Til the angels save us all
"Don't let me die." Alicia cries out and her voice is full of pain and desperation. She feels alone, numb, cold. The pain in her chest is stinging and burning and sharp all at the same time. The darkness is closing in and it feels strangely comforting. More gun fire goes off a short distance away then an explosion followed by anguish filled screams.
"I'm here." A voice says above her. She barely manages to open her eyes. He's standing over, heaving in heavy breaths. His black hair is matted to his forehead by sweat and blood. A gun is in his hand and grenades are strapped to his belt along with a smaller pistol.
The streets are lined with bloody corpses and remains of what used to be buildings and sidewalks. More gun fire more screams echo in the background.
"Where are the others?" She asked in a hoarse voice and she finds herself slipping deeper into a hazy state. The air smells of rotting organs and death.
"They're on their way." His voice is steady and loud in an attempt to keep her alert. She barely manages a nod. He rips off a piece of his already torn shirt in an attempt to treat her bullet wound. She winces in pain but knows better than to scream.
"There you guys are." Another voice floats down to meet her ears and it sounds relieved. It's female and out of breath. Her hair is tied in a messy pony tail and her semi-automatic is secured in its holster.
"Yeah took us forever to find you." A new male voice adds to the conversation. A noise sounds in the background, a noise a normal person wouldn't have heard. But they were trained to hear it. Three guns are drawn in milliseconds and the shot is ultimately fired by Blythe, the girl.
The target falls to the ground, injured, dead. They don't spare her a second glance.
"Hear drink this." The second boy, J.T. hands her a canteen and Alicia gulps greedily.
"We need to get you out of her." Reece says and he looks around for any possible means of escape. Alicia looks around trying to remember where she was.
"Okay here's the plan." Reece's voice sounds anxious almost nervous. "Blythe, you blow a hole in the wall and J.T. we'll carry Alicia. There's a clear building about 30 feet away. After that there should be a triage center. We only have a two minute window after Blythe blows the hole."
The plan was risky and full of holes but it's all he could come up all nod gravely and take the appropriate positions. Blythe removes a grenade from her belt, pulls the pin, and throws it directly into the wall. They cover their ears as the loud bang echoes for miles.
"Go!" Reece orders the second the dust settles. The air is smoky and suffocating. Buildings are on fire, the city is a war zone. Blythe goes ahead of them, gun drawn. They can't hear their own footsteps over the wail of gunshots, explosions, and ambulances that won't make it in time. Children are crying and the pungent odor of decomposing bodies would make them gage if they weren't used to it by now.
They make it to the building and repeat the process over and over. Finally they make it to the triage center. It's complete chaos with crying and screams. Barely alive soldiers with legs and arms blown off are the main attraction.
Trauma surgeons try everything they can, they operate, they pray. But she still dies.
Her friends, the only family Alicia has ever really known is numb. They knew this would happen. Teams lose people all the time. They were lucky they all survived this long.
The year was 2045 and the United States was at war with itself. Reece, Blythe, Alicia, and J.T. were orphans and forced to become part of the resistance when the rebels captured their orphanage when they were only 12. From then on they were trained by some of the best to be stoic assassins.
They were 17 now and had killed more people than they care to remember. Nightmares are common and sleep is spare. Hundreds of thousands of people have died to fuel this vicious cycle of war.
Alicia won't get a funeral. She won't get buried. She won't even get a marker. She'll get thrown in the dead pile with all the other people the war had slaughtered.
"We need to keep moving." Reece says to break the silence that had reined ever since they had learned of their teammate's demise. He doesn't cry, but the scariest part is he doesn't feel like crying.
Blythe and J.T. nod but make no attempt to rise from the ground. Reece forces his body from the dirt and dusts himself off. He stares blankly at the overcast sky and prays for rain. As if rain could cleanse the scars of the earth, the scars he himself bares.
It begins to drizzle and Blythe lets out a broken sigh. The two other teens rise slowly, checking their equipment and adding more supplies to their backpacks. For a long moment they just stare at each other feeling incomplete without their fallen comrade.
"We will fight." Reece said authoritatively extending his hand.
"Or we will fall." J.T. said sadly putting his hand on top of Reece's.
"Til the angels save us all." Blythe said putting her hand on top of theirs. And for the moment, the miniscule human contact reminds them that they are alive. It reminds them that they aren't just cold blooded killers.
The war destroyed them. Robbed them of their innocence, and made them numb to human suffering. It crushed their spirits and made killing the only thing they knew how to do. It wasn't their fault that they were born in this world as it all falls apart.
"We should head out." Reece repeats. The remove their hands from the pile and take their guns from their holsters. With consoling nods, they move from the triage center under the cover of darkness.
They have jobs to do, more people to kill, a war to win.
They may be alive, but on the inside their as dead as Alicia's corpse.
No longer were they the children in the rain.
They were the parade before the pain.