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Apocalypse Part of Speech: Noun Definition: Mass Destruction An Apocalypse (Greek: "Lifting of the veil" or "Revelation") is a disclosure of something hidden from the majority of mankind in an era dominated by falsehood and misconception, i.e. The veil to be lifted.

Ashe to Ashe Chapter 1 Before the Lift

There had been signs. Some thought the signs were just natural order to the world climate, to world change that had happened before millennia ago. People of religeon bespoke of the coming

Apocalypse, and Rapture, preparing themselves for the return of the

prophets, the return of Christ

were even a few who could read the signs clearly, but were thought upon as heretics, charlatans, doom-sayers, and on the most part ignored. They were all fools, Ashe told herself. They pointed to calendars, thumped bibles, stood on street corners and fortold of doom, the end of the world. She watched them on television rarely, but every so often she would be accosted by someone on the street corner in the good-sized city of Rapid City, South Dakota, and told that the end was near. She merely walked past them, smiling and nodding her head to shut them up. She thought that they, too, were fools, and idiots. So many had predicted the Y2K bug, and how it would devistate the world by making all computers freeze up or stop working altogether, or of Nuclear war that would set the world into a post-apocolyptic state, where everyone was out for themselves. None of this had come to be in all the years of predictions and prophesy. It would never be. This was reality. Ashe was a veterinarian in an area where vets were revered for their knowledge on health of animals, however, her jobs were becoming fewer and further between. She saw the farms in the area dying out, being replaced with cattle feedlots, chicken farms, hog farms, and larger, genetically engineered food corporations. She tried to keep up with the latest in medicines, and animal husbandry, but it meant returning back to school to learn more, and leaving her

the return of

something. There

patients behind. It was a catch 22 situation for her and her small business. She watched as family after family in the rural South Dakotan area left their farms, and moved into town where they thought they would have a better life, better jobs, better pay so they could send their children to better schools. However, she also saw more people come to the wide open space of the mid-west from hurricane-torn southern and eastern coasts, to find reprieve from the hardship there. Ashe actually had come from a large city, San Francisco, with a Degree in veterinarian medicine and an idea that life would be easier for her away from all of the noise, congestion, all-around bad feeling that the city had given her as she had grown up. Now she missed her old home, and her parents. She saw them once a year. Every Christmas, she would go home to see them, and her old friends. It was coming close to that time again this year. She was excited to be on her way in her truck, to drive alone the fourteen hundred miles to her home north of San Fran, with only her music, her books, and her excitement to carry her the length of the way. She had already bought them nearly a half of a buffalo in meat, and a whole skin for her father. They loved the gifts she would bring that spoke of her time in the 'wild west'. She was also pleased with the gifts from them that emphasized the life of California. Bathing suits, sun block, movie posters were normally what she recieved from them, and that nostalgia was one reason why she kept going back. Her Grandfather had come from Wyoming, and that was one reason why she chose to visit the vast prairies of the mid-western states. He would tell her stories of free ranges, horses, cows and the ever popular Cowboys and Indians. She had been smitten with the idea of life in a wild country, to take care of animals, big and small. So she worked hard to learn all she could in science, math, and literature. She was the top of her class in almost all subjects, and had earned scholarships to veterinarian collages, making her parents and grandfather very happy. However, when she told them of her plans to move to South Dakota, at the age of nineteen, they were all very upset, but her arguements couldn't be denied. She remembered all of that as she made her way to her truck, a large dual wheeled work vehicle that held all the equipment needed to perform her duties as a Vet, medicines and hardware ranging from scalpals to forceps, hypodermics to bandages. She had been

adding to the truck with every paycheck. There were spare wheels, chains for poor road conditions and large insulated containers that would keep medicines cold, or warm, depending on how they were needed. She had done well for herself and it showed in her equipment. She was ready for nearly anything. Her call that day, a week before Christmas, was to a farmer just inside the reservation's boarders, who had trouble with livestock that had run through fenses, and even a milk cow that had been shot by a poacher. She made the nearly hour drive with music playing, going over each detail in her mind, and coming up with a first plan. Sometimes it was as easy as a first plan, but she knew better than to go in without multiple plans for different situations. Her tastes in music leaned toward classical, but on occasion, she would find another song or two that would move her. She listened to that on the way. A techno-type beat with a nearly operatic voice that told a story in four different languages. Half of them she knew. She smiled as she drove, happy the roads were clear. She could tell when the roads of South Dakota switched with the unkempt pavement of the Pine Ridge Reservation. Large cracks lined the shoulders, as well as tufts of wild grasses reached over the black road as if to drag it back into the wild prairie. The ground that stretched out into the Badlands was frosted white with a dull brown tint. They weren't called the Badlands for nothing. She knew different stories of how bodies could be disposed of in the Badlands, and when tourists went missing every year. She thought by now people would know better than to tempt the wilderness that was the Black Hills and Badlands. The road to the Two Crows farm was rough, off the highway, and ruts were frozen over, making her wince every time she hit one. The cold of this winter was unprecidented, and of course, conspiracy theories abounded about the global warming, the apocalypse, all kinds of things. Ashe just knew that it was damn cold, and the multiple layers of clothing she wore did very little to cut the bitterness from the wind when she would step out into it. She drove carefully, the heater blowing in her face, and music piping softly from her radio. As she drove, she spotted a pair of scruffy dogs trotted on the shoulder. They were all black, ribs showing, and ears stood taller than normal dog's ears did. As she drove by, they looked up at her in

unison, eyes milky white, as if blind, but they seemed to look right at her, knowing who she was. She shuddered and continued to drive. When she looked in her rear view mirror, they were no longer on the shoulder of the road, perhaps they had run to the ditch. When she finally pulled into Roger's driveway, it seemed as if he was already in the small barn. Roger Two Crows had a good sized family living in a house that was but a pair of trailer homes hooked together by a flimsy plywood passageway. He had six children, his wife and her mother, plus her grandfather living there. His own grandmother stayed with him as well, and all lived in the equivelant of a four bedroom house. The barn itself, was another hobbled together contraption of plywood, sod and bales of straw. She was surprised that any of his livestock lived here, but it wasn't her place to complain, just to treat the injured, and make the best of it.

All of his animals had shelter, but it was barely any better than what his family lived in. Roger had a pair of milk cows, a bull and four horses. He'd had a small flock of chickens, but the coyotes had wiped them out when winter hit. Ashe tried hard to treat his animals any time he called her with the least expense. She even stitched up his oldest daughter's hand once when she had been careless while butchering a deer. The girl would have a scar all her life, but it didn't hamper her mood or her work. Plus, she would never make the same mistake twice. Ashe parked next to the barn, and tightened the hat down upon her head. It was a funny looking hat, yellow and orange with a tassle top and tassle ties. It had been a gift from a woman who had Ashe look at her dog after it had been kicked by a horse. Ashe had recieved a lot of really nice things in place of payment for her services. It was a very warm hat, made of wool, and well made, even though it was oddly colored. She smiled and tied the hat securely, then exited the truck. She was only five foot three, very short, and unfortunately, not petite. With the wearing of all her layers of coats and longjohns, she looked like a little Micheline Man. She'd always had a hard time as a kid growing up, always a chubby monkey, her mother would say, but she did the best she could to ignore the cruel taunts of the other kids. The hat covered her mop of curley brown hair, always so hard for her to keep in line, but it wasn't anything a good hat couldn't keep down. She sighed as she caught sight of her face in the side

mirror. Just do the job, Ashe, you can mope later about stupid stuff, she thought to herself and closed the door. The door slid open to the shed, and Roger stepped out, leading the two horses into the better light. Ashe looked over at them and gasped. "Holy Hell, Roger! Did they go through a meat grinder?" she had never seen such horrific cuts on horses. The slices and tears were clear across their chests and down their right sides. Barbed wire was a nasty thing to have any animal run through. There were even flaps of skin hanging loose from the ribs and partially on their bellies. "Damn military helicopters flew low. " Roger said, his heavy Sioux accent clipping angrily as he remembered the day before. "It spooked the mares here. The kids had Buck and Kit down the road and saw it happen." he tied the pair to the corral posts. Roger was angry that since he was on the reservation, complaining about the helicopters really wouldn't do anything. But since he'd met Dr. Dubhcott, he knew that no matter how bad a horse's cuts were, she could help him. His friends teased him at work about the Washishu, the white veterinarian that was on his speed dial on his phone. He just waved them off, "She's been good. If she were Lakota, she would be a medicine woman." he grinned to himself about that. He didn't care if she had a little padding on her, hell, a lot of the more attractive women in the area were the ones with a few curves. His wife didn't feel any competition, however, she liked the little, plump vet as well. "Let's see what I can do with these mares." Ashe said and went to work on them, cleaning the wounds, and stitching the skin where it seemed that it could grow back together. She gave them antibiotics, vitamins, and a sugar cube. She took off her gloves and tossed them into the back of the truck, "There ya go, Roger. Now, let's take a look at the cow." she motioned to the barn, and helped him lead the horses back inside. She was thankful for the cold, it kept the horses from bleeding too much, making her job much easier. There was a Holstein cow standing in a corner, the other animals stood away from her, and her heavy wheezing. Her head was down, and there was a gaping wound in her chest.

"Oh God, Roger

why didn't you call me when you found

her??" She hurriedly made her way to the poor animal's side,

treatments scrolling through her mind like a rolodex, but this may be too much, even for her expertise. She may need to operate, and not even that would guarantee the life of the animal. "I called the cops on the kids that were shooting up the place. They were arrested, and it was late. I thought that if she was still alive this morning, I would call you, see if you could do anything to

help her. She's the kid's favorite, too. " he reached over and petted the animal's head, and she didn't react to the touch. " It may be too late, Roger. I'll see what I can do, though." She said softly, and made her way to look more closely at the bullet hole. It dripped blood, but the cow's wheezing wasn't a hopeful sign. She listened to the chest, where the normal thum-thud of a

heartbeat normally was, there was a whoosh

she breathed, it was a heavy gurgle in her lungs. Ashe closed her eyes, "I'll have to put her down, Roger. I can't get her to a clinic to operate. If I did it here, she'll bleed out." Roger nodded, and wiped at the corner of one eye, "I'll get the kids ready to butcher. We can save the meat at least." he sighed in resignation, and made his way to the house. Ashe sighed as well, and stroked the cow's forehead. "I wish I could take you quicker, cow. You served this family so well." She whispered to her. The cow bobbed her head, ears twitching a bit. Ashe patted her shoulder, and stepped back as the cow seemed to understand, and went down to her knees, then layed dow fully, head resting on the blood-soaked hay. Ashe watched as the cow took one last wheezing breath, and died. She felt the sadness well in her heart, and tears dripped from her eyes. It always broke her heart to see a beloved animal go, and especially in this manner.

Roger returned carrying his hunting riffle, and the two oldest children followed close behind. They carried rope, knives and a pair of bone saws. They saw her kneeling by the cow, and the girl started to cry. Roger made his way to Ashe, and sighed, "She went quicker than I thought. Did you give her a shot to do it?" he asked. "No, she just layed down and died. Let's get her outside to finish the job." she said softly. The children tied the legs of the cow, and tossed the rope outside to pull the corspe from the shed. Ashe went to her truck, and backed up to the door as Roger tied off the rope. She towed the carcass out into the driveway. She looked out toward the road, and

whoosh.

Also, when

there were the two dogs, sitting there, staring at her once again. She scowled and closed her eyes, the fatigue of a heavy heart seeming to get to her. She opened her eyes, and the dogs were gone. As the Two Crows family butchered the cow, Ashe went into the stall to muck out the bloody hay and sod. When she went inside, there were the two dogs, lapping at the blood on the floor, and chewing on the hay, as if to get every bit. She picked up a pitchfork, and shouted at them, "Get out! Out of here, you mutts!" she waved the pitchfork at them, and they looked up at her. Their ears were perked up, and the milky white eyes stared. They didn't growl, or bark, and Ashe felt a chill run down her back. "You ok in there?" came Roger's voice. She turned to the door, and answered "Yeah, there's two dogs in here" she said, then looked back at the dogs. They were gone. As if they were never there. Roger walked in, carrying the rifle once more. "What dogs?" he looked around. The animals in the barn didn't seem upset, or spooked in any way, and that made Ashe frown. "Nevermind. How are they taking it?" she asked, looking out the door. "They are very sad, but know that what lives must die. We will mourn a friend that was a pet, as well as provider to the family, but she was able to provide one last time. Her meat will feed us this winter, and her hide will keep the elders warm. We are thankful for you coming, Dr. Dubhcott." he held his hand to her, which she shook gently. "Send us a bill, you will get your money." he said with resignation. "I'll see what I can do for you, Roger. Let me know if those mares need any more help. I don't have any appointments week after next, so I'll be handy by the time they may need it. Alright?" she smiled weakly at him. He nodded, and both left the shed, closing it behind them. The children had made quick work of the cow, piling the pieces up in an orderly fashion, on tarps and in buckets. They looked up at her with large, sad eyes, but smiled at her nonetheless. "Thank you for saving Rose and Sandy, Dr. Dubhcott." the young woman said, "We know they will heal fast." Her brother merely nodded, and went back to butchering. She left quietly, heaving a sad sigh as she left the little farm. What was the world coming to? She thought to herself. Then she

saw the dogs again, trotting down the road in the same direction she was driving. And these dogs! What the hell are they? She asked herself, pulling up behind them in her truck, and pulling to a stop. The dogs stopped as well, and turned in unison. This creeped her right the hell out. They walked to the front of her truck, and sat, staring at her, unblinking, with those milky white eyes. She didn't exit the truck, and in fact, pulled a small handgun

from her glovebox, as well as a tranquilizer dart she stored close to it. The dogs just tilted their heads, and seemed to wait, watching, wondering what the human would do next. She would show them what she would do next. She rolled down her window, and took slow aim at the closer one, and cocked back the trigger. What happened next, she never quite understood until many many years later. "My name is Death, and the end is here." a voice that seemed to come from the radio, but she hadn't turned it on. Then the dogs vanished. She looked back and forth, behind the truck and around the sides. Nothing. "Holy fuck." she whispered, and rolled up her window. She tore out of her parking spot, and sped for the city. "It must be the

cold

Dogs!? What the hell was that?? Her hair felt like it was standing

strait on end, the curls felt as if they lost all springiness, and she looked multiple times in her mirror to see if her hair hadn't gone

stark white. She didn't scare easy, but this day

bajeebus out of her. She drove through town, the clouds obscuring the houses on the hills, soft flakes floating down on the wind. She pulled into a Perkins Parking lot, and turned off the engine. She sat for a few moments, taking deep, even breaths. She shook her head and patted one cheek sharply, then exited, making her way to the resteraunt. Coffee and pie sounded like a good thing right now. The waitress led her to a side booth, looking out of the big bay windows at the ensuing storm as the wind picked up. There were few others in the resteraunt, a few college kids on the now defunct smoking side, reading books, chatting, drinking coffee, and a couple on the opposite side of the room from Ashe, enjoying coffee and pie as well. Across from her was a small family, mother, father and young son, eating and laughing, the child only about 3 years old, giggling and waving french fries in the air. She smiled and

and the stress." She tried to tell herself, but damn

the

this day scared the

placed her order for coffee and apple pie. The storm brewed on outside, mixing snow with rain now, which froze to the windows as soon as it hit. Noone seemed to want to leave the resteraunt, the cold was more than enough to deter them from making their way to their cars and trucks. Ashe sighed as she finished her third cup of coffee, and picked up the ticket. She didn't want to leave, but she had to get home, feed her dog, and make sure the water wasn't frozen in the small house pipes. She smiled and nodded to the family who watched her go to the front of the resteraunt where she began to check out. She began to feel dizzy, and a wave of nausia tore through her gut. She doubled over as the waitress approached to collect her payment, then all went black.

II

The Veil is Lifted

Ashe's eyes fluttered open when she heard the bleep bleep bleep of the EKG, realizing she was in a hospital bed, not in the Perkins on 8 th Street, where she had been. She looked around slowely, the light in the room odd, and the clarity of the objects was much sharper than she thought she had seen before. She must have left her contacts in, she thought, and slowely touched at her eyes to see if they were in place. She froze when she saw someone else's hand come toward her face, as if they knew she wanted to touch her eyes. She shirked away from the rising hand, even going to bat at it with the other. She made a soft eep when she saw someone else's hand smack away the first hand, feeling a sharp pain as they collided. "What the fuck?" she whispered and raised both hands in front of her face, seeing that they were definately her hands, but, they weren't. They weren't the pudgy, ruddy fingers with gnawed nails,

but long and elegant. Her fingers splayed out in front of her, curling and uncurling. The skin was a nearly transluscent pale with matching pale nails which looked as if they had just had a pain- staking manicure. She touched at her face, and blinked, feeling high cheekbones, nearly sunken cheeks, and a long chin with a wide, full-lipped

mouth. Her hands went to her hair, no curls, but strait, thick

she pulled a tendril to her line of sight, as white as platinum freshly

and as

polished. Her ears felt long and pointed, and poked out of the hair almost two inches. The hair, smooth as silk, fell through her fingers. She crawled out from under her blankets, a need to find a mirror scratching at her mind like a cat in box, anxiety flooding her head. The needles in her arms were painfully tugging at the skin and digging into the flesh beneath, so she removed them as expertly as she could, considering they were not in someone's beloved pet, but her own arms. She let the tubes fall to the floor, where her feet landed soon after. She sat for a moment, then stood, weaving back and forth, catching herself on a rail to keep from tipping over. Her eyes traveled around the room, until they fell on the sink in the corner, above that, a mirror. Ashe Screamed.