It had been quiet for so long. Maybe everything was okay. He raised his head out from between his knees, and the grip of his arms loosened.
At least a few of the others thought so. Their voices were growing louder, hopeful. They were shushed quickly, but the mood had lifted. He didn’t look at them for long
And then the world started to end. The ground shook. Metal screeched, echoing so much it had to be miles away but so loud that it must have been right next door. The others screamed. He saw them again.
Their guns were all pointed right at him. He couldn’t see their faces; he hadn’t gotten a good enough look the first time, but he could see their sneers, he could see the black pits where their eyes were and he knew they were death.
He took a rattled breath and buried his head back between his knees before she showed up, and he saw the rest. He knew he was shaking; he could feel the wall vibrating against his back. The gunshots rang out. He flinched, and was thrown back against the wall. But no bullets flew.
He peeked. The others had retreated back against the far wall again. None of them looked at him, they hadn’t spared a glance when he crawled under the racks and hid in the dark corner. The guns were gone, but he knew they’d be back.
He could feel them. Waiting on the other side of his eyelids.
She watched the building collapse, and there was nothing she could do. Just like she couldn’t do anything when she first woke up. Just like she couldn’t do anything when the gunshots echoed around the city.
She’d tried to ignore it, for a while. TV and video games helped, but you could only ignore the gunfire and explosions outside of your window for so long. Eventually, she wheeled herself over to the window and watched the occasional flash of a muzzle and bright red streak of a tracer round fired into the sky. Sunrise had ruined that.
She had wandered into the kitchen in the time since, and the remains of her peanut butter still decorated the floor. Even across the room, she couldn’t not see the zeppelin coming down.
And then she’d seen the building. She’d been staring right at it when it fell. She felt her heart freeze in her chest and her stomach felt grotesquely empty. And then the screams started. Hundreds of thousands of minds had imprinted onto the collapsing building just as they died and every one of them tried to force their last thoughts into her head. Even asleep as they all were, the last moment of pain echoed.
Every neuron screamed as she felt herself being crushed a thousand times over. She felt herself trying to breathe only to realize there was no room for her lungs to expand. A metal birder had chopped off one of her legs. Her right was gone, leaving a trail of blood along her cheek as it rocked back and forth.
The building fell beneath the horizon and it stopped. The pain was gone, but she was rubbing her eye, oddly comforted by the pressure when she pressed on her eyelid.
She didn’t understand why, but she knew that the way the building had fallen had been unnatural, forced. It had bulged before collapsing, as if it was being forced away from something she couldn’t see.
The news echoed behind her. It had taken the world outside the city four hours after she woke up to realize something had gone wrong, and they still hadn’t risked sending anyone to investigate.
But they’d seen the building too. It had been from the safety of the surrounding countryside, but she could hear the reporter failing to describe what he was seeing.
And as her power faded into the corners of her mind, she felt the strength in her arms fade and her vision went black.
He had had a lot of bad ideas in his days, but this was by far the stupidest thing he’d ever done.
The wind whipped past his ears, drowning out the shouts form behind him.
The building had finished collapsing almost as soon as he’d left the copter. There weren’t any screams, but in the dark corners of his mind, he heard them echoing.
He’d never had a chance to talk sense into King. He’d never been able to tell him that he still believed the good natured asshole he’d spent years with was still in there. He’d never given him a chance to repent.
And now he never would.
Pain echoed up through his chest and tore itself from his throat in a yell more savage and wild than any human should be able to make.
He’d stopped thinking about the ground, but it was coming up fast. He knew he could survive the landing; he’d been rated for jumps from heights half again as high as the copter had been. But there were some fears that refused to be ignored.
His scream grew more and more panicked as the ground got closer. He barely had the sense of mind arrange to land feet first before the ground slammed into him.
Every joint in his legs threatened to shatter. The ground beneath them did. The street had turned into a crater, and cars on either end were threatening to tip over and roll towards him at the center. He gritted his teeth and slowly started to stand, forcing the half formed scream to stay quiet in his throat.
The first sound he heard was the groaning. Every building was screaming its pain from King’s passage, but the sound had stopped moving away from him.
Slowly the sound came closer until he could see a single figure walking down the center of the street.
Allspades took a deep breath. One by one, the muscles in his body tensed as he brought his hands up and clenched them tightly.
The collapsed building just behind him gave one last moaning grunt before it settled.
A white glow rose form his skin as the white burinng rage tore itself form his throat.