Follow the light through the dreams and disasters
Follow the light to the edge of the after
We won't turn around
We will not slow down
Follow the light through the dreams and disasters.
"So, what exactly are we doing?" I ask, following Klaus and Lilly through a maze of demolished buildings. After Klaus' apocalypse explanation, we had all remained silent. So far we seemed to have an unspoken agreement not to talk about it. Stepping over a fallen branch, I decide it's late evening. It's noticeably darker now, and the 'stars' are brighter.
"Looking for food, water…"
"…signs of life." Lilly finishes sarcastically.
"So, what school did you guys go to?"
"What?" laughs Klaus and swipes at a fly near his ear.
Lilly rolls her eyes.
"Well, unless you guys go postal and kill me, I figure we're going to be together for a while. I might as well get to know you."
I shake my head and smile.
"Well you can count me out for the killing you thing."
"Well I went to the arts school thirty minutes away." Lilly says "I was training to become a ballet dancer."
She looks a bit sad at this, like she can't bear to think she isn't going back. But she quickly clears her throat and moves the attention to Klaus. At her gesture, he speaks up.
"I go to the local high school as a freshman, but I take junior and senior classes."
I tilt my head.
"Wouldn't that just make you a senior, then?"
"Nah," he shakes his head "My mom doesn't believe in skipping grades. So I'm technically a freshman, just taking higher classes. Do you go there too?"
"Um, no. I went to a boarding school in London." I answer, kicking a rock and sticking my hands in my pockets "I came back for a holiday, when this happened."
"London? So, like Hogwarts, right?!" Lilly exclaims. She's practically jumping up and down.
"Not exactly. My dad went there when he was little. They sent me in my fifth year because they thought I had social issues. I guess they thought that staying
away from my family would give me more social confidence."
"Did it?" Klaus asks.
I raise an eyebrow.
"If you count playing video games for hours as confidence" I laugh "But, hey, I'm having an actual conversation with you guys and I don't even know you."
I try to sound light with my last remark, but it's hard. The truth is that my social life had gotten worse. I was teased relentlessly by most of the girls in my dorm, and found my only refuge in books and video games. What time I wasn't in classes or hiding in my dorm, I was being bullied. It didn't bother me at first, but after a while you start to think things over…
And it's not like I could tell my parents. What was I supposed to say? "Oh, and by the way I'm being beaten up at school." They would flip out. I came home on a holiday one year with a black eye from a girl who called me a loser. Granted, I threw the first punch, but she deserved it. I thought maybe this time I would have the courage to tell them what really happened. But when the time came, courage dissipated and I told them I ran into an open locker. I didn't want to bother them with my problems. Besides, they had bigger things to worry about…
After an while, we manage to scrounge up some food. We found a few nice(if slightly charred) loaves of bread from a bakery that caught fire, and two cookies that turned out to be dog treats. Klaus eventually decided it was a good idea to settle down for the night. Yes, it had finally gotten dark enough to be called "night". We settled on a space under a slightly crushed bridge over the river. It is eerily quiet here, with only the rushing water beside us to give us company. There are so many things I want to ask- How do you think it happened? How long ago was it? Do you think there's anyone else out there?- but it doesn't seem like the right time. I watch Lilly tear the hem off of her jeans, and tie it around her hair in a tangled ponytail. Her eyes watch the broken landscape. I wonder what she's thinking, if there's someone she's worried about, or if she thinks we'll ever survive alone. Turning back to my task, I poke absentmindedly at the small fire we made. I don't know that we could have managed it without the convenient lighter I happened upon in my pocket. I place my feet right it front of it, warming them from the cold night air. Shoes have yet to be found. Klaus mentioned the ones from the body he'd seen earlier, but I draw the line at wearing a dead person's shoes. Cold feet or not.
"What are we going to do tomorrow?" Klaus asks me from his spot by the fire.
"I haven't really thought that far into things," I admit "I'm kind of just hoping we make it through tonight."
He simply nods and goes back to tying and untying his shoelace. I suppose he feels the same way. I'm not exactly the survival type, and I'm pretty sure my companions aren't either. So every hour brings even less a chance of staying alive.
Frightening images plague my dreams, and I try to blink them away but I can't seem to wake up. I dream of things that seem familiar but I can't remember them. They seem so real, but a voice inside my head keeps telling me I'm dreaming. A bright light shines in my face and I lay on a cold surface. There are shrill noises coming from all around me. I hear a voice above me, but I can't see who it is. The voice whispers slowly, repeating the same thing over and over again.
Run to me.
I reach for the voice, but either I touch nothing, or I can't move my arms. I can't tell.
Run to me.
I thrash about, trying desperately to find this person. Why do I have to run to them? Who are they?
Run to me.
No. I can't. The light blinds me and I can't see past it. To the sides there is only darkness. What is holding me back? I want this thing so badly it is driving me mad.
This voice is different. It sounds familiar. But it sounds like it's coming from underwater.
Run to me.
Run to who?
"Avalon, listen to me!"
The voices scream together, becoming so muddy I can't figure out which is real.
Run to me.
Run to me.
Run to me.
"Avalon, wake up!"
I jolt upright, drenched in sweat. I'm awake now, but a bit dizzy. I search for Klaus and Lilly.
Lilly's scream comes from my left, where I see she and Klaus huddled together near the treeline. They look frightened. Klaus has his arm wrapped protectively around Lilly's shoulder where she presses herself against him. I think she's crying. Why are they so far away?
"Look behind you, but don't make any sudden movements!" Klaus shouts.
Slowly, I turn my torso to gaze around my back. What I see sends a torrent of shivers down my spine. Ravenous black eyes stare back at me. They are so dark that they look like glossy black holes. But I can't see my reflection. A wolf crouches before me, its teeth bared, snarling. A black ooze drips from its parted lips. This is like no other wolf I have ever seen. Its eyes and inauspicious black drool for one, but it's bigger too, like it's been put on steroids. I'm sitting up straight, and the wolf is scrunched down, his muzzle level with my forehead. His breath is hot and smells like rotting flesh. He lets out a low growl. My heart races and I swallow. What am I supposed to do? If I move, he'll rip me to pieces, but if I don't… well, he'll still rip me to pieces. I don't even have anything to protect myself with. If I had something sharp or even a long stick, I might stand a chance. I glance around without moving my body, searching desperately for something that might help. Nothing. Suddenly, I remember my lighter, and steadily stick my hand in my pocket. The wolf doesn't move. I try to level my breathing.
"Klaus," I say without looking from the wolf "toss a tree branch over here."
I hear rustling a few feet away and finally a thin pine branch rolls next to me. The wolf is slightly startled, eyes piercing the stick like daggers and ears perking up. Maybe, if it will light, I can create a torch and scare the wolf away. I reach slowly for the stick, but his head snaps back to me and he barks. My hand comes away. I gently grab the lighter and flick the flint wheel. Nothing happens. Oh, come on. I try again. Still, nothing happens. My heart is racing as I stare into the wolf's icy eyes. Oh, please, please light. I flick the wheel again, and to my relief, a flame shoots to the top. The wolf seems intrigued, but doesn't back away. As he watches the flame with interest, I move it toward the branch. After a moment, the fire catches on the needles, igniting an inferno. I slide a little away from it, but the wolf is undeterred. Instead, he jumps into the flame and puts it out wit a growl.
Well, there goes that plan. How did he come away unscathed? It wasn't a huge flame, but it was enough to hurt anyone. Gigantic freaky wolf or not. Before I have a second thought, the wolf turns and pounces on me. He pushes me on my back and I scream when my cracked rib connects with the ground. I cross my arms in front of my face. The wolf snaps at me a few times and finally connects with my right shoulder, biting down. A current of pain stabs through me and I wrench my body away. I hear Klaus and Lilly screaming, but they sound far away. The wolf bares farther down on my body, crushing me with its weight, but I push back with all my strength. I'm tired now, even though adrenaline is coursing through me. My push does nothing. I can vaguely see Klaus beating the dog with a chunk of firewood, but it pays no attention and still focuses on me. His growls are becoming more desperate, like he wants to get it over with. One bite, and I'd be gone. Still, I become all the more frantic, screaming and shoving at his immense body. He bites my arm, and I feel myself fading. My vision darkens, my body shakes, and I begin to heave to the side. I can't do this. I knew we would never survive. I'm just the first one to go.
Just as I begin to slide, a loud crack rings through the air, and the wolf is thrown off me in an instant. Was it over? It felt like a moment and a day at the same time. Klaus' face appears above me.
"Arwen. Arwen, can you hear me?"
I nod shakily in response.
"Good, now stay with us, okay?" he says as Lilly comes into my blurry sight.
"Oh my god," she shouts "you're okay!"
I smile a little despite the pain and croak, "I guess okay is- a relative term."
Klaus glances around with a confused look on his face.
"What the hell was that?" he asks.
Lilly says something in response, but I can't understand her. I gently slip from consciousness.