Shades of Light

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Chapter 12

The farmers were little better than the livestock they owned. Their intelligence may even be on par with the things. By simply burrowing deep into the pile of hay he could succesfully elude them. Alex could observe their movements around the house through the spaces between the planks which made up the walls of the shed. He watched the younger children play run around in the yard as the older children tried to sneak a peek at the visitors. It was still difficult for Alex to estimate their age. In his world, these children would be scittish and opportunistic, seeking ways to fill their perpetually hungry stomachs. They would've started to fight for dominance when they'd reached the size some of these children had and face exile if they failed, like he had. In this world there was no need for such barbarity. Stomachs were never empty and everybody enjoyed support and affection. It should be no surprise that they were as ignorant and simple as they were.

A few times the woman from the other world would come out and wander around a bit. The female knight spoke into a small box and occasionally received a reply from it. He had seen the soldiers in his own realm use boxes like it and suspected that it allowed for communication over long distances. Were there other soldiers in this realm now? It made sense. Frankly, he had expected the small armies which had constantly hounded him in the other world to show up here as well. Perhaps he was outrunning them for now or maybe they were simply spread out very thin across these foreign lands. Allowing them to coordinate while he sat on his ass would be a grave mistake. He could probably easily kill this one female but if more showed up, with their metal spewing killing tools, he might be in trouble. It was time for action.

Alex waited for the sun to go down. The scent of cooked food filled his nose and made his stomach growl. Apparently, he still hadn't had enough. Dogs waited patiently just outside an open window and he figured out why when a somebody threw a handful of stripped bones out. The dogs didn't fight each other for them, instead they lazily sniffed at them. They looked much like the dogs he knew but lacked the ferocity that he was all too familiar with. Alex carefully pushed open the door he had been looking through and silently lunged at the creatures. They yelped and abandoned their food without hesitation. Alex picked up the bones as quickly as he could and hid under the window.

“That's odd,” a female voice said from inside but nobody came out. Alex quietly followed the wall until he was sheltered by the long shadow of the building. He bit the bones into smaller bits and swallowed them. As he chewed on the last piece, he put his ear against the wall. People were moving around inside but they were all in the same central room. There was another window on this side and when he carefully took a peek inside he saw an empty room. It contained the pieces of furniture that the civilized people slept on, as well as a table and some shelves. On the table lay the outworlder's bag, with a tough weave and unprecedented metal zippers, and the large gun. The woman would have her small gun on her at all times but this weapon was too clunky for that. It was also the most dangerous thing in her arsenal. The spray of death that came from the thin end was almost impossible to avoid. If he could get rid of that...

Alex carefully slid through the open window and silently landed on the wooden floor. The boards creaked but he avoided making any more noise by stepping onto one of the many small carpets that littered the floor. In two steps he was at the table. As he picked up the metal machine, he peered into the bag but most of the tools inside were unknown to him. The communicator was in there as well. Alex froze as somebody in the other room laughed. They were talking in relaxed tones and didn't seem to be suspecting any intruders. That was a mistake. He played with the weapon, careful to avoid touching the little pin at the bottom that would trigger it. When he tested the strength of the barrell it bent with only a moderate amount of force applied. He cracked the casing of the weapon as silently as possible and eagerly inspected the mechanisms inside. It was magic to him. The working had to have something to with the little metal and plastic pointy objects that came out the sheath on the bottom. He inspected one of the object closesly and casually crunched all the mechanisms with his other hand. The thing smelled like burning. Had they managed to bottle the power of fire somehow? His destruction of the weapon had made more noise than he had intented and he froze again when somebody started walking in the other room. When he determined that the movement was in his direction, he quickly swiped the communication device and lunged through the window.

Alex pushed himself against the outside wall and waited. Somebody was going through the room, left, and came back with somebody who cursed loudly. A smile played across his face as he listened. He almost didn't notice the small person who came around the corner. The child stared at him with wide eyes. Alex' smile disappeared. His thoughts went to the small gun that the woman still possessed. He slowly approached the child, trying to look non-threatening but knowing that he was utterly failing at it. The child opened it's mouth and Alex lunged. He pinched the throat shut.

He ran past the barn and out into the field. The first glow of sunrise was spreading across the sky. A few dogs barked behind him but didn't give chase. When he risked a glance back he saw that nobody was following him. Perhaps he had gotten away with it. Now it was just a matter of putting distance between himself and his eventual pursuers. He slowed down a little. The strange crops he was moving through gently stroked his skin as he went. It was an incredibly pleasant sensation which calmed him down in a matter of seconds. With his eyes closed he stumbled over a hunched form. Instinctively, he fell in a roll and was on his feet again before the person he had tripped on had the chance to utter a startled yelp. It was the siren from before. She looked at him without any accusation and a simple, friendly smile. As she rose from the ground, her hair seemed to glitter in the first rays of sunshine.

“Hello,” she said casually. He felt like he was awakening from some kind of trance and her voice spread through his body, quelling pains he didn't even know he had. “We've been looking for you.”

“I know,” he said and stumbled back. A part of him was close to panic and urged every muscle in his legs to run for it. Another part wanted to do nothing but sit down with her and fall asleep in her arms.

“Caroline wants to take you to where you belong,” the gorgeous creature said and stepped closer. She carefully stretched out one hand and stroked his cheek. Alex trembled.

“Yeah, oblivion,” a harsh voice broke through. Alex sprung back to life and grabbed the hand on his cheek. He twisted her around with one hand while taking out a piece of flint from his pocket. He pressed it against the soft, radiant neck that was now so close to his face. He had to suppress the urge to lick it. What was wrong with him? The siren tensed in his grip but didn't resist.

“I will not go quietly into the void,” he snarled at the knight. She must've taken an indirect route, counting on the siren to slow him down. She was cunning. He would have to remember that.

“I will drag you, kicking and screaming, if I have to,” the woman snarled back, matching his ferocity. “You killed a child, you fucking coward! Your worthless hide wasn't even worth harming one hair on his head, you piece of shit.”

“Children can be replaced,” Alex said, his confusion shining through.

“You aren't even worth replacing,” she said, calming down. “Now let the girl go and we will settle this between us.”

Alex looked at the pistol and knew that he wasn't fast enough to beat it. He would have to be smarter than that. He leaned closer to his hostage's ear and tried not to be distracted by her scent as he whispered something to her. She nodded.

“Have it your way,” he said and slashed the sharp piece of flint across his hostage's neck. The woman screamed and fell to the ground. In the moment it took for Caroline to process what was happening, Alex bolted. He dropped on all fours, so the crops rose above his head, and ran across the field until he encountered a small creek. He slid under water and pulled himself across the bottom for miles.

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