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Archive for September, 2013

What if you were hunted by what you’d created? Because what you created wanted to be free…

Screen Shot 2013-09-26 at 11.01.40 PM

He hurried down the narrow pathway, turning back every few moments to see if it remained empty. The bundle of papers in his hand was hastily wrapped in twine, the pages torn and wrinkled from the rain despite his best efforts to keep them under his coat. His hair flew untamed in the wind as he dashed between alleys, his raincoat flapping in his wake. It didn’t matter to him that his clothes were soaked through, or that his bones rattled with every shallow breath he took. If someone were to catch a glimpse of him now, running through the muddy backwaters of London, they would not know him. They would see some vagrant in a tattered black trench, with eyes that gleamed white beneath a tuff of unkempt curls. Still there was lightness in his step; he flew down the street as though on wings. He felt free… or perhaps he just knew the world better now. He saw it for what it was; what he now knew it had always been. It was the kind of knowing that was both wonderful and terrifying at the same time, and it was the kind that would see him dead. Out of the corner of his eye he thought he saw someone, a girl with black hair and calm, welcoming eyes. He realized then how little time there was.

The lightning crashed above him and rent the sky in a flash of light that sought to reveal every shadow. Soon there would be nowhere left to hide. He took a sharp left, weaving between overturned trash bins. The lighting struck the rooftop above him, dropping shingles and broken brick. He leapt out onto the sidewalk, nearly crashing into an old woman holding a white umbrella, the print of a map faded from years of use.

“So sorry,” he panted without stopping.

“You can’t outrun them,” she called after him. He knew that. He had no intention of outrunning anyone. Not anymore.

He pulled the bundle from beneath his coat. The address on the top was barely legible, the ink spreading on the wet paper. He raced up to the post box, stuffing the bundle in as he past. Somewhere down the street a car swerved onto the road, blasting “Stone Cold Crazy” so loud he would have laughed if he weren’t out of breath and numb with fear. He dashed back into the alley just in time to avoid being dragged under the front end of the Bentley.

He continued to run, suddenly forgetting all he’d known about the city, forgetting the names of buildings and streets. He ran until all he could hear was the sound of his own breath, and then he stopped. He doubled over, exhausted. It felt as though his lungs might explode. He had never been the most athletic person, and, after a time, no one had seemed to mind. He nearly wished he had decided to be a gym teacher or a pharmacist… nearly. When he straightened, the girl with dark hair stood silently in front of him, her beautiful face puckered as though she were wrestling with a thought.

“Somehow, I knew you’d come,” he said with a weary smile.

“In the end, I always do,” was all she said.

He heard it then, the purposeful click of fine dress shoes on stone. Even though the rain fell heavily, he could hear them; two sets of footsteps. He looked down the alley. It was empty. When he turned back, the girl was gone, but he knew she wasn’t really. He waited there for what seemed like an eternity, as sheets of rain pelted the rooftops of London and slid down its gritty brick walls, drowning the city… or perhaps only him. He wondered if an unseen city stretched below, if fishponds spanned as far as oceans, if gods walked among men.

He saw them approach, two mismatched figures strolling calmly down the alley, unconcerned by the rain that would surely ruin their crisp black suits. Suddenly he felt the urge to run, to call out to someone for help, but instead he stood, wordlessly, his trench coat wrapped around him like a protective cloak. As the two men stood before him he realized that he knew them, he’d known them nearly all his life and, for a moment, he felt regret.

“Dreadful night, isn’t it?” said one with a crooked smile.

“Quite right you are, Mr. Vandemar,” replied the other. “Dreadful indeed.”

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