Liz, Impact Day
Charlie’s scream pierced my ears, resonated with every surface I could see. It wasn’t a human scream, but then, Charlie clearly wasn’t human. I didn’t know what she was. A demon, maybe? Something unholy.
I held Aidan, his head resting on my lap, groaning in pain. I tried to say something soothing, but the burning sensation around my throat hadn’t passed. No sound came out.
All I could do was watch as Charlie dropped to her knees, the inhuman scream pouring out of her like a fountain of blood, so forceful I could almost see it. The air around her shimmered as her body vibrated, more and more violently.
On the other side of the room, I saw Rachel, barely able to move. I couldn’t bring myself to feel bad, after what she’d done to us. She had a look of horror on her face, mixed in with the pain she was feeling.
Regretting it now?
Charlie’s bones broke, over and over, repairing themselves before breaking again, and she kept screaming. She fell to her hands, blood dripping from every pore. The screaming was intensifying, like it was bouncing off itself, creating a violent echo that threatened to rip the room apart.
I could still see the shape of the demon around her, but it was vague, translucent. Was it weaker? Was it in pain, too? Was it different to her?
I was shaking, too. Not just from the pain, or the shock. Charlie’s screaming was reaching deep into my core, twisting me until I couldn’t feel anything else.
What is happening?
The walls of the house cracked more, bursting apart in to fragments and splinters, flying away from us. The pool of blood around Charlie was bubbling, almost like it was boiling. Her bones continued to break, and the air around her grew more and more distorted.
I felt sick to my stomach. I couldn’t shake the sensation that something was wrong, that something didn’t belong.
As Charlie fell apart, I saw her look up, fixated on a spot right in front of her. I blinked, and there was a girl there, a child with lilac hair.
“What—” Charlie began, but her mouth was full of blood.
“I was beginning to worry you wouldn’t do anything with my email,” the child said. “I went through a lot of trouble to set this up, you know.”
“Who are you?” Charlie managed to choke out.
“Nobody~” the child said, in a sing-song voice.
“Oh, this? Let’s call it an allergic reaction,” the girl said. “See, Wendy’s blood came from a different Shaper. They’re not supposed to mix, you know. Your body is rejecting it.”
“You… wanted this…?”
“Just one more step,” she said, shrugging. “We’re a long way from the end, yet. No, what I wanted was…” She glanced up at the sky. It looked as though the air above us was tearing apart, like God Himself had decided to rip open the sky. Through it, I could see a glittering night sky, so very different to our own. “There we go.”
As I watched, a futuristic looking plane emerged through the rift, spinning out of control, flames and smoke billowing from the side. I shuddered as it collided with somewhere far from here, causing a booming explosion.
“Finally,” the girl said.
“You broke the rules, Charlie. You’ve let something into this world that shouldn’t be here. Something very, very dangerous.” She rocked back on her heels, looking pleased with herself. “Well, you’ll forget we talked, but remember this. Get rid of them. Send them home. Stop at nothing. And trust the Destroyer. They only want to protect you.”
The entire world shuddered beneath us. The girl didn’t seem to notice.
“Hmm. I should go make sure Sabrina is where she needs to be.”
The girl was gone. She didn’t disappear, she just stopped being where she was. Charlie’s arms gave out, and she collapsed to the floor.
The screaming stopped.
The rift closed.
Charlie pulled herself up, slowly. The blood around her began to evaporate, and by the time she’d stood up, she looked entirely unharmed, save for the wild look in her eye.
Something about her was different. Actually, plenty about her was different. She was thinner, her skin looked softer. Her eyes were lighter, a blueish green now. Her nails seemed perfectly filed. She stretched out, then glanced around the room. Her eyes passed over me, and fixated on Rachel.
She rushed to Rachel’s side, moving inhumanly fast. As fast as we’d been able to move with Wendy’s blood in us, at least. She picked Rachel up like she weighed nothing.
“I’m okay, Charlie,” Rachel said, her voice weak. “I’m more worried about you.”
“I feel fine,” Charlie said, and she sounded it.
“What happened?” Rachel asked.
“A painful transition, I guess,” Charlie said. “Looks like I did some damage, here.”
“Looks like it,” Rachel agreed. “What are we gonna do about them?”
Charlie turned to look at us, and any kindness fell off her face.
“After what they did to you?” she asked. “I’ll kill them.”
I tried to speak up, to protest, but no words came out of my mouth. Aidan pushed away from me, tried to stand, but his legs didn’t move, and he fell over.
“Haven’t you done enough?” he asked, nearly spitting at her. “We sacrificed everything to save you, and you… All you did was use us.”
“I needed Wendy’s power,” Charlie said, as if that justified it. “She wasn’t doing anything to keep this city safe. This world safe. I’ve been fighting, every day. Now I can make a difference.”
“All of this, just to be a superhero?” Aidan asked, incredulous. “Immortality wasn’t enough?”
“You saw how little I was doing,” Charlie said. “And now, nothing can stop me.”
“I can,” he said, then glanced back at me. “We can. And we will.”
I nodded my agreement.
“You? What can you do?” Charlie asked. She sounded like a comic book villain. How ironic.
“You’ll see,” he said.
“I won’t,” Charlie replied.
“Liz, I need you to do something,” Aidan said, a quiet note of urgency in his voice. “Focus on somewhere down the street. Not too far. Hold on to me, and focus.”
Charlie loomed ever closer, not in any kind of rush, and more intimidating for it. I couldn’t see any way out, any way to survive. We didn’t stand a chance against her, not with the power she had now. Even still, I gripped Aidan hard, trusted him, and focused.
The world around us changed.
We were somewhere different.
“Again,” Aidan said, and I realised we’d moved to where I was thinking about. I did it again.
We moved again.
“Keep going, until she can’t find us,” Aidan said. I kept moving us, kept teleporting, until I was certain Charlie couldn’t find us.
I still couldn’t speak, but there was a pad of paper on a desk. We were in someone’s house, their office. I didn’t know who. It didn’t matter. I grabbed the paper, found a pen, wrote on it.
What happened? I wrote.
“Whatever happened back there changed us,” Aidan said. “I don’t know how. But you can teleport, now.”
How did you know? I wrote.
“I saw it,” he said. “I… I think I can see the future? No, possible futures. It’s… hazy. Hurts my head. But I saw you do it.”
You can’t walk, I wrote.
“And you can’t speak,” he said. “Seems like we’re being punished, by whatever that thing was. But Liz, we’re still us. We had something taken, gained something else, but we’re still us. And we need to stop her. You understand that, right?”
How? I wrote.
“We use my network. Between the Stars, and my new powers, I can build an army to stop her. And you, you’re an assassin who can get in anywhere.”
I don’t want to kill, I wrote, then underlined it.
“Liz, you know what Charlie is like. You know what she can do, now. I don’t want more innocent deaths, but we can’t let anything stop us. We can’t stop at anything.”
I understand, I wrote, but I didn’t believe it.
“Wait,” he said, holding a hand to his head. “I see something… There’s a way,” he told me. “A weapon that we can use, from the breach.”
What is it?
“Her name is Haylie,” he said.
And that’s it for Volume 2! Thanks for reading this far. I wasn’t sure if this format would work, setting an entire volume before the events of the first. I’m still not sure, honestly! But it was important to me that the volumes each have a different feel, and focus on very different events. Besides, it’s fun to mess with the idea of linear storytelling. After all, Impact Day isn’t a linear story. Anyway! As always, if you want to support the work I do here, you can jump on over to patreon and give me a dollar or more monthly. It means a lot. Also, you’ll soon be able to buy the eBook of this volume, which features not one but two bonus chapters that didn’t get published online.
Next Week: We’re jumping into another mini-volume, just like Roxie! This one is called Glory, and I think you’re going to love it a lot. (Also, there will be an epilogue later this week!)