Daylight, Part III


colette_icon.gif the_haitian_icon.gif trent_icon.gif

Scene Title Daylight, Part III
Synopsis The flash on the horizon is not the sun.
Date November 8, 2006

Blue skies are a contrast against chalky white clouds. Somehow, the day seems just a bit brighter than it did yesterday, it seems like the skies shine just a little bit harder, as if trying to remind everyone things aren't as bad as they seem. There's a saying, that it's always darkest before the dawn. It only makes sense then, that the inverse is true; that it's brightest before the darkness falls.

The perfect reflection of the skies above are sundered by a tire, sending the puddle rippling away and distorting the image of clouds with expanding ripples and splashes from the falling droplets. The offending tire continues on, driving the unmarked, black van down 34th street towards the intersection with 3rd. The driver has no business going there, has only the faintest inkling of why he's even headed to the address. One hand on the wheel, the other holding a cup of coffee, he knows he's mostly serving as a taxi service, not to ask questions, and not to get too invested in the unknown.

In the back of the van, three others are more vested in this unknown. Slouched on the bench seat, one dark-haired girl with her bangs hanging over one eye lays sound asleep. Her forehead rests on the shoulder of a man not too many years her senior. In a way, this is where their story actually starts, even if she's blisfully unaware of it for nearly three years out from this point. "I just don't get it…" His words are a window into the indecision that Trent Daselles is striggling with. Staring down at his hands folded in his lap, he's doing his damndest not to look over at the girl sleeping on his shoulder — Colette Nichols.

But his partner in the van has less to say about this, brows furrowed and head down, dark hands folded and the faint light that comes in thorugh the tinted windows glinting dully off of the necklace he wears; one pointedly resembling a strand of RNA. "You and Woods were supposed to pick her up and bring her to her sister. I don't— " Trent knows that the Haitian can't — won't — speak back, won't do anything to help alleviate his concerns. In a way, he's the perfect listener. "I don't get why we're just dropping her back off at her apartment."

The van slows to a crawl, then only when it stops does the Haitian look up from the floor of the van. His brows tense, and when he pushes himself to his feet, Trent's eyes follow him as he hunches over and stalks to the front of the vehicle, resting one hand on the passenger's seat to take a look out front and assess exactly what's going on. Cars are stopped as far as they eye can see down 43rd street — rows and rows and rows of stalled vehicles waiting in gridlock traffic just before noon.

"What's going on?" For a moment, Trent considers standing, but the subtle weight of Colette's head on his shoulder gives him pause. Teeth draw at his lower lip, eyes closing and a sigh slipping out in frustrated strain. The Haitian's eyes sweep the scene, looking past the obvious of the gridlocked cars, to the flicker and flash of dozens of police cruisers and ambulances up ahead. Something isn't right.

The moment that gaunt figure whips back into the van, he doesn't pause at Trent, but instead moves right for the hinges of the back door. Thrusting them open and jumping out of the back of the vehicle, turning around to offer a stern and very expressive stare towards Trent, one that implores haste and urgency. He doesn't need the words to convey the look in his eyes of revelation, and more unusually: fear.

It would take Trent the remainder of his years to come to terms with how his blank stare and uncertain hesitation changed everything that day. The way his throat tenses, mouth goes dry, and he waits sixteen seconds too long to do anything. By the time he's pulled one of COlette's limp arms around his shoulders and helps her unconscious body out of the back of the van, it's already too late.

The Haitian takes a hold of his sleeve, dragging Trent and by proxy Colette away from the van, even as the driver only offers them a confused stare in the rear view mirror — in this one instance it would have paid to ask questions. "Hey, what— what the hell's going on?" Trent's voice however is not so paralyzed, but the Haitian offers no explanation, only the understanding of what he sees here, and what he's been warned will eventually happen today. Now, it isn't the time he expected. Here, it isn't where he was told. But, there's enough signs that match up to make the next few moments of absolute chaos just barely predictable.

Watching Trent, the Haitian and Colette disappear in his rear view mirror, it's the brightest light words can describe that eventually draws the driver's attention away. A sudden flash of radiance brighter than the sun, light that takes away the driver's sight in a single excruciating moment. He never sees the wall of heat, ash and flames that comes roaring down 3rd street, never sees the cars being thrown up into the air like toys, never sees the Empire State Building flayed of its exterior and never sees the wall of shattered glass and fallout carried on the blast of a ten kiloton nuclear explosion.

As many blocks away from Ground Zero as they are, it's not the destructive heat, but the concussive blast wave that does the most damage. Buffered by thousands of obstructions, it still hits with the force of a category four hurricane by the time it reaches the corner of 34th and 3rd. It carries enough force to lift a full-grown man off of his feet like a ragdoll, send him cartwheeling through the air and torn out of the grip of a man almost twice his size. It carries an unconscious teenage girl even further, throws her unerringly into the windshield of a parked taxi, shattering the glass and causing her to bounce and roll limply down to the street.

It's by merit of Colette's unconscious state that she survives the collision, that she was as limp as a ragdoll that she didn't shatter like something as delicate as she is. Trent Daselles is far less fortunate, spinning into the air and crashing through the plate-glass window of a Macy's department store, the same store the Haitian was trying to pull him into. In a single, blinding moment the bright skies are swallowed by a cloud of ash and smoke so thick that it blocks out the sun, turns midday to midnight, and blankets the streets with ashes and flames.

Screams and sirens blend together into a cacophonous symphony of the greatest calamity yet seen in the modern age. It's on this very moment, where the ashes start to fall down like snow, where the radiation spikes and the Haitian struggles to pull agent Daselles out of the way of danger, that he's torn away from the girl that has become his responsibility. It eventually takes six hours for emergency response to begin pulling people from the regions surrounding ground zero, for fire and rescue personnel to find the unconscious girl laying beside a cab in her pajamas.

It will be three more years before the memories repressed by the trauma of what Colette Nichols survived, and what was forcibly erased by the Company to come back to her. Three years for her to realize that the world is an even more complicated place than she ever imagined, three years for her to realize that the men Trent will eventually warn her about are more real than she ever assumed.

Three years from now, when the dust has settled and the fallout cleared, Colette Nichols finds her daylight.

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