J Whitworth Hazzard’s Picture Choice: 2
Title: Breaking Through
It came in flashes.
Visions of blood and monsters.
The tiny snippets of some other world broke the continuity of Alice’s fanciful dreams like singular frames of a horror movie, misplaced in the wrong reel.
Alice stood in her Aunt’s bakery among a mountain of flower bouquets from her lover, Matt. They filled the little bakery and giggling cousins she’d never met played outside on the sidewalk. She felt happy. Happy enough to ignore the fractures—until she smelled it.
The smell pressed on her the hardest. The fresh cookies and cakes in the dream oven were smoldering. The heat of the ovens rose rapidly and she could smell as the pastries caught fire and burned. The back wall of the bakery crumbled away and she could see a distant city of crystal and steel in flames. Her people were dying.
Whispers of anguish and pain filled Alice’s mind. Slowly at first, then rising in frequency and urgency as the condemned souls begged for her help. They prayed she would come and end the torture of the enemy.
Alice couldn’t ignore them any longer and took her first step onto the ancient stone road. The bakery, the flowers, the cookies all faded away behind her. The icy cold rain soaked her thin cotton dress instantly but Alice felt no cold. She felt alive.
Alice floated from the road and felt the wings sprout from her back, shredding her dress and leaving her nude against the elements. She felt no shame. The only thing she felt was the intense power returning to her body.
Alice rocketed toward the city, thunder pealed behind her as she shattered the air in front of her.
Her body, guided by instinct, stopped in mid-air at the edge of the city in flames. A small group of white-robed figures were on their knees. They’d been beaten, tortured, and corralled, awaiting their execution by dark figures in black armor surrounding the circle.
“Surrender.” Alice commanded. She knew they wouldn’t, but it allowed her conscience a clean slate.
The armored goons turned on her with ferocious enmity, but their weapons were useless against her power. Bullet, beam, and blades bounced off her. She counted exactly three seconds. “My turn.”
The elements responded to her command and Alice unleashed them on the armored beasts holding her people hostage. Lightning, fire, and ice snaked through the air in a blizzard of death. Alice’s fury didn’t just kill the intruders—it ripped them to pieces, rending them from existence and leaving only smoking chunks of flesh and steel behind.
There was no time to savor her victory. As soon as she turned from the last blackened corpse of the enemy, a column of flame engulfed the survivors of her people. Alice screeched in despair and rushed to save anyone she could when an ebony fist the size of a Volkswagen smashed into her. Her body erupted in pain as she flew through the air and ripped into the stones of the road, leaving Alice-shaped divots for a hundred yards.
“Like a moth to a flame. You’re so predictable, - - -,” The demon’s voice spoke a name that was at once familiar and unrepeatable in her mind. Alice moaned and blood spilled from her mouth in a stream. Something inside her was broken. The four-eyed demon walked calmly up to her broken body and spoke, “I’ve found her, my Lord. She’s waiting for you.”
Alice’s heart froze in terror. It wasn’t the demon, eyes of flame and ember, that brought the fear. It was sudden, sure, knowledge of who—of what--was approaching.
Alice crawled away, clawing with bloody fingers at the road. She could not get away. The black mist began to form behind the demon. A titanic form, alien in nature and so evil and corrupt that her brain started to shut down rather than accept that such a being could exist.
“No. No!”Alice cried. The ground began to shake. Alice could see the stones in the road vibrate as the titan coalesced. “Noooo!”
“Alice. Wake up, wake up.”
Alice shot straight up in bed. She covered her pounding heart with both fists and sobbed.
“It’s okay, babe. It was just a nightmare.” Matt wrapped his arms around Alice and kissed her neck. “It was just another nightmare. I’m here. Everything’s okay.”
“It’s not okay. It’s not,” Alice sobbed. “They’re getting worse.”
Matt wrapped her up and rocked her body against his, “It’s just a dream.”
Alice wiped away her tears and knew. “They’re not dreams. They’re memories.”
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Trained in science and critical thinking, J. Whitworth spends his leisure time writing fiction that would make his former professors cringe. Dr. Hazzard’s PhD in molecular biophysics is used to figure out how to scientifically justify the existence of mythical creatures. Follow him at Twitter @Zombiemechanics Facebook Blog Zombie Mechanics