Sirens sounded. Addy looked up from the notebook she’d been showing Jasper and caught his eyes. A flash of sorrow seemed to flicker over them and then his head went on one side and his hands went up.
“They come, they come, they buzz and they hum, they go and they leave all broken behind them”.
It had been a week. She hadn’t expected them back this early. She closed the notebook, feeling her face shut down. “I guess we better go out then.”
Normally she tried to avoid these but the Fae had ways of telling if anyone was still in the units and it wasn’t pretty. She walked slowly through the crowd converging on the impact crater, wanting to hide at the back but aware of her promise to Jenny. She stood a row or two back from the front, behind Marco, but when Ryder strode to the head of the crowd he looked round and, spotting her, frowned and motioned her over to him. Emotions tangled in her blood and she felt awkward taking a place by his side but Hannah simply nodded and no-one else seemed to blink an eye. Since when had she become a second in command?
The skies darkened and the sirens dropped to a muted wail as the Faery appeared. Her heart skittered. Surely it wouldn’t sense anything; it had been so long. She wrapped her scarf around the bottom of her face anyway.
The Faery floated down into the silence and hovered, looking slowly around. No doubt counting or scanning or however they did it. Her stomach flipped over and she shut her eyes against its slowly shifting form. When it spoke its voice seemed to go straight into her mind. She opened her eyes; with them shut it felt like the thing was in her head.
“The Taken will be returned. The Testing will be carried out in two weeks. Make sure you have them ready.”
It didn’t wait for a reply but spread its wings and slowly rose into the sky. Its long blue drapery floated out around it, and its tightly coiled blonde hair looked out of place, as if it belonged on a figure skater, not a creature of myth and horror. Its arms spread out until they were level with the gauzy wings at its back and three bodies appeared out of nowhere. A gasp came from the people around but she watched in silence, her heart like stone inside her. And so it would begin again.
The three forms bumped down onto the impact circle. No-one moved for a second and then Ryder was walking past her, jerking his head for her to follow. Into the impact crater. She willed her feet to follow him. It was just a bit of earth. Nothing would happen. The Faery was gone. Just a bit of earth. Ryder went for the two in front and she passed him and knelt by the smallest form, curled over at the back. It was Jenny’s boy. Her hand trembled as she reached out to brush the webbing off him, and her eyebrows drew close, her jaw tightening; she had to be strong, this was ridiculous. She tore the webbing off with harsh strokes of her hand, baring his pale face. His pulse was strong in his neck and she took a deep, shuddering breath. She wouldn’t have to tell Jenny her son was dead. Yet.
“Pye and Lucy are alive. Tad?”
She nodded, not trusting her voice.
Ryder didn’t reply, turning instead to call to Doc and Marco for stretchers.
She brushed a lock of hair off Tad’s face. Maybe this time it would be different.
She froze, her hand still on Tad’s hair. Turning her head she stared at Ryder. “He can’t be.”
“He is! Doc! Pye’s awake!”
Ryder put a hand under Pye’s shoulder and sat him up. She watched as the foundling’s eyes blinked rapidly and his mouth turned down as if he was about to cry. She didn’t blame him. Her own stomach was churning and her breathing felt forced. Doc ran over, Marco following with one stretcher and calling for someone to bring the other. Hannah fell to her knees beside Pye and began checking his vitals. She forced her head away and put her arms under Tad’s small body. Pushing to her feet she carried him back out of the impact circle.
From Dust Bound, current Work in Progress.