This week's piece is actually a rough part of a prequel to one of the stories you'll find in the upcoming anthology I am a part of. The story this is a prequel of is called Doors of Babel, and the anthology - The Crossover Alliance - Anthology Volume 1 - will be due out September 26. If Jeran and Emily's last name - Huxley - sounds familiar, it's because this story and the one in the anthology are actually prequels to my novella, Drather's Story. Enjoy!
Jeran and Emily
The sirens wailed in the distance. In another reality, at another time, those same sirens would have been used to signal some kind of natural disaster – such as a tornado or a hurricane. But not in this dark age. The sirens were indicating the approaching raiding party.
Jeran Huxley tied the front of her long sweater and rushed into the small bedroom where Emily slept. The six-year-old girl was fast asleep, dreaming – one would presume – of ponies and dollhouses. Jeran hated having to jolt the girl awake, but if they didn’t escape before the raiding party arrived, they would be killed, raped, or something worse.
“What is it, Mommy?” Emily groaned as Jeran shook the girl somewhat violently. “I was dreaming.”
“I know, Honey, but we have to go. Remember what I taught you? Remember the drills?”
Emily rubbed her eyes and sat up in her bed. “Yeah. I remember.”
“Get out of bed, get dressed, get your bag, and meet me in the living room.”
“What are those sirens, Mommy? They’re loud.”
Jeran brushed her hand through the girl’s tangled hair and grinned. “I know. They won’t be on forever. Get dressed. I’m going to grab our other things.”
Jeran left Emily to follow through with the actions she had taught her. Jeran rushed down the dark hallway and entered their lit kitchen where a duffle bag half full of canned food sat on the counter. Jeran continued filling it from the open cupboard above the refrigerator, her mind racing to remember the drills she had run her and her daughter through every other day.
She finished packing the duffle bag, zipped it closed, and set it on the floor before rushing into the living room for another bag she had on the couch, half full of weapons and ammunition. She double checked the three pistols within, making sure they were loaded and ready to fire, and then zipped up the bag, satisfied she could aptly defend her daughter if need be.
As was her habit the last few days, Jeran glanced at a photograph on the bookshelf. In it, she, Emily, and Jeran’s husband, Jed, stood in a field of green grass against an Arizona sunset backdrop.
“You wanted to walk out on us, bastard? Fine.” She slammed the picture frame on its face, shattering the glass.
The sirens stopped. Jeran went to the large window and peered through the blinds on the street outside. Orange lamps filled the road with an ugly glow. She saw neighbors from the house next door packing up their vehicle. They were frantic, without a plan, and probably headed to their deaths. Jeran had tried to talk sense into them weeks earlier, tried to warn them about the impending raid, but they wouldn’t listen to her.
Most didn’t listen to her.
Most in their town believed Legion and the falling stars to be a fairytale. The stars hadn’t fallen over Jennastad, so why would anyone believe the news reports that they had fallen elsewhere?
Most believed the stories about Nathan Pierce, his sister Daisy, and the President of the United States to be a fabrication. A ruse. A conspiracy.
Not Jeran. She believed everything. And when she heard that a nearby prison had failed to keep its inmates within its fortified walls after a freak supernatural incident occurred to kill the guards instantly, she knew it would only be a matter of time before those prisoners decided to pour out into the nearest town – their town. The crier – a man by the name of Joseph – believed her, and did his best to hold town meetings to warn of the impending raid. Few listened. But because of Joseph, the siren had been activated tonight. Lives had been saved.
Did you get to safety, Joseph, or is your body hanging from an upside-down cross somewhere in town?
“I’m ready, Mommy!”
Startled, Jeran swung around and caught her breath when she found her daughter standing in the middle of the living room with her pink backpack strung across her back.
“Good, Honey. Now, go grab the bag of food from the kitchen, and let’s get going.”
Her daughter rushed off to the other room while Jeran peered through her blinds once again. Her neighbors were pulling out of the driveway in their beat up station wagon.
Gunfire suddenly filled the street. The windows of the vehicle shattered and the car rolled backwards into the wall across the street. Jeran noticed a group of men entering the street from the right of her house. Each was armed with a rifle, and each was clothed in a blue jumpsuit – prison garb.
Jeran rushed from the window and went straight to the kitchen where Emily was told to go. But the girl was nowhere in sight.
“Emily?” Jeran whispered. She quickly flipped the light switch off and made her way down the dark hallway, peering in Emily’s room, the master bedroom, and even the bathroom only to find no sign of her daughter. “Emily?”
She opened the door to the garage and gasped when she saw a woman in a black skirt and black blazer standing next to their SUV, Emily’s hand in hers.
“Let go of my daughter,” Jeran growled. “Now.”
The woman nodded and let go of Emily’s hand. Emily slowly drew to Jeran’s side. “She said her name is Sarah,” Emily said.
“What are you doing in my home?”
“I’m here to help,” the woman answered.
More gunfire rang out beyond the walls of the garage. Jeran heard screaming in the distance.
“Who are you?”
“My name is Sarah. Jed sent me to retrieve you two and bring you somewhere safe.”
“My husband never mentioned your name. Get the hell out of my garage.”
“Your husband hasn’t been here for the last week, has he? You thought he ran out on you, didn’t you?”
Jeran put her palms over Emily’s ears. “He’s a bastard. He left us in the middle of the night. I haven’t heard from him since.”
“He’s been working with me to find a place of safety for you and your family. He knew if he told you about it, you would want to follow him. He didn’t want you to get hurt.” Sarah put her hands in the air. “I’m not here to hurt you. I have no weapon. I just want to take you to a place of safety. A place far from here.”
Jeran heard more gunfire, only this time it sounded like it was just outside the garage door. “Let me grab a few things, and we’ll go with you.”
“Excellent,” Sarah said, lowering her arms to her sides. “Jed will be very happy to see you.”