Chapter 25: The colors of a ghost
As they made their way through the woods, Elderton kept thinking about Selene and her mission. She wished she could be with her, fighting to put an end to the chaos. Her duty as an officer was bearing down on her in numerous ways. She had to get them out of the town and to safety, but she also wanted to put an end to the madness and save more if she could. Her day had started off simple enough with toast and a cup of coffee—her usual beginning to a day. Everything seemed so mundane and typical. She wondered if life would ever be mundane again.
They came to a large rock; she helped Martha up it. The girls didn’t seem to want help, so she respected that. They had remained so strong through it all. Martha, too, considering she was still processing the loss of her entire family.
Their little family had been through hell.
She stopped for a moment and looked back towards Tipton. She could see the glow of the streetlights. It was probably her last chance to look back at it before it was out of sight.
As she turned around, she heard an eruption of gunfire. They all came back to the edge of the rock and watched. Listened.
They couldn’t see the battle that was taking place, but they knew it had to be Selene’s final stand.
Mandy joined hands with Maggie and Elderton. Elderton looked and smiled. She took Martha’s hand and joined them all together. They waited and hoped.
As abruptly as the gunfire had started, it stopped.
Elderton didn’t like the silence. There would have been an explosion had Selene been successful. She started playing the scenarios in her head… could she get them to safety and come back on her own? Would it be too late by then? Should they all go back into Tipton and take care of it themselves?
They saw the explosion through the trees. Flames sprouted high up into the sky and evaporated. Along with the noise and the flames, a wind came whistling through the woods. The trees and branches spun about. Just before it reached them, they braced. They stood in place, hands still clasped together.
From where they’d seen the flames, a purple gas whisked about in all directions. It came toward them in the woods, snaking through the trees and branches.
Elderton saw memories of Selene and her mother. The love they shared. The counsel she gave. It was all there. The warmth they shared.
“Are you seeing this?” Elderton asked the others.
More colors came in waves. Yellow, red, blue, green, pink. With each color a different set of memories and emotions.
Elderton eventually realized what they were seeing. “It’s her life story. It’s what she wants us to see. She wants us to remember her this way and to remember these things. We can’t forget.”
The last thing they saw was Selene with them, hugging. The purple hue that shone all over the gas station. She was saying goodbye one last time.
The colors were gone and all that was left was the dark of the woods and the streetlights in the distance. And silence. Selene’s warmth faded and they knew that it meant her ghost was gone. She had accomplished her mission but died in the process. She had sacrificed herself for them.
Elderton knew what that meant. She had to get everyone to safety. If she couldn’t, Selene’s sacrifice was in vain. “Come on,” she said. “We have to keep moving. It’ll be daylight soon.”
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