Silence is a weapon that can sneak up on you when it’s least expected. The silence around me may be just as dangerous. Creatures and beings are smart enough to know to stay away. Even the wind is in danger and stills itself to remain unseen. I’m the only thing that moves towards the very place that most would run from.
Danger is introduced by a red, wooden door that has splinters facing me like knives. The bronze door knob chillingly meets my shaky hand and I give a shove to let a swarm of light into the dark room that may be the prison holding my friend Shiloh; or it could be the grave if I arrived too late.
I step softly to be as quiet as possible. The only noise I hear is the sound of my heartbeat that sounds like it’s outside of my body, like someone else is right behind me, pressed against my back, hands ready to grab me and end everything.
The house is old and has been abandoned for what seems like centuries. Picture frames line the pealed wallpaper; the pictures have been taken out. Windows are boarded up but fragments of the wood found refuge on the floor. Pieces hang along the window frames like a force had punched its way inside. Empty cans of food are scattered on the floor, along with articles of clothing bundles up and covered in dirt and mud with a peculiar tint of red blotched on the edges. A box of matched sit on top the dining room table along with a bottle of lighter fluid. In the kitchen sink ashes cover the porcelain, turning the pure white into a dark shadow.
I run my hands through the ashes. It feels soft under my hands and then I come across something hard in the bottom of the sink. I fidget with it still buried under the dark cover of ashes and twirl it between my fingers. When I lift my hand, my skin tender ghostly skin has been dyed a stale black, but something emerald green shines from between my fingertips.
A hand grasps over my mouth as a sharp breathe meets my right ear. Another hand is on my stomach, fingers shoved deep into my flesh over my dark blue shirt. They dig deep into my abdomen, grasping what remains after the recent loss of food as our land recovers from the swiftly moving fires.
“And what do you think you’re doing?” A man’s voice whispers into my ear, his breath smelling of peppermint. He releases a chuckle as his right hand leaves my mouth then presses something sharp against my neck. “Have your forgotten how to speak?”
“I… I’m here to… to get Shiloh,” my voice shudders as the sharp object presses deeper into my skin. My breathing struggles to regulate itself as the mystery man lets out another chuckle, releasing another minty breath. He moves the object from my neck and his left hand whips me around to face him. I can’t make out what he looks like very clearly due to the light from the door that has turned him into a shadow creature. The object gets pressed against my throat again as his body pushes me against the counter. My hands sit on the counter, partly in the sink.
The mystery shadow man grabs my hair with his left hand pulling it tight, forcing my neck to be pressed up right against the sharp object. I can see his eyes a little bit. They stare deeply into mine and remain stern and forceful. I stare back into his as I repeat the words please let me go, please let me go in my mind over and over again, hoping he could read it in my eyes.
“If you’re looking for your friend, you’re not going to find her here.” His eyes still remain hooked on mine. His voice is raspy and comes out of his mouth with force that could break down walls. “I’m pretty sure the girl you’re talking about has already been killed.” The left side of his mouth curls upwards. He seems to be fighting back another one of his chuckles. His left hand still grips my brown wavy hair, that’s probably frizzier than hell right now from all the running I’ve been doing while trying to avoid his people. I have been running for hours looking for Shiloh and now I find out that she might be dead. She can’t be! Were a team! I need her to help me win.
The shadow man steadily holds the sharp object against my throat and quickly slices it across my tender skin. I quickly put my hands up to my neck. “Ouch!”
“You’re out.” My shadow man gives a full blown laugh now. “Sorry I didn’t mean to press that hard Lace.”
“It still hurt! What did you cut me with?”
“A butter knife.” Greg tightly presses his lips together to hold back another laugh. “Guess it was a sharp butter knife.” I roll my eyes.
“So is Shiloh really out too?” Greg shrugs his shoulders and tosses the butter knife onto the kitchen table and picks up the matches and slides them into his jeans pocket.
“I’m not too sure. I think Adam might have shot her but I couldn’t really tell who it was exactly.”
“Damn it! If she’s out then only Max and Tony are left on my team!”
“Well that’s what you get for choosing a sucky team now isn’t it Lace?” Greg walks over towards the sink and kneels down. “You found this in the sink?” His hands hold a shiny emerald ring. He stands back up again and hands it over to me.
“Yeah it was buried under all the ash.”
“I guess the family wanted to destroy all their valuables. If they can’t have them then I guess no one can.”
“Guess so.” I reply. I stick the ring on my right ring finger. It fits perfectly and the emerald shines bright despite being lit on fire and remaining in an ashy grave.
I look up and find Greg looking at me. His dark hair being tossed around by the sudden breeze that pushes itself through the open door at the same moment blue birds begin to sing. Once I meet his gaze he quickly looks down at his feet. His plaid shirt has dirt covering the front and his pants have mud on the knees. “Were you crawling outside or something?” I ask to make fun of him.
He shoots me a look then says, “I wouldn’t be talking Miss. Frizzle.” I quickly pull my hands up to touch my hair that was shooting miles away from my face. I yank one of the hair ties off my wrist and frantically pull my hair into a bun while Greg laughs again. He walks over then stops right in front of me with his arms by his side. He always calls my Miss. Frizzle when my hair ends up being a giant puff ball. He called me that the very first day I met him, before the storms. I met him through Shiloh; her brother Patrick is friends with Greg. We met at one of their families cook outs in the summer. God I miss those cookouts. Shiloh’s dad made the best food, and it wasn’t just hotdogs either. He made delicious baked potato salad, perfectly cooked steak, and my favorite, grilled banana boats, the perfect dessert after a long day of swimming in the lake.
“Don’t worry, I was just kidding.” Greg smiles at me and I unknowingly smile back at him. His right hand floats up to me and ends up lightly pressed against the tender line he had created against my neck. “Damn, that was a sharp butter knife.” I let out a laugh that turns into a slight snort. I quickly cover my hand over my mouth and nose as my eyes shoot up to see if Greg noticed. His eyes met mine just as fast then he erupts into a giant laugh. I end up laughing as well mostly because the only other option was to run and hide, and hiding would probably cause Greg to laugh at me even more.
After his moment of complete loss of control, Greg composes himself puts his hand back on the side of my neck again. He seems to examine the damage he caused on my annoyingly delicate skin. I keep my eyes away from his gaze because I’m too embarrassed to look at him again. He towers over me and my 5’4 height. He’s somewhere around 6 foot.
Greg is older than me by three years. He’s 21 while I’m only 18. Well 18 and a half to be exact. Shiloh told her brother Adam, that I had a crush on Greg, and of course Adam ended up telling. I figured that Greg found out when he started acting really weird towards me and seemed to avoid me more. But after the storms, he really stepped up and kind of took care of me. My family didn’t make it and neither did his, that’s probably why now he likes being around me, because were both orphans.
“I should probably walk to the graveyard,” I say to Greg as his thumb brushes itself along my slight wound. The graveyard is where all the players go once they have been killed by another team member.
Greg stays quiet, his thumb presses itself next to my ear. I think to myself to go ahead and walk away but Greg suddenly pulls me towards him and lays his lips against mine. His lips are warm and taste like peppermint. I loose myself in him and at that moment I had forgotten about the world. No trouble played itself through my mind, just the sweet taste of him and the smell of his cologne fills my heart. His other hand is pressed against the small of my back and sends shiver through my body that must have shocked Greg because he suddenly pulls his lips off mine. I feel his breathe still against my mouth. My eyes and his remain down and I see him give me one of his many sweet smiles. The ones that can rebuild a nation.
“Guys! Guys! It’s about to happen! Come on, come on!” Shiloh jumps up and down in the doorway of the old house, her short perfectly formed curls bouncing with every excited jump, and then she runs off again. She scares the crap out of Greg and I and we end up separating quick, as if our parents had walked into the room.
He looks over at me, green eyes shining like emeralds. He grasps my hand in his and nods his head towards the door. We walk outside fingers intertwined like a tightly woven basket. As we step into the tight group of people gathered near the edge of a cliff, just before the lake.
Everyone who was playing the game with us grouped together looking up to the darkening sky. Some of their family members begun to crowd around as well, holding their loved ones tight and whispering something sweet into their ear. Greg wraps his arms around me and gives me a soft kiss on my forehead.
A single bright light shoots past the now night sky. A few of the younger kids begin to scream in excitement. Another light shoots past, followed by another and soon another. An eruption of bright lights zip by in the night sky. Stars flying by, allowing us as many wishes as we could ever hope for. I tightly close my eyes and burry my face into Greg’s chest. I feel it chest move with every breathe and then his lips pressing against the top of my head.
“What are you doing?” Greg asks lightly into my ear.
“I was making a wish,” I say to him, looking into his bright eyes. The light from the swarm of shooting stars light up his face.
“What did you wish for?”
“I can’t tell you or else it won’t come true.” I give him a smirk then turn my head to look back up at the sky. I can still feel his eyes sinking into me then I feel his chest give a hop from one of his chuckles.
Tonight marks the first night in a long time I have actually felt something in me. After the storms so many of us have lost our family, but the few who made it are true survivors. The world has become cleansed. It’s said that the storms happened because mother earth was tired of not having control and wanted to teach us all the true meaning of life. She created a powerful thunder storm to shut down all machines, a monsoon to wipe away the ones who’ve abuse her, and a tornado to blow away money, wants, and all the things keeping us from living life.
Now I’m here, surrounded by my new family and friends, being held in Greg’s arms and I’m beginning to find my new happiness. I feel safe in his arms and I feel loved. Something I didn’t feel before the storms. I have always known that someday mother earth would take the power back and because she did, I now have a real reason to live.