Chapter 1: Candy
Bright lights and flashes of color are my world. Music is constantly flowing through my ears and pumping through my veins. Seeing the smiles on people's faces as they dance to my tunes is the greatest feeling in the world. I've been a DJ forever and I was not planning on ending this party any time soon. But plans change.
Club Candy wasn't particularly full tonight, only on account of the event happening down at City Hall. Mayor Rosalyn had been chosen to release three prisoners from Reyesent's high security prison, God knows why. The three had been suspected terrorists, but after seven long years in prison with no signs of aggression, they had been granted freedom. To "celebrate" this event, Rosalyn had hired the Blue Grass band, Wheatgrass Roots. I myself wasn't a fan of Blue Grass, but apparently, that was just me. I glanced at my watch as I put down another track; 9:59, coming up on 10:00. It was always fun to watch the seconds count down to the next hour. Five, four, three, two- "Aghhhhhhh!"
A high pitched scream echoed along the brick walls of the club as the entire building went black and the music ceased to exist. Heavy breathing, pounding footsteps, a hand clutching my arm. "Candy, wh-what's going on?" Sapphire.
I shrugged, but then remembered that she couldn't see me, "I don't know," I responded. This couldn't be more than just a power outage- something that had never happened at Club Candy, as far as I could remember, but it was possible. But there was something unnerving about this, along with the fact that a blanket of fear seemed to cover everyone. All we could do was just stand still. Someone was crying. I was the first to snap out of it, "Oh, for God sakes everyone, we just lost power, that's all!"
I turned to get off the platform over to where I was pretty sure the power box was, but Sapphire pulled on my arm even more and shrieked, "NO! Candy, don't go," she said this part a little softer. I reached down to pull her off of me, but instead of feeling the skin where I thought her arm should be, I felt something hard and smooth. Before I could say anything, though, we heard what sounded like a loud creaking noise, sort of like a ship straining to keep water out of it. Or something about to fall. It seemed like years before we finally heard a small whistling and then a crash, as whatever had fallen shook the ground so violently the CDs on the shelves behind me fell to the floor.
And then the horrible screaming came. I had never heard anything like it, something only imaginable in movies. Another crash, somewhere a little farther off this time. Everyone jumped as we heard violent banging on the door, someone yelling, "Open up! Open up!" The second cry came out as a sob as we heard nails scraping against the door, as if straining to hold on as they were being dragged away. We all dropped to the ground, afraid that someone would pry that door open. I had locked it a few minutes earlier, not thinking that anyone else would come in.
While my cheek was pressed against the dark carpet of the stage, I ran a list through my head of who was here; Sapphire, Zak, Makoto, Rhonda, Jo, Travis, Me. At least, that's who I hoped was here. It was 10:03 when the screaming stopped. All of the chaos had happened in three minutes. Nobody said anything, nobody stood up. I could just hear the ragged, scared breathing of Sapphire, as she clutched me even tighter. I heard a creaking sound, paired with a shaft of orange light spreading across the room. Tentatively, I got up from behind the booth and walked down the two steps on shaky legs to get to the door.
It had been Zak who'd opened the door, but hadn't moved since. I took a step into the glow of the street lamp, whose glass was broken and was leaning to the left, but somehow still standing. "Damn," I couldn't tell if it was Zak or I who had whispered it, as I stared up at the wreckage in front of us. Club Candy was in the city, the main entrance found in any alleyway between this building and a tall office building run by Licklider Inc., a company that used to work with the factory that had once been located in Club Candy, but was now being used as a space for financial services. We'd always found it funny that a loud club like ours was right next to this building filled to the brim with studious people who constantly yelled at us to keep the music down.
But now we could look straight across to the building that had been next to that one. Because the Licklider Bldg. was no more. It lay stretched on its side, across the street and into the building on the other side. It was no more than glass shards, metal beams, pieces of furniture, and, if you looked close enough, limbs. Bodies, strewn among the wreckage. I heard a gagging sound as Zack threw up behind me. I could just stare. It took a while to look back at the door and see that there were, in fact, scratch marks, accompanied by some blood on the wall next to that. I strained for the sound of a siren, of a helicopter- anything that would signify someone was on their way to help us recover from this. Except I wasn't exactly sure what "this" was, and apparently, neither did the rest of the world.
I turned back over to Zak, who was now clutching his stomach and breathing heavily, a small tear coming down his face. Looking back into the darkness of Club Candy, it was then that I realized something. When I had gotten up to go to the door, Sapphire hadn't been clinging on to me. She had just slid off, and in the state that I was while I was getting to the door, I hadn't acknowledged the thump I heard when she let go. I ran back to the stage, trying to find her in the dim light. I grabbed one of the glow sticks I always kept in my back pocket and bent it back and forth until it produced a bright green glow.
Scanning it back and forth, I paused when I saw one of the CDs that had been smashed during the collapse of the Licklider Bldg. Cracked in half, I could still make out the graphics: A CD, inside a CD, inside a CD, and so on. The signature was broken, but still there:
No matter where your heart takes you
No matter if the people hate you
Just follow the music
And keep on livin'
A tear stung my eye as I remembered the first time I had gotten into DJing back in middle school, and I'd been able to meet my hero, DJ Chellzee, one of the best female DJs of her time. I had modeled myself after her, cherished that CD with her name on it forever, and now it was broken. I tried to refocus on finding Sapphire, but I couldn't, just couldn't. The worst of the pain and the suffering hadn't even started yet, but I could feel the need to lie down, cuddle the shattered remains, and cry. I was reaching for the biggest shard when I heard a moan. It was Sapphire, no doubt about it, but it was still an unnatural sound, especially coming from her. Bringing the glow stick around, my eyes grew even larger when I found her. The pale green light was fading now, but from what I could see, Sapphire's right arm had been thoroughly encased in some sort of hard, shiny rock. As I looked some more, I could see that every ten seconds or so, some of it would creep up to her shoulder. Every time it did, a small moan escaped from her throat, which was also producing the shiny blue rock.
She looked up at me with those pleading eyes, her two brown pigtails sticking to her face as sweat came pouring down it. I watched as she tried to lift her arm, but couldn't; the weight of the rock was too much. She started to cry softly, not wanting to make a lot of noise. "Candy!" I heard Zak's cry along with the pounding of feet as someone came running into the club, running, sprinting, up to me and Sapphire.
"Move! Move out of the way!" I was shoved down from my position over Sapphire as I recognized the voice of Alexa. Never before had I seen her so flustered, so out of control. I could see her lab coat was torn and stained with something dark, but I didn't want to think of what it might be. Before I knew it she was grabbing Sapphire by the arms and hoisting her over her back as she attempted to climb the ladder that led up to roof.
"What..." my voice was too hoarse, so I cleared my throat and repeated, "What are you doing?" A grunt of frustration came back to me as Alexa continued up the ladder. I couldn't see her, but I could imagine her struggling up the metal rings, dangling Sapphire along with her. I started up the ladder myself, getting to the top as soon as I heard the door to the roof open. I got up and ran to the door, just as Alexa slammed it shut. I flung it open and had to stop again; smoke was everywhere. I must not have noticed it down on the ground, but up here it was intensely thick. I had no idea where it was coming from, only that it made it extremely hard to breath. It took a moment to find Alexa in the haze, only to see her making her way up another ladder that connected this building to the next.
After what seemed like hours of struggling, I finally managed to make it to the top, only to see Alexa's shaking arms holding a giant rock over her head. Really, a giant rock in the shape of a body with the top of a girl's head sticking out. "She hasn't got much time," Alexa said, more to herself, as with one final effort she plunged Sapphire over the edge and into the darkness.
"No!" I screamed, hoping that I was lunging toward her. But I wasn't, I realized in horror, only my hand was stretching out in vain. My legs were still trembling violently and they finally collapsed onto the roof when I heard a distant shattering sound, followed by the worst sound of all- silence.
Grabbing onto imaginary walls, I brought myself up again to take a look at the city around me. From up here I could see the thick layer of smoke bellow, along with the rest of the buildings that were still standing. No cars were moving, no one was walking along the streets, no airplanes in the sky. The opening of a door brought my attention to Alexa, who was casually opening the door on the roof that would lead down into the other building. I screamed and hurled myself at her, crashing into her and throwing us both down a flight of stairs.
"You killed her! You killed Sapphire!" I screamed as I held Alexa's wrists down into the sharp metal landing, staring into her eyes through her cracked glasses. A few seconds passed. "You killer!" I screamed again, shaking her. She let go of a ragged breath and closed her eyes, opening them up to my red, tear-stained face.
"It's all over," she said, not bothering to get up, "Get a gun, Candy, get some kind of weapon, and hope that something like that doesn't happen to you." She breathed heavily some more, before saying, "Hide them, Candy, hide your children, hide your love. You'll never see them again," Alexa's eyes were becoming unfocused, her breath getting shallower, as if just now the exhaustion of hauling a 112 pound girl up a tall ladder through a sea of smoke and then throwing her over the edge was finally catching up to her.
I felt something hot and sticky seeping through the cloth in my pants onto my knee, and I realized that my knee had been resting on Alexa's stomach. Releasing my grip and pulling my knee away, I saw a huge stain on my leg and an even bigger one on her shirt. Slowly, I pulled the soaked bottom of her shirt up, just a little, to expose her stomach. There was a huge gash there, deep, right across her abdomen. "Don't let them catch up to you, Candy," Alexa's words came out clear, despite the blood she was producing on the floor, "Because they will find you. And then it'll all be over," She hadn't used the last of her energy to close her eyes, they were still staring up at the black ceiling. The remaining street lights were casting a foreboding glow up into the night sky, somehow managing to bring shadows into my small world.
Candy slept in that stairwell tonight, next to Alexa's body, not knowing that this wouldn't be the last time that she would sleep here, nor would it be the last time she'd sleep next to a corpse.