Discover more from Project: Shadow
The sound startled me awake. Something wailed out side. The sound still echoed in my ears even after the world had long since fallen…
The sound startled me awake. Something wailed out side. The sound still echoed in my ears even after the world had long since fallen silent. What could have made such a terrible sound?
I sat in my bed listening to the distant sounds from the city down the hill. The boughs of the tree in the front yard creaked. Its leaves rustled in the breeze. A soft thump announced my cat jumping off a counter she shouldn’t have been on. With me asleep though, she had free run of the house.
My blood turned to ice. The wailing reverberated through the house like an earthquake.
I sprung out of bed and stood under the lintel of my bedroom door as my whole house shook. Books toppled from the shelves. Tchotchkes shattered. The preternatural sound tore through me like glass in the wind. I shouted… screamed… howled… I didn’t know I could make such a sound. Was this the sound a terrified victim made before they died?
The shaking stopped and I ran for the door. I needed to be outside in case the world shook again… in case my house fell.
The cold night air caressed my face with its gentle touch. The silver crescent moon stood guard over the city which loomed black against the night sky. Amber light sparkled from the city lights. Even at this late hour, people toiled away in their offices while others danced in the clubs.
That horrible wail tore through the night again.
I whorled around toward the direction of the gut wrenching howl.
A woman raged at the sky near the roots of the oak in my front yard. Her skin was rich and dark as spring mud. Her long hair flowed down her back like a river of many waters. The look on her face crushed me.
I wanted to run to her, to comfort her, but I couldn’t move. I couldn’t speak. All I could manage was a single tear at the sight of such pain and loss.
Her voice was closer to me than my own thoughts. It was the only real thing in my life. I couldn’t remember anything before it, and I couldn’t imagine anything after it.
Her clothes were filthy and blackened with soot. Blood and dirt coated her face and hands. I couldn’t tell if it was her blood or someone else’s. There wasn’t enough light.
As the world fell silent again, my life flooded back to me.
I reached out toward her, but I couldn’t move from the spot. I sought my voice. I knew it was within me somewhere.
“Are you alright?” I felt stupid as soon as the words left my mouth. It was obvious she wasn’t, but those were the only words I had.
She started at the sound of my voice and jerked her head around focus on me. Her eyes drew me into her pain.
My bones ached. My skin burned. Tears erupted from my eyes. I collapsed to my knees.
“I’m sorry,” I whimpered. “I am so sorry.” I crumbled onto my face and wailed into the night. Arching my back like a howling wolf, I cried out into the darkest night.
The earth shook again beneath me. I trembled with it. I couldn’t tell what was from my body and what rose up through me from the ground. My voice echoed through me. I felt like my soul let go of my body and soon I would wink out of existence.
I fell onto my back. The starless sky loomed over me. I remembered back to my childhood when I used to go camping with my family. In the forest, the sky was alive with stars. It was dead here.
Someone picked up my head. The woman who was under the oak cradled my head in her lap.
My face ran with tears like hers. My heart pounded in my chest.
“Mother?” I reached my heavy arm up toward her face.
She smiled, and rested her bloody check in my hand.
“Are you alright?” I asked.
She shook her head. Her lips quivered.
Her pain rushed through my veins. My stomach burned with an unquenchable fire. Sweat broke over me. It was dirty and clinging, and made me feel sick. I shivered, but I wasn’t cold. My body burned with fever. It was so hard to breathe. The air felt like think hot poison, I coughed.
I sobbed harder. I felt her pain. Sorrow ate at me as I felt my children’s hate and disdain.
“Don’t cry,” the woman said, “Don’t cry.”
The pain melted away, and I knew I would do everything I could to save her.
I sat up, and turned to ask her what she needed from me.
She was gone.
The earth shook again, and I heard the wail echo through the night. I looked down at the distant city with a heavy heart. So much work to do. So little time left.