“Aether” First Draft Preview
First draft of my short story “Aether” is done. I already have plans to make this a much larger work, whether in Graphic Novel or Novel form. Here’s the opening scene as a preview:
“Tom, run!” The woman’s voice cries out as she grabs her son’s hand and breaks into a full sprint.
Three men remain in the dark alley, mere shadows in the steam and smog. The largest of the three is fighting for his life as the other two try to force their way past him. The sounds of violence rumble loudly, drowning out the child’s screams for his father until one world shattering bang rings through the damp air. The woman stops for a moment as the silence sits heavily in the air, her hand at her mouth, tears budding from the corners of her eyes. She squeezes her child’s hand hard when she hears the boots smacking the cobble street behind her and begins to run again. The woman looks back to see where her pursuers are. Looking forward again she sees the pit in the road, but it’s too late. She trips and tumbles forward, throwing the boy to the side of the alley where he hits his head against the brick wall with a wet thump and falls into unconsciousness.
The boy awakens to the sound of a zipper and men talking.
“So, what do we do with the rug rat?”
“He’s a witness. Best not to take chances.”
In the center of the alley Tom sees his mother lying limp and he runs to her, crying out, telling her to wake up. Her clothes are torn and her body is bruised and bloody. He shakes her, but there’s no response. She just looks straight ahead without blinking, her eyes glazed over. He hears the two men approach him and his mother, both chuckling.
“Poor kid, we really should put him out of his misery,” the first says with a sick grin on his face. Tom can see blood smears around his mouth and on his teeth.
“Stay away from my Mom,” Tom shouts out as tears run down his cheeks. This elicits a raucous laugh from both of the men.
“No, son, we’ve finished with your Ma. Now we’re just tying up a loose end,” one of the men says as he raises a large hand gun to Tom’s forehead. Tom can smell the gun powder and feel the heat of the barrel, and in his mind he sees his father being shot.
“No. No, go away. Go away!” Tom closes his eyes tight, focusing on the smell and the heat of the gun, “Leave us alone!” Suddenly the heat in his mind is palpable and he hears an abrupt scream. Then silence and the heavy choking smell of ash. He opens his eyes slowly, the dust in the air stinging his eyes. The men are gone, replaced by piles of fine powder. Somewhere close he hears sirens so loud his vision blurs and blackens.