Whispers of Rain
“They scare me,” the child said softly, “with their howls and screams…they give me nightmares.”
She peered over, watching a young boy hide within the embrace of his father, “I know, son”, he reassured, promising that one day he would make the ‘monsters’ disappear. But she knew all too well that the ‘monsters’ would never disappear, this wasn’t a case of bad guys underneath the bed – no, this was all too real. She continued to eye the young boy, counting the dozen of tiny freckles that blanketed his left cheek, wondering just how many more were to appear on his right. Her view shifted towards the overall focus of his head, his reddish-orange hair carried spots of dirt and sand that soon dripped onto his round ears. His nose was profound in its shape, equaling a small triangle, his mouth was also intensely crafted – making it a very noticeable feature. But the one thing she concentrated on was his eyes, they were a mix of baby blue and viney green, and those colours suited him well.
But, when she begun to observe the father – a worn out case – she was denied access. “What are you lookin’ at?” His voice was gritty and raspy, which made his innocence question seems harsh and discriminating, she realized her mistake for staring too long and quickly apologized for it, then turned her attention towards the black dirt that was casted over the trench floor. Her legs were arched in sharp geometric positions as her back was leaned upon the concave trench wall, she begun to shift the layer of dirt and grime as an attempt to unconcern herself from eavesdropping upon the father-son conversation once again. But, it was to no avail.
“Daddy, what will happen to mommy?” the young boy asked, his father hesitated upon answering, it was a quick attempt to engineer a thoughtful lie to conceal the truth. “Son,” he paused, “Mommy’s with the soldiers…she’ll be safe,” his voice transformed into a whisper as he crept towards the boy’s ear, where she could no longer understand the mumbles he stated. But, she knew the entire situation, for all of them. Mommy was no longer alive, as was the rest of the soldiers, everyone was dead. Wiped away with the tides of war – a war she could no longer stand, a war which had broken every sane fiber of her being. She knew this war would only be brought to an end with the destruction of man, a task she would forbid to happen, a task she swore to uphold. But, she was not alone in this challenge – no, she was one of the many so-called ‘Guardians’, empowered by the mysterious force of the towering spherical structure that hung over the remanent city only known as The Traveler.
The Guardians were created as a means to protect the last bastion of hope humanity has left, they were far and few, and were crafted with incredible skill to prevent any hostile takeover caused by the various aliens forces that wanted to erase the presence of mankind from the very land that formed their native planet; Earth. Any remaining Guardians created a central area of operations inside the city, underneath the shadows of The Traveler, this meant any attacks brought upon the various outposts and locations within the encircling outskirts were usually swift, merciless, and completed before a single operative could arrive.
Unfortunately, for her as least, she had arrived before the undead royalty – known to many as the Hive – could complete their task of infiltrating the human outpost and collecting trace amounts of human victims, which would allow them to reinforce their ranks. She had received a mysterious channel upon her communications array, the channel held many secrets close as it was covered with deafening static, but soft, near-silent screams could be heard. Screams which would haunt her mind as she traversed the wooden plains that dotted the surrounding areas, it had only been dusk when she arrived, the twilight of the parting star painted the sky a deep colour of blue and purple as it shifted towards night.
She found a group of survivors hiding within a small ditch, which claimed trench-like properties, they waited near each other, children holding what few parents they could find, most without their own. But the freckled child had found his father, who was wearing an array of militaristic gear; bandoliers covered with energy projectiles encased inside clear, metallic shells – while a plasma-fueled shotgun was held by a single, worn sling, it’s white edges sparked the dangers the double-barrel held. She was happy to know the family could be reunited, but, she knew the father was needed. He had the obvious markings of a militiaman, someone she could use to help push back the army of rotting corpses that continue to move through the black forest, which lurked behind every tree, hid behind every stone – their threatening howls and once-human screams flowed into the audiogenic ocean, burning their pain unto those who had survived this long.
As she continued to kick the fragmented earth she discovered a shiny piece once hidden by the aphotic sands, she bent over, spreading her legs apart as a means of reaching the object. Her scarred hands pushed aside a small patch of unrelenting dirt as she forced the reflection from the harden mud. The object was small, fitting within the palm of her hand, it was surrounded by sharp ridges that revealed it was once a piece of a whole, a single fragment to a puzzle. The reflection exposed the design and function of this puzzle-piece, the truth to which it was created, the small object was a faded section of a mirror. Mirrors were relics of the golden age, a time inwhich humanity could focus to find the beauty within all the evils of the world, a time thought to be no longer.
But, as she stared into the sliver she witnessed her own beauty, a lightly-coloured face whose internal innocence was all but destroyed. A flawless example of pure perfection to which revealed a soothing demeanor of tranquillity, coupled with an underlying passion that burned with the unpredictable movements of a dying star. Her brunette hair was shoulder-length, but was pulled back to express such serenity unto a world that was cold with hatred – she smiled at her reflection – it was an event she rarely witnessed in her lifetime. She then continued to maneuver the mirror to reflect not only her face, but her entire body. A petite, yet strong appearance, unfolded before her soft brown eyes, while the commotion of the remaining world was no longer present within the aura of her soul, instead replaced with a calming silence that echoed throughout her mind. The echoes continued to flow into a glorious harmony of images – a collection of memories long forgotten – all leading her from the darkness of night towards a path of remembrance, ending with the whispering of those she once loved, her name finally exposed: Rain.
“You really outdid yourself this time,” she whispered underneath a slight chuckle, her warrior façade now no longer present, “Why couldn’t you have waited?” She turned her attention away from the reflective sliver, tossing it back unto the blackness of dirt. Her silence that temporary engulfed her world was torn away by the everlasting screams of the Hive. Rain’s focus was brought back to the battle, the waning trench that held the line between the unknown and the City. She rose from her hopeless and pathetic posture and begun to inch her way towards the father and the child, careful to ensure her head would not poke above the horizon of the trench. “Sir,” she commented, placing her hand upon the father’s bagging jacket sleeve, “it’s alright.” Her voice was reassuring, as she begun to guide the father’s mind towards the idea of letting go, to finally say good-bye where no one else could.
He turned towards her, his face grew from strong-willed to loss and saddening. His voice was no longer harsh and gritty to outsiders, but instead soft and hesitant, “No…no, you can’t make me,” he begun to shake his head in defiance, resisting the very thought of leaving, “he’s all I got left, I’m all he’s got left. You….no, you – you can’t separate us.” Rain begun to softly pat his jacket sleeve in an attempt to reassure him, to calm his fears. “Please…please don’t do this.” She continued to stare into his tired eyes, “Don’t say good-bye,” her voice beginning to break-up, clearing her throat she continued, “Don’t say good-bye…and you’ll never be gone.” A slight smile begun to form from her soft, red lips, “Come on” she finally whispered. The father’s eyes were watery, beginning to produce tears which crept down his pale cheeks. “Alright,” he said, looking down upon his son’s red hair he gave a final kiss, “I love you…do daddy proud,” his voice continued to fragment his speech, “Go on, meet up with mommy,” another final pause, “she’s waiting for you.” What could be considered his final lie, could easily be considered his final truth as he begun to rise from the broken ditch. His view shifted from his son running into the fog of the trench towards Rain’s face, the father nodded, indicating he was ready, and the two lifted themselves from the trench and begun to sprint towards the ghostly howls of the Hive.