The Prophecy

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If you saw what I saw that night, you’d do almost anything to get away safely. You might steal a car and drive away, you might find your way to the nearest police station, or you might call a friend to come and get you. But not me. I did exactly what my husband told me to: with the image of our daughter’s death lingering in my mind, I ran. I ran for what seemed to be hours, though it could have been minutes. I dodged house after house, tree after tree, falling occasionally as women do when they’re running for their lives. But as scared I was, I was sad from the awareness that I was glad I was gone.

As I was running, I felt like I was suffocating; the blackness around me was rough and terrifying. I was running without sight, with only the sound of crunching grass and leaves beneath my feet. I didn’t know where I would go or even where I was, but I knew I wasn’t in my house and those men were not behind me and that gave me a quick chance to breathe. What I would do when I got wherever I was going, I didn’t know. I just wanted to get away from those two men.

I thought of running to my parents. They were always there for me when I needed them. Or I could go to a friend’s house, but I didn’t want to endanger them as obviously I had done to my own husband and daughter. Maybe I could run to the police. But how could they protect me from…a Vampire? How could anyone? They would think that I’m crazy and they’d just pin the murders on me. Maybe jail was the safest place for me; at least I would have somebody watching over me twenty-four hours a day. No, I couldn’t think like that, I had to keep running. I had to find a place to make sense of all that happened.

I reached an orchard that seemed to go on for miles. From where I was standing, I couldn’t see where it ended. It reminded me of a distant mountain that you could never reach. The moon was bright that night. The rain clouds had past, but I could still smell it in the grass beneath my feet. The stars shone so bright – it seemed like there were millions of them – it looked like they were helping the moon light up the sky. The trees were heavy with leaves that I could get lost in. They hung in every direction and were a good place for someone to hide.

I ran until my legs couldn’t run any longer. I started to feel something change inside my body, as if it were starting from the inside and pushing its way out. Something was happening to me and I didn’t know what. My legs were weak and I felt like I could collapse at any moment. My breathing was so fast, I couldn’t catch it, and my body was shaking. Could this really be happening to me? I thought. Was it all something I made up in my mind? Was my subconscious making me feel this way? Did vampires really exist?

I tried to remember the vampire stories and movies that I had read and watched in my childhood, to help me think what might happen to me. Would it hurt like a snake’s venom going through my veins? Would I feel myself die and then be reborn? Would it hurt? Or would I feel at peace? Would my life flash before my eyes for me to watch it play like an old rerun? I didn’t know what would happen to me. But I did know that I was scared and I was alone. I was about to experience something foreign unusualand I didn’t know how I was going to react to it.

I found an old tree to lay against; I felt faint and I knew it was time to rest. The tree looked like it had been standing there for almost a hundred years. The clouds started to advance, tracing across the dark sky, darting in front of the moon momentarily, casting long shadows in the blackness. It was almost quiet; all that could be heard was the locus playing in the tree.

I placed my hand on the old bark it was hard and scratched my palm. As I lay down, I didn’t feel pain, or fire burning in my veins; instead I felt a sense of calm going through me. I could feel the air on my face and I could almost taste the grass around me. I could feel something cold move through me like a disease moving through my veins. Like tranquility rushing through my veins, it felt like an ice-cold stream of water. And yet, I was enchantingly warm. I knew I was becoming immortal.

Is it true? That there are non-mortals among us trying to live as neighbors? Most people don’t want to believe it – or they chose to ignore it. But I was beginning to live it. Right then, in that moment, I was experiencing something that people thought only happened in books.

I could hear the bugs crawling on the ground and the leaves swaying in the trees. It was like the creatures and trees around me knew something was happening, something they didn’t even understand, and they were making their way away from me as fast as they could. I felt like I needed to sleep. My eyelids were feeling heavy so I closed my eyes and drifted off to the horror of my dreams.

I dreamt there were flashing lights all around me, like lightning, that lit up images of my husband and daughter screaming at me. The images were flickering on and off like a light switch. I was running through nothing to get to them; I was running as fast I could to get to them, but something was stopping me. No matter how fast I ran, I couldn’t catch up to them. No matter how loudly I yelled, they never reacted. In the slow motion of my dreams, I was running with nowhere to go, slowly enough for anybody to reach me. I reached out, but I couldn’t touch them.

During one bright bolt of lightening, I saw that Michael was holding Sierra with a horrified look on his face, yelling for me to run. But I couldn’t move: that image stopped me. My legs felt like weights that were too heavy for me to lift; it was as if they were sunk in cement that was drying fast. I was forced to stand there, powerless, and watch my family scream for me when there was nothing I could do. I tried to scream to them but I couldn’t.Everything I wanted to say was erased from my mind and all I could do was close my mouth and watch.

My body wanted to fall over but some mysterious force was holding it up. Then, without warning, I saw everything that had ever happened to me in my life projected before me. I saw Mother Rose reading to me, her smiling face looking down on me. Then I saw my parents adopting me and I could feel how happy they were when they brought me home. I saw my wedding day: the preparations I took getting into my wedding dress and Michael’s smiling face as I walked down the aisle. I saw Sierra being born; I could feel her in my arms. I saw our first night in our house, when the only light we had was from a candle. And finally, I saw Sierra’s first bike ride. She never fell off once. I was overwhelmed with feeling as I could only watch. I couldn’t touch or help or even speak.

I didn’t sleep well that night. I had never experienced such vivid dreams before and to tell the truth, it scared the hell out of me. The constant whooshing of the wind through the trees wouldn’t fade into the background; the noise was as annoying as wind chimes. When I finally did wake up, the sun had just started to rise and I could still feel the tears on my face.

It was supposed to be cold that day. I only knew that because I had watched the news the day before. But I felt neither cold nor heat. The wind was blowing, but I no longer felt it on my face. Only a few clouds hovered in the sky, but I didn’t feel the sun on my skin. I couldn’t feel any evidence of the weather anywhere on my body; I felt like I was numb to any feeling.

I pushed myself up from the ground and almost fell over. I brought my hands up to look at them, turning them over once and then twice, my skin that was once tan was now a chalky white. As I moved, my shirt collar fell off my shoulder; I had to pull my sleeve up and my pants up a couple of inches higher. My body was slimmer than it was before I closed my eyes. What was going on? How could I have lost weight over night when I couldn’t do it throughout the years? Could this truly be happening to me?

I turned in a circle, feeling the changes in my body. I happened to notice the sun as it started to peak its way through the branches of the trees,lighting up the shadows, and I began to panic. It was higher in the sky now and the rays were creeping upon me. What was going to happen to me? Was I going to burn to ash or would I just explode? Was this the beginning of the end?

Everything inside of me told me to be scared. But everyone I have ever loved was now gone. Not only my husband and daughter: now I could never see my parents or friends again or else I might endanger them. Since there was nothing left for me to hang on to, why should I be scared? Why not just keep the loving memories I have from my past? I almost pushed myself off of the tree and walked slowly to the middle of the orchard, keeping my eye on the sky.

I put my hands down at my side with my palms facing the sun. I could feel the wind blowing through my hair but I had no feeling on my face. I narrowed my eyes on the sun and once I had it locked on, I closed them. If I was going to burn, I wanted to face the light. I wanted to feel the burning of the rays going through my body, starting with my fingertips. I wanted to feel the fire rage in my veins. I wanted all of this confusion to be over so I could take my place with my husband and daughter up in Heaven. Would they even be waiting for me on that bed of clouds just as the sisters had told me?

I stood there for a few minutes, although it felt like hours, waiting for the sun to completely rise, waiting for my body to burn, hoping that the light breeze would carry my ashes up to Heaven. But nothing happened; I was just standing in the middle of an orchard looking like a complete fool. Feeling bewildered, I didn’t understand, and wondered, What the hell am I? Could it be that every movie and every book was totally wrong? That sunlight really had no effect on vampires? I shuddered to even think that word. Wasn’t that supposed to be what kills them?

Before I could contemplate any more about who or what I was, I heard footsteps in the distance. I stood completely still, afraid to move. I didn’t want to make a sound. Maybe whatever it was would go away on its own. The two men couldn’t have found me; not yet. I didn’t know how long I ran, but I know that I had lost them. This orchard was so neglected that even the weeds were sprouting new weeds. There was no way anybody could have found me.

The footsteps landed hard as they hit the ground and there were many of them at once. For a woman that would usually be scared of the unknown, I was surprisingly calm. I stood there to await whatever fate had in store for me. As the footsteps got closer, the sound got louder, and with every step I started to make out the shape of what was coming toward me in the distance. It stood very tall and lean and was a beautiful shade of brown that sparkled in the sunlight. It was a horse that unexpectedly caught my eye. It had to be tame, because it wasn’t afraid of me. From the way it was walking towards me, it seemed to want someone’s attention.

But just at that moment, an impulse grabbed hold of me and I felt an urge – not to pet it or to ride it – but to hunt it. This feeling was deep inside and it wasn’t friendly; it was a wicked thirst. It made me weak in the knees and it made my upper body shake. My mouth began to water and my eyes filled up with hate. My body began to react before I could think about it and tell it not to proceed. I started toward the beautiful horse, intending to go slowly so as not to scare it away, but in the time it takes to blink I was at its side, breaking its poor neck. I bent down and put my mouth on its neck and started to drink its blood. I couldn’t understand what I was doing or why I was doing it. I felt like I was floating above my own body, watching what was happening. I was even yelling for me to stop, but that part of me wouldn’t listen. And although I felt awful, the blood tasted so sweet and warm that I couldn’t stop. For every drink that went down my throat I got an extraordinary shiver going through my veins. As the blood settled in my body I felt empowered and strong. I never felt more satisfied than I did at that moment.

I got up and looked down at the poor dead animal. He didn’t shake or twitch; not one breath could be heard. I couldn’t move. I was saddened that his life had to end to satisfy my thirst. I wiped off the blood that dripped down from my mouth and as I turned to walked away I couldn’t help but think at least it wasn’t a human whose life I took.

I didn’t want to stay in one spot for too long. I started to walk slowly through the orchard and I found myself concentrating on all the things around me. I ran my hand along the trees as I walked past them. When my finger tips touched a tree’s outer bark, I didn’t just feel it. I could feel all the way through it, through its years, all the way into its inner core. With just one touch, I could tell how old the tree was. I looked up at the leaves; how beautiful they were. It was like I was looking at them for the very first time, like I’ve never seen these things before. The colors of all the leaves were vibrant; so many different colors, orange, green, and yellow – they all looked different. It was like I was looking at things in high definition. I could even see the leaf veins designs of those high above me. Then I noticed that my hearing had improved. I could hear cars driving by, even though the road was miles away.

I was alone. My body was completely different than what I was use to. And the fact that I just drank the blood of a horse would make anybody a little uneasy. But strangely enough, I felt light on my feet, like nobody could hurt me. Why be afraid? I didn’t fear the path that was ahead of me. I didn’t know where I was heading or who or what I might see when I got there, but I didn’t care. I was more alert. Instead of knowing a second too late if a person was coming up behind me, I knew I would know miles before. I could hear conversations that were taking place in cars as they drove past. I stood there for a second to listen; I closed my eyes and breathed slowly in and out, concentrating. A woman was yelling at her husband because he wore the wrong sweater to her parents’ house and she was embarrassed. I could even feel her anger toward him. Another car passed. A mother sings to her child the familiar lullaby, ‘Somewhere over the Rainbow’, so she could fall asleep. I could feel the small child’s heart at rest. Another car passed. A teenager smoking a cigarette before he got home, listening to ‘Crazy Train’ blaring from his radio. It almost made me want to dance.

I decided to keep walking the path that I was already on. There were so many turns that led in too many different directions, I just couldn’t choose. Unfortunately, I got myself deeper into the orchard I was focusing too much on experiencing all the new sounds and sights I had gotten myself lost. I came across a house that seemed to come out of nowhere. It was old-looking; not one of the new houses that were cropping up all over the place. It had to have been there for years. It was a white, three-story country house with blue trim that was chipping and fading, with a white picket fence surrounding the yard. It had a quaint porch with a couple of rocking chairs and a metal swing. I walked through the lush green grass that circled around the house but that stayed confined within the fence. I walked slowly up to the door, looking at every place somebody or something could hide, putting my new abilities to good use, trying to be careful. I reached the door, pausing to look around. It was silent. There wasn’t even a bird in the sky. I couldn’t hear a human anywhere, so I knocked. I waited a few minutes but no one answered. I looked around and didn’t see anybody. So I tried the old round copper doorknob. The door was open.

I walked in slowly; peeking around the door first just to make sure nobody was hiding. When I walked in, I noticed that the interior was very different from the outside; it was day and night. The outside took me back to a time when I was a child and I would stay up late with my mother to watch the 1938 movie ‘Bringing up Baby.’ But the inside reminded me of photos of celebrity homes in People magazine. Everything looked like it had been purchased from a Pottery Barn catalog and placed in its spot by a home decorator. I looked over my shoulder at the kitchen and noticed it was painted dark brown with black cabinets and dark cherry wood handles. The floor was almost like dark stone wood. The appliances were stainless steel, and in the middle of the room hung pots and pans. I realized I didn’t have time to tour the house, although I wanted to admire its beauty. I had to hurry before somebody saw I had invaded their home.

I walked up the first flight of stairs. I held onto the gold banister hoping I wouldn’t miss a step. I wasn’t really concentrating on where I was going; I couldn’t keep my eyes off all the beautiful things around me. The walls leading upstairs were lined with family pictures. Some were from a long time ago, judging from the wear and tear. The rest were likely recent. When I reached the top, I came across what looked like a teenage girl’s room. It faced out over the back yard. It had dark wooden floors with light pink walls, a flat ceiling, and perfectly dressed windows with purple lace curtains. The bed was neatly made and in the middle of the pillows was an old stuffed bear that looked like it was saved from her childhood. I thought of Sierra; she would have loved this room when she got older. I thought how maybe she would put her neatly framed artwork on the walls and flowers on every shelf, like a successful artist.

Just then, I felt something deep inside me, a force that was stronger than anything I’d felt before, telling me I needed to move on. I hurried over to the dresser, dug through the drawers and found a pair of jeans. I hoped they would fit considering I didn’t know what size I was. I moved to her closet for a shirt and a pair of boots. Anything would be better than the over-sized clothes I had been wearing.

I found the bathroom at the next opened door in the hallway; I thought it would be a good idea to wash off the horse’s blood. The bathroom was just as modern as the rest of the house. The top half of the walls were painted a sage green and the bottom half was white, bordered with white wood panels. The sink stood alone and the tub and shower were separate. When I got into the shower, I couldn’t feel the warmth of the water and I knew I had it on hot, because the steam was rising. Why couldn’t I feel the heat? I washed my hair and my body, trying to hurry. I wanted to feel the comfort only a shower can provide. I yearned for the feeling of the water draining off the day and the embrace of being clean. But I received nothing.

When I was done, I wrapped the towel around me and went to the mirror. The mirror was long, oval-shaped and lined in silver. I ran my hand over the glass to remove the steam; I wanted to see my reflection. To my surprise, I had one. I was confused. In all of the movies I’ve watched and the books I’ve read, vampires didn’t have reflections. It was a reminder of what they really were: something evil, something that couldn’t be seen. Even so, the reflection didn’t look like the woman I saw in the mirror yesterday. My face was mystical in its beauty. I didn’t have one wrinkle or one bag under my eye. My body was firmer and skinnier. My hair, which was once brown and stringy, was now a golden brown, and fuller. And my eyes were not brown anymore. The eyes that looked back at me, I’d seen before. These eyes were the same as the man Gerviase, who slaughtered my family. They where a light shade of blue that seemed to glow.

I shook off the memories of Gerviase and I hurried to put on my newly stolen clothes. I wrapped my hair in a ponytail and started down the stairs. I wished I could stay. This place was quiet and nobody was around for miles. Running just didn’t seem like something I should do. That’s not the life I wanted for myself, not even in this new life, I thought to myself. When I reached the middle of the stairs, I heard the footsteps of two people outside. They walked slowly just as I did when I walked onto the property. I started to panic. What if they were the owners of the house? How would I explain why I was in their home? Would they or could they even understand? But something didn’t seem right, I didn’t hear talking all I could hear were loud and hard footsteps.

Normally, I would panic under these circumstances, confusion would wrap its hands around my mind and I would run in different directions. I knew that this was not the time for that. I had to think clearly. I ran back up the stairs, past each open door and came upon a window looking over the front yard. I stopped to look out the window and I saw the same two men that broke into my house the night before, walking up the porch. Nothing had changed about them, not even the clothes they wore. They still looked like the same brutal men that killed my family. With that thought, I began to feel afraid. I had to think and I had to do it fast. My time was running out. They were almost to the door.

I stayed at the window for a brief moment, watching their moves, the way they walked, the way their hands moved along with their feet. They moved like trained killers. I noticed they looked at each other without saying a word; it was like they knew what the other was thinking. They knew what the other was going to do. It had to be from training of some kind. I knew the only thing left for me to do was get to the third floor and jump out a window. As I ran up the last flight of stairs, I stopped at a little door at the end of the hallway. It was rounded on top with rounded trimming. It stood out from the others for two reasons: because of its size, and because it was the only door that was hand-carved and painted brown.

I could hear the two men downstairs ripping the front door off of its hinges. It wouldn’t be long until they found me. I opened the door to the attic as slowly and quietly as I could. I paused for only a moment to look around. The room reminded me of my parents’ home. There was old furniture sitting around collecting dust,children’s toys that nobody wanted to play with, other toys that dated back to the early 1900s, and pictures that were as old as some of the toys. There were boxes scattered everywhere, probably filled with old memories.

I stared around the room looking for a way out and I found a window that I just might be able to fit through. It was a medium-sized, round, stained-glass window with what I could only think of as an old angel as its picture. I pushed my way through the clutter and approached the little window. I dreaded the thought that I would be the one to ruin such a piece of art but this was the only way. I thought it would take me a couple of tries to break it, but it smashed into a thousand pieces with one blow. I looked at the shattered window, millions of once beautifully stained pieces of glass laid on the outside roof. I was stunned at my power. But the noise I made was loud enough to alert the two vampires downstairs who were entering every room just to find me. I could hear them getting close.

I crawled out onto the eve, looking behind me to see how much time I had, but the few minutes I thought I had just turned into a few seconds. Gerviase and Alexander were already in the attic smashing things around just to get to me. How did they get here so fast?

“You have no where to go, Trinity!” Gerviase yelled, almost taunting me. His eyes were mean and his voice was persistent. The way he threw things around, I could see that he had no remorse, no emotion, just anger. It was that will that he used to get closer to me.

I didn’t want to jump; I held onto the broken window frame and looked around. There was nothing left for me to do. Even if I was already dead, I didn’t want to fully die. Not yet. There was a reason why I changed, and why I was here, and I needed to find that out before I took my place in Heaven. I closed my eyes and thought of my husband and daughter, and took my last step off the three-story house. I fell through the air quickly cutting through the breeze like a knife. I was anticipating breaking a bone but I landed on my feet as if I were a cat. I stood up and looked over my shoulder at the two vampires who were looking out the window. I didn’t have time to stand there in shock; I just started to run. But as I took off, I could hear Alexander say to Gerviase,

“Do you think she knows or do you think she makes this up as she goes along?”

What was he talking about? Do you think she knows what? I thought as I ran. In the little time I’ve had on my own, what could I have figured out? Did they really think I was that smart? I wanted nothing more than to know what was happening, to know why my family had to die, why I had to get bitten, and how all the movies and books about vampires were true, that they really did exist.

I wasn’t running like I once did. I remember being in school and having to run a mile. Stupid thing to do in school. It was set up for the school to know which one of us was healthier than the other, but it also showed us classmates who was more athletic. Some kids could do the mile in three minutes; others in five. As for me: I didn’t round the corner until way after thirteen minutes. When I finally stopped, I had a pain in my side and an overbearing thirst for water. But now here I was, running as fast as cars could drive, maybe faster. I could give the best athlete a run for his money. This time I wasn’t running to meet some time limit. This time I was running for my life. Yet I couldn’t worry about my speed; I could hear the racing sound of somebody’s feet right behind me. The man yelled for me to stop, but I kept going.

I ran without looking where I was going or seeing what was in front of me. I knew I was running to the best of my ability because everything around me was a blur. I kept telling myself that if I could lose him, I would be okay. I ran back to the thick of the orchard hoping I could hide between the trees. Unfortunately, my speed wasn’t fast enough to lose him. I heard him gaining on me, and then I could hear all the crushing leaves that he left beneath his feet. Panic rose in the pit of my stomach. I didn’t want to be caught yet. He jumped up and flew into my back, knocking me down to the hard ground. We rolled a couple of feet and smashed into a tree. My instincts told me to twist around and kick him off of me and that’s when I saw the full power I actually had. He flew in the air but stopped himself before he hit another tree. He landed on his feet with one hand on the ground. He looked up at me. It was Alexander.

“Trinity, I don’t want to hurt you. He’ll be here soon. Do as I say!”

I started to feel a rage that I’ve never felt before inside of me. It was stomach-turning, blood-boiling rage. “Who the hell are you? What did you do to me?”

“I will answer all your questions, but you must trust me. Now stay put!” He stopped and looked to his side, placing his finger on his mouth. “Shhh! He’s here.”

I looked to the side, almost in slow motion; Gerviase was walking leisurely toward us. He walked with a purpose, with poise and with confidence. He wasn’t out of breath and his feet barely seemed to touch the ground. He looked as if he were the leader of this small group of vampires and nothing anybody could say would change his rank.

“Lookie what we have here! Do I smell betrayal before me?” He asked calmly as he looked at Alexander.

“No, Sir.” Alexander said quickly as he stood up straight. He reminded me of a soldier standing before his sergeant waiting for his orders. That’s when I knew I was right.

I was scared and didn’t know what I should do. I took a few steps back until the tree behind me stopped my path. I had no place to run; every direction I could take would be blocked in a blink of an eye. The two vampires stared at each other in a short silence. Again it seemed like they could read each other’s thoughts and know each other’s actions. I was waiting for Alexander to bow down at Gerviase’s feet.

“Why didn’t you carry out your duty, Alexander?” Gerviase asked as he started to circle Alexander. “She is to be destroyed!” Gerviase stopped for a moment then suddenly he ran up to me, staring into my eyes. It felt like he was staring right through me. I felt like he could see every thought I had, every memory I kept hidden. I grabbed the tree behind me, wishing I could pick it up and throw it at him. My knees started to shake. “Do you know who you are, my darling?” He asked callously.

“Gerviase! Leave her be!” Alexander yelled without permission to speak. He took a step forward.

“You dare speak that way to me!” Gerviase looked at Alexander, than at me. “So this is betrayal.” He looked back to Alexander. “We have our orders!”

“Orders from who?!” I said, trying to fight my urge to run, despite what Alexander said to me. I wanted to stay; maybe I would hear something useful, something that would explain why this was all happening to me.

“Gerviase, she obviously doesn’t know or understand this! There’s no need to do this.” Alexander pleaded.

“All the more reason she’s a threat Alexander!”

I couldn’t stand listening to them when I didn’t understand what they were talking about. I was in the monastery all over again overhearing the nuns talking about my past, things that made no sense to me. I interrupted the argument once more. “Would somebody please just tell me what’s going on!”

The pair stopped and both looked over at me. Gerviase put his hands on my cheeks to draw me closer to him. “So sweet and innocent, yet, now so deadly. You’ll never know the powers that you hold.”

I squinted my eyes and tried to brush his hands off of me by moving my face. His touch was revolting to me. But he just smiled. He found it amusing that I was sickened by him – by even the faintest touch from him. Alex stood there maybe afraid to say any more, but his body language told me he wasn’t going to give up, not without a fight. He stood there waiting for his moment.

Gerviase took a step back and started to take a defensive stance, crouching as if to move in and hurt or even kill me. But little did he know I was ready. I wanted this confusing nightmare to be over. I wanted to be reunited with my family in Heaven. Before Gerviase could react, Alexander flew over to him and knocked him to the ground. I moved away. Gerviase got up quickly; they both paused for a moment, staring each other up and down, then they flew into each other baring their teeth and grabbing each other’s neck. You could hear their growls for miles. They threw each other off of one another.

The two vampires edged slowly toward one another. I found myself in the middle of a competition to determine which vampire would be the strongest, like two dogs fighting for their territory. A few feet away from Alexander, Gerviase was staring at me. His top hat that once was securely on his head was now laying on the ground yards away from me. His eyes were now black and I could tell he thirsted for me in the way his lips barely touched each other. Every time he looked at me, I could see him twitch. If there was a plan of attack, Alexander had foiled it. Now he didn’t know what to do, I could only hope that he was as perplexed as I was.

“She doesn’t have to die, Gerviase.” Alexander warned; his eyes fixed on the other vampire. “We don’t have to do this my old friend.”

Alexander slid his feet to the side to compensate for Gerviase’s moves, and stood in front of me. There was a two-foot space between them now. Gerviase’s eyes were empty, his jaw tightened as he took a defensive position. The only thought he had was to get to me, as if he was the hunter and I was his deer. He tensed his upper body to prepare for the attack.

I stood there powerless not knowing what to do. If I ran, maybe I would get away again, maybe not, but I would lose my chance to find out the truth. Why was I so important? Why did my family have to die? If I stayed, Alexander might lose and we both would die, and I would never learn the truth. The decision wasn’t as difficult as one might think. I had already prepared myself to die. So if Alexander lost, so would I.

I heard them snarling as Gerviase darted for Alexander. Alexander had the upper hand this time. He waited like a mother, with arms extended, waiting for her child to walk to her. He grabbed Gerviase as if grabbing a chair and hurled him off into the distance. He quickly gripped my hand and we both started to run. I didn’t try to break free.This was my chance.

My head was spinning from the rapid changes of direction in our journey. We would follow one path then he would turn us in the other direction. Maybe it was to throw off Gerviase in case he was still following us. We glided through the bright thick leaves of the orchard too fast to be seen. As we ran past the trees, they swayed back and forth. To a normal person, we were traveling at a bullet’s speed, but to me it felt ordinary. It felt like I had been doing it my whole life. We went on and on but we never gasped for breath, as if the running took no effort. I was too terrified to keep my eyes open. I was being dragged by a killer to a destination I didn’t know.

We found a place to hide for awhile that would bring us peace, if only for a minute. We were in the country now. How long had we been running? I knew that there wasn’t a place like this in Arizona – not so beautiful, so calm or as green. I was used to looking at desert and sand, not grass and forest.

The sun was starting to set as the luminous pinks and purples in the sky were trying to shine through the thick of clouds. It wanted to rain so badly. It was a sunset that I would have spent time enjoying if had I been with my husband and daughter. It was a sunset that only pictures were made of. But by the time we came to a stop, the scenic colors started to diminish and the clouds were overtaking the beauty of the sky, turning it into a storm of black and grey. It felt like a sign that this was going to be how my life would stay: dark, cold, and depressing.

We came upon an old abandoned house. It was a one-story house with all of its windows either broken or cracked. The wood looked like it would fall apart with one touch. The dull brown paint on the trim was barely visible due to all the cracks in the wood. Trees and shrubs had grown unhindered all around the house, providing no easy path. We walked up to the front door, which was hanging by one bolt. A red sign with black pen handwriting was nailed into the wood. It read:

CONDEMNED


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