Chapter 1: Hiding in the Smoke

——

Sona

Year 2054, Month 5, Day 28 

10 days before high school graduation

——

My life has long been done for. And if there was one thing I blame, it’s debt.

“We are already $500,000.00 in debt. Why go and get more with a student loan? Just work for me and you’ll earn $100 a day! What will your mom think about his?”

This was how my step-father dismissively answered me when I asked for his thoughts on college. If only thoughts could kill.

“What do you mean we? You are the one who overspent on broken marriages. There are three people I call mother, and you have spent at least 200,000 on the last two marriages.”

I could tell my words didn’t sit well with him as he fired back, “What would your mother think about this!?!”

My father was never a loyal husband. He is a lecherous womanizer with a long string of lovers. What’s even more disgusting is the fact that he spent a fourtune every one of them. Even after he had reached fifty, the number of step-moms I have continued to grow. My father never seemed able to make wise decisions by himself. 

“You know that my mother die 17 years ago. Stop pinning all of your problems on her and get a grip! You’re the reason why we are in debt and why my sister ran away.”

All I want is a real family.
.
.
.
.
3 weeks later my father died from a heart attack.

——–

Sona

Year 2054, Month 8, Day 16 

Graze College Dorm

——–

“I’m finally finished…”

After sorting out my boxes and furniture in my dorm room, I threw myself on my bed. 

The day I graduated, I told my mothers I was leaving for college instead of paying off the mortgage of the house. Unsurprisingly, not a single one of them supported my decision as they wanted to keep their carefree lifestyles. My father tried, again and again, to convince me to work for him until it was paid off, at the cost of 15 years of my life.

I’ve never been happier in my life than when I started them all right in the eyes and declared, “I never want to see any of you ever again!” 

A smile of satisfaction formed on my face.

“I’m finally free! I’m really, truly, free!”

Father, thank you for dying; things are looking up for me. Deep inside, I know it’s wrong to be rejoicing at the death of my father. Despite all the frustration and pain, he left me with, celebrating the end of a man leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. But this taste quickly disappeared when I took a look at my first meal without my that fake  ‘family.’

I get up off my bed and flipped the switch for the mini TV in my dorm. The speakers start to crackle with life and the screen hummed with a high pitched noise. So cheap! It is a pity that I only have this TV and 3 sets of clothes. I had to sell everything else and take a $150,000 loan to attend the cheapest college. There is only enough food for tonight. 

“In other news, people around the world have been reported to do the supernatural. Hank, what do you have to say about this? 

“Well Hanna, despite the earthquakes that destroyed 5 cities last week, social media has been focused on more than a dozen photoshopped photos and edited videos that show people doing the impossible! In the dozen of fake videos, all of them say claim that something called a  numen granted them powers. I don’t know about you Hanna, but I think this is just another Russian hoax made to scare people to vote to the left……”

‘POP”

An ear-popping snap emitted from the TV.  It seems the TV was too old and finally kicked the bucket. It doesn’t matter anymore, there are already too many things happening to the world right now and the last thing I need to hear is politics fighting. I should just be happy I am in this small dorm.

Bah, who am I kidding? It’s been years since I’ve come to this conclusion, but in case you didn’t get the memo, here it is: This world is burned. Global warming spiked about five years ago, China has grasped capital over the world as a whole, hell, Adriana Grande even received the Nobel Prize in literature. Ever since the numen arrived, half of all the people on this earth, good and bad, have died. 100 years from now you’ll be gone, I’ll be gone, we’ll all be gone.

This is the truth. When you’ve come to accept it like the rest of us, then treat yourself to a beer.

To mark the first day of my new life, I’ve decided to treat myself to three weeks worth of ramen at the convenience store.  I pull myself up off the old bed and give a quick prayer for my broken tv as I walk out the door. My legs carry me to the oh so prestigious 7/11 right around the corner. I pick up 15 bags of ramen for 5$ and walk up to the cashier. I opened my wallet to pay only to fine dust. I guess I have to make a quick stop at the bank.

‘Whatever you choose.’

‘you must be better than me.’

I recall an unsettling memory, one which brings a special kind of trauma. The last words my father said to me before he passed away. I wonder if these thoughts came about because of my bank account or my stress.

I enter the bank towards the nearest ATM when suddenly smoke began to rise from all of the ATMs. The smell of sulfur quickly spread through the air and hit me in the face.

“Don’t make a sound.”

I turned around to see a grizzly old  man, wearing a origami rabit mask, with the barrel of his gun pointed right at me.

“Now, give me your phone and sit in the corner.”

(Drawing of the man holding the gun)

The man wore an unkempt red tuxedo with a black tie. His shoes were brown leather with spotted with oil stains. Without much choice, I silently comply. 

Carefully looking around myself, I see 5 other men wearing masks and different tuxedos: a muscular man wearing a purple tux and a paper tiger mask, a slim dark skinned woman wearing a white tux and a panther mask, tall lanky man wearing a black tux with a paper monkey mask, and midget child wearing a green tux and a small fox mask.

3 security guards had holes in their chests and were bleeding out on the floor, but they weren’t from mere bullets. These holes were larger than a man’s fist and much too rugged to be from any firearm. I concluded that at least one of the robbers had the power to enhance their strength. Amidst the chaos, a loud siren rang in my head. My conscience instantly went cold. My mind started to race.

‘Do not scream, that’ll only irritate the kidnappers; Do not run away, they’ll kill you; Do not fight back or else you will die. Strike when the moment is right.’

The old rabit puts pressure on my back, forcing me to move forward. As I looked up, I see 15 other hostages: 8 civilians, 3 civil servants, 4 employees huddled in the back. I can only hear the sound of papers flying. How are they this silent?

Mikey mouse points at Goofy “Take the hostages and Alvin to the back. Donald messed up and alerted the police.” Donald sharply turns his head, “If you didn’t walk that far then…” Mikey pointed his gun at Donald “This is the last time you are working for us.” 

A loud speaker sounded off from outside, “THIS IS THE POLICE. RELEASE THE HOSTAGES OR ELSE WE WILL USE FORCE.” I feel almost relieved, surely the police knew how to deal with these kinds of criminals. Mikey takes his aim off Donald and aims straight up.

*Bang Bang* 

It was apparent that this is not an amateur heist. These robbers were well prepared and more than willing to kill any opposition. Minny and Alvin sprint to the back of the bank and nab an old woman and a young girl. I look in the direction of the sound but Mickey blocks the way.

‘Oh no’ I think 

He roughly pulls me towards him and twists my arm behind my back. He rests his gun behind my head. “Now you are going to stay nice and quiet, ya hear?” I slowly nod for the man as he carefully escorts me to the center of the bank. With his body so close, I could smell hits of brandy and whiskey. 

One of the armed men shouted in the empty room, “We have three hostages with guns pointed to their heads and 12 more in the back. Make the police cars leave now or else!”

Silence

“We will count down from 5 and if we don’t see any movement we will shoot!”

“5”

“4”

One of the men hit me. “Next time, I shoot.”

“3”

These men are insane.

“2”

*Bang*

Grey matter flies all over the wall. My hands start to tremble a loud sound coming 5 feet from my right. I only hear the old woman scream out in terror.

Smoke erupted in the room covering everything in a grey haze. The enigmatic burst of smoke shocked the police causing some to prematurely fire their surroundings. Tension breaks and room erupts into a bullet hell. 

Maybe the police force wasn’t as prepared as I had thought.


(Dark mode Soon!)


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