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"Into the Light" by Morgan Gray

Going across the bridge was never the safe option...

"Into the Light" by Morgan Gray

Going across the bridge was never the safe option. It was open and exposed, with no places to hide. It spelled nothing but trouble. Never safe; but always fastest. Dakra Oswin pushed herself faster. The wheels on her feet were nearly silent, filling the dark with a steady ca-click as she passed over the seams in the concrete. The only other sound was Ej on his skateboard beside her, the click-click of his wheels keeping time with her. In a world like this you learned to be quick and silent or die.

Dakra pulled the collar of her coat up in an effort to block the chill as Ej pointed to a ‘Private Property’ sign posted at the end of the bridge.

At the sign, Dakra quickly slipped off her skates in order to walk normally, then she and Ej were jogging down the hill to the underneath of the bridge.

Ej drummed his fingers on the underside of his board, where he had painted his own personal ‘Private Property’ sign. He had painted identical patterns on her skates. The signs were there by their design anyway. “Do you think it’s still here?” He asked as he sat down his board, and began to pull a storm grate away.

He stuck his arm down, searching by touch, until the corner of his mouth ticked up. “Success,” he whispered, pulling a stuffed backpack up by its straps.

Dakra sighed in relief. They used the signs to mark safe plac es, or stash packs like this one in case of emergency.

This place wasn’t the safest, but it would be good for a short break. They couldn’t risk staying still for long though. With law enforcement on their trail and creatures all around they were in for a rough night. Then there was the matter of surviving the day. Dakra wondered if they had a better chance with the law.

If they hadn’t shown up to the government’s mandatory ‘selective sacrifice’ they wouldn’t be in this mess at all. Instead they would have been shot on sight, for failing to show up, then strung up like bait to satisfy the creatures. It would’ve saved Dakra the headache of trying to survive.

She couldn’t change the past now. Ej and Dakra had attended the randomized execution like the good little citizens they had been, filtering into the selection plaza with the crowd. The air was thicker underground, and she hated being crushed in the crowd, but at least it was only four times a year.

The government had long since given up on charming speeches to put people at ease before the name was chosen. A crack led voice had played over the speakers the same as always. “Your sacrifice means our prosperity.” The crowd fell silent as names began to flash on the screen, so quickly you couldn’t read them.

Then it stopped. A name had been selected. Dakra didn’t want the crackled voice to speak the words.

“Elijah Clairmond. Step forward.”

Ej had seized her hand in a vice-like grip. She knew his pan icked eyes mirrored her own.

“Don’t leave me,” He pleaded.

She promised.

The officers didn’t spout any condolences– Dakra probably would’ve broken one of their noses if they had– they simply said nothing as they plunged a thick needle into Ej’s thigh, implanting his tracker.

You had four hours to do whatever you wanted before you were thrown to the creatures that presided over the surface. Four hours to do whatever you want except hide. The tracker made sure of that. Then Dakra was rolling, pulling Ej behind her. He only let go of her hand once his long legs couldn’t keep up with her anymore, throwing down his skateboard to ride beside her. He didn’t bother to ask where they were going.

Thus, they were on the run.
Ej rummaged through the backpack he had pulled from the drain. Pulling a few packs of food, a single water bottle, and some bandages. Not the best of their packs but it was better than what they had. He crouched on his toes, stuffing their supplies back into the pack. “You know we don’t have to rush the whole ‘four hours til dawn’ thing, right?”

Dakra only glared at him in response. “So you’re just going to march to slaughter like a good little pig?”

He sighed. “Do you really think we can survive up here? I mean, actually make it for more than a week?”

“If we’re smart, we’ll be fine.”

“I won’t let you kill yourself with me just because you pity me.” He spat. His knuckles were white where he clutched the back pack.

Dakra flung a small rock at him, hitting his shoulder.

“Hey!” He stood quickly. Looking her in the eye now.

“I’m not pitying you. We will survive. We will beat the system. We will live a long and happy life in the light. Understand?” Ej rolled his eyes. “And when we run out of food and water?” “All minor bumps in the road, my friend.” She patted his shoulder, turning to start back up the hill to the road. “Come on, we’ve got to dig that tracker out of your leg and I’d rather not be out in the open when we do that.”

Dakra slipped her roller skates back on as he climbed up the hill behind her. “I can’t wait.” He mumbled.

They headed towards the city, where the tight buildings made a safe haven for the creatures.

It would be the last place they’d look.

They moved as silently as possible, barely breathing, as they finally found a building with another one of their ‘Private Property’ signs. The sounds of creatures scuffling in the dark were all around them.

They found a closet in the middle of the building, away from exterior walls. Dakra pulled off her coat, placing it against the crack of the door on the floor. She hoped it would be enough to keep the smell of blood out of the hallway.

“Is this really necessary?” Ej asked from his spot on the floor, hysteria creeping into his voice as Dakra pulled a long knife from her waistband. “We can just leave it in and maybe they’ll see that I’m already on the surface! Maybe they’ll just leave–” Dakra shoved a wad of fabric into his mouth.

“Try not to scream.” She commanded as she pushed his pant leg up. She felt for the lump of the tracker on his thigh, making a small, shallow slit above it. Blood seeped out as she stuck her finger into the cut in an attempt to dig it out.

Ej writhed in pain as she dug, eventually feeling the plastic meet her finger.

“Dak–” he choked out around the gag.

“Be quiet, I almost have it.” Blood pooled on the floor, as she finally pulled the tracker from the wound and tossed it aside. She used scraps of her shirt and what little bandages they had to stop the bleeding. Wrapping the bandage tightly around his leg she sat back. Satisfied with her work.

She glanced at the bloody tracker on the floor beside her as she stood. “Do you want to do the honors or should I?” She asked him as he wiped away the thin sheen of sweat on his forehead, and removed the gag from his mouth.

“Go ahead,” he muttered.

She crushed the tracker under the wheels on her shoes, before extending a hand to him. “Can you stand?”

“No. You just had your finger in my thigh, give me a damn minute to catch my breath.” “You’re so whiny,” she complained, wiggling her still red-stained outstretched hand. “Either stand or I’m leaving you here.”

He nodded finally, taking her hand to pull himself up, testing his weight gingerly. She let go once she was sure he wasn’t going to fall over. He thanked her by punching her shoulder. Hard.

He hit hard enough that she lost her balance, she fought to right herself on her skates before looking at him with a bewildered expression.

“Try shoving a gag in my mouth again and see what happens.” He said in answer. “That’s the worst thank you I’ve ever re ceived.” Dakra said incredulously as she picked her jacket up off the floor.

“Glad I could humble you.”

She rolled her eyes, as she shrugged her coat on. Ej stooped to pick up the backpack. “Let’s get moving. I don’t want to be here when the creatures–”

A sound coming from the hallway cut her short. She pressed her ear to the door as she felt Ej go on full alert behind her. A steady tsk-tap, tap, tap, filled the hallway– something click ing and scraping against the tiled floor.

Ej grabbed his board, ready to run. Tap, tsk-tap.

Dakra adjusted her grip on the knife she had used on Ej. Tsk tap, tap, tap. The blade seemed smaller now.

Tap. It was getting closer.

Tap, ta-tap.


Silence. It was deafening.

Dakra could hear her heart in her throat.

The wall beside the door exploded. A creature burst through, along with drywall and debris. It shrieked, running its talons through the puddle of blood on the floor. Dakra forced herself to remember their poor eyesight. The main reason they preferred the light. She flung the door open, and she and Ej bolted out and down the hall. Dakra could hear the creature smashing into things behind them as it attempted to hunt. They flew around a corner, looking for an exit, when the creature let out a scream, this sound more guttural and unnatural than the shrieks they had heard before.

A new crash came from behind the wall to their right, followed by a scream in answer that made Dakra clap her hands over her ears.

She realized what it meant too late.

Another creature exploded through the wall and into the hallway in front of them. Ej screamed a few choice words as he stopped before it. Dakra briefly registered that this one had wings as she tried to stop. She fell backwards sliding under the creature from her momentum. It’s mangled jaw snapped the air and it sniffed for food.

“Dak!” Ej shouted as he ducked through the hole the creature had just made.

It whipped its head to the sound of Ej’s voice.

Dakra threw herself over the rubble and into the other hallway where Ej waited as the creature stalked closer to the hole it had created.

Ej chucked a piece of debris at the creature's head, which earned him another shriek in return as the jagged hunk of concrete connected with the soft skin where it’s eye should be. It shook its head as it struggled to climb back through the hole it had created, giving them a priceless second to escape.

Dakra turned to see the darkness outside through another hole the creature had crashed through. They rushed outside, pushing their wheels as fast as they could go. Trying to calm their racing hearts and ragged breaths, still staying as silent as possible. They ended up on the other side of the city, no creatures seemed to be pursuing them, so that was one stroke of luck. They’d never been to this side of the city before; therefore, they had none of their ‘Private Property’ signs to point them to safety. So taking a chance, they ended up in an old dark cathedral, just as the first signs of dawn emerged on the horizon. They sat under the large stained glass window at the end of the building, watching it throw shapes of colored light on the walls as they finally allowed themselves to breathe a bit.

“Well,” Ej absentmindedly tossed her a granola bar from the backpack before settling himself against the wall. “That could’ve gone worse I suppose.”

Dakra nodded in agreement as she took a bite. “I can’t believe you threw a rock at that thing’s head.”

Ej laughed, a giddy sound Dakra hadn’t heard since his name was called. “I know! I thought you were going to be snapped in half before you scrambled through the hole.” “It’ll take more than a blind overgrown bat to kill me.”

Ej laughed again, but was cut off by a shriek outside in the distance.

They were far from safe, but it was nice to pretend for a mo ment.

“I was thinking,” Ej started, his voice quieter than it was a moment ago. “If we survive all this, we should get married.” Dakra nearly choked on her granola. “What?” She asked in credulously once she could breathe again. She glanced at the bandage on his leg that had begun to soak through. “Have you lost too much blood?”

“I’m serious Dakra, I already plan on spending the rest of my life with you,” He shrugged as if he was simply asking her to help him rob a fruit stand. “Why not make it official?” Dakra rolled her eyes. It was completely absurd. And just the kind of thing she would think of. “Fine.” She huffed. “Only if we survive. Don’t you dare make me a widow.” Ej put his hand to his heart sarcastically. “Wouldn’t dream of it dearest.” He stood triumphantly, looking around the church. “I say we should get married right here! Where we spent the day after cheating the system.” He threw his hands wide as if he could bring the cathedral back to its former glory.

Dakra sat back on her hands, laughing as he insisted that it had potential. His long arms gesturing wildly. Hopeful plans for the future were dangerous, but she figured they were better than dreading the danger they’ll have to face for the rest of their lives. Since they had been on the run, this was the first instant that she felt they could actually make it.

The window shattered suddenly. It threw shards of colored glass everywhere. Throwing her arms over her head, Dakra cried out as she felt pieces cut her skin.

Her blood froze as Ej screamed. A sound of pure anguish, nearly inhuman. Dread and fear loomed over her, breathing down her neck.

Dakra looked up to see a creature with leathery wings hovering where the window had been. Daylight streamed in at full force, Dakra squinted as her eyes struggled to adjust. The creature had Ej in its grasp.

Its claws stuck all the way through Ej’s body, the tips that pro truded from his belly gleamed with his blood.

No, no, no.

Ej’s head was bent at an awkward angle.

He was already dead.

The creature fixed its gaze on Dakra. Throwing its head back and making that unnatural scream that rang through Dakra’s head. It was calling for reinforcements. She was as good as dead herself.

She wanted to ask Ej if it hurt.

The creature turned and flew into the sky with Ej’s body. The doors behind her burst open, one of them falling off its hinges with a crash.

Instead of turning to see a horde of creatures she found herself face to face with dozens of soldiers in shadow suits. All of them aiming their guns at her.

“Dakra Oswin.” One of them shouted as she stood frozen in place. “You are an accomplice to a noncompliant sacrifice evading the law, and you are hereby sentenced to death. Put your hands in the air.”

“You got your sacrifice! It’s over!” She screamed, pointing at the broken window.

“Dakra Oswin. Put your hands in the air or you will be shot immediately.”

Why delay the inevitable? Ej was gone. She had already failed.

“Don’t leave me.” He had asked.

She raised her hands slowly. “It’s Dakra Clairmond.”

Then Dakra turned and hurled herself out the window. Into the light.

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