New Concept – NC

No One's Choice


The Hooded - Prologue

People on occasion told me… that a battle between heaven and hell was raging everyday. To them I learned to say, 'There is no heaven, and if there is a hell, it is surely of our own creation'. That's what Sable told me when I first inquired into what those people meant by it. His remark, stuck with me.

He'd always been wise and hearing it from him, made me believe it. Maybe I felt that sharing it with others allowed me to share in some of that wisdom.

He was the first I can really remember of them all. Sable had carried me in his arms to what I now call home, I suppose then, I hadn't. I couldn't remember much of anything that happened before then even though I was five, but I fell into the philosophy that it didn't much matter. Heslin had told me that most could not remember their time before arriving here. My life with them all… that was what I had come to know and I was happy, for the most part, living in their company. Everything else was technicalities.

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It was a windy night with a chill running through the air, the soft sand, though smooth and cool against her tired feet, was exhausting to run over. The young woman galloped along like the injured animal she was. A young child sleeping on her back despite the uneven ride, exhausted from travel. Dark liquid stained small spots on the front of the woman's garments and her run had steadily been slowing. She was losing her drive and upon her final steps, her foot slipped and she tumbled forward on the giving sand. The child fell and rolled from her shoulders, awaking to this painful experience. A sniffle came from her, more due to shock than pain.

She sat herself up and looked around the darkness, trying to rid her face of sand. "Momma…?" She continued to gaze around, finding a dark lump along the sands, her eyes adjusted more and she crawled to it, "Momma!?" Small hands tried their best to pull the woman up. She managed nothing.

The woman groaned and managed to turn herself over, eyes distant and glazed with the insistent clutch of pain, but hands reached up and she held the child. "You must go on still. I'm so sorry…" Her breathing was heavy and laboured and she was crying deeply. "I'm so sorry I can't take you any further. Please go."

The child didn't understand, she couldn't go on by herself, it was impossible. Purely so. She had always been with her mother, a world without simply did not exist in the expanse of her knowledge. "No, we'll keep going. It'll be okay." She hugged her mother closely, digging her face into the woman's fabric. The blood that soaked through on to her own clothes took its time to weave through, but it was warm and only an extension of this woman. Blood meant pain, but it had always disappeared and pain faded as wounds healed. Her mother would surely heal; there was no doubt in her mind. "It'll be okay."

The woman kept crying, holding the child closely, wishing she had been stronger. She tried to sit up, the best she could do was prop herself up with an elbow. She tried to stand, she could not. Her chest heaved with pain and need of breath; it moved the child up and down with it. She had told her to leave, but she still kept her tight and close, "I love you." She took all the chances she could to get her words out, "Please… remember that. I did this… for you. Everyone… deserves to be happy. I hope… one day… you may forgive me."

The girl didn't comprehend what all was being said, but it was committed to memory even if only to be found dusty and almost forgotten in later years. For now she simply squeezed her mother, "I don't get it… but I forgive you, I do!"

The words were hollow and meaningless to the woman. The child needed to understand truly before that phrase could justly ease her reckless conscience, but it seemed to her that she would not last to see that day. So for now she caressed the child's hair and cherished the love this young and naïve being gave so willingly. "I love you." She muttered once again and closed her eyes. Their weight felt unbearable, but she kept herself from sleep for as long as she could manage. The pain rode up her chest with the heavy motions, but she tried to push it from her mind.

The child was tired too, and she drifted back to sleep soon after, not realizing the heaving chest that was her lullaby was growing shallower and remained laboured. Nor had the warm blood ceased its slow flow. The older wound on the woman's torso had reopened, and torn at the edges. This time it would refuse to close again. She awoke an immeasurable amount of time later, to voices. It was still dark.

"Are you sure this is the one?" A male voice questioned, it sounded decently young, maybe in the early twenties.

"I am sure." Came another voice. Perhaps not too much older than the first, but simply held more maturity in its smooth tone.

The voices weren't loud, but in the night's calm, even against the breaking tide, everything seemed to gain volume. The child wasn't sure of actual proximity until her shoulder received a poke and she screeched in surprise, ready to pull back and run, but she remembered why she hadn't already left and pushed her face back into the lightly moving chest, holding with renewed tightness as she tried to stifle any whimpers.

"You're one hundred percent sure? She uh…" He searched for the proper words, "Looks pretty common."

"I am not going to repeat myself, and what? Do you suspect you weren't something that looked simply 'common' ever before?"

A snort was the reply, which indirectly admitted defeat in its rejecting manner.

"Little one," Came the mature one's voice as he knelt down, "We won't harm you." He coaxed with a calm tone.

She didn't respond right away, wanting to will them away with disregard to their beings. Looking up eventually from the fabric, she found this was not the case, and blinked, finding it hard to make out much on the man, "Will…. Y-you help my mother?"

Both were silent, eye traveled down to the hardly breathing woman, whose forehead was slick with sweat and sand and whose expression was furrowed with pain.

Finally the mature voiced man spoke again, "There is one thing we can do for her, and a few for you." His hands reached forward as she sat up more and looked to him with eyes glinted by intelligence; a being who thought and considered and within the expanse of its knowledge tried to understand. His gloved hands lifted her with little trouble, her own slipping from her mother as he took her under the arms. She gazed to him with light blue eyes, looking over his face tiredly until she found his own eyes. A bright combination between yellow and orange, but almost acidic in their golden nature and the manner in which they seemed to glow when light caught them just right. She did not look away from them until he handed her to the young voiced man who set her down a few yards away on the starting of rock formations.

"It'll be fine." He said.

"She hardly listened, "Is momma alright?"

He hardly listened this time around, and started yanking off her dirt, blood and sand stained clothing. The girl tried her best to see over to the sand, back to her mother even as the young man wiped at her sore face to rid it of grit and grains. Pleased that at least she seemed to be co-operating well enough.

The older man watched, little emotion striking his face. He listened to the sound of waves and the surrounding area briefly, before he shifted and turned to walk away, but his long jacket pulled tight and his vivid gaze moved down to the woman's hand, which held firmly to the material, finding desolation in her contorted face and claw-like grip.

"No, please!" She bellowed out in a voice that despite its desperation could not hit much over a whisper. "Don't take her, don't hurt her!"

"We don't intend to." He stated clearly.

Her eyes half blinded by pain widened and she shuttered, her grip losing its hold, "You-re… y-you're the-"

"We are."

"Please, oh have mercy… don't hurt her!" She coughed violently, her body not receiving the excitement well, "I beg you!" She conjured up strength and volume, "Protect her!"

The man's gaze widened slightly but suddenly and just as quickly furrowed again. His eyes wandered away and he walked forward without answer, pulling his long coat from his arms and shoulders. The young voiced one was trying to help the child out of her dirty leggings, but she got to her feet when she heard the louder pleads of the woman, and tried to get to her. Tripping out of her leggings, she hurried in the buff, clumsily back toward there. She did not make it even a third of the way before she was intercepted by a strong arm. The sudden chill of the air struck her, making her shiver and fear made her quake. He pulled her closer and wrapped the long jacket over her shoulders. The article of clothing swallowed her in fabric, but she held it close as tears started to drip from her face.

"It will be alright." …She listened this time.

Crouching down more he tugged at the sleeves. She guessed correctly and put her arms through; finding they hardly went farther than halfway. He zipped it up and it seemed to engulf her even more, length upon length of fabric draping down, and still with it done up, it fell off her small shoulders with the hood down past mid-back. He picked her up once more and stood straight as she wrapped her small arms clumsily around his neck and over long locks of grey-blue hair.

She looked back over his shoulders and sniffled, "Bye, momma. I love you too." She said it in an eerily sober manner, as if through all her vast amounts of naivety, she knew.

His gaze moved over for a brief moment. Wise child. And he went to the other. "Tend to the woman." Bland was his tone and silent was the other's nodding response.

The young toned one returned to the woman, however, he and the child continued forward upon his feet. Away from this woman, away from the beach. Away from the night and all the remnants of past lives. She was with them now that's all that mattered.