Waking in a strange time and place, Erin's quest begins.
|The wind howled and shadows danced the dance of death on the walls of buildings, like unfinished silhouettes trying to escape a canvas. Water poured from the sky; the rain beat the Earth like there was an unspoken quarrel between the two. This was a night that misery lurked in the covers of darkness, a night where a man could get away with murder, rape, and all things of sin.
Erin lifted her head off the ground revealing pieces of mud and grass plastered to her face. Rain pelted her already soaked body. She peered off warily in each direction. "What in the...? Where am I?" Frantically she reached for the heart shaped locket her mother had given her a few short years before she lost her to cancer. She found the locket secured safely around her neck. At least I have you with me, Mom.
"Help! Is anyone out there?" She yelled. The chorus of crashing rain was the only reply. "Please, someone...anyone." Her arms shook as she pushed herself to her feet, her body depleted of energy. Her stomach growled.
To the south, darkness enveloped the world. She turned her gaze to the north, shadowy outlines of buildings painted her vision, the makings of a city. Buildings mean people, and people means I can get answers. I can get help. I hope. She walked.
Thick black clouds roiled overhead. The street was as dark as late twilight and empty of people who had apparently not waited to be caught in the rain. Erin saw a man running across a bridge down the street; the only sign of life Erin saw in any direction. The wind was picking up, blowing what appeared to be a shirt down the street until it disappeared into the abysmal darkness. Thunder grumbled and rolled.
Erin darted through the streets, building after building, street after street, she saw no one. Her clothes drenched by the downfall, they tapered to her petite frame. Her black hooded sweatshirt stuck tightly to her body. She felt the dampness from the rain through its fabric on her cheeks and forehead. The more it rained, the heavier her hoodie felt. Erin's tightly fitted blue jeans fit even tighter to her body, their light blue color shaded dark by the rain. With each step the soles of her shoes squelched.
Erin slowed as she approached a dark alley. Anything can be waiting for me in there. she thought. Erin crept towards the alley. Her body trembled, the thudding sound of her heart beating outweighed the sound of the crashing rain. She slid her gaze around the corner and down the shadow-filled alley. Halfway down stood the shape of what appeared to be a man wearing a cloak. She couldn't put her finger on it, but something bothered her about this man, something made her feel unneasy. At least he isn't looking this way. I'm sure I can pass by unknowingly. Erin hurried past. She continued to look over her shoulder for the man, no one followed. She quickened her pace anyways and continued to look behind her. Erin grasped her locket, she felt safe. With a sigh of relief she turned her gaze back to what lay ahead of her, when lightning flashed and fear struck her heart.
Erin stood paralyzed, a tremor ran down her back, panic flowed through her veins. The cloaked figure blocked her path. She realized why this man was strange to her, something that terrified her even more. Lightning hammered the earth, thunder screamed across the sky, gallons of rain poured from the heavans and the wind was capable of moving mountains. His cloak didn't move. His eyes were black holes of emptiness. I just want to go home. She thought.
"Why are you here? Why do you roam these streets with no protection?" His voice hissed.
Don't show fear Erin, be strong. "I-I, I'm on my way home. W-Who are you?" She said.
"They have named me Akkar, but that is of no importance to you Aya. What is important, if you have any sense, is to find a way to leave here as quickly as possible."
Her body quivered at the sound of his voice. Without thinking she darted past him, she had to find help, certain that her survival depended on it. She could hear the cloaked man faintly shouting at her through the storm. All she could make out was, "...we own the night..." She thought the man was laughing. She didn't slow.
She rounded a corner with what appeared to be a large worn down building across the street. It's best I get off of the streets, at least until the storm breaks...If it ever breaks.
Erin ran across the road, water splashed with each step, she paid no attention. Her entire body was soaked, she just wanted to be home. Erin grasped her locket, I wish I could hug you Mom.
As expected, she found the front doors of the warehouse locked. She walked around the building, searching for a way in. A feeling that someone or something was watching her overcame her. Frightened, she started to run, looking for an open window or any means of getting inside safely.
Erin thought she could hear laughter. Her body trembled in fear. Erin picked up a stone. This will have to do. I'll have to break a window. Erin almost beat the stone through the shattering glass of what was once a window.
Pitch black inside, the darkness enslaved her. Thunder shook the world outside and a constant dripping noise inside heightened her awareness and kept her in constant fear. Erin crept forward, letting the periodic flashes of lightning be her guide. She found her way up four flights of stairs and down two hallways, deep into the abandoned building where no one could find her.
She rounded a corner of another hallway, just as a huge flash of lightning lit up the building. Erin cleary saw that at the end of the hallway was a large window overlooking the entrance she had made for herself to get inside. That would be a good place for me, I could see if anyone was coming in after me. If anyone wasn't already inside.
Next to the window, Erin put her back up against the wall and let her body slide down until she was kneeling next to the window. She held on to the window sill and looked out into the thrashing storm. She saw nothing, not a single sign of life. She felt a sense of relief. Erin grasped her locket, closed her eyes and rested her head against the wall.
A loud crash of thunder left Erin wide-eyed and alert. Oh no, did I fall asleep? She looked out the window. Erin saw nothing. She looked down the hallway. Lightning flashed. Erin's breathing stopped, her body froze in shock. The figure of a man stood at the opposite end of the hallway. Snap out of it Erin, you're letting your mind play tricks on you.
Another flash of lightning and the figure was gone. See, you are just freaking yourself out. You need to calm down Erin, take a deep breath, just breathe.
A third flash of lightning, the figure was back. But it wasn't on the opposite side of the hallway, the shadowy figure was halfway down the hallway. Erin almost screamed. The cloaked man!
Another flash. The figure a little closer...And another...Even closer. Another flash of lightning and to Erin's shock the figure had vanished, there was nothing. Erin's vision started to get fuzzy as tears built up in her eyes. Erin's body trembled but she forced herself to her feet. Another flash, a man's face was a mere inches away from her face. Erin reached forward warily. She felt nothing. She reached further. Her hand still touched nothing. She reached even further. Nothing. She stretched her arm out as far as she could. Still nothing.
Erin started to cry. With tears came a prayer that her mother often recited: "Lord, watch over me, keep me safe, hold my hand, protect this place. Lord, watch over me, keep me safe, hold my hand, protect this place Lord, watch over me, keep me safe, hold my hand, protect this place."
"Don't be frightened. I will not harm you." A voice spoke.
Startled, Erin jumped. A lantern lit up, revealing to Erin an older man with a long white beard sitting on the opposite side of the window from her. "You are Erin, yes?"
"H-how d-do you kn-know my name?" Erin said.
"Oh, I know a lot of things about you, miss. You have no need to fret about those things now. How long have you been here?" The man said.
"You mean how long have I been in the building?" Erin said.
The man smiled, "I'll take that as you haven't been here long. I was hoping I'd get to you soon."
"I d-don't kn-know who you are or what you are tal-talking about, but I want to go home."
"I know you do Erin, but right now I need you to tell me about everything that's happened from when you awoke, up until now. Did you see or talk to anyone?"
Erin lead the man through what had happened to her, she told him about her encounter with the cloaked man and how his cloak didn't move about in the storm, about how his eyes were empty holes of nothingness, how he had called her Aya, why for some reason he didn't chase her when she ran. The old man just looked on at her, stroking his long white beard and nodding as she spoke.
"...and then appear and disappear down the hallway and scare me half...you scare me half to death. I just, I want to go home. I, I-I, I feel.....dizzy."
Her body was weak; she was confused; she trembled from fear and exhaustion. Her eyes started to roll back into her head, her body fell forward. The man jumped up just in time to catch her before she landed face first on the floor.
"You sleep for now Aya, we have a long journey ahead of us."