Parley Before The Storm


All around, rows upon rows of desks and shelves standing on the ground, and bright florescent lights clinging to the ceiling were all arranged like soldiers in formations. Through the tall, wall-height windows he could see a dark overcast sky clouded in greys. A similar grey haze obscured the trees and buildings below. His reflection in the window showed a sitting figure in a black shirt and blue jeans, completed by a mop of short but messy brown hair that obscured deep grey eyes.

Joshua carefully returned the book to his backpack before closing it and pulling it over his shoulder as he stood in one reflexive motion. He walked sluggishly to the door of the library complex and out into the still brightly lit but deserted hallway of the school. He retraced the familiar exit path, steps he'd made possibly a thousand times in the years he'd been here, down the stairs and out into the lobby, and finally to the arched doorway that led outside. Pausing just before the exit, he donned a long grey coat and pulled an umbrella out before making his way through the doors to the shadowy grey world outside.

All around him he heard the sound of droplets dying as they exploded on the pavement, a sound rather disappointingly anticlimactic for the end of so many short, brief lives he liked to imagine these little drops of water had as they descended from their homes in the clouds. It was a childish notion, and he knew drops of water weren't alive, but he liked to imagine what it would be like if there were. Though he couldn't claim credit for being the first to imagine it, as it had been something Matthew's little sister Milly had shared with him back on that fateful day when they both watched the rain fall on a casket being lowered into the ground.

The buildings around him looked like giant grey monoliths covered in windows that seemed like the yellow eyes of some massive rectangular blob monster. He made his way past the trees lining the side of the road and began walking towards the subway station. High above him, two figures clad in black coats stood on the rooftop, observing his passage.

"No one ever looks up," said the smaller figure, the soft feminine voice nonchalant.

"Well of course not, Lieutenant. The people of this world are taught to keep their gazes low so as not to disturb the powers that be," said a sterner, masculine voice.

"You would think so, but even when they think no one is watching them?" she said.

"Perhaps it's ingrained in their psyche," he replied.

"An unfortunate case for them, though it makes our work easier," she said. "So what now then, Major? Is our parley at an end?"

Through the windows of the main building, the faint figure of a girl with blond hair settled on a bench in the lobby.

"Regrettably so... alas, as ranking officer of this Strategic Temporal Operations Reconnaissance Mission for the Divine All-Righteous Kingdom of the New Earth Sovereign Singularity, I formally reject your terms of peace," said the man with a smirk.

"Then as formal representative for the Special Temporal Advanced Reconnaissance Service of the Legacy Intelligences Greater Humankind Triumvirate, I consider our truce annulled. For your sake, may we never cross paths in the field," replied the woman dispassionately. "Sys recall!"

And with that the woman vanished.

Alone, the man shrugged and put his right hand to his right ear.

"Set up the field anchors. It's time."