Beyond the Wall started its life without a prologue, bu I’m not sure the start of chapter one is a strong enough hook, and I wanted to bridge the gap between What Lies Within and Beyond the Wall.
I originally intended this yo be a short story in its own right, but it came out way too short for that. So, a prologue it became.
It’s also a bit of a risk, because I gave Heart a point f view and there’s a decent chance people will find him annoying. I also couldn’t get him to work in anything other than 1st person present tense while Ash balks at everything that isn’t 3rd person past tense. You gotta love when characters dictate stuff. Right?
Anyway, enough rambling. Here’s Beyond the Wall’s Prologue
Into the Dark
The moment that overgrown immobile termite took her last breath, Bo—Ash waltzed out of the house without so much as a by your leave, abandoning us…again. It really is what he does best, I guess. And though I have to admit that he did look more than a little worse for wear, I hate him for it; with a passion that has little to do with me being raw emotion. He can leave, have a life, while Brains and I are stuck here in this empty shell of a house.
I kick the wall, or try to at least. My foot goes straight through, vanishing into the disgusting goo, coating the sorry excuse for walls, without disturbing it, which, in hindsight, is good. Not like I’ve got spare clothes to change into, or the ability to wash stuff off. Times like these, the whole manifestation thing sucks.
“Come on, let’s at least get out of here,” I say, sick of hanging around my enemies—former, mind you—home while, upstairs, the last hours of my existence ticks by.
“Brains?” I turn slowly, afraid of what I’ll find. Maybe he’s left, too, but no he’s just standing there staring at her corpse as if he wants to dissect the thing. “Hell, no!” I stomp over to him, finally able to vent some of that pent up anger, and swing my arm through his midsection—the closest thing to touching we’ll ever get. He jumps and pins me with a glare.
“Out of here. Now.”
He hesitates, eyes drifting back to the corpse. I don’t like it. He may be older in body, but I existed first, and before Ash came back, I used to be the boss. It’s going to be that way again, and he better get used to it right quick. “Move it.”
And still he doesn’t comply. “But I—”
“No.” I hover my hands near my hips and tap my foot against the ground. My toes dip out of sight, and I can almost feel the cold slime soak them, but I don’t care; it’s that or stomp my foot like a child. Sometimes, I regret choosing a form this young. It came with all the emotional pitfalls of puberty and some childish urges on top.
“I…” He moves his hands, looking at them as if he’d never seen them before. He’s caving—I hope. If he isn’t, I’ll have to force my will on him. I can do that, but I’d rather not. It’s exhilarating and feels so wrong. “You want to be down here when they start tearing us to shreds? Get no warning?”
He does. I can tell from the way he’s looking everywhere but at me. He’s scared, same as me. “I don’t, and I don’t want to be alone either. Please?” It’s a bit low, I admit, but it does the trick. Brains casts one last longing look at the corpse—he really does want to cut her open—then nods. “Okay.”
We’re late when we leave the hive. The sun is up, casting mockingly cheerful patterns on the broken floor. “Could have warned me.” How long since Ash buzzed off? Too long, I figure.
Instead of defending himself, Brains stops and says, “Fade.”
At first, I think it’s just a trick, so he can run back into the hive, but then I see them, too. A good dozen people crawling all over our lawn, and huge machines, the likes of which I’ve never seen before, rolling up the slope. One of them carries a massive hammer thing.
I move to the window, driven by morbid curiosity, a desire to face my foes, or just plain old stupidity…probably all of the above. Despite everything happening outside, I can’t tear my eyes from the hammer. I know what that one does.
Though we can’t see each other anymore, I can feel Brains close behind. “You think we’re actually going to die?” I ask, using our mental connection, Ash somehow no longer shares.
Brains shifts beside me before answering in the same manner. “I don’t know.” He might as well have said yes for all the reassurance his quavery voice offers.
Hammer guy walks around the lawn, stopping occasionally to stare in our direction. He has a sketchpad tucked into his breast pocket, which he keeps flipping through as he mutters to himself. “Why aren’t they starting?”
Pain shoots through every fiber of my being, drowning out whatever Brains was going to say. They’re tearing me apart atom by atom. One of us is screaming. I think it’s Brains, but I feel it’s me, maybe it’s both of us. The world goes dark, but my consciousness doesn’t fade just yet. Instead, I’m falling or floating.
“Well, well, what do we have here?”
Something brushes against me, and I know no more.