Note: The name Renee is pronounced "Re-nay" and usually spelt with an apostrophe on the second 'e'- it differs from the masculine 'Rene' only with the placement of a third 'e'.

The Darkrose

By Akaia Autumngold

Started: Wed. 23 Feb. 2005

Chapter I: Perdita

Dark. Dusk and night. Tearing me down, tearing me down.

The words refused to leave her alone.

She sobbed as she ran, she who never cried. She sobbed and sobbed and pushed her long hair out of her face as her breath rasped in her chest.

Pushing me down, pushing me down. I cannot breathe. I will not breathe.

Tears dead and dying I'm dead I'm flying

She ran blindly, endlessly, not knowing where she was going. It was enough just to know she was going.

Fleeing them fleeing him running ever running

Away from their hate.

No, she corrected herself. They didn't hate her. They just didn't care.

Indifference.

He didn't care.

No-one cared.

No-one.

Alone always to count the days burning into my mind

Suddenly stopping, the girl skidded to a halt. Numbly, the tears still streaming from her eyes, she turned to look into the sky. Above, night waited to pounce upon the day, smothering it; killing it with jealous hate.

Dark. Dusk and night. Tearing me down, tearing me down.

In the small, dark wood, she sank down onto her knees, screaming and screaming, howling in blind, primeval suffering. It felt good to make a noise; she'd been silent for so long.

Pushing me down, pushing me down. I can not breathe. I will not breathe.

Broken and shattered, the girl clutched the ground desperately, as though expecting to feel it move underneath her.

Dark. Dusk and night. Tearing me down, tearing me down.

"Why…?" a single word, so simple, so deep. Her voice was quiet, hoarse, wavering on into the silence. "Why?"

A bird flew, shrieking, into the distance.

No reply.

"Why?!" The girl shrieked again, howling the pain to the stars.

Fleeing them fleeing him running ever running

Yet she never used to run. She would just stay there, silent, and wait for the storm to wash over her.

Yet she was running now.

Indifference

Lost.

No way out

There is no way out.

They don't care.

No-one cares.

Perdita.

Lost. I am lost.

Resurrection.

Death.

Tears dead and dying I'm dead I'm flying

To be reborn one has to die.

Die.

They wouldn't notice.

Indifference.

There is no way out

Tears dead and dying I'm dead I'm flying

Save one.

Resurrection.

Death.

No way out

Lost. I am lost.

Perdita

I am Perdita.

Behind her, the mighty roar of a cataract threatened to deafen her; in some distant part of her brain she felt numb surprise; she'd come so far just by running blindly, running away from civilization.

Resurrection.

The girl stiffened. Still on the ground, she looked up slowly.

Die.

But…

No way out

I'm lost.

Die.

Yes.

Tears dead and dying I'm dead I'm flying

Yes.

Resurrection.

Yes!

She didn't fight the words, now; it was easier to submit, submit as she had always done. The words were helping her; they were her friend, so much better than all the others, smiling fake smiles and empty promises, barely hiding the indifference.

Indifference.

No more.

Resurrection.

Death.

Die.

But…how?

Pushing me down, pushing me down. I can not breathe. I will not breathe.

Drowning.

The river.

As if in a dream, she slowly got up. She brushed the mud from her knees, pushed her hair out of her face with a hand that trembled uncontrollably. Her eyes were vacant as she walked forward; walked forward until she was on the high plateau.

No way out

Far, far, below her, the river tumbled and roared as it sped past; it reminded her of a savage beast being led down to be slaughtered; spitting and snarling, jerking its head viciously….how did it know? How did it feel it's time was nigh? What sense gave it that knowledge, that awful certainty? Was it a voice? Was it the same voice now offering her the only way out?

Resurrection

The only way out.

Die

In a heartbeat, the girl said goodbye to all she'd ever known, all she'd ever thought of, all she'd ever wished for. Most of it wasn't really worth remembering; and everything had led to nothing, anyway. She didn't have a note to write; no-one would find it-but even if they did, who would read it? Her mother?

Indifference.

Her friends?

Alone always to count the days burning into my mind

Him?

Fleeing them fleeing him running ever running

A last breath; 'my last breath'- she'd always loved that song- Evanescence, such a perfect word, a perfect meaning…

Die

She edged closer, casting her eyes up into the sky- the last thing she wanted to see, the only thing she'd ever wanted to see. She spread her arms wide.

Dark. Dusk and night. Tearing me down, tearing me down.

The tears already drying on her face, she closed her eyes.

She stepped forward, gracefully, decisively. Irrevocably.

Tears dead and dying I'm dead I'm flying

The fall was shorter than she had expected; a heartbeat in which she had no time for any thoughts at all, before she plummeted into the mass of roaring, crushing water.

Pushing me down, pushing me down. I can not breathe. I will not breathe.

Battered and broken as she was, she refused to open her eyes. She had looked her last; she would not sully the memory of her beloved sky with comparisons of this clogging watery hell.

I can not breathe. I will not breathe.

Blackness invaded her mind, merciful blackness, deep as the unclouded night sky.

Perdita

She let herself go. She let everything go.

Resurrection.

Axel was bored. Very bored, in fact. So bored he was counting the number of ants crawling around on the forest floor. Not many, actually. They didn't seem to like him and his friends.

"Axel, thanks a million, man. I really do appreciate it." Mike's voice sounded sincere. "Look, I swear, next time I won't need you to come along. Really."

The boy turned to look at his friend. "Yeah, yeah, that's what you said last time. And anyway, just where is your wonderful girlfriend?"

Mike scowled. "She said she'll be here!"

Axel raised one eyebrow laconically.

"She will!"

"…whatever you say." He scratched his nose before sighing. "Look, don't take this personally, but I'm bored out of my skull. I'm outta here, you know?"

His friend scowled. "Aw, come on……"

"Mike, it's getting dark, I'm tired, cold and hungry. Plus, my parents are going to figure something's up if I don't get home soon."

A derisive snort. "Who cares about parents? Ah, but I forgot who I was talking to. Mr. Nice-Guy……jeez."

Axel shook his head, not knowing what to say. "Huh, if I'm such a nice guy then why am I blowing you off like this?"

Mike frowned. "How should I know? But, what the hell, if you want to go then do. I'm staying here, though."

"Your loss."

"Ah, just get outta here you big looser!"

"Are you always this good at flattery?"

"I'm multi-talented. What can I say?"

Axel sighed, bored. "Fine, fine, see you later."

Not heeding his friend's reply, if any, he turned around and walked out of the clearing, in the direction in which he hoped civilization lay. The trees grew wilder, denser as the sun sank in the west; the temperature dropped sharply, the air becoming thin and cold.

Axel walked on. After a while, he lost track of time. He knew he was going in the wrong direction, but he wouldn't admit to being lost.

Perhaps my pride wouldn't handle it he thought as he grinned wryly. He wasn't that worried; it was a small wood, after all- and besides, the possibilities of anything "bad" happening in were zero. (Whisper that nasty word, you'll give the kids nightmares)

I live in the most safely boring small town ever created by mankind.

The sun had now set completely. In the semi-darkness, Axel felt the first pangs of worry.

Aw, come on. I'll find my way back, easy.

The faint rushing of a river came faintly to his ears.

A river? I've come that far?

At least he knew where he was, now. If he could just get to the river, he'd be able to follow it upstream to where a bridged road led back into town.

Glad of his jacket in the frozen silence of winter, he pushed forward through the trees, eyes wide open in the faint, wavering dusk-light. The bank of the river came upon him suddenly, despite the furious roaring and he almost slipped and fell. Regaining his balance, he was careful to edge away from the rushing water; the river in this time of year was deadly.

He'd already turned to walk on when his casual eye was caught by a black bundle floating eerily in a pool.

At first he thought it was a dead otter.

Then he saw the glassy, lifeless face.

Frozen in shock, he simply stood and gaped for a few seconds. Then, instinct kicked in and he lurched back, wanting to be sick. Horrified, he stared once more at the river, then looked around, as though waiting for someone else to come out and relieve him of the awful knowledge, the frightening responsibility. Then, when nothing happened, he took another pace forward.

He could easily have left. Instead, suddenly possessed by a feverish haste, he waded into the freezing, ice-cold water.

The force of the rushing river almost overwhelmed him, the cold slicing his body like a knife, penetrating his mind, dulling his senses. It was suddenly very hard to think. With one slow pace after another, he reached the rock pool, the retaining trap created by the river for its follow-ons, the debris, the unwanted…….

Reaching out a hand numbed by the cold, Axel felt a mess of soaked fabric and silky flesh. A cloud of brown hair swam haloed a face tinged blue; pinched, white lips, cold, closed eyelids, cheeks devoid of any colour.

Horrified, he turned away and almost vomited into the water. Drawn by a sickly fascination, he glanced back at the lifeless body. A girl, she might have been pretty once, not more than sixteen. She'd have had a boyfriend, gone to school, been yelled at by her parents for staying out too late….

And there she was in front of him, dead in a watery grave.

Axel sobbed aloud in horror and pity, then cast another fruitless look over the shore.

He was all alone with the corpse of a drowned girl.

Fighting the impulse to scream, he reached out again and managed to grasp a slippery, ice-cold arm. Turning around, frenzied he splashed his way to the shore, towing his burden behind him. She weighed almost nothing.

At last reaching the bank, he cast himself on the shore and lay there shuddering and retching helplessly; a little way in front of him, the dead girl lay with her face to the sky.

The river rushed on, deprived of its victim.

How much time passed like that, Axel didn't know. All he knew was that he lay there, shaking and feeling like the sky had fallen on top of him, until at last he lurched up, and, on his hands and knees, crawled over to where the girl lay.

Darkness had fallen completely now. He couldn't see anything, but he felt the still face, the damp skin. Without knowing why, he started crying. As the tears trickled from his face, he felt a slight stir beneath his fingers; a flutter, soon to cease again. Axel froze.

It was so cold.

And wet.

The thoughts came slowly, hesitantly.

Cold.

I am.

Cold.

She couldn't understand.

Am I not dead?

Is this death?

She felt sandy soil beneath her, felt a chilling breath of air.

This is death?

This?

She could feel the presence of someone above her, looking down.

Him.

Was it him?

NO!

Panicking, her eyes shot open, wide open to take in a darkness eternal, gray shadows moving, dark……

What is this?

And still she couldn't understand.

A movement above her. A hand, reaching down to touch her face. Warmth.

What's going on?

A sob, emotion from the shadow.

It was only when she saw the shadow was human that she realized she was alive.

AN: I'd like to thank you for reading my story. I do very much appreciate it. I won't bore you with the accustomed groveling for reviews; however, any received will be welcomed.

Oh, if any of my veteran reviewers are reading this, you'll probably be wondering if this is going to be one of my usual one-chapter-never-to-be-completed stories. Apologies, but I'm unable to make any commitments…….however (yes, there is a 'however') I feel fairly confident in saying that I will get this story finished. Or at least a decent way through before tossing it aside in my usual manner.

Hm, that really wasn't what you wanted to hear, was it? Never mind.

attempts to put on American accent

On the next episode……

"Perdita", now snatched from the grave by an innocent bystander has to confront her cold, shattered life once more……while that innocent bystander is unprepared to stand aside and watch the girl he saved take her life once more……what follows? All you folks can be sure of is a whole lot of angst, blood, random Goths floating in and out, and of course……romance.

Tune in next time to….

The Darkrose

Chapter Two: Contact