This is a continuation of my Minds-exclusive series, Saving Ever After. Please start reading at Episode One. Episode list can be found at this link:
Lily's captors dragged her face-down across the floor. They sat her against a wall and clustered before her. Darkness obscured their faces. Faint sunlight from distant windows highlighted their silhouettes. One of them carried a sledgehammer.
“You are strangers to our land,” one of the men said. “Who are you?”
Lily couldn't tell who had spoken. “I am Lily.”
“What is the name of your tribe?”
She shook her head. It's my outfit. They think I'm part of Roxanne's group. “I don't have a tribe. I have nothing to do with those other people you might have encountered.”
“I'm telling the truth.”
“Why have you come?”
“I'm looking for a fuel cell.”
“You have come to steal from us?”
“Of course not.”
“This is our land. Anything you take from here is ours.”
“In that case, can you give me a fuel cell, if you have one? I need it.”
“You've killed one of us and still you have the gall to ask a favor of us?”
“I didn't kill anyone.”
“Liar.” The wall of men parted. A smaller silhouette appeared between them. It was the boy. He dropped something heavy at Lily's feet. It was her satchel. He reached into the satchel, pulled something out, and held it up to the faint sunlight behind him. He held a black L-shaped object.
The boy waved the gun in front of her. “You used this to kill my brother.”
She shook her head. “It wasn't me. That's not even mine. It's my father's.”
“Lily,” Father whispered into her inner ear, “if you're not careful, this situation could quickly escalate out of control.”
The boy grabbed her by her throat. “You come here to kill us. To steal from us. You are not friends. You are foe.”
Lily whimpered. “W-what do you want from me?”
“Truth,” the boy answered. “You are not from any tribe within the Golden Horseshoe Confederacy. Tell us where you're from.”
Lily didn't know how to answer. The truth was far too complicated to explain, and she didn't think they would believe her anyway. “Father,” she whispered, “tell me what to say.”
The boy cocked his head. “What? I did not hear you.”
“Tell them the truth,” Father said, “but keep it simple.”
“I'm,” Lily stuttered, “I-I-I come from Ever After.”
“He wouldn't understand that,” Father said. “Tell them you come from beneath the earth.”
“Underground,” she said.
“You mean the flooded labyrinth? Only goblins and dark creatures live there. Is that what you are?”
“Lily,” Father whispered, “just keep them talking. I need to get help.”
“But who would help?” Lily whispered.
The boy punched the wall next to Lily's head. “What did you say?”
“Help me,” she cried, “Father help me.”
“Nobody is here to help you now.” The boy pulled off her helmet and cast it aside.
She bowed her head. They're going to find out I'm not human.
“What's this? A mask behind a veil? What are you hiding?” The boy pried off her mask.
She looked away, cringing.
The boy recoiled from her with a gasp. “What are you?”
“She's a demon,” one of the men said. “They're all demons.”
“Demons walk among us,” another man said, “first as animals, now as people. We must inform Chief Heinrich at once.”
“In the meantime, what do we do about this demon?”
Lily gasped. No. They can't mean it.
“Lily,” Father hissed, “it won't be easy for them to truly kill you. I'm going to switch you off to conserve power. Hopefully, when you wake up, you'll be back home. I love you, Lily. Goodbye for now.”
“Fath-!” Lily lost consciousness just as a sledgehammer swung down on her chest.
ReconDroneC165. Secondary name SpyCat. Externally tagged names: Alexia, Fluffy, Mr Buttons, Spot.
Executing command: track Lily.
Status: Lily found.
Lily status... offline.
Diagnosing... blunt force trauma to vital systems components. Limbs disassembled. No visible damage to head.
Location coordinates... Error. GPS offline. Triangulating. Beacons detected. Triangulating....
Compiling report. Sending...
Received signal confirmed.
Incoming data transmission. ID tag: Anton. Command received.
Executing command: wait...
A cat with fluffy white fur and a spot of black behind its left ear curled up inside the dilapidated chest cavity of a disassembled robot. Hardly any of the dusk twilight made it into the derelict office suite. All was quiet.
Two men stepped into the office suite, having climbed nearly thirty two storeys to get here. One of them stood two heads taller than the other, and a good measure leaner also. They each carried a flashlight and a pistol.
The shorter, stockier of the two approached the heavily damaged robot lying on the soot-stained floor. He sighed. “Poor girl. She didn't deserve this.”
“He should have known better than to send her out among the wolves,” the taller man said. “What was he thinking?”
“He's thinking we wouldn't have destroyed her. That's why he chose her.”
“She may not have fallen to us, but she certainly would have been vulnerable to anything else in this savage world.”
“He's getting desperate.”
“Damn him. Would he sacrifice all of Ever After just to spite me? Or perhaps he knew I would have found her eventually. Perhaps he believed she would have convinced me to compromise.”
“Would you have?”
The taller man holstered his gun and flashlight. He knelt down and scooped up the broken remains of Lily's body. The cat resting on her chest leaped away. A single tear rolled down his left cheek. “He compromised by sending her out. Why?”
“Maybe he's come to accept that she can get hurt and even die out here.”
The taller man shook his head. “No. He wouldn't accept that. Never. That's why he kept her in there for a hundred years.”
“And yet he let her out.”
“Perhaps he has compromised. I will not. I shall transform this savage wilderness into a garden once more. This stunt he's pulled has only strengthened my resolve. We shouldn't tarry much longer. Keep your gun ready. As I'll be carrying her, you'll have to watch both our backs...”
If you enjoy my writing, please support me by downloading my main novel, Red Eden: Homeworld Bound, for free and leaving a review on Goodreads. Saving Ever After is based in the same universe and roughly the same timeline as Red Eden: Homeworld Bound. You can download Red Eden: Homeworld Bound for free using this universal link:
You can also purchase Red Eden: Homeworld Bound on Amazon:
Thank you for reading!
Cheers ; )
Michael E. Vigil