Just a note to anyone reading this...as of the 4th of July, I will be taking this down in order to fully re-write it. I have posted 10 chapters that I have edited, but I've decided that it will be easier to remove this one and systematically post the new chapters.
The inky black sky had spread its fingers out across the vivid pink of sunset long ago. Only the crescent moon offered light in the dark gloom as Alice walked along the roadside. The occasional leaf crunched into severed pieces under her feet, the sharp noise permeating through the still of the night, making her heart race a faster as the darkness closed in around her. She staved off her fear and kept walking, her head down and her eyes focused intently on the ground just before her. It had been her fault entirely that she was out this late, but she hadn't been able to tear her gaze away from the beauty of the sun descending the enflamed apricot and fuchsia skies. The sky had turned the calm waters of the lake into a mirror image of the heavens above it, making her feel tranquil and safe.
Now she had to suffer the consequences of her actions, though were it something that she were given the chance to do again, she still would have chosen the beauty of the sunset over the forbidding and gloomy interior of home. With that thought in her mind she slowed her pace slightly and tried to soothe her nerves into a sense of safety. Forcing a smile onto her face, she attempted to forget her paralyzing fear of the dark, the feeling of the inky black tendrils ghosting over her skin. Trying to tell herself that there was no need to be afraid she let a small laugh escape from her lips, admonishing herself, though it did nothing to alleviate the creeping fingers of fear from growing through her. She knew it was ridiculous to still harbour such a fear of the dark especially considering she was now eighteen. Yet still, the terror she had nursed since she was a child, resided inside her.
The road steepened as it wound around and over the hill leading into town, her breaths coming slightly faster as her tired legs climbed the incline. At least it was something else to concentrate on, rather than the dread of what the gloom could be concealing from her eyes. She reached the summit and paused to catch her breath, feeling her deprived lungs fill with life as she breathed in deeply. For a moment, she watched her breath condense into rolling waves of steam in the cool air as she exhaled. Her gaze settled onto the lights twinkling in the near distance, like a beacon calling her home. Ironically, home, was the last place she wanted to be. She tore her eyes from the golden specks and looked out to her left. From the bluff she was standing on, she could see right out across the lake, the surface shimmering under the moons gentle touch. Her thoughts disintegrated as she gazed at the wavering moonlight, the beauty of it leaving her transfixed.
A car rounded the bend swiftly and she turned in surprise, the headlights burning her eyes as she stepped back further off the road. A rock caught her heel and she stumbled backwards, her arms flailing in an attempt to right herself. Her foot reached out into empty space as she fell out into the dark air towards the forbidding waters of the lake, a gasp of surprise and shock leaving her mouth as the wind rushed past her ears. Time itself seeming to slow as the darkness swallowed her whole. Her fragile body smashed through the glassy surface of the water, knocking the breath out of her as the icy cold waters enveloped her body, pulling her down into the inky black. She felt her head knock hard against something, though the pain was dulled by the numbing coldness and her desperate need to draw a breath. Her lungs began to burn and she closed her mouth tight, trying to push herself upwards to the surface, struggling against the unyielding grasp of the depths. Yet she got nowhere, her clothes tugged at her tired limbs, enticing her further towards a forbidding grave.
Alice's eyes cleared and she looked towards the surface, moonlight flickering like molten silver. Why bother? The thought struck her and her movements ceased as she let herself slip further into the black hole that was drawing her in. Rounded spheres of her last breath slipped from her mouth and floated effortlessly up. Her bones felt frozen, and she no longer had the ability to command her body to move. Accepting her fate, she closed her eyes, showing her submission to her captor. Giving herself over the to unrelenting water, she felt herself slip further into the dark, her mind emptying of thoughts. There were no memories playing before her, no regrets, nothing.
A hand grasped her wrist tightly and pulled her up, an arm slipping around her waist as she rose. Alice felt herself edging closer to the surface, to the air her body so desperately yearned for. At the same time, a part of her mind screamed to be released back into her freedom, to sink into the embrace of the dark. Her head broke the surface and she gasped in deeply, coughing as she did, drawing in air to her dying body. The person, who had her wrapped securely in a strong arm, pulled her regenerating body through the water as they stroked to the edge of the lake. An arm went under her legs and she was lifted into the air, her head resting heavily against a chest as cold and hard as steel.
Blinking to clear her head of the fog that was clouding it, she looked up to see who had saved her from her watery grave. The dark obscured their features, though she reached the decision that they were most definitely male. He stopped walking and slipped his arm from under her legs and she stood tenuously as he removed his other arm from around her back. Faltering slightly as her body adjusted to holding its own weight, he reached his arms out and grasped her shoulders, holding her up against gravity. Assured that she wasn't going to fall he removed them. A light breeze rippled through the air and Alice shivered as it ignited the water on her soaked clothing, freezing her skin, she wrapped her arms around herself and looked to the man who had saved her.
"Th…thank you…that was…incredibly, incredibly brave of you"
The night obscured his features from her and she was unable to make out his expression as he replied brusquely,
"Perhaps you should be more careful and less clumsy"
Hurt flared insider her at his sharp words of reproach and she bowed her head, willing back the hot tears stinging her blue orbs. Self consciously, she wrapped her arms around herself, her t-shirt clinging to her body, hiding nothing. Her eyes flickered briefly to the car parked by the side of the road, headlight still banishing the night. Slowly, her head began to throb; gingerly she raised her hand to her it, the feeling of sticky warmth covering her icy fingers. Lowering her hand she looked at the inky blood on her pale fingers, the depths of it glowing dark crimson,
"You should get that looked at"
His uncaring voice drew her out of her reverie and she looked back up to see him turning towards the car,
"Where…I mean…are you, are you…going?"
He stopped and looked back, his voice cold and sarcastic,
"No, I was intending on standing here all night soaked and freezing"
Flinching at the tone of his voice, she bit her lip, again fighting tears. Why was everyone always so awful to her? Dismally, she watched as he continued towards the car. Was he just going to leave her there in the dark? Cold, wet and bleeding? Swallowing her nerves she forced her words,
"I…I, could you…I mean…please, could you, give me…a, a lift into town?"
Her quiet voice streaked through the still air and he halted and turned around to face her. His features still obscured in the night,
"You're dripping wet, you'll damage my upholstery"
Biting her lip in an attempt to stop her face from falling, she glanced at his car again, eyes widening slightly in surprise as she recognised it,
"But…that, you car, that's an Aston Martin one-77 and I know that…that they come with leather seats. And…you, you're wet, too"
Alice was still unable to see his face clearly in the darkness, and she drew her arms closer around her, trying not to think about the beating pain in her head. The silence ate into her as she waited for his response and she could fell the blood from the wound on the side of her head trickle down her cheek. Lifting her hand, she stemmed the flow with her sleeve as she held it gently over the damaged skin.
"Fine, get in"
A brief flicker of happiness flamed within her and she quickly walked towards the car, afraid that he would change his mind. Pulling open the door and sitting down gingerly on the leather seats, she pulled the door closed behind her as he stroked the engine into life. He pushed down on the accelerator and they sped out onto the road, the dark blending into a blur of meaningless black. Keeping her hand firmly on her wound, she tried to stop the flow of the blood, but to little avail. Nausea washed over her and she clenched her eyes tightly shut.
"Do…I mean, please, would you, mind dropping me at the Hospital?"
She felt him glance at her,
"I suppose I could do that"
Ignoring the tight annoyance in his voice, she responded,
The cold sunk into her, contrasting with the sharp heat of her wound. Perhaps staying out had not been such a good idea. She fluttered her eyes open, fighting against the desire to close them and fall into oblivion. Opening them fully and looking up, she caught him glance at her, a frown gracing what she could now make out as handsome, well-defined features, his eyes the colour of weathered jade. Her heart jumped in its confines as embarrassment smothered her. Never had she been good with talking to people, let alone attractive strangers who had begrudgingly saved her life. Interpreting the look as one of annoyance she quickly opened her mouth to apologise,
"I'm…sorry, that…that I'm getting your seats wet"
He didn't look at her as he answered,
"I was more concerned about the blood"
She could feel the blood slowly seeping into the fabric of her t-shirt, creating a gluey film over her skin
"I promise, that I wont get it on anything. I'm…so sorry"
The throbbing in her head increased its pace and she tried not to think about the sickness sitting heavily in the bottom of her stomach,
"I don't suppose that you are a Hemophiliac?"
Confusion seeped into her eyes as she pulled her long blonde hair over to one side, feeling water drip from the ends,
"No, I…don't think so. Wh-why do you ask?"
Silence returned for a moment before he replied,
"You're blood should have clotted by now" He paused, "You don't have something else do you?"
His words were thrown effortlessly into the air and they washed over her. Alice frowned confusedly as they did, wondering why he would have asked, considering that he had shown little interest in her this far,
"I…don't think so. Do you think, that I...I might?"
He shrugged his shoulders indifferently,
She turned back to the window, watching the mass of black slowly disperse as civilisation built up and banished the deepest depths of the night. A stiff pain was beginning to form in her neck and down her back from her avoidance of the seat. Aching had settled into every atom of her being and all she could think about we being dry, taking a large amount of pain killers and sleeping till all fatigue had left her body. They moved quickly through the streets and the lights blended into the night, making her feel as if her vision where blurring. They turned a corner and she smiled in relief when she saw the Hospital up ahead. They slowed and he stopped, taking off her seatbelt, Alice pushed the door open and stood tentatively, gripping the door as her vision swam. As the stars faded from her vision she released her grip and turned around, stooping slightly to look into the car. He was facing her, his deep green eyes glowing in the dim light,
"Thank…thank you again"
She talked quickly and the moment the words had left her lips she closed the door and turned towards the welcoming white brilliance of the Hospital reception. The metallic scent of blood swirled around her as she walked, fueling her nausea. The doors hissed open as she reached them and she could feel tears of relief pricking at her eyes as she approached the desk. The woman seated at the there looked up on her approach and stood, walking around to the front of the desk, motherly concern glowing in her eyes,
"Dear, you don't look to well, and you're all wet. Come and sit down over here and I'll go and get someone to attend to you"
Alice let herself be pushed to a chair, smiling in thanks as the woman disappeared. Resting her head back against the wall, her wet clothing grabbed at her skin uncomfortably and she tightened the hold of her arms, protecting herself. A young man wearing a pristine white lab coat walked over and took a seat beside her, his chocolate brown eyes smiled at her warmly. Alice immediately felt shyness swirl inside her as he spoke,
"I'm Dr. Walker, would you mind telling me what happened to you?"
Alice bit her lip sharply and looked down, speaking quietly,
"I was…walking home and I, I tripped and fell into the lake, and I, hit my head on a rock…I think"
His gaze flickered to the wound she still had covered with her sleeve,
"Would you mind showing me, uh, I'm sorry, I forgot to ask your name"
She smiled lightly as she took her hand delicately away from her head
"I'm Alice Grey"
Leaning over to look at the right side of her forehead where the skin around the gash was turning a vivid purple he replied, his voice soft and warm,
"Nice to meet you Alice"
He frowned as he looked at her wound, fresh blood already beginning to well and fall in ribbons down her deathly pale face,
"How long ago did you fall?"
A look of contemplation settled on her features as she recounted the time it had taken to get there,
"I think…about twenty minutes or so"
He nodded absentmindedly and stood, offering her his hand as he did so. Taking it, she felt a warm blush spread over her cold, wet cheeks and she swayed slightly, her vision swimming. Reaching out, he placed his other hand on her shoulder, steadying her. Searching her dazed blue eyes, he spoke,
"Well, first we should get you dry and into some clean clothing, then I will take a look at that cut there"
Placing his hand around her back he directed her down a white-lit corridor as she fought against the desire to collapse where she stood,
"And how did you get to the hospital Alice?"
Her eyes tracked their shadows moving over the polished tiles, counting them in an attempt to distract herself from the warmth seeping into her from his hand,
"I got a lift, from someone and they…they dropped me off here"
He nodded and smiled warmly,
"I was worried that you had walked here, but that's good to hear"
They walked into a small room and Alice stared in want at the nicely made bed standing on the far wall. His arm left her for a moment and he ducked into a small storage cupboard, pulling out a towel and a light blue gown. He handed them to her and smiled warmly again,
"I'll give you a moment to get changed and then I'll come back and look at your head, all right?"
She nodded in assent and he turned and left the room. Sighing, Alice slowly peeled off her wet clothing; pleasure floating through her as the horrid sensation of the water logged fabric disappeared. Once she had carefully removed all her clothing without injuring her head any further and had placed them in a pile on the ground, she rubbed herself vigorously with the towel, coaxing warmth back into her corpse like skin. Goosebumps rose on her skin the moment she had finished and she quickly slipped the gown on and sat down on the side of the bed. Crossing her legs underneath one another, she sat there shivering in the cool air. No sooner had she done that than Dr. Walker entered the room, carrying a tray that gleamed silver in the lighting. He smiled at her as he walked over, and she couldn't help the thoughts that began to form in her mind, a pale frosting of pink covering her. Placing the tray down on the bedside table and picking up a white cloth, he turned back to her,
"This will hurt a bit, but I need to clean it, so tell me if it hurts too much and I'll ease off"
Alice nodded and he began to lightly clean the wound, frowning as the blood continued to flow.
"Are you a Hemophiliac Alice?"
She went to shake her head before realising that that probably was not such a good idea with his hand in such close proximity to her wound and opted to voice her answer,
"No, I'm sure"
His frown deepened and she remembered back to the conversation she had had in the car. You don't have something else do you? Worry settled itself in the bottom of her stomach and thoughts flashed through her mind. What if her wound just kept bleeding and bleeding? Until eventually her body was nothing but an empty shell, no blood remaining to supply her body with the oxygen it craved and she just died, lost in oblivion. She took a deep breath and settled her nerves, of course they wouldn't let her bleed to death, she would be fine. Then again, it would hardly be a loss. His warm voice sounded again,
"All right Alice, I'm going to bandage your head, and perhaps that will help the blood clot, then I'm going to take a blood sample, you're all right with needles I hope?"
He smiled as he finished and she nodded in response,
"Yes, I'm fine"
He reached back over to the tray and retrieved a bandage,
"I'll try to make this as painless as possible"
Unrolling the bandage slowly around her head, she flinched slightly as it drew over her fore head where he had placed some feather soft cotton, but she clenched her hands and bore the pain. As he passed it around her head she could smell his aftershave, permeating the air around her and she tried not to let the threatening blush form at the thoughts running through her head. The bandage ran out and he placed a clip on the end, securing it tightly around her head.
"Now for the blood sample"
He took an armband from the tray and secured it tightly around the top of her arm, constricting her blood flow. Wiping the translucent skin above the vein he was aiming for, he gently eased the needle in. Alice watched him do it, and stared, transfixed as her crimson blood began to rise slowly in the small canister of the needle. The first one filled and he replaced it with another, repeating it a third time. Content with the amount he had taken, he removed the needle and quickly placed a cotton ball over the small entry point, securing it with some tape.
"I'm just going to get these to someone to take to the lab and I'll be right back, Okay?"
She smiled softly, avoiding his gaze,
"I'll be fine"
He swiftly left the room and Alice sighed in relief. Her head throbbed and she felt increasingly light headed, not to mention that she was cold and tired. She uncrossed her legs and eased herself back, slipping under the covers of the bed, smiling at the feeling of clean sheets she laid her head back against the pillow and stared at the ceiling. Her eyelids were dead weights and she struggled to keep them open, but it was a losing battle. Her thoughts slipped further away from comprehension and the ceiling above her blurred as she sunk further into unconsciousness. A voice sounded close to her, loud and urgent. Though her mind was too tired to urge her weighted lids open and instead she let everything go and fell into blackness.
A rhythmic beat pulsed through Alice's ears and she groaned in annoyance and pain as her sense of being returned. Gently she opened her eyes, glad that they were no longer as heavy as they had been. Looking around the dimly lit room, darkness residing in the corners, her eyes settled on the heart monitor standing beside her bed. The bright green line dipped and rose in waves, mirroring the beat of her life. She moved her gaze down to her body, her eyes attracted to her left arm where a needle had been taped to the inside of it. The clear tube attached to it running over to a suspended plastic bag, she tried to read the label though her eyes refused to focus and she admitted defeat.
Sluggishly she raised her arm to her head, feeling it gingerly as her fingers moved along the bandage. It was still tender but the throbbing pain of earlier had dissipated, leaving her feeling as if she had been hollowed out and beaten. She shifted her weight against the pillows, searching for a more comfortable position than the one she was currently in. Her eyes caught the clock standing on the bedside table, the luminescent green numbers telling her that it was three past twelve in the morning. Pulling her blanket around her slightly tighter she relaxed back into their softness and let sleep wash over her.
She was surrounded by darkness, an impenetrable barrier to her eyes. Her heart beat so loudly it vibrated through the air around her. She held her hands over her chest, trying to suffocate the noise. Her body absorbed the beat. Her skin prickled and the feeling of being watched settled over her. She spun around. Her eyes searching the dark. Seeing nothing but the fabrications of her mind. Her breath came quickly as the fear of the unknown filled her. The fear of being watched. Of being hunted. The sound of dripping water pulsed through the air and she turned in the direction it came from. Warily she took a step forward. The cold of the floor permeating into her bare feet.
Cautiously she took another step, her arms reaching out into the compressing dark, trying to feel for something. Anything. The dripping got closer and closer until ice-cold water splashed over her already frozen feet. She stopped still and reached her arm out in front of her, her palm face up. A single drop of water landed on her open hand. Slowly it trickled through her fingers, falling to the ground to shatter into a million pieces. Something brushed past her shoulder. She spun around. Searching the oppressive black. A footfall sounded behind her, and she spun to where the noise had come from. Her heart raced. Fear engulfed her. Fingers traced her neck from behind, sweeping her hair behind her back.
She froze in fear. Her body like stone. The fingers moved down her shoulder. They were like cool air caressing her fear filled skin. They ran softly down her back, following her spine. She was naked. The thought caught in her mind and her throat caught in embarrassment. She tried to open her mouth, but her body refused to obey her mind. She was trapped inside herself. Trapped inside the dark. The hand caressed back up her exposed flesh, holding the back of her neck in its grasp. Her heart's beat increased. If she stayed here she would die. That one thought stuck in her mind, piercing through the fear that was inhibiting her ability to move.
Her body freed, she ran. The vibrations of her feet striking the ground traveled through her body. The sound of her foot steps beat through the air. She had no idea in what direction she ran. No idea of how much time had passed. All she did was run. As if her life depended upon it. Her pace slowed and she stopped. Her breaths coming in shallow pants. She sunk to the ground. The cold stone seeping into her naked skin. She cradled her head in her hands. Protecting herself from the dark and what it was hiding from her. She sensed someone standing over her. Their eyes burning into her exposed figure. She wrapped her arms tighter around her head, willing herself away. Cool breath ghosted along the back of her neck. She shivered. "Next time" His voice was deep, and deathly quiet in her ear. Yet the sound reverberated in the dark, forcing itself into her very soul. The words branded on her. Her eyes were clenched tightly shut as if by doing that she could protect herself from Him. The feeling of His eyes evaporated and the echo of His voice grew fainter. Until the blackness unraveled around her.