After the Shadows

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Marx stood looking at the carbonated lump that used to be four people he knew. Four people he loved. Ava, Lochlan, Zack and Dempsey. Around him, the grass had grown in again, the earth showing no signs of the battle that raged there. Mother earth had healed, but he had not. None of the others had. The world was safe, but a gap remained in their hearts that could never be filled.

Around the base of the carbon memorial, laid fresh flowers. Every day for the past six months, Martha came with a new bouquet. Today had not been any different. He arrived just as she did.

"You came," she had said to him when she saw him.

In her hands, she had more than a dozen bulbs of tulips. Her summer dress fluttered in the breeze, strands of her now brown hair escaping her ponytail. The smile she gave him, out shun the sun and Marx, for the life of him, could not understand why. It was as if she was trapped in a time long past. Her separate reality with her own version of events. While he and the others accepted with regret that the four were gone, Martha held on to hope. Marx didn't want to be cruel, but he needed her to see reason.

"They're gone, Martha." He had lost track of how many times he had to say that to her. And like all the other times she ignored him.

Marx rubbed a hand over his face sliding it around to hold the nape of his neck. His cell phone rang. It was Shea. He answered. "I think we may have found her," Shea said. "She tore through a village in the East continent. Already sent out a team. What are their orders?"

"Non-lethal force. I want her captured, not dead."

"But sir, she's completely lost it. It's the third attack in recent weeks, not counting the others before. We need to put her down. Relations with the humans are shaky as is."

Marx knew Shea was right. He just couldn't make that call. "Penny is family. She's hurt and lashing out is the only way she knows how to deal with it. Find her. Bring her home alive. I'll take it from there."

"Yes, sir."

He hung up. "Only you could bring her back," Marx said under his breath not thinking the man he spoke to could hear him. He turned to walk away when he heard a sound. Stopping to listen he titled his head to the side. He heard it again. Marx spun around to look at the carbon structure. Right down the middle, there was a crack that had not been there before. A faint light glowed from it. Have hope; he remembered Martha saying. They're only dead if you believe they're gone.

They weren't. Martha was right. They were still alive.

 They were still alive

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