It started with a crack. A roll of thunder. It might have been any other storm. It might not have been world-altering.
And then came the howl—the roar of wind like a train blasting past just outside—and the rush of air as it was stolen from their living room. Mackenzie opened her mouth to scream for her brother, to tell him to take cover, but they could barely make out the debris pelting the windows and the creaking shift of the house’s wood frame over the noise. He looked at her, eyes wide, and she had a remembered flash of terror, of a younger Riley calling her name.
“Kenzie!” His voice broke through, a desperate shout in the squall of the tempest, and she was running, both of them frantic as they headed for the safety of the basement. She shoved him through the hallway, his arms rising to cover his face as the kitchen door slammed open, throwing leaves and limbs and dirt onto a rain-slicked linoleum floor. The sight seemed strange to her, so unnatural against the lifelong image of it clean, its light gold squares decorated with tiny pink flowering buds. And there was something on the wind, some strange mix of ozone and cinnamon that burned her nose, that made her wonder if lightning had struck outside. But there was no flash. Only darkness. Wind.
“Go!” she yelled, but Riley couldn't hear her. He was seventeen, but suddenly a boy again, shielding his face from a coming blow. She had to force him through the door that led downstairs. Her eyes caught on the wooden trim, the peeling paint and the worn metal of the lock chain. They hadn't stopped running, but it was as if every detail caught her eye, stretched time so she could afford its notice. And she would remember those details, those tiny, insignificant parts of that moment.
Because it was the moment their lives had changed forever.
Mackenzie Scott had covered her brother’s ears that night, shielded him from the otherworldly scream of uprooted wood and twisting metal as they crouched in the tiny alcove behind the basement’s heating system, huddled into each other, waiting for the fury to cease. She had no idea how long its rage had lasted, though she’d relived it in a thousand nightmares. She only knew one thing: it had been no true storm.
She stared into the wispy clouds outside her window now, alone in the house since the weeks had passed. She wasn't simply unaccompanied in their home, but the entire street, most of the neighborhood. They had run, all of them. She couldn't blame them, really. She’d have gone too if she’d had some place to go.
But she didn't. And she was alone. There was nothing left to do but face the facts: There were creatures outside her window, and there was no place safe on this earth.
Looking forward to sharing this one. Thanks for reading! <3