She is walking alone.
Normally, she would be quite scared; who knew what wickedness lurks in the dark alleys between the buildings? The streetlamps flicker feebly, adding to the eeriness of the whole town in its nightly slumber.
However, she is not scared.
In fact, she is not at all worried for her safety. Although she finds this fact slightly disturbing, her lack of fear is not unwelcome as it allows her to keep her head and think without having her perception of her surroundings warped by the chemically-induced high that comes with being scared.
The dimness of the streets forces her to use her other senses—her ears pick up even the quietest of noises, like the scurrying of rats a few meters to her right, and her nose detects the subtle smell of the wild flora that have taken over the walls of empty buildings.
She is in what remains of the red-light district, which would have been bustling with life at this time of night. Unspeakable acts invented by twisted men and women to satisfy the ungodly desires of individuals bored with the humdrum of everyday life used to be committed at every corner of these few blocks. This should have caused her a little unease; the very path she is taking was tread by people whose purpose here was to test the limits of human imagination and physical capabilities—in grotesque and sick ways.
A sudden rustling behind her makes her stop suddenly. She turns around and fluidly positions her body into a defensive stance, with her left foot behind her for leverage and her hands balled into fists in front of her face and chest. She is half crouching and ready to engage into a fight at the slightest provocation.
She strains her ears, trying to identify any hint of a provocation—beast or human alike. However, nothing sounds out of the ordinary and she waits for a few more seconds until she resumes walking in the other direction. Nonetheless, this false alarm has succeeded in making her restless and a little more wary of where she is.
The government has reduced this district, once known as the Zone, to nothing more than a few blocks of abandoned buildings and piles of garbage. This is exactly the kind of thing they would do—take money away from the schools and use it instead to abolish a full-fledged economic system, albeit an unorthodox one. Although the acts committed here were not applauded per se, but at least the people that worked here were able to sustain themselves. No one really knows what happened to them and frankly, no one really cares. The legislation passing was quite surprising—so many members of the municipal government were known beneficiaries of the services offered in the red-light district. This is evidence that their political reputation is more important and besides, if they really wanted to, they can get that service elsewhere.
She is almost at the edge of the Zone, on Wellmere Street.
She still kind of feels uneasy, as if there is someone following her. She steals quick glances behind her, afraid of both looking as if she has something to hide and missing something from which she actually needs to hide.
She turns onto another street, intent on getting out of the Zone as fast as possible. She might have found it quite amusing that she entered the Zone musing about how unafraid she was and is leaving it being very worried, had she not been this worried. This is why those that worked here never came out the same—if they came out at all.
She finally reaches the edge of the Zone and breathes a sigh of relief. However, she is still in the vicinity of, for lack of a better phrase, the crime scene that stole the innocence and souls of so many. Thus, she quickly makes her way up the hills that surround the west side of the Zone, in an effort to get as far away from the eerie streets as she can.
However, as she is about to descend the far side of the hills, she gets a feeling that she should pause and turn around. She cannot explain what this feeling is… just an inexplicable sense of must. So she does.
What she sees takes her breath away, though not in the typical this-view-is-so-stunning way. What she sees is, in one word, sad. The government has transformed a vibrant subsection of the city into nothing more than a ghost town. One could easily mistake the Zone to be the remains of an abandoned mining town, like those of the late 1900s. There is no colour to be seen anywhere; everything is a shade of grey.
Even with the lack of good lighting, she sees street signs hanging off their metal poles, broken windows smeared with suspicious substances, parts of suggestive storefronts and litter in every crevice. Everything about the Zone screams broken. Actually, not so much screams as pathetically and tiredly pleads.
Then, something towards the far side of the Zone catches her eyes. Unlike the rest of the district, this section of the Zone is completely black. Even with the moonlight, however weak, shining down, a patch the size of half a block of complete darkness stands out on the east side of the Zone.
Something is wrong. Very wrong.
Out of nowhere, an excruciating pain explodes in her head, causing her to fall to the ground and writhe in agony. The pain starts from the back of her head, towards the base of her neck, but quickly shoots through her entire head. Her brain feels like it is being shred apart from the inside, as if someone is taking an egg beater and sticking it in her brain. The pain builds into an unbearable pressure and no amount of screaming and banging can stop it. The pain is blinding. She cannot breathe. She is losing grasp of consciousness.
Then, as sudden as it came, the pain stops.
She slowly opens her eyes and is relieved to find that she can still see the blades of grass in front of her. She takes a gulp of air and winces at the pain that shoots through her head once again at the effort of simply inhaling. Perhaps a slower intake of breath would be better.
A few more minutes of blinking away the tears that the blinding pain had brought forth and slowly refreshing her body's supply of oxygen does the trick. She can finally stand again, albeit being a little weak at the knees.
What in the world had just happened?
She has never experienced anything like the agony she had just felt.
The feeling of being followed is gone, thankfully. However, compared with the episode she just experienced, this is not much of a comfort.
She shakes herself loose; the necessity of getting away from the Zone has increased tenfold. She briskly jogs down the hills and finds the paved road that has become so familiar in the past few months.
She is still a little lightheaded, which is rather ironic seeing as a few minutes ago her head was the only part of her body that she could feel. Nonetheless, she continues walking on the road that leads away from the poorer end of the city, towards the smaller, but richer, North End.
Lex, she thinks, I'm coming soon.