Tea Leaves and Silver Rings

Allies Crashing

Match Thirteen: Allies Crashing:

-America-

He saw that child again.

On his way home from work, Alfred passed a playground. He looked out and saw the little children playing on the swings, slides, and various equipment. The American man smiled as the children looked so happy in their imaginations. It reminded him of his own childhood in a sense. Those were happier times he spent with Arthur.

That’s when noticed her again.

She stared at him from across the playground. The little girl didn’t move from where she stood under the tree. None of the other children seemed to acknowledge her. Alfred felt a sense of dread as his eyes stayed locked on that little girl. What did she want from him? He swore to himself that he didn’t know any little girls personally.

Why wouldn’t they child move? She looked like a statue with blank eyes under that tree. Alfred found himself in a conflicting place the longer he watched this child from behind the fence. Right now, she seemed to be calling out to him. Alfred decided it wouldn’t be smart to touch her again lest he wanted more nightmares again. Maybe he should just go home and forget all about her. Just go home, stuff his face with burgers and face, watch TV, and go to bed.

Alfred took a deep breath and let go of the fence.

However, when he turned away, there she was. That little girl looked up at him with those big brown eyes.

“I get to go home today!” she said. The American man slowly back away, trembling. Her voice reminded him of a creepy little doll. This time, he was black little bobble head-like ghosts flying up from her tiny shoulders. They had their mouths open as they disappeared into the sky. Alfred shook his head as the color drained from his face.

“Look, kid, I don’t know what you want from me,” he said. “But please leave me alone. I don’t even know you.” The ghosts’ high-pitched wails made the American man’s ears sting. Her smile looked so bright on her face.

“My grandma walked me to the airport. It’s my first time of getting on a plane by myself,” she said. “Mommy’s going to take me to McDonalds when I get home.”

“You’ve already told me this. Why are do you keep ignoring my questions? Who are you? Why won’t you leave me alone?”

The little girl’s face turned sad. “I can never go home again.” More of the little babble head ghosts shot out from her shoulders and raced towards the sky. Alfred’s eyes widened as he heard an airplane ripping through the sky at a fast pace.

The American man sank to his knees on the sidewalk, alone and trembling.

-France-

Francis walked home as he remembered the days when the Woman in Red first roamed the earth.

He began to see signs of her second coming.

On his way home, Francis always passed by a park. He liked the feeling of nature around him. The sun shining through the trees always felt so inviting to people walking on the carpet-like grass. Purple tulips were in full bloom that summer. The little birds singing in the trees reminded him of summers during his childhood. Sometimes, lovers would take picnics in this place and enjoyed the beauty of mother nature in summer. That Sunday should’ve been no different. However, the French man paused when he took a listen in the trees.

Where are the birds?

The park was silent that Sunday afternoon. He wasn’t the only one who noticed.

Francis noticed a woman looking up in the trees, frowning. She turned and noticed her fellow French man eyeing her with the same expression.

“Bonjour, mademoiselle,” he greeted her. The woman sighed and moved her bangs from her eyes.

“They are gone,” she said. Francis looked up at the trees. He had seen this happen before. The woman tilted her head in thought.

“It’s strange…” she muttered to herself.

“No,” he said in a low voice, clenching his fists.

“Excuse me?” Her voice sounded so far away. Francis’s mind went back to the day that he saw the Woman in Red being sealed away.

He was on the beach at the time. The sky was blood red that morning. Francis didn’t exactly remember why he had walked onto the beach that damned morning. Maybe he had to see for himself what exactly was going on. Though Francis couldn’t remember the reason, he remembered everything else about that day.

That beach smelled like rotting fish. Francis had gotten used to the smell by now. Still something else held his attention that day.

The boy looked up when the beach suddenly grew dark. A giant hole ripped open. Long silver chain dropped down, swinging. An army on white horses appeared on the beach. At first, they looked like they were part of a funeral procession being led by a man dressed in white and black priest robes. He got off of his horse and opened a heavy book.

Francis in present day shook his head.

I don’t want to see any more of this! Make this stop!

The French man put his hand on his forehead.

“Are you okay, sir?” the woman in the park asked. Francis looked up, gulping as he shook he head.

“I don’t feel so good,” he said. “I must go, mademoiselle.” The French man walked away before the woman could ask anymore question.

-England-

Where does Arthur fit in this madness opening up around the world?

He hadn’t been born during the Woman in Red’s reign. Still, Flying Mint Bunny seemed to be afraid something. At first, the invisible rabbit wouldn’t tell him what was wrong.

“Flying Mint Bunny, what’s wrong?” he asked. The little creature hesitated as he took a glance around.

“She’s back,” he whispered. At first, the English man stared at him, confused.

“What are you talking about?” he asked. “Who’s back?

“The Woman in Red!” the flying inviable creature said. Six little fairies flew up around Arthur.

“She’s really dangerous!” they said. “She could kill us all!” Arthur looked at all of his invisible friends, nervously chuckled.

“That can’t be right,” he said. “There can be nothing that powerful.”

“Haven’t you notice the cleaners flying through the sky lately?” Flying Mint Bunny asked. That question made the British man freeze.

He had seen them flying floating through the skies of England for days now. They didn’t have shape for now, but they were searching for souls leaking out of the bodies of the dead. One or two were common for Arthur to see, but lately the number of cleaners had been increasing. It wasn’t the fact that the number of deaths had doubled in his country. He had the impression that those little buggers were being summoned somewhere in Europe. That was another thing. As fast as they would arrive in England, the cleaners would disappear by morning. So far, that had been the only thing rather off about them.

“Are you okay, Arthur?” Flying Mint Bunny asked. The English man looked up at his invisible friend.

“Why have I been seeing so many cleaners in this area lately?” he asked. His invisible friends began to tremble before they disappeared.

“Mates?” the English man asked, looking around. He had been doing research and using dark magic to find out why these cleaners kept appearing in his country. Funny thing, none of the spirits wanted to give him an answer. Maybe he should quit while he was ahead…

-China-

Yao already has problems with the clan to deal with.

He knew about the Woman in Red coming, but he didn’t need to drag his young wife into this Wasteland spinning towards them. He had just cleared up the whole mess with Szu and his siblings. Ju and his clan deserved to rest for a change.

Right now, his wife crawled on him in bed and cheeked him on the cheek.

“What’s the matter, babe?” she asked. Yao promised himself that he would never lie to her, but this current situation might push him to break that.

“There’s been so much going on,” he said.

“How are your brother and sister?”

“Fine. Lin Ying is in Japan visiting Kiku today.”

She rubbed on his back. “She still won’t talk to you.”

“No. How’s Szu?”

“She’s doing better. She and her parents won’t rest until that creep is locked up for a long time.”

“I can understand that.”

“Yao.”

“Yeah.”

“Is something to happen?”

“What do you mean?”

Ju shrugged her shoulder under the sheets. “I don’t know; I have dreams sometimes.”

“What kind of dreams?”

“They are mostly fleeting and fading. But sometimes I do see my mother and father.” She shook her head. “It’s funny, Father and I didn’t get along and the only thing I remember about my mother is a lady sick in bed.”

“Well, they were still your parents.”

“I know, but it’s just… feels strange to me.” Ju found herself caught off guard when Yao pulled her into his arms and rested his chin atop her head. “Babe?”

“I will do my best to keep you safe and support you through everything that comes for us.”

“Yao…” For now, it was unclear if his young wife saw the Wasteland yet. But how long would that last?

-Russia-

Ivan was the only one that knew the extend of the damage awaiting the rest of the world. Kiku knew, but the Russian man had his own details.

At noon, he stood in front of the doors of Rampo Biotech. The research leader came back again on this trip hoping to buy Chirin and some of the other tadpoles. Ivan already knew what the answer was going to be no.

However, the team leader had another plan up his sleeve this year.

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