People say moments before your death your life flashes before your eyes.
So what happens when you’re blind? Can you suddenly see and if not, how do you find the light that leads you to the Far Beyond in the darkness? Is there someone there to guide you? Was my dead brother Jake that person?
A SPLIT SECOND LATER
At first I thought the heated shout was in my head. That Jake was-
No, I knew that voice. Alright, seconds before my death, I finally admitted it. There was a part of me that loved Carter and in the three years I’d known him, he’d never once called me by my full name. I really was going to die.
“Don’t call me Emmalee,” I sniped, not ready to face either truths.
My brother and sister’s voices abruptly halted.
I heard Carter snort. Then he gave me a soft laugh. “Gotcha, Em,” he replied. “Jam’s almost there. I need you to listen to me and do exactly what I say.”
I nervously wet my lips and forced myself to swallow. I pushed the only word I could from my lips. “Sure.”
Carter sighed with relief, then he continued. “Good. I need you to reach into your bag and pull out a couple of eggs.”
Without thinking I did what he asked. I quickly unbuckled the pack I had slung over my shoulder and plunged my hand inside. The elongated shaped fyre eggs I’d salvaged felt scalding on my fingertips. I did what Carter said and pulled out two of the valuable eggs.
“Now, when I say so, I want you to smash the eggs. Don’t throw them. You have to break them against each other.”
Fyre eggs were pure energy. They fuelled everything our society relied upon. From supplying the energy to light, heat, and cool our homes, to generating sufficient power to keep our sanitation, medical facilities, and communication systems functioning. They fuelled our transportation vehicles and any number of what we considered modern conveniences.
Fyre eggs were a precious commodity. A tangible good that was fiercely bartered in the fyre arenas and finally sold to the highest bidder.
The eggs were then housed in highly controlled industrial incubation plants, where their energy was siphoned off until the eggs reached maturity and hatched. Then the fledgling fyre wings were released into the wild.
I hesitated further.
To consciously break an egg would be as close to committing murder as you could get. Unbeknowst to most Far Beyond, fyre eggs held the Sapphyre Wings people’s unborn.
I shook my head. “Carter, I can’t-” It was simply unthinkable.
“You have a choice,” he countered. “You either sacrifice the eggs or you and Jam will both die.”
Damn Carter. Put like that I didn’t have any choice. I couldn’t let Jam die.
Tears pricked at the corners of my eyes. I’d never harmed any living creature in my life. My stomach felt sick at what I was about to do. “Alright. What else?”
Carter hurried on. “The light from the broken eggs will be bright. Brighter than Jam can handle, so you’re going to have to guide him. Jam start laying a trail of eggs.”
My brother’s voice was strong and confident as it echoed in my ears. “Already on it, Buddy.”
My right hand began to burn. I let one egg fall onto my left palm. The intense heat made my already clammy hand sweat even more. I tightened my grip on the egg.
“He’s going to pick you up and then run, so you’re going to have to hold on tight. And, Em, you’re going to have to lift your visor.”
“Lift your visor and open your eyes wide.”
Fear gripped me. Carter wanted me to do what? Before I could voice my confusion I felt my brother’s hands grab hold of me. He slung me onto his back and wrapped his muscular arms around my legs.
“Raise your arms above your head,” he told me as I felt him shift my weight.
I did what he asked and then sucked in a breath as my brother started moving. We hadn’t gone more than a few dozen feet when Carter’s voice boomed.
“Now, Em! Break the eggs!”
Carter’s command was sharp and his tone uncompromising. I couldn’t do anything but obey him. I brought my hands together and slammed the two fyre eggs against one another. The crack of the eggs was almost deafening. A second later I heard the faintness of Carter’s voice echoing in my ringing ears.
“Visor up, Em.”
I automatically dropped the cracked fyre egg shells. I forced the image of two tiny creatures falling to their deaths from my mind, but I couldn’t force the guilt from my heart.
“Up, Em. Do it now!”
©Legend of the Sapphyre Wings by Janet Merritt