Chapter 1 From luxury to lowlife
It wasn’t often when I was already headed out at 8.p.m. I tended to stay in during the day and out when it was dark, mostly after 10.p.m.
I took the least expensive flat I could find. I didn’t need luxury if I was just here so I could occasionally sleep for four hours a day, and hide during the day when I didn’t have work to attend to.
Of course it wasn’t like I wanted to live in a pigs stain, I swept the floor when my feet were feeling dirt when I walked, but I didn’t have much furniture which could catch dust or even room for much furniture. I had a bed with worn out blanket and pillow, squeaky closet. A table in the small kitchen which I barely ever used. A lot of dark brown color dominated here. But I guess other color would look even dirtier after time. And this flat wasn’t modern in any way. It was old, still with all the furniture when dark brown wood dominated everything.
I always came here in early mornings, slept a little, and left when it darkened, when I had some day job I could earn from I sometimes didn’t sleep at all. That would make sense why I didn’t need much.
The price was very low considering that didn’t even need heat. Perk number one about being a fire nymph. I was never cold. But I did need to wear jacket at winter periods because people tend to stare at me. I didn’t want to draw attention to me. They wouldn’t understand. Or they would just think that I was some kind of illusionist. I think that it would take a lot for people these days to convince that I am anything else but human. They have already seen how world is evolving and new things coming in. who knows maybe they would think that it’s normal to see my burning body while I would casually walk outside.
But I couldn’t really do that… or even try. Let’s say higher forces didn’t like that. The higher forces don’t like me really at all.
I am not the one who usually plays by the rules. And occasionally my finger might slip and I tend to say or do more than I should. Mythical people don’t like when I put in danger their kind… and to be clear… I am not part of them. I didn’t think I would be much like them. I am not like them, they are not like me. We are like both right hand gloves. We do the same thing but on the same surface we won’t really help. It would just make it uncomfortable.
If I would consider them my own I wouldn’t be living alone in human world, where there were more likeliness of them noticing me as not human. I was trying to be careful and discreet. Although I haven’t seen many young women who walk around at night alongside criminals…
I went out again taking turns in my downtown streets. It was starting to get dark and by now all kids in this neighborhood are made to be at home by their caring mothers because they have seen some things here, robberies and killings. And those mothers who have no choice but to stay here are either forced to be though to forbid kids to go out or mothers who are extremely honest and tell them the horrible truth…
The only thing is there is no difference when it comes to kids listening. The though parented want to go around the rules and sneak out and the honest parented are too curious or don’t think it could be that bad. And most times they get burned learning the ugly truth themselves. And some stay in that kind of living… at first because they see the trill in it but then… it’s too late to escape.
I stopped my way down at some lady’s house who did peoples laundry for 20 dollars. Maybe not the cheapest but you take what you can get if you need someone to get bloodstains out of you clothes. I didn’t need her for that reason but she seems like she knows how to run a business even in place like this. Old lady but with an iron fist.
‘’Hello Lori’’ I said to her who was sitting with her rusted glasses hanging on the tip of her nose and she lifted her round body from her desk and walked up to me.
She shouted to her partner upstairs ‘’Scarlet’s here bring the pay book’’ she said ‘’you didn’t come last week’’ she said with her usual face in downwards grin. She was one of those people who looked mean but was actually pretty decent.
She walked to her washroom that was right next to her office and I plopped down a black bag on the washer and let her do the sorting. ‘’was busy’’ I said and she looked at me with raised eyebrow.
‘’busy doing what’’ she mocked me ‘’You don’t have a job, only work when that store needs werehouse workers for the day. And how much does he pay you huh?’’ She asked but I didn’t answer. He paid very little but it was honest work. I know you’re lying, missing weeks when you don’t have money.’’ She said shuffling through my clothes and putting them in the washer. Not much sorting was needed when everything was black… but she always made sure that there weren’t any extreme stains there.
She didn’t live in luxury, she didn’t have any fancy things to wash all the towns clothes but she was damn good at it, she was dressmaker before she moved here, had to change her profession from dressmaker to washer, because here didn’t live people who would buy specially sew clothes. But she knew how to speak with thugs and she knew how to handle fabric.
‘’my financial status does not concern you’’ I said to her.
‘’it does when you owe me for the last two times’’ she pointed out turning the machine on and resting her side on it.
I crossed my arms in front of me ‘’and still you took my clothes and didn’t ask.’’ I smirked at her. There were sometimes people who didn’t give back the money as promised but she understood how this town worked and still did it. She knew living in here wasn’t easy.
She let out a heavy sigh and her partner Larry brought down the pay book and gave it to her while she shuffled through the pages to find me.
‘’So Scarlet. How’s life?’’ he asked me and his Smokey old man voice.
‘’perfect’’ I answered.
‘’want some tea?’’ he asked me but I shook my head. He sat down on his window table turning at me ‘’there is no such thing as perfect here’’ he said. ‘’no one comes here for perfect’’
‘’it looks a lot like its great home for criminals, they seem to only increase here’’ I said.
Larry coughed and blew his nose in his tissue, always remember him having chronic sneezes and cough.
‘’they aren’t here willingly, they are here at peace because police shows here only when its urgent they don’t answer to complaints anymore, government doesn’t look after this town, not many high end people have stepped foot here and there isn’t much to take for then. Poverty runs fast in this town. The only thing for criminal enjoyment are the pretty young girls that are forced to live here with the families and their kids. The teen moms who make reputation for our town but outsiders don’t know much that they mostly don’t have a choice. If you are young and pretty they take you not even asking, and in the end its either they surrender or fight and get themselves killed or beaten. ‘’ He lit up his cigarette and pointed at me with his one eye closed ‘’you are lucky that you have the backbone and courage they don’t. you can actually defend yourself, and the ones who have lived here know to not touch you and the new ones learn fast that you are like them.’’ He said.
I got almost a little too offended by that ‘’I am not like them’’ I spat at him.
Lori came up to me with her pay book ‘’then where do you get the money?’’ she asked me.
I rolled my eyes and pulled out the money, this time everything I owed her. ‘’I don’t steal from our town’’ I defended myself.
‘’how kind of you’’ she mocked me. ‘’it does not matter who you steal from its still a crime.’’
‘’you act as if you’re clean yourself’’ I said and she looked at me ‘’I am not clean but don’t pretend like you have any more reason to be in heaven that they have. You just seem to be sensible type of criminal.’’ She pointed to her fireplace ‘’light up the fireplace in two minutes and I will give you coupon for the next time’’ she said making me smirk, and I walked to the other room where her fire place was.
From the first time I came here I noticed she always struggled to light it on fire and I started helping her, saying that I have my secret how to do it best. The truth was that her wet wood wouldn’t burn anytime soon without me.
I put my hands on the wood logs immediately setting it in red flames.
I didn’t say a word and left her house.
I walked down the dark alley, where people were going home from their twelve hour jobs, some people even had to drive two hours in public transport to get from job to home. And was that their choice? Never…
I realized that all my money was now at Lori’s and I still needed to get some food for myself. And to be fair I did want to work… I wanted to make somewhat decent amount of money… but it was hard, my temper wasn’t the greatest. And the problem with that was that my bad temper often come out in fire form… literally.
I tried to be away from people as much as possible, I tried to isolate myself from everything. That’s why I wondered around the most at night, when only criminals and unfortunate were still out. Less chance that I will befriend someone… the less friends I have the less I hurt…
This wasn’t exactly my dream living… alone… trying to survive among people who are not like me. It would be nice if I ever met someone like me… I often wondered what I would be as a person if I had met more nymphs, more fire nymphs. But I didn’t know much of that world. And I had always lived like this, I didn’t need anyone it was just the… deep thinking of how the world could be for me.
I was told that I was born in the mythical woods. In a barn like village. Apparently someone took me away from my parents and brought me to live in city. It’s a wonder I was still alive.
There were myths about me even in the human world. Apparently, I was gifted when I was born. Gifted with ability to take care of myself. I was left alone from being a baby… but that’s what the humans believed.
I didn’t know what to believe because there has never been anyone with me. And my memory of how I came to be was very fuzzy. But I do remember when I lived in a different place. A lot nicer place alone in an apartment where everything was bright and shiny. And few masked persons came once a week to give me food and clothes. They never said anything just dropped off the stuff and went away.
At first I tried to ask them, about who I was, what was wrong with me or where was everyone because I still had TV I saw how people lived. I was all alone.
I didn’t even have the key to this place… I guess they didn’t expect me to leave alone and scared… but pretty early on I learned that I don’t really have to obey, just make them think I do. I memorized when they came and when they left I went out. I explored the city, new horizons, watched people and how they were living. I always had this question in me… why I wasn’t like this… but there wasn’t anyone to ask.
Of course I learned about my powers early on. They brought me a disk… at first I didn’t open it for two weeks until I found out how to use it from the towns tech guy. There was a women on a video who explained my powers and that I must keep quiet about it and that no one could ever see my powers.
I sometimes had few encounters with people from mythical world… just because sometimes I showed too much flame… one time they got really mad but apparently the fact that they were drunk and most probably didn’t remember the next day what I showed them wasn’t justified.
It wasn’t often I stumbled on some mythical creature but when I did they always looked at me down, I wasn’t sure why but my guess was it was either because from their view point I chose to live here or maybe they knew I was supposed be threat to them.
I walked down the street for about an hour when I was finally nearing the other side of the town, the nicer part of town, where there were actually good kind of people living. But on the side something caught my glimpse of someone shuffling through the hallway.
The path there lead up to gated private property, some hill like forest place.
There was a man dragging a women up there. The lights weren’t very bright but he was young looking. He was holding her mouth shut.
If I usually saw a drug deal going o I just ignored it but this was different… I followed them close behind so he won’t see me. I wasn’t sure if I would interfere or not but I wanted to see if I could. I wasn’t dumb enough to run in front of a bullet and die. But if he only had cold weapon I could do something.
I walked around the corner where alley ended and there was a fence, not very good one, only with warnings to not trespass but it had holes everywhere. Whoever put those signs up was thinking too naïve of people.
I walked up the hill still hearing faint sounds, notifying me that I was still following them.
I finally came to see them but stayed down behind bushes. Only now there were three people. The women was crying on the ground and the new comer screamed at her ‘’don’t move!’’ he said as she cried shakily while the new guy just held the other by his shoulders. I couldn’t see what was happening but the kidnaper started to shake, out of nowhere ‘’please stop’’ he pleaded. But I couldn’t understand what was happening. The new man just held him there.
‘’I warned you to not get in my way’’ he said still hurting him. Soon after the man fell down, even from where I was standing I noticed how pale he looked.
The man still standing looked at the women who managed to get herself on feet ‘’why do you do this Mel?’’ he asked almost irritated.
‘’I don’t have what you are looking for and I even barely understand why you need it. And you all will get me killed’’ she said with her tears now dried up but she was mad at him. ‘’I don’t have that damn hand!’’ she screamed at him. So they knew each other quite well… but what hand?
‘’you were last seen with it’’ the man said but was soon interrupted.
‘’yes… twenty years ago. You were a toddler back them, don’t act like you know me. I don’t have it anymore it was stolen from me. And I thought it would finally give me peace but since then it only caused me problems. And back then I promised to guard it with my life but not anymore, not when I don’t have it.’’ She ranted on until her eyes stopped. On me. She noticed me. And soon after the man looked right at me.
I knew it was time for me to take a run. And I run where I could. It was dark but I didn’t want to burn up a light, I didn’t want him to see me, so I relied on early evening darkness which still gave me something. It wasn’t easy to move when I didn’t know this hill. There were trees starting to appear. And I found a big oak tree and hid behind it putting hand on my rapid breathing mouth.
And this wasn’t the first time my curiosity got the best of me, but I never wanted to hurt anyone intentionally I didn’t want to burn just anybody.
I thought that good ten minutes passed and I doubted that he would still be chasing me, usually they only barely chased me. Because they have better things to do or they don’t have the lung capacity to run far, probably from all the heroin they take. The smart criminals didn’t take the stuff themselves they only sold but also the smart ones knew better places to do deals.
I finally let myself breathe normally. Closing my eyes in my stupidness, how many times it has proven me to not try and be here in this side of the town. I will get myself killed. And people were already wandering why so many people, bad kind of people, here walked around with burns on them… just sometimes they got to close to me and I will not let them hurt me. I didn’t care what anyone said about using my powers.
And what was that all about that man killed the other one. It didn’t look like regular crime… something was off but I figured it wasn’t my problem.
I still needed to find my way back somehow. I walked around the tree only to come face to face with the same man I just saw kill someone. I backed away a bit but realized it was no use to try and escape.
I tried my best to act normal ‘’I didn’t see anything’’ I said confidently ‘’I don’t get involved in your business and you not in mine. Okay?’’ I said and tried to walk passed him bit he held me by my elbow and I flamed up my hand making him immediately let go.
But he was fast and grabbed my hand and now I knew what he did to that man… he was cold… Of course I was fire nymph and didn’t usually feel cold but I still knew what it was. His hand was extremely cold. He froze that man to death.
Was he like me? Did he control ice? I was too stunned to do anything but it started to tingle my hand and I got back to my senses giving him back the fire. And suddenly he couldn’t hurt me… I didn’t feel his cold and he didn’t seem to feel my fire.
The man let go of my hand and smirked ‘’Well I'll be damned. Hello Flora’’ he said.
And all I managed to say was ‘’what?’’…