Frigid air whipped Cara’s skin as she flew backwards out of the glass, hexagonal window. A cluster of black, plastic bags broke her two story fall. She propped herself up, noticing a stream of purple blood oozing from her torn, faded jeans that wreaked of formaldehyde like the pile of body bags she laid on. Her grey eyes shifted to the yellow sky. The sky’s hue signaled a coming storm.
Ignoring the sharp sting in her right leg from being struck by an electric whip, she gazed off into the distance. The thick grey smoke from the pockets of labor camps seeded along on the hill curled into the autumn, night air. Such a sight reminded her she was on the wrong side of Chicago.
Cara motioned to stand but froze at the sight of the scaly red wings of the horned, serpentine guard woman. The same woman who had sent her flying out the window as she had attempted to scale the back of a warehouse. She laid down again, so that when the guard’s three orange eyes landed on her, she blended in with the corpses. A broad grin spread across the guard’s pointy face.
“The trash has been disposed of,” the guard muttered to herself. When she could no longer see the guard’s large shadow, Cara sat up, glanced to make sure she was alone then climbed down the dumpster truck. She limped into the empty, street. A puddle of orange, water caused her to freeze.
A young human woman with long, violet hair, and pale, deep set grey eyes stared back at her. She tore her eyes away from the façade sick of living a lie. Her focus shifted to the wooden lamp poles. Atop each pole were the stone heads of rebels from the last revolt. One of the heads was her father’s. His face was stuck in a terrified scream as Astor the leader of the reptilian army beheaded him.
Her eyes twitched as her vision blurred from the silver tears forming in her eyes, but she swallowed them not allowing herself to cry. The laughter of a pink alligator couple walking their dog, alerted her, so she staggered into a dark alleyway, and leaned against a wall to gather strength.
A warm, hand enclosed around her shoulder. Cara spun around so fast her wavy, hair blinded her.
“Shh,” a male voice whispered.
“Get your hands off me!” she said, pushing the figure away.
“Cara, I want to help.” The low tone of the voice, and the scent of amber indicated it was her best friend Zane. They grew up together working in the labor camp, and bonded after being orphaned after the last revolt.
She pushed the strands of hair out of her ovular face to see his spiky, blue hair displaced by the wind, and dark, brown eyes staring back at her.
“Zane?” she said with a shiver.
“We need to get out of here before the camp notices we’re gone.” he said, tearing the cuff of his black, leather jacket and wrapping it around her injured leg to stop the bleeding.
“Thanks,” she said.
His square face pulled into a smile. “What are you doing out here anyways?”
“They captured Mark after he left, so I went searching for him.”
“What am I supposed to do? Continue to slave, pretending to be something I’m not, while the reptilians live decadent lives, and my brother gets eaten!” she said, shaking her fists.
“I know you want your brother back, but you could have wound up dead going in there,” he said. Cara rolled her eyes at Zane, while she loved him he hadn’t inherited the courage of his father who fought alongside her father in the last revolt.
“He’s all I have left.”
“You should care as one of the last of your kind.”
“The same goes for you,” she said crossing her arms.
“I’m here because I saw you had left the camp, and I don’t want to lose you Cara,” he said.
“You don’t have to worry about me, I’ll be fine.” She kept her gaze focused on the iridescent, glass buildings across the street. The lime green light from the moon reflected on the face of them.
“Cara please, listen.”
“I’m sorry Zane, but I’d rather die trying to find Mark then live another day in fear of them.”
“If you fight, I’ll fight with you,” he said. She looked back up at him as silver tears gathered in his eyes.
The roar of motorcycles hovering through the air, casting pale, blue blight on the streets below caused both Cara and Zane to rush deeper into the alleyway.
A light landed on a human woman across the street as she crouched behind the same dumpster Cara had crawled out of. The motorcycles landed beside the dumpster, and the woman quivered as two muscled lizards with black spikes running down their broad backs pushed the dumpster aside, and ceased her by the wrists.
She pounded the street with her fist, busting her knuckles open. Purple blood spilled onto the pavement.
Cara gasped at the sight,”
“She’s one of us, we have to help her,” Cara said. Zane shook his head against it.
“My, My Astor is going to love to know we found another one those bastards,” the officer said bringing down a whip on the woman’s back. She howled in pain.
Cara covered her ears. The crack and sizzle of the whip upon the woman’s back laced with her cry brought her back to the night of her father’s execution.
A few reptilian pedestrians including the alligator couple stopped to watch, pointing and snickering at the woman. The guards continued to whip her in the street, her back splitting into pieces of raw flesh until she stopped moving.
“Any takers?” The officer offered the reptilian bystanders. One of the reptilian men shook his head.
“No, that’s way past its prime to eat,” he laughed. The street erupted with laughter. Then officer, scooped up the body like a sack of potatoes, and threw it into the dumpster.
Once, the street had cleared out Zane motioned for Cara to follow him.
They sprinted across the street, and crept around the brick warehouse. To their surprise, the back door was ajar.
When Cara peeked in her pulse drummed faster at the sight of the giant, blue crocodile dangling a man by the collar of his shirt like a slab of meat in front of an iron table of reptiles. She recognized the crocodile as Astor-her father’s killer.
“Tear him in half!” The winged guard woman pounded the table. The black mold covering the concrete walls mixed with the scent of the man’s fear created a pungent odor that hurt Cara’s stomach.
“Please Master, I won’t try to run away again, the man pleaded. Cara recognized the man from her camp, he was one of the few red blooded humans who knew about her and Zane’s true identity. Her mouth started to open, but Zane covered it, shaking his head against it. Anger filled her how Zane could just stand by and watch such evil happen.
Astor tore the man’s body in half. His red blood sprayed the walls and reptiles’ faces. The reptiles licked the sticky contents from the corners of their mouths before snatching away chunks of his flesh, and sucking the meat off of his bones.
As the reptiles were distracted, Zane slipped through the door. When Cara squeezed through, it squeaked as she knocked against it from her injured leg almost giving out. All four reptiles in the dining room, heads turned.
“I see Moe failed to do her job,” Astor’s long grey tongue flickered at the guard woman. Moe’s orange pupils constricted at the sight of Cara, and she shook her head, trembling.
“Boss, she went flying out a window and blended in with the carcasses in the dumpster,” Moe said.
“You should have checked again!” Astor slapped Moe in the face and her head collided with the table top and she grunted. The other reptiles slunk away from Astor as his orange eyes burned with anger.
“Where’s my brother?” Cara shouted.
“You want to see him, sweetheart? Millard why don’t you give the poor girl what she wants.” Astor laughed. Zane’s eyes narrowed at him.
A corpulent, yellow lizard hauled out a lanky man in chains with gashes all over his bare torso. A white bag covered the man’s head. He squirmed as he whipped him causing him to move forward.
Astor withdrew the bag from the man’s shaved head, and his yellow eyes widened at Cara.
“Mark!” Cara shouted, but Zane held her back.
“You shouldn’t have come for me,” he cried. Before she could respond to her brother, Astor handed Millard an axe.
“Millard, why don’t you finish him off this animal, and the rest of them so there won’t be another insurrection.” Astor commanded.
“My pleasure,” Millard said.
“No!’ Cara cried as the blade rose to her brother’s neck. A rush of blood shot to her head, and a current of energy burst through her veins filling her with strength.
She pounced onto Millard’s back. He collapsed to his knees with a thud and the axe slid across the floor. Zane sprung forward to retrieve the axe.
Cara squeezed Millard’s neck, gritting her teeth. Millard clawed at her hands, tearing into her skin. The scent of Millard’s weakened state fueled her, and she applied more pressure. His body stiffened, and her hands and clothes were covered in both blue, and purple blood.
Her brother dragged himself towards the door, struggling from the weight of the chains upon his back, but Moe stepped on him and he yelped in pain. Zane spun around with the axe and stabbed the grey lizard man in the tongue as it forked it at him. The small fragment of his mangled tongue drew back into his mouth as he garbled on a river of blue blood. He stumbled backwards, and Zane struck him with the axe again, this time deep into the lizard’s stomach. The lizard stumbled backwards roaring. Zane kicked the lizard in his face, and he dropped dead on the floor.
Cara removed her sticky hands from Millard’s cold neck. She spun around just as Moe swung the electric whip at her head. Cara ducked, and the whip grazed the tip of her hairline. As Moe was distracted, Mark found the strength to turn over beneath her weight and pull her down. Moe fell to the ground, and Cara tore forward, grabbing the whip, and brought it down on her. Moe screamed as it fried her wings. Cara raised the whip again as Moe quivered, like Millard the aroma of her fear was so intoxicating that she could taste it, but Zane caught her hand.
“Cara, that’s enough, we don’t want to be like them,” he said.
“I’m afraid we already are,” she said, dropping the whip beside Moe as the last ounce of blue blood leaked from her tattered wings. Cara turned to check on Mark as he moaned in pain.
“Mark, are you okay?” she asked, taking his hand. He nodded with his bruised eyes half open.
“We did it Cara,” he whispered.
“Continued what father started,” he smiled. Cara stared at him confused. Zane joined her to crouch beside him. She turned to see Astor slipping away.
Astor staggered out of the warehouse abandoning his fellow reptiles. As he pushed open the door a mob of humans with torches, and pitchforks surged towards him.
From outside, she could hear Astor squealing as the humans dismembered him. She closed her eyes as a slight grin crept onto her face, but when Zane glanced at her it faded. They helped carry Mark out.
When they stepped outside, cheers from a crowd of red blooded humans greeted them. The surrounding buildings were consumed by white flames, as the crowd paraded not only Astor’s body parts, but other reptilians.
“The revolution has begun,” one man shouted from within the crowd. Zane glanced at Cara, and while his hands shook and eyes displayed fear, she gazed at the lamp pole with her father’s head on it. Rather than seeing a man who died in vain, she now saw a man who shared the same battle cry that rose from the pit of her stomach.
It was only the beginning. There was still the rest of Chicago to retake, and beyond.