Restlessness will be your downfall. Abby had yet to go a day without hearing that warning. Needless to say, focus wasn't her strong suit. The jitters were especially bad tonight. Running, she hoped, would chase them away. The night air was uncomfortably still; wanting to feel the wind on her face she picked up speed and veered off the cobblestone path, cutting through the forest to take the long route home. She could hear his teasing voice in her head as she crashed through woods like a drunken grizzly bear instead of ghosting silently through it the way she had been taught. She half expected him to appear from out of nowhere, silent and disapproving, grey eyes chiding her impatience.
"Shit Jason! You need to stop doing that. Seriously. Overprotective brother much?" was her typical response. Honestly though, she didn't mind. Jason made life fun. That was more than most could say about their siblings. No one else had a brother who would come home from work every day and allow his little brat sister to ambush him, attempt to disarm him and hold him at gunpoint…unloaded gunpoint. Abby grinned to herself. Jason wasn't that fun no matter how awesome he was. No loaded guns unless she was at the range.
The sharp caw of a raven scattered her musings. She glanced up at the sky irritably as it perched on a tree branch a few yards in front of her, watching her approach with its uncannily beady eyes. Its un-animal like attention made her uncomfortable. Ravens seemed to love her about as much as she despised them—no, maybe love wasn't quite the right word—more like a creepy obsession and the sneaking suspicion that they wanted something from her. She banished the thought as was customary and flew past the irksome bird. Well at least it didn't follow her, that was something. Just as the relieved thought passed through her head, the raven screeched and dove past her, breaking into the clearing up ahead in a flurry of feathers and leaves.
What the hell?
Not quite sure why, Abby skidded to a stop and quickly stripped off her running shoes, tying the laces and flinging the knotted pair around her neck. Her bare feet were silent as she stepped off the beaten path and into the trees. With no wind in the air to disguise her movements, she thanked the lord she wasn't wearing long pants and held her breath as she hauled herself up the nearest tree, hoping the rush of the river would drown out the sound if she fell. Peering through the branches, Abby narrowed her eyes at the strange figure that stood in the clearing. He looked angry and tense despite his relaxed pose, leaning carelessly with his back to the river against a short tree branch. It bothered her that he wasn't wearing a shirt, and it wasn't even summer. Not that the sight was disappointing—far from it, but boys who ran shirtless when it was cool out were just plain obnoxious. Seriously, no need to have your abs on the market during an early morning workout. The point is to work the abs not the ego.
The boy muttered something inaudible to the raven who was perched at eye level.
What was this? Some kind of overly adoring pet that couldn't bear to leave its master? Looking the boy in the eye, the raven tipped its head in Abby's direction. The boy nodded curtly and turned to scan the trees, evidently looking for something. His piercing blue eyes skimmed over the foliage where she hid and then returned, a concerned look crossing his face. He wasn't looking at her, but she swallowed nervously anyway. He seemed to be looking past her at something. She turned her head in time to hear a loud crack of thunder, but no fork of light split the night in two. Moonlight illuminated the thin clouds that veiled the skies; forks of darkness split the veil like raven claws tearing through the thin fabric. To the whistling passer-by who rarely noticed the sky at all, it was no doubt an odd cloud pattern, but to the superstitious, there was something unnatural about this strangely marbled night.
Abby shivered as the wind returned, colder than it should have been in mid-September. Don't go out at night without me Abby. The second unheeded warning she'd grown up around somehow wormed its way into her head, suddenly sounding like good advice. When she whipped her head back around, the boy was gone. She waited silently in the tree for a few minutes, listening intently for his footsteps. Nothing. The bird was still there though, starring expectantly in her direction. It knew she was there. Abby cursed. "Stupid bird, I am not holing myself up here all night for you." Ignoring the bird she descended, leaping down to land silently on the balls of her feet. Without a moments hesitation, she broke into a full out sprint, skirting around the clearing to avoid the raven's unnerving gaze.
Jason's crap car wasn't in the parking lot when she reached the apartment, but the kitchen light was on. Weird, she must have left it on when she left. Pausing outside the door she deliberated for a second, certain that she had been trying to read before leaving…well then the reading light should be on, not the kitchen. Probably just a homeless guy rooting around for something to eat, it wouldn't be the first time. It was definitely commonplace in the city, but burglars generally steered clear of the detective's apartment. She frowned as she slid her key into the doorknob and found it still locked. There wasn't a single scratch on the lock, whoever had decided to disturb her peace—if he was still in there—was a damn good lock pick. Opening the door, she poked her head in cautiously.
"Hey! Yoohoo, if you want food, take what you need, just scram before the detective gets home. I need to pee so I won't even see you leave. Deal?"
Silence. Shrugging, Abby stepped through the doorway and locked it behind her so no one could come in from the outside. Dashing into the bathroom she loaded Jason's spare gun. Whoever it was had probably left hours ago, smartly locking the door but stupidly leaving the light on inside. Just to be safe though, she eased open the bathroom door with the nose of her gun, half expecting someone to be standing there waiting. It bothered her that the someone she half imagined standing there was the boy from the forest. Angrily brushing her hair away from her face as if brushing off the thought she checked the first floor. All clear, now for the attic. She half smirked as she headed up the ladder. As long as whoever might still be there wasn't armed, the attic was the worst possibly place for whoever it was to piss her off. There was no floor in the attic, nothing but wooden beams. Even Jason had trouble keeping his footing. There was still a discolored patch of crude off-white plaster in the kitchen where his foot had come crashing through the ceiling last time he had miscalculated a lunge.
The attic was full of dust and six of Jason's huge filing cabinets but other than that, it was empty. Abby wrinkled her nose at the large spider that scampered over her shoe and launched itself on a sticky strand of fiber back to it's perfectly woven web. Dust clung to the perfect pattern, making the entire web glimmer gently in the moonlight. It always amazed her how the grotesque little creatures could build such beautiful dinner plates. "You're quite the ugly follow aren't you?" She murmured, loosening her grip on the gun. "How about I let you live if you kill some mosquitoes for me, deal buddy? Just…don't grow too big. Huge bugs are nasty." The spider ignored her, sinking its mandibles into the body of a trapped fly.
Pleasant. Abby turned, dropping back into the apartment. Her muscles ached pleasantly and she stretched, massaging out her thighs with her fists. She glanced at the clock as she headed for the piano room to seek out some solace from Beethoven.
Why wasn't Jason home yet?