Authors: Sylvia Storm
Tags: #Paranormal YA Horror
On Black Wings
by Sylvia Storm
Copyright © 2014 by Sylvia Storm
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
Cover design by Sylvia Storm
Photograph by Serge Nivens/BigStock.com
Photograph by pzAxe/BigStock.com
Photograph by djsash001/BigStock.com
Soft Blue Skies
Blue skies, work, school, dinner, and a day like any other.
Endless azure filled the heavens above us. I was home from work. My car sat in the garage. My keys were on the counter, that was where I last left them. At least that was where I remembered where I left them. Were they on the table by the door? I never left home without my keys.
I have this feeling I lost my keys.
I worried about the locks, did they need to be changed? If so, we needed new keys for the car as well, it felt like such a hassle. I will worry night and day until the locks are changed at every little noise in the house. What if someone had found them, came to where we lived, and broken in? I worried about stupid little things that could never happen all the time.
They were probably around here somewhere. I prayed to God they showed up. Small miracles, oh how I needed you. Had I checked the car when I got home? Were they in my purse? I have bigger things to worry about though.
A half-full refrigerator and I needed to go to the store. What do we have for dinner tonight? I don’t know, could we order out? A table full of mail, stacked high with papers and bills. Such a mess. I felt like such a slob. I needed to clean house.
The little things bothered me the most, cobwebs in the corners, dust on the lampshades, or a crumb here and there I neglected to sweep up. Does this make me a bad mother? I just never had time. I always told myself I will make time to clean up, but things happened, time was wasted, and another day went by and nothing was done.
I just don’t have the time.
There’s so much that needed to be done. Family too, they demanded a little time each day, a call here and there, cards to send, promises made, and little errands I ran for people.
My mother. Our children. Friends. Sarah, Timothy, and Brad. His ring, no longer on my finger. Lost. I still felt it there, around my finger. Another part of me, lost.
All of them, lost.
The feel of the walls, slightly textured when I scrubbed them with a rag, it was so much work to keep the house clean. I turned down the AC, we can’t afford to be cool all summer. Dust. The endless battle with dust. It settled over everything like a pall of death. Always visible on anything dark, it reminded me the dust mites are still there no matter how many of them I killed.
We killed. They killed.
I thought it was snowing, at first, maybe leaves, but there was so much I thought it to be snow. Snow. In July. Come look kids, snow! It covered the trees, the lawn, and the grill. Soft flakes fell through the air.
Snow. In July.
The snow was too heavy, and it fell too fast. It stuck to the sides of things, and it didn’t settle softly anywhere. It was dark, greasy, sticky, oily snow. The kids were excited, they ran around, and they wanted to play in it. I stood, my hand on the glass door, and I left fingerprints I’m sure. I watched as it stuck on the glass on the other side of my hand. Gray, sullen, heavy, oily snow.
Not snow, ash.
The ashes of a million people, maybe more.
I never knew. If I would have realized it I would have said no, stay inside. Funny how stupid little mistakes stick with you. Sure, go play in the snow, it seemed awfully warm outside, just be careful not to slip, and don’t drag it in with you. Don’t drag it in. Remember to wipe your feet. Don’t slip.
Stay out of the street.
Brad walked downstairs. Honey, did you see the snow? Questions, obvious, asked more for an opinion than a true question. Yes, I did see the snow, in July. Isn’t it odd, honey? Snow, in July? It’s eighty, that’s what channel five said this morning. Supposed to get to ninety. And snow.
Where are the kids?
Oh, I sent them out on the lawn to go see. Couldn’t hurt. The bells on the front door chiming, they are going out to see. Want to go see? I can’t think of the last time I saw snow. Still, it looked like ash to me. Black ash, sooty, greasy, heavy, it fell through the air almost straight down, and it sticked to everything. Heavy with the air of death.
Why didn’t I see it? Why didn’t I say something? Why?
There were my keys, right there on the table where I left them. Funny how you forget, remember, and then forget again. Too much stress, too much to do, too many responsibilities and things to stay kept up with on-line and the kids and the husband and making sure the house ran like a machine.
Even the time I put away for myself at the end of the day seemed like an extra added chore. If I got time. I usually spend it with the kids, or I just sat at the kitchen table tired, too tired to think, my eyes half-closed and sleep beckoning to me. Sleep was my only escape, being able to lie down and close my eyes for a precious few moments seemed like all the reward in the world some days.
The skies drew darker, and it plunged the whole house into shadow.
I felt an odd hot breeze. They must have left the front door open. Kids. Didn’t I tell them we don’t pay to cool the whole block? I got up, and I didn’t know if I was seated or not. Funny. Was I seated? It’s so hard to remember now.
I walked through the house, it’s all I remember, and it being dark, unnaturally dark. Shadows crept across our windows, and we were plunged into darkness. I walked right by a lamp and never thought to turn it on. Why pay to light the day? Why was it so dark? Was the weather that bad?
I better tell them to come inside.
I turned down the front hall by the stairs, by the pictures of Mom and the kids, Brad, and me in high-school with that silly pink shirt. Memories. Little things, smiling at a camera then with it haunting me in the future of a snapshot of that moment. Smiling in the past at someone in the future, possibly old and gray, of that single moment in time we thought nothing of then, but it comes back to me now with a pall of regret and sadness.
They did leave the front door open.
What I saw didn’t shock me, it scared me to death.
Two bodies on the walk. Gray ashen bodies, like the ends of cigarettes. The hot ashes on them turning red, burning hot, and they blew away in a storm of orange fireflies. My children’s shoes on them.
They were dead in an instant.
Did they feel pain? The pain I felt? Gone in a flash, but my heart burst right then. I felt myself fall away, my consciousness slipped away, my will to live gone in an instant. From within me, part of me, all the years and time and love and setting them off to school and the lives we had were gone and burned away like the glowing tip of a cigarette, smoke trailing off them. The tiny ashes of their bodies floated across our lawn like wisps in the wind.
I opened my mouth to shout a warning, but no sound came out. Nothing. No sound. I screamed, I tried to scream, but no sounds came out. Nothing. I screamed at the top of my lungs, and I remember I heaved and tried to shout a warning, a scream, something, anything to keep Brad from going out there after them. My lungs, why didn’t my lungs work? Am I dying, dead, or worse?
Why couldn’t I scream for God’s sake? Why couldn’t I shout something, scream a warning to him? My lips moved, but no sound came out.
No, don’t go! God please don’t leave me.
I told my arm to reach out and grab him as he ran by, and the whole scene played in slow-motion in my thoughts. Was this real? Was this a dream? I couldn’t make my arm move. He ran right by me and I sat frozen in place. Grab him! Brad, no! I moved my mouth, but no sound came out of my lungs.
My knees struck the terracotta tiles, I fell and I don’t know how, but I don’t feel pain. I may have been bleeding. I was cold. So cold.
He ran away from me.
The Tanner’s red minivan coasted to a stop across the street, its window open, Mr. Tanner seated in the driver’s seat, his arm still out of the window, his body a solid pile of ash.
His baseball cap fell through his head as it melted away in a cloud of soot, his death-like smile shattered in a clatter of bones as his head fell apart. The minivan hit the fire hydrant across the way, knocked it free, and sent water into the air.
Well, at least we still had water. I’m dying, but we still had water.
I felt my sanity slipping away. It was over. It was truly over.
Brad, stop! He cleared the front door, and his foot landed on the doormat outside. Once he got off the porch he was dead, gone to the world, gone forever, and I just knew it. The man I love was going to die in a footstep, and there’s nothing I could do. The man I brought my wonderful children into the world with, gone in an instant, consumed by hellfire and ash, blown away like millions of orange glowing dandelion seeds floating in the wind.
I was next, wasn’t I?
There was no heat, no flash, no explosion, or blinding light. A billion tiny ashes floated down our street, likely friends, neighbors, children of the people we know, people we hate, those we never took the time to know, strangers, the people that moved in across the way a year ago and kept to themselves, everyone was gone in an instant.
Why? Why, God why?
God gets asked that a lot I bet. Every senseless death, every shooting on television, every car accident, every time a child gets hit crossing the road or shot in a school by some maniac, why God why? On the death bed of every cancer patient or those we lose to AIDS, disease, or old age, why God why?
Please turn back, give me one last look, one last smile, one last look at your handsome face before you turned to ash and blow away from me. Before the fires consume the man I love, please turn back, look at me, give me the peace of one last look into your eyes before we both slipped away into eternity together. I pray to God I’m in Heaven with the three of you in moments, and out of this Hell.
I want to close my eyes and know peace in these final moments, to look away, but if these are the last moments I spend with Brad, I can’t ever close my eyes until they burn away in a storm of ash and cinders. Brad, turn back to me.
He never turns back.
His foot left the porch, and it turned to ash immediately. His shoe came down, but there was no foot in it, just a pillar of ash that collapsed under the weight of the rest of his body. Red hot cinders burned away in an instant, it consumed him, as smoke circled his body as he fell off the porch. I prayed for him to look back, but I didn’t even hear him scream as he fell away from me and onto the front walk.