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Falling Sky: Red Rage

By Bob Frendt



            The room was dark and still, pierced only by the occasional beep of machinery, which echoed off the cold, sterile walls.  The small room’s lone occupant had received few visitors since his admission into the hospital where he lay.  Not that he would have known if there had been more.  David Hallsworth had spent the last several months in a coma, wandering the deepest recesses of his own mind.  In his state, the man who had once been hailed as a hero had the rare advantage revisit memories long ago forgotten. 

Red Sniper had not always been in the hospital, he had not always been a hero.  Once, a lifetime ago it seemed, he had been a normal man, with a normal life.  But that was before the day the sky fell.

In his months of confinement to a small bed, David had wandered the corridors of his mind.  Down a long, dark hall, one more door is opened.  With a blinding flash of light, the remarkable Red Sniper gets the change to re-live the final day of the man known as David Hallsworth.


*  *  *


            It looked like it would be yet another boring day.  The sun came up too early for David’s taste.  He was still tired from staying up too late painting the master bathroom in his humble home.  Dave wasn’t even sure he liked the blue paint, but it made his wife happy, so he wouldn’t argue with her about it.

            “Aren’t you forgetting something?”  A voice broke over his thoughts as he headed out the door.  Patting his pockets while turning to face the voice, he could have sworn he had grabbed it.  When he finished his turn, Mr. Hallsworth could see his darling wife, Jane, leaning on the doorframe and rattling a pill bottle.

            “What would I do without you?”  He grinned as he took the bottle from her and gave her a kiss.

            “You’d probably forget who you are.” She smiled back.

            Giving his wife and son, Robert, a final goodbye, David turned away and headed to his bus stop. 

            Davis was a processor for Paragon City Capital Bank.  His days were generally spent from nine to five, dreaming about his hobbies.  His young son was already proving to be nearly as deadly a shot as his father at the local shooting tournaments.  He loved to spend time with his boy, and to tinker with the child’s toys was one of their favorite bonding experiences.  Some weeks ago, a young friend of Robert’s held a “Nerf” birthday party.  Immediately David went to work improving his boy’s gun by altering it to work off a co2 cartridge; adding to its accuracy and negating the necessity to cock the thing at all.

            Remembering the phone calls he had received from concerned parents of the other children made him laugh out loud.  Dave had no love for his job, but it paid well enough, and it gave him plenty of time off to spend with his family.  When he thought about it, his life was turning out far better than he ever dared to dream after he was diagnosed with the brain disease, schizophrenia.  It was meeting his wife that had made him actually want to take the medicine that he would no doubt be on for the rest of his life.  While most men would tell you that their wives had saved them, he could prove it.

            His slow work day was almost over, only one more day then it was the weekend again.  That was when it happened.  Officially the reports would come to say it started at four thirty, but his work wasn’t evacuated for another ten minutes.  By then, confusion, panic and riots had already begun to set in.  What experts had assumed to be portals had begun appearing all over the city.  Varying in size and location, red glowing lights appeared out of nowhere and devoured whatever they touched.

            Busses were no longer running, so he had to run home.  Dave had never run so far so fast.  In his mind a plan was already forming; get home get his guns and get his family out of town.  He was certain that whatever was happening, it was most likely only happening in big cities.  If he could get fifty miles out of town, his family would probably be fine.

            Unfortunately, the panic in the streets hampered his ability to cover the vast distance between his work and his home.  He began to worry that even when he arrived, the streets were too much of a mess to use any vehicle.  His family would have to gather what they could and get out on foot.  Dave was unsure how long he had been running.  Hours, days, he did not know but he made it, sweating and panting, he crossed the threshold of his home.

            Jane, wonderful woman that she was, had already packed the family up.  Food, water, clothes and blankets; she was a smart woman and had only packed essentials that they could carry.  She had assumed Dave would want at least one gun, and despite her loathing for firearms, she had one ready for him when he arrived.

            Without hesitation, they left.

            The small family had not waded far into the chaos of a large city under siege when the first wave of invaders appeared out of the red lights.  Dave and his family were forced along with the panicking crowd, it was all they could so to stay together.  It was Robert who saw him first.  He pointed and shouted as a blue and crimson streak flew across the sky and plunged directly into one of the large, flying attack craft that had appeared overhead.

            The mob slowed, stopped.  Everyone wanted to see what would happen, knowing they were saved now that Statesman was here.  Relief gave way to panic again when the flying war machine exploded and it began to rain molten hell upon the people below.  But it was no use; the crowd was moving too slowly to get away.

            It was the third flying monstrosity that fell which ended his life.  The chunk of debris was enormous.  David Hallsworth saw it coming, but there was nothing he could do.  He grabbed his wife, his child and tried to shield them with his own body, but he was too slow.  The huge chunk of alien steel bounced on the ground once, twice, then slid into them.  There was a flash of white light from the pain when it hit, followed by darkness.

            He awoke to the sound of someone straining with every inch of their body.  A voice in the back of his head cried out to him, PUSH YOU IDIOT, HE’S TRYING TO SAVE YOU!  Instinctively, Dave pushed against the weight above him.  Surprisingly, it gave way.  The man lifting the rubble apparently just needed a little help.

            Amazingly, he was more or less uninjured.  Minor cuts, some bruises, but he seemed all right.  Then he realized, he was alone with the ragged looking stranger.

            “My family!  Where is my family?”  Instinctively, he felt his pockets.  A habit he had become accustomed to; for more likely than not, he was looking for his medication when he was looking for something.  Something was not right, he was… wet.  He looked down at his hands.  Blood, he was covered in it.  But he was fine.  If it wasn’t his blood, then who’s was it, and where was his family?

            “I’m sorry, but you aren’t the only one to lose loved ones today.”  The stranger placed a reassuring hand on Dave’s shoulder.  He shook, with grief, with rage.  It was the blood of his wife, of his child that covered his body.  The world was changing, he was changing.

            The hand on his shoulder was insulting, this man did not know him, he didn’t care for him.  A red mist filled his vision.  His gun was lost in the debris and rubble around them, but he had more, he knew where he could get more.  Brushing the hand off his shoulder with disdain, David took off running again.

            It’s not too late, you can still save them.  If the invaders had never come, this would have never happened.  If they are all dead, it will be undone.  I can still save them.  We were not prepared lat time… if only we were more prepared.  We have guns, we have tools, we can be prepared, I can still save them.

            Of all the people running that night, he was one of very few running deeper into the city.  He knew what he had to do to save them.  He knew how to do it.  But by the time he got to his destination.  He could no longer remember who he was trying to save.  Well, he could save everyone, if he saved everyone, then he would have saved whoever he was trying to save.

            His family would be very proud of him if he saved everyone.

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