Fiction Fragment Friday
This week’s story is a Skies of Glass story. It features characters from the serialized fiction novel Skies of Glass: Metropolis that I wrote in 2009. This novel is no longer published on the internet, but at the time it was my first time putting fiction work out there for strangers to read. It is far from my best work and could use a few rewrites. I still think my characters and concepts from it are solid and they have been developed further over time through one shot games and additional fiction. I don’t think you need to know anything about those other works to enjoy this flash fiction piece, but if you have read them it probably will have more significance.
Returning to this world and these characters yet again reminds me of all the long form fiction I have written that I have not edited properly. I have grown so much as a writer over the years, but I still struggle with taking the time to polish my work after completing it. Skies of Glass: Metropolis is a story that means a lot to me for many reasons and I think it is time I return to it, expand it, and put it back out into the world to share that love with others.
The smell of sulfur from the smoking revolver assaulted my nostrils. I tried to steady my hand, but it would not stop shaking. My eyes focused on the trembling weapon too afraid to look up. Everything else in the world around me faded into the background. It felt like the only things that existed were me and the gun. Somewhere in the back of my mind a voice was screaming that I needed to move. I was not safe, but I could not get my legs to respond. Finally, I forced my gaze up at the dead man laying on the ground in front of me.
Seeing my first kill was enough to push me over the edge. The gun clattered to the ground as my arms wrapped tightly around my stomach. I bent over retching and vomited my breakfast at my feet. It hurt coming up and I could feel my eyes start to water. To this day I’m not sure if it was from throwing up or the effort to fight back tears. I look back at myself in that moment and I can’t recognize the person I was any more than that person could comprehend the person I have become. It was a life defining moment.
“James come on; we have to go.” I’m not sure how long Jason had been trying to get through to me. He had picked up my gun and was shaking my arm. The fear in his voice was evident. We had been ambushed on our way back to town. I had trained for this, but reality is never the same as training. You don’t know how you will react in the moment. I did what I needed to do in the moment, but then I had frozen. It all seemed too much, but thankfully my best friend was there for me. I don’t remember deciding to move, but there we were running through the forest trying to get back to town.
I saw the hearth fire smoke from Metropolis ahead of me but could also hear the shouts of the Ists behind me. The worst that humanity had to offer, and they were coming to raid my home. My parents had told me of times before they existed. Before the bombs had torn asunder the very thin veneer of society that kept people in check. That was a world I had never known though. Until six months prior I had not truly seen the world outside of our town. The town that had given me so much and now needed me to warn it. My reality had come crashing back to me with waves of adrenaline.
We broke through the forest just east of Fort Massac. The fort looked different in those days. It was still being expanded and the barracks had just started being constructed. We had not even started reinforcing the walls with scavenged steel yet. It was just wooden structures recreating a long destroyed historical site. It had been years since a force of any significance had tried to raid the town and if I’m to be honest I think we had gotten complacent. That all changed overnight.
James and I started spreading the word. If there was any hesitation to believe us the screams coming from the forest alleviated, it. I would like to tell you that the fort marshaled a well-organized defense and that I fought side by side with them to defend our home. That would be a lie though. We were not prepared, and it showed. I lost friends that day, but in the end, we had more people and resources. Their savagery took them further than it should have, but it was not enough.
I was sent the rest of the way into town to continue sounding the alarm. I think the commander saw something in my eyes and decided I would be better off not being on the front line. They held the position long enough for me to get reinforcements. The militia coming from the town were far more organized, but I have heard that Commander McDaniels managed to pull the troops at the fort together despite being under attack. It cost him his life, but he would not let Fort Massac fall.
I know the last few days have been hard on you son. I want you to know I’m here for you when you’re ready to talk. I can tell you that it gets easier over time. You will stop seeing the face eventually. That doesn’t mean you have to follow in my footsteps though. This town owes us both now and I’m more than willing to cash in on that to give you a different life than the one I had. That’s all any parent really wants. You have an option that others don’t. You can stay with the militia, or you can take a different path. I’ll be proud of you no matter what your decision is. You don’t have a lot of time though. We’re going to meet with the mayor tomorrow.