Friday Fiction is a blog-to-blog hop for sharing fun stories to help your week wind-down. To share in the fun, check out this week’s host, Rick H. over at Pod Tales and Ponderings. Keep reading to see my story for this week!
SILENCE IN DARKNESS – (FRIDAY FICTION)
Shanae slipped into the dark room, pressing back against the door as it closed behind her. She toed off her sneakers and socks, curling her toes on the cool, hardwood floor.
Sensory. Contrast. Solid. There.
Her head tipped back to press into the door, a few quiet cracks seeming to echo loudly in the darkened room.
It had been another too-long, too-empty kind of a day. Time wasted on things that had not needed doing.
Not by her, anyway.
A sliver of light spilled over from the crooked slats of the large window of the living room. Just enough of a glow to reinforce the darkness blanketing everything else.
Empty. Silent. Depressing.
Shanae closed her eyes, palms pressing against the coolness of the metal door. She took a slow, shaky breath and pushed a spark of power into the security spells that would start the intricate protections that guarded her living space.
The news had talked of a recent rash of robberies and cruel vandalism.
She’d invented the spell out of necessity for peace of mind. It’d helped, for the first three weeks—and then, like now—it felt like a drain.
Her chest grew heavy, breaths shortening as the energy leeched from her fingertips and into the door, bleeding through the floor and stretching up to the ceiling in tandem.
When the strain was enough to make her knees buckle, sending her to the floor with a quiet grunt—the warmth of the completed spell spiraled inward like a rush of adrenaline.
Goosebumps on her arms, the hairs dancing on the back of her neck and the dry, heaving breaths that now replaced her choked gasps.
Shanae peeled herself away from the door, scooting forward a few feet to curl in on herself. It was a good spell—a strong one—something that would keep her safe.
Safe from things outside, anyway.
It took several minutes to gather herself together, enough to find her own feet again. A twitch of her fingers had two small, golden globes of light spinning into existence and lighting the way to the futon.
The tiny apartment had enough division for a sitting space and a cooking space. The rest was a delightful mash-up of everything else that didn’t need a label to identify it.
She climbed onto the futon, reaching through the makeshift ‘window’ of the diving wall to reach the bowl of snacks on the other side. A bag of cheese crunchies and a half-drunk bottle of seltzer water in hand, she turned and dropped onto the futon.
The cushions were still hard—renewing the comfort spells took another handful of minutes—before she could settle in to enjoy said snack.
Eventually, the growling of her stomach was soothed by the makeshift meal and itchy, twitching feeling of too much energy, finally began to fade.
She toyed with the empty bottle, thinking back on things and the day. The terrible, horrible, very bad day of awful, stupid, pointless realizations.
Her squadron had been assigned to rescue the children from the mudslide in Sector 471. A thankless, grueling rescue mission that had burned everyone to the core.
The worst victories were always the empty ones. The victims they couldn’t save, the weight of a life lost too soon.
Today had been ugly in the worst of the ways.
Her throat constricted, painfully. Fingers curling around the nearly empty seltzer bottle, Shanae held it up to her neck, murmuring the words that would chill the green glass.
Coolness spilled out from the smooth bottle, seeping into her aching, burning throat.
She’d only been trying to help. To reach the teen trapped in the auxiliary emergency exit. Before it had caved in, seventeen children had made it out. The final one, the volunteering teacher-in-training, had been pinned beneath the shifting debris.
Her risky choice to attempt to save her, had drawn the ire and displeasure of her fellow squadmates.
And then it’d gotten worse.
The compromised position worsened and the final chance had disappeared before her eyes. It was the new cadets Melissa and Taryn, who had pulled her out from the crumbling wreckage. They’d ignored her protests and not-quite-hysterics.
Melissa had called the squadron leader, Amaryllis, to lecture her into staying rooted, until the individual rescue efforts were completed.
She’d been assigned to helping the healing chain of moving injured victims to the waiting area with licensed medics.
But the final view haunted her.
The expression of complete, utter despair as the darkness had closed over her final moments.
The bottle cracked.
Shanae released it at once, sending it back to the kitchen with another flicker of her flaring powers. Hunched shoulders quivered when the bottle broke in the sink.
Her powers were still on edge, for this was not the way she’d seen this story ending. Not so dark and depressing.
There’d still been a chance.
She’d said as much.
But her words had fallen on closed ears and judged by the identical looks of disdain. They were new cadets to her group, but older transfers.
They’d done this before, it seemed.
Another choked cry escaped as Shane wrapped her arms around herself. The first tears of the night spilled over, trickling down her cheeks in hot, angry streams.
If rescuing people made her feel this miserable—what was the point?
The darkness shifted and twisted around her, the lights stuttering out as her gift came into its full glory.
Her eyes squeezed shut. “Don’t.” She whispered, pained. “Don’t start.”
The darkness seemed to slither around her, twisting to settle onto the empty space on the futon.
“No, no, no—I tried. I did try!”
“You could have saved her.”
“I tried! They wouldn’t let me!”
“You could have tried harder—couldn’t you?”
“Ha. A ninety-eight rated Scarlet Shade such as yourself? Couldn’t have tried harder? Really, Shanae…”
“You were scared, weren’t you? Thought they were right? Didn’t think you could do it?”
“You. Listened. To their lies. Again.”
“I did my best. I did. I-I-I couldn’t have—it was all I had. I couldn’t—“
“You can’t even say it, can you? You can’t even say it out loud…”
The darkness swirled, agitatedly, then shifted again—this time, a blanket of warmth that wrapped around her with smothering comfort.
“You can lie to yourself, my darling, but I know what you are. I know who you are. Unless you choose, we will forever be this way.”
“You don’t understand—“ The words were broken and trite, even as the warmth began to burn. “I’m not—I’m not strong enough.”
“Strength is infinite. Power is infinite. How many times must I tell you?—You do not walk alone.”
“Then why didn’t you save her?!”
“…Because I am you. I can only ever do, what you allow me. You know this, my dearest.”
The agonized cry echoed in the apartment as the protection spells flickered and died.
Energy came rushing back to her like a snapped rubber band. Everything, all at once—surging forward, returning to a master that had reluctantly given them away.
The single shuddering breath was all the darkness needed. It slipped past her lips, sliding into her very soul.
The protection spell you cast on her, will hold for another three hours. You have time.
Are YOU sure?
Good. Let’s go.
A/N: Oh my word, you guys! It’s been sooooo long since I’ve written fiction this year–and so long since Friday Fiction has been a thing. I’m a bit rusty, but I couldn’t resist getting this out. Aiming for more of an atmospheric thing than an actual cohesive idea, but, of course, in true Sara-style, I had to bring the whole thing together with a superpower of some sort. So, that’s why Shanae turned into a rescue cadet of some sort. Sometimes, we need to save ourselves first–so we can save others. Thanks for reading!