Footsteps thundered down the alley after her, growing closer and closer until she imagined their hot breath was curling the tiny hairs on her neck. Her lungs and legs protested, but she forced herself on faster, praying that she could somehow lose her pursuers in the winding city. She was almost back on the main street. Just a little farther.
Tires squealed against the pavement, and she smelt burned rubber as headlights blinded her. A small, sick part of her enjoyed the idea that she should escape her followers only to be killed by something so mundane as a car. Before she even had time to skid to a stop, the driver door flew open, and rough hands grabbed her, pulling her into the vehicle and flooring it before the door even closed.
"You're really bad at not being in life-threatening situations, aren't you?" the driver growled, as though the whole thing had been her fault!
Pushing herself up off his lap so she could return his glare, she spluttered, "It really hasn't been an issue until recently!"
"Lucky me," he grumbled, weaving in and out of traffic to put as much distance between them and the creatures that were chasing her as possible. Car horns blared in their wake, but he didn't care. Glancing in the mirrors, he asked, "Was that him?"
"N-no. I don't think so. Just some of his lackeys," dear God, she'd dated a guy with lackeys.
Piper always knew that her ex-boyfriend was an asshole. She just thought he was a get-drunk-and-make-out-with-other-girls type asshole, not the evil-inhuman-creature-looking-to-sell-her-on-the-magical-black-market type, with which she was rapidly becoming familiar.
It's not like she had expected much out of the relationship, to be fair, but she could honestly say she hadn't anticipated this. When she broke up with Jacob (re: making out with other girls), she thought she might have to deal with drunken 3:00 AM phone calls, not the forces of evil.
Leave it to Piper King to make even a simple relationship into something unexplainable.
She'd learned when she was very young that she wasn't "normal". When, at the age of four, she had predicted the exact day that her aunt would die, her parents reasoned it was an unusually accurate guess (her aunt had been ill for a long time). When two years later, Piper predicted her grandmother's death by choking, down to the hour, that was a lot more difficult for her parents to explain away. When she'd known before anyone else that the mailman had passed away of a heart attack...
To be fair, it must've been very unnerving to hear your 7-year-old say, "Of course there's no post today, it's the 5th. The postman is dead."
Piper had long since stopped telling her parents about what she could see, but that didn't change the frightened way they would stare or whisper about her sometimes when they thought she couldn't hear. Like they thought she brought about these unnatural deaths on purpose or something. Even though she tried to keep the abnormal behaviours to a minimum around them, sometimes it couldn't be helped, or some prediction would slip out.
Fast-forward twenty years and, despite enduring years of psychotherapy, Piper could still see on a person exactly how and when they would die. She'd learned how to tell, as well, if it was possible to stop the death – say, if the person is about to walk out into traffic, you can stop that, and the number changes. Other times, it was final. Now she just knew better than to tell anyone about it.
She would've assumed that she were a little crazy along with the rest of them, if only her predictions weren't so bloody accurate. When Piper saw the day hanging over someone, they would die on that day. No ifs, ands, or buts. Maybe that did make her crazy.
But she didn't want to be. She wanted – no, was desperate for – some semblance of a normal life. At 18 she moved away from her poor skittish parents (who were only too happy to see her go, despite their protests) and moved to the biggest city she could think of. Where better to disappear?
And she'd been doing a wonderful job at just that until he showed up! A man with no number, no death.
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