Contest Entry for CLASH!
|“Not again,” a long-tortured groan echoed.
Grunting, the source of said groan begrudgingly opened her eyes while taking her first step. “Who resurrects someone standing up anyways?” she hissed at the heavens, before gasping as she barely caught herself before falling off the edge of the skyscraper, “you think you’re funny, don’t you?” she balled her fists.
No one replied.
Sighing, the woman let her eyes take in New York’s glowing skyline, glittering just enough to obscure the starlight. “Preposterous,” she muttered; she wasn’t a fan of New York, she much preferred the quietude of a desert terrain.
“Of course,” she said, watching as the abnormally large spotted falcon flew her way. “vindictive little creeps,” she yelled at the Gods. “What?” she addressed the falcon, “why have your lords resurrected me this time?”
“You seem bothered,” the falcon spoke with a deep male voice. And though his beak did not move, his diction was formidable. “I am given to understand that you have been meditating for the past 50 years. But as expected, your temper is impervious to serenity… Ai…” he called her name, watching unblinkingly as she walked away, her white cotton gown straddling the air around her.
“Forget it,” she called over her shoulder as she reached the door, “I don’t want to know why I have been resurrected. I’m over it.”
“Must we do this every time, Ai?” he asked sagely.
“Bite me,” she slammed the door behind her.
“Technically I can only peck you,” he addressed the now empty roof, “I have no teeth,” a sad albeit true statement.
Not a single tooth.
Ai had made it to the 32nd floor before stopping halfway down the staircase.
The Falcon appeared behind her and perched on the top step.
“You are aware that you can apparate, are you not?”
“Keep your beak shut,” she hissed, inclining her head to the side, emerald eyes glowing slightly as if she could see through the walls.
“They have invented what they call ‘elevators,’ remember?” the Falcon said, watching her as she started climbing up the stairs towards him, “we tried them in the 70s.”
She crossed past him making sure to attempt to slap him with her dress’s trail as she turned a corner.
“I like the exercise,” she said, “you try spending 50 years without a corporeal body,” she added, walking down a hallway.
He took off after her, “I cannot,” he said, “It would be an unparalleled tragedy if I were to lose this glorious frame,” he deadpanned.
“You amuse yourself, don’t you?”
“Very much so.”
On that note Ai disappeared and the Falcon followed, materializing only a millisecond after she did, in the middle of an apartment.
“What are we doing?” The Falcon questioned.
“I am changing clothes, a long white dress always draws the humans’ eyes to me,” Ai said, walking towards the bedroom with the confidence of someone who knew exactly where to look.
“I always thought they were looking at me,” the falcon said, fluttering after her and narrowly avoiding having his wing hit the doorframe. He really was not designed for indoor living.
“Your lighthearted mood irks me,” Ai said, making a hand gesture that called forth a circle of floating candles that summarily arranged themselves around the room so that every corner was lit.
“May I once again draw your attention to…” he paused dramatically “… electricity,” the bird said, slapping a deft wing against the light switch as he perched himself on the dresser by the door.
As the lights came on Ai was about to glare at him, but her attention was quickly drawn away.
Her expression momentarily revealed surprise before she reined it in, “I didn’t sense any humans,” she said, watching the slumped form of the woman lying on the floor. “She must be dead,” she said, walking towards the fallen redhead.
Ai narrowed her eyes as she squatted down next to the woman.
“How come I did not sense her?” she asked.
“She is not on this plane of existence,” the falcon answered.
Ai got to her feet and turned to him.
“Is that why we’re here?” Ai questioned casting her mind around. She had sensed that something was strange the moment she materialized but had shoved the eerie suspicion out of her mind. But now that she focused on it, she could easily pinpoint what it was: she could not sense any humans.
On that thought, Ai transported herself to the street.
Eyes widening she took in the scene of numerous car pile ups, and the remarkable visual of every human around having collapsed on the ground, shop keepers, runners, people walking their dogs, policemen, everyone, everyone was collapsed on the ground. And for its part, New York endured a very unfamiliar silence, the silence of a ghost town, mere seconds after an apocalypse struck.
“What…?” she started.
“They are stuck in an alternate plane, a dream like plane,” the Falcon appeared behind her and perched on a car, his beady eyes taking in the scene.
“Stuck living their worst fears,” he replied.
Ai ran a hand through her long raven hair before tilting her head up at the sky.
“Is this why they sent me? To stop this?” she asked.
The Falcon did not reply and turned his head to the side suspiciously.
Ai frowned at him.
He was silent for a long moment before proving to all the heretics that falcons could in fact shrug.
“What?” Ai questioned.
“I do not know,” he said.
“You don’t know.”
He shrugged again, “all They said was for me to come here because all the humans have been suspended.”
“Hm,” he said.
“Did they suspend them?”
“I do not know.”
“You are very useful.”
“I truly am,” sarcasm was always lost on him.
Ai let her back rest against a wall, “so I don’t know whether the Gods did this, or if they want it reversed.”
“And I don’t know whether I want to serve their cause or try to foil them.”
“Well, that is your eternal struggle.”
“How can I decide on how to defy them if I don’t know what they want,” she asked sharply. “I have to figure out what’s going on here. I need to prepare a ritual.”
“Or you could use the internet, it has become immensely practical in recent decades. There is a thing called google…”
“Shut your beak.”
Word Count: 1075