Raining Red

Raining Red

By Madeline Freeman

The forest was humid the day we left our campsite, the sky smothered by blankets of fog and the trees stained red from the rain. We moved quickly and quietly. Teddy said that if we made a sound, the others would find us.

The girls and I crouched carefully behind him. He raised his fist abruptly. We halted. His jaw clenched as he examined whatever was below him, and I felt my heart tighten. He bowed his head in defeat.

When I reached his side, I felt the air leave my lungs. The bodies were burned. I could tell by the way their charred limbs stretched outward that they had been trying to run. I tried and failed to imagine what their mutilated faces used to look like.

Daphne let out a shrill cry, and I smacked my hand against her mouth. Teddy said we had to be quiet.

“We should do something. Get some help,” I whispered, unable to take my eyes off the dead woman at my feet. Her skin was torn, and her mouth was wrenched open in a silent scream.

Teddy stepped over her. “That’s not what we do,” he said.

“But we can’t just leave them—”

“We don’t have time for this.”

I wanted to scream at him, to make him understand. But Teddy was our only hope, so I swallowed hard and willed my tears not to fall. I felt frozen in place until a figure brushed past me. Mona stared down at the bodies and then looked up.

“It’s happening again,” she said. I already knew what she meant. I knew the gray fog above was mixing with the smoke from bodies burning throughout the forest. If we didn’t find a way out soon, the red rain would do the same to us.

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