The still, cold night was momentarily disturbed by the sounds of bare feet slapping against damp leaves on asphalt, and hands and uncovered knees scrambling over moss-laden car bodies, until the only sound was a labored breathing that gradually eased. After a few minutes the world seemed like it had rolled over and gone back to sleep. But Ayla knew better. She closed her eyes and saw the night brightly.
A dropship sliced the sky like a scalpel with quick precision, and the five dark beads of blood that dripped from that wound were soldiers of fortune, members of Anchor’s elite paramilitary arm, slipping from ship to ground on invisible cords of graphene. The dropship rippled away. Ayla was alone with the soldiers under the tarnished light of the crescent moon. The soldiers were silent silhouettes against the more distant shapes of abandoned equipment among bare elms. The fog rolling in seemed as if it were following them in lockstep, giving life to the sharp red beams of their laser sights. But with her eyes closed, Ayla saw through the fog, saw everything as threaded golden light, clearer than the starkest contrasts of the visible spectrum.
The soldiers fanned out, searching among the wreckage of this hostile and unlikely place called Earth, now discarded like a cradle after the child has outgrown it. Through their advanced optics their vision was greatly enhanced, but Ayla pulled the cool night air into knots around her. No technology would be sufficient to find her. But it was a difficult state to maintain, as hard as holding your mind thoughtless and empty, and she would eventually falter.
One soldier drew close by unfortunate happenstance, and his path would lead him to her, intentionally or not. Ayla reached out with appendages more subtle and nimble than fingers, which were bludgeons in comparison, and pinched the golden thread that man was made of. With delicate ease she unraveled him like a wool sweater. It was quick, and he felt no pain. He simply dissipated into the fog with a slight hiss. Ayla stifled soft tears. The others would know. She didn’t want them to, but they would know, and she would have to do the same to them.
She pulled the night tighter around her and tried to will them to go away, to give up their search. But this was something she could not control. Each person’s actions were their own, as were the consequences, no matter the intentions. The next soldier made of golden light approached, and Ayla reached again.
Notes: I used an image as a writing prompt for this piece. You may be able to find the image on the artist’s ArtStation page. Image by Sathish Kumar, used with permission.