Amidst the center of the city Grant ventured through the still streets of residential areas. His mind unable to keep focus had him turning every which way, frantically searching for signs to get back to the road where the chaotic drive started.
He helped a thief flee the scene, but he had no choice. Was she really a thief if she was telling the truth anyway? Besides that, no one seemed to be pursuing him, so it didn’t matter anymore. Although, in a way, it did. Rinari said she had plans of visiting Grant. Would it be for more illegal acts? The way she spoke to him sounded threatening.
A giant hospital passed him on his left. Lights from an ambulance flashed as people rushed someone on a stretcher to the entrance.
Grant stared at the scene as he stopped at the street light. Could that have been him if he didn’t cooperate with her? Did she really have the backbone to commit violence on someone?
He shook his head forcefully and latched onto the plushie beside him.
“Elijah, I finally found one for you,” he said out loud to himself. “If only I could show you. Shuraek has a third form now though, you’d probably really like it…”
Tears dropped from Grant’s eyes. This day had been too overwhelming, being threatened not once, but twice? He looked at the cracked window. Wind blew in, drying the damp spots below his eyes.
The hectic day would be over soon right? He yearned for sleep, perhaps that would refresh his mind and return him to a normal state of being. If anything more happened, he feared he would snap.
He managed to make his way to the main street again, albeit it took a lot longer than he would have liked. All that was left for him was to drive forward down a highway until Lyros. The big city lights would soon disappear turning into dark plains.
A few more miles remained until Grant had to turn, the street leading to Lyros was approaching. He focused his gaze on the side of the road and felt his heartbeat speed up, he had no idea what his new home would be like, only the fact it was a trailer. He never even asked the details of it, desperation of breaking the shackles of his old life overcame his sense of judgement.
On his left side, a large gas station came into view. Nha-Stop was the name of the company. A few of these existed within Tonim, but none on this scale. The sign advertised a restaurant inside along with their special “Fat Flamingo.” A picture of a greasy, unhealthy looking sandwich with a side of a rhubarb dessert was directly below. The lights remained on from the inside of the establishment, and a car parked towards the entrance.
The current time was two in the morning. Having a twenty-four place to grab snacks seemed promising. He debated stopping in and checking out what they offered, but his fatigue drove him to go to his new home as soon as possible.
Immediately after passing the gas station a small sign that read “Lyros - turn right on the next gravel road” came into view. The small white sign looked to have been hammered into the ground. Hand written letters displayed on the chipped wooden sign. Grant’s eyes narrowed. Was this really the place?
Remembering only twenty some people lived here, he decided to take his judgement of the sign back. Of course, if the village was that small they wouldn’t care about professionalism.
He approached the turn and slowly shifted onto the path of renewal.
The gravel road clasped under his tires producing a great commotion; rocks spewed outwards from his tires as if multiple mini confetti poppers went off, welcoming him. Twelve streetlights came into view, enough to cover the whole village. This really was a small place. Sixteen manufactured homes laid out. Eight on each side of the road.
As Grant closed in, the first trailer on the left caught his eye. A white mask laid on the deck, watching him enter the vicinity, like a scarecrow, but more intimidating.
Little dark blobs from the corners of his eyes dashed across the unkempt grass that the trailers laid on. He slowed his speed down and thoroughly checked his surroundings. From within bushes, and under the broken skirting of trailers, even curled up besides the cheaply made homes, eyes were staring at him, sending silent threats.
His heart rate grew as questions and fear flooded his mind. He told himself they were just small animals, being afraid had no benefit. However, he had never lived anywhere else before, so fear took hold of everything in his new experience.
He stopped his car in the middle of the street. One of them ran across the street and from under the streetlight, he recognized it as a cat. Relief spread through his body as he took a deep breath.
Further down the road, he searched for the correct trailer. He spotted 100 as the number of the third trailer on the right. It was a bit worn down, but for the price it was a steal. The exterior had beige plastic siding that wrapped all the way around, with grey skirting that hugged the bottom. Slivers of cracked skirting ripped throughout the bottom of the trailer as if providing caves for animals to inhabit.
Grant pulled into the empty driveway of his new home which was wide enough to fit two cars. He brought his gaze to the deck in front of him and froze. There were two eyes. No, not animal eyes. Human eyes. Terrifying eyes. Drifting his eyes lower, a black cloth mask rested, covering the figure’s mouth and nose. Surely the mask’s intended purpose was not to terrify, but in this situation it caused panic in Grant.
The shadowy figure took a step closer and began lifting up his hand through the light provided by the old-time street light, revealing a big leather glove. The hand began reaching towards the sky.
The figure’s arm extended in a straight line as it waved side to side. Is this person waving at me? Grant thought as goosebumps prickled through his skin. Was this person here waiting for him to arrive?
Grant stayed put in his car and had his hand on the gear lever ready to switch to reverse at a second’s notice. The figure took a step closer, still waving their hand. Orange eyes crescented upwards as if a smile formed beneath the mask.
“You’ve got to be kidding me… I’ve had enough of this shit today,” Grant mumbled to himself, struck with fear. He rolled down his window. “What do you want!?” His voice cracked in the middle of his question. All he wanted to do was sleep, how much more could this day torment him?
The figure stepped forward into the faint glow, revealing pastel purple hair that slightly swayed in the night breeze, right above the eyes.
“Oh…. Uhh… Hi! I wanted to be the first person to welcome you…” The somewhat deep voice stuttered.
Grant had no idea what to think of this guy. Who in their right mind would wait for someone to arrive in the middle of the night that they don’t know?
“You… wanted to welcome me? By scaring the shit out of me? Listen, I’ve had enough happen to me today, I really don’t want to deal with anything else tonight.”
The man’s arms flailed in the air. “No! That’s not what I wanted to do… Lyros just doesn’t have many new people move in. Lars said you were coming down here tonight so I thought I would wait and give you the keys personally.”
Grant opened the door and stepped out of his car, still eyeing the guy with deep concentration. If he could, he would gladly sleep inside his home rather than in his car. But, these events that were piled upon him all day led him to suspicion. Everyone seemed to have something they were hiding from him. He stepped towards the mysterious person with calculated steps. The masked guy’s eyes still curved as if smiling, or perhaps grinning.
Grant’s gaze never wavered. Why was he hiding his face? And what was the need for gloves? Was he working on something?
“Nice to meet you… I’m Kale!” He extended his arm once more, this time reaching for a handshake.
“Just hand me the keys,” Grant said, his expression stern.
“...Okay.” The man placed the keys within Grant’s hands. “Well, sorry for bugging you, I hope you enjoy your stay.”
“Tch, yeah, okay.” Grant continued up the stairs of his deck, listening to the footsteps of Kale walking away.
Grant turned his face and watched, making sure he left.
Kale looked down in defeat as his hand fell to his side producing a small thud. He lifted his head and looked around the darkened neighborhood and walked off. Standing on the slumped deck staircase, Grant witnessed his retreat. He didn’t feel any sense of remorse for him. The behavior of that guy struck a chord in Grant, inducing anxiety.
Grant turned the keys into his new home and opened the door. Before walking in, he gave one final look across the street. There Kale stood in front of his own home, watching.