Number 18 – Rainbow
The arch in the distance drew her eyes towards it. The sun beat down heavily against her back. Each colour was vivid, even across the distance, and she knew she had finally reached her destination. She yanked the hood from her head, glancing up at the sky to see a few more grey clouds lingering about.
In the land behind her, it was constantly raining. She didn't know how or why, all she knew was that it had taken her three days to get from one end to the other, and they were three days she never wished to repeat. The nights had been cold, and the water had seeped through her clothes and settled on her skin. Unable to build a fire, she'd had no way of warming or drying herself.
But now, the sun was shining and the clouds, even those she could still see ahead, would soon be behind her.
The rainbow was the end of her journey. As she rode on, urging the horse to keep going, she focused on it. With every step the horse took, the colours came into sharper focus. The red was the most prominent, drawing her eyes time and time again.
"When we get there," she whispered to the animal, patting its neck, "we can rest."
It wasn't far now.
Less than day's ride, she figured.
The sound of the rain died out as she got further from it, though the echoes remained in her head.
"We can rest," she repeated, running a hand through her chin length blonde hair. She could feel the grease lodged in there, and winced. "And have a shower. And you can eat all the bloody oats you want."
She had kept the horse as fed as well as she could. It shuddered under her now. With her legs digging in, she could feel the animal's ribs.
She drove the horse onward. She had been driven, for the last three days, purely by the knowledge that once she got out of the rain drenched land, she would be almost there. But now, with her destination in sight, she could feel the energy slipping away.
Taking a deep breath, she patted the horse's neck again.
"We're going to get you big and strong again, okay?" she promised. "Because I always look after my friends."
The horse didn't say anything, just kept going forward.
The girl slumped forward, but kept her eyes on the archway. As they drew closer, she could see how brilliantly designed they were. Each colour was thick, and each colour set just below and behind the one before, so from a distance they looked connected. They were designed to be the first thing seen as the rain ended, with the sun at one's back.
She smiled to herself.
How much thought had gone into that?
The day drew on, and she urged the horse on.
"Right, come on," she said. "Just a little bit further. We can run this, right"
She grinned to herself and urged the horse into a canter. She gripped tightly, whooping as the archways drew closer.
They rose up, directly above her now, and the horse came to a sudden stop, falling with her still on its back. The girl leapt off, stumbling but regaining her footing in time to turn around and see the horse breathe its last.
She knelt next to the animal, reached out and patted its neck for the last time.
"Sorry I didn't get to know you better, friend," she whispered, before standing and turning to face the other side of the archways. The ground sloped downwards, and she moved forward slowly, hand gripping the strap of her pack. She didn't look back, not needing to see the dead horse again.
It had got her to her destination, all she needed from it really.
She followed the hill down, leaving the rainbow arches behind, and surveyed the scene below.
Every building was white. A large wall surrounded the place, with bright white gates right at the end of the path she was on. There was a splash of colour beside the gates that she could see even from her spot.
She let out a deep breath, before continuing her walk. The sheer white attacked her eyes, made them ache after days of seeing nothing but dull, muted colours. It was finished, almost. Once she reached the gates, once she got inside, she would be safe. Free.
The gates swung open and she paused, still clutching her pack as figures appeared. All of them were dressed in black, from head to toe, and all of them had rifles pointed directly at her.
She raised her hands, palms out towards them, as one of those in the middle moved forward.
He kept his gun trained on her. His eyes were hidden behind a pair of sunglasses, his hair hidden underneath a bandana. She forced herself to smile down the barrel of the gun.
She heard the familiar buzz and whirl, as the glasses scanned her. A click, followed by the man lowering his gun and the others doing the same. He smiled, striding forward and holding his hand out to her.
"Welcome, Star Yulish."
She shook his hand.
"How did you get here?"
"Horse." She gestured behind her. "Died under the arches."
The man waved at those behind him, and they moved forward quickly, past them and up the hill, towards the horse. The leader turned, and began to walk back to the gates. Star followed, running the first few paces to keep up with him.
"You'll have to be checked, and quarantined at first."
"To check for any signs of infection." He cast a glance over her, as they reached the gates and she stepped inside. "After that, well, we'll see." He grinned, before gesturing towards the small building to their right. "But I'm sure you'll be right at home here. Welcome to Amaris Rainbow Institution."
A/N: Yeah, a short one. But I didn't really know where else to take it. For anyone familiar with my work, this links to Into The Night, Back to Hell & I Found Away. Not that you have to read them to get this. Also linked into the one-shots Two Roads, Heaven, Test and 67, so if you're interested, feel free to check them out. As always, I return reviews. (While we're at it, I'd love to get some votes on my poll, if you have a moment.) Thanks.