Chapter 1: Out With the Old, In With the New
Alex sat in her room. The room that imprisoned her - and that's just the way she liked it. She had made it, after recent events had scarred her beyond belief. She built it on top of the gallery, where it was a bit difficult to get to, and made certain that no one would ever bother her again. She barricaded the door with iron bars, and made a secret exit that only she knew about. It was in the back, hidden by a section of wood that one would have to break in order to find the door. She locked herself in here for days to weeks to months.
She wasn't sure how much time had passed; the mornings and nights all blurred together in her mind. But she could understand that it must have been at least a few months since she last went outside. Alex resisted any form of outside contact, whether it be from monsters, Rufus, or Steve. She stockpiled several months worth of food, and was beginning to run low. She even thought of starving herself a little before daring to venture outside. Alas, her stomach couldn't handle the discipline. Alex would need to go out within the next day if she wanted to get more food and survive. Even survival had lost its appeal on her, however. She would find herself not eating for days, and then suddenly gorge herself full of food when she cowered down from death.
Of course, she wasn't completely alone in the world. Steve had come to visit her several times, attempting to get her to come out and talk to him. She always refused. He would bring news with him, sometimes. About a month into her withdrawal, Steve told her of how he had found Rufus, who was living with a pack of wolves, fully grown. The thought of the wolf at first made her happy, but then a second passed, and the thought of Michael came to her mind. How he sacrificed himself...she withdrew.
When Steve would come, he occasionally brought supplies with him, as well, unwilling to let Alex die hungry. He hadn't come by in a while. She couldn't help but rely on him for food. There was food in the main hall of the Sky House, but Alex couldn't bring herself to go back in there again. Bringing back the memories would only bring unnecessary pain. She wasn't Ami anymore. Ami was gone, dead in The End where she belonged. Alex was a new person. Free of the grief and misery. But she didn't feel free.
Alex thought of Luke, to take her mind off of it all. She decided to check on him, see if he was still kicking. But nobody was in his cell. It was empty, though a Luke-sized hole was visible within the obsidian. So he had escaped and set off into the world. She didn't know where. Alex didn't even know if he was still alive. She wasn't even sure if she felt anything when she discovered that he had left.
Alex nibbled on the last steak she had, savouring what little she had left. Suddenly, she jumped in her spot. A loud thud had startled her, and more thuds followed it. The sound was unfamiliar, uncanny, and unnerving. She could barely recognize it as footsteps.
"Ami?" Steve's voice came through the iron bars. Alex bustled to the other room, lingering in the shadows. Steve spoke again. "Ami? Are you there?"
"My name is Alex," she said, her voice raspy and ragged. She hadn't used it in months.
"Right," Steve didn't seem that overly concerned with her name. "Anyway, I came here to let you know I'm going to be leaving for a while. It's a bit of a journey I'm going on, and I'll be taking Rufus with me." He waited for a response. There was none, so he continued on. "You can't rely on me anymore. I might be gone forever this time. Ami, you need to get out of this stuffy room. I know you're running out of food. And...I didn't bring you any this time around. There's plenty in the Sky House, or even the old wooden home that Michael used to live in." Alex twitched at the mention of his name. Steve paid no mind. "Worse come to worse, you can even go hunt your own stuff. It's not that hard. But from this point on, you're on your own." Steve sighed, looking as though he were already weary. He gazed forlornly into the room, spotting Alex in the shadows. He gave her a nod, and then turned away, his footsteps getting quieter as he went.
She couldn't believe he was actually gone. Alex did something she never thought she would do - she stepped into the light that broke through the room and gazed outside. It was early morning, the sun was shining, and Steve was fading from view. The rays warmed her skin better than any torch could have. Alex lingered in the sun for a moment longer, and then retreated back into the confines of her prison.
Her stomach growled. Her body ached. Alex wanted out. For the first time in so many months, she wanted out. She was out of food, and that wasn't boding very well on her body. Her stomach to this day wasn't very adapt at being disciplined, so it lurched and growled and moaned for her to feed it. She could barely take it. Seeing as she had no other choice, Alex made her way to the secret exit she had fashioned for herself. Opening the door and breaking down the wall, she was this time greeted with a light snowfall.
With a shaky leg, she stepped outside. The cold, icy snow tickled her feet, chilling them to the bone. The fact that she only had a white T-shirt and plaid jacket on, coupled with her black yoga pants, didn't help matters. She had given up on wearing shoes, too, since she was always inside. But her shoes were in the main hall. Miserable, and freezing, Alex shuffled her way across the roof to the vines. She slowly climbed down, her arms shaking from the amount of weight they had to support. She hadn't done any sort of exercise in months, so she had become very weak, though amazingly retained her figure.
The snowflakes fell gently on her, as if lightly encouraging her in their chilly way. She stood in front of the main entrance, her stub lingering on the door. Was she really ready to experience it all over again? Alex frowned, shutting her eyes and opening the door. The soft creak was reminiscent of younger and fuller days; the door itself was a little difficult to open because of all the vines. Alex slowly stepped into the room, her eyes still tightly shut as she felt her way around. After she was in, there was nothing to lean on for support, so she was forced to open her eyes and witness the memories as they played out all over again.
"Cake party!" The high pitched, singsong voice of Izzy rang through the air. They were all alive, settling down at the table for a festival like no other.
Michael and Charlotte were busying themselves with the cake, laying out enough for everyone, Aiden stumbled as Izzy ran into him for a hug that sent both of them into a fit of laughter. Steve was watching the cake being prepared, mellow as usual. Even Luke hung around with his head in his stubs, lazily waiting to be served. Alex stared at the guy with the black hair, slightly crooked nose, and dark eyes. Jack climbed down from the chest room through the vines, strutting over to the cake with a giddy smirk on his face. He looked at the cake, licked his lips, and glanced up.
He waved, calling out, "Come on, Ami! You're missing out!" Alex took a step forward, tears in her eyes.
"Coming! Don't eat my piece, okay? I'll...I'll cut your arm off!" Ami ran past Alex, leaving her in the dust. The girl had her hair in two braids, her happy face always smiling. She sat down beside Jack and bounced in her seat.
"Stop squirming!" Michael complained, the entire bench moving. Ami squirmed more, thrashing about. Laughter circled the table. Alex gazed from afar, taking another step forward. Like a strike of lightning, it all disappeared into the night. The table was empty and barren, no laughter rippled through the air, and Alex was truly the only soul there. She stared at the ground, biting her lip. She knew it wasn't real. She knew that it was all a fable of her own mind. So why did she think he was real, even for a second, when she had watched him die?
Alex sighed to herself, taking a deep breath. Calm down, she told herself. Just make it in enough to find a chest, grab some food, and you're out. Don't linger on memories. Don't. Keep. Them. With. You. Alex kept her head down, staring at the wooden floor and trying to pretend that she was in her room. Her room that freed her from the memories.
A chest was only a couple feet away. She ran to it, ramming it open and searching hastily for any supplies of food. There was nothing except some string and spider eyes. So maybe it wasn't this one. Alex tried going into the secret chest room, searching through all the chests for food. The best she found was five steaks. Five. That was barely enough to last her a day. Alex ran her stubs through her hair, which was loose and wavy. She feared being forced to go outside, it was too soon.
She entered into the main room again, defeated. The memory that never happened played out again and again around her, the people passing through her like ghosts. She paid them no mind. Or at least, she tried to. She made it to the front doors again, exiting them and gazing out into the sunlight. Alex knew for a fact there was food in the wooden house. But with food came more memories in a different place. Even the journey there would reopen scars. She had no choice. Alex took a brief glance in her inventory. The five steaks and her one sword was all she had. She didn't want to go back inside, so it would have to do for now.
Alex climbed down the vines, carefully letting her feet touch the soft earth. She noticed that she had forgotten to grab her shoes, as well, and mentally slapped herself. The journey wouldn't be as comfortable as she initially thought. She had to admit that the soil felt nice under her feet, and as she moved on, the stone wasn't so bad either. Alex bit into her first steak, hoping that she wouldn't completely run out by the time she got to the wooden house. It was already late morning as she walked, and Alex briefly pondered on how long she had stayed in the house before she set off. She shook her head. It was all in the past now, no need to recall it and feel the pain all over again.
Over the mountain, across the plains. Alex travelled until her feet were becoming sore, but even then she didn't stop. Not once. The morning turned to afternoon, and then the blending colours of the evening were upon her. She eyed the sun, which was slowly setting, halfway buried by the horizon. The moon was steadily rising, and she could already see the glaring eyes of mindless monsters stare at her. The sound of a spider, the rattling of a skeleton. Even the moans of the zombie accompanied her through her journey. The house was coming into view, and Alex felt relieved, having just finished her last steak. She stopped when she saw the state of the house. Spiders dangled down from the roof, Creepers littered about, and a couple skeletons were idling around as well.
She brandished her sword, diamond, with a couple chips and tarnishes. It was old, yet it still retained its form well. Alex easily sliced through the skeletons, barely even noticing them burst into dust. The Creepers were next, approaching her and hissing wildly. She slashed once, twice, and the third time they went down. She spared no moment, always acting and attacking. The spiders were last, taunting her by barricading her from her next meal. Alex wouldn't have any of it. She stabbed two in one go, their dust twirling in the air, and then another, and another, until they were all gone. The night was clear; her sword had a new chip; all was well.
Alex's stomach growled. All was not well. She burst inside and located the food chest, almost in tears when she saw a full-sized cake waiting for her. Drooling, she shoved the cake in her mouth without hesitation, relief coursing through her as her stomach was filled to the brim. Now she could relax. Her eyes lingered on the room before her. Simple, wooden, filled with chests that contained hidden wonders. It brought back memories of - no. She closed her eyes. There was nothing here that Alex would be bothered by. Only Ami would feel that kind of pain. Ami was gone, dead, even. Alex was new, alive.
A pounding knock disrupted her thoughts, startling her so badly she jumped to her feet, sword drawn. Alex inched towards the door, cautious and ready to strike.
"Please!" A girl's voice pleaded. "I know someone's in there...please just let us in!" People? Alex thought. There wasn't any other soul...there couldn't be any other souls here! Alex opened the door, to find a shorter, blonde girl in tears. On her shoulder, weighing her down, was an unconscious boy with black, scraggly hair dressed in a soggy leather jacket and black skinny jeans. The girl looked at Alex, her blonde curls wet and drooping. Alex noticed that it had started to rain, and hard. Lightning rumbled in the air.
"Oh, thank you, thank you...please, let us in. Th-There was a m-monster and it just a-attacked him and...please help." She was begging her. Alex looked from the boy to the girl, a flashback of a similar occurrence threatening to fill her mind. Alex took a deep breath, and motioned for the girl to come in. She thanked her over and over again, dragging the unconscious boy through the house. Alex closed the door and helped the girl escort the boy into one of the several beds. Alex pushed out memories of her friends that had once resided here.
"Who are you?" Alex asked of the girl, once the boy was lain down and the moment to speak had come.
"Cadence. I'm Cadence. He's Ace." She pointed to her companion. "What's your name?"
"Am-" She stopped herself, clearing her throat. "Alex. My name is Alex."
"Okay. Alex...thank you so much, Alex!" Cadence seemed to be a little too optimistic for Alex. She wasn't sure why she had let them in, or even what had transpired that night, but she felt she had done the right thing.
"You should get some sleep, too." Alex said, standing and exiting the room, leaving Cadence to her own thoughts.
(Hey hey. So this is the first chapter of a new adventure, huh? Well, I'll keep on planning this out, but I'll only put out the next chapter if I get at least three people to favourite/comment on this story. People who enjoy this story, look forward to the next.)