"Why is the night so long?"

Because the night still has more things to show to you, my dear.

The little girl tipped her head quizzically, hand fisted in her dress. The cloth had lost its color to dried blood and dirt caked under her long fingernails. It had been a long tiring day but she wouldn't change it for the world. Even when she cracked her pinky finger against the railing when Mother had accidentally slipped but that's okay because she remembered how clumsy Mother could be.

The girl snapped her head to the side when she heard a scuffle in the living room, a string of crude accusations and then a slam of the door. She felt more than heard her Mother slump against the wooden door, shoulders drawn. The little girl hated when that happened. She loathed the fact that afterward, her mother would sweep into the room, coat blowing behind her skeletal figure, harsh lines carved into her relatively smooth face and snap, "Grab your suitcase, honey." Today was no different.

Her mother stumbled in, hair just a little wild, and said quietly, "It's time." The girl avoided the frown that always conjoined with that statement. Her mother made it sound like they were in a movie but that was wrongwrongwrong because movies always had happy endings, it was a fact. She was sure of it, from little information she could gather from her sources (Mother had snatched the Disney movies away before the little girl could even blink, yelling that movies were useless and pointless and what help will a tale about a drugged princess do for you in the future?)

The girl raced up the stairs, short legs performing a marathon to the finish line (she remembered her mother informing her that her height would be a hindrance to her survival so she must break down everything from scratch and mold her legs to perfection, to her survival. It was a hellish journey but the trip was worth it). She rushed in her room, past her drawers with all the pretty pictures, past her little doll house under her bed she built out of sticks, and reached for her suitcase stacked against the wall.

This room wasn't important with its useless clothes and toys littered about (just to keep up appearances, her mother said, patting her on the head and the girl pretended it was like receiving a present) it was just a living space until today. Still, it was like the little girl left a little piece of her heart every time, a little piece of her still stuck in that cute picture book, wedged in between the confines of the doll house, a fabric of sentiment caught on the button of her favorite shirt. But sentiment was for quitters, for losers, for people who didn't survive and the little girl was none of those things. She stood up silently, white knuckles tight on the handle of her suitcase, and stomped down the stairs to crossed arms, wild eyes and a lingering sense of disappointment.

Mary crossed her arms, shoving her hands under her armpits for warmth, forced her wheezing to a normal beat. She closed her eyes, remembered wild crazy hair and a statement that only evoked annoyance and exhaustion.

"It's time."

Her tongue ran dry and she sucked in her teeth, shook out the collar of her shirt for more air exposure. Mary tried to avoid the past, avoided headaches mostly and the wind whistling through her empty heart. From below the building, she heard an exclamation, a cry for help and she ducked her head. Coward.

And so what if she was? She had tried to help someone else before, a very special someone, and look where that got her. She pulled the coat around her shoulders closer, shivering. Waited for the screams to die out. They fell silent to rough growling, tearing of things she'd rather not think of, and weeping.

Mary released a breath with eyes screwed shut, cocked her head to the side. The footsteps died, attracted by the fire burning a few miles away. She squinted through her binoculars at the sight, pitied the man on top of the high structure, waving a white flag for help. When she was certain there were nothing moving below (and even then, one must always take precautions. They're always there, in the shadows, in the cracks of the bricks, and be very very careful, Skye.)

She shook the memory away, shoved it at the back of her mind where it would weave back to the front later under stars and laborious breathing. Mary cast a glance behind her at the door, the simple door that seemed so safe in the day, but now… Doubt gnawed at her insides. Rooms easily accessible to any breathing form with a smidgen of intelligence? Rooms that were dark now, curtains drawn, and Mary swore she could hear something beneath her. Not returning then.

She gripped the edge of the wall roughly, pressed a finger to her temple, Think. She blinked, rolled over the preposterous idea in her head before swinging one leg over the wall. Let the adrenaline guide her feet instead of her brain (which is very dangerous but she didn't really have a reason to live besides living and she's been dead for a long time).

A piece of debris succumbed under her weight, disturbing a trash can directly beneath her. Mary froze, eyes wide, listened for any disturbance in the street. Just a plastic bag, rolling in the imitation of tumbleweed but then, a trashcan stumbled from its place.

She knew it wasn't the wind.

Damn it.


A/N: posted this so i'd have 5 stories enlisted for beta-reading.