indiscernible from the creatures with whom they shared their habitat.
Time: an enemy worse than the elements, weapons, and even the Government.
I pushed forward into the dreary desolation, the land showing no hints of Earth’s former glory. There wasn’t a semblance of the beauty that existed before. Not in the ray of sunlight, or the trickle of a unpolluted stream.
A phone call, singled by the faint glow and vibrating pulse of my Sindothyn-branded skin, pressed pause on my steps. Kishon’s call was unavoidable as soon as I reopened the wireless link.
“Yes?” I answered, exhaustion in my breath. Not from my journey, but in preparation for dealing with my interruption.
“You’ve some unwelcome company coming your way.”
“You mean, besides your call?”
She took my sarcasm as intended. “It looks like they may have sent an—”
We often spoke about the Government without the use of formal nouns or introductions. They deserved none. “Kish, I’m fine. They won’t find me. And even if they do—” I interjected.
“—assassin,” she finished.
“Need I remind you, I am an assassin?”
She sighed. “Were. You were an assassin, and you haven’t been one for a very long time.”
I stopped in front of a decomposing tree trunk and leaned my back to its bark.
“Thanks for the vote of confidence. You locked A.V.S. in on my location, right? You’ll know where I am, and whether or not I’m a lifeless pile of flesh.” The corners of my mouth pulled upwards into a smirk. I knew Kishon wouldn’t find my metaphor humorous. “Problem solved.”
I bent my knee, propping it up against the tree.
“Problem not solved—“
“Well, well, well. If it isn’t Miss Malin Rome,” voice called from behind, filled with depth, confidence.
“—Rome, who was that?”
“Sorry, Kish. Gotta go,” I said in a quiet exhale.
“Don’t close the link!” she begged. “If this is the assassin, you’ll be needing me.”
With leg still elevated, I reached for my ankle blade.
“I’m not going to hurt you.” The individual responded to my motion.
“I can’t promise you the same.” I turned and lunged towards them.
A confident-looking man materialized behind a weapon raised to block my blade. Steel clanked on steel when our daggers locked against one another. He may have avoided my initial attack, but electricity would be impossible to dodge.
I had to make no outright gesture. A silent, electrical current flowed through my fingertips and into our weapons. The influx of energy launched him. Sparks of static fireflies twinkled through the air, and then disappeared. He fell to the ground with a thud and a cloud of dust and smoke. The man’s body twitched and spasmed in pain, the electricity snaking through his veins and limbs. I moved closer, hovering above in victory and dominance.
“Who are you, assassin?” I questioned, presenting my blade out in front of me should he dare make any sudden movements. Any movements. But he laid motionless longer than I expected.
“My . . . ” The single syllable shook out. “My name’s Mick.” He huffed to catch his breath. “And . . . and you’ve been looking for me.” Coughs erupted from his throat. He tried to prop himself up on his elbows, arms wobbly as the left over electricity leaving his body.
I couldn’t tell if his words carried an accent—maybe British or Irish, if the purity of those bloodlines even existed anymore—or if those were the unintended effects my attack had on his vocal cords.
“Mick?” The keys of Kishon’s computer rattled through her headset and into the back of my mind. “Who the fuck is Mick?”
“My thoughts exactly.”
“What?” he responded, as I responded to Kishon.
I turned my attention back to him. “Mick? Mick what?” I readied my hand behind my back to accept my second blade.
“I’m checking the Government assassin database.” The speed of her typing picked up, fingers hammering into each letter, something that always happened when Kishon shifted gears and focus.
“Yeah, Mick. You know, Mick your fiancé,” he answered.
The clicking on Kishon’s end silenced. If there’s one thing Kishon knew, it was when to keep quiet.
“What the hell are you talking about?” My left hand now no longer empty, blade in tow.
“You wouldn’t remember. That’s just like you.”
“I’d get your facts straight if I were you. I’ve never been engaged!” I yelled, my once calm disposition broken with little effort.
“And I wasn’t engaged to the woman you’ve become, but trust me darling, our pasts are intertwined in more ways one.” No. There was no accent, just arrogance.
I spun my body around, circling my foot through the dust. Before I could think of a response, my footsteps carried me away from him. If this man—Mick—if Mick wasn’t the assassin after me, then this situation, and his fabrication, weren’t worth my time. My purpose on Sin was bigger than the delusional man behind me.
“You need to stop running, Rome,” he yelled after me. “That’s all you’ve ever done!”
“Shut up.” A juvenile but worthy response in my eyes.
“Don’t think I won’t follow you.”
“Then I’ll kill you!”
“I won’t make it that easy.” By the shuffling in the dirt, I assumed he was back on his feet and following my trail.
But things would change in the dark. The gray surroundings grew ever more bleak as night approached. If he wouldn’t stop following voluntarily, I would make him one way or another.
“Look, believe me or not, we have to go.”
“I’m not going anywhere with you.”
“Then go to protect yourself. I’m sure you already know the Gov—“
“And, I don’t need your warnings.”
His footsteps stopped. About time.
“You can’t keep running!”
I quickened my pace, increasing the distance between us.
“I’m not running,” I whispered, disappearing in the darkness.
A stifling moisture rolled in around us like a wave, clinging to every visible surface. Gaseous. It was easy to sense rain. A single drop would cut through the thick atmosphere, putting the ash to rest. I caught the first tear fall from the sky, tilting my chin up as the glimmer of survival tumbled towards me—a trapped sense of hope. Trapped, like every person who remained on this godforsaken planet. The moisture slid along the contour of my face before landing on the dusty ground.
“Rain. Do you believe it now?” Mick yelled, trailing a few yards behind. He hadn’t stopped following after all.
“No,” I quipped over my shoulder.
“You deny fate?”
“I’m denying your ridiculous accusations!” I screamed.
Myths and superstitions were meant for the hopeless searching for hope. The idea that rain and fate went hand-in-hand seemed the works of childhood dreams. Fate . . . there was no such thing.
And, if there were? A lousy job it had been doing.
As the rhythm of falling moisture increased, I could barely differentiate between the pitter-patter of a crying sky and Mick's footsteps as an echo to my own. Rain was the only worthy opponent against the dust, quickly settling it with a layer of moisture. My hair and clothing followed suit; soaked and plastered, clinging to my body like a weight hanging off me.
I could sense the dense level of static electricity in the air as it danced across my fingertips before disappearing back into the atmosphere. My connection with Verluth fizzed and popped before disappearing into silence, along with the pulsing light fading from my brand.
This wasn’t just rain, this was a thunderstorm.
Beast and man alike hid from the dangers brought from a thunderstorm on Sin. The roar and crashing in the distance was evidence enough of the destruction already taking place. After illuminating the sky, lightning shattered the ground, allowing its victims a final glimpse before death consumed them whole.
A second crack of thunder rumbled through the distant hills. Lightning made us truly realize how dark our surroundings were. And it further accentuated Sin’s blood-soaked landscape.
If Mick had a shred of survival instinct—and I imagined he must if he were the assassin—he’d soon seek shelter. It would be foolish for him to assume I needed the same protection. Lightning to the electrically inclined? Pure energy; an immunity. I needed it, and could use it to complete my mission.
“If you’re not the assassin, then why are you here?”
“Why am I here? Why are you here?” Mick answered, voice trembling with feared respect for Mother Nature and her powers. “You’re the guest!”
The rain grew heavier, denser, our words succumbing to the crashing storm overhead.
“Sin was my home, just as it was yours. Answer my question!”
“No, no, darling. Sin wasn’t my home; Sin is my home!”
“Then you know this fate you speak of has already been set!”
In the drumming of the rain, his booming laugh mimicked the rolling thunder clashing around us.
“What about death is so funny to you?” I yelled.
“The fact that you’d associate the two together is what humors me,” he returned. He walked past me, heading towards one of the many abandoned buildings surrounding us. Their four crumbling walls would offer little protection now.
Better than nothing, I suppose.
Instead of following, as I’m sure he expected I would, I trekked forward on the flooding path. By now, I doubted he could see me. The rain fell heavy all around us, shielding the few inches in front of my face with a sheet of water.
“Where are you going?” he yelled from the remnants of a doorway.
Foolish assumption, indeed.
“Here’s to your fate, Mick!”
Lightning flashed, preparing to pounce on its next victim. Me. An isolated target in the vast nothingness of Sin. I waited, hungry for the energy that would refuel the battery within my core. Another thunderous roar cued the countdown. It was close.
Four . . .
Three . . .
Two . . .
One . . .
“I make my own fate, Rome. You should know that by now.”
I hadn't heard nor seen Mick venture to my side, and before I had, it was too late.
“Watch out!” I screamed, as a stark beam of light cut through the black sky. Down toward Sin. Fixed on a new target.
The sky lit purple, twisted within treads of white.
The rain continued to fall, masking the sound my body as it fell to the ground in a single thud. Electricity jumped through me, sending spasms through me. Webs of power wove through every muscle, every tendon. Energy surged through every vein. The sheer magnitude caused my limbs to revolt, laying limp at my sides. Petrified. Blood originated from my scalp and dripped across my temple in serpentine fashion, down the curve of my face. The feelings of power, of pleasure, ran parallel to those echoing pain through my core.
Electricity invigorated my body. I wanted, no, I needed more. Needed it to survive. But, a counter to my newfound power, while the energy filled me with life, it also sucked it from my mind. A mental exhaustion.
I sat up, unable to focus until the ringing in my skull ceased. Out of breath, my inhales unable to catch up with my exhales.
“Why did you do that?” Mick questioned at the sight of movement. His words added to the ripples of ringing.
His form of three congealed into one who actually existed once my vision returned to normal. He remained away from me, and I understood why. The fizz and crackle of electricity radiated off my body, a weak, but protective barrier to keep me safe, and others away. By the looks of his charred fingertips, he had gotten too close, too soon, and experienced the repercussions.
I surveyed my surroundings, having to catch my breath before my vocal cords would cooperate with my thoughts. I shook my head, but the feeling intensified. In addition to my own injuries, the visible wounds from the storm forever altered the land around us. The smoky, charcoal sky hung as a useless canopy across the planet. So easily could a storm conquer the vast atmosphere and reign as a stubborn and greedy king would.
“And–and, how are you still alive?” The concern in his voice cut through the now quieting rain.
A reasonable question, though his first made more sense to ask, because ever since consciousness returned to me, that’s the only question I could ask myself. Why did I do that? If I hadn’t absorbed the lightning’s strike, Mick would have been the target, and a pile of ash would would have been all that remained of him. Instead, my body welcomed the electricity—yearned for more.
But why? Why did I save him?
It had to be what he said just before, about him living on Sin. An assassin wouldn’t think to say something like that . . . unless . . . unless what Kishon said was right, and an assassin’s training had improved since my departure. And if he were telling the truth, if he really did live on Sin, that would bring up a whole slew of different questions, but less jealousy.
“Well?” he prodded.
Instead of responding, I held my hands forward requesting his aid to stand. Hesitant as he was, he approached with both hands forward. “Your branding,” he noted, helping me to my feet. “I’ve never seen one like it before.”
I pulled my hand away, covering the detestable mark with my sleeve. The light within my branding hadn’t returned, meaning I’d still be cut off from Kishon for a little while longer.
“And where’s yours?” I directed in my most ‘I showed you mine, now you show me yours’ voice.
“You’re welcome to search for yourself.” He held his arms out and turned 360 degrees as if propped up on a diner dessert display shelf. “But you won’t find it.” A smirk appeared on his lips when he returned to face me.
“So it showed up somewhere indecent. Lucky you. Thanks, but I’ll pass.” I turned my face from him and set my sights ahead. Who knew what lurked in the darkness? There was only one way to find out.
“No. It didn’t show up anywhere. I don’t have one.”
Shifting my weight to my heels I spun back toward him. Now he had my full attention. “There are only two options. Either you’re an assassin—like I believe you to be—and were infected by our dear ol’ Government; or you’re as you claim, ‘living on Sin’ which proves your infection. So where’d your brand materialize?”
“Tell me, what else was I supposed to assume?”
"How about everything I've told you, and not what I haven't."
I laughed. "Well, forgive me for not falling into your arms after hearing of our engagement—"
"Broken," Mick corrected. "Broken engagement."
"Quaint," I concluded. “Show your branding or don’t, but if you follow me I promise you the lightning won't be as kind." I started again on my journey through Sin. Although the landscape still held its colorless characteristics, it was as if the storm had swept us up in its mighty arms and dropped us in a new location. Everything had changed.
Our footsteps synchronized as he followed—expected, regardless of my warning.
"You make the mistake of thinking another storm is to follow," he said, countering against my threat. His head craned toward the sky. Though it held onto a dark haze, it was empty of clouds and covering. The twinkling lights, not of stars, but of distant Verluth civilization, appeared far above. But, for now, the storm had passed through, left to attend to another unexpected platform of decaying Sin landscape.
Turning towards him, I stopped. "And you make the mistake of trusting your fiancé."
My eyelids fell closed, shielding the colorful pigment and bringing me further into darkness, but a darkness I knew not to fear. A forceful booming filled the emptiness between us, mimicking the thunder of the previous storm.
“What are you—woah—!” he exclaimed.
Upon opening my eyes, a beam of electricity appeared, reflecting off both our pupils. A continual tubular stream of white and blue energy appeared between him and I, pummeling back into Sin and towering towards the sky. It posed no threat, as I had generated it, and now cradled it safely with the battery my body had become.
Pushed by the force the lightning had created upon impact with Sin, Mick stumbled backwards, but I moved forward, closer. He watched as my arm traveled submissively through the energy, unharmed when pulled away.
There was an easy way to keep him from following. I could trap him in the same electrical shield my body created when I lost consciousness. But, just as I had saved him before, something stopped me from keeping him away, now. What if his claims were true? Or worse: why couldn’t I remember if they were fact versus fiction?
The darkness swallowed our bodies whole as we continued forward.
This time, side-by-side.
© A.M. Ruggirello // All Rights Reserved.