The sky was raining blood. For those below, screaming and trampling over one another to get away, that was not the problem. The stench of warm blood splattering across their clothes and staining the pavement red was not the problem. What was worse was the source. Above their heads, a swarm of locusts had emerged. Emerged and snatched those that lived below for their feast.
Locust, though, was not the right term for these beasts. It was simply the one that fit in the minds of those cognizant to witness them and live. Moving across the sky as a ravenous shadow, the thousands of beasts were each twice the size of any person. Hardened purple exoskeletons defended them from what meager defense that could be mounted. They grabbed up what they wanted, anything living with a pulse, and took to the skies with them.
Rebecca, red hair loose in the windstorm kicked up by the wings of the unnatural horde, was one of those trapped in the city. Calgary, Canada, February 4th, 1984. She had convinced her newly, legally wedded husband to move there with her for her job. Their daughter, soon to be two, was young enough that such a move wouldn’t disrupt her. She could grow up in a nice environment, a good neighborhood. Rebecca could pursue her career as a network analyst and rise up the ladder while Chen settled into his new position as a hotel manager.
These concerns seemed so trivial to her now. The screaming above had, blessedly, quieted. She found refuge, breaking away from the crowds, in a car park. She paid no mind to what she was covered in, couldn’t focus on it. Didn’t dare dwell. These beasts, they had come from nowhere. Rebecca had heard news reports of meteors coming down the day before, which was the only thing her mind could seize on. Aliens!
Savage, bestial aliens. Why here? Rebecca, eyes wild, didn’t care. She had to get back to her family. Eyes adjusting to the dark, she made her way deeper into the garage. She would steal a car and get back to the outskirts of Calgary. Chen and her sweet daughter would be there. They would be safe. They had to be safe. It occurred to her too late that the parking facility should have been filled with people. People trying to get their cars. Or, like her, trying to steal them.
Late, like her picking up on the quiet noise that permeated the darkness. A crunching, ripping noise, echoed by the dozens. Rebecca tried to strangle a scream as she found why it was so quiet. A group of the monsters, the locusts, already made their way in. They were feasting on those poor souls that had ventured into the garage. She couldn’t taste the heavy iron in the air, because it already stained her so from the outside. What should have been a safe haven was nothing more than a trap.
Dropping from the ceiling, two of the beasts were on her immediately. Rebecca, screaming, lashed out to strike the monster.
It took her arm for her troubles. Rebecca hit the ground, clutching at her ruined shoulder, struggling to back away. She couldn’t die like this. Not here, not now. These beasts with their gleaming fangs and spindly limbs, they possessed no humanity. No mercy. Rebecca could not allow these things to get to her family.
Most times in life, no matter the courage and will, such thoughts are futile. The pressing weight of reality stomps its boot against the neck of hope and snuffs out such fancies. This day was unique. This was the day Rebecca Ferguson should have died.
This was the day she saved her family.
All the while, eyes of unnatural jade green watched and witnessed the rebirth of an ancient power.
In the hot summer of 1991, if you had asked this little girl in the dark blue dress with pink stripes where she got her pretty red hair from, she would have told you without question that it came from her mother. If you had asked her where she got her pretty emerald green eyes from, they too would be attributed to her mother. Her striking features, showing a strong Chinese heritage? Her father.
These were the things which she took pride in for most of her nine years of existence. Soon to be ten, she would promptly tell anyone who asked. This girl found herself at a mall, the name of which she had forgotten, as many nine-year-olds, soon to be ten, have and many will yet. She was visiting there with her mother, who she would claim she was the spitting image of. Then her mother had to leave abruptly.
Not an unusual thing, her mother leaving. During any event or occasion, if something came up her mother would leave. Without delay, though hopefully with some hesitation. She was never worried. Her mother was the greatest woman alive, after all. Her mother was more than any other mother, she knew that for a fact. It didn’t bother her, too much, when her mother had to leave.
She spent her time at the mall doing what she could to entertain herself. Being so young, that wasn’t too hard, though keeping her attention trained on one thing at a time could be a challenge. She knew she was safe. The girl wandered from shop to shop, hoping to herself that her father wouldn’t find out that her mother had to leave her again. They tried not to discuss it when she was around, tried to keep quiet the yelling and shouting.
But a child can hear more than a parent would like them to. A child can understand, though maybe not quite comprehend, why such things would be kept from them. Why the hurt accusations and painful questions would not be something that they would want her to be exposed to. She didn’t worry about it none. Her mother was the greatest woman alive, her father just didn’t understand. One day he would. The girl smiled, taking comfort in that.
When her father found out, he would be so happy, so forgiving. He wouldn’t be as upset about the times that her mother forgot her at school or left her in some place or other for hours on end. He wouldn’t judge her for missing supper after supper, for not having enough time to spend with her beloved family. He could maybe even begin to accept why she was too tired to read her bedtime stories at night and be there to chase away the boogeymen in the little girl’s closet.
When the men approached, the little girl did not see them at first. She was wiping tears away, waiting for her mother. She had to be strong for her mother. She had to try. The men moved as one, each dressed the same as the other. Six in total, dark blue pin striped suits, black ties, white gloves, white hats. It occurred to the girl, realizing they wanted her attention, that white hats were usually worn by the good guys in old westerns.
She had never seen any of them, of course, not ones with the prototypical white hats and black hats, but it was one of those things that stuck out to a child’s mind. The men stopped, grouped together. The lead man, a shorter gentleman with gentle blue eyes and light blond hair poking out of his hat, smiled at her.
“What would your name be?”
His voice was nice. The girl blinked, surprised about this approach. She began to look around for her mother before shaking her head. Of course, her mother wasn’t here right now. She put on a big smile for the man.
“My name’s Anna Ferguson!”
The group shifted. Anna watched with fascination as they seemed to flow, cascading from one another, until she was surrounded. They did not seem to shuffle out of place, as if they had practiced this before. Moving so totally as a group, they reminded her almost of shadows, fluidly going from one shape to another without regard to what should have been between.
The blonde man with the bright eyes smiled again. “Would you happen to be the daughter of Rebecca Ferguson?”
The man’s eyes did not look so kind now. They did not look like men to her now. They looked like the things that would haunt her closet. The night terrors that would plague the dark corners of her room, that was the duty of a parent to combat and send away. Anna frantically looked from man to man, seeing no escape. In the distance, some people were beginning to point, murmuring picking up. Guards would be arriving soon. Adults. Real adults, not like these fakes.
So, Anna did the only thing a nine-year-old, soon to be ten, could do. She stood her ground, balled her fists, and glared at the bright-eyed blonde-haired boogeyman.
“Yeah? What of it!”
His smile turned razor thin.
“That is very good to hear. I would have hated, just hated, to have gotten this message mixed up.”
Anna’s strong stance faltered. “Message? You want me to give her a message?” She had to of misjudged them. Maybe they worked with her?
His laughter, quiet and without humor, put her back on edge.
“No, dear child. You are the message.”
Anna did not have long to be confused. She did not have long to process his choice of words. From his jacket pocket, the man drew a handgun. Whatever make or model was lost to the little girl, as was the fact that each man around her drew an identical gun at the same time as the first.
This, too, she did not have time to react to.
In unison, each man emptied their clip into her body, each aiming for a different location. Holes were blown open across her body as she was riddled. One of her emerald green eyes exploded, liquid and blood flying. Each gun clicked dry at the same time, long after her body had crumpled to the ground between them. If someone there had been asked, they would have remarked that the blood pooling around her was almost as red as her pretty hair.
This was how nine-year-old, soon to be ten, Anna Ferguson should have died. Only the men, hasty their retreat, did not notice a most curious thing about the small girl that they had gunned down.
They did not notice the electricity building up around her. Through her. In every wound, across every inch of torn flesh, burning blood away and mending bone, violet electrical energy built up. A pretty blue eye, destroyed by gunfire, repaired itself. It stared, blind for a moment until refocusing itself. Then it filled with light, igniting with an unworldly power. The men did not notice, but they would, far too late to react. Too late to regret what they had done. To comprehend the mistake they had made. Because this was the day that they did, in fact, die.
In the distance, eyes of gold watched the scene unfold.