Continued from ‘Blood and Dirt‘
I stare at my hand in horror. The blood oozes down my arm as I hold it before my face. The dirt smears across my wrist with it, traveling with the blood as it slides toward my elbow.
My eyes pry away from my hand to the lifeless body next to me. A woman gazes to the sky with dark, vacant eyes. Her dark hair sprawls about her head, half-drenched in blood. The other half drifts in the wind.
The blood no longer seeps from her skull, but thickens and hardens as it dries out. The sight of the dark liquid heaves my stomach.
My body yanks backwards, dragging me from the horrific sight. Somehow I get my feet under me, but the ground quivers and shakes, tossing me to the ground once more. I collapse onto another a corpse. A child.
Sobs clog my throat. My hand clasps to my mouth to keep them back, smearing blood across my face. A shriek draws from my throat. I scuffle backwards from the corpses, away from the violence, the horror, the chaos. Tears stream down my cheeks, blurring my vision.
An arm wraps across my body.
“No!” I scream, my hands pressing feebly to the arm holding me.
“Shh!” A woman hisses. “It’s okay. It’s me.” Her voice is just loud enough for me to hear over my hollering, but soft and comforting. It’s the woman from earlier.
Spinning around, I look up at her. She looks nothing like my mother, but she’s the closest thing I have to a mother. She’s the only one trying to comfort me, to protect me. I lunge forward, burying my face in her shirt to block out the terrible things around me.
She places one hand on my back, the other runs over my hair. “I’m so sorry,” she whispers. “This never should’ve happened. You never should’ve seen this.” Her voice is distant like her thoughts are far away, but only for a moment.
“Let’s get you out of here.” Sweeping a hand under me, she picks me up off my feet. She settles me on her hip.
I lean against her shoulder, wrapping my arms around her neck. My forehead tucks close to her. But it does nothing to block out the shouts and and clanging of metal on stone.
Once more the woman moves me away from the chaos into a different part of the city. The sun dips behind the giant stone wall encircling us. The sounds quiet, but don’t die away as she leads me to a tiny house, smaller than the one I grew up in.
“Arabella,” the woman calls as she steps through the doorway.
Footsteps echo off the stone walls of the house.
Lifting my head off the woman’s shoulder, a younger version of the woman holding me stands in front of me. Her dark eyes catch mine. Surprise widens them.
“Who…” Her eyes travel across my bloodied face. “Is this?”
The woman gently sets me on my feet and glances down at me. “I’m… not sure,” she says, a tinkling laugh following her words. “She hasn’t told me yet.”
“Mother.” The girl’s voice holds a warning tone. “You didn’t-“
“No!” The older woman snaps, her attention flicking to her daughter. “Her parents are dead. The air adaptations were attacking her. It’s just as we thought.”
A darkness settles over the young woman’s face. “So…” she breathes, her jaw hardening. “They’ve decided to cut us off from the rest of the city.”
The elder woman nods. “It’s a lot worse than that.” Her comforting eyes drop to me.
I glance up at her, confused by the conversation between the two women.
“I think they’re kidnapping the metal adaptations.”
“Kidnapping them?!” The younger woman steps forward aggressively.
I shrink back behind the woman, my heart pounding in my chest.
“Arabella, calm yourself.”
The younger woman steps back, her shoulders settling as she looks to me. Something crosses her face. I can’t tell what, but after she crouches down to my level. A soft smile tugs at her pink lips. “Hi there. My name’s Arabella.” Her arms crossed in front of her and rested on her knees as she leaned forward. Her head tipped to the side. “I know you don’t know me and I know you must have had a long, difficult day, but perhaps we could be friends?”
My hands grip the woman’s shirt tighter, wanting to remain hidden behind her, but she places a hand on my shoulder. Glancing to her, she nods.
“This is my daughter, Arabella. She’s not as scary as she first seems.” The woman chuckled.
Arabella pouted. Her eyebrows knit and she glared at her mother. “Yes, well, forgive me for having issues with what the government’s choosing to do.”
“Air adaptations,” the older woman corrects.
The older woman sighs, her shoulders settling as if weighed down. “It would seem this is the air adaptations doing. I don’t think the other adaptations have anything to do with this.”
“How would you know?”
“Because the man spoke of mixtures. We’re not the only mixtures, Arabella.”
A scowl settles on the girl’s face as she rises back to her full height. “So the weather adaptations were taken, too?”
“Or they will be,” her mother suggests.
“But how can they do this? They can’t assume we’ll take it lying down.”
Her mother shakes her head. “I don’t think we have a choice.” She pauses, glancing down at me a moment in silence. “They sealed the wall.”
Next Installment: Who is She?