Time For War

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We were brought into a dark, old room smelled of decrepit pine and stale moist air.

I was with a group of five others. No one knew one another. We did not dare to speak or ask any questions. There were two girls, including myself and three other men - one of them was the senior. The senior guy, muscular but lean, was assigned to mentor us. Naturally, we were meek. Everything we were experiencing were new to us. I was in a confused state of daze and fatigue.

It was known to us that we were to complete a mission. Never would I have thought I could be petrified to the bones of the vast mystification that awaited before us. What mission? My throat tightened. I had to suppress my overwhelming desire to ask the senior. A safe choice would be to keep my mouth sealed.

What was revealed to us earlier, was that we had to fight a war. Before we could start doing that, we had to first proceed to our base camp.

My skin crawled as we cautiously strolled into the room. Nervousness pricked across my veins. The entourage closed in.

Together with the group, we awkwardly stood in a circle. In the middle, a black cylinder floated calmly at our shoulder level. The cylinder had two smooth handles. From the looks of it, it seemed heavy and had a smooth gleaming surface. The sides of the handles had a gradual curve. The cylinder was the only object which gave a dim glow within the room.

All of us were in awe. I had never seen a cylinder being able to float peacefully without any support or wings. Not knowing what it could do, but I knew it was a great weapon of advanced technology.

"We gotta grab the handles" instructed the senior. His voice was musky and mildly hoarse. Curiosity surged through my head - what was his name, at least?

We knew we had to hold the cylinder as it booted itself up, so we held our arms out. My head peeked downward to look at my attire. We were empty handed. Black-licorice coloured suits were on us. Suits that were skin-tight but stretchable. I felt light - as though I was a secret agent.

Then again, I had no combat experience. How was I going to fight this war? Initially, I had no clue why I enlisted myself to this Order. Are they the government? I was not too certain yet. With my mind being muddled up, I just went along with this enlistment. I guess this was how it felt like, unable to remember where your family were or whether were they even still alive.

"Hey, you wanna try to take the lead?" The senior asked me. Startled at the sudden snap to reality, I hesitated for a bit.

"Okay, I'll try." I shrugged. No big deal, I guessed. My lips pursed while trying to build some confidence. I convinced myself that I was just going to take the cylinder, power it up with my energy and lead my team to our base camp. No sweat.

Fingers curled onto the handle, I held the cylinder up. It immediately woke to my touch. The invisible line of electronic link from the cylinder, hooked onto my mind. No one could see the link but I was the only one who could feel it.

Once the cylinder was certain that it was invisibly linked up to my mind to feed on to my energy, I released my grip. The weapon floated up towards the ceiling and our eyes followed. The other team mates were in awe. Everyone had their eyes on this amazing creation. A light swirl of warm wind began to pick its speed up around us.

Warm wind - what a grievous reminder of the ghastly howls I had to endure from the streets before I enlisted. The bawls of survivors captured in a mix between disorientation about their lost family members and obscure euphoria that they, well, survived in this urban chaos. The wind, puffing through the streets - cool with the rain, warm with anguish-filled atmosphere.

Soon after, our bodies ascended languidly while the cylinder was still in the middle. It was incredible - this feeling of floating in the air. Our limbs were spread wide. We were doubtful of our balance. A couple of us tensed up - afraid that our bodies would fall. I was positive that the strength emitted from the cylinder was robust enough to levitate us steadily.

Thin white smoke spiraled boisterously from the apparatus. I deduced that it was some sort of a compression the cylinder had to do.
Once we were all afloat, our bodies spun in a circle at a slow pace around the cylinder. The purring sound from the engine boosted a note higher. We knew it was now or never. Instinctively, I grabbed the handle to lead my team mates. My arms jerked ahead of me as the cylinder advanced diagonally upward. I glanced at the side of it to read "95% ready".

At once, my team mates floated behind me in a jagged line. The unexplained wind surged stronger. It was blowing against us. After struggling for a while, we were exhausted. As the cylinder readies itself, I had to let go. My arms ached terribly and I found myself panting as though my energy have been sapped dry. I could see our bodies descended a little downward.
"I am too tired. Can you please take over?"

The senior of the group understood. It was my first time after all. Without hesitation, he swiftly grabbed the cylinder. I could not help but noticed his muscles bulging from his sleeves. It seemed assuring that he was strong enough to control the cylinder.

"The cylinder absorbs energy from a human body to power itself up. You got to train yourself to be strong enough for this." The senior filled us in.

The cylinder speedily powered up again as he held onto it. We ascended a little more. It was leading us up into a swirling atmosphere even though I remembered that the room had a low ceiling. The room seemed to be fading away as we swirled into the newly created atmosphere. We air-swam our way to the cylinder. We had to hold onto the cylinder tight because it was too strong as it bumped forward further. I was having great difficulties holding onto the cylinder. I could not find a good grip. My grasp slowly worsened.

"I can't! I'm going to lose grip!"

My fingers slowly slid off the cylinder. The cylinder moved upwards and forward, potentially leaving me behind.

"Grab the handle! Now" Shouted the senior.

With a boost of strength, I frantically pushed myself forward and finally able to grab the handle. My panic-stricken reflexes decreased. This time, we were slowly floating into the bright swirling of what seemed to be a vast nothingness.

Stealing a last look back down to the dark small room, my eyes caught sight of a human figure in the corner of the room. It was as though the person had somehow witnessed us floating away as he or she was standing next to the door.

I had no idea who this mysterious person was. I did not have a good feeling about this person and at the same time, I did not have a bad feeling about him or her either. 

The next thing I knew, we were pulled into a world of whiteness as we traveled through time.

A Grain of Sand