Devastation

Chapter Two of Endgame

Written by jrcsalter

Allison had the college in sight. She slammed her foot on the break, skidding to a stop at the entrance of the campus. In two seconds, she was out of her car, but after a few long strides, she crashed into nothingness. She tried to get through at another point, but again, an invisible barrier prevented her from entering. She screamed and punched the transparent wall, falling to her knees.   ‘Sorry, Sweetie. You’ve got to wait until next year.’   Allison looked up and saw Linda crouched down to look at her, face to face. Allison clenched her teeth and pressed her hands to the wall as if it was Linda’s neck. Linda took a frightened step back when she looked into Allison’s eyes. Allison forced sparks of electricity to appear between her fingers, building up until large bolts streaked across the wall, curving up and over the complex to form a domed net of lightning. Linda stood up and stared at the living web of energy; she shifted her head this way and that to see where it ended. Allison smiled at this first sign of fear Linda ever showed her. She stood up as well and slid her hands up the side of the dome.   Linda faced Allison again and walked swiftly towards her. ‘Stop!’ she said.   Allison did not.   Linda put her finger to her right ear, pressing some kind of communication device. ‘Naomi, we have a very angry wife at the gate,’ she said. ‘You know what to do.’   Allison, terrified, pulled her hands away from the dome, and the web disappeared. Linda noticed, and with a pitying expression, tilted her head. ‘Don’t worry, Sweetie, that was just a warning. Nothing’s happened to dear Kate. However, if you try that again—’ She turned, her red hair dancing around her, and walked back to towards the buildings.

Allison went back home, slower than she left it. When she walked through the door, Cat tried to restrain Atharron, but he slipped from her grasp and pushed Allison against the wall.   ‘You stupid bitch!’ he screamed. ‘You could have killed Kate!’   Allison pushed him back. ‘What did you expect me to do?! Nothing?’   ‘Yes,’ Atharron spat. ‘You stand back and honour his wishes, and there is an outside chance Kate may be saved. However minute it may be, ’tis still better odds than going in there against his orders.’   ‘What ever happened to never “negotiating with terrorists”?’   ‘This ain’t a negotiation. ’Tis common bloody sense.’   ‘Look, just go. I don’t need a scolding from you.’ Atharron stood there, unmoving. ‘GO!’ He tightened his mouth and turned, walking out the room. Allison heard the front door open, then close again.   Allison sighed, sitting in an armchair, and said to Cat and Dawn, ‘I want Kate back, I want this bastard to pay, I want him dead. And it looks like the only way I’m going to do this is by waiting.’ She leaned back as if she intended to do just that until the date. She closed her eyes and fell asleep.   Dawn came down in the morning and found Allison still in the chair. She made a cup of tea, but Allison let it go cold until she remembered it, sipping without tasting. The phone rang many times through the day, but Allison barely registered it. Occasionally Dawn answered it, and every time she offered it to her mother who never took it, remaining silent. Dawn made out Allison was too busy to come to the phone, and that she would take a message to give to her mother.   Later that afternoon, Rob came by. He crouched down in front of Allison. ‘I’ve been trying to get hold of you all day. How are you?’ Allison merely moved her eyes to look at him. He got his answer. ‘Yes, of course. A silly question.’ He tried to make conversation and find out what happened, but she refused to speak. Dawn told him what happened and how Allison had been since Kate was taken. He attempted to comfort her, but got no response. After a few hours, Rob left, saying he would cancel any appointments she had over the next few weeks.   This carried on for some days. Allison rarely moved and never left the house. The release of her latest album went by without even a recognition from her. Dawn made her meals and Allison ate, taking an hour to do so. Dawn silenced wild rumours of Allison’s death at school, but was unable to keep them from spreading to the rest of the country. Every now and then, Allison broke down. Sometimes Dawn was there, unable to understand the full extent of her misery. She had refused to tell Dawn about the prophecy, but knew her time was coming. She wasn’t even forty yet and she knew Death crept nearer. She only had a few months to live. With this realisation came a renewed urge to do something. She took a pad of paper and began writing. Morbid words, songs of death, songs of loss, songs of farewells to the world. But also songs of hope, of a better life in paradise, of being reunited with her father. Despite the themes, the work distracted her.   Occasionally Dawn switched the television on. The news reported failed attempts by the military to reclaim the college, and how the government planned to deal with the issue. So far, no one had seen or heard from anybody inside. Belinda Patel never came out and was presumed dead. Allison didn’t like the quietness of the Emissary. The longer it went on, the more paranoid she became that he was going to do something sudden and unexpected.   One day, she took a walk outside her front door, not sure what she planned to do beyond that. Her feet took her to the train station where she bought a ticket to the end of the line, London. She arrived at the terminal and went outside to explore the capital.   She had seen it many times, and today was no different. She strolled through Hyde Park, Trafalgar Square, crossed the Millennium Bridge. She went in a few shops and bought a few useless tourist things, pens, teddy bears, bookmarks, all decorated with the Union Flag. It was all just something to do. Something to take her mind off everything and get lost in the mundanity of normal life.   Crossing Westminster Bridge, she put down her bags and stopped. She looked down the Thames and the few boats that floated along it. She heard a bell strike and looked up at the clock tower. Three o’clock. Dawn would be home from school in forty minutes. Another chime sounded. Allison waited for the next and watched as the clock face blew outwards in a giant ball of flame.   She ducked, avoiding the shrapnel raining down. When the hail of rubble subsided, she looked up again and saw the famous building, now without the pointed roof or clock. Big Ben itself lay dented and split in the middle of the road. People screamed. Some wounded by the wreckage. Some cried over silent loved ones. Allison got out her phone to ring for help, but before she finished dialling, another explosion shook the bridge. The wreckage of the clock tower, blocked her view, but she saw pieces of yellow rock fly upwards. Before any brick hit the ground, another explosion occurred. And another. And another. Each following the last like giant destructive dominos running around the parliamentary buildings, blowing glass and bricks out into the river and on the pavements and the road. The bursts reached the base of the tower and climbed what remained of the building.   When the last stone fell, Allison looked out across the devastation and remembered the date. It was the fifth of November.

Sand coloured rock avalanched across the road to the partly destroyed buildings on the other side. Traffic stopped, some unable to go farther, others buried. Some boats floated by with wide-eyed passengers looking up. One or two vessels sank below the surface. People everywhere, screaming, dying, or dead. While Allison surveyed the scene, a thought struck her. This was the Emissary’s doing.   She ran over the rubble to the centre of the destruction, closed her eyes, and scanned her mind. She blocked all noises​—​the screams, the shouts, the sirens​—​and concentrated on hearing thoughts, on sensing heartbeats, on feeling life. Most people not in the palace at the time still lived, though some only just. She felt one slow heartbeat from beneath her, but it blinked out after a few seconds, leaving her standing on a mass grave.   Opening her eyes, she saw the emergency services tend to the wounded. She had to help. A fireman tried to free an unconscious man trapped in a car by a large chunk of rock. Allison fixed her mind on the rock and moved it. The fireman looked up and watched as the chunk flew over his head and landed next to Allison. He stared for a second before shouting to another to get some cutting tools. She moved more rocks from other people and cleared the area as best she could.   Allison told the services none survived inside, but they still insisted on searching once they cleared up the people they could see. She helped to uncover the bodies and by the time they finished, night had fallen.   Allison tried to leave, but reporters stopped her. They asked questions and she gave brief answers, eager to get away. After a quarter of an hour of interrogation, she left, walking away from Westminster Bridge, and phoned Dawn to tell her where she was. When she hung up, she called for Cat. The angel appeared within seconds and before her halo faded, Allison said, ‘The Emissary has struck.’ Cat looked behind and saw the empty space. ‘Most of parliament was in those buildings, and not one still lives. I overheard the news just now, and they said the ones who weren’t in there have all been killed. Every one of them. The media still believes it to be a terrorist attack, but it can’t be. Not considering the prophecy. The Emissary is wiping out the leadership of Britain. Without them, I would presume King William is the authority now. Shit!’ Allison said with realisation. ‘He’s going there next.’   She ran and Cat quickened her pace to catch up with her. When she was close enough, she grabbed Allison’s arm and teleported to Buckingham Palace. A few tourists who crowded the area looked around at the flash of white light. Some saw the appearance of the two women and looked curiously. Allison and Cat turned towards the palace and saw nothing out of the ordinary. The black gates stood whole, the guards moved about the grounds, and the Union Flag fluttered in the faint breeze. Allison knew what must be done and climbed the gates. She got to the top and began unnecessarily shouting at the guards running over, their guns pointed at her. She dropped down and turned to the nearest one, hands open and level with her head. ‘I’m not trying to break in, but you need to get the King to a safe place. Someone is trying to kill anyone who can rule and the highest authorities in the land right now are in there.’ She pointed to the palace. ‘He’s coming here next. He isn’t going to wait for the country to recover. Frankly, I’m surprised he’s waited this long.’   Neither guard lowered his weapon. ‘How do you know this?’   ‘Don’t ask questions! There is a very real threat here. If the attack down the road hasn’t convinced you, nothing will.’   Allison lost the guard’s attention as he looked up and behind her. Allison followed his gaze and saw a figure standing in the air floating over the gates. It wore a familiar black cloak, the hood covering its head, and a sword decorated its hip. Allison levitated to follow, but as her feet left the floor, the palace grounds blurred. She looked around and saw the distortion form a dome shape then gradually disappear until completely invisible. Allison tried to pass over the threshold, but found herself blocked in the same way she had at the college.   The figure turned around and faced Allison.   ‘You’re dead,’ Allison said.   ‘Not yet,’ the figure said. It wasn’t the voice of her father’s murderer, but she recognised it nonetheless.   ‘Emissary!’   His face became no clearer as he moved towards her, as if the light refused to touch it. A voice spoke from the darkness of the hood. ‘Rebáel!’   ‘Stop,’ Allison said. ‘It’s me you want. Why kill all these others?’   The Emissary turned around and landed. ‘You aren’t the only one I want, Allison. In fact, you’re more of a fly, annoying me while I try to get on with larger things.’   The guards, able to reach him now, grabbed his arms, but he threw them off and they skidded to the ground. One guard took his weapon and fired. The Emissary caught the bullet between his first two fingers and shaped his hand like a pistol. The guard lowered his weapon, then dropped it when the Emissary turned his head towards him. The ammunition fired from his fingers into the guard’s forehead. Before the first guard fell to the ground, the Emissary had taken out his sword and ran it through the other.   He turned back to the gates and a wave of black smoke swirled next to him forming into the shape of a young blonde girl. Allison recognised her as the one she saw on the news.   ‘Now, Mrs. Sands,’ said the Emissary, ‘here’s a little irony for you.’ He raised his arms and from everywhere came the sound of the National Anthem.
 
God save our gracious King,
Long live our noble King,
God save the King.
 
The two turned, the girl unsheathing her own sword, and walked to the palace doors. Locks, no obstacle to his powers, cracked as the doors flew inwards and the monsters marched in, the music asking God to send the King victorious,
 
Happy and glorious,
Long to reign over us,
God save the King.
 
And Allison watched, helpless.



Cover image: by JRCSalter

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