My heart is pounding faster than it ever has before, my lungs burning as every footfall shakes my entire body, exacerbated by my pace, a dead sprint straight ahead. Toward the smoke.
No no no no no… That’s all I can think as I climb the hill, dreading the sight I know awaits me when I finally reach the top and gaze out on the land below. But I have no idea how bad it is, not until I climb the last few steps and mount the crest of the hill.
Falling to my knees, I feel tears stinging my eyes as they obstruct my vision, leaving the world a blur of different colors. But the only colors that I can see as I stare down at what was once my home are those of blood, charred wood, blackened stone, burnt corpses, and fire.
It hits me like a shockwave when I count the bodies dumped unceremoniously in a ditch next to the smouldering ruins of our home. They’re all dead. Ever single member of our family… is dead. And this is all just because of the label others gave us, and because people are paranoid, not giving us a chance to help them understand us. Cult. We’re not a cult. We’re a family. Well, we were.
I know I can’t stay here. But at the same time, I can’t help but descend down into the trench to identify each body and say goodbye. Sky, Gene, Dmitri, Katlyn, Lory… they’re all here. I hold their hands and whisper goodbyes to each of my fallen family members, one by one. Then I stand, feeling strangely empty.
I know what I have to do. Start over. I’m not Circe anymore. My name… is Sophia.