A Perfect NightmarePicturesque. That's what her mom had called it. A picturesque neighborhood. And, until recently, it was. Bright blue skies rested on lush green grass. Rows of cottage-style houses lined perfectly maintained streets and culdesacs. A row of pine trees sheltered the east hilltop with shade from the mid-day sun, and the gracious American flag would be fluttering proudly from nearly every porch, in a light spring breeze. A woman walked to the playground that was in the center of the development, pushing a stroller slowly. Any other day, the sounds of children playing would be reverberating through the neighborhood. There would be laughter and cheers, and you would hear the repetitive song of the ice cream truck as it made its way down each and every street with a trail of kids behind. Mr. Lanard would be out mowing his lawn—and subsequently arguing with the mower when it got stuck in one of the many gopher holes. Mrs Gomer would be tending to her precious rose bushes, primming them an
At The Edge of DarknessOld oak trees with summer-baked leaves swayed in a heavy breeze near the tips of their branches, remaining dead still at their trunks where the heat was nearly suffocating. Dry, light brown clay caked the ground and layers of dirt and dust crusted on anything unfortunate enough to be within its reach. Where the sun reached to kiss the earth, nothing green lived for long—you could tell where stationary shadows were because that's where the vegetation survived.
Desert-tan combat boots scuffed with many days and many miles of walking sheltered weary feet. Brimmed baseball caps, black tactical sunglasses, and shemaghs protected sunburned faces; and clothing was kept as light as possible, all in the presence of a hellish Carolina heatwave. Rifles were pointed down, fingers off the trigger but hands were in a tight grip, bodies tense, jawlines set, eyes shifting.
Several people stood in a semi-circle around a map, held by the leader. At 6'6”, he towered above the rest. His dark c
Speaking the EndRolling dark clouds threatening rain or snow hang low over the streets, adding to the ominous heavy air. Flickers of light reflect off of icy puddles as street lamps begin to come alive. Evening is approaching--and with it, the chill of night--but it remains just beyond the shadows on the outskirts of town. Pale sunlight still reflects eerily off of buildings and cars, casting everything in a light glow.
The crowd and mass of bodies had been marching some already, but had stopped for the moment, swirling around a center focal point, not quite in sync but not quite chaotic either. Faces remain hidden behind masks and scarves, bodies shivering against the wind and swaying to stay warm. Protesters swarmed and danced and raised their voices to the heavens as they seemed to identify with the common need for chants and solidarity against the police force that was slowly squeezing in.
Standing in approximately the center of the mass, surrounded by a security team, is a familiar face, his mask