Return to the dystopian world of Apocalyptica with this Sunday’s story.
Leandra and Gwen
The city is on fire. Flames rise up to a dark and empty sky as people run for their lives. I walk through the ashes, spying piles of burning bodies deformed by illness. A new disease. A brand-new strain of hell unleashed.
I itch to grab my gun, but I know being quiet is safe so I unsheathe my two thin swords. Through the chaos and the heat, I spy one figure, calm and clean, holding a white lace parasol, her dark hair parted into pigtails.
She dances with the flames and, through the painful screams, I hear her humming something. I pause on the edge of the square, unsure what to make of the scene, as she locks her eyes on me.
Icy fear runs down my spine as I grab the cross around my neck. God protect me. It’s a Horsewoman.
I’m in the right place.
Warm, watery light filtered in from the stained-glass windows of the sanctuary. It was beautiful there, peaceful even.
Outside, the world was collapsing.
Eight of us stood around a low table in the center of the old church. Anything precious had been looted, and the pews were shoved aside like unwanted toys.
“Reports state that Death and War are AWOL,” our commander, Knight Commander Harold, said. “In the wake of their disappearance, it seems Pestilence and Famine have been unleashed.”
We stood quietly, taking in the information. We ourselves had yet to see the Horsemen in person, but there were plenty of sightings from others. Apparently, the horsemen were Horsewomen, and sisters to boot.
“Famine appears to have headed west.” Commander Harold’s leather finger drug across the map towards the western states. “Pestilence, on the other hand, is closer.” She pointed to a state on the east coast. “Get there and, if you can, help these people. Get them out. But your main priority is Pestilence; capture her alive.” The commander caught each of our eyes. “If you succeed, we will have bait to capture the other three.” Commander Harold’s eyes latched onto mine.
“I’m putting you in charge, Dame Iris.”
All eyes shifted to me.
“You have served with me since all this began. You’ve earned it.”
“Yes Commander,” I said, giving her a salute.
The Commander only nodded and dismissed us.
We are too late.
My swords flash through the air as the pigtailed demon comes down upon me. In a flash, she changes direction, and I feel the end of her parasol stab into my side.
I stumble, and I hear her childish laughter. The fire licks the air around us, causing beads of sweat to run down my face. Hearing another bout of laughter, I swing my swords up, catching ash from the ground and hurling it in the Horsewoman’s direction.
She gasps as her vision clouds. Saying a prayer, I bring my swords down. A sound like thunder ricochets off the buildings, and my right sword falls. Another thunder crack, and I’m disarmed.
Something large knocks me down to the ground. I slam my head against concrete and suck in a breath. Pain blooms from the impact, and I take note of something heavy and furry sitting on my chest. It’s hard to breathe. I shift beneath the weight and a growl comes from above me.
The pigtailed horseman is crying now, rubbing her eyes. Two figures now stand over her protectively. I try to push the dog off, but it’s so heavy, and, when I move, it snaps its jaws at me.
One of the figures walks over, and the first thing I notice is her blood red hair. She reaches over her shoulder to the large sword on her back and pulls it out with a hiss.
“Good job, Erna,” the woman praises, patting the dog’s head. She looks down on me with a frown and raises the sword menacingly.
My heart flutters in my chest as I brace for what I know is coming.
“Stop!” someone yells. A dark-haired woman comes charging over. “It’s not her time, Marcella.”
I look closely at these figures. Their features are similar, and, for a second, I wonder why anyone would want to help a Horsewoman?
Then it hits me.
They are Horsewoman too.
“Agrona,” Marcella says in a reasoning tone. “She’s a Crusader. She’s going to get in our way. It’s better to take care of her now.”
The dark-haired woman’s eyes plead. “Hasn’t there been enough bloodshed, sister?”
Marcella scowls and then sighs. “Fine.” She flips the sword, and I let out a sigh of relief just as she brings the hilt down on my head.