What happened to me? Why is that no one can see or hear me?
I dug back in my brain for the answer about ten hours ago. It was my birthday and my mates and I headed down to East London to dance and drink the night away. I was at the pub, downing more drinks when this fit bloke walked up to me and offer to buy me this new drink. Feeling emboldened, I said yes. I couldn’t remember the details after that. But the drink itself was pink with fog coming up from it. Despite my better judgement, I took a drink. As soon as the frizz hit my tongue, I was out like a light.
When I wore up, I found myself naked in a graveyard downtown. I remember being really cold. The wind felt like little knives at my back. The silence around me was the first thing that I noticed. Against my better judgement, I started to turn my head. My stomach dropped when I saw the endless sea of tomb stones.
Wait… Don’t tell me…
I looked around for my purse. To my dismay, my cute little orange purse was nowhere in sight. And so were all of my clothes. I covered my breasts as fast as I could. Okay… what was this? Why was in a cemetery? What happened to me? Where did my clothes and my pursue go? I foolishly wanted to believe that this was a prank at my expensive, but it felt too creepy. What the hell was going on? Was I dead?
I could hear wheels in the distance. I remembered there was a narrow road that ran past the cemetery. Maybe I could get help. It didn’t matter if I was naked or not. I got up and ran towards the road. My body felt so heavy. It didn’t feel like I was moving at all. The road appeared to be further away than what I remembered. It was almost like something had grabbed onto my ankles. That didn’t stop me.
I finally made it to the road. The fog obscured my view as I looked left and right. I had no idea what time or day it was. Would anyone be out driving this late? I looked up to see a pair of highlights coming my direction. I ran to the road and waved down what looked like a truck driving down in the fog.
“Hey!” I shouted. “Hey!” The truck rushed past me. I looked so confused. He drove past me? What the hell? Wouldn’t a person stop to see a naked woman on the road? I puffed up my cheeks and paced around. I would look up see if more headlights would pass by me.
“That won’t help,” I heard someone say behind me. I turned my head. Two blokes walked up to me all dressed in black. They were both about my age and black. I quickly covered myself as fast as I could.
“Who are you?!” I shouted. The bloke with the box-cut haircut held out his hand.
“Take it easy, there,” he said. “We’re not here to hurt you.” I backed up to the road, shaking.
“Did you do this to me?!” I shouted.
“No,” the other black bloke said. “We are here to help you.”
“Huh?” I asked. Okay, this was weird. Who were these guys? Where did they come from?
“Can somebody tell me what’s going on?” I asked.
“What is the last thing you remember?” the older black bloke asked. I didn’t know whether to scream or run away.
“We can’t help you if you don’t talk to us,” box-cut said.
“Who the hell are you?!” I shouted. “Where the hell did you come from?!” The older bloke sighed.
“Fine,” he said. “I’m Dan. This is Nathan.”
“Hello,” box-cut said.
“We are part of the group Night Hawks,” Dan explained. “We investigate cases like yours.”
“Huh?” I asked. “What are you talking about? You aren’t making any sense.”
“I know that it is difficult to understand,” Dan said. He walked over and grabbed me by the shoulder and turned my back to him.
“What the hell?!” I shouted.
“Shush!” he snapped. He knelt down and looked at my lower back. I glanced down at him.
“What are you doing?” I asked.
“Ah!” Dan said at last. “I found it.”
“What?” I asked. Nathan stood to the side, not looking at my ass.
“What color is it?” he asked.
“It’s a faint red. This is good,” Dan said. He stood up, looking in my eyes. “You have been marked to be fed to the Red Beast.”
“What are you…?!” I began to ask. He held up his hand to cut me off.
“We will tell you everything, but you have to come with us,” Dan said. “You are not safe near this graveyard. You do not have time to argue with us. Just come with us if you do not want to be ripped to shreds and eaten.” I struggled to speak first, but nothing came out. I looked down at my body.
“I can’t go anywhere,” I said. “I am naked.” Nathan sighed and shook his head.
“Here,” he said. He reached into his bag and pulled out a dark purple cloak. “Just put this on. It’s not much, but here.” Nathan tried to look away as the cloak inched towards me. I caught on and took the robe.
“Cheers,” I said. I grabbed the cloak and put it on my body. Suddenly, I didn’t feel so cold anymore. Dan grabbed me by my hands.
“We have to get going before the mark on your back turns black,” he said. He pulled me along before I had the chance to speak.
“Where are we going?” I whispered as we walked away from the road.
“Into the city,” Dan said. “Please stop asking questions. Just come with us.” I gave up on trying to get anything from them as they dragged me further into the city.
We ended up in a small pub. I noticed something off as we walked by. Dan and Nathan stood out with their black hoods and cape. Everyone kept staring at them. I thought they were staring at me too.
“Guys, don’t you think we look a little bit weird?” I asked. Dan and Nathan looked at each other.
“No,” they said.
“Huh?” I asked. I felt kind of silly in my cloak. Then again, I had no other clothes to wear either.
“Uh… do either you have a phone?” I asked. “I want to call a cab.”
“You can’t do that yet,” Dan said.
“And why is that?” I asked.
“Take a look in the window,” Nathan said. I gave him a confused look. He looked at me as if to say, “Just do it.” I turned and looked in a dress shop window. Wait… There’s Dan and then there’s Nathan. Dan… Nathan… Dan… Nathan… Dan…
“Wait, where am I?!” I asked aloud. I looked down at my body. I could still see my hands and my body. I could still feel my fingers as I bent and flexed them. I looked in the window again. I could see my own face.
“Do you understand the dire situation you are in?” Dan asked. I whipped my head around.
“Am I dead?” I asked.
“Not quite,” Dan said.
“Look, tell me what’s going on here!” I shouted as I trembled. “Who are you people? What happened to my clothes? What happened to me?” I was shouting, but no one looked at us. Dan put his hand on my shoulder.
“We will tell you everything,” he said. “But we have to keep moving or the Red Beast will hunt you down.”
“What is the Red Beast?” I asked.
“We will talk, but we need to get into a crowded place first,” Nathan said. “It’s too dangerous for you to be in the open like this.” He and Dan took me by the arms and led me into a nearby pub.
It felt good to hear the sounds of people around us. The dim lights of the pub calmed me down. I looked down at the empty glass in front of me. Dan took a drink of his lager.
“So, what is your name?” he finally asked me. I stared down at my glass.
“Alisha Finch,” I muttered.
“Nice to meet you,” Dan said. “I am Daniel Lennon and this is Nathan Lawther. We are both part of the group, Night Hawks.” I looked up with an odd look on my face.
“Night Hawks?” I asked. “Like the ghost haunting society thing?”
“So you have heard of us?” Daniel asked. “Well then, this will make things much easier. What is the last thing you remember before you woke up in the graveyard?” I rubbed my forehead.
“I was out with friends at this very pub,” I said. “It was my mate, Pepper’s, birthday. We had all been drinking and partying the night away.” I began to play back last night’s party in my head. “I was sitting alone at the pub when I happened to look up to see this fit bloke sitting further down the bar.”
“Describe this bloke for me,” Daniel said.
“Um… I couldn’t see him too well in this lighting,” I said. I rubbed my forehead again. “He had short spiky red hair and tattoos all over his arms. The ink put me off at first, but his muscles and smooth smile changed my mind.” Nathan reached into his cloak.
“Did one of his tattoos look like this?” he asked as he slid a picture over towards me. I looked down at the image and frozen. I remembered that tattoo. I had thought the snake wrapped around the black ram’s horns was a bit odd to say the least. The deep red eyes were rather unnerving too.
“Yes,” I said. “Yes, I remember it now.” I held out my left hand. “He had it right here.” I pointed to the top of my hand. I began to shiver.
“What happened next?” Daniel asked.
“Well, we got to talking and he turned out to be pretty cute,” I said. “I started to fancy him, in fact. Then we ordered another round of drinks. We kept drinking and talking. The next thing I knew, it all went black.”
“And then you woke up in the cemetery?” Nathan asked. I nodded. I noticed the grim looks on the blokes’ faces.
“What? What’s with those faces?” I asked.
“That guy you want was part of the Ares cult and you were his pick for feeding the Red Beast,” Nathan said in a low voice.
“What? What are you talking about? What is the Red Beast?” I asked. Daniel finished his second drink.
“It’s a god from hell,” he said. “Once every year, it will rise up from the darkness and eat sacrifices left out for it in graveyards.”
“Mostly feeds on young women,” Nathan added. I struggled to say something, anything. Nobody else noticed my mouth hanging open.
“Why?!” was all that I could ask. “Why me?”
“You were just chosen,” Daniel said. “We were lucky to get to you when that make on your back was still light red when we got to you.”
“What mark?” I asked.
“It’s on your lower back,” Nathan said.
“Huh?” I asked as I looked down. I had to lift up the lower half of my cloak for a better look. A light red rose shape looked like it had been burned into my hip.
“What exactly is that?” I asked.
“It’s the mark for the beast,” Nathan said. “If it had been black when we had got there, we couldn’t save you. We probably would’ve had to kill you to save your soul from the beast.”
“H-H-How do I get it off?” I asked.
“You don’t,” both blokes said. I felt like I was going to faint.
“Am I going be stuck with this…?” I began to ask. Daniel pressed his fingertips together.
“There is one way,” he said. “But we will need your help to do it.” I gave him a peculiar look.
“What for?” I asked.
“My partner and I have been tracking down the cult of Ares for weeks,” Nathan explained. “Seven girls have already been eaten. That is seven too many. You would’ve been the eighth had you not woke up and moved to the road in time.”
“We feel that you can help us locate the cult members and stop them,” Daniel added. “Once we’ve tracked them down and killed them all, you can go back to having a normal life. You are the only lead that we have so far.” I narrowed my eyes.
“So, if I help you, I will be seen and heard again?” I asked.
“Yes,” Daniel and Nathan said.
“And this stupid mark will be taken off of me?” I asked.
“Yes,” they said again. I leaned over the bar, staring at my glass. I didn’t have a choice, did I? It was either that or get eaten by some creature from hell. I sat up and slammed my hands down on the bar. Did it really matter if I caused a mess with the other patrons at the bar? Only these two guys with me can see me.
“Like I really have a choice,” I said.
“Of course, we will make sure that you are safe every chance we get,” Nathan promised. “You can’t be left alone anymore. The Red Beast will be more than likely to attack then. You’ll be safer in crowds. We will check that mark on your back to see if it doesn’t turn black.” I could only nervously laugh at this point. What else could I do?
This would lead to two years of being associated with the Night Hawks until I had to leave England for good due to the plague.