01; From Point A
“You cannot advance if you cannot
visualize the end from the start.”
~Nabil N. Jamal
In through the landscape of once vibrant greens and browns, a figure stood upon a hill looming over a camp filled with old, wooden cabins hiding between the oak and pine trees; their branches reaching towards the endless, dusty sky of the dense forest with only a chain link gate at the entrance. The area was too quiet; dead. Not even a blowing breeze or birds chirping. The environment was nothing new to him, just another ordinary day being covered in dirt, blood, and grime that couldn’t be washed away no matter how hard you scrubbed. It seeped into his short, muddy, brown hair not knowing where the hair strands start and the caked mud ends. It clings to his gray T-shirt that was once a brightened white and his light, blue jeans which were patched from the tears and holes. The red Converse shoes turned rustic and worn down, seeing its better days. It stains his pale complexion, rounded features that of an innocent child, but not his shining blue eyes; for all the horrors he had witnessed, not once had they dulled. The stance he held of his five foot five body resembled a soldier heading to war: stiff and on guard.
Inching closer to the edge trying not to make any sudden sounds, he spotted a woman walking into said camp some thirty feet away. Appearing to be in her early to mid-thirties, she walked with high stride as if on a mission, roughly twenty feet away from the gate. Blood and dirt covered her from her shoulder-length, auburn curly haired head, down her pale skinned features, her now heavily torn, navy tank top underneath a black leather jacket; a large tear on the right arm (still oozing out the red liquid), to her dark wash jeans sporting rips along the bottom resting over her black, severely scuffed, boots still holding on with everything it has.
He watched her for a moment before turning around. “Sir,” his young, high-pitched voice alerted behind him. Another man walked up to investigate, coming out of the shadows of the surrounding trees upon the hill. He was much taller than the other standing at roughly five foot ten. A dark jacket with a dark gray T-shirt underneath covered his upper body while black jeans and dark combat boots on his lower half. Just like his partner, the uncleanliness of the environment grabbed onto him and would not let go. Smudged and smeared over his tanned features, his dark brown hair with a comb over to the left, strong jaw line, somewhat muscular frame and around his deep ocean eyes that held all the emotions since they drained everything else from the rest of him. They both looked to the woman who was almost to the gate, only some fifteen feet left to go. Her injuries didn’t seem to bother her but the taller man knew better. Inside her was nothing but sadness and pain. Gone are the days of pure happiness when everything was put back in order, no impending doom looming over everyone’s shoulders, no high stakes to deal with, and no Big Bad to defeat. It was all short lived; now all of Heaven and Hell broke loose setting that weight back to where it should not have gone in the first place. “Are you sure that’s her?” The first man inquired, glancing between his friend and the woman below.
His ocean orbs watched her intently for a minute until he answered with his gravel filled voice. “Yes, I’m positive,” his facial expression was steeled but his eyes, oh his eyes, held such emotions and feelings that twisted, turned, rolled, and churned like waves of the great stormy seas. Each single sensation ran into the next, creating the problem of pinpointing the exact sentiment in that particular moment in time. Shifting his weight in the tall, dead weeds surrounding their feet caused a noise to echo down below. Freezing in her tracks, she spun on her heels making her hair follow the motion fluidly, revealing her darkened turquoise colored eyes. She reached under her jacket nestling at the small of her back to pull out something for defense as if on instinct while she surveyed the area around her, gripping the weapon tightly in her hand; a long and silver, triangular shaped blade with rounded hilt, ready for any kind of attack despite being already battered, bruised, and bloody. Her gaze landed on the hill where both figures stood frozen not ready to be caught. Her eyes squint in concentration, seeing if anything was stationed upon it, only to find out it was just a hill. Slowly turning back to the direction of the campsite after checking that everything was clear, but not wanting to drop her guard yet for precautionary measures, she headed off through the gates, to her final destination.
It was the longest two minutes they had ever experienced in such a long time. The shorter man let out a breath he didn’t realize he was holding and shifted his gaze to the taller man still standing next to him. His eyes looked distant, lost in deep thought unknowingly until he broke out, leaving him immediately confused only for a millisecond. It was easy for his mind to wander, to be enveloped by the thoughts nowadays. He couldn’t help it and it wasn’t like he was doing it on purpose. Ever since things had changed drastically for him, it very well could have been a coping mechanism to escape the horror he’s seen, drifting to the good and wonderful memories but they don’t always work as well as people seem to think, however. Without wasting another second more, he turned to the way he came and headed off back into the tree’s shadows. His friend was about to follow suit until he stopped short to take one last look behind him. A sad sigh entered the dead air as he swiveled around, walking away from the dreary scene.
The sun shone brightly on a beautiful June day out in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, where not a cloud was in sight and the temperature was a scorching ninety degrees Fahrenheit with a soft, cool breeze gently blowing around the surrounding property of an old salvage yard just a few miles outside of town; Singer Salvage to be more precise. Covering the vast size of grounds were various makes and models of old and somewhat newer cars of all shapes, sizes, and colors, with a large, mostly open, garage sitting off in the corner by the drive in to the place. In a short walking distance away sat an old, three story house. The wood siding had light blue paint chipping off in some spots, rotting wood in others, hub caps hanging on one area in front of the house, next to the porch that had a slanted roof and enclosed railings. It’s not much to look at on the outside because it was the inside that made it so special and the same could be said for the owner of this magical place as well. Every downstairs room at the faint scent of aging wood and whiskey, and for some, they were not the most pleasant smells in the world, while others could breathe it in like air. Papers, books, magazines scattered in about every single room in the house (and then some) all stacked in cluttered piles about lore from all over the world; Scotland, Germany, Russia, Japan, France, England, etc., and from many different religions with a multitude of varying creatures ranging from the normal ghosts and ghost hauntings to the ever so mysterious reapers.
In a small corner of the little, 1950’s style kitchen of pastel and white colored walls, sat a tiny, wooden table with four accompanying chairs surrounding it. More papers and books covered the top with vast amounts of lore, outlines and notes. Some of which were filled out by the young, twenty-four year old, woman sitting in one of those chairs with her legs crossed neatly trying to beat high humidity levels making the air hot and heavy, she wore tan tank top with a long, flowing design on the front composed of leaves and feathers which helped show off her slightly muscular arms, a pair of black with white trim shorts covered a majority of her upper-to-mid, toned thighs, and a pair of old, faded black and white sneakers laced on her large feet. Her back-length, auburn, curly hair was wrapped in a high, messy bun to keep it from sticking to her oval, easily sun burnt, face and causing more unnecessary heat; she’s been planning for a while to get it cut but never really followed through with the plan. She hasn't grown used to the heat in Sioux Falls after living in Michigan for most of her life; theirs was much cooler than this. Even then, she’s still not desensitized of it. Summer has never been her favorite since she was born towards the end of December. In the winter, the more clothes and blankets there are the better, while in the summer, there’s only so much you can take off.
Despite sweating buckets in the heat, she was enjoying herself while her bright, turquoise eyes scanned the page in front of her, a mechanical pencil in hand scratching across the paper as she sang quietly to the songs on her MP3, lost in her little world through her headphones. She paused to look at the pencil drawing she has accomplished so far, a smile of satisfaction pulled on her lips as she then continued on her way. Sketching, drawing, anything with a pencil was always something she loved to do ever since she was a kid. Her father used to draw when he was younger so when she saw his artwork way back at age seven, she immediately became fascinated. Whenever she was attempting to draw something from a TV show and she couldn’t get one part right, off she went to find her dad to help. Eventually she grew away from drawing from TV and started making her own creations, growing and changing her styles that soon became something between semi-realism and full realism. It was a passion for her as well a way to connect with her father, since she ended up taking more after her father in more ways than one than she did with her mother.
She didn't hear the heavy footsteps of work boots on the creaky, hard wood floor behind her until she felt a quick tap of the back of a hand on her upper arm causing her to jolt, almost making a dark mark on her drawing. Taking off her headphones, she looked up to see who the culprit was. Standing next to her was an older, five foot eleven, man with a beer belly inside of a red shirt underneath a hunter green and white flannel with sleeves rolled to the elbows, a pair of dirty blue jeans stained with dirt and oil from the garage, soft blue-gray eyes on his rounded face, graying beard and an old trucker’s cap fastened on his short, peppered hair. “Sorry, didn't mean to spook ya,” he apologized with his gruff voice. Despite his outward appearance and the first impression of a mean old drunk, he had a large heart and is willing to push people in the right direction when they really needed it; sometimes it wasn't always gentle persuasion, but more along the lines of blunt accusation and that was just how he rolled.
She took off her headphones and set them in the middle of the table on top of the rest of the pile by her work in progress drawing. “It’s all right, Bobby,” the woman reassured him after gaining her composure from the scare with a little laugh. She readjusted her sitting position by uncrossing her legs carefully from the wooden chair since the skin had stuck to the surface. After she settled down, she glanced up at him again who was looking down and away from her.
The man-now named Bobby-shifts his eyes at the table to where her ‘masterpiece’ sat and decided to look it over. It was a shaded, bust of a middle aged woman with dark hair in loose ringlets with a great amount of her bangs on the right side reaching just past her shoulder blades, light skin, rounded face, small nose, large bright eyes, and dark, long sleeved shirt. There was a calming vibe coming off the page with warm, genuine smile on her medium-sized lips. He looked pleasantly surprised on the amount of detail the image had; he was always surprised, you could even say excited, because he never met anyone who could capture that amount of detail in their work to make it so life like. “This is looking pretty good,” he complimented her, a smile on his face and in his voice. “Hey, why don’t you take a break ‘n run upstairs for me? I’ve got some demon books stashed in the attic that I need. Wanna go up ‘n grab ‘em?” He offered, placing a hand on the back of the chair she sat in, shifting his weight.
Dropping her head to glance at her artwork then up to Bobby, she nodded and got up slowly from the wooden chair as her skin stuck to the surface once again. “Yeah, I can do that,” she answered while walking past him as he explained what they looked like. She headed out the door that was on the opposite side of the room of the table, in through the living room past the old, rust colored sofa, in through another archway leading to a gathering area by the white, front door and sitting on the far left where the wooden stairs elevated to the second level of the house. She had to be careful because some of the steps were becoming awfully creaky and loud; which were good for people breaking in to the home (like they ever would with the amount of traps hidden among the place), but not so good when someone was sneaking out. “Be right back!” She called out, jogging up the steps, her messy bun flopping around with each movement causing stray hairs to fall out.
A half hour passed by and she was still sifting through the vast amount of dirt, dust and grime plastered on every wall, ceiling, bookshelf and more trying to find the specific books Bobby had asked for while sitting in the middle of the room, on the floor (after she had cleaned it). She could only go as fast as the clutter allowed. Stacks upon stacks of books, tomes, magazines, pamphlets, flyers galore everywhere; all have a medium coating of dust. The overall size of the attic wasn’t overly large as it was about the size of a small mudroom. To her left side along the back wall, hung a medium sized, circular window and a small, teal colored, bench seat to sit and admire the view of the entirety of Singer Salvage. It was always a nice spot to read or draw if you needed someplace with peace and quiet but once it got dark there wasn’t much lighting since the window was the main source of light unless you were to count the few oils lamps by the book shelves on either side of the small bench seat; which was a ‘smart’ idea, if you think about it. Stacks upon stacks surrounded the woman who let out a very annoyed sigh as she plopped down another book in the “looked through” pile stationed to her left, clapping her hands to get rid of the dust on them. She had already found one of the books that Bobby wanted so now it was the hunt to find the other. Getting up off the floor to go grab another stack since the other pile of “not looked through” had disappeared, she headed over to the twin sized bed located directly behind her. She grabbed one more giant pile, placed them on the floor where the old one resided and quickly got to work again.
“Jeez, Bobby,” she groans, getting frustrated at the amount of volumes he had in there. This was unbelievable! There was absolutely no reason to have so much literature in one room, let alone the whole house! No reason whatsoever. “Something needs to be done about all of this. It’s too much; too much clutter and too many books,” she complained as she glanced through the pages of a book she held in her hands before setting it down in another stack. “Either get rid of them or reorganize them,” she picked up one more book with a bored expression on her face that was soon replaced with joy once she had read the title and skimmed the first few pages. “Ha!” She shouted a little too loud for the small space. “About damn time I found it.”
“Alissa!” the happy moment was cut short when a yell was heard coming from downstairs on the first floor.
She whipped her head to the door, stopping what she was doing for a quick second. Her brain immediately went into red alert mode. “Sounded like...” The thought started. “Bobby,” she finished the rest aloud. “Bobby?” She grabbed both books and high-tailed it out of the room, stumbling over a few tomes on the way out. Flying down the ladder from the attic, through the winding hallway past the bedroom doors, “Bobby?!” and stopped right at the landing of the stairs leading to the first floor. “Bobby? Are you okay? What’s going on?” Alissa asked slightly out of breath as she grabbed onto the railing of the stairs carefully walking down the noisy, wooden steps while many scenarios were playing in her mind; the majority weren’t the ‘best case’ ones either. What had happened?
The man in question stood at the bottom against the wall with a hand on the wooden banister in a relaxed stance and a smile on his face, looking up to Alissa. He was happy about something. Just what that was, she didn't quite know. Her mind was still on high alert but when she looked at Bobby, she finally eased. He jerked his head in the direction of the living room, giving a vague response to her quizzical look on her face, “Seems like you got some company.”
Relief was then replaced with confusion as her eyebrows knitted together before hesitantly walking down the rest of the stairs in front of her, still clutching those books to her chest. She placed a hand on the railing walking down so if she tripped, she'd have a support to grab on to, and for someone like her it was the most common thing to happen. She handed over the requested books as she rounded the wooden banister but stopped short when she was greeted by a familiar woman standing by the white, front door. The woman stood roughly five foot seven, wearing a billowy, emerald, tank top and dark Capri pants fit over her thin and muscular frame, arms dropped to her sides while slowly shifting her weight side to side subconsciously on the black flats covering her feet. Straight, dark brown hair that would have reached to the middle of her back was tied in a high ponytail, barely a hair out of place, swept away from her pale skinned, square shaped face and forest green eyes. “Alyse?” the question entered the air as bright, turquoise eyes widened in surprise.