In a world darkened by the Faepocalypse, a young woman has to betray her kin for one final act of love.
What others deemed madness, Sara deemed a necessity.
She had spent the last three days struggling with the idea, rationality and honed survival instinct gnawing at the need she felt. What would the point be? She’d die – or worse.
She had seen the-
But that was all the more reason to go past the threshold.
One taboo for another.
Paying betrayal unto love.
Thing would have been simpler before.
But she had to do with what she had.
Therefore, that night, when it was her turn to stand up against the cold, she licked her lips nervously. Would they know what she was about to do? Her gaze slipped off her companion’s eyes. She did not want to meet them.
“Are you alright, Sara?” Scadieri asked her. It was his way to greet him – the old, balding medic always seemed to put others’ life before his own, an attitude that ought to have him killed in the very first days of the War. But the man endured.
He’d endure this night as well, Sara wanted to believe.
“Hey, doc. Yes’ I’m fine. It’s just… it’s the thing.”
“Hm,” he nodded, pursing his lips. The thing. “I see, I see,” he said patting her shoulder, his gloves making the thin plastic plates of her padded armor creak. “Do you still want to take your shift?”
“I will,” she nodded at once, even though her heart beat right in her throat. “I- this way I can feel like I’m doing something useful.”
“That’s noble,” he approved with one of his sweet smiles, making his grey eyes glint. There did seem to be a secret light in this man’s heart. In time, a superstitious belief had begun in the outpost: Doc was just too happy to be killed. The Forest would choke on his old bones, hence it did not try to bite nearly as hard.
But in moment like those, Sara did feel like doctor Scadieri could be some sort of saint.
“I’m sure he’s really proud of you,” he said with a brief hug. Sara’s chest seized at those words.
“Thanks,” she replied, ash in her voice.
They did not speak for a few moments, looking past the steel and iron walls, protected from the night by braziers and spikes, against which the mangled, transformed bodies would fall, again and again. Beyond the circle of light cast by the burning embers and their electric lights, beyond the ghost of safety offered by their sidearms and their rifles, the hungry darkness awaited.
“I used to go hiking around here,” Scadieri stated. He adjusted his spectacles, his gaze growing dull for a moment. “Me and my wife.”
Doc did not have a wife. All which Doc had was the shadow of a ring on his middle finger.
“Never mind. It wasn’t the Fae. Cancer.” Another chuckle. “Some of us still got the time to die the old-fashioned way.”
She couldn’t stifle a chuckle. He was so cavalier about it.
Still, that little moment of openness seemed to cost him – a shadow grew over his features and his smile faltered.
“Well. If everything is settled, I will leave you to your vigil. Fare well, Sara.”
“Thanks Doc. You too.” She hugged him back, just for a moment, but it was important for her.
It would probably the last time she hugged another human being. The warmth of his old body, its weight, even through her body armor – it felt so real. Like there could be something that was able to pass through this night.
Then he left her with a wave of his hand, and she turned her gaze onto the Forest.
On the outskirts one could still see the shapes of the trees pre-change. Oaks and birches and even a few chestnuts. The original flora of the place, before… the new Forest devoured the old one.
Now it was just tall and straight pine trees, shooting onto the sky like spears, their thin grey needles covering the ground. And some of them had already begun to bleed crimson sap.
The Winter would be there soon.
Maybe, she tried to lie to herself, maybe what she was about to do wasn’t even betrayal. She was just going to dash ahead of the curve. They were all doomed anyway.
The electric lights of the camp wavered over the perimeter. They brought up nothing but motionless trunks. At least for the time being.
Who knew what the night would bring?
Sara patted a small pouch on her side. It contained the tools she’d need for her job.
She’d need them soon, and she’d better be quick.
If she left during an assault, or she waited too much, they might not get the time to fill up in her place. It would leave them vulnerable.
She did not want that.
Sara licked her lips again.
She pulled down her plastic visor.
And then she jumped over the wall and onto the foul-smelling ground past it.
The lights caught her movements immediately.
“Hey! Hey! Come back!” Someone shouted from behind her.
She didn’t care.
“Stop! Stop or I shoot!”
She didn’t stop.
Sara ran towards the line of trees. With a whine, the noise of their last machine-gun rose behind her and her heart caught in her throat, before more cries came after her and people began to simply shoot at her, the flashes of their rifles and guns lighting up the night for a moment.
Bullets wheezed past her, but she reached the first few trees.
Panting, sweating, she hid behind the closest one.
After a bit, every gun stopped.
Not her heart.
Oh, her heart beat so fast.
No going back anymore. Even if she decided to turn tail, they’d shoot her on sight.
She was tainted now.
But it would be worth it, wouldn’t it? It had to. It simply had to be worth it.
“I’m coming for you, Dad,” she whispered into her gloved hand.
Sara gulped a wad of bile, stood up and walked deeper between the trees, the blade of her flashlight her only guide.
Little by little, the canopy of trees closed behind her like one final embrace.
Pic by hiveworkshop.comAuthor’s Notes: I had this idea a couple months ago. I have decided to explore it, also as a way to provide a little more insight into Patina and the world as it was before. I hope you enjoyed it – tomorrow we will see how well (or how bad) Sara’s last attempt goes. Thanks for reading.