Fire.

- - December 2016 - Story of the month- -Dancing. Flames are mystically dancing around me as they gradually begin to engulf my soul. How did I get here? How did my life fall to this? So much has led up to this moment of despair. Trapped beneath the rubble's hold, there is nothing that I can do to escape from the ever advancing flames. -- Cover by @Lady Panda --

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7. Project Red.

Age 17 – 2205

Feeling the smooth glass beneath my fingertips, I looked down at my array of creations. Two years of hard work had gone into making my dozen weapons. Each took hours of time and effort so now, each held a special place in my heard. Although violent, in some twisted way, they were like children to me; I had watched each grow from nothing into valued pieces of equipment. Six different types of guns, four varieties of explosives, a communicator and the gem of my collection: the virus. More recently along my journey, I had begun to experiment with bio-engineering and bio-weaponry; bullets only did so much damage but something more could end the war for good.

It was designed to be non-lethal, I had made sure of that, but without the vaccine that I had created, a war would be impossible to fight. Once airborne, the virus would spread and would greatly weaken our enemies and defences. The General was right about me being able to make a difference and end the conflict which had destroyed so many lives, including my own. I had dedicated my five years of my life to the war and had lost everything along the way. Although at the start was regretful to admit it, I had found a new home and a new family. It had taken a while to get used to but now, for the first time I was truly happy with my life and what I had become.

Holding up the scarlet vial to the light, I restrained the doubt in my mind as a spark ignited inside on me. After so long, I had done it, I had the chance to end the war beneath my fingertips. No-one else should have to go through what I did, and a warm feeling in my chest told me that I had the opportunity to ensure that. Making my mind up, I lifted my wrist close to my lips and pressed a dial on the side before speaking to the general.

“Sir, Coleman here. It’s done. It’s finally finished.”

Without a moment of hesitation, the general replied with a hint of excitement in his voice.

“I’m on my way.”

Two tense minutes later, he came charging through the door. Holding up the glass tube to show him what I’d done, he froze in his tracks, face petrified but yet filled with achievement. After losing so many years, trapped in an endless cycle of bloodshed, finally we could end it and spread the peace that we had always dreamed of across the land.  Face lighting up like a flame on a candle, he took a step forwards a lifted his hands as if to gesturing for me to show him what I had created. Slowly making my way towards him, I never thought of the destruction which lay beneath my fingertips, I only thought of the peace and tranquillity that would come soon after. Smile gracing his lips, no words were exchange between me and the man who had become like a father to me. As the glass tube was exchanged, he gazed at it for a few moments, losing himself in the rich colour, before directing his attention back to me.

“I can’t believe… I was right to believe in you. I was right. Helena, in my hands I hold the weapon which will end our suffering; I hold the weapon that you created to liberate us all. What it is to come is down to you and your work. I am so proud of you and what you have achieved. I know that your life before coming here was hard but look at what you have done; you took all of pain and you turned it into our salvation. I’m proud of you.” As each word was spoken, my body felt lighter as a smile graced upon my lips. After my parents died, I had been set on a path of destruction, but now, I had grown and my true goal was peace. It was almost in my sight but yet still so far away.

“Thank you sir.” I told him before continuing into the conditions and side effects of my weapon. It was all well jumping ahead of myself but at the end of the day, we still had a long way to go before we were ready to enact ‘Project Red’ as we had so poetically dubbed it.

“The virus will disable the enemy, not permanently, but for long enough. The vaccine I have created will protect our side from the virus as it travels across the country and ends this hellish bloodshed. I just want it all to end…”

“Don’t we all?” he replied, gripping my shoulders as if I were an old friend. In a way I was. As Evans Father, he welcomed me into the unknown with arms outstretched and gave me a light to see past the darkness.

Nodding was my only response; my part was done and no I just had to wait for the general and his team to carry out our plan. Distribution of the cure was our main priority but that could take months of planning and transport. At the end of the day, it would be worth it and we would be free from the war which broke us and forced us into cold embrace of darkness. Did it really matter what we were fighting for? No, because I just wanted it all to end. I wanted Evan to be able to have a life with his father and for Becca to stand a chance of surviving in a kinder, less shattered world. As well as for my own freedom, I was fighting for them and so at the end of it all, they would be the ones to benefit and live on to tell the story.

Striding over to my desk, I lifted a clear vial off of the table and handed it over to the general. Labelled with a ‘V’, we both knew that it was the vaccine and the wall to keep our own tactics from turning against us. Taking both from my possession, the power was o tog my hands and as he walked away, I couldn’t ignore the fluttering in my chest. Was it doubt? Anger? Joy? Those emotions seemed logical, but the one that filled me was simply dread. I trusted the general but still, the decisions had been taken out of my control and placed into the hands of strangers.  

Taking a deep breath, I shut down the workshop and trailed down the corridor, towards the dining hall where I knew Evan and Becca were.  Trying to occupy my mind, I knew that seeing my friends would cheer me up and would also give us the opportunity to catch up after I had been so distant for the last week. The project had taken up a large majority of my time but now, I was free again, free to be a teenager and spend time with the people that I wanted to be with. Even in wartime, we could smile and enjoy ourselves because if we didn’t then we would crumble with the world around us instead of standing strong above it.

Wandering through the heavy duty doors, a smile greeted me from the other side of the room. Dodging the cadets and agents who were aimlessly walking through the collection of tables and chairs, I could see Becca and Evan sitting comfortable at a table together with an empty chair next to them. From Becca’s gestures, I knew that they had saved it for me. Coming closer, I noticed Evan’s eyes gleaming with pride as our eyes met. Dropping myself into the empty chair, I let out a deep sigh, drawing the attention of both of my friends.

“Is it done?” Evan asked, already knowing my answer. He and Becca had supported me at every stage of my journey and knew the pattern well enough to see when I was done with a project. I had driven myself to near exhaustion to try and complete my task but in the end, I knew that it would all be worth it.

“Yes, yes it is.” And without giving it another moment of thought, our conversation moved on to a lighter topic. Smiling and laughing in the company of my friends, I never thought that something so simple could tear us apart.

Because my part was done and now it was up to those above me to decide what happened next. Looking back, I only wished that I hadn’t been naïve enough to think that they would make the right decision. I misplaced my faith and for that, we would all suffer.

Flames. Flames dancing as they move closer; ready to engulf us all.

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