The Ashes That Remain
By A.M. Griffin
We’re at war against the aliens that have invaded Earth, fighting the only way we can—by surviving. I have more than most people do, but although I know it’s stupid to hold on, I can’t let go of what might have been—can’t help dreaming of something more. No matter how I tell myself it would be easier to do what everyone else wants me to, there’s a part of me that can’t give in.
Making the best of the situation is one thing. Settling, even to make other people happy, is something else.
Then we hear the alien mother ships have disappeared. Of course we have to go and investigate. What we find lands us in a huge mess that we somehow have to clean up and, as our little enclave is rocked to the core with even more changes, I’m learning a hard lesson.
The more things change—for the better or the worse—there’s no fighting human nature, and building on the ashes that remain will take everything we have. And maybe more.
A dark brown object comes slowly toward us, traversing up and over the uprooted street. The body of the vehicle has odd lines to it, jagged and sharp—foreign—making it hard on the eyes. The wheels move on continuous tracks. With no visible windows that I can see I wonder how it’s being steered…then my thoughts wander to who is steering.
“Is it a tank?” I whisper, glancing to Rocky briefly.
Squinting, he continues to peer at the vehicle. “It’s not any kind of tank that I’ve seen. It looks odd.”
“Misplaced,” I add. “It appears as if it doesn’t belong here…not on Earth anyway.” My heart seems to fall. Just moments before we’d talked about the alien invasion being over. I let myself believe, just for a minute, humans could reclaim Earth. But now, seeing this thing on what used to be Woodward Avenue, with its dark color contrasting against the pure-white snow, I’m gripped with fear.
These things never plan to leave us.
They’re here to stay.
“What are they doing?” Rocky mutters under his breath, talking to himself.
“Why are they traveling in that thing, when they have spaceships?”
Rocky scrunches his salt and pepper brows together. “Spaceships are good at hunting down humans and transporting them to wherever. But that thing…”
“They’re working now.” Rocky turns my way. His piercing eyes settle on me. “With humans gone, they are free to build.”
Rocky lowers his head and tugs on my arm for me to do the same. He takes his rifle from his back and holds it in his hands. I press my back against the car and reach under my coat to retrieve my pistols.
My heart beats so hard against my chest that I feel nothing but pain radiating around my ribs. Blood rushes with such force through my veins that I have to struggle to listen to the vehicle above the noise of it pumping past my eardrums.
With a flick of my thumbs, I release the safety on both guns. I’m breathing so fast and hard that my head begins to swim.
Pull it together.
I close my eyes, trying to steady myself.
“Ian and Jorin are at your nine o’clock,” Rocky says. “Try not to kill them.”
I crack open my eyes and cut them in Rocky’s direction.
“What?” he asks. “You think you’ll have a clear shot of anything with your eyes closed?”
The vehicle comes to a screeching halt almost directly in front of where Rocky and I are hiding. We exchange quick glances.
Why did they stop here? Had they seen us?
I tighten my grip on my weapons. Although it’s cold, my palms are wet with sweat.
I turn around slowly, my feet crunching against the snow. Looking down, instinctively I try to step in the prints that I’ve already made…
My eyes follow the trail of fresh footprints we’ve made in the snow. One set leads from the street to where we’re hiding. I nudge Rocky with my elbow, drawing his attention to what I’m seeing.
He doesn’t say a word, but his facial features twist with emotion. I knew what I was getting myself into when I pressed to come. There was always a possibility of encountering the aliens. There had also been a possibility of having to defend ourselves from them—the reason for the weapons.
I’ve got on my big girl panties.
A. M. Griffin is a wife who rarely cooks, mother of three, dog owner (and sometimes dog owned), a daughter, sister, aunt and friend. She’s a hard worker whose two favorite outlets are reading and writing. She enjoys reading everything from mystery novels to historical romances and of course fantasy romance. She is a believer in the unbelievable, open to all possibilities from mermaids in our oceans and seas, angels in the skies and intelligent life forms in distant galaxies.
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