Vex’s eyes blurred their focus on the grey steam
rising from her
cup of hot cocoa. She savored the flavor of a sip; then exhaled softly
listen to the sound of her own breath against the quiet. The hush that
blanketed Mill Avenue
limit to its embrace.
The simple pleasure of the hot chocolate took
from the violence and horrors she had witnessed over the past hectic
Without a thought, she dropped her hand and let it rest on the handgun
on the table in front of her. She ran her finger down the cold, black
feeling the pits and impressions of letters and numbers in the barrel.
A week ago, Vex would have never touched such a
yet here she sat, drinking a cup of cocoa, the gun’s holster poking
A week earlier a lot of things were different.
Vex turned her head, her eyes sweeping across
the ruins of
Coffee Plantation. The coffee house looked as if it had been struck by
All of the glass windows in the front and the sides were blown out, the
shattered and sparkling on the ground—the unbearable heat from outside
in through the broken windows, barely reduced by the shade and the
twilight. Vex could distinctly recall the crunch of the shards under
from when she walked in. The tables and chairs usually set out for
twisted, broken, and scattered across the cracked floor. It was a
the machine that heated up the milk for hot cocoa still worked.
Through one broken window Vex could see the
across Mill Avenue.
been rendered into a smoldering ruin. Nobody would be buying anything
Campus Corner anytime soon. The very road around the building rose up
bulges where the heat of the fire that consumed the building had melted
asphalt. Urban Outfitters was in no better shape, just kitty corner
Vex sat. Although the building’s glass front had been smashed open as
some giant hand, the lettering with the store’s name still gleamed
broken red brick between two barely standing pillars like a twisted
The scattering of trees and bushes that lined
no longer be providing shade and solace form the desert sun; they had
burnt to cinders or blasted to splinters from the violence that had
area around Arizona State University. It left the shattered buildings
blistered roads as a blackened testament to the battle that had been
there merely a day before.
Nothing had withstood the wrath that descended
previous night. The Harkins Centerpoint Cinema wouldn’t be showing any
movies, except for maybe a post apocalyptic reality film. Even the
hadn’t been spared from the cataclysm; it had been razed to a smoking
the ground. While Vex would shed no tears for that eyesore, she would
Borders that the building contained.
Somewhere amidst the desolation a solitary
cicada buzzed a
After a moment of reminiscing over the
Vex discovered that her cocoa had grown cold. She shook her head and
away from herself. While she liked drinking it hot, she hated it cold.
In the distance a voice rose up from the
twilight as an Evanescence song began to play. A smile touched Vex’s
The handgun came to her hands with a conscious
she seized the grip tightly with her right hand and pulled the slide
her left. It pulled back with a smooth movement and came to a solid
half-way as she expected, the gleam of a silver shell casing glinted up
from inside and she let it go. The slide yanked itself back into place
Certain that the gun was in safe condition, she
snug into the holster and walked out of Coffee Plantation.
Once again, glass shards crunched beneath her
reminded her less of walking over the shattered remains of windows,
chairs, and more like walking on gravel. The notion was dispelled from
when she had to step through one of the blasted windows because the
been melted and twisted into an impassable tangle.
The others lurked around one of the few intact
nestled up against a shattered wall that used to be Duck Soup. Two
dozen eyes immediately
flashed to her as she walked through the swiftly deepening shadows of
and extended her hands towards them. They huddled in the shadows, sat
sipping water from plastic cups pilfered from the remains of Coffee
and waited. There they were, the only people left to take a stand
darkness and fight the final battle, a ragtag and bobtail group of
saviors: the street rats.
Silent, for once, they all waited. Vex could
breathing, loud and harsh in the quiet night, an irregular beat echoed
the Evanescence music in the background.
time to mount up, kids,” Vex said. “That’s our
battle cry. Come, follow me. For I will lead you into fire.”