Shock: excerpt #1

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

This is an excerpt from a potential story arc in my work in progress novel: Shock. This excerpt is from well into the story, so you're thrown straight into the world of Shock. This story arc may or
may not appear in the final novel, depending on if I can make everything blend smoothly.

I stumbled through the smoke filled street, coughing my lungs out. How was I meant to get anywhere safe if I couldn’t even see five feet in front of me? I leaned against the wall of a building to my left, gasping for clean air. I could just sit here and wait to die of smoke inhalation. Or maybe one of those dragons could come back and melt me into the road. Those inky, black dragons had appeared from nowhere and began torching everything in this part of the city. The image of people burning around me flashed through my mind, and I hurled. Nothing came up.

I wouldn’t die here. I couldn’t die here. I needed to make sure everyone was alright. It was my fault that we were out here in the first place. I tried looking up into the sky to see if there were still dragons torching us, but I couldn’t see through the thick smoke. With my left hand tracing the wall, and my other hand covering my snot-leaking nose, I picked my way over the cracked and scorched ground. Every so often I found myself tripping over a blackened corpse, my footsteps crunching them into ash.  It took some stumbling for what felt like an eternity before I finally reached the end of the building and turned left onto a new street.

This one was much clearer when it came to smoke, but that meant that I could see the piles of charred bodies littered everywhere. I fought the urge to gag from the smell of crisp flesh and made my way down the street, eyes fixed on a point ahead of me. The strength to survey the devastation was nowhere to be found. I had made it halfway down the street when I began to hear a loud gasping. My heart beat quickened to an unhealthy pace as I whipped my head around wildly. It took me a while to locate the source of the noise, but I pinpointed it to a pile of charred bodies on the other side of the road. I could make out the white of a Peacekeeper uniform in the mass of blackness as I made my way across the street warily. This Peacekeeper was still alive, but their chest was heaving heavily as if he couldn’t breathe. The bodies that were crushing them must have also protected them from the waves of fire that had blasted through this street.

“You okay?! You need help?!” I called, rushing to their side.

Moaning floated out from behind the Peacekeeper’s helmet, which I began unclasping. Maybe they’d be able to get more oxygen without this thing on their head. I pulled the helmet off, throwing it across the street in my haste. The young man looked up at me, green eyes wide and scared. He continued to violently gasp for air, trying to speak. Excessive amounts of sweat plastered his dark hair onto his forhead.

“Breathe.” I spoke softly, trying to sound reassuring “Just breathe. Deep breaths, you got it.”

The man continued his struggle to speak, but only a gurgling was coming out. I looked at the pile of roasted bodies that were piled on top of him from his midsection. Was that pile heavy enough to stop his breathing like this? I knew I had to move these bodies. If I wanted to get him out of here before fire rained down on us again, I would have to move them. I screwed my eyes shut and took a deep breath.

“I’m getting you out of here!” I half-yelled, trying to convince myself as much as him.

I set to work moving the brittle, burnt corpses to the side, gritting my teeth every time an arm or a leg crumbled in my grip. Before long, my already blackened suit was covered with a steadily increasing amount of soot. I set my jaw, steeled my resolved, and continued to move bodies.

I blinked as I moved the last body. My brain was having a very difficult time parsing what I was seeing. I stared at the man’s torso as realization slowly dawned on me. His legs had been totally obliterated by the fire. Where his torso ended, his uniform and body had melded to the concrete under him. I fell to my hands and knees, retching violently to the point that I felt as if my stomach would rip itself apart. There was no saving this Peacekeeper.

After awhile, I looked up from the ground to see the man’s eyes on me, pleading as his battle for breath continued. I had to kill him. I don’t know how I knew, but at that moment, I had to spare him from this existence. But how? With my powers, I could send volts of electricity coursing through his veins. Was that really a better way to go? Frying from the inside? I didn’t have a gun or knife that could end it quickly. All I had were my powers. The same powers that had been useless throughout the entirety of this attack.

I shuffled over to the man, grasping his forehead with my left hand. My thumb and middle finger were each pressing into his temples, ready to short-circuit his brain. I took many deep breaths, face to the sky, attempting to calm my nerves and avoid his gurgling. He must have been struggling to breathe because his diaphragm hadn’t made it. I couldn’t sit here all day, debating whether or not I should take a life for the first time or else I might just die alongside him. Blue sparks danced up and down my left arm as I prepared to end his life when a sound finally escaped his lips. I yanked my hand away and leaned in closer in an attempt to make out what he was saying.

“Did… I do goo- good?” the man gurgled weakly, fighting hard to get those words out. I began blinking hard behind my visor, mind racing to find an answer.

“Hey, yeah man…” I spoke, voice filling with emotion “We couldn’t have won without you. You saved us.”

I watched as a small smile tugged at his lips, his body relaxing. There were two truths that went unsaid in that moment. The first was that this fight was far from over, let alone won. The second, that I had no idea who this man was and whether or not he’d helped. He let out a stuttering sigh from his position on the ground, seemingly more at peace. With a jerk, his arm reached up to his chest and ripped his Peacekeeper badge away. He shifted his arm until it lay right next to my knees, badge resting in his open palm.

“Wouldn’t… want to disappoint mom and dad” he spoke softly, a single tear escaping from the corner of his eye.

“Wait!” I pleaded, my throat tightening “What’s your name?”

I waited a moment for a response before realizing that I wouldn’t be receiving one. Tired and emotionally exhausted, I sighed as I rose to my feet, grabbing the badge in the process. As I studied the lifeless face in front of me, I promised that I’d return the badge to his parents. I pulled his eyelids down, putting him to rest.

As I turned away to survey the rest of the street, I hardened my resolve. I couldn’t die here if I wanted to do right by the dead Peacekeeper. I set off back down the street in my original direction, hoping to find my team… or whoever was left alive. 

Submitted: December 27, 2017

© Copyright 2021 Anders. All rights reserved.

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