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Author’s Note (Rambling mini-rant): Before reading the latest Among Us Short Story I must ask you — the awesome reader — to do some brainstorming with me. See if you can place yourself in the position of anger in which I am currently sitting. You see, I have just come into the knowledge that here in Mississippi, a state holiday is coming up. I know you must be thinking, “What kind’ve irrational dude gets mad at a state holiday?”. Well if you understand why that must be irrational, then you must also understand just how maddening the reason behind the holiday must be…y’see, on Monday Mississippi will be celebrating “Confederate Memorial Day”. Yes. You’re reading that right. The Confederate, aka enemies of the present-day United States who opposed the liberation of enslaved African-Americans because they profited too much from the evil institution. The men and women who though taking up arms against their fellow country men was a better ideology than acknowledging that a person’s skin color was not enough reason to reduce them to cattle are being memorialized in state I live in. As if accompanying a day reserved for Martin Luther King, Jr with Robert E. Lee (January 20th…yes look it up), wasn’t a big enough slap in the face……I believe that in anger/protest we should carry on the date as a holiday to memorialize those who stood up for what was right for their future. Those who took matters into their own hands despite their conditions. April 27th should be a day we pay respects to true American heroes like Nat Turner, Harriet Tubman and Captain Robert Smalls — all those African Americans who either led revolts, uprisings or rebellions deserve much more memorialization than any morally treasonous human slavers ever will!!! Here’s a fragment of my artistic relief, I hope you enjoy…
“…Freedom or Death…
AMONG US VI — What Was
LOCATION: TANTA, EGYPT — EARTH
DATE: 13th DAY OF LESSER EQUINOX
The weight of the two teenage girls, so awkwardly held, began to bear on D’Amber’s wings, shoulders and arms. She descended into an area she was familiar with — or at least she could’ve sworn on familiarity — however; the once boisterous train station could not even be considered a shell of itself at this point. The ruined nearly buried building stood only one story, of it’s previous four-stories above the ground. She had not intended to be this close to ground level, but rest was necessary if they were to continue their journey…To where she still hadn’t a clue.
“Where are we?”, Kora coughed through the beating sand.
“Tanta…”, D’Amber answered suredly, without acknowledging the child with her eyes. The new world had full grasp of her visual attention — how things had changed. The meaning of time danced atop her shoulders with the weight of many lifetimes; taunting her with obliviousness and a gaping void of loss. She could not fully take in her present surroundings. To consider such things as ‘What is?’ and ‘What’s next?’ were subsided by her inability to connect them to ‘What was?’.
“Why have we stopped in Tanta?”, Rose peered up at her winged idol, shielding her face from the sand storm with one elbow and concealing her yawn with the other.
In a burst of startling speed and wavelets of momentum, D’Amber leapt from the one story building and glided to a rolling plant atop the nearest sand dune. There she began tossing handfuls of sand and rock over her shoulders in a rapid fury.
The girls were at a loss for words, it was like watching an excavation machine toil away. They had never seen a human being move with such dexterity and strength — not even in the movies.
Eventually, the young women awoke from their amazement enough to transition to the edge of the rooftop and contemplate how they would make their way down.
“If you jump I will…”, Kora broke the contemplative silence.
Rose considered the idea for a moment. Sand whipped at her nose prompting her to again take cover with her elbows. The ear-stinging breeze forced her head to turn, where her eyes met Kora’s — who’s eyes were awaiting her own. They burst into cynical laughter at such an inconsiderable notion of jumping; after all, they were in fact not the superheroes out of the trio. “Look over there!”, Rose pointed towards the far end of the establishment, which had taken much more of the desert’s carpet than the side they presently found themselves on.
Without hesitation they began to jog down the steady decline, towards the lower end of the Dark Angel’s landing ramp. With her first step off of the concrete laden slope Rose’s foot sank shin-high into the sand. She reached a hand out like a protective mother, who doesn’t rely on the seatbelt to catch her child during a sudden traffic stop. She kept Kora from bounding any farther forward.
“What do we do?”, Kora swung a layer of sand off her colorful hair with a sharp glance towards Rose. She was so coated in the burnt orange particles of the landscape that there were only shy hints of the eye-catching shade of hot pink remaining atop her scalp.
“I don’t know…”, Rose said, staring out into the haze just able to make out the now wailing and digging Dark Angel. She wanted to help soothe the troubled warrior so badly that unconsciously her hand reached out to touch that back of her neck. In the same way her mother would produce calmness, no matter the state they were in: fits of anger, confusion, even utter chaos — during her younger years, the light massaging touch against the point where her back and neck met was able to calm any storm.
“I hope she’s okay…”, Kora echoed the feelings Rose was emanating.
As Rose opened her eyes, there sat the crying hero, clearer. Although, the sand had mitigated slightly, the distance between them and soothing her feelings remained.
“What’s that?!”, Rose asked Kora, knowing full well her equally Earth-experienced best friend would not have an answer for the approaching disc that sliced through the sand in a methodically sweeping route.
D’Amber struck the ground, angrily pushing through the earth til the sand was near-elbow deep and then with tremendous force lifted her arms out of the encasing. Stroke after stroke, she swam into the grainy pool of earth. Liquid began to blur her vision just as quickly as the sand flew over her back. Suddenly the vibrations launched her back into consciousness. The confusion filled-tears and skin-prickling feeling of loss had not dumbed her senses down entirely. She gathered its vast fierceness internally, before she saw the sand-whipping disc and felt the land mass moving energy, vibrating the ground beneath where she stood as it approached.
Within thirty meters now, D’Amber’s wings jutted out through instinctive anticipation of a great force. Almost quick enough to make her contemplate whether the disc had ever actually existed at all, the spinning oncomer sank into the sandy ocean. She tensed against the moment of thought that said to lower her guard — the warrior’s unconscious experience proved wise as the ground gave way beneath her. They were so large and jagged that it took a brief hesitation to realize that the sand was sifting around teeth and cascading down the open jaws of an enormous creature. She gained altitude and just by the tip of her feathers, made it out to the safer side of the large snout clamping shut.
With a barrel roll she looked down at the red scaly reptile dive back into the sand; presumably to make another return for it’s midnight snack — her!
The Dark Angel’s mind immediately exclamated the girls, and she made sound-popping, air-dash for them.
“Oh…My…God…”, Rose and Kora announced simultaneously as the disced mega-lizard erupted from the sandy depths and gnashed at D’Amber with the athleticism and grace of an Olympic Diver. Not that she needed the extra assurance, but the towering length of the reptile conveyed just how drastically foolish taking another step into the sand actually would be — let alone it’s obvious and unbelievable aggression. “Go…”, Rose shrieked, trying to claw her way out of the sandy shin trap and push Kora to go back up the sloping rooftop. “Go!!!! Go!!!”
The sand did not give way easily, instead it flung her away viciously and only after first taking all of her balance. Rose crashed into Kora, and they both crashed into the concrete roof, atop one another. It’s funny how nature — at first glance appears to just be storming down on you — is in actuality preventing you from taking the harm that would otherwise be. The jaws, scales and huge staring eye glided past them as another of the disced reptilians leapt out of the sand. Without waiting to see what was next, the two girls bolted up the incline and into the outstretched arms and wings that ran towards them.
In one smooth motion, D’Amber engulfed them in her embrace and took flight on the most direct route for the eff-a-way.
They gained altitude quickly. Rose looked down in horror, seeing no less than twelve of the menacing disc swarming around the buried ruins.
Without the railroad she was hoping to uncover at what was known in her day as the Tanta Railway Station, D’Amber’s sense of direction was completely shot. Even a dead-reckoning flyer like herself needed to know where exactly they were flying, or at best they’d end up nowhere near her intentions. The wind blew the worry down her spine and across the air foils outstretched from it. It didn’t matter where they were going, because where they were was something’s dinner plate.
One would think that at this juncture the universe would be done playing tricks with her mind and placing unknowns before her eyes, but of course, of all times now she would begin seeing mirages. The unbelievable structure began to take shape, growing before her it appeared to be a floating bazaar. Propelled midair by a glowing and slowly strobing foundation.
“Look out!!!” Rose’s alarm at its existence was the only thing that kept D’Amber from attempting to fly through the mysterious structure.
She sharply rolled away, putting some meters between her and the floating edifice, in order to get a full view.
“What are we waiting for?!”, Kora yelled against the wind.
D’Amber pushed forward, towards the promising landing area.
Although lamps glowed and lit windows indicated businesses were operating the airbourne center was abandoned. No matter, upon touchdown the girls sprinted towards the well illuminated vending machines, only to be disappointed — not only by having zero money to put into the machine; but, even if they did have money, it wouldn’t have been the correct currency.
Walking up to their pitiful cries of urgency and false claims of starvation, without a rush at all D’Amber strode past them and smashed the glass out of the machines with a floating double-leg kick. An assortment of chips, candies and various pastries cascaded to the floor; the surprise of the problem actually being solved caused a slight hesitation before the besties took full advantage of the snacks.
Rose looked up from the pile only when D’Amber’s legs crossed past her face in a daisical pace. The winged hero’s eyes were in a deadlock on the air between them and the side of the storefront wall. “D’Amber, are you okay?”, Rose asked weakly as she watched the warrior trance towards an invisible target.
This time it just had to be a mirage; there was no question, even the girl did not seem to recognize it. But it was there. As real as the cooling, whips of wind that struck against her high-cheekbones. As real as the weight of all time on her shoulders. As real as the predatory reptiles that awaited them back on the desert floor. As real as the two girls she did not know, but was obligated to keep safe, stood — well rather sat — her son, J.J., in the diner high-chair she remembered. She remembered fondly, making the plans with her husband. Jaxon….her heart hurt at the memory of her two pillars. The foundational pieces of her life, how long ago they must’ve been, but it still felt like they were with her yesterday.
J.J. reached out for his mother, and she towards him. She was so transfixed on his being, that she could not feel the tugs against her left thigh and right wing as the girls pulled her back — trying to keep her from going any further into the spontaneously opened portal of light.
One moment they were watching curiously as she walked towards nothingness and the next a large gaping hole convalesced before their eyes. The gateway showed nothing but a bright void within and their hero was walking straight towards it — no way would they let her abandon their flightless bodies atop an abandoned rest-stop. Light encapsulated their senses…
LOCATION: Marlsgate Plantation, Scott, Ar.
DATE: 17 AUGUST
…D’Amber breathed out the cruel, intensive facial expression and rolled the bodiless head away from her path with a swift kick as she approached the frail, shaken children.
“Wh–Wh—Why…..”, Rose trembled out the words. She stood shivering in the southern heat, still holding the axe outstretched, clutched just as tightly as she had held it when D’Amber placed it into her hands at the onset of the rebellion the latter had led.
“Shhh….”, D’Amber soothed. She began rubbing both Rose and Kora’s backs as she pulled them into herself. “Rest your mind child, rest your mind…”
“Why would they do that?”, Rose sputtered out the question through gasping sobs.
She could not get the image out of her mind; it replayed and replayed and replayed like a top ten hit did throughout her dorm hall.
The man had done nothing but shield her from being attacked and he was strung up and literally pulled apart. The limbs had been outstretched further than she had imagined the body could stretch before the power of the horses had finally yanked them to the breaking point and they tore from his body like two sides of velcro. It slowed more and more, every time the event flashed before her eyes. Every detail more pronounced each time, as if her mind was slowly piecing together what exactly she had witnessed. The equally vicious fighting that took place shortly thereafter had not yet reached a point of processing in her uprooted consciousness. All she could think about was how the fiery, brave life had faded from the broad man’s eyes in an instant.
Kora was stricken silent and frozen with the same traumatic shock.
Neither of them had ever seen such violence. Such blood. Such anguish and torture before. Never in their young lives did they think such atrocity could be possible. That humans could make them be possible….
“Why?”. Rose repeated, the misery and heartbreak stabbing the end of her tongue as she tried to speak. “Why….”
“…Because my child…”, D’Amber began. “…Because they could look in his eyes and know….”
“That he understood…what they all understand now…”, D’Amber pulled up Rose’s eyes to look directly into them, “…that within the current state of his life, he could only come to one conclusion of philosophy….
“that he could only strive for one thing…
“…one thing and maintain his sanity….
“That his only options were to fight for Freedom…