Prologue

43rd Street was a business district. Offices, cleaners, and small little fast food joints lined the street, scarcely leaving any room between buildings. Between Bill's Dry Cleaning and Coffee Haven, a shallow set of steps leads into the alley below.

In this alley sits a man. His eyes are vacant and his chin length layered hair is matted to his head with sweat and blood. The remains of his right arm and left leg are covered in dried blood and the edges of his clothing are stuck to his knitting flesh. He feels nothing.

The pain of it had already passed. The memories of it were buried somewhere in the wreckage of his broken mind. He didn't want to remember. Or feel. Or live. If he closed his eyes, maybe the world would go away. Maybe his mangled body would go away.

He'd been sitting there for nearly a week now, with no food or water. It was only a matter of time before he croaked. He knew it, he was just waiting.

Clouds covered the dismal grey sky and it promised rain. Rain that would wash away some of the blood and leave him less horrifying to the eyes of others.

They watched him. Passersby who made the mistake of skipping down the alley. Sometimes children, who would look fearfully at him and run off. Young men who would glare or snicker down at him. Old folks who looked disapprovingly at him dirtying up their lovely little city.

They could all burn, for what he cared.

It was raining on him now. The drops pound into his head and seep into his hair, eventually running down his face or dripping off his eyelashes. This rain was cold and goosebumps rose up on his flesh. He shivered once or twice, but otherwise made no movement.

Someone else was coming down the stairs now. She was a young woman, no older than twenty. Her brown eyes were downcast and her red hair was pulled back into a low side ponytail. She carried an umbrella and a cup of coffee.

He kept his eyes forward, not bothering to look at her. Making eye contact with these people was the worst of it. It was far easier to just let them pass and not note the horror he would see reflected back at him.

She was two steps past him now and he relaxed. But then she stopped. Turned. And looked at him.

What Kaylie saw sitting on those steps was far from a ghoul or an abomination. No, she saw a tragedy. And it pulled at her heart.

But she was just one person, what could she do? Her eye drifted down to the coffee cup she held in her hand and then upwards to the umbrella hanging over her head. It's the little things that count, right?

He watched her with his peripheral vision, but kept his eyes fixated on the concrete wall opposite him. She set the umbrella down next to him and propped it over his head. Then she set the coffee cup down near his left hand.

And she left. He couldn't help but feel a bit relieved not to have all that rain pounding on him, but her efforts were futile. He was determined to die. She was wasting her time.

He glanced down at the coffee cup next to him. It smelled like a vanilla latte. His stomach grumbled then and he felt the urge to consume all of the cups contents at once. Why not? She'd paid for that and he was intending to let it go to waste.

Slowly he picked up the cup and raised it to his lips. The sweetened liquid poured into his mouth like candy. He finished it off in mere seconds and returned the cup to the ground next to him.

If he was going to die tonight, at least it wouldn't be on an empty stomach.