Storms Coming This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

May 13, 2010
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The room was rather dark. Men still continued their tasks. Three people quietly entertained themselves with a game of poker. The only thing allowing them to see their cards were the glowing embers from their cigarettes. Another man lay sprawled out on a couch attempting to get some sleep, while the other two beings in the room quietly engulfed themselves in a hushed conversation.
A deep rumble rocked the room. “Storms coming,” one of the players mumbled through the cigarette clenched in his teeth. The man on the couch slowly awoke from his engrossing slumber. Standing up to stretch, he looked around. Suddenly a flash of lightning lit the room. The room was a wreck. Broken bottles littered the floor, their contents mixing with the rubble and broken furniture on the ground. Another flash split the dark security of the room and displayed the large amount of rubble covering the floor. The man looked up and saw the rubble was from a large hole in the roof. A broken pipe spilled water down into the room.

The man refocused his vision from the room itself and to the men with him now. As the next bright strike illuminated the area, he observed the three men playing poker. Their faces were disheveled, splattered with dry mud and even blood. Stubble was emerging on their faces. Their eyes were the worst part. All varying in color, they all held the same blank gaze of men who had seen far too much too fast. Yet they seemed at ease. They acted almost like a few gentlemen who had struck up a game of cards when this room was in its former state. They all wore matching garments, green combat fatigues. Assorted rifles lay at their feet making their profession clear. He turned to the two men talking to each other in the corner of the room. The next flash displayed to him that they stood next to a large hole in the wall that had taken part of the floor with it. In its previous state, this room might have been a fancy apartment for the wealthy. All its elegant charm had been erased in the prior days. The two men talking looked similar to the others except one wore a trench coat and the other a hat. One turned to him, acknowledging his presence before facing his comrade again and continuing his conversation.

Suddenly the fog lifted from his mind. Just two days before, he had marched into this city with a proud army. The people cheered and the city echoed with the joyous belief that the enemy would quickly be halted and the nation saved. The army marched a few miles outside of the city and set up fortifications. As the men worked on building bunkers and trenches, a loud shrieking was heard. Hundreds of rockets flew from the thick fog in front of their lines. The massive strike severely wounded the gargantuan fighting force. As they attempted to regroup, tanks burst forth from the morning mist and crashed into the already weak forces. The chaos was unimaginable. Soldiers began firing at each other. Confused and badly battered, soldiers fled from the area rushing back to the city. The day before the townspeople had expected an absolute victory. The realization of the force against them dawned on the people. Havoc streaked the city and people left the city quickly, taking all of the belongings they could. For the rest of the day, rockets had rained down on the city. Any clusters of soldiers lucky enough to have a radio received a somber statement from their commanders. “Defend the city and halt the enemy in any way you can!” The words still echoed in the man’s head.

The man in the trench coat abruptly stopped his conversation with his friend. “Quiet here comes a group!” he hissed. There was the sound of rustling as cards fell to the floor and muffled hissing as cigarettes were quickly extinguished. Again, the bright flash showed a completely different room. The room was now tense with the sudden arrival of the enemy in the city. The quiet clicks of the rifles being loaded were heard. As if an invisible force was pushing them, all the men slowly moved to the edge of the room hiding next to windows. Their fear and curiosity was oddly mixed together to form a very odd stir of emotions in the room. All eyes were focused on attempting to pierce not only the inky darkness of night but also the murky fog that enveloped the city.

A loud alarm pierced the night and every man in the room clutched his rifle tightly. “It’s just a car alarm,” the man in the hat reassured them. Fingers slowly pulled away from the triggers as they peered back out into the night. The car had lit up the area and now the street in front of their building could be seen rather clearly. A distinct tramping could be heard coming from the fog. Mixed with this was a low rumbling sound, “C****t they got tanks,” one of the men muttered. The tramping could still be heard but its maker could not yet be determined.

Slowly they appeared. Like black wraiths these soldiers flowed out of the fog and into the main street. “I got about ten of them,” whispered one of the soldiers. The soldiers were clothed in all black armor, on their heads they work black helmets connected to a dark gas mask, giving them a truly menacing appearance. They spread out around the block peering through the broken windows of shops. Behind them came the great beast that had been heard. At first, the only think that could be seen was its menacing muzzle, jutting out of the fog like a periscope. The rest of the hulking giant soon appeared. It was the size of three cars stacked together and two cars wide. Covered in riveted steel plates and completely black, it sent shivers down the spines of every soldier in the room. The ferocious beast conjured up terrifying memories of the previous battle. It rolled to a stop in the middle of the street and a man who had been standing on it stepped off. He was wearing a long black trench coat and, on his head, he wore a wide brimmed hat, giving him the look of a captain or someone important. He held up a megaphone and boomed into the area “All enemies of our great army I deliver a message to you, surrender now to our forces or die hiding among the broken tiles of your civilization.”

The words stung every soldier in the room. No one made a move to exit. One of them broke down crying, as another tried to console him he muttered, “I…I can’t take this. I’m surrendering.” Everyone’s attention snapped to him. He attempted to stand up but was grabbed by two men. He was about to resist when voices drew their attention back to the windows. Peering into the street, they saw two of their comrades emerge from a building opposite theirs. Their guns now gone, the soldiers held their hands in the air and were escorted to the captain by two gas masked troops. They were pushed on their knees and continued holding their hands up. The captain looked around the street once more before nodding to one of his soldiers. Before realization had dawned on them, several rifle rounds had struck the duo. Confusion littered their faces as they slid to the ground. The captain climbed back up on the tank and gestured his hand forward. The parade of death slowly made its way down the street and faded into the fog.

The room remained quiet long after the enemy had left. Each man attempting to comprehend what they had just seen. The man who had almost left sat in the corner, his hands buried in his face. The man with the hat looked over the sad bunch of people and brought a cigarette to his mouth. Lighting it, he inhaled its putrid fumes. He picked up his heavy rifle and quietly addressed the group, “We should get going.” The other soldiers obeyed without question and picked up their items. The group quietly exited the room.

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