Bad- the world had turned bad. Over the last couple of years there has been nothing but chaos. Unknown beings have infiltrate part of our world; mass hysteria, robberies, murders have tripled over the years. Innocent people are dying either out of starvation or their untimely and unwanted death. They- the military- the people that are supposed to protect us order when to stay inside our homes and when it’s safe to leave. But one thing is for sure after nine o’clock no one is supposed to leave, if you do and you get seen, it either you’re punished or killed on the spot. Our government was meant to protect us, yet we were the ones that lived in fear of them.
“Alexis, where are you going? It’s gone pass curfew. Alexis, you’re not supposed to leave.” A voice pulled me out of my thoughts, I stopped abruptly, turning around to see the only person that gave me joy, out of everything that has happened, he was my only light. Small but packed with the biggest and brightest star.
I kneeled down in front of him, raking my hand through my little brothers’ silver ivory coloured hair. “Evan. I just have go to the shops, it’s urgent.” Lie.
“Can’t it wait?” His baby like face scrunched up and I could feel my heart tighten.
“I can’t. But you know what, I’ll get you something while I’m there okay. But Evan, if I don’t make it back, you need to assure me that’ll you take care of mum for me.” Yet, I knew that was another lie. I was never going to see Evan again, call me heartless but it would be better for the both of us. Living in this house was taking a strain on me and I knew no one would hurt him, Eaton, my stepfather, he loves Evan too much to ever even lay a hand on him.
“Are you coming back?” The sadness in his voice and the tears trickling down his face made me want to engulf him with a hug and tell him everything will be fine, but if I did, I’m afraid I wouldn’t have the courage to leave. And I had too, I had to go.
Another deep, brooding voice called out from up the stairs I focused my attention on the man who turned happy life into a quick nightmare, looking up at Eaton, he still looked the same as he did years ago: raven black hair, sunken in eyes, thin nose even thinner lips and the massive pot belly you could see from a mile away. The smell of cigarettes and alcohol seemed to cling to him wherever he went, he didn’t have a bone in his body that contained good morals, let alone the will to get a job to support us. “Are you taking your leave soon, or are you just going to keep wallowing here and leeching off my back.”
That’s why I have to leave the child care money won’t cover all of us and one less child means more money if the government, or what’s left of it, still believes I’m living with my parents. More of it would go to Evan. And he deserved it, he deserved a better life, more money for food, clothes, anything he wanted. He deserved it all.
“Let me finish my goodbyes, Eaton.” Feeling anger well up inside of me but did my best keeping my composure. The more I would try to suppress it, the more it bubbled up inside me.
“That’s father to you.” Never. Never ever. He would never be my father, just as I’d never call him it. He didn’t deserve that prestigious, earnt title. He didn’t deserve anything.
“You know I’m not going to call you that.” His bloodshot eyes welled up, the veins bulging out even more. He hated it when he was disobeyed. Yet, I loved seeing him crack so easily. He didn’t have any self control and that I hoped would be his destruction.
“You know, if you respected me more, you’d never find yourself in this situation..” I knew what he was trying to do, gas-light me, make me seem like the crazy, abusive one. Intimidate me into saying that’s he’s right and succumb to all his deluded wishes. But I had enough of it. Enough of all of it. If that meant I had to throw myself into potentially my death, to escape him, then that’s what I had to do.
I turned around proceeding to leave, that’s when I caught a figure in my perphial vision. Her long black kinky hair flowing around her shoulders and her piercing hazel eyes digging right into mine. My mom; stunning, courageous, and as long as I could remember always wanted the best for her children but that was all before my real father died. My memories weren’t as clear and vivid than what I could remember. Yet, I knew he was the best for our family and my mother. He was my father. His kindness, generosity, his love were all traits above him that I could never forget.
No one said anything, silence encompassing us. I knew she was afraid, of what she did if she spoke out of term from what Eaton wanted her too. But that sparking glint in her eyes, I needed to make sure her decision to abandon me was set. “Mum, do you really want me to leave? Me, you, Evan can escape this you know. We can escape him.” My eyes flickered to Eaton, willing ignoring the heated glares.
“No one, absolutely no one is taking my son away from me.” From as far back as I remember, the first time I held Evan in my arms, I never parted from his side. I was always there when he cried. I was always there when he hurt himself and needed my aid. Me. Not Eaton. I guess it was undeniable he was there as a father but not as attentive as normal father’s across the country. All he seemed to care for was his liquor and his life - shortening cigarettes. Burning money, we didn’t have.
My mother began draping her hand over his wide set shoulders, patting his back, trying to soothe down his temper. “Eaton, my dear. Rethink this, please? She is useful to us, she helps us with Evan.” How, my own mother seemed so detach when speaking of her only daughter, did it’s best to sting. I was no more than a mistake now, in her eyes. Something that she did and unfortunately, now could never get rid of.
“Gia. She’s disrespected us long enough in our own house. She deserves to leave and face the real world, maybe it’ll extinguish out some of that fire in her. Mould her to be a proper, respectable girl.” But it wasn’t his, this house belonged to my father and his father before him. It was my birth right, not his.
“Yet, what if she doesn’t make it? You know how hard it is to survive on her own, especially out there.” This was the last she knew she could plead my case with him, if she pressed any harder, his anger that was now focused on me would be quickly redirected. And it was worst when it was her. A lot worst.
Maybe, she did actually love me and care for me. Still, her fear of him was much greater than her love for me.
“Are you suggesting that I let this abomination of a child still live under my roof? Gia, you better cool your tongue before I cool it for you.” One warning. One warning was all she got and she quickly followed his command. Subtle, but still had enough venom to make my own heart hitch. We had to get through when my father passed, we needed means of getting by. Our money was running out and my father isolated himself away from his family, so when it came to help, there was no one to help us. Until, Eaton came, at first he seemed nice as if he was a good man and would be a even better step father. Then, his true colours came out, by them my mother was trapped with him, pregnant. There was no where we could run then.
Recoiling backwards, quickly trying to put as much possible distance between him and her. He was unpredictable. And it was dangerous if she got too close. “I’m sorry. I just thought it’s be a best idea for our son.”
“We can cope without her.”
She nodded her head, despite him not even giving her the brunt of his attention. His eyes kept trained on me, fury brewing between them.
“Indeed.” Her eyes connected with mine, something screaming behind them. For help. For sanctuary. For me? “Call if you need anything.” Immediately she turned her back to me, proceeding to walk away. If I didn’t say something now, I knew I’d regret it later.
“Mother.” The desperation in my tone must have stopped her in her tracks yet she still didn’t turn to face me. I guess saying goodbye was hard for her too. “Do you want me to leave, really?” She didn’t respond, I guess that was all I needed. If she wasn’t willing to support me, who else could? “Well, mum. I respect your decision and I want you to know I still love you. And I always will. “Her back twitched before quickly recovering, she disappeared into the adjacent room.
“Now, Alexis. Or you time will be running out. Those soldiers will be patrolling down our streets soon. Nevertheless, you’re still leaving this house tonight. One way or another.” I received the message loud and clear. If I didn’t go willing, it wouldn’t matter because he’d force me regardless.
Evan realising what was going on, erupted in another bulk of tears, staining his lightly tanned cheeks, dimming his eyes and crimping his features. Seeing him like this broke my heart. Seeing Evan cry was like a thousand bullets finding their way inside me all at once. And I hated myself for making him react this way. Slowly, I crouched to his level, draping over his head an emerald jewelled necklace, gifted to me by my father. It supposed to be lucky, yet despite me not having any I had to trust that it’s luck would find it’s way to the right person. And I hoped that was Evan. “Keep this around you at all times. Never take it off. And here, I’ll hide it underneath your shirt so no one has any smart comments to make about it. Will you wear it, for me?” He nodded, tears still flowing down his soft cheeks, carefully I traced them down, wiping them away. “Don’t cry. Be brave. Can you be brave, Evan?”
Somehow, I had a feeling that would be my final goodbye. One last time, my eyes wandered around the home I grew up in. Everything remained roughly the same when my father passed; the same potted plant on the table opposite the small window, the same carpet stained from when I spilled pasta rushing in to finishing a game with my mother and father. Things were the same, yet everything was so different.
Giving Evan a quick goodbye kiss and tucking in the necklace. I took my leave, every step further away from him and closer to the door was bittersweet. My only way for freedom, was to leave the people I cared about.
The brisk, cold air hit me. The natural light flickering. My hand reached the door knob and without turning back to see the face I left behind. I closed it shut, sagging back into the door, letting out the deepest breath I seemed to be holding in.
My supplies would run out, soon enough. My small backpack could only fit the essentials; some sparse notes of money, toiletries, change of clothes. It was enough for at least a week, from then on I would have to make certain decisions for myself, be left to mother nature to lead whatever path it has for me. I didn’t have a plan, but at this point I didn’t need one. I was sixteen, I knew there must be some sort of job for me, somewhere. I guess, I had to live a nomadic before I could find it. Now, in these days work didn’t come as easily as it did before. You’d have to fight to keep yourself fed.
Taking one step, out off the front porch, a sudden loud, shout of blaring sirens started to go off and I snapped my head left down the lane, approaching me was a hefty tank, soldiers and military personnel surrounded everywhere. They all held heavy bulky flashlights shining it in the windows of people’s houses making sure no one was out.
I knew I was in trouble if they saw me. Rumours have been going round of what they do to you, if they decide not to kill you on the spot they would take you back to their base torture you until you begged for some sort of death. They did that to inforce order, so no one would disobey or rebel against them especially at this time.
There were only rumours, but I didn’t want to be the one that find out the truth behind them.
Closer the lights were getting closer and if I didn’t think of something soon. I would be caught.
Looking at my chances, I could run, run across the road and down the alleyway that was directly opposite my house or I could go back inside and wait till they leave.
I whipped my head back looking at the devilishly red door that always used to make me feel uneasy, like the way it was designed looked like a face mocking me, saying I would never get far without getting shot or killed, maybe the door was right, maybe I don’t have a chance on my own.
But I was willing to prove the inanimate object wrong. To prove Eaton wrong.
Knowing it was now or never, I flung my body round and ran. Ran as fast as my legs could manage. Everything slowed down, my heart was thumping so loud I could almost hear it, gunfire and shots flung around everywhere, bouncing off bins and metal gates but missing me. Always missing me.
The shouts of the soldiers brought me back to normal time speed and I knew if I didn’t pick up my pace they would reach me in no time.
The alley was just in sight, just in my reach. Those footsteps kept advancing as the round of fire spot. Taking this as the perfect opportunity, I dove into the space, flying my hands out so my face wouldn’t make contact with the brick wall of the nearby house. I had to restrain myself from screaming in joy as I made my way across the road to the alley completely unharmed.
I took a momentary pause slapping my hands onto my knees, hunching over trying to regain my breathing.
Those heavy footsteps, were getting nearer, tracing back to the way I was going. They were following me.
Still running, I could hear them behind. Closer but not close enough.
I knew where I would go and I’d be safe, there was this forest half a mile from my house if I got there they won’t be able to find me, I knew those woods like the back of my hand and if anyone was going to get lost, it’s wasn’t going to be me.
Abruptly, the pounding series of steps, stopped. I could her nothing but the buzz of cicada and the whirring of flies. No soldiers. No military. No tanks.
Maybe they decided to let me go?
Nevertheless I took this opportunity to run straight into the woods. Dodging trees and ducking from branches I kept running. If they didn’t catch up with me then, who’s the say they won’t catch up with me, now.
But I still felt they were following me if it wasn’t them then it was something, or someone else.
Instantly, foreign hands wrapped around, dragging me against tree bark. The roughness, rubbing into my skin. “No.” I tried struggling out of the strangers grasp, trying to break free from his hold. “Stop, I’ll go willingly. Just, don’t shoot.”
“Shoot you?” The voice came back confused like it was simply wrong for me to be worrying about my safety. And that’s when I stopped and tried to take a good look and the person.
I looked up and even though it was dark, I could clearly still make out his features. He was tall, extremely tall, his hair was shaggy filling with blonde, glowing colour, his eyes intoxicating. Bright blue dotted with specs of dark blue. The defining of his jawline and the plumpness of his lips. Whoever he was, that didn’t really matter. What he was doing here was more important. It was curfew? How did he get past the soldiers? “Why would I shoot you?” He repeated.
Maybe, he really wasn’t here to inflict any harm on me. But, I couldn’t take any chances, if I was going to die it’s not going to be at the hands of some stranger. I wanted to but my fate in law and idea, isn’t of blind luck, that’s never really been on my side. “Here! I’m here!” Immediately he draped his cold clammy hands over my mouth. His blue eyes clashed with mine and he shook his head slowly side to side.
And that’s when I heard it the deafening shriek and what sounded like faint, flapping of thick wings. It was too loud to be that of a bird? But if not that, then what?
He cautiously let his hand free my mouth, unsure if I was going to scream again and he used his free hand to point up to the sky his eyes searching my own looking for some sort of reaction.
My eyes meet the dark sky and what I saw I knew would haunt me for life. Hovering in the sky was the most grotesque looking creature I’ve ever seen; the mangled body seemed to merged into bare, spilt wings, its glowing red eyes scanned the forest, looking for I presume was it’s next prey. It wasn’t possible for something like that to even exist. The smell atrocious it seemed to fill the entirety of the air and quickly too.
“I’m surprised you haven’t lost it.” I spun round looking him straight into his eyes. “What’s your name?” He asked.
“Shouldn’t I be asking you that.” I kept my voice low prompting that he would be wise to do that as well, he didn’t seem fazed by what he saw, but he seemed occupied like he was calculating our way out of here. “Who are you?”
Without warning a shriek filled the sky and I didn’t have to look at the creature to know that it has found us. My breath hitched and I felt entitled to just stand there and cry.
“Sorry to burst your bubble, but we need to leave, now!” Whoever this was, his resolve didn’t break, he spoke like this was a daily occurrence for him. To the point, I felt slightly stupid of having that fear in the first place. But, this wasn’t something I viewed every passing day and I had to right to be scared. It made me human. Have emotions and feelings and impulses.
We both wasted no more time, sprinting side by side by another assailant. But now an unnatural one, I was sure couldn’t bleed. That wasn’t even human. Repeatedly, I ducked through raves if tress and plants, slamming aside any hanging branches that obscured my view and my clear path. Despite everything, I knew we couldn’t keep this up any longer. We’d have to give up the chase, sooner or later.
It instantly hit me, I had a safe haven. My safe haven. I knew it wasn’t far from here, when I was younger there was this abandoned house, that no one ever seem to finish building and ever since, it just wasted there before it became part of the forest itself I would always go to when I needed time to think, it was my second home but after all the curfew and issues at home happened I was never allowed to return there. This time, I was thankfully that it would come in great use to us. Despite it’s crumbling exterior, the locks were practically unbreakable. It should give us time to recover and figure out what happens next.
But could I trust him? This stranger, was he to be trusted?
Juggling the decision whether to tell him or not I took a deep breath. “I know a place!” I stopped him, leaving him no choice but go listen to me “We’ll be safe for a while in there, it’s not too far down from here! We can go there!” Despite the thick trees and shrubs concealing us, I knew it would be close to impossible to evade the creature forever.
The shrieks got closer and closer.
“Do you trust me?”
“What does that have to do with anything? Were you listening to anything I just said?”
“Do you trust me Alexis, do you?” He sounded desperate, longing to know my answer. But he just said my name. He just said Alexis. I’ve never meet him before, I’ve never even seen him before. So, how did he knew my name? “How do you know my name?”
He shook his head, swiftly grabbed my wrists and before I could retaliate, I was temporarily blinded with a flash of burning phosphorescent light.
Next thing I saw was a shaking room.
And that was it, I could feel my body hitting the floor and my eyes slam shut.