[Prompt from http://daily-writing.blogspot.com . The following story excerpt and characters are from a series I’ve been working on: the Hands of Fate series.]
Frantic voices assaulting my in the darkness. Bursts of red and yellow flickering—fighting each other to the death. The sound of tears. A name.
“Tori! Fate above! Tori, please answer me!”
I remembered when I was a little girl, swimming in the ocean the deep end of the pool all by myself for the first time, the feeling of eternity as I tried to swim down to the bottom. Then there the long, agonizing wait of rushing to surface to take a breath. As a little girl, there were times when I thought I would never make it, that I would drown right there in our community pool amidst all the adults.
I felt like I was again in that pool; I was rushing to the surface of something, not knowing if I’d ever reach it. Then came what felt like the first breathe of my life as I finally reached the light.
The sun burned my eyes for a few seconds. I blinked like rapid fire, trying to give myself time to adjust to the bright light around me. Bright? I remembered black skies and a brisk wind…
“Fate above, you are alive.”
There were hands gripping my shoulders tightly, blunt nails digging into my skin. I looked down and saw Vitus staring wildly at me, his hair coming out from its braid and flying in the soft breeze that carried. He was crying. I’d never seen him cry before.
“I’m,” my voice was quiet and my lips cracked. God was I thirsty. “I’m fine.”
I caught a whiff of a horrible, acrid smell. It was like my dad had forgotten a steak on the barbeque pit again, charring whatever meat had once been edible. I tried to look past Vitus to see where that awful smell was coming from, to find out what it was.
He was shaking, his hands jarring the skin of my shoulders up and down. His voice was even shaky when he spoke next, fresh tears streaming down his face with each word. “I am glad you are safe.”
Whether it was his sudden sorrow that took away his strength or I had somehow finally found my own power, I managed to push him aside. I felt like a dog, sniffing the air as I did, trying to locate that smell. It was familiar yet foreign all at once.
A couple of feet ahead of me was a blackened mound on the grass. I crawled towards it, my legs still trapped in the waters my mind had escaped. Vitus was trying to stop me, but he didn’t—or couldn’t—follow me.
The blackness took up about three feet at the widest. I could feel heat rising up from the black sand. Ashes, my mind instantly supplied me; there were still some tendrils of smoke wafting through the air. I looked around the site and saw only emerald blades of grass and sunbeams. What had happened? I slowly prodded the ashes with the toe of my leather boot, wondering if I’d see anything that could clue me in. At first, there was only ash, the small flakes clumped together in places and, once my searching toe touched them, they began to crumble away. I began to make out a larger clump of ash at the center of the pile and instantly froze.
This cluster was elongated with a golfball-sized nodule at one end and smaller bumps at the other. There was a slight curve to the ends while the center of the shaft remained straight, proof of health. As soon as I started wondering why there was ashy remains of a femur in the midst of the clearing, everything came flooding back.
Adrian confronting me and Cris, intending to kill him to avenge Evander. I turned back towards Vitus, who was still crouched over himself, and saw the crumpled form of Cris. In my confused state upon waking, I hadn’t seen his body. His body. He tried to buy time to let me escape, letting Adrian exact his blood price from him. Empty of everything except horror, I turned back to the femur at my feet. I could still feel the weakness of losing my life force to him. Then came red hot fury that flew like electricity from my hands.
It was electricity; lightning, specifically. Lupe had been right; I was the girl in the prophecy. I fell to my knees in the ash, scattering bits of femur around me. I knew why Vitus was crying; his father was dead, his black remains lying underneath me.
And I had killed him.