OneA Chapter by Aly
The sound of running feet made me jump into a dark alley. They were approaching fast and whoever it was, was breathing hard. I heard more feet following the first set. “Stop!” I heard the people in the distance shout. Police, not the kind of police I’d grown up with, but murderous human beings that didn’t just handcuff you and put you into a jail cell, close, but much worse. They killed you, in the most brutal torturous ways if you were caught. They’d almost gotten me before, but somehow I’d escaped. I wasn’t so sure this person would be so lucky.
“Please, God.” I heard the person say as they ran past my hiding place. It was a tall, slim male with short blonde hair. He looked about my age a scared to death. He must be new at this. I grabbed the nearest thing to me, a bent metal trashcan, and hurled it into the street. I grabbed another one and threw that too. The police got distracted easily. Then I jumped into the street myself. I had knives, three years worth of knife collecting paid off in this moment. I started throwing them and the police scattered. They were tough, but they weren’t untouchable. I turned and ran as I threw the knives behind my head. This was a fight I would win with ease. I’d had enough practice.
I ran as fast as I could in the direction the boy had gone, knowing the police would again be chasing us. I saw him ahead and he was slow. I also saw an alley that I’d used many times to hide in in this city. I caught up to him and he saw me. His eyes were full of fear. I gave him a look that meant trust me, and pushed him into the alley. He fell to the ground, but he was in it. I grabbed him and pulled him behind one of the run down green dumpsters and we waited in silence. The running feet got louder and then they passed us. About fifteen police ran right by us and left us in silence.
I looked over at the boy and his face was hard. He looked, not scared, but yet still afraid. He was cute for a dirty city boy that was rebelling against his family, but at least he had the guts. I gave him a questioning look and he huffed at me. He didn’t say anything, which surprised me. City people were known for how much they could talk. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d ever said a word. In fact, I didn’t even need to talk anymore. I’d learned expressions so well while being in hiding for so long, that I thought words were useless, but he didn’t seem to understand. He just looked blank.
I nudged his shoulder to get him to look at me and used my eyes to question him. He rolled his eyes at me and looked away. He wasn’t very good at answering people, so I spoke. “Why are you running?” My voice sounded old and rough like it’d been dug out from a chest in an ancient attic.
He scowled. I’d saved his life and he looked at me like I was trash. Maybe because to him, and his fancy town life, I was trash. I stood and gave him a look that meant he was on his own, and sunk into the shadows. “Show me how you do that.” Finally, he said something. I maneuvered back into sight.
“Only if you promise not to lure the police back, and answer my question.” My voice sounded stronger. I thought I hadn’t missed talking until I was again.
He looked around. “I promise.”
I kept my eyes on him and nodded my head. “And why are you running?” I asked.
He chuckled a little, something I hadn’t done in a long time. “It’s hard to tell anymore, it’s been so long.”
I gave him a confused look. All of a sudden he’d changed and I’d realized he wasn’t from the city. He was like me. He had the same watchful eyes and tough exterior. How had the police found him? “It’s been a long time for me too, but I remember what I’m doing this for.” I said.
“Are you sure about that?” He said with a cocky smile. “If you knew, don’t you think you’d be done, that you’d be happy, but you’re not. You’re still searching for God knows what. None of us know what were doing anymore.” He didn’t stop smiling. He had a look in his eye that said he didn’t care anymore.
“I do. I’m going to kill them. I’m going to kill ALL of them! For my family.” I said fiercely. That was the one thing I wanted out of this life.
“Yeah, yet you’re here. You’re in this filthy alley with the likes of me, hoping for something that will never happen. You’ll never get revenge for them. None of us will ever get the revenge we want. The sooner you realize that, the sooner you realize death is the only way out of this crap called life.” He said this with such sincerity, like he’d said it a million times, that I wanted to smack him.
“I will! I’m stronger than you. I make things happen. I don’t lure police to me to get myself killed because I haven’t succeeded yet. I will get my revenge.” I said. The last time I’d been so angry with someone was when I’d been angry with myself for not saving my parents. How was he giving up so easily?
“You won’t. You never will. You’re just one person against the world. The world always wins.” He said. He had the same cocky grin, but in his eyes I could see how much he believed it, yet how much he wanted to be wrong.
“Then help me.” I said simply. My voice was getting tired from all the talking and it cracked.
“I can’t.” He said with a shake of his head. “Now, can you show me how you disappeared?”
I shook my head yes and walked backwards into he shadows. I let them engulf me as my body became one with them. I thought only about becoming invisible. “Amazing.” He whispered.
After the world, for many people, came to an end, it was thought that the survivors had gained powers. It was true. Every person I’d met that had come from the towns that had been destroyed had some strange power, or compatibility with something, and mine was with darkness. No, I wasn’t evil; it was the good kind of darkness. Darkness was my cloak. I could make it do whatever I needed in order to protect myself, and I’d known this for a long time, ever since I escaped the first time from the police. “It’s my,” I cleared my throat, “It’s what I was given when I escaped. I guess you could say it’s my power.” He gave me a look that told me he had no idea what I was talking about. “Never mind.”
“Can you teach me how to do it?” He asked hopefully.
“Sorry, I can’t. I could try, but it wouldn’t work for you, unless I was there to help, and-“ I started to tell him, but was cut off by loud shrieking and footsteps.
“S**t, not again.” He said. I glared at him and pushed him back behind the dumpster. The footsteps were getting closer.
“Help!” The voice said as it came nearer. The boy, I didn’t even know his name, looked at me with a look that said, not this one too. He must have seen it on my face. I was almost ready to jump out and save the person. I shook my head. It wasn’t worth getting myself killed over. “Please!” The voice shouted again, and a girl with flaming red hair ran into the alley. Her eyes flicked around, taking in her surroundings, but she didn’t see us. She looked right at us, but with the last bit of darkness, I covered us up. I looked at the boy and he gave me a confused look. “I know you’re here! I can feel you!” She screamed. More footsteps were heading in this direction.
“Help her.” The boy whispered to me pleadingly. I shook my head no. I didn’t know what she wanted. How could I trust her? “You trusted me.” He said as though he was reading my mind.
“And that was a mistake.” I said back. Honestly, it wasn’t, but I couldn’t help her. Something told me she wasn’t good.
“Did you find them?” A man asked as he came into the alley.
“No. They’re good.” Said the girl. “That boy has been giving us a run for our money for weeks and when we almost have him, this girl shows up and saves him. Now they’re gone.” I looked over at the boy and his expression was that of shock.
“Well, we won’t give up. We’ll keep looking.” The man said as he left the alley.
“Yes we will.” She said and the words came out in a hiss. “I will get you.” She said to the air, but I knew it was directed towards us, and then she left.
I laid my head against the wall and looked up. This whole thing was impossible. I could never defeat these people. “Alright, I’ll help.” The boy whispered to me. “You’ve got skill.”
I glared at him and then looked back up at the sky. “What’s your name?”
He dusted off his pant leg and looked over at me. “Winter. Yours?”
I gave him a questioning look. Was it weird that every person I’d met had different names? No one had a name that didn’t sound heroic or strong like Sarah or Brian, they were all names like Zeus or Slade, Airtimes or Isis. Winter sounded like a fierce warrior name. “Avalon.”
His eyes lit up when I said my name. “That sounds like the name of one really powerful girl.” I nodded, but I didn’t have the energy to thank him. I’d talked too much today and it had just started. After a few minutes he cleared his throat. “So, what are we doing?”
I shrugged. I really had no idea what to do, what with police looking for us, and daylight fast approaching and all. I stood and dusted off my pants, not that it helped remove any dirt or anything, and slug my backpack over my shoulders. “Let’s start moving.”
He stood up. “Where are we going?” He asked. I shrugged again. I just wanted to move. I wanted to make progress. “Why don’t you talk that much?”
I turned to him. “This is the first time I’ve talked in probably a year. I know when it’s time to shut up, and in this city, where I’ve been for almost that long, you shouldn’t talk anywhere near as much as you do.” I closed my mouth intending for it to stay closed when he laughed. I gave him a dirty look. “How can you laugh? Do you realize what’s going on around you? There’s no reason to laugh.”
He stopped and shot the dirty look right back. “Just because you’re all depressed and insisting on making the worst of your life, doesn’t mean I have too.” He kicked a rock. That made me even angrier. He was the most oblivious person in the world.
“You won’t make it out of here alive.” I blurted. It was true though; he didn’t realize how dangerous this all was. His mouth dropped open. I looked him up and down and confirmed my point. He didn’t even look like a person who realized how bad off we were. He was strangely clean and his clothes were neat and tidy. His face looked soft and his skin looked well groomed without a trace of dirt. Before I’d thought he was dirty, well, I’d just assumed, but he wasn’t. I looked down at myself and saw my stained ripped clothing and my long dirty hair. My skin was bruised and dirty. How could I have passed him off as being like me? “You’re not even like me are you? You’re not even from one of the towns. You’re from the city, the good life, and you just thought you’d have a little fun. Thanks, but I don’t need you on my team. You’ll get me killed.” I had to get away from him. I didn’t know why, but I felt like I’d been betrayed.
“Fine. No, I’m not from the towns, but I want no part of the city.” He looked sincere as he spoke, but it’s taken me a long time to become the fighter I was, he’d take even longer.
“You can’t make it out here.” I said. “Just go back home and pretend this never happened.”
“No.” He said stubbornly. “I’ve got people I’m fighting for too.” He waited awhile. Maybe I was supposed to ask who he was fighting for, but I didn’t. “I lived in one of the towns, but my parents sent me into the city a few days before they were killed. I lost everything too. I jut now got away from the people I was living with. I need revenge too, but it just seems so impossible.”
I tried to tell myself I could teach him how to act out here, but I knew I couldn’t. “I understand, but I can’t have you with me. You’re too big of a risk.”
His eyes dropped to the ground. “You saw how well I did without you.” He said quietly. So he wasn’t as cool and collected as he seemed.
“Yes, and that’s why you need to go home. I can’t risk taking you with me.” I said again. I didn’t think he was going to give up, so I just walked out into the street. People were beginning to file onto the sidewalks so I’d be safe. I was good at blending in. Yes, I was dirty and in ripped clothing, but I could use the few shadows to hide that.
“Please.” He said, following me onto the street. I stayed near the buildings to keep in reach of the shadows while he walked out in plain view.
“No, look at you right now. You’re acting like you don’t need to hide. You stick out like a sore thumb.” I said quietly.
He slumped over into the shadows with me. “But I can learn.” He said quietly back.
“I’m not going to get rid of you am I?” I asked as I slid into an alley and he followed. An old man walked by us without even glancing in our direction. His polished look told me he lived in the city and that he was loyal.
“Nope.” He said with a smile. He smiled too much for my liking. I wasn’t used to people being happy.
“Fine, but if they find us I’m not sticking around to save you this time.” I said, and I meant it.
“Then I’ll try not to get caught.” He said with another smile. I could not remember a day I’d ever smiled. Maybe back when my family was still alive, but it felt so unreal that I couldn’t count it.
We moved back out on the streets staying close to every building and out of the eyes of the people. My stomach was growling loudly but I ignored it. I needed to find a safe place to eat before I even thought of it. We had to keep going anyway. Any day now I’d find out how to escape this town. I’d gotten lost in here a year earlier and hadn’t been able to find a way out that led to the next town. Then I remembered that I had Winter. “How do we get out of here? Which way do we go to get to the next town?”
He had a question mark on his face. “Are you seriously asking that?” Another smile flashed across his face. “Finally I know something you don’t.” He paused and moved in front of me. “Just follow me.” He pushed foreword into the crowds of people that were now filing into the streets. No wonder I didn’t know the way out. I’d always tried to avoid people. He sidestepped into a busy alleyway and took a right out onto a crowded street. I saw the exit at almost that instant. A road that led on for miles. “There.”
I felt my eyes light up. I’d been waiting so long for the day I could leave this place. I took to running. I pushed past him and headed for the road. Then I felt my stomach rumble and I stopped. Winter stopped beside me. “We need food.” I said as I put my hand on my belly. “Can you get some?”
He patted his pockets and then stuffed his hand in one of them. Out came a shinny black wallet. “Sure. They won’t know I’m a runaway, so stay here until I’m back.” He said as he pushed me toward a shadowed corner. I gladly stood there. Thank goodness I’d saved him or I’d have gone hungry for yet another day. I wasn’t very fond of this Winter kid, but I had to admit he could come in handy. I watched as he bought food from a vendor and came back. “Here,” He said, tossing me a sandwich covered in tin foil. Then he handed me a bottle of water. I ate the food quickly and guzzled the water.
“Wow. You were hungry.” He said as he took another bite of his half eaten sandwich. I licked my lips and nodded. He kept looking at me and then he looked at his food. “Here,” He said, handing me the sandwich.
I shook my head. “You’ll need it.”
He laughed again. How could he seem so carefree? “You do need it. Right now. I’ll be fine.” He said, and then he dropped the food into my open hand. It looked at it, and then ate it quickly.
“I’m sorry.” I said, feeling guilty that I had taken his food.
“No you’re fine. After what you’ve done for me, it’s fine.” He said. “We better get going.”
“Yes.” I said as I started the walk to the road. He followed close beside me. We got to the road quickly and as we walked I watched the city disappear behind me. Soon we’d been in complete wilderness until we reached the next city. We’d be walking through places where towns once were and where families were killed. Ruble was already surrounding us on both sides. As we continued to walk I saw Winter tense up. “What’s wrong?”
He fidgeted and blew it off. “Nothing.”
I took in his expression. “No, something is wrong. What is it?”
He answered me quickly. “Please, it’s nothing.”
I kept my eyes on him and watched his expression. It was familiar. Then it hit me. “This is where you lived.” I said, knowingly. “This is where your family died.”
He squeezed his eyes shut and reopened them. “Yeah.” He breathed. Right up there.” I looked to where he pointed and saw a huge pile of wood that was once white and old home furnishings that had been burnt in the fire. Then I saw something else. I saw bodies. They weren’t identifiable, but they were definitely bodies.
“Don’t look.” I said quickly. I wanted to put my hands over his eyes. There were so many. Five of them to be exact. “Please, don’t look.” I begged. He didn’t.
“Okay.” He whispered. I knew what it felt like to want to see something, but knowing that I shouldn’t. It was horrible.
“Let me cover your eyes so you won’t have to worry about being tempted.” I said. The scene was gruesome. As we got nearer I could see the bodies clearer and they were mortifying. I went behind him and covered his eyes with my hands. It had to be uncomfortable, but it was for his own good. If that had been my family, I would have been crying hysterically. Screams were still frozen on their disfigured faces.
“Are we almost passed it?” I heard Winter ask in a quiet voice.
“Almost.” I said. His face felt hot against my hands. “Are you okay?”
“Yeah, I just…” I could feel what he was going to say next, because I felt the same way. “I feel like I should have saved them. I feel like this is my fault.”
I took my hands off his eyes once we passed his old home. “No, it wasn’t your fault. You were in the city when it happened. With me, I could have saved mine, but I was to afraid.” I looked at him and patted his shoulder. It felt strange to try to comfort someone. “Why did they only send you to the city?”
I saw his shoulders fall. “They didn’t.” I saw the hatred for himself in his eyes. “I ran away. I ran away a day before they were killed.” He fell silent but I knew he had more to say. “I should have been there. I could have saved them.”
I looked at him differently. Why had he thought he had had to lie to me? “No,” I said. “You didn’t know.”
We walked in silence for a while and then he asked me a question. “How did you get away?”
I looked down at the ground. I’d never told anyone what I’d done for real. I didn’t want people to think I was afraid, but I thought he deserved the truth. “I hid.” I said quietly. “I saw my dad get shot and I hid in the closet. Then they killed my mom and sisters and burned my house down, and I hid again, in a shed, and waited until they killed everyone, and then I set out for there revenge. I should have just saved them when I had the chance, and I could have, but I was too afraid. I’ll never forgive myself for letting them be killed.”
Winter looked at me with sad eyes. “We’ve all got a story don’t we? Everyone’s got a reason they wake up in the morning.” He wiped a tear from my face that I didn’t know was there. I turned to him and shook my head in agreement. Then we walked on in silence.
I hadn’t realized how long we’d been walking until I watched as the sun set. I felt my body tiring out and a chill settle in my bones. It was going to be a cold night. “Where are we sleeping?” I asked a very tired Winter. He wasn’t used to all the walking around yet.
“Anywhere. I’ll sleep anywhere.” He said groggily, so we did. I saw a cluster of bushes that seemed untouched by the terrors of three years prior, so we slept there.
© 2012 Aly
Added on March 15, 2012
Last Updated on March 17, 2012
AboutI absolutely LOVE writing. I have that in common with NO ONE that I know. I like writing stories about things that could be happening every day, but i also like to write random adventurous ones too! I.. more..