What started out as a modest flame soon erupted into a full burst fire, a burning bush of prophecy. The new Slayer is rising.
The television image crackled as the satellite lost signal for a brief second. Thunderstorms were rare where Autumn Way lived, but she knew that day was far from the average. For three blissful years, she'd led a life of peace and security at the price of abdicating her duties-her destiny even. She got married, started her writing career, and gave birth to a beautiful daughter. Now the world crashed down upon her. After years of ignoring the sickening cries of the helpless, the sound was becoming more deafening and unavoidable. They were blaming her for her selfishness and she was cracking under the guilt.
"After weeks of bloodshed, the bodies of those who were slaughtered are beginning to surface beneath the beach's sand," announced the woman reporter. The camera zoomed onto the rotting skeleton of a woman desperately clinging onto a folded blanket. The police officer bravely unraveled the cloth to reveal the young bones of an infant.
"God," Autumn whispered into her hands, her glassy eyes blurring the ghastly image on the small screen.
The woman reporter tried to keep her composure as she ended the segment with her breaking voice, "These are two of the many bodies authorities have located on Hillside Beach. They currently have not commented on any suspects that could be responsible for these murders. If you have any information relating to these crimes, please contact your nearest police station or call the live number on the screen. You will remain anonymous. Operators are standing by."
Autumn blinked away her tears as she reached for her husband's hand. They've been glued to the couch watching for updates on the beach massacre for the past month. Neither of them had left the safety of their home nor the sight of their daughter for weeks.
"They need me, Gerard," Autumn whispered, her eyes never leaving the screen.
"What if it's not what we think it is? What if it's really just a psycho group of killers?" Gerard reasoned.
"You and I both know exactly what's causing these deaths," Autumn said, locking eyes with him.
"You can't go out there. You quit, remember? You gave it all up for this," Gerard pushed, glancing at their daughter's crib.
"It's my fault," Autumn said softly in acceptance. "Everything that's been happening is my fault. I let those people die. Even the women and children. I turned my backs on them and let them die."
"Don't say that," Gerard shook his head as he held onto her shoulders. "It's not true."
"It is true," Autumn turned away from him. "It's my fault for dragging you and Lyvia into this, too."
"Are you saying you regret being with me and having Lyvia?" Gerard asked, placing his fingers on her chin, motioning her to face him.
"No," Autumn replied. "I'm saying I regret trying to live a life I wasn't destined for."
She released herself from her lover's arms and headed toward the door. The window lit up as a bolt of lightning struck nearby. She gazed outside to see the wind pull around trees like weeds in a garden. Was this the end of the world?
"I have to go," Autumn told her husband. "They need me. I can't ignore them any longer."
"It's not safe for you to go now," Gerard warned, rushing to her side.
"When will it ever be safe for me?" Autumn asked with a harsh laugh.
"When you're with me," Gerard whispered, embracing her tightly.
Autumn rested her head on his shoulder and closed her eyes. She wanted to burn that memory forever in her mind. Slowly, she envisioned their wedding, their best times and their worst, and the birth of their precious Lyvia. She inhaled the scent of his skin that always reminded her of home.
Another bolt of lightning struck, closer to their home than the last. It sent her crashing back to reality as she let go of him for the second time. She had to fight this last battle and then she would go back to her perfect life, she promised herself.
"You have to let me go, Gerard. The world is calling for me," she said, tracing his lips with her index finger. "I'll be back, I promise."
"Be careful," he said, finally giving in.
"I've done this for years," Autumn assured him. "They'll never take me alive."
"Just take care of yourself, alright?" Gerard cautioned as he placed his leather jacket on her shoulders.
"I love you," she said as she kissed him with every drop of sincerity in her bones.
She stood in front of Lyvia's crib and kissed her sleeping daughter's forehead. Before she left, she reached behind her neck and unclasped the silver crucifix necklace that hadn't left her body for nine years. Carefully, she slipped the jewelry around Lyvia's neck without disturbing her slumber. She decided Lyvia needed God's protection much more than she did.
As soon as she opened the door, a blast of wind engulfed her, instantly chilling her body. Gerard's leather jacket desperately clung onto her as if they were his own arms. She stepped out toward the path of the battlefield and turned around one last time to say goodbye to her husband. He stood at the door shouting out how much he loved her and wishing for her safe return.
"I love you," she mouthed again, blowing a kiss his direction.
He watched her go until she disappeared into the darkness. He pushed the door against the wind as he closed it with a slam, waking Lyvia and startling her to tears. Gerard carefully took her out of the crib and held her near the window as he waited for her mother to return. He kissed the back of her head, praying that everything would soon be okay. He sat on the couch with Lyvia falling back to sleep on his shoulder and kept waiting until he fell asleep as well.
"I swear to you, officer, it can't be her!" Gerard argued, as the policeman led him to a body bag.
"We found this body on the beach covered in ashes. Her wounds are still fresh. It's apparent she was just killed last night," the man told him. "We believe it's your wife's body. Her identification card was in her pocket."
The man pulled out the leather jacket that he gave Autumn that night. There was a slash on one of the sleeves and permanent stains of blood on the inside.
"She must've dropped it or something," Gerard countered, shaking his head in denial. "It can't be her."
"We need you to identify the body," the man replied.
He motioned toward the black bag as the coroner tugged on the zipper, slowly revealing the corpse. The woman looked as cold as ice with a hint of blue on her skin and lips. Her dark brown hair was flustered around the bag and her light blue eyes were affixed toward the sky. There was a line of blood dripping from the side of her lip that almost looked like a ketchup stain. It was her.
Gerard couldn't take his eyes off of his wife. She was so beautiful, even in death. He wanted her to get up and tell him that it was all a joke. One big sick joke. Similar to the life they've led. When realization finally hit him in the gut, he leaned over to the side and threw up every small morsel in his stomach. His tears stung his eyes as he rubbed them furiously, hoping to God that it was some kind of nightmare. He felt the policeman rub his back and whisper words of pity that he didn't want to hear. He swung his arm around to block the man's arm and placed his fingers on his temples, begging himself to wake up. He got on his knees and struggled for breath. It felt like his lungs were crashing in on him or someone was strangling him to death. His wife was gone and so was their chance of living a normal life.
He coughed up the remains of his insides and looked up toward the front door. Lyvia was still inside. He ran to her crib to assure himself that she was still there. She was what was left of their family and her mother. Autumn's necklace sparkled from her tiny neck as if her spirit was winking at him. He held the cooing baby to his shoulder and hugged her firmly. Baby Lyvia snuggled into the familiar body of her father and giggled in the security of his presence.
"I won't ever let them get you, Baby," Gerard whispered in her ear. "I promise."