Shadowfall

It's the year 2013 and Mother Nature has decided that she is tired of the humans mistreating her Earth. She takes all the polution and bad energy and throws it back at the humans. Some humans are not able to take the energy and they die. Some become... different. They change into something else. Some gain powers. Some become dark. Many people take out on their own, but other survivors ban together. A small group of survivors ban together in an attempt to fix the Earth. Can they fix this Hell they have been brought into...?

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19. Chapter Eighteen: Darkness Unseen

 

I woke up early that morning, leaning against something soft. I glanced up to find Duo’s shoulder. I blushed and pulled away gasping. I was standing up now, staring at Duo. “Woops.” Riley sat up suddenly squealing as she rubbed her hair off her face with a flailing hand. She calmed down quickly, looking slightly embarrassed. I grabbed food and water from my bag and went to sit by the fire. My cheeks were still hot as I waved Riley over.

                She stood and wiped her pants before strolling toward me. “Looks like you got bad sunburn!” She said pointing to my cheeks. I felt them get hotter. “Weird sunburn. It just got worse!”

                I laughed shakily and calmed down, feeling the blush fade. “It wasn’t sunburn,” I said holding out a water bottle for her.

                She took the water bottle and began to gulp it down. She stared at me for a second. “Some epic sunburn you got there.”

                I opened canned fruit with my claws and handed it to her with a spoon. “It was more like blush than sunburn.”

                “Well, something must have happened, because I swear, you turned into a balloon!”

                “Funny, I guess.” I said before drinking some water. I hoped she didn’t notice the braid wasn’t there anymore. I was thankful when she looked up toward the darkened sky. I played with a strand of hair, glancing toward Duo. He looked so peaceful when he slept. I blushed looking away. “So, you got a thing for him?” She asked not looking away from the sky.

                “What? N-No!” I said blushing more.

                Riley rolled her eyes and gave me a coy smile. “No one can blush on command. And he is the only guy here right now.”

                I gripped my cross, glancing down. “… Maybe I was thinking about Vaann or Zack.” When wasn’t I thinking about Vaann? “You don’t know.”

                “You were looking at him, Squirt.” She pointed out.

                “Squirt?”

                “Yup! Everyone who thinks down on themselves even though they are not bad looking is categorized as a Squirt in my book. Become optimistic and you’re out of the book.” Riley said with a nod.

                “Oh,” I said completely lost. I blinked. “You’re smart for a twelve year old.”

                “I take that as a thanks?” She giggled as she poked my nose.

                “Haha, yeah thanks.” I smiled at her and drank more water.

                “No problem,” she said crossing her legs. “So, how did you come to that village?”

                “I started off in a village just East of where I found you guys. I was alone.” I sighed remembering the abandoned village. “You?”

                “Well, since the first day of this rottenness, I was with my friend. “Riley started. I sat back, ready for her story. I could tell this would be long. “He took me in after my family was destroyed by the Army. He kept me from harm’s way and basically took care of me like a baby sister. We kept moving in one direction when I got my mutation. After that, he wouldn’t really talk to me anymore. He called me… an alien…” She started to tear up. “That I should have never been born, but I pointed out that this was done to me because of Mother Nature.

                “It had nothing to do with me.” I felt guilty as I watched her with all this sadness. I had never seen this Riley before. And it hurt to know she suffered. Suffered internally. I felt like this was my fault. Like maybe I could have done something to prevent all this. “We kept on walking until one day he told me he couldn’t stand me anymore. So, he left and went somewhere that I don’t know. I was all on my own. But I know he went to the Mother. He had been planning something. After that, I was in a daze, walking until I found the village where everyone was. I was found and taken in again.”

                I was silent for a minute before I actually spoke. “You aren’t an alien. You’re Riley. You’re one of a kind.” I said with a smile. “If that makes you an alien, then I guess I am too. I won’t leave you like that. None of us will.” I promised her.

                “Thanks!” She said grinning big as she turned back into her usual self. “That’s why I love you guys the most! If my brother was alive, he would have done something about this. I’m sure of it.” She said confidently.

                “I’m sure he would have done everything he could have.” I said patting her hand.

                She gave a happy nod. “And by the looks of it, you might’ve liked him.”

                “Why’s that?” I asked tilting my head to the side. “Liked in what sense?” I hope she didn’t mean like like him. I was already confused with two guys. Three would have driven me off the wall.

                “I’m not sure,” she said laughing uneasily. “But, he’s gone now…”

                I frowned opening my arms for a hug. “I’m sorry.”

                She leaned forward into my arms and cuddled into me. “It’s okay.”

                “I don’t know how that feels,” I said rubbing her arm. “I haven’t lost anyone. But I’m worried about losing any of you.” I looked over Riley’s head to check the others before leaning my cheek against her head. “You guys are my family now.”

                “Everyone is my family. To make up for my real family.” Riley said quietly.

                “I love you guys. If the Mother hurts you, I swear…” I started shaking slightly as my vision went red in anger. Even the thought sent my pulse sky high.

                Riley pulled back suddenly, smiling at me. “Oh, I know! Instead of blowing a gasket, you should blow a bubble!”

                I calmed down and my vision slowly went back to normal, but my fists were still clenched. “I don’t think we have those.”

                “All you need is soap and water. Then mix them together and… ta da!” Riley threw her hands up with a giggle.

                “I don’t think we have soap with us, unless someone is holding out.” God what I wouldn’t give for a hot shower.

                Riley crossed her fingers and closed her eyes. “Hopefully someone is holding out! That would be nice. To finally have bubbles!” She opened her eyes to smile at me. “We could have a bubble party!”

                I lie back in the dirt staring up at the sky. “When this is over, I’m going to live in my shower!”

                Riley giggled. “I would like to live in Fluffy Land if I had the choice.”

                “Fluffy Land?” I questioned.

                “Yup! A land full of grass and so on.”

                “Sounds fun,” I said with a laugh. I stared back up at the red sky. “I wonder what’s going to happen when this is all over.”

                “Kane, when you look around, do you see dull grayness or bright life?”

                I gestured around us. “I see this. I may have gained my memory back but I was sheltered. I still can’t remember what the world was like before.”

                Riley looked away, then back to my face. “For some reason, I see blue skies, green trees, grass, clouds and animals.”

                “Well, you’re Riley.” I said as if that explained everything. “You have a wild imagination. I’d rather see that than this.”

                “It happens a lot,” she whispered. “I see the real world, but this too. It’s like a veil…”

                “You make illusions, right? Maybe your mind is creating an illusion only you can see, because you want to see it again.” I offered.

                “But, I see it in my sleep too. And I can feel the animals on me.”

                “Hmm...” That’s weird.

                She had a happy expression for a second. “It’s like… I can feel their souls.”

                “Huh, that’s weird.” I muttered.

                She stared around the camp. “You should see this; it’s full of color and peace. Hey! If we get Lyllina to see what I see and feel and pass it to you, wouldn’t that be great?”

                “Yeah, I guess it would be. I can’t wait till this is over. I hope Zack is right about purifying the Mother.”

                “Me too. Without her, this place would wither.” I thought back on my training as I stared down at my hands as they glowed a light green. This wouldn’t wither as long as Anisa or I were alive.

                “Without her, things would be better.” I muttered. “But we would need someone to take over her spot. Usually within bloodline, but it doesn’t have to be.”

                “But who would know how to do her job? That solution would be deemed close to impossible.” Riley said tapping her chin in thought.

                I slowly raised my hand into the air, not really wanting to admit my near fate. “Just call me impossible!” I said awkwardly. “She didn’t raise me for nothing. When the time comes, she expects me or my sister to take her place. But, if anything, I could be a helper to the new Mother Nature. To help in training on what to do. It’s not as easy as it might seem.”

                Riley looked a bit surprised, but composed herself quickly. “It’s hard to learn Her ways, Kane. Don’t push yourself.”

                “I guess you could say we are heirs to the throne, even though I don’t really want to be.” I sighed dramatically. “But I being the new Mother would be better than Anisa. We would have to repeat this. Actually, anyone would be better than Anisa.”

                Riley smirked at me. “Yup, because Anisa cannot be compared to you!”

                “I would hope so. I hate her.” I scoffed as I sat up brushing my hair out of my eyes.

                “Well, anyone isn’t better than you because you’re more epic and pretty than anyone!”

                “Epic? Maybe. Pretty? Not really.” I sighed with a small laugh. “But thanks anyway. You’re the only one who seems to think so.”

                “Have you asked anyone?” She asked throwing her arms around me. “I’m sure they will agree with me.”

                “Haha, no.” I giggled hugging Riley back. “And I probably won’t. But you can, if you want.”

                “I’m sure they do. They shouldn’t resist you.” Riley said.

                “I bet a lot of people could resist.”

                Riley gave my cheek a light slap. “No, don’t think like that.”

                I shrugged rubbing my cheek. “Just telling the truth. Or stating my opinion.”

                Riley shook her head, her hair falling out from behind her ears and down her shoulders in a waterfall of waves around her face. Her hair and eyes looked wild, yet still peaceful. It was just the way Riley was. “Bad girl! Be more optimistic about yourself! You won’t get far in life like that.”

                “There’s only one guy who thinks I’m pretty and I don’t like him. Stupid Damien.” I said crossing my arms childishly.

                Riley lie down on the ground, sprawling out on her stomach. She rested her elbows to the ground, holding her chin against her hands as she looked up at me. “What did he do to make you hate him so much?” She asked curiously.

                “He’s a jerk,” I spat. “And he follows me around, trying to get me to love him. I don’t know how to explain it right. He isn’t…. right.” I said unable to find the right words.

                “Some boys… They never learn.” She said sympathetically.

                I looked away quickly and then back to Riley. “Yeah, and my sister is jealous. She can have Damien though. Ick.” I said, pretending to shudder like the thought of being with Damien gave me physical pain.

                “She might like that.”

                “They both annoy me.” I admitted looking away. Damien was always so much like Anisa. They both pushed themselves on me. But I just kept pushing away. Always pushing.

                “The two annoying ones shall be together then!” She sat up suddenly almost crashing heads with me. “Then they can annoy themselves!” I laughed to myself, waiting for her to continue. She played with the dirt for a minute before looking up at me. She stared me down before something seemed to click. “Kate, your hair!”

                “Meh? Oh, yeah…” Out of the corner of my eye, I could see Lina sneak back onto the scene.

                Riley hopped toward my side, observing my hair again. “I don’t know what style to do this time.”

                I sighed. “Sorry, it was bothering me.”

                “Then we need softer elastic! Hmm, let’s see.” Riley said, staring at her wrists.

                “I only have rubber bands.” I said pulling at the one on my wrist. It snapped me and I squeaked. Lina threw a hair tie silently to Riley. I’m going to die…. I thought. My cheeks heated slightly.

                “Your sunburn is back!” Riley chirped, catching the elastic. “Thanks, Snowdust.” But Lina wasn’t paying attention anymore. She was perched on a ledge, glancing steadily around. “What do you want to do now? A French braid?”

                “Go ahead, I guess.” I said watching Lina.

                And with that, she settled in to make my braid.

 

Vaann’s POV:

 

“Bring me Anisa; the group of survivors is getting annoying. Even with their leader converted, they still insist on confronting me. And there’s a new one I want gone.” The Mother boomed to Damien. Her voice was harsh yet sweet all at the same time. Blood and rose petals.

                “Yes, Mother.” Damien said bowing low. His eyes were burning with an emotion I could place. Maybe the urge to please? That’s how they all seemed. Brain washed; nothing to do with their life but to please their master.

                Who would she want gone now? She has me. What more could be getting in the way? It couldn’t be Kate. She wanted her daughter back, not dead. But she wanted her with a passion. Kate knew all the valuable information. All the things inside that I could only hope to know. But in time. Marissa could heal, but I saw no need for the Mother to want her out of the way. Riley could be an issue if she practiced her illusions to perfection, but one look at Mother Earth said it wasn’t Riley. So, it was down to Duo and Lyllina. They were the strongest from the group so far. Duo was the newest threat, though and she did say new.

                There was a large bang that made me jump as the door clanged open. Anisa, followed by her puppet, Damien, waltzed in. Anisa’s hair fell like a dark veil around her face. She suddenly seemed to glow, but not in a good way. She seemed more powerful. Darkness throbbed around her. Her blood red eyes seemed to gleam with the wicked smile that spread across her face. Her long dress fanned out behind her as she gracefully walked across the floor making her look like she had ragged wings. Her sleeves started as a dark black, slowly turning red as it ran down her arms. She had spiraling make up across her face, making her red eyes stand out more. It was easy to see how she and Kate were sisters. They looked so much alike. But Kate glowed with light and power. Anisa glowed with dark and evil. It was hard to explain.

                Anisa dropped low into a bow. She didn’t want to bow to another. It was clear in her body language. She wanted the power for herself. She was changing, and not for good. “Yes, Mother?” Her voice was so sweet it was like nails on a chalk board to me. I cringed away from it.

                “Your sisters group continues to draw closer.” The Mother said impatiently. “Take the Army and stop them. Send some after the new one especially.” She almost growled.

                Anisa stood from her bow, her hair dropping down her back. She waved a hand toward the Guards just to my left. They gave a salute before moving out as the Daughter commanded. “What do we do if they get here?” Anisa wondered.

                The Mother stood, walking toward Anisa. Her face was kind, but her eyes were hard. “If they get here, I am their target. You and the other Generals will stop them from reaching me.” She leaned down to cup Anisa’s face in her hand. “Give your life for me if you must, my Daughter.” I felt sick to my stomach. She would have her own daughter; her own flesh and blood give her life for her.

                Anisa bowed her head, “Yes, Mother.” But I could hear her hiss angrily. The Mother nodded in dismissal. Anisa drew herself up and spun on her heels as she gracefully disappeared the way she came. Her wing-like dress gave her the illusion of flying, like her feet never touched the floor.

                “Oh, dear Son,” The Mother’s playful sing song voice made me jump, “to my side, as I command.”

                With a deep steadying breath, I removed myself from the shadows to stand before her. “Yes?”

                She studied her nails as for a second as she thought. Then her cold, dead eyes flickered to me. “Go with Anisa and stop your friend’s progress toward us. Do not screw up.”

                “… Yes, Mother.” I gave her a bow before I stalked off to go find Anisa.

                When I found her, she was standing alone. She stared out the window, not moving. But I could hear her whispering. Who could she be talking to? She was alone. I could see the shadows that surrounded her quivering and growing in size. I drew my hand up, willing the darkness away from her. She froze, sensing me. “Anisa, we have something to attend to. “Do we?” She sounded bored.

                “Yes, according to Mother dearest.” I replied evenly.

                “And what might that be?” She asked with an exasperated sigh.

                I sighed internally, wishing she would just turn and say something. Something that would allow me to rip her head from her shoulders. A good excuse. “To stop your sisters little legion from reaching us. Did you send the troops in?”

                “I did.”

                “Go after Kate, I’ll find you later,” I said allowing myself to disappear. I felt my molecules slowly rearrange. As they came back together I found myself between Lyllina and a new boy. I had joined in the middle of their conversation. The boy had bright blue eyes, ones filled with wisdom and a dark past. His hair was a nice blonde, almost sandy that suck out crazily.

                “What are you hiding?” Lina asked as she crossed her arms expectantly.

                “What does it matter to you?” The boy asked with a light glare.

                “It matters because they need you.” I said as I completed my phasing. Both of their eyes trailed to me, wide with shock and confusion. And a little sadness on Lina’s part too. “He’s definitely not with us.” I said raising an eyebrow. Lina looked from me to Riley and then to the ground. I saw Riley let down her illusion with a smile.

                “Who is the Mother?” The boy asked stepped closer to Riley and Lyllina. “Is she with a group of bandits or a gang?”

                “Who is She?” I asked narrowing my eyes. I gestured around us. “She is the cause of all of this.”

                “Better known as Mother Nature.” Lyllina added. “The reason the planet is like this, but we are still alive.”

                “Why we are like we are; why everyone is dead.”

                “I see… So, what assistance are you asking of me?” He asked looking guarded.

                “To hold back an army…” Lina’s voice was hard.

                “I’d say join with them before it’s too late,” I told him. “Cause you’ve got maybe thirty minutes before a swarm of shadows swallows you alive.” He blinked at me in utter confusion. He would be useless. I rolled my eyes and glanced to Lyllina. “Lina, did Kate explain things to you?”

                “Well enough.”

                I gave a nod, but couldn’t breathe. I felt like someone was constricting my airways. “Good, I know you will keep everyone safe for me. But you all should move somewhere else. A large army of shadows will be here soon.” She gave me a nod in return. When she didn’t voice an answer I peeked around. “Stay.” I said eyeing Lina and Riley to show them I meant it. I started off toward Anisa and Kate.

                “I will help…” I heard the new kid mutter.

                Anisa was talking to Kate, her voice inaudible tome. Kate was staring at her in shock and annoyance. I moved between them trying to keep my composure. I gave Kate a smile as I looked down at her. “Miss me?”

                She looked down sadly blushing. “Yes.”

                I took a deep breathe to steady myself. “Anisa, what shall we do with them?” I pulled my eyes from Kate to look to her sister. I could sense Lina coming back with Riley and the new survivor. “Their leader is on the way back with the new one. The Army will be here in about fifteen minutes.”

                Anisa suddenly hugged Kate, crushing her in her arms. Kate looked surprised as she gasped. “Destroy them and keep her! Look how cute she is!”

                I crossed my arms impatiently, staring at her. “We weren’t told to destroy them. We were told to slow them. You can take Kate if you want.” I’ll just rip her from your cold, dead fingers later, I thought. I pulled out my sword, swinging it through the air, a wall of black flames appearing, separating the group from the three of us. Lina bared her teeth staring at me through the flames.

                “Oh, yay!” Anisa chirped.

                “You’re not slowing us down!” Kate growled.

                “Whatever you do, make it fast.” I said as I watched Lina try to break through. She repeatedly swiped at the flames. They did not falter or burn her, though she hissed in frustration.

                “Let’s just take Kate and go!” Anisa said.

                “Hell no!” Kate said in protest, planting her feet.

                “Ten minutes, Anisa.”

                “Can’t we just let the Guards slow them down?” Anisa sighed as Kate shoved away from her sister.

                I sighed and walked over to Kate. My sadness was clear on my face. There was no more hiding it. “Come with us, Kate.” I said beggingly.

                Her shoulders slumped, she looked exhausted. “You too, now? Don’t turn into Damien and Anisa. It hurts too much.” She admitted. My heart felt pained. I saw her glance to the flames. Duo had his hand placed on the flames, watching. Lina, Riley, Marissa and the new survivor stood behind him. “I can’t.”

                “Please…” I whispered.

                Kate’s eyes went to me as she frowned. She stepped closer taking my hands in hers. Her eyes were filling with tears. “Vaann, I-“ She dropped her hands to her side as she stepped back. “I can’t!” Her voice cracked as her lip quivered, holding in her sob.

                I stepped away sadly, looking down. “I understand…” I held up my hand allowing the flames to die down. Riley walked closer, her eyes filled with tears.

                “V-Vion, their scared.” She whispered.

                “We all are, Riley. Is it because of the fire…?” I asked. Sometimes I wondered if Riley was losing it, but the Mother mentioned that certain people had heightened senses for things that used to be.

                Riley looked to Lyllina. “Snowdust, send Vion what I see in my head, please.” I looked to her as well.

                “Only if he wants to…” She sighed.

                “I’ll accept it. I need to make up for what I’ve done here.” I told them.

                “If it’s what you want.” Lyllina said. She lifted her hand to place a finger to my forehead, using her other hand to touch Riley’s forehead and make the connection.

                As Riley looked around, I saw what she saw. Lyllina held her focus, breathing evenly. Before us was bright green grass that looked as soft as velvet. The sky was a bright blue with fluffy white clouds, trees full of green leaves. All around us was animals; rabbits, deer, mice, squirrels and so on. They looked up at us with great sorrow and fright. Riley’s voice echoed in the void of my mind. “They’re scared…” I allowed my eyes to close letting the peace of this moment to flood my mind. A sudden screech ripped through the air, snapping me back into reality.

                “They aren’t far!” I gasped. Kate’s head snapped up in time with the screech, her face a mixture of fear and anger.

                “What do we do?” The stranger asked looking to the horizon.

                I ignored him walking to Riley and put my hands on her shoulders. “Sorry, Riley, I have to go. I’ll help the animals later. Anisa,” I said glancing over my shoulder as I dropped my arms to my side. “We should go.  Take Kate if you wish.” I looked to Kate quietly. Her eyes flickered to meet mine.

                “Okay, Blue Eyes.” Anisa said and placed a finger to her chin in thought. “Nah, she can stay.” She giggled as she began to shimmer and turned into a blue mist. Then the mist slowly dissolved and Anisa was gone.

                “So much for doing our job,” I said allowing my molecules to pull apart. Sometimes I wished they would stay apart. How easy it would be to remain unseen.

              

              

 

 

 

 

              

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