Red. She had never seen the sky painted such a vibrant color, the moon high in the sky coaxed in a thick veil of crimson, velvet rays passing through large glass windows whilst the mundane blue of the morning sky was replaced by a deep red that made goosebumps rise along the surface of her skin, a shiver running down her spine as amber hues were frozen on the scene outside. What looked like black snow fell from the heavy clouds that loomed among the blood-red sky, melting as if hit shaded wood and dark sand, black water of Ashton Lake seemed to swell violently underneath the crimson moon.
All Vivian could feel was terror, pure and untamed as it caused tears to form in small round eyes, thick pick lips parted as breath was caught in lungs, fingers trembling against a familiar counter, a dark grey with white and black specks scattered throughout. Where am I? Despite the urge to turn her neck and take in her surroundings, amber eyes could only focus on the blood-red sky with a crimson moon hung low, reflecting upon inky depths, almost the same shade as her hair.
“Vivian?” The scene around her changed so suddenly that her ears rang, the red switched to blue like a light turning on, a warm yellow illuminating a small cafe space in front of her as it came to life around the panicked girl, taking a few steps back before a hand suddenly grabbed her arm, amber snapping to the side despite the way her vision swarmed. “Woah, easy there.” It was a familiar voice but Vivian couldn’t place it, having to blink a few times in order to focus on the figure standing next to her. There was a warmth that came from them, soft and gentle, and almost instantly the black haired girl knew who it was. “Are you okay?” Elias asked, long blonde waves pulled into a tight ponytail at the base of his neck.
Taking in a deep breath, amber met sky blue. “I think I need a minute.” Vivian said in a soft voice, mostly due to the lump that formed in her throat from what she just saw. What did she just see? Heat seemed to spread across her skin, a thin layer of sweat forming across her skin almost instantly. Why was she getting so hot? “C-Can you tell Ms.Hemsworth I went outside?” It was easy to take her arm from her coworker, his hands as gentle as his voice. Vivian liked to think of him as soft spoken, but the softness extended much past his voice.
Elias nodded, concern clear within azure hues, yet he didn’t say anything as Vivian turned quickly, moving past white paneled counters and granite tops, a glass case on the right of her showcasing whatever bakery goods Ms. Hemsworth was whipping up in the back. Usually Vivian would glance down at the case to decide which delicacy she would take home that night, but this time she passed it without a second thought, pushing the large navy metal door open in the back corner of the cafe, the November air instantly seeping through the large crack. Vivian pushed past the gap and into the alley beyond, the girl atop a small plateau with three steps leading down to the opening between the cafe where she worked at and the flower shop next door.
Almost slipping down the steps, Vivian moved down the wall only the slightest bit towards the boardwalk before dropping to her knees, hands just barely catching her before she sat back against the wall and extended legs out in front of her, allowing the fall air to cool down her too heated skin, black waves of hair cascading down shoulders as she allowed her head to fall, a small crystal necklace falling from where it was tucked beneath her sweater. Small clouds formed in front of her mouth as she breathed out heavily, feeling the fear still course through her veins.
This was the second time she had a vision like that, or at least that’s what she was calling it. Vivian didn’t really have another word for it, nor did she have an explanation either. Not only visions but nightmares too, and they’re focused on the same event that seemed to trigger all of this.
Hinges creaking to her left pulled amber eyes to the small step-up, the thoughts of visions and nightmares pushed aside as a blonde head poked out from behind the navy door, only a moment passing before blue eyes landed on her. An easy smile formed on his lips as he stepped more out the door and into the alley, allowing the metal door to shut a lot quieter than Vivian did. Once again, he was gentle with everything. Amber eyes remained focused as the man came towards her.
“Did you not grab your coat?” Elias asks once he’s within a few feet, that warm presence slipping off of him and wrapping around Vivian’s insides, making her instantly feel comfortable with the man. It was one of the many things that just showcased how gentle Elias was, even his aura like that of a warm summer breeze. Only it was the beginning of November and the thin teal sweater that covered her upper half didn’t offer much warmth, black skirt and tights the same. “It’s freezing out here, Vi.”
Amber hues watched as her coworker began to strip off his own coat, a thick army green outer fabric with black fur nestled inside. Although it did look remarkably warm, Vivian put her hands up before the man could get it off his first arm. “N-No, no it’s okay Elias. I was getting really hot and I needed to cool down.” Vivian admits, not wanting to add more layers atop her heated skin, the cold air just barely affecting the warmth that flooded from her body. She was surprised steam didn’t just rise off her skin. “Did Ms. Hemsworth send you?”
Elias looked the girl over for a moment before speaking again. “She did. You’ve been acting strange since Penny.” The man runs fingers through his blonde hair, catching strands that came loose from the ponytail and tucking them away. A huff of breath formed a cloud in front of thin lips. “I”m worried too, Vi.”
With the mention of Penny, Vivian goes still, amber eyes seeming to glaze over as a new scene forms in front of her, Elias slowly dissipating as any traces of sunlight were quickly vanquished, a dark night taking hold around her. What the hell? A hand went to her chest, pressing the necklace that rested there into her skin.
“Vivian?” The gentle ring of Elias’ voice brought her back to the present, the sun still high in the sky as two o’clock just passed, shadows creating dark spots within in the alley, amber forcing themselves away from the scene and back towards azure hues. Elias was clearly concerned, lines formed along his forehead as he frowned at the black haired girl. “Let’s go sit by the water,” sparing a glance behind him, he looked to where Vivian’s eyes were focused a moment before, yet there was nothing but an empty alley, “yeah?”
A moment passed before Vivian nodded, allowing her coworker pull her up with his featherlight touch before following him as they walked towards the mouth of the alley, it giving way to the Boardwalk, a strip of wooden pathway following the south shore of Lake Ashton, eighteen shops, cafes, and the like nestled just above a rocky beach. People came more so for the shops then the lake, but the wealthy folk did enjoy cruising on their boats during summertime, but November left the body of water still and quiet. Vivian much preferred it that way.
Sitting down on a bench that faced the pebbled beach, both of them took a deep breath at the same time, exchanging looks as they seemed to notice. “It feels so weird.” Elias spoke before the black haired girl could even think of what to say. Yet that did seem like the perfect thing to say at a moment like this.
“Should it feel normal yet?” Vivian replied, keeping eyes on the blue waters as they lapped the faded rocks. The vision from earlier still seemed to appear when she blinked, the darkness of her lids allowing the blood-red sky to form where the blue was a moment ago. Keeping her eyes open was something she added on her constant list of things to do, along with not thinking about her nightmares, visions, and the fact she could feel aura’s off of people. Or that’s what she thought they were. Vivian could just be crazy. “Weird seems right at a time like this.”
Elias hums softly, a slight shake of his head as he also focuses on the shore in front of them, this time of year offering a much quieter experience as opposed to late July or mid August. Even the boardwalk behind them wasn’t as bustling as it usually was, but it was still busy enough with the holidays coming up. “I suppose you are right. It would almost be disrespectful if we were to act as though everything were normal.” The man adds, crossing arms over his chest as azure hues stayed on the ocean despite the way amber crept towards them. “What happened to her wasn’t normal. Not for New Ashton.” Something strange suddenly found its way into Elias’ tone, making the girls chest stir.
“You’re right.” Vivian agreed, looking away from the man and back towards the lake. With it only being just past two, there was still several hours left to her shift, making her stomach churn with the thought. It wasn’t normal for her to feel like that, she loved working at Boardwalk Cafe with Elias and Ms. Hemsworth, yet something in her gut told her that something was wrong. Not with work but with something else. “The night is not safe.”
The words came out before she could stop them, the tone dark and cold, starling Elias into looking over at her with wide azure eyes. Vivian could feel the blush creeping up her cheeks. What was that? “It’s not.” Elias agreed, seeming to sense the way the raven haired girl felt tense and confused. “Do you want me to hang back for closing?”
Vivian brought amber up to meet azure. “Oh, no Elias, I couldn’t ask you to do that. You’ve been here since this morning.” It was a quick rejection, one that the girl didn’t even need to think about before she was waving her hands and shaking her head. “Go home when your shift ends, I’ll be okay closing up. It’s been a week since it happened.”
“Vivian.” Elias was short when he said her name, instantly making her quiet as she suddenly felt like a child being scolded. He even looked disappointed as their eyes locked. “It has only been a week, and they still don’t know who did it.” The blonde turned his body more towards her now, lying one arm across the back of the bench to better angle himself. Fingertips whispered against the wisps of fuzz that came from her teal sweater.
“You mean what did this.” Vivian corrected, angling herself towards him a little more, allowing the small comfort that his extended arm gave her. “I’m pretty sure the police are still ruling it as an animal attack.” Her tone was brought down with the topic, not wanting to pull eyes from the passersby. Not many things like this happened in New Ashton, in reality things like this didn’t happen here.
New Ashton was a tiny lake town about three hours south from Portland with forests and hills surrounding every which way besides the lake and a small manmade pass where the only street that left town resided. With one grocery store and one gas station, everyone knows everyone. That was something that Vivian learned after having moved here a few years back, almost everyone knowing she was new in town for about six months until they accepted she was staying here. If it wasn’t for her best friend, Vivian wouldn’t even know about New Ashton. Such a small town is so easily rattled by such a gruesome crime.
“Fine, they still don’t know what did it and I’m concerned about your wellbeing.” Elias spoke out in a rushed tone, letting his back slump as he was sitting straight a moment earlier. “You shouldn’t be walking home alone, in the dark, after what happened to Penny.” The man’s tone became soft as his worry became apparent, even a tinge to azure eyes reflected the concern in his words.
Vivian let out a sigh before reaching a hand to grasp the man’s arm slung across the bench. “Thank you Elias, really. But please, go home after your shift.” Her fingers gave a tight squeeze as she pleaded, and she could see the way his emotions stirred behind ocean eyes. “You’ve been here since five in the morning, when four rolls around, you are going home.”
There was a defiance in his eyes, but it quickly dissipated as he let out a soft sigh, head dropping before a small nod shook blonde hair loose. “Yes ma’am.”
Whenever four did end up rolling around, it took a little more convincing before Vivian was able to get Elias on his way home, the staff members dwindling down as the afternoon gave way to evening, sun dipping low and painting the sky golden hues of orange and red. With it being a Sunday, the cafe closed earlier than usual, allowing Vivian to leave the cafe a couple hours before normal. Of course, with November slowly creeping in, the days were cut short and when Vivian locked the doors to Boardwalk Cafe at nine thirty that night, it was almost pitch black outside besides lamps above head.
The thought of walking home during this darkness didn’t usually stir fear within her, yet it did tonight, feeling eyes watching her every move as her mile and half walk home felt like hours, the only relief being when her front door finally shut behind her.