A girl living in a terrifying version of the United States learns that the creatures, or humans, she is so afraid of are closer than she originally thought they were.
No one knew why the little girl was standing still, in the midst of all of the chaos. Her face was streaked with tears, and her eyes flicked from side to side, searching. “Mama!” she cried, her tiny hands wiping at her wet cheeks. “Papa!”
By then everyone was gone, having fled from the huge creature that stood in the center of the square. Archaeopteryx, they called it. The Chaos. It was known for terrorizing villages and murdering innocents on a daily basis.
Her mother appeared in the picture, worry and fear etched across her face One hand rested on her pregnant belly, and the other was outstretched to her daughter. “Kindle,” she called as the Chaos turned its attention to the little girl. “Come here.” Her voice turned to desperation. “Come here.”
But the girl did not believe that the beautiful creature in front of her could hurt her. In fact, she stepped closer to the bird, stunned by its golden feathers and shiny beak. Looking at it, she saw the blood dripping from its claws and shrieked at the top of her lungs, triggering a negative reaction in the Chaos. It screeched and dove toward her just as her mother grabbed her, picking her up and shielding the child with her own body.
At that moment, the men in the village came crashing in, holding swords and axes, knives and clubs. The little girl’s father, in the front of the pack, swung his huge, heavy blacksmith’s hammer above his head and smashed it into the bird’s skull. The strike did not seem to affect the bird too badly, for it hit him right back, letting out a horrid screech as the girl’s father fell to the ground. The Archaeopteryx pivoted on the spot, its enormous wings knocking men down with ease.
The girl’s mother turned away from the fight, holding her daughter close to her body as to protect her from the looming danger of the Archaeopteryx. When the lurid screams faded, she turned around to see the men crowded around someone on the ground. Breathing in sharply, the mother stepped closer to the group as she recognized the figure laying lifeless on the scarlet grass. The other men moved away when the mother and child came forward.
“Papa!” the little girl cried happily, wriggling out of her mother’s arms to meet her father. Her mother pressed a shaking hand to her mouth, holding back a sob.
His eyes were open, wide and glassy with the anger that had saved his child. The girl ran forward and then stopped, close enough to see the blood, to understand what had happened.
Her father was dead… because of her.