Glass and Steel: Pt. 4
Posted By: Random 14-Year-Old<firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: 15 August 2005, 8:38 pm
Part 4: Luther Invaded
Ren laid in his sleeping bag peacefully as the morning sun flushed through the room, and he was trying to regain sleep when he realized where he was—his girlfriend's house.
"Shit," he cursed as he struggled to escape the sleeping bag. He stood up, tripped, and fell backwards onto Ariana's bed. "Shit—sorry, Ariana—"
But the bed was empty. Her blankets were in a clutter across the mattress, but other than that the room seemed perfectly normal and collected. Ren turned to the window and noticed a bright blue sky; the storm was over. But what was truly interesting was what was under the sky—Ren watched as families walked down the sidewalks, all in the same direction. Children ran ahead as their parents tried to restrain them; teenagers moved in small groups with an air of excitement; elders nudged themselves along to try and keep up.
"What the hell..." Ren muttered to himself. He found his shoes on the ground and pulled them on in a rush, then burst out of the room and practically ran down the stairs. "Ariana?" he called. But nobody answered. He checked the living room, and the kitchen, and even the bathroom was scrutinized. How could nobody be there?
Ren went to the front door and opened it. People chatted casually as they strolled along the sidewalk, all heading apparently towards the same destination. He shuffled down the front porch and went up to a man that seemed to be alone. He was wearing a long bath robe, as if he had just gotten out of the shower.
"Uh, excuse me," Ren said to the man, "where are all these people going?"
The man stopped in his tracks, and stared into Ren's curious expression. "Go back home, kid." His voice was tired and raspy, like an old man.
"But where are these people going? Do you even know?"
"Yes. Go home." Ren was about to turn around and ask someone else when the man continued, "I hear that a Covenant ship crashed nearby. And if all these people heard that, too, then I doubt they're only out to get coffee."
The words struck Ren hard. A Covenant ship? Was Luther being attacked? He suddenly wished to be home, or at least with Ariana. Maybe that was why she and her family had left the house—but why would they leave him there?
"Where are your parents?" the man asked, but Ren ignored him and rushed down the sidewalk, inspecting every group of people for Ariana.
"Have you seen the Jai—the Jiles family?" Ren muttered to a small family. They just stared at him. "Have you seen—oh, sorry—" He had accidentally knocked over a kid.
"Be more careful!" the kid's mother scolded, but Ren ran past them, following the route the people were following, keeping his eyes peeled for Ariana, doing a double-take whenever he saw anyone remotely like her.
"Oof!" he grunted, running head-on into someone's back. Ren looked up and found a heavy crowd huddled around something on the grass—and then Ren realized where he was: the empty lot that Ariana went to every day, to watch those damn kids play that stupid game.
"Watch it!" the woman scowled, rubbing her back where Ren had hit her.
"What's going on?" Ren said frantically. He jumped up and down, trying desperately to get a better view. He noticed a large tunnel of smoke fuming from the center of crowd. A crashed—
"Covenant ship," the woman replied. "People are saying it crashed in the storm, but people make stuff up. Why would some aliens decide to land a single ship in the middle of a storm? Please."
Ren tried to calm himself down. Any minute now Luther's military would roll up in a tank or something and investigate. They would track down the aliens, if there were any, and kill them. Ren would go home and return to his parents. He would call up Ariana and she would tell him that they had gone to check out the situation, too, and that she was perfectly fine.
"Yeah, the stories people make up," the woman went on. "Someone also told me that someone's hurt up there, like the ship landed on them or something. My God, so ridicu—"
Ren pushed her aside and dug his way into the crowd, shoving people and tearing apart a path he could move in. After several angry remarks and scolds from people around him, he reached the center of the crowd.
Low and behold, there lay a Covenant fighter ship. It spanned at least fifteen feet in length and was standing ten feet above the ground, though to say the vehicle was "standing" would be a lie. The vehicle was vaguely the shape of a teardrop, but its shape had been severely disfigured by the crash. Much of its dark, purple coating had been stripped off, and, most notably, a giant black hole dominated a half of the vehicle, which tore into the interior of the ship and issued the heavy smoke that hovered above the crowd. Pieces of the ship lay scattered across the ground, including an entire wing. But what shocked Ren even more was what was mere inches from his feet.
There, bleeding at the mouth, gasping for air, was Ariana's little brother. He lay face-up, looking into the sky, as a trickle of blood slid down his face and under his ear. His arms clutched at his chest, and one of his legs was bent a little bit in the wrong direction.
"Oh, no—" Ren muttered. "Oh, no—oh, no..." He didn't know what to do. He looked above the crowd in all directions—no military tanks—hell, not even an ambulance.
"They're here..." Ariana's brother gasped. He clutched at his chest even tighter when he said it. "Two big ones...three little ones..."
"Somebody call a goddamn ambulance!" Ren screamed at the crowd. He caught his eye on one man that had his cell phone to his ear. "Call an ambulance!" Ren yelled at him.
"The lines are dead," the man replied. The words didn't even register in Ren's head.
"The lines are dead."
"How?" Ren shot back. He tried to think clearly. "You're using a cell phone!"
"Yeah, I dunno," the man shrugged.
Ren grew more angry and nervous. People pushed up behind him for a closer look, as if it were some kind of entertaining show that they couldn't miss. He looked around for a second time, but still no help in sight, and neither Ariana nor her mother was anywhere to be seen.
"Ren..." Ariana's brother said quietly. Ren looked down into the boy's small, helpless eyes. "Tell Ariana...tell her that they're here..."
"Who—who's here?" Ren asked. He didn't want to hear the answer.
"The aliens are here...they went somewhere..."
"What—" Ren blurted—more bad news. "They didn't die in the crash?"
Ariana's brother gasped for air more rapidly now, and his eyes were wide open, looking up into the sky. Ren couldn't just stand there any longer.
"Okay, come here," he tried to say soothingly, masking the panic in his voice. He reached down and picked up the boy, holding him between his arms. "You're going to get to tell her that yourself, because I'm taking you straight to her—"
"Gah!" Ariana's brother cried, reaching for his leg.
"Sorry—sorry—" Ren said. At least both legs were bending in the right direction again. The boy groaned with pain and a fresh helping of blood shot from his mouth as he coughed. Ren struggled to keep the kid in his arms as he ran them down the streets of Luther, desperately searching for Ariana's house. He felt almost embarrassed that he couldn't remember where the house was.
"Down there..." the boy said quietly, as if he had read Ren's mind. He pointed across the road at the white, two-story house they had been searching for. Ren had apparently left the front door open, because it stood completely ajar in the threshold. He climbed up the porch, with Ariana's brother still in his arms, and walked inside.
"Hello?" Ren called loudly. The house was strangely dark and silent. "Ariana?"
He heard footsteps at the top of the stairs, and felt a comforting rush of relief. A figure appeared above the stairwell, but it was very tall and bulky, just barely visible in the shadows.
"Wort wort wort!"