Matilda Vess awoke to a drumming inside her head. With one eye open, she rolled over to see the clock and saw it was 5:45 in the morning. The pain was right between her eyes. A throbbing pain that extended to the bridge of her nose. That was bad enough, but that horrible drumming noise was intolerable.
She saw the sun barely rising. But there were no birds singing. Yesterday there were birds singing. Two days ago there were birds singing. She knew it was spring---
Something was wrong.
Matilda sniffed the air. Something was burning. She leaped out of bed and threw her robe over her gown, still smelling the air. She slipped into the furry slippers, the ones her sister Jenny gave her for Christmas, still smelling the air.
Something is definitely burning, Matilda thought as she ran her bedroom to the kitchen, to the living room, to the bathroom, back to the kitchen. Nothing in her house was on fire.
“Then what the hell is that burning smell?” Matilda asked herself. She put up her curly blond hair in a bun and closed her eyes. She smelled the air again.
She heard a loud crash. She jumped, looked around, then ran to the window. She heard sirens. Out the window she could see a row of houses across the street burning. Smolder and ash filled the sky. Large orange and red flames were consuming her neighbors houses, one by one. Mrs. Tolkas was out on her lawn screaming in horrible pain. She fell to the her nicely cut green lawn and rolled to end the flames torment. An ETM stopped along the curb of her driveway and two men jumped out of their vehicle with a blanket to cover Mrs. Tolkas.
“What in God 's name is going on?” Matilda flung open her front door.
A powerful wind uprooted a tree from the Blackwells yard, flying past Matilda in a funnel and carried it in the dark sky. Matilda found herself being blown back inside her house. She watched her front door open and close several times by another gust of wind before she pushed the shut and even turned the bolt on the top lock for safety sake.
“That's why the birds weren't singing,” She sighed, rested on the floor for a few minutes.
There was a buzzing sound. Her phone was lying on the coffee table next to the latest Dan brown novel. Matilda crawled across the thin layered shag carpet, the fibers pinching her legs. It reminded her of the time she had sex with jenny's date at a friends wedding. Jenny thinks to this day the guy left with a bridesmaid. He wasn't even attractive or interesting, with his bald head and fat red nose. She always thought she did it with W.C. Fields. Sometimes she was turned on by that idea, but mostly it made her wretch.
Matilda didn't get to her phone in time. She pressed the alotted buttons to listen to the voice mail. It was Jenny.
“I don't know what is happening,” Jenny sounded hurried, nervous. “Everything is being destroyed. Matilda...I want you to know I---” That's where the message ended.
Matilda hit the callback button. No cell phone signal. She tried for five minutes before frustration caused her to throw the phone across the room, slamming against a wall and splintering in several parts.
Matilda felt the house shake. The furniture moved to the left, walls expanded. All the knickknacks she had on a shelf seemed to leap forward, collaborating on pile of broken ceramics. She saw the floor to her kitchen sink in.
Matilda fought her balance to get to her feet. She ran to the front door, flung it open. In the middle of her street was a wide crack, swallowing people and their houses and cars.
“It's a dream,” Matilda mumbled. She felt the ground under her bubble up. Matilda screamed, ran the opposite direction.
She ran down her street, past debris and the dead lying in that debris. She looked up and saw the skies clearing up. The sun showed a few rays of light through passing black clouds. The earth was still. Matilda was too tired to run anymore.
She found herself in front of a bank with windows shattered and the ceiling had caved in. She sat on the edge of a curb, placed her head in her hands. Matilda wept. Sobbing loudly, she had not noticed the footsteps on the pavement in front of her.
The man had fallen to his knees, blood dribbling from the corners of his mouth. Matilda raised her head up. She was face to face with a dying man, a large chunk of glass piercing his chest. He fell on his face, at her feet. Matilda squealed, sprung from the curb.
A circle of light appeared, nearly blinding Matilda. She held a hand in front of her eyes. Out of the light a glowing woman with red eyes and in robes materialized. The woman placed both hands inside the dead man and took from him a warm blue rotating particles. The glowing woman hovered above the dead man, stared at Matilda. Then she was gone.
Matilda staggered backwards, eyes wide, mouth gaping open. “What the hell...” She said.
“Don't be afraid...” Matilda heard a familiar voice.
She looked behind her. She saw Reverend Michaels. The gray, ashen man looked as if he was in a daze. He held out one hand to her, holding the other behind his back. His eyes were tired, empty. He was wearing his collar. His black short sleeve shirt had burn marks and holes in it.
“Reverend, What is going on?” She asked him.
He motioned for her to come him. He had this fixated grin on his face. “Don't be afraid. My child...” Matilda walked to him quickly, nervously.
“I don't understand...everything was fine when I went to sleep last night...now I see these...beings taking this...this energy...I don't know---”
“Don't be afraid, my child...it is God 's work. Take my hand.” He showed Matilda the .45 he was hiding behind his back.
“No,” She backed away from him.
“It is alright, my child. Take my hand...we will see god together---”
“No!” She screamed at Reverend Michaels.
He put the barrel of the gun in his mouth, pulled the trigger. The top of his head exploded in a cloud of thick red. Matilda screamed until her voice gave out. Reverend Michaels body fell limp on the hard pavement.
She closed her eyes, tried to control her breathing. She opened them again, saw the glowing women surrounding the Reverend 's body, caressing he blue particles in their hands.
Matilda ran. She was running to the apartment complex where her sister lived.
Matilda never made it to the apartments. A line of cars on the bridge leading to the four lane were ravaged. She walked through broken glass, avoiding cars just barely hanging on the side of the bridge. Matilda tried in vain not to look at broken bodies either inside the vehicles, or scattered on the bridge.
She saw the glowing women extracting the blue particles from the dead. They held the particles ever so gentle in their hands, then slip into nothingness.
Matilda recognized Jenny 's Escort, entangled with a Ram pick up. The front end of the car was like an accordion folded together with truck 's back end. She hesitated, knowing it was best to know if Jenny was alive. She rounded the rider 's side, peeked in through shattered window.
Jenny was no longer with the living. Her head was tilted back, lower part of her body had become part of the interior of the car.
Matilda felt the car become warmer, as if it had become a human with blood flowing through the body of the car. She removed her hand from the door handle, backed away. She examined her hand, seeing there was large red circle on her palm. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw a glowing woman taking blue particles from Jenny.
“No!” Matilda screamed, rushing around the back end of the car to the driver 's side.”Get away from her! Don't touch Jenny!” She waived her hands angrily at the glowing woman hovering over the vehicles.
The glowing woman looked confused at first, then fierce. The eyes had grown bigger, the pupils smaller, blacker. The glowing woman opened her mouth and bared long sharpened teeth that opened like a Venus flytrap. Matilda heard a growl from the glowing woman and felt a gush of ice cold force of some kind knock her on her backside.
Before Matilda could regain her balance, the glowing woman was gone.
A deep sea of sadness consumed Matilda. She understood Reverend Michaels despair. She climbed the rail of the bridge, looked down, decided to jump. Everything went black.
Matilda regained something of a consciousness, but it was all fuzzy—dreamlike. She felt hands enter her. It was warm—gooey...like a nice warm calm, bath running over body. She saw a glowing woman hovering over her, holding blue particles in her hands.
She heard the glowing woman speak with her mouth closed. “I am Talos,” She said. “I am here with other Talos, to gather essence from you, so your kind can continue. It is the nature of the cycle. I shall carry this to a distant place where humanity with thrive, hopefully fulfilled and in peace.”
Matilda smiled at that notion. Then she was no more.