Beyond the dense cloud of smoke and fire, above the wreckage of modern construction,
at the edge of the highest peak of the twin hills, stood a lone figure, covered in soot and
sweat. She’d spotted the figure some time ago. Sharon was running, running in all directions,
desperately trying to rescue someone, anyone really, from the burning buildings around them,
giving up only when the walls caved in and the ceilings tumbled, destroying any chance of
She took a deep breath.
It was pointless.
Everyone had died, and she had known that- of course, she had- the logistics of the
situation called for it. They expected it; and it wasn’t as though any of these people were
In the end, they were criminals - the worst of the worst, but she’d been tasked with
saving someone. And yet, just like always, she’d failed.
Sharon wondered if they’d only let her go because they knew she’d fail. Still, it hurt. It
hurt that none of the victims would ever experience the breath of fresh air as they ran down
the hiking trails, through the patches of forests all the way up to the lake where they’d jump
into the cold, yet intoxicatingly calm waters of-
She knew they were bad people. But they deserved a chance.
Just as she’d been given a chance, over and over again by an unforgiving society that
would’ve otherwise crucified her for her peculiarities. If Sharon had been accepted, surely
these people would’ve been too…right?
Somehow, in the silence of the night, she heard the distinct, metallic clink of a lighter.
Sharon looked up at the hill’s summit and noticed her companion smoking.
Typical. She rolled her eyes before slowly walking towards her. She’d spent four years
at the Academy. Four long, amazing, brutal, fantastical years where she’d met friends, made
enemies, found love and lost it somewhere during the constant onslaught of assignments,
lessons, projects and special cases. Sharon had been broken, butchered and then remade in
the image of the perfect citizen.
Of course, her comrade had been through something similar, having been recruited far,
far earlier than her - some said that she’d been four but Sharon had her reservations. Not
when she looked so casual, so indifferent to the destruction below. It took her a moment, but
Sharon soon realised that she was smiling, grinning almost, as though she was trying to hold
What kind of a mad woman finds joy in destruction? She found herself thinking,
observing her carefully. At some point during her ascent to the top of the hill, Misha had sat
down, one of her legs sprawled before her, while the other acted as a support for the hand that
held her cigarette. Her black clothes were grey from the smoke, her hair dishevelled. Sharon
had been the one in the burning buildings. Misha had sprinted out after starting the fire.
And yet, she looked worse than Sharon herself.
But, there was something different about her tonight. As though the mask had finally
peeled off. So, while she looked positively deranged, a type A anarchist; for some reason,
against the light from the fire below, and the moon above, she seemed…more than that. As
though there was a purpose behind her madness, a necessity behind her actions, a twist of
There’s a method to Misha’s madness, Zach had told her once, and at that very instant,
she had to agree with him. The shadows from the wreckage below them, and the moonlight,
contrasted perfectly against her purple hair, her excited brown eyes and Sharon could’ve
sworn her eyes looked red against it all.
It was as though-
She wasn’t sure what it was but it seemed as though there was something lurking
beneath the surface of this destruction. At least in Misha’s mind, anyway.
Sometimes, Sharon really wanted to know what went on in her boyfriend’s ex’s head.
The thought unsettled her, breaking her trance, and forcing her to walk towards the
villain in her story.
Misha froze for a moment, before finally looking up from the remains of the Academy
and directing her eyes towards her.
“Took ya long enough,” she grinned at her.
Sharon rolled her eyes. “This wasn’t necessary,” she told her, and Misha shrugged.
“’Course it was,” she replied, “The symbol of the oppressor. It had to go.”
“Do you realise what you’ve done?” Sharon demanded.
Misha waved her other hand, the one that held her lighter, dismissively. “They deserved
it,” she said darkly, “every last one of them.”
“Do you feel nothing?”
The crazed anarchist shook her head lazily. “No.”
“How do you live with yourself?” She couldn’t help the spite in her voice. Everyone
told her that Misha was crazy. Yet, Sharon, stupid, naive, and as sheltered as she was, had
believed it otherwise.
“There was no reason for this to happen,” she continued, “no one deserves to be burned
“Oh, spare me the dramatics,” Misha drawled, “they’re bad people.”
“And you aren’t?”
“I’m the good bad guy,” she said nonchalantly, and Sharon raised her brows.
“The good bad guy,” she repeated.
A haunting prophecy whispered in the corners of Sharon’s consciousness.
‘I see a child. A child in an old woman’s body. You will meet when the sun is at its
furthest from the planet, in the land where winter never ends.’
It all came true.
Misha didn’t look her age.
Misha specifically didn’t look her age, or sound her age when she tried articulating her
reasons behind…things. It was paradoxical, especially when her eyes pledged knowledge and
experience well beyond her years.
And try as she might, Sharon couldn’t help but shake the feeling that Misha felt old and
young at the same time. That’s why she was so torn between the past and the present, the
future and its potential, the need to be ruthless when forgiveness was an option and-
“What happened to you?” Sharon asked her, and Misha smiled, and suddenly she
wasn’t young anymore. She looked twenty-five, with the weight of the world on her
shoulders, struggling to make ends meet, yet being the sole heiress to-
“The Academy happened to me,” she croaked before turning to her cigarette.
Not sure what to do, Sharon joined her on the ground.
Silence overtook them.
“So, what happens next?”
Misha frowned. “What do you mean?”
“You’ve destroyed the Academy, what do we do now?”
“Hmmm.” Misha turned back to the fire. Then, as though the idea had just hit her, she
said, “Let’s end the world tonight.”
Sura K. Hassan lives between two coastal cities, Karachi and Istanbul, and finds solace in the works of Paulo Coelho. Her writings primarily focus on relationships, personal mythology and identity with splatterings of adjusting to adulthood after a sheltered childhood. Her works have appeared in Welter Journal, Defunct Magazine, Sublunary Review, The Minison Project and more.