Chapter 56 - Night of Fate
Grant’s feet slid against the slick ground as he stared into the blackness, the weight of his body shifting from side to side in an unnatural fashion. The grass around him swished as thuds stomping into the ground grew louder. He looked to his left and right, trying to discern something, anything. His nail reflected a faint glow from the moon.
“Come out…” He stepped forward plopping his wet shoes through the slushed terrain.
The thuds erupted faster, and closer, like Grant’s heart beating from the anxiety. A soft roar bellowed out from the direction of the beast. It had arrived. Grant still wobbled in his drunken fighting stance.
He could feel the presence of whatever stood before him as it approached, and finally he caught a glimpse of starlight reflecting off of its eyes. Against the beast’s black fur, one green and one blue eye pierced into his. Not only that, the beast seemed to be about the same height as him.
A black lion? Why did it feel so familiar? As if an old friend were here, ready to drag him to hell.
It’s been a decent journey Grant, but you’ve ended any chance at a normal life now. He imagined what the beast was trying to convey.
Grant’s body shivered as he extended his shaking hand, pointing his nail at the beast. His head bobbed as the alcohol still lingered.
It only stared back. It wasn’t attacking.
Grant felt he deserved whatever came to him. He hurt a man today. It would only be fair for him to be hurt in return.
“Why won’t you attack me?!” He shouted as he hobbled towards the lion with his liquid confidence. It still did nothing but watch.
What was it doing? Sizing him up, trying to decide if it wanted to take him on? Grant didn’t want to hurt another living thing just for the sake of it, so knowing large animals usually strike when you turn around, he spun his body to face the highway.
He took one step forward.
His body was thrown to the ground.
Not from the lion, but from his lack of balance. Once again, Grant laid on the ground as the thuds approached him. He felt the warm breath of the beast against his neck. The heat got more intense. The collar on his shirt yanked upwards, choking him, as the lion lifted him and tossed him into the air. His vision blurred as he landed squarely onto the animal’s firm back.
The giant beast darted off towards Lyros with a passed out Grant sprawled over its back.
Rhett stood against the bar counter out of breath, surrounded by the rest of the group. The bar was just about to close and there weren’t many people left inside. The majority were workers and police officers.
“I can’t find him… I looked all around the bar, and ran all the way to Lyros and back,” Rhett said, panting. “He isn’t even at his trailer…”
He was surprised at himself for being able to run so much while being intoxicated. But he would do anything he could to help save a missing person, especially a friend. Rhett knew for a fact that Grant was the only person he could trust fully in Lyros, although he wished he could trust them all as much. However, Grant was the only person to arrive after Rhett, so he was clear of any suspicions of being involved with his case.
“Are you serious? We tried looking around here too...” Saraiya said. “Where did he go…”
Rhett bashed his fist against the bar top. Most of the people in the bar turned their heads and stared.
“It’s alright Rhett,” Kale said. “Why don’t you look again? This time I’ll come with.”
“Yeah, let’s go look.” Rhett flashed a sad smile.
Natch placed his hand on Rhett’s shoulder. “I’ve got no alcohol in my system right now. Why don’t me and Saraiya drive along the highway and look out for him too?”
Saraiya nodded her head. “Let’s go. Hey Ambri, I’m sure we’ll find Grant, but can you fill the police in that there might be a drunk person wandering around on the highway?”
Ambri nodded as she washed the glasses behind the counter.
“We’ll be back, Ambri.” Natch said. “I’ll give everyone a ride back to Lyros once we find him.”
The four left through the door, passing by other drunks waiting for their rides.
“Good luck finding him, we’ll meet you back in Lyros okay?” Rhett said.
“Yep, we’ll make our rounds up and down the highway and stop in Lyros when we see you guys about to enter,” Natch said as he and Saraiya headed towards his car.
Rhett and Kale walked away from the bar passing by the hotel. Cars surrounded the building and people could be heard shouting around the vicinity.
“You think he might have snuck into there?” Rhett asked, pointing at the presumable afterparty.
“I don’t think so,” Kale said, eyeing the hotel.
The street lights from the hotel left their view and soon only darkness awaited them. They walked on the side of the road, and occasional passing cars lit the way and startled them.
If Rhett were going to ask any questions, would there be a better time than now? He didn’t like the situation of losing Grant, but this wasn’t the same predicament as his sister. Grant was an adult, adults go off on their own all the time. Sometimes they don’t want to be found, but then again he was shit faced.
They continued walking for about ten minutes while yelling out Grant’s name, but there were no signs of him.
“Hey, Kale. Can I ask you something strange?” Rhett asked.
“Uh, have you ever heard of the disappearance of a girl named Aeyn?”
Kale stopped walking. That must have been way too obvious. Rhett immediately regretted the way he phrased it, but he finally had the courage to speak about it and it just bubbled out.
“Aeyn… I don’t think so…” Kale picked back up the pace. “Why?”
Rhett felt slightly relieved he hadn’t heard about her. Maybe he really had nothing to do with her. “I’ve just heard rumors about kids being taken to Lyros.” He tried to laugh to calm the mood.
Kale paused for a moment, as if contemplating his words. “People really like to make up stories about Lyros, huh?”