Four: Lurking Shadow
The air in the outskirts of Manhattan remained silent, so quiet that the chirping of crickets was the only sound to be heard within thirty miles of the area. The darkness swallowed every building whole as the moon was hidden within the cloud coverage. Not a speck of light could be seen within the eternal darkness.
Within the abyss, a figure moved with the agility of a feline. It soared as though it was the weight of a feather, but in reality, it was something that weighed much more than a mere feather.
For fairytales and fables couldn’t predict something so monstrous to be true. It was hidden; the vanta-black fur it wore making sure not a speck of dust would shine on its coat.
Teeth sunk into a mangled corpse as blood dripped along its camouflaged fur. The only visible light throughout the entire area were the creature’s molten gold eyes, filled with hysteria, insanity. The hunger for flesh drove the beast psychotic; its razor-sharp canines doused in blood --- some of it being animal, the majority of it being human.
Within mere seconds the beast was scavenging for another meal, for another life to take. Yet, the only life that was to be taken was the beast itself. A slim figure hid within the trees as a glimmer of light struck off a weapon, sharp as a knife’s edge, cold as ice, and deadly as a rattle’s venom. The figure swooped from tree to tree as it watched the beast search for another victim; they set up a shot quickly, urgency within every minuscule movement.
The beast turned around quickly; its golden orbs looked directly at the figure. The canines it spouted curved into a wicked grin. Though a human was once within the beast’s skin, any sliver of human sanity seemed to vanish into the air, and what was remaining was a ravage within the midst of a bloodlust. The concealed figure tightened its grip around the arrow as the ravage let out a petrifying roar; the forest shook with fear as the crickets seemed to silence in shock. Yet, the figure did not flinch as the ravage leaped forwards. It was as though the figure moved faster than lightning, and a click rang through the forest.
The ravage’s movements slowed as blood spurted from a fatal shot to the chest. The ravage fell to the ground in agony as one part of the arrow struck through the back, and the other was plunged within the front. The beast growled in pain; its eyes searching around the perimeter for its attacker.
Yet, the figure remained in quietude. They loaded another arrow in the crossbow as the ravage searched around in panic; it needed to find its attacker, to kill it before itself was to be killed.
The ravage coughed out blood as the wound bled faster; yet, before the beast even blinked, another shot rang around the forest. The second shot did not leave a chance for retaliation as the beast fell limp in the forest’s tall grass. The person soon jumped off from a tree branch as a glimmer of moonlight escaped from the cloud’s cover. The light shone on the face of the person; it only showed a mask made from black steel, protecting them from any sort of harm.
A small ringing came from their pocket as it was about to take a sample of the ravage’s blood. “Where are you at,” a voice grumbled from the other line. Before they even spoke, the person got some of the ravage’s blood in a vile before answering.
“Came across a body while scouting traced it back to a ravage in blood lust. Currently taking a blood sample before I head back.” The person calling chuckled a little bit before the sound of a lighter went off, a cigarette was likely lit.
Once the vile was collected, the person plugged the vile and put the crossbow on his back.
“How many arrows it take?” The caller asked; the hint of a new yorker accent hidden within the voice. The person put the vile in his pocket as he shifted his phone to his other hand; they were on the lookout in case the Venirra guards were camouflaged in the background.
“Two, I was not on target with the first arrow, narrowly missed the heart. The second arrow was on target; it was hard to judge my aim with how dark it is tonight. Feels like I am trapped in the god damned abyss out here.” They stood up glancing around before walking away from the ravage; the other critters of the night would eat at its rotting body. “Though I’m a bit heated that it managed to get a person; I probably could have saved them if I got there a few minutes earlier.”
“Don’t be so harsh on yourself, Luka; you only did what you could do. Anyways, get home, I’ll let Ari take care of the rest of the scouting tonight. Plus I got a big mission for ya tomorrow; I think we might get a huge lead on where Venirra might be.” Luka’s eyebrows rose from underneath the mask, his heart skipping a beat. Despite the tranquil aura he portrayed, something within him stirred with excitement. Was it really true? If it was what he suspected then there was hope, actually god damn hope. He clenched his phone and smiled; he might get a chance.
Katrina was seated at one of the multiple tables within the cozy, minute cafe. She studied the notes that Henry had sent her online; they seemed simple enough. The lecture from before seemed shorter, around an hour and a half, but it was important for the upcoming exam. It talked about the biomes, climates, and the replication of bacteria and viruses. However, Katrina could hardly keep her eyes open long enough to read through a full page of notes.
She nearly let out a groan as she realized this upcoming exam was sneaking up on her quickly; she hardly had any time to study because of all the sudden arise of issues.
She contemplated calling the police for a good hour or two but decided on just staying quiet unless something else were to happen. The chances of her and mister Tsonga meeting ago were as slim as the thickness of a piece of paper. Though, there was still was that chance that they would encounter that strike of fate once again.
A cling of bells brought Katrina’s eyes up from her screen as she saw a fair, elegant young lady pass through the entrance with a tough-built male to her side. Though Katrina felt intimidated, she managed to head back to studying. Yet, there was the uncomfortable feeling of infuriated eyes burning holes into the side of her body.
“I will have a medium cup of sencha tea, please. Do you want anything Alfie?” The female asked; Katrina’s instincts brought goosebumps to the top of her skin at the sound of the man’s name, but she couldn’t put a finger on why.
She slowly turned around to see the female looking at her with a masked face on. Immediately, Katrina darted around and sipped on her green tea. Her face was the color of fire as an enormous, visible blush covered every visible inch of her face.
“No.” The male stated as the young lady paid for her meal. Katrina nervously worked on her laptop as her overall focus seemed to slip further away. An uneasy feeling in her gut returned with a vengeance causing bile to creep up her throat. Katrina nearly fell on the floor as she got up and barged into the bathroom, the dizziness set in soon as she threw up in one of the stalls. For five straight minutes, Katrina threw up every single bite of her breakfast and lunch.
When she finally had a moment of rest, she noticed a pair of eyes on her when she flushed the toilet. She pondered when the ominous woman from before even managed to sneak into the bathroom. Katrina went to one of the sinks and grabbed paper towels to clean herself up; she attempted to ignore the dark brown daggers glaring into her minuscule frame.
After washing up, Katrina took note of the sudden whitening of her complexion. She thought it was all the throwing up that had caused her to go pale, but what also caught her attention was the blood dripping down from her nose. It was the second nose bleed of the day; she grabbed another paper towel and held her face up to stop the bleeding.
Meanwhile, the lady continued to stare at her as though Katrina were simply a pest, an annoyance.
“May I help you?” Katrina questioned as she slumped against the wall; the feeling of weakness was returning; her knees nearly buckled as though she were carrying an extra hundred pounds along her shoulders.
“Why are you here?” The lady questioned, taking Katrina by the utmost surprise. Katrina’s shocked face seemed to throw off the lady slightly, but all she could do is shake her head in disbelief.
“No offense, but I have no idea what you are talking about. I am positive you’re the one who followed me into the bathroom.” The lady’s eyebrows came together in confusion before a scoff made its way out of her mouth, disgust was written all over her face.“Listen, lady, I don’t need the questions or attitude, leave me alone before I call the police.” Katrina threats were coated in an acidic tone. She was getting ready to storm out of the bathroom, but the lady rushed in front of the door before she got the chance to make her grand, dramatic exit.
“Don’t play dumb with me; you know that we will kill you without a second thought.” The lady growled, and Katrina’s eyes widened in terror, petrification. She choked on her saliva as her body slowly backed away; this time, however, her knees gave out, leaving her to tumble onto the floor.
“Are you insane? I don’t know who you are, who are we?” Katrina’s voice was somber, she was clueless about what was happening, but she was just threatened to be killed, and she knew today was not the day she would leave this earth and miss the legacy she was bound to build. “Just leave me alone, please”
She stood up again, wiping the dust off her outfit; there was one option considering the lady hadn’t even taken one step out of the door’s entrance.
So, Katrina screamed for the top of her youngs pleaded, begged for help. They ached as every single decibel reached for aid. The woman paled immensely before a look of astonishment appeared on her face.
“Someone help me, please! She threatened to kill me! Please, someone, help me!” Katrina hollered as the lady’s eyes glowered a deep gold. With trepidation in her heart, Katrina’s screams plead for aid grew louder. She tried to convince herself that the lady’s eyes did not just change color and that it was simply the lighting that reflected on the brown orbs.
Yet, her gut feeling remained steady; she knew something was horribly wrong with that woman.
Soon enough the lady moved out of the way of the door; her eyes seemed to change back to their mocha, brown color. Katrina was petrified as the door swung open, workers and customers flooding in to ask for the concern. Yet, any words Katrina had turned into whimpers of terror. She was incomprehensible, tremors spiraling down her body as she shook in fear. The lady told a different story since Katrina could not form coherent words.
Katrina soon stopped her attempts to talk as she realized the male she saw with the lady before had arrived. His dark, rusted red hair fell in his eyes as his tall frame stood next to the lady’s rather petite and slim figure. In Katrina’s mind, she was screaming in terror, but on the outside, she was frozen still. Any sort of sound around her seemed to disappear as her eyes met that of the male. Something about him rubbed her the wrong way, and she was completely silent.
Katrina somehow managed to get home, due to the aid of one of the workers of the cafe, and she sluggishly made her way to her bedroom where she collapsed. Her eyes watered as the breath within her lungs labored.
“What the hell is going on with me,” Katrina said quietly as a number of things did not add up. The throwing up could have been illness, the nose bleeds could have been simply nose bleeds, the weakness that haunted her could be absolutely anything --- she was trying to think of any sort of illness that could align with her symptoms. Yet, she remained clueless. Not to mention everything else that spiraled around her. Things seemed to line up, but not in a good way. There was no way these things were connected, right?
As Katrina tried to rest, an image forever plagued her mind: those molten gold eyes. They were so full of anger; they had a murderous tint hiding within them. Was the lady truly intending to kill Katrina? Why? Katrina knew she hadn’t done anything wrong to harm someone she didn’t even know!
She continued to fight the constant fear that swelled within her heart, and she cast away her doubts and allowed the looming darkness within to overcome her.