FFC 3/1/2020

editing_for_authors
Editing for authors: because every writer needs a good editor.

Brightdreamer

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Every night, we watched the angels fly above the wasteland, moonlight turning their translucent wings to pale rainbows, bright flashes filling the skies where they passed. Some said they had been human once like us, but nothing born on this broken earth could be so beautiful, and beside they looked nothing like a person – they hardly looked like each other, no two alike. Others said they were people from another star, or the souls of the dead. The preachers used to say we were not on Earth at all anymore, but Earth had been cast into hell, the angels our jailors to keep us in our torments for eternity until we embraced the lord. But there hadn't been preachers for many seasons; the last one I'd seen had been covered in black rot and red blisters, so it seemed to me she must've been talking nonsense, because nobody embraced a god more than she had and still she was struck down same as the sinners she preached to. She'd been gone the next morning, and though nobody said a word some of us avoided the soup pot for a few nights, because there seemed to be more meat than rats alone could account for.

There were just five of us left when the angel fell. Five of us, starving and sweating on a hot night. The old woman and the bent man, the pale young girl, the man with with the bright eyes in the dark face, and me, the woman with the scarred arm: for all that we knew the last humans left in the wasted world, too few to even bother with names. It had been a bad dry season after a bad wet season, and both the wells and the fields had failed at last. And so we lay, dying though none would say the word, watching the stars and the angels in their nightly dance, each of us privately wondering if we'd see the dawn – or, at least, I did, though I wasn't so rude as to speak and break the silence.

The angel plunged with a flash and a rising hum we felt more than heard, spiraling down to the fields just beyond the walls. It landed with a crushing thud like thunder too heavy to roll. The pale girl whimpered, and we all nearly jumped from our skins: it was the first noise any of us had made for days.

I pushed myself to my feet, waiting while the dark spots cleared and the ringing faded from my ears, and slowly staggered toward the hole where the gates had once stood, when there was something worth defending here (and someone left to defend it from.) Nobody shouted a warning, or asked for me to wait up for them, nor did I bother asking before I went. They would follow or not. They would flee or not. It hardly mattered anymore. Even I was a bit surprised that I still had enough curiosity and strength to investigate, but even a dying world has surprises.

There was a hollow where the field had been, less a crater and more like someone had pressed a thumb into wet clay. A shimmering heat beat out at me as I approached, a thick smell like something wet burning, and I found myself squinting though there was little light. The angel hovered in the middle of the hollow, thin luminous smoke surrounding it, so close I almost could've leaned over the edge of the pit and brushed it with outstretched fingers. This was no ghost, no human, no divine jailor. It was… it was a thing, the sort of thing I'd only seen in old pictures, though even those weren't quite right. Half as long as the walled town, taller than the walls before they'd crumbled. The wings were rippling lengths of glassy, segmented material folded beside a segmented body of dark metal, from which thin tendrils spread like insect antennae. The smoke streamed from bright holes and cracks. Even I knew what battle wounds looked like.

So, the angels were at war. I smiled to myself, thinking what the preacher would've said about the lord's divine servants tearing each other apart like the lowest gutter vermin.

As I watched, the cracks slowly began to close, the metallic skin healing… but there was a hole, a gap almost big enough to walk through. I squinted, eyes watering from the heat and the strange smell of the smoke. Was that… a room of some sort? A chair, or a bed…?

I felt movement around me: The others had come, standing beside me. The old woman held a chunk of stone as though she meant to hurl it at the angel, scowling at it. The bent man beside her wept silently, the young girl hiding behind his leg. The man with the bright eyes was staring at the same hole I saw. I glanced sidelong at him, he at me.

There was no guarantee it was an escape from anything. For all we knew, there was something even worse waiting for us than the wasteland around us. But for even a moment… to fly with the angels…

A rumble shuddered through the crater, the angel's wings rippling faster. Its rifts were healing, its antennae twitching and sparking as it yearned skyward.

The others shied back. But the man and I – we leapt!
 

Vincent

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I like the worldbuilding in this. Concise, a lot of good inference; the stuff that make flash impossible for me to do. I think it tells just the right amount of story. But I wonder if your second paragraph is not a better opening than your first?
 

Brightdreamer

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Probably... I was trying to limit editing to keep in the time limit. If I decide to sub it anywhere, I'll probably do more polishing and tweaking.

Thank you for reading!