-Leaves in the sun
The steel beast came to a screeching halt as it approached the platform. Steam filled the air with a loud hiss and the train rocked back a last time before stopping in place. The conductor rang a bell near the locomotive before disappearing into one of the passenger carts. Shortly after, the doors opened and people flooded the already crowded platform. The sky was a baby blue with full white clouds and a bright afternoon sun. London was usually a gloomy place year round, but today was an exception.
As the crowd of strange faces parted around her, Lyn stood there amid the platform, patiently waiting. She wore a light dress today that matched her rain-like eyes and fair skin. A light breeze swayed the fabric around her legs, giving her a slight chill. Her sunhat did a superb job of shielding her face. She noted the time on her watch, right on schedule.
The last passenger exited the first-class cabin. She stifled a gasp and clenched the basket she held in front of her. The man approaching her wore a fitted black Armani suit with light brown oxfords. His deep blue eyes pierced through her soul with a smile that cut like a knife. His curly hair was black as ink. She fought the urge to run her hands through it.
Drake tilted his head. “You did your hair?”
Lyn blushed, she glanced at the long ponytail resting on her shoulder. She pushed it behind her back. “Do you like it?”
Drake chuckled. He rubbed the blue brooch pinned to her dress and made that dangerous smile again.
“I picked it up in town on the way here,” Lyn said. “I thought it looked like your eyes, so I got it…”
He rubbed her cheeks. “Is that so?”
Lyn noticed the speck of faded blood on Drake’s collar. Their gazes met. Drake glanced at his collar, then back to her. “ I accidentally cut myself shaving this morning. Happens to the best of us sometimes. You know you don’t have to wait for me at this platform every day-”
She shook her head. “No, it’s fine. I do it because I want to. It’s - It’s because you’re precious to me…”
She presented him with the basket. Drake opened it to inspect the contents. Aged wine made in Bordeaux, France, with a wheel of cheese and grapes, his favorites. Lyn knew him better than he knew himself. He closed the lid and snaked his arms around her waist, forcing Lyn to make a slight squeal. Her hat nearly fell from her head.
He pressed his lips to her ear. Lyn stood within the rays of life shining upon her. Drake stood within the darkness of the platform’s awning.
“Lyn, you really are… the leaves bathing in the sun.”
From the time he was a young lad, Aaren Turner always felt a special connection to Drake. One could say a paternal bond. He recalled little from that night. As a child, well into his teens he lived in the London projects with his parents and sister. To make ends meet, he sold papers and shined shoes. Then he went to school and did his homework and played soccer as most kids did. But his mother’s haunting shrill tormented him daily.
Her body echoed through the hollow wooden floor as she fell. He could see her lifeless black eyes, stiff jaw and blood stained neck and shirt. He heard it all unfold from beneath his parent’s bed. The scream of his sister from across the hall, his father fired exactly two shots from their double-barreled shotgun. Then he was ripped to shreds in an instance. Aaren found himself alone.
He remembered those heavy footsteps pounding into the floor. The floor creaked with each step as if it was alive and in pain. Evil ruminated from the peeling paint of the apartment walls. Then the bedroom door opened, and a man entered. Though it was too dark for him to see; he made out a pair of fierce blue eyes shining. They stopped near the bed and Aaren’s heart ceased.
His hands covered his mouth as he stifled a gasp. Though terror overwhelmed him more than his tears. A ghoulish hand reached under the bed and grabbed his ankle, dragging him away into darkness…
Aaren shook his head and there he was, in central London, sitting on a bench. He looked down to see his favorite bowl of tomato soup in his hands. The crimson liquid steamed with melted cheese and a pinch of basil. The sky was a plethora of red, orange, and purple. Streetlamps buzzed and blinked before brightening the crowded streets. People yelled and honked their car horns. Pigeons trotted along the sidewalks, ignoring the bystanders and pecking for food.
He could faintly see his reflection in the soup before stirring it with his spoon. More steam escaped and disappeared in the air. All was well until he felt a dark presence. A presence he hadn’t felt since that night in the projects. His body recoiled as he stood, dropping his soup.
That presence! It’s the same one I felt that night at my flat!
His body moved on its own and the next thing he knew he was in full sprint. Though he wasn’t sure where exactly he was going. His vision narrowed and his heart rate sped up. Nothing in his life felt more exhilarating than this moment; not even the missions that took him overseas in the Special Air Service. Tonight would be different. He wasn’t helpless anymore.
He tore through the pods of people without apology, following the dark presence that resembled a shroud of red and white.
It’s so close! I can feel it! He’s here-!
That was the first time he heard Drake’s voice. His vision cleared, and his hand rested on Drake’s shoulder. Drake turned his head, and Aaren froze at the sight of his striking blue eyes. Was this truly the monster that slaughtered his family? He looked nothing more than young money walking through the street, perhaps a tad older.
Terror struck Aaren like a hot iron, but Drake’s face remained dubious. He reached for the concealed pistol on his waist, but stopped.
“Drake? What’s wrong?” a female voice asked.
A beautiful woman was by Drake’s side. One with eyes like rain and forest green hair. Her face remained just as dubious as Drake’s. She gripped his arm.
“Can I help you with something?” Drake asked. “You look pale, friend. Almost- like you’ve seen a monster...”
You mean this guy is living here and posing as a human! Aaren shifted his gaze to the woman by Drake’s side. This guy is a monster! He eats people!
“Do you know this man, Drake?”
Drake shook his head. Aaren could feel his murderous intent. “No, I’ve never seen him before. He must have confused me with someone else…”
Aaren’s face became red with fury. He failed to notice Drake extend his dagger like claws and swipe the neck of a man passing by. The man dismissed it as a simple itch before falling to the ground and convulsing. His wife screamed as the lad foamed at the mouth and grew rows of fangs in his mouth.
He gripped the woman by the collar and sank his teeth into her flesh. The crowd panicked and scurried into a wild frenzy. Aaren stood face to face with the beast. It growled and snarled, blood dripping from its mouth. All traces of humanity in its eyes were extinct, with nothing but feral ferocity. He unsheathed his pistol and centered his sights on its forehead.
The feral man squatted as if to lunge and did just that, clearing the ten feet gap between them.
Aaren squeezed his trigger. “Sorry mate…”
He fired one shot, and the man was on the ground, a pool of blood forming around his head. Calamity surrounded him, and Aaren scanned the crowd with his weapon. There was no sign of Drake.