Young Adult Science Fiction posted May 14, 2019


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They came in the darkness

When The Day Turned Night

by Violet Brady


The early mornings I wake up to are always dark, especially in the winter months, so when I hear Hamlet's hooves pattering down the tiled hallway and crack my eyes open, it's not a surprise to see that it is pitch black. After feeling around for my lamp switch, the room is bathed in light, so I pull the several blankets off my tired body, and immediately begin to shiver, wanting nothing more than to crawl back into my bed where it was warm. Instead I throw my legs over the side of the mattress and stand up. The first thing I notice is the cold. The tiles of my bedroom are freezing so I immediately shove my feet into a pair of pink fluffy slippers and shuffle over to the door, opening it to let Hamlet in. The large pig bursts into the room excitedly, before losing his balance and sliding along the tiles, ending up lying at the foot of my bed only to scramble back up and run towards me once more. I laugh as he barrels into me, catching myself from falling. "Come on Hamlet, I still need to do the laundry from yesterday." By the time I reach the laundry room I've got my robe but still am shivering.

After standing next to the washing machine for a while, I begin to notice that even though I've been out of bed for at least half an hour, I have yet to see the sun or any form of natural light outside. Looking out the laundry room window I frown. Where is the light? The only reason I can see at all is because of my neighbour's porch light and even that doesn't seem to be doing much. In fact my neighbours in their backyard are just shadows. I squint at the shadows, confused. What are my neighbours doing up? A beep makes me startle and jump before I let out a heavy breath. The washing is done.

After collecting the laundry from the machine, I stroll through my dark house turning on lights as I pass them, towards the back door with Hamlet. The metal washing basket on my hip becomes uncomfortably cold so I shift it slightly, but it seems to become colder and colder as I come closer to the back door. Soon my teeth are chattering but Hamlet doesn't seem to mind. After switching the back porch light on I yank a warm jacket from the coat rack beside the door and step outside. The cold tears into my clothes like they aren't there and my fingertips immediately turn numb. I practically trip down the porch steps, nearly dropping the entire basket and pull my coat around my body tightly. When I feel something crunch beneath my feet, I look down and realise that the entire yard is covered in frost. Walking warily to the clothesline, my backyard only being illuminated by my porch light, the back of my neck tingles as if someone is watching me. Spinning around, my heart nearly stops as I hear a rustle and the mist from my breath begins to appear faster, my heart now thumping in my chest. Deciding to hang out the washing later, I begin to hurry back to my porch but before I can go any further, a massive crack echoes in the air and I instinctively duck, falling onto the grass and covering my ringing ears. I blink heavily and unable to hear a thing and only thinking of the possible danger the explosion came from, start crawling with my bare hands on the frost covered grass to my porch, abandoning my washing basket now on the wet grass. Is this a terrorist attack? I need to get to Casie. By the time I reach the steps, my hands are red and raw, my pants wet from the grass and my hearing just starting to return. Hauling myself up onto the porch is difficult since my limbs are numb and once I do I curled into a ball and shiver. All I can think of is the cold. After a while I close my eyes once they start to hurt, but the insides of my lids light up suddenly and I hear muffled screams. I immediately scramble to my knees and look out only to regret it at once.

"Oh my god." My croaking voice shakes and I feel myself become paralysed in terror.

My backyard looks out onto my neighbour's beautiful two story brick house. Which I just saw crumble to the ground. A second later my eyebrows feel as if they are seared off as the rubble explodes in a flash of heat and light. Another explosion. Hauling myself to my shaky feet I stumble into my house and head straight to my front door. "I have to get out of here. Wait, no I have to get Casie." My mutterings are cut off as my body is thrown back as the door is blown off its hinges. For a moment I stay on the floor in shock before my voice croaks out a panicked, "Casie."

I try to ignore the pain coursing through my entire body, push myself to my knees then use the wall as support to bring myself to my feet. Leaning against the wall and clutching my throbbing temple, I stumble down the hall and pull the first door on the left open. My body veers back and I nearly collapse at what I see. "Casie!" I mean to yell into the entirely collapsed room but it came out as an agonised croak. "Oh my god Casie!" I run over to the small body on its stomach I see in the corner and halfway there my legs crumple beneath me. Crawling over to her I shake her roughly but she doesn't move, "Casie!" My plea for her to wake up doesn't work so I turn her over and recoil in horror as I see that her entire face has been caved in - her bleeding eyes staring right into mine. My scream sounds hoarse and strangled as I fall backwards and I realise shocked tears are escaping my eyes. My throat is still trying to scream when someone enters the room but I'm in too much agony to realise, so when I'm pulled back by a pair of arms I attempt to struggle back to my Casie. "Noooo." A agonised moan escapes my mouth, "Casie."

The person holding me back is trying to quieten me, "Shut up! You're going to get us killed by those things!"

The last thing I see before something hard hits my head is the body of my dead fourteen year old daughter.

***

People say they attacked when it was dark. Not at night - but when it was dark. Now there is a difference. Because the day I lost my daughter and my old life was the day the sun never came up.

"Melanie Jonas."

My cloudy thoughts are interrupted by my name being called and I approach the woman with the list.

"I'm her." I tell the woman when I reach her. The industrial lights cutting through the darkness and lighting up the woman's work makes my eyes sting but at least we can all see. We are already terrified of the things that did this and we still have light. What on earth would happen if there wasn't? What would happen if we were all suddenly engulfed by the inky blackness of the night that never ends? Our lives are hanging on by a thread and once those lights turn off, that thread will snap.

"Melanie?"

"Yes."

The woman looks behind me as if searching for a second person but before she can ask about her I cut in, "She's dead." My voice wobbles slightly but I'm getting better at telling people. I break down once they leave - there is only so much devastation one camp can take.

"Your daughter Casie?"

I hold back the waterfall of tears about to wash down my face and grit my teeth, "Gone." All gone.

She nods and marks something down, "Richard Jones."

And with that, I'm officially alive after the attack and my daughter is officially dead in a camp for those lucky - or unlucky - enough to survive. It's dirty and the pain in the air is palpable but the worst thing by far is the cold. There is no heat in the air, no rays of sun on anyone's faces because the sun is gone. And no one knows if it is coming back. The cold eats away at your bones like acid and it never gets better. It gets so bad that sometimes I want to be in the mass grave next to the camp and wish I went with Casie. After they came and slaughtered most of my town, the only survivors being those who hid, the military showed up and took us here. I don't know where 'here' is, or what did this, just that somehow I am going to achieve my revenge or die trying. The ones who saw them say they weren't anything like they've seen before. Say they weren't human. Say they came to take our planet.

I believe them.

I wander back to my tent, breezing past people like the shell of a person I once was but stop in suddenly once I notice what's in front of it.

"Emilie?" I choke up. My neighbour has been by my side since I moved and when I didn't see her in the chaos of the rescue I assumed she was dead.

My eyes travel down to her feet though and my breath leaves me.

"Some scouters found him at your house. Wanted to bring him back as food but saw a tag on him and realised he was a pet- how did you get a pet pig again Melanie?"

"Hamlet." I sob.

I fall to my knees as he runs over to me and I embrace him as awkwardly as hugging a pig is. I don't care that he's covered in dirt and grime because at least Hamlet is alive. At least someone is alive.

***

That night I bolt upright once more, heaving in trembling gasps, tears staining my cheeks and sweat pooling on my forehead. It's always her. Her caved-in face in my nightmares. I choke out a sob and look over at Hamlet to see he is staring right at me as if to say, "It's okay. I'm here."

I lay back down on my sleeping bag, a rock jamming uncomfortably into my left shoulder blade and cover my face with my hands. "What do I do now Hamlet? What do we all do?"

Hamlet just snorts.

Taking in a deep breath, I clamber to my feet and quickly put on some charred running shoes that I found in one of the buckets the scouters come back with after they look through the ruins. If I don't put shoes on, I'll most likely get frostbite so even though I don't know if these shoes came from a dead body I have to wear them. Shaking that thought from my head, I quietly stick my head out of the tent and look around, my teeth already chattering. No one. I check my foggy watch which is one of the few things I now own and squint to see that it is 1:52 in the morning. It's pitch black but it could be midday and we wouldn't even know if we didn't have clocks.

With a torch in hand, my feet take me to where I want to be, Hamlet following close behind. Through the city of tents lit up by industrial lights, past the first mass grave, then the second and into the surrounding woods, I finally find myself in front of a large flat stone with crooked letters carved into it.

Kneeling in front of it I feel warm tears turn cold on my face as they leave my eyes, "I'm sorry Casie." A sob escapes the confines of my chest. Her body is in one of the mass graves I walked past, but I like to think that her spirit resides in this stone, content and without the pain I feel. Hamlet's nose nudges the pebbles surrounding the stone so I quickly adjust them so they're perfectly back in place.

With a sigh, my shivering body stands up and I take one last look at the stone, with only one thought in mind.

Avenging my daughter.


Every Story Has A Beginning contest entry


My scenario was: The day the sun never came up, I was busy doing the laundry. It took a while for me to notice as I went about my usual early morning chores, but as the morning drew on, it became obvious that all was not as it should be.

I had to include: a fourteen-year-old girl, a pig and a gravestone.
Pays one point and 2 member cents.


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