Glass and Gold

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A Nox Night

Only a few more minutes until our shift would start. I sat down on one of the couches in the break room, fiddling with my mask. The other Nox Soldiers filled the room with soft chattering. Normally I would join them but I wasn’t really in the mood. Besides, my partner was late, as usual. It annoyed me whenever she was late. Well, technically she was never late, more like she was just on time. She either had luck on her side or simply perfect timing.

Glancing at the entrance I saw the familiar bush of ginger curls slip through the doors, apologizing once again to the guards that were just about to close it. Even with their face covered I knew they were rolling their eyes.

The thing was, Paradisum was rather strict on their rules. If anyone were to be even a second late they wouldn’t be able to come inside. It was for good reason.

With a sigh I stood, turning to face my partner. “How does this always happen?”

“It’s good to see you too, Luca,” Hop said as she booped my nose, the usual mischievous grin playing on her lips. Hope of Sawarga, nicknamed Hop as she thinks the name Hope was too cliché. I agreed with her on that front. I still remember the first day I met her at the academy. Hop had been my best friend and partner ever since. She hadn’t changed one bit over the last few years, even when I have.

“Get your mask ready, the doors are about to open.” I nudged her side with my elbow as she reached up to tame her wild hair. Honestly, I never understood how she was able to fit all that hair under her hood.

Taking my own mask, I put it on. The mask covered every inch of my face except for my right eye. The reason behind this was somewhat philosophical; A Nox is not blinded by Paradisum’s gold, they are given their orders, but are able to see what is right on their own.

The real reason for the mask was for us to know where we have to go and the list of names, those were shown to us through our left eye. The mouth part was to protect us from the gas. Another reason why all the Nox Soldiers must be inside before our shift. At exactly 11:00 pm a sleeping gas was to fill the air of Nandanavana. This made it easier for us to collect the people.

Pulling the hood over my head, I glanced at Hop. She nodded at me, her freckled face now covered by her own mask. We went to stand with the others, waiting for the doors to open. My list slowly started to load, name after name appearing before my left eye. I have never been sure how I should feel about seeing these names. These people were sick, un-pure, non-believing, unhappy, but that was alright. My job was to bring them here so their happiness could be restored.

As soon as the doors opened and the dark night was revealed a grin spread across my face. All the thoughts from before vanished from my mind as Hop and I ran, and right on the edge we jumped, and we fell. Wind rushed past my ears, filling them with its white noise.

The city slowly came into view through the smoke caused by the gas. It was completely cast in darkness, just like how it was every night. It made focusing on my path easier. Hop and I were lucky as we didn’t have to travel too far. We were tasked with the southern side of Paradisum. I was given a list of five people and so was Hop, and as the buildings came closer to us in a rapid speed my first path was mapped out before me.

Turning my body, I prepared for impact. The clothes we were wearing offered extra strength, speed and flexibility. This way we were able to move faster, jump higher and carry our collections easier. I stretched out my arms, pressing my chin to my chest, and rolled over my shoulder as soon as I made contact with the building’s roof. Without loosing too much of the moment I jumped up when I got to my feet, following the blue line.

“You good, Luca?” I heard Hop ask through the communication system in the mask.

“Only broke my leg, think I’ll live,” I said. Hop responded with a giggle. “Your nails still intact?”

“They got lucky.”

I shook my head, jumping from one roof to the other. There was nothing about being a Nox that I disliked. Every night was as beautiful as the one before, and will be as beautiful as the next. Tonight happened to be a full moon, and the sight it brought was breathtaking. Paradisum was literally a city made of gold and glass. The buildings turned silver in the pale light. The windows turned white as they reflected in the purest way. The city was cast in darkness, yet it was also bathed in light.

My admiration was cut short when the next round of gas was pumped into the air. I sighed, stopping for a second to see the white and silver be covered up by the thick blanket. Such a shame no one got to see this but us. I shook the thought from my mind as I continued on my way. If I didn’t get my collection complete before Hop did I wouldn’t hear the end of it.

“On your last one yet?” I asked Hop.

Hop scoffed. “Already bringing him in.”

“Damn it,” I cursed under my breath as I fastened my pace. After five years I still got way too distracted during my shift. Well, not only during my shift, but that wasn’t the point.

I followed my last line, and with a smooth jump I entered the bedroom through the open window. Windows weren’t allowed to be closed for this exact reason. Having to break them would be too much of a waste.

Before me lay my last name. Hannah of Paradisum, it was all the information I had on her. I didn’t need more as I was only here to collect her. My mask would let me know if she was the right one, and looking at her face it said correct. However, that didn’t stop me from guessing. She looked around fifteen years old. Her hair was a dark brown and I gathered her eyes were to match. She seemed to be peacefully asleep. I hoped her dreams were nice.

Gently, I picked her off her bed. Checking one last time if I held her secure enough in my arms, I placed my foot on the windowsill and launched myself to the next roof. Each step brought me closer to Paradisum’s head office; a giant pillar like building in the middle of the city, of course decorated with gold around the giant windows. The same building we jumped out of.

Halfway to it I noticed Hop in the distance, heading my way. We both stopped in the middle on one of the roofs, an all to satisfied look in her eye. “You’re getting slow.”

“It’s not a contest,” I said.

Hop laughed, crossing her arms. “You were the one who made it a contest.”

“Let’s just take this one back and call it a night.” I passed her, and she followed right behind.

“Tonight’s on you,” Hop all too eager reminded me.

I rolled my eyes, picking up my pace slightly. Hop did the same to keep up. “I know, there goes my hard worked for money.”

“It’s not my fault you lost the bet.”

My mouth opened but no sound came out as movement in the corner of my eye caught my attention. Once again I stopped, turning to the direction I saw the shadow. Hop came to stand beside me, looking at me puzzled.

“Did you see that?” I asked.

“No, I didn’t see anything.” She shook her head. “What did you see?”

I straightened my back, narrowing my eyes one last time before turning away. “I don’t know, must have been my imagination.”

“Have you been sleeping well?” Hop asked, sounding concerned. “We don’t have to go out tonight if you don’t feel like it.”

I smiled to myself. “Don’t worry, I’m alright, it probably was gas or something.”

Hop nodded. “Okay, if you’re sure.”

“I’m always sure.” I nudged her with my shoulder before racing off. “First one back gets free dinner!”

“This is why you’re broke!” Hop laughed.

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