“All citizens must report to the square,” blares the megaphone again.
Her shoulder hurts from Sonjia’s yanking. Normally Mari would never stand for such treatment especially in public but the combination of fear, anger and rusty determination coming off of her older sister keeps her jaw clamped shut. The invaders are setting up torches on spikes around the town square and down some of the streets. Thick black smoke spirals up to the darkening sky and this of all the omens, makes Mari think that maybe Sonjia is right to run from the new arrivals rather than to them. Sonjia shoulders her way against the tide of people flowing towards the square and pulls Mari into their building. At the bottom of the stairs, she takes a moment to catch her breath and inspect Mari.
“Are you ok?” asks Sonjia scanning Mari with anxious eyes.
“I’m fine, stop fussing,” says Mari.
Sonjia nods and takes the stairs to their second floor apartment two at a time and as she throws open the doors she says, “Mom! Mom, we have to go. They’re here.”
It’s then that Mari realizes that Sonjia knows more about what’s going on then she has told her. Mari hates it that her mother and Sonjia are constantly ‘protecting her,’ she wishes they would let her make up her own mind. Mari sees her sister limp into the room and then come to a dead stop.
“Mom? No…mom…” Sonjia groans.
Mari knows she doesn’t want to see what’s in the living room, but she doesn’t want to be kept in the dark either. The not knowing, the imagining is worse. She starts to enter the room when she sees Sonjia’s hand waving her away. Mari backs up, carefully avoiding the floorboards that creak. She slides along the wall and takes one quick peek in the gap of the door jamb. Her mother is on her knees and three men are in the room all dressed in the same black pants and short capes. The man in the center who has no hair and no scars has a gun pressed to the side of her mother’s head. Sonjia is standing in the doorway still and silent with her hands raised in front of her.
“Please don’t hurt her,” Sonjia pleads.
“We have no intention of hurting her, she’s going to come work for us,” says the bald man.
“Never,” hisses her mother.
“Really? Never,” says the bald man as he raises the gun and shoots Sonjia who crumples to the floor soundlessly.
Her mother howls rage and helplessness.
“Find the other daughter, the whole one,” says the bald man and this time Mari runs, her heart as broken as tiles of a fading mosaic.
Previous entries to this now serial fiction, not that I ever intended but is now clearly the case are: When We Miss (1), Grin and Grind (2), Industrial Blue (3), Sugar Plum Fairies (4),Gently, Gently (5), Spiderlings (6).