~Randomly generated challenge from Seventh Sanctum~
The story starts during a riot. The story takes place in mid-winter. During the story, a way of life comes to an end. A character will read a book.
Shards of flying glass spray like sparks from warring metals to bite at nearby flesh. I duck away before wiping the blood from my cheek and crawl under the stone ledge of a wall. Staring at the small trail of blood I left mixed in the snow, I command my eyes to close. They refuse to obey and I find myself thinking I will wake up, but a shrill screech overhead tells me I’m not dreaming. A sharp pop mixes with the strong smell of blood, just before an audible crack comes from the other side of my inadequate haven. Instinct pulls my hands to cover my head as though I could protect myself from the sound. It serves little preparation for the body that rolls over to land before me. Her eyes look through me and a squeak presses against my lips before I clamp my frozen hands over them.
Rolling clicks hiss through the air again, closer, like a thousand cicadas buzzing in my head until my brain might burst from my ears. At once it receeds and something peers at me from above the ledge. My eyes lock on the emerald orbs set into a brown, bark-like skin…a face? Somehow, amidst the chaos, time seems to slow and mid-winter’s chill warms like a sunny spring day. The wild percussion band in my chest fades to a heartbeat so normal I no longer feel it. The orbs disappear and I allow myself to see beyond the woman, to observe, as though really in a dream.
A tide of armed soldiers splashes ineffectively at intruders I once found frigtening. I cannot say what I feel now, except that my brain feels numb, like a foot that has fallen asleep before the pressure is released in an explosion of pins and needles. The invaders move on the tide of firing weapons, pouncing and gliding. Some aim for scrambling civilians, all are unaffected.
I become vaguely aware that I am now standing on the ledge I once cowered under, the world tinted in blue, as though noon turned to dusk. Shrapnel bounces off my protective bubble and I become aware of other bubbles. A man runs toward me, shouting, but I cannot hear him and stare at his mouth. I watch as my own people run into shops, passing others scrambling out with full arms. A fist enters my field of vision, turning my attention back to the man pounding against my bubble before stray gunfire smashes him to the ground.
I only watch as more bubbles sprinkle the angry sea of earth and water. It does not occur to me to do anything more. The invaders dart in and out, gliding over waves of blue uniforms and black guns. What originally seemed so random and unexpected begins to remind me of a dance and I realize that the pattern and flow increase as the invaders conquer resistance.
This is their world now. Our world. I begin to observe the bubbles. One in particular catches my eye and I watch a young girl, legs tucked under her. She ignores her surroundings as she leans against the tree behind her, a book open in her lap. Even so, I feel she is watching me as my eyes finally begin to obey the command to shut. I try to watch the girl longer but my lids become to heavy and the warmth envelopes me in sleepy darkness.
Yeah, so, if I had something, I think I lost it near the end when the character lost emotion. I went in here without any plan and let the story pretty much write itself. I began to get the sense that these invaders were “purifying” the earth of certain kinds of people and that the ones they saved had some sort of psychic abilities or maybe even more of a spiritual connection to the earth (not that they were all pagan or anything, just that they cared about the planet and didn’t feel disconnected from it). Or perhaps the survivors who were bubbled just had the potential. I also began to get the sense that the reading girl knew a lot more than the other bubbled characters. Especially since I pictured her in non-wintery clothing and something you might wear on a warm spring day. I got the sense that the invaders were not from another planet, perhaps another dimension, or perhaps they have been there all along, hiding in the forests, or sleeping, well hidden in the deepest of jungles. I don’t really know. What I do know is that, once the pov character survived the buzzing test, the “invader” did something to her mind to remove all emotion, which included fear and put a protective field around her.
I also got pretty tired near the end and figured, though perhaps cliché, ending the scene with the pov character being forced to sleep was good enough for a simple little practice.