Prompt: Forbidden Places | Word count: 1800 | Genre: Sci-fi
“Just a few more feet, and I’m almost there!” Chloe whispered under her breath as she prepared to finally see exactly what she was after.
This had been an excruciating journey, one which her boyfriend Tom had felt was an utter waste of time, but nonetheless Chloe had gone on it. She just had to find an answer as to what was going on, specifically with the pain and suffering which had been encountered through their entire community the last few weeks.
Chloe was full of herself of course. It came with the territory. Her entire life had been one of little struggle, at least from the view of others. Sure, she was cared and provided for as much as anyone else, but many in the neighborhood viewed her as sort of an oddball. While most of the other’s socialized in smaller groups, rarely drawing much more than a gaze from outside strangers, Chloe was the complete opposite.
She was open, energetic, and full of surprises unlike most others, and many found it off putting. The thing which made her stick out more than anything else was the fact that she adored attention. She truly loved the spotlight. When she entered the room, she wanted all eyes directly on her. She was that confident in who she was and what she could do. If challenged, she knew without a shadow of a doubt she could defend herself to the utmost extreme, to death even.
This confidence almost all others could not stand. She would stroll in with her perfectly primped gray hair, ready to take charge, her blue eyes piercing at any who challenged her. That confidence and vibrato is what drew Tom to Chloe in the first place. She just stood out so much compared to everyone else, he could not help but to fall in love.
Their relationship had started years ago at this point. She had just moved into the neighborhood, having gone for a quick morning jog, when Tom happened to be walking down his driveway and he spotted her strolling along. He was instantly attracted to her. The way each leg hit the ground as she ran was so graceful and enticing, he knew he had to introduce himself. The connection was instant. You hear about these sorts of thingsin the movies or sappy romance novels, but they really had that irresistible attraction. Tom with his devilish good looks, a silver fox himself, had deep green eyes which Chloe found enchanting. After their introductions and initial conversation, they bumped into one another a few more times on chance encounters, and eventually decided to start making their jaunts around the neighborhood a regular occurrence.
This of course caused an instant uproar among their community. Neighbors gossip. It was just a fact of life. And their neighborhood had been no exception. Even though neither had been attached, others still took it upon themselves to discuss the goings on surrounding Tom and Chloe. “Oh, I saw them walking by yesterday together, with not a care in the world.” exclaimed Bella from 168 Sunrise Court. “I saw them laying together in her yard every single day last week.” Buddy recounted to the group at their standing weekly meet up.
The stir Chloe and Tom were creating was very real, and one which they would have to address at some point in the future. Rumors and whispers could not go unchecked for too long, otherwise they tended to grow into monsters with a life of their own. Eventually, the uproar grew to the point that Tom finally had to address it. It was not that he was ashamed of their relationship, nor that he cared what anyone thought, unlike Chloe he despised attention. He was like most, just wanted to keep to himself and only interact with those whom he chose to do so. Standing in front of a group and explaining to a bunch of gossiping neighbors his true intentions with his love interest really was not a task he wanted to partake in, but knew he had to put it to rest.
After that evening, things settled down into a simple, yet enjoyable routine. The two would relax in one of their yards, just taking in each day, letting the cool breeze tickle their senses. Life moved slowly in the suburbs, but thankfully they had good homes, and most importantly, they had each other. Life was perfect, and Tom could not ask for anything else.
Then it happened.
No one understood why exactly the birds had done what they did, but it shocked the entire neighborhood when it started. For several weeks, various birds which normally never had been seen in the neighborhood before started stopping over and roosting in the trees in the evening. Usually the birds which visited the neighborhood were the same kind, changing with each season, but always predicable in how they traveled. A flock would come in, spend a few days, then move along. Almost always they either came from the north east or from the south west, depending on which season it was. During the summer, they had a contingent of the same flock which found the huge shady oak trees to be a terrific nesting ground. They would leave come fall usually, but the past few weeks saw flocks coming and going from all directions.
These were of course small details that most would otherwise not notice, but when you live the relaxed life of everyone in this neighborhood, there was nothing better to do than monitor the birds. Flock after flock came and went, savaging the grounds of everyone’s yards and picking the leaves almost completely clean of some of the less fortunate plants. As concern started to grow amongst the neighbors, things reached a fevered pitch when entire flocks started flat out running into the sides of several of the houses.
Something was seriously wrong.
The night that first incident occurred, something truly amazing happened. As the neighbors were meeting along the back alley which ran between their houses, a bizarre green and blue light filled the night sky above. Almost like giant ribbons dancing across the stars, yet somehow closer. A beautifully painted landscape formed of color filled clouds moving across the sky. The reports of the birds and their casualty count seemed to pale in comparison to what was happening above the confused neighbors. As the sky intensified, several of the others decided they had had enough, and retreated to their residences. Max and Sophie, each with their jet black hair glistening in the night, strode back quickly to their home. Things were getting out of hand, and they knew the time to leave the neighborhood was quickly approaching.
Over the course of the coming weeks, Chloe was finding it more and more difficult to return to her standard routine. She wanted answers. This had been a very trying time, but the only one she could talk to besides Tom was Nathan, and he had been completely preoccupied with something. He was withdrawn into his study for almost all hours of the day, at times he would completely ignore Chloe, almost forgetting she was even there. She hated this, and more importantly, she blamed those stinking birds for bringing this mess upon her and her neighbors. Nathan became so engrossed, entire days were filled where he would not even allow Chloe to go outside. Maybe he was just looking out for her? She really had no idea. All she knew was, he had grown more and more reclusive since Lori had passed.
Gosh how Chloe missed Lori. She was one of the kindest humans she had ever met. So full of life, and most importantly, full of plenty of attention to devote to her. Their connection was one which not many could understand, especially those gossiping neighbors, but when Lori passed it was like a giant empty hole was cut in the deep recesses of Chloe’s heart. She looked to Nathan to fill that missing piece, but he just was so withdrawn, and then consumed by whatever he was studying, he really had no time for her.
Chloe finally convinced Nathan to allow her to go outside one afternoon, and she entered the once refuge of her front yard, now a forbidden world she was not allowed to partake in. Waiting patiently for her was her Tom. Never wavering. Beside himself when she emerged from the house, he exasperated over how she had not been outside in almost a week, but he wanted to show something to her which he knew would lift Chloe’s spirits.
High up in a tree, a small nest was resting on a branch. This was a nest most in the neighborhood were very familiar with, because it normally was uninhabited, the builder long ago leaving it there abandoned. But now, the distinct chirp of young birds echoed through the tree tops, calling out to anyone who listened for them. Chloe just had to see what was in that nest. She started the climb up the tree, Tom insisting she should not even attempt to climb something so tall. But she was finally free from her imprisonment in her own home. She wanted to stretch, and exercise, and most importantly, go on an adventure. As she made her way from limb to limb, climbing higher and higher, she did start to get a little nervous. She thought to herself “I wonder if this was a bad ide—” *chirp chirp* “Nope, this is a fantastic idea! I am GOING to see what is in that nest! Just a few more feet, and I’m almost there!” At that very moment, Chloe heard the branch start to crack, and the entire world began to spin.
As she fell, she reached violently for anything she could grab. Nothing was within reach. Her, the branch, and the nest were headed down, with only the ground to stop them. As everything happened in slow motion, Chloe twisted carefully, instinctively bringing her backside around first, followed by her front, and she gracefully landed on her feet. Just then Nathan called for Chloe, and as she ran said her goodbyes to Tom, bounded up the steps to Nathan, and ran straight to his legs and rubbed along them. He reached down and pet her, stroking her soft Russian Blue fur. He loved Chloe, besides him she was the only remaining member of their little family. When he heard the crash outside from the falling branch, he rushed out to make sure she was alright, and thankfully she was. As he pet her, Chloe began to purr, and he knew had to find a way to keep her inside, for the world was changing, as it was now a forbidden place.
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