Chapter 8: Blowing the horn

Despite looking clean, Ainsley wiped at the mouthpiece of the horn before placing her lips to it. She paused. Ainsley thought it was weird that the horn had no dust on it at all, it was completely unblemished by the passage of time.

She gave a furtive glance back at Mike and asked. “Are you sure about this? What’s going to happen?”

Mike floated over to Ainsley until they were face to face. “The song tells me it will bring me back and undo the mistakes you’ve made. You do want me to come back, don’t you Ains? It’s not exactly cool that you killed your best friend and lied to his family about it.”

Ainsley lowered her eyes and sighed. She was beginning to wonder if she could really trust Mike anymore, he seemed so different, but she also had been the reason he was now a ghost. “Fine, but after you’re back, you need to chill out. I’m seriously getting some bad vibes from this.”

Ainsley returned her lips to the horn and took a deep breath. She blew as hard as she could and… nothing happened. She heard the sound of air being blown through the horn but that was all.

“Do you seriously not know how to blow a horn Ainsley?” Mike chided. “You have to make kissy lips and do a pffft sound but with lot of air.” He said as he pantomimed the action.

Feeling sufficiently scolded for her ignorance, she took a deep breath, pursed her lips and blew again.

All the colour drained from Ainsley’s body as the horn drew a part of her in before releasing the energy out into the air from the bell of the horn. A sub-audible bass tone reverberated through the chamber evaporating Mike away as the air throbbed with the pulse.

A palpable quiet settled over the room. “Mike?”

The entire chamber shifted as a rumble shook the room throwing Ainsley to the floor. She rose onto her hands and knees, scrambling towards the window at the front of the chamber. The chamber rocked again and Ainsley grasped the window ledge, pulling herself up to look outside.

The mountain side opposite to the window bulged outward, ballooning as rocks exploded from newly made fissures. A second surge ran through the tower as Ainsley watched the entire mountainside explode in a colossal shower of house sized boulders and great swathes of earth.

From the hole, a massive shape rose into the air with an unearthly bellow. From what Ainsley could comprehend it was a whale, but unlike any whale that she’d ever seen depicted in her textbooks.

Its skin was a matte white that began to burn and blister as soon as it touched the sunlight. Massive, blind, watery eyes swung around frantically; the retinas burned out after spending centuries in darkness.

The “whale” soared further into the sky, lines appearing vertically on its face as it trisected, peeling apart to reveal the muscle, fat and bone beneath. The whale’s maw widened grotesquely, releasing another deafening bellow as halo of light erupted from the top of the center section of its skull. The halo began to spin slowly, growing in complexity as more incomprehensible symbols appeared within it rings.

The whale’s halo pulsed. A ripple expanding outward from its body, flattening the forest and mountain beneath it, shearing a perfect circle into the terrain below.

Ainsley’s suburban town descended into chaos as fear grasped the people who had witnessed the whale’s eruption from the mountain. They began to run in blind terror trying to escape the beasts terrifying aura.

An electronic chime reverberated through the air followed by a computerized voice that spoke from an indeterminable position.

“Load 10, new, 500, DN 4000, Hunt 5000,6000, CLS HTA PRMA FBA”

The clouds above the city grew bright.

A piercing white beam erupted from the sky, separating the clouds and vaporizing their moisture into the atmosphere. The beam traveled across the forested mountain, passing through the whale neatly bisecting it.

The whale floated for several seconds slowly separating into two massive halves as its life was faded away. The halo above its head stopped spinning and broke apart, drifting away into a million pollen-like motes.

“Battery 43 down. Technician request filed” The computerized voice chimed again.

The world went quiet as the halves of the whale began to pick up speed as it fell towards the earth.

Ainsley could only stand in shock at what she had just witnessed. She continued to stare as the massive chunks of the whale fell towards the earth, projecting a future path of destruction that would lay waste to the forested mountainside. She couldn’t even believe that it was even real. She had no idea what blowing the horn had actually done.

Mike.

She turned back towards the chamber, searching frantically for her friend. Is he still here? Had anything she’d done been worth it?

The room felt empty around her, drained of the life and magic.

Ainsley’s ears perked up at the sound of an air siren right before she felt the first half of the whale hit the earth. The entire tower shook as if it had been hit by an earthquake.

She turned back to the window to see the whale had crashed into the town’s paper mill, carving out a massive swath of earth with its body. The tower shook violently a second time as the shockwave travelled through the structure knocking Ainsley to her knees.

It was then she realized that the iridescent haze that had hidden the tower from outsiders had disappeared.

Ainsley climbed to her feet again as the dust from the tower’s rafters fell about her. She took one final look out of the window to confirm that the protective haze that hid the tower was no longer there.

It was then she also noticed several strange flying ships had appeared out of the slash in the sky. Two of the vessels had broken off the main group of ships and veered towards the tower she was currently in.

I have to get out of here. Ainsley thought. She didn’t want to find out why, or even if, they were coming to the tower. Ainsley turned and bolted for the stairway.

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