Chapter One – Part One
The funny thing about you being dead, twice mind you, is you get a lot of perspective.
When I first died. I mean, when I first thought I was dead I couldn’t quite cope with where I was in life. Everything, everything I had ever known had gone up in flames. The Past became my Present. My Future, or at least the future I had hoped for was gone.
There was no back button. There was no way to undo our actions.
If you’ve lived the life I had lived up until that point – you might feel like: what was the point then?
You try to make up for a broken childhood. You try to re-make yourself in a better woman who you thought you could be. But what does that do for you? What?
I can’t even say I died. Not yet, anyway. That’s later of course, but you’ve seen that. Or at least, part of that.
But when life or a combusting, anti-matter explosion kicks you in the stomach you don’t slither off into the darkness and give up. No, that’s not how you were trained. That’s not what you know how to do. Giving up is not something you do. You fight. You get up. You shake your fist at the goddamn sky and say you’re gonna make something of your life.
Granted, this was before I had been thoroughly exposed to any form of popular cinema so I had no strong archetype female to compare myself to.
When my eyes opened and I saw the brown world below me my heart lodged itself under my tongue.
I had nothing left in me. Nothing left to give. But I saw them. I saw my friends – my team. Part of my team anyway. We were hurdling. Fallen stones kicked from shore.
The impact would definitely kill us. Neither of them was conscious so it would definitely kill them.
The ground was coming.
I was so tired.
Giving up would have been so much easier. But I couldn’t do that to them. It would be so cruel.
When I breathed in the air nearly suffocated me. But I managed to calm myself just enough to throw my Shedding. It sprawled out on the sand. My beautiful, neon green tangle of energy, glistening down below.
I felt my arms go weak as I bounced into the shimmering net. The shock was immediate as the energy coursed back inside my body, jolting me up and out of the safety net. My arms and legs reached out for the sand below and I allowed the rest of me to fall into it. I pressed my mouth to the wet sand and breathed in. I had so much sand lodged in the back of my throat, but I didn’t care. I couldn’t be bothered with that.
Several minutes had gone by before I had the energy to lift my head, or better yet turn my head back forwards the Shedding net. Risa and Ivy still lay in the middle. Ivy on her back, Risa on her stomach, their legs overlapped onto one another.
I struggled to my feet, which the sand didn’t help with. I took one step and fell back down, taking in another pile. I turned my head to the side and coughed before I attempted to rise.
This time, I was more successful. I reached for the side of the net and kneeled down, feeling for Risa’s pulse and then Ivy’s. They were alive. Good, good. Very good.
Risa’s left eye opened just enough to see me.
“Your…,” she wheezed, “your… fuckin’ Shedding is electrocuting me…”
“You’re welcome…” I coughed another bit of sand out and smiled.
I felt the sky darken before I saw it. The clouds turned a gray I had not seen before.
“They’re coming…” Ivy whispered. She had not opened her eyes but I imagine she felt it too.
If we had survived, chances are so had our enemies. Suddenly, our position on the desert beach became our doom and less of a sanctuary.
“We have to go,” I pleaded with a whisper. I’m not sure why I was whispering. Maybe I thought it would lessen our chances of being found.
Risa groaned and flopped her wrist off the Shedding’s net, “We can take them,” she mumbled.
“You are in no condition to take anyone on,” I hissed, “Get up, now!”
Risa’s eyes opened to challenge me, but I suspected her own exhaustion had grown since she first spoke.
“Okay, okay,” Risa rolled forward, letting gravity take her to the floor with a soft thud.
Ivy sat up slowly, her eyes in a daze as she wiggled herself off the glistening green net.
I quickly summoned the Shedding back into my skin, the re-merge felt calming, if only for a moment.
“Run!” I hissed as the first sound thundered behind me. They were falling like stones. Well, placed stones un-impacted by what had just happened. Their makers had planned well. They were the upgraded version after all. Built to last.
We, on the other hand, could barely run straight. My feets were now caked in wet sand. My legs were as dead weight, much like Ivy and Risa were at this point.
The area of the beach we had crashlanded at was lined in small cave-like areas that directly fed into the crashing waves.
“There,” I pointed, “Hide there.”
The nearest one to us was small and had the most water crashing into it but the waves would probably help us not be seen.
I heard Ivy groan, “We’re gonna get so wet…”
I managed to use my shedding to steer the water away from us as we entered just before the biggest wave of all careened down upon us.
We stood in the very back of the cave. The water licked my ankle before it fell back and the process would start again and again.
“How long should we stay here?” I asked, fully out of good ideas.
Another larger wave smashed into the left side of the entrance. I could not see anything, which hopefully met no one could see us.
“Till dark…” Risa said softly, her eyes darted to the peak of the entrance, she was more awake now more alert, “We’ll leave once the sunsets.”
My Shedding had taken a lot out of me. I passed out against the wall, my the water up to my knees at that point. I didn’t notice. I had done my part. Now, it was their job not to get us killed.