Subsequent of the Smoke

by Carolyn Hohl, age 14
Subsequent of the Smoke Carolyn is a ninth-grade student at the Masters School in Dobbs Ferry, New York. She enjoys writing sci-fi stories, and likes to read fantasy books.

“I remember that day. I remember the darkness of the smoke, lifting off from the ground, taking my child from me. He had been taken, at only three years old, to some planet called Earth, forced into a normal life. A life in which he wasn’t my son.”

I remember that day. I remember the darkness of the smoke, lifting off from the ground, taking my child from me. He had been taken, at only three years old, to some planet called Earth, forced into a normal life. A life in which he wasn’t my son.

Orlon. My husband had given him the name before he left us. It was a grand day; the curtains sparkling, the sweet aroma of flowers filling the air. It was customary, for a boy in Arionian culture, to name the child weeks after they were born. Traditionally, the child was supposed to be granted the name from a high priest, but my husband had wanted to make a statement, and he named him, to my horror. The day was filled with blessings, wishing him the very best, giving him gifts to bring prosperity to the planet. I thought nothing of it when a man, his face barely visible in the ink-black robe, came to my son and sprinkled ash on his forehead. Ash was a sign of rebirth, a new beginning. I thought nothing of it, until later that evening, when I went to check on Orlon, only to see him missing, and pieces of ash were spread in the symbol of the rebellion on his bed frame.

I remember the terror, the scream that erupted from my mouth when I saw the ash. They had taken him, taken my boy, the only thing that I had ever truly loved, they had snatched him away from me. Running to the courtyard, tears stroking down my face, I finally caught a sight of them, for only a moment, the greasy black cloaks of the men. Yelling, screaming, begging them to simply give him back, that I would do anything they asked, only to say goodbye to my son. That I would give up the whole world just to see his face again. That’s when I saw the smoke. Filling up my lungs, dancing along my fingertips, making me want to crumble to the ground. That’s when, through the haze of the pitch black smoke I saw the ship, flying into the clear, starry night, in the direction of the small planet called Earth.

Unlike my son, the smoke never left me. It consumed all of my thoughts, seeming to control me. I was lying on my bed, crying, tears pouring from my eyes as the sun rose. A new beginning, a new start. But this time, I was going to Earth.

***

My husband was dead soon after the incident. I was forced to play the weeping widow, forced to speak like he meant the world to me. Required to cry at the funeral, made to disguise my inner happiness. The man who had seduced me that night, forcing me into his little game, was dead, and I had killed him.

I could still feel the weight of the gun in my glove clad hand, the bullet coming loose from my steel like a grip. Ripped through him, almost like the smoke defeated me. I saw his eyes, widen in that last moment, before I kissed him, rough and haphazardly, before I felt his body grow limp, his blood trickling down my lips. I smiled, joyously, for the first time after my son was taken from me. I felt the blood trickle down my teeth, my lips stained a crimson red. The smell of decay along my senses, the weight of him, the weight of my son being gone, the smoke gone for only a moment.

Curled up against him, the smell of blood around me, I was at peace. His heart, the thumping of his soul, was finally put out. I smiled at him, his glassy eyes staring up at me unmoving before I let out a scream.

The guards came running to me, holding me back as I cried, not for my husband, but for my son. It seemed almost too easy. The smoke had been lifted. I was allowed rest. But I could only see the blood. The feeling of a feeble life being crushed by my own hand, the feeling of cutting someone’s thread to the world overwhelmed me. I needed more, I had to get more.

Blood. The sickeningly sweet liquid, crimson to the touch. The blue veins, pulsing, heart beating, creating life. I was addicted. Addicted to the taste, addicted to the smell, even to the feeling. Being able to unravel the threads of a being’s life, allowing them a release nothing else but death could give them. But a gun, it was too easy, wasn’t it? Too quick, too fast, too permanent. The heart was too fragile for such things. The rest of the body, however, was less febile. The skin, although easily cut, didn’t allow the bearer easy access to the long awaited pleasure of death.

The smoke, I had believed that the smoke had finally left me. At first, it released me for hours, I could see through it, I was fine. Fine. That’s all I was. I was living. I was breathing, therefore, I was fine. I could sleep, the smoke no longer encompassing me, and all my thoughts. I could sleep without a piercing scream waking me. Later, I had learned that the scream that woke me from my nightmares was my own.

The staff thought I was insane. They drugged me, hoping to sedate me. They thought their primitive drugs would work, that they would be safe. But nobody was truly ever safe, not even those of the rebellion headed towards Earth.

Pill after pill, day after day, I was incarcerated in my mind. My body was limp; it was useless, unresponsive. I was cast aside, left for nothing but a shell of a power hungry leader. But the smoke was only thicker, it was all around me, choking me. I felt like I couldn’t breathe, but no one wanted to save me anyways.  

That’s when they left me. The pills, the staff, they all left me for dead. I was alone, left to fend for myself against the smoke. It was seeping into my pores, clogging my airways, soaking into any opening it could. I knew it was going to conquer me. I saw the haze of gray moving closer and closer to my eyes, teasing me. It knew that it was going to kill me. It was smiling at me, the wisps whispering in my ear, asking me to try to fight them. But I didn’t want to fight anymore, I wanted release. Death had found me, smiling in the midst of the night, as the full moon lighting up my glazed eyes. The smoke had finally left me. I was safe from its grasp forever.

 

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