What Was Left Behind

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

Submitted: May 25, 2017

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Submitted: May 25, 2017

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My name is Azurian.

I was a shopkeeper in this fine town. Or...well, it was a very fine town at one point. Until that day, this place was a bustling city of commerce. Of course, no city is perfect: in fact, there was an underground black market amongst the hustle and bustle of honest trading, right under the noses of those that policed the streets.

And me? Well, I used both of them like the resources they were. Like many in this city, I lived a double life. By day, I was a humble seller of curious trinkets. Mind you, I was not the dollar merchants selling simple wares by the information kiosk. What made its way over to my shop were odds and ends that few could get their hands on. Nothing illegal you understand, but they were definitely wares hard to find elsewhere.

Of course, that's not where my real money was made. When I closed my shop for the day, those who were in the know knew I was one of the city's finest private investigators. That was my afternoons and evenings. I daresay I was the very best at what I did. Maybe one day I'll tell you those stories.

But today...today, it's the day after...that day. When all of it came crashing down. I lost everything. Well, no, I still had my life. In fact, I'm frankly amazed that I'm still alive, sandwiched between the metallic remains of two automata. And typically, it's raining. It's turned everything around me to a sopping mess.

I still had strength in me, and I pulled myself out of the metal's grasp, adjusting my blue fedora and matching trench coat for good measure. I had no idea how long I was out, but my clothes did their job against this rain.

As I walked along at a steady pace, my eyes took in the bleak city sights. When I was last conscious, the city was burning, with death and destruction everywhere you looked. This wasn't any better. Buildings I once knew, street corners, fine establishments; all of it destroyed or burnt to the ground. But the worst had to be the bodies lying in the streets. Some I recognized. Others I didn't. More still were the remains of the invaders who had attacked, because the city didn't go down without a fight.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw something I wasn't expecting to see: a survivor. A young, dark-skinned boy who couldn't be older than thirteen or fourteen. He was wearing very plain clothes: a dark purple polo and light blue jeans in deep purple sneakers. He wouldn't exactly have fit in with the more common folk in this town, but that was beside the point. Here he was, alone, sitting at the remains of the storefront once known as Little Erin's, crying silently to himself. I made my way over to him.

"Hello," I said casually.

"Ahh!" The boy was startled to hear another voice, but quickly recovered. "S-Sorry. I thought I was all alone."

"I did too," I replied. I held out my hand in greeting. "Azurian is my name."

"Julius." The boy took my hand as his tear-stained eyes brightened and his suffering was momentarily forgotten. "Wait, you're...THE Azurian?"

"Do you know another one?" I gave him a sly smile.

"It's just..." He paused, his dark eyes glazing over. "I used to live in the Light Corridor."

"Ah, my old stomping grounds." I nodded knowingly. "I'm surprised we've never met. And that you've never seen me out and about. I was a common sight in those parts of town."

"I didn't get out much. My parents wouldn't let me. But yeah, my friends always used to talk about you. Said you solved a lot of issues the Guard couldn't." Julius seemed nervous, as if he had just met a celebrity for the first time.

My smile became a bit of a smirk. "Well, only a few. Not that it matters now that the apocalypse came and went."

"Yeah..." Julius looked out into the rain. "Do you know what happened?"

"Not really. The raid sirens blared, what little remained of the Guard tried to defend the city, but there were so many things attacking all at once and..." I stopped myself, unsure of how to continue. "Frankly, I must have passed out or something during the fighting, because I don't remember much. Woke up stuck between two of those metallic...things."

"I see..." Julius clearly didn't, but he didn't press. "All I know is my family is dead. My friends, classmates, all gone..." Tears formed in his eyes once again.

"So are mine," I said quietly. "And I think the best thing we can do now, in their memory, is to survive and if we can find out how and why this happened."

Julius looked up hopefully at me. "Still being the detective?"

"Private eye." I winked at him. "But that'll do, too."

At this moment, the rain seemed to lighten somewhat as the storm passed away from the city. Cautiously, I peeked outside the broken storefront. The coast was clear; we were still alone.

"Come on," I said, beckoning to Julius.

Wordlessly, he followed as we traveled through a few of the various districts, again observing the carnage. Once pristine marble roads were now cracked and shattered. Sludge from ashes mixed with rain fill every nook and cranny of open space, from debris piles to the scattered corpses littering the wrecked streets.

"I didn't know it was this bad..." Julius said in a whisper.

"Yes. If it bothers you, don't look at any of it. Wars are hell, especially when it involves civilians."

He nodded, but I could see that he was refusing to tear his eyes away from what remained of our city. Was it perhaps a way for him to burn this scene into his memory? Or was he trying to put on a brave face to benefit me, the celebrity detective?

After a few paces, we ran into a building that, unlike the others, was barely touched by any of the devastation surrounding it. The exterior of the building was made up of metal plates and there were no windows to allow light in or out.

"Why is this building still standing?" Julius asked.

"It's a warehouse." I looked up at the large building. "They're sturdy. But...either this place surviving the battle untouched is a huge coincidence, or it's hiding something important enough that everyone left it alone." I flexed my fingers. "Best place to start looking as any."

The side door opened inwardly with a creak. The interior was nearly pitch black.

"This is really dark," Julius said.

"We can't let that stop us."

We headed inside, taking careful steps to avoid tripping over anything, but the floor appeared to be smooth and free of random debris. Oddly, there didn't seem to be much in this warehouse.

"Do you see that?" I pointed in the distance. "Tell me that's not just me seeing it."

"I see it."

It is the body of a young woman, which we could only see because of the soft light-blue glow that seemed to encapsulate her entire being.

"Clearly a Guard member and-" I paused as I saw the slash across her neck and the large amount of dried blood splattered across her uniform and the ground. "Dead."

"Who killed her?" Julius's eyes were wide as he too gets a glimpse of the body.

"Or what, possibly," I say. "Such as: what's causing that blue aura?"

Arbitrarily, I checked for a pulse. Of course, there was none, but given the glowing state of this Guardswoman's body, I had to be sure.

"Some kind of ability?" Julius wondered.

"I haven't heard of any ability that operates like this, especially after death. And trust me, I've seen all kinds of weird dissipations, vanishings, and explosions when people die. Consequence of my investigative days, I suppose. If I were to guess, this blue aura is not related to the woman."

"But it's all around her body. Doesn't it have to be hers?"

"Not enough data." I shook my head. "All we have right now is speculation."

"Wait..." Julius pointed towards another corner of the room. "I think I see another one over there."

"What?" I looked over and saw that it was another body. We headed over to it. This one was another girl, a few years younger, wearing a much darker set of clothes, so dark that it nearly blended in with the blackness of the warehouse. She was surrounded by a pink aura in the same manner as the Guardswoman.

"She can't be any older than me," Julius observed, before he gasped and held onto my trench coat tightly as he noticed what happened to her.

"That's...different." I felt a little uneasy myself. Like the Guardswoman, the girl was dead. Not by a slash across the throat, but it looked like a small circular hole had been punched clean through the center of her chest and emerged out of the other side of her body. A massive gout of dried blood covered the ground around her and across her black suit. Additionally, her soft features were marred by bruises, and I noted her black one-piece suit had been torn on several areas, as if she had put up a massive fight with someone or something.

"Why are they all dead?" I could hear fear starting to creep into Julius's voice. "We haven't run into any bandits or even those machines in here..."

"I don't know, but-" I stopped dead in my tracks. In the corner of the warehouse, there was yet another of these...auras. But this one is much, much different from the two females. Not a single body, but many. Too many to count, seemingly all merged together in a mass that was at least two stories tall and as wide as a small house. Their aura was a deep, almost ultraviolet shimmer. And while they were all fused together in a kind of black gelatinous mass, they weren't dead, or at the very least didn't look like it.

"Julius, stay close to me." My danger instincts flared to life.

"W-What is that?" I didn't think it was possible for Julius's voice to get any more quiet and fearful, but it did as he noticed the massive figure before us.

We took cautious steps towards it until we were within speaking distance.

"Hello?" I asked cautiously of the mass. "May we have the pleasure of an introduction?"

I was expecting this...creature to come after us in some capacity. To roar at us and try to devour us like a hungry demon. To absorb our own bodies into it. Worse still, perhaps we wouldn't have been able to comprehend what it was doing to us as we were brought into the fold, killing our individuality as we joined the bodies writhing within as pieces of some cosmic horror. But I probably watched too many horror movies, since none of that happened.

"You two should be dead." The mass spoke with a cacophony of voices coming from the mouths of the bodies. Apparently, the individual human bodies still functioned of their own accord within the black mass.

"Because of you?" I asked.

"Hardly." We waited for the creature to elaborate, but it stayed silent.

"What are you?" Julius asked. He's wasn't like me, masking my true feelings; he was an open book. I could see a multitude of emotions on his face: shock, surprise, horror, fear, revulsion, and even...wonder?

"I am waiting. Waiting for the right time to strike at the one who caused all of this." Again, we waited for the creature to offer more details, but it went no further.

"Why the secrecy?" I asked, calculating that the nudge wouldn't get us killed. Especially since the creature's ire didn't seem to be directed at the two of us.

"Because everything I tell you can and will be used against me." Its voice got slightly more animated and excited. "You two are no more trustworthy than the two corpses lying in this building."

"So you killed them," Julius stated, his voice nervous.

"Hardly. It was not I."

"Do you know what or who did?" I couldn't help my investigative instincts. My desire to know.

"I have my suspicions." Again, nothing further. Even Julius was frustrated at this point.

"Is there anything you CAN say that'll help us figure out what's going on?" Julius's tone became demanding, his voice finding some courage now that the creature didn't seem as evil as it looked.

"Nothing is what it seems, young one. That is my wisdom to you. Your world, your city, your person. It is nothing but a lie."

Silence filled the warehouse as Julius and I processed what the thing said.

"Proof." I could feel my pulse quickening as I spoke the word. "I need proof of this."

"I have none to provide." The voices seemed to sigh, as if resigned to this problem. "But I only speak the truth. We are all trapped in a place where there is no escape. None, until the life of the one who caused all this pain and suffering is extinguished."

"And you're not going to tell us because we can't be trusted," Julius said in his own resigned voice.

"Correct."

"So what are we supposed to do now?" I asked, my own voice rising in intensity. "Just walk away like nothing has happened? Go back outside and make a new life for ourselves?!"

"No." I could hear the grin in the creature's voice. "Now is the part where I try to kill you."

Instantly, black chains flew from within the mass of bodies towards Julius and I. Reacting with almost instantaneous speed, I pushed Julius far behind me. The black chains focused entirely on me, constricting my entire body. Physical resistance was impossible; to my senses, these chains were solid metal, or at least appear to be.

"Azurian!" Julius shouted in alarm.

"I'm afraid I can't let either of you live after hearing all of that." The voices let out a chuckle. "What little we did tell you; it's still too much."

I let out a sigh. "How cliche. You had us going there too. I guess you're a cosmic horror after all."

"One more word and your life will end."

I snapped my fingers in my free left hand. "Oh, I don't think so." The black chains all suddenly retracted like I had spooked them.

"What?!" The creature roared in surprise and frustration. "How did you do that?!"

"You don't know who I am, do you?"

"We don't care who you are." The voices were very clearly angry. "There's no way you're stronger than all of us combined!"

"Heh," I smirked. "I know."

Now, the creature started physically approaching Julius and I, its black mass oozing across the smooth pavement of the warehouse ground. The black chains seemed to be coming out of nearly every part of its body, defying gravity by flailing about like tentacles.

"So that's why everyone always talks about you and your powers." Julius spoke with awe as I ran over to him.

"Now's not the time," I said quickly. "We need to get out of here. I'll keep myself between this thing and you. Back up towards the door and-"

"I have a better idea," Julius interrupted me with a grin. He lifted his hands in the air, as if calling upon something. Suddenly, five glowing, purple geometric shapes appeared, looking like they had been carved from wood. They floated in midair near his hands, and the shapes included a sphere, a cube, a cylinder, a cone, and a triangular prism. They moved into position like synchronized swimmers, equi-distant from each other, forming a two-dimensional oval shape based on the way Julius moved his hands. Purple energy linked the shapes together, and suddenly, a violet-colored portal swirled in front of us.

"How-" I began.

"Just go!" Julius exclaimed.

"No argument from me!" Together, the two of us leapt towards the portal. Behind me, I could hear the enraged wails of the creature as it attempted to follow us, but just before those black chains could reach the portal, it closed, swallowing the two of us up into the blackness of the void.


© Copyright 2017 T. J. Wong. All rights reserved.

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