Taking a break from my Accessibility Jumpstart series to share my first short story I wrote about a year ago. Enjoy!
Kuroki sped down the dimly lit corridor. Red running lights glinted off her mask’s hooked nose, like a blood-soaked plague doctor. The swaying of the ship was disorienting for the lieutenant as she tried to maintain both speed & silence. She was almost pitched to the damp floor more than once.
HQ had received a tip from a local crime ring about the mysterious ship which had appeared off the coast not more than an hour ago. The fanatic cult onboard were obsessed with the day Kuroki lost everything; the destruction of the East Coast and much of the rest of the world. And at the center of it all; the blackening sky, the green blast, and Carrag, the man they worshipped.
The lieutenant’s disguise matched the cult and Carrag’s outfit perfectly. Long dark coat, silver rimmed goggles, and black bird mask obscuring the monster’s face. Just like all those years ago. Kuroki shuddered.
The halls were deserted. Where was everyone? Slowing to a brisk walk, she approached a hallway intersection and peered around the corner. A partially open door whispered guttural chants. Dancing firelight flickered from the gap. The cultists were performing rites to Carrag. Kuroki’s anger was rekindled.
Just then, a bright emerald glow and a shadowy figure illuminated a doorway further down the hall. Another cultist? She waited for a few tense moments, and as the chanting rose and hall remained still, she dashed towards the far door.
Peering into the room, Kuroki could just make out the back of a woman with short dark hair dressed in the Carrag cloak, lit by a ghostly green tube. The elated woman was speaking to herself. “I can’t believe it. The time jump worked!”
Kuroki was stunned. Was Carrag actually from this time? Maybe Carrag wasn’t even a he?! Kuroki’s anger boiled over. If this woman were stopped, the past may be restored. Her family would be restored.
Kuroki leveled her silencer at the cultist, took aim, and pulled the trigger. A sudden wave rocked the ship as she fired, and the woman was hit in the shoulder, blasting her face-first into the greenish tube. Kuroki stepped into the room and growled through the mask, “Don’t move a muscle.” The woman lay still, breathing heavily.
As Kuroki stepped closer to inspect the woman, she kicked her leg out, knocking Kuroki to the ground. The woman’s arm reached quickly to the control panel on her tube, but Kuroki was faster. She spun upward and fired just as the woman hit the button. The woman was gone in a blinding flash, the bullet rang loudly as it struck the back of the machine. It was too late; Carrag had gone back.
Kuroki hissed to herself as she pulled herself off the ground, “That was too loud…” The chanting had stopped. Kuroki heard yelling and the downpour of feet flooding down the hallway.
Glancing toward the panel confirmed her suspicion, it HAD been set to the day of Carrag. This woman really might be about to wipe out everything she loved as she watched from her school’s underground shelter television.
There was no more time, she had to go. Stepping into the tube, she slammed her fist down on the panel’s glowing green button.
The light shocked her senses. Her vision spun. Where was she? She was splayed out on the grass? Kuroki stood up and saw the woman on her hands and knees, back to Kuroki, trying to rise, in what seemed to be a crater near where she lay. Kuroki burning with fury, jumped to her feet, drew the gun again, and took aim.
“Please, no… Carrag…”, the cultist spluttered, trying desperately to turn and face her.
Kuroki fired before she could finish. The woman dropped to the ground, dead.
The Lieutenant let the gun drop from her hand as she felt the relief wash over her. She’d finally killed the monster that wiped out her family and most of the world. Her family would be safe, everything could go back to normal.
Out of nowhere, in a massive blast of green light and heat, the lieutenant was back on the ship, standing by the time machine. Elated, Kuroki tore the mask off, hurled it to the ground, and leaned against the damaged tube she just came from. “I can’t believe it.” she said ecstatically as she caught her breath. “The time jump worked!”
An explosion. Fire tore through Kuroki’s shoulder. Thrown like a rag doll and twisting into a heap, she was pitched headlong into the tube again. The cultists had found her!
Kuroki struggled to breathe.
“Don’t move a muscle.”
Kuroki’s sense of relief evaporated as panic sank in. That voice was… hers.
The damaged machine must have malfunctioned, bringing her back just before her past self came into the room. As the other Kuroki approached, she kicked out in desperation, sending her doppelgänger to the floor.
She had to get away, but she was too badly hurt. There was no way she could run. Her gun was gone. She had no other options, she had to go back to stop herself.
The lieutenant’s arm shot up for the control panel and slammed the button again. Fire again, this time in her hand.
Green light. Confusion.
Kuroki awoke in a park, still in agony. She tried to stand, but her knees buckled as her vision blackened. Pain surged through her shoulder and hand. A jogger called 911, then rushed to help her up. A nearby news crew that was filming the massive weather phenomenon arrived as well to see what all the commotion was.
Just then, a massive green sphere of energy materialized in front of her and the onlookers with the intensity of a bomb. The huge blast threw everyone through the blackening sky, sending them cartwheeling in all directions.
The pain was almost overwhelming now, and she could barely stay conscious or even lift her head. And out of the corner of her eye, she saw it. Just like on the news when she was little, coming through the green light, to finish her and her family off. Carrag. But to her horror, she now recognized the monster, and she knew how this ended.
“Please”, Kuroki begged. But she knew Carrag wouldn’t listen. “No.”
Just like on the TV when she was little, Carrag was merciless, and hate had completely consumed her heart. There was nothing she could do. “Carrag…”
A little girl was ushered into the old downstairs fallout shelter as the weather had turned suddenly very violent. The school teacher turned on the old television, adjusted the antennas, and turned to the news.
The newscaster was just about to cover a park injury during an intermission from the storm coverage, when a monstrous plague doctor emerged from a fireball of green light, pulled out a gun, and shot the injured woman. After he disappeared, the entire park plus 10 square miles erupted in flame as the cameras went dark.
The shockwave, killing her parents instantly, would eventually trigger massive seismic events worldwide, killing millions more.
And Carrag had done it all. Kuroki would never forgive that monster.