Ashes

By Stephanie Flint

Young adult, Sci-Fi, Romance, Action & adventure, Short stories

eBook

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446
2 mins

First Page

The sky is darker than I remember, and a shape forms above me, blurry. "Matthew?" I ask. My head smarts. I cough, tasting acrid smoke, and my fingers touch a sticky warmness on my forehead. There's a cut there; I don't remember why. The gray metal of a helicopter glints in the fire from the building a block away. The warning system is playing repeatedly, but for the life of me, I can't tell what it says. A firm hand grips mine and then it's Cory who yanks me to my feet, not Matthew. "Come on!" he says. "We’ve got to get inside."

What else is there to do? He half drags me into the lobby of a restaurant. Traces of fresh pancakes and hot maple syrup and pungent coffee smells mix with the ashy gunpowder odor from outside. The place is astonishingly empty for the morning hour. We navigate past upturned chairs and coffee stains, broken mugs lying forgotten on the floor.

Then we’re in the kitchen, where thick ceramic tiles block out the sounds of chaos. Cory grabs the handle of the bunker and twists it, praying for it to turn. He pulls me to him, holding me tight as another explosion rattles the foundation. My head against his chest; his heart beat competes with the explosions like a drum.

"You okay, Serena?" he asks.

I'm not sure. "What happened?" I can't seem to remember why Cory is here. All I know is that I trust him more than Matthew, and there's a sickness in the pit of my stomach at the thought of the other.

"Rebels," he says, and out of the fog in my head, I remember looking at a bright sky and seeing a silver canister hurtling towards us.

"They attacked?" It's impossible. They've never attacked us. Not like this. But if they did, we don’t have much time. I force my weight onto the handle, but the door’s already locked. If there’s an invasion, this restaurant will be the first to be ransacked.

"Where are your parents?" Cory asks, pulling me away so he can look me in the eyes.

"I don’t know," I whisper. I really don’t know. They’re probably in the bunkers, but what if they were taking a stroll on Parkside?

It took the first hit.

My stomach clenches, and I remember now why Cory is here. But he's already dragging me out the door and into the smoky streets. "What about your sister?" he asks. He has to raise his voice to be heard. "Is she safe?"

I haven’t told him yet. She left ten months ago for the rebellion. Same as Matthew. I’ve just said she’s busy. "Yeah," I gulp. Movement above me, and I dodge a falling brick. The ground erupts under my feet and the world spins, and suddenly I'm pressed against the side of a building. Everything’s vanished into ash and dust. "Cory?" I scream. There’s a ringing in my ears. That blast was so close…

"Serena!" A figure leaps through the smoke, and Cory’s face is smeared with soot. My heart leaps. Cory grabs my wrists and yanks me up, and we scramble down the side alley.

"Drop all weapons. Stand with your hands above your head. Repeat. Drop all weapons…"

That’s not our warning system. It’s hers.



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