THE MAN FROM THE DARK

Emily woke up as usual that morning; she was still wearing her training clothes and still had scars on her skin. She was shaken; those terrifying dreams hunting her sleep every night just wouldn't let her rest in peace.

She stretched her back and without making any noise, she went out of her room, headed to the training area and once there she started warming up. Then, she ran for a little while around the room and practiced her usual set of moves.

About one hour later she took a shower and then had breakfast, only milk with a bit of fruit. She was feeling strange that morning as if something was not quite right.

She checked her to-do-list and then went out for a walk in the park. With music in her ears, she allowed her mind to freely jump from one thought to another. She inevitably found herself thinking about the previous night and the horrible nightmare she had experienced.

Lately, it had been more persistent and she had a feeling that it would become even worse with time. Trying to relax, she took a deep breath; she was not going to let herself be upset by the fear of bad dreams. After all, she was one of the Elite fighter of her country; she needed to focus on her target and that was all.

In this world, there were those born to be leaders and those who would become soldiers or spies while others would pursue the path of science, becoming physicians or scientists. Many others, however, were simple people, who usually were thought not to be in any way related to war. Yet, the truth was that everyone could feel it, the smell of the blood was everywhere in the air and no one was able to just ignore it.

It was rumoured that each country had its heroes and above all its Elites. Those people were highly skilled in every field of martial arts and they were able to cope with every kind of situation.

Emily was one of them, though she had realised quite early on that she had a stronger interest in studying science rather than fighting in the open field. That's why she was still at home while many had perished on the battlefield.

Not that it was any safer; scientists were the first targets of Elite spies from enemies' countries, since they could create new weapons to be used in war. She needed to be prepared for anything and she could never let her guard down.

As she approached the small river in the park, she stopped there, watching the water flow. She closed her eyes and felt the breeze on her skin, it was like inhaling pure life; she could feel the energy flowing into her body. Opening her eyes, she stared at the empty sky and tears slowly came down.

The hell with this sickening feeling.

Strong as she was, after all that had happened since that day, she still was not able to keep her emotion in check. She had trusted herself to be untouchable and unfeeling, yet she could not help it, that sad feeling and the loneliness in her heart. It was just too much to bear.

It was as if a narrow part of her mind was completely out of control, a living other will. But she would put an end to it, she was sure.

Quickly she dried her tears with a hot gaze, and without any further glance at the place, she left.

She was a fast runner, but even faster were running her thoughts Why on earth did she feel so sick? She liked nature and there had been a time when tears would have filled her eyes for nothing, but that was a long time ago.

Still, she was an Elite now. More precisely, she had always been an Elite; but officially became one only after the final exam. Feelings and sentimentalism had no place in her life, showing her true nature to the enemy and uncovering her weakness meant sure defeat.

Thus, she was obliged to avoid any kind of emotions, since those were a sign of frail temper. Besides, she had been taught not to pay much attention to any other aspect of life except from missions and duty. She was a fighter and war was all that mattered.

In the past few years, she had developed an obsessive addiction to power. Surely, she was not one born to rule over others, but power fascinated her, probably because it was so close to freedom. That freedom she would never be able to enjoy. Even the less wealthy people could be freer than her.

She was an Elite and that was her bound, her duty, her life.

She stopped in front of a tall building and looked up, there was a window open on the seventh floor. She jumped upwards and quickly entered it.

The people in the room didn't notice her as she passed through a stone door and entered a cold hall. There she waited for about a quarter of an hour before a hurried woman came to greet her.

'I'm sorry… I did not know you were here Miss, they just told me…'

'Spare me the formalities, Elsa, it is not a problem. Since I have other things to do, shall we proceed?'

'W-well…Of course'. The woman guided Emily inside another room and then turned the light off.

A manly voice spoke form the darkest corner, 'At last you've come. As I expected'.

Emily looked around the room and then said, 'I suppose you know why I am here'.

'Of course I do. Then come near'.

'Why such precautions? Do you fear me?' She had noticed almost immediately that there was a hole in the floor and several other traps were scattered around the room. Didn't he know that for an Elite this kind of stuff was a joke?

'Well, since you ask, no I am not afraid of you. I just like the atmosphere here to be…darker'.

Is he bluffing? He has not mentioned the traps…maybe he thinks I can't see them.

She took a quick breath and then moved, fast as always. In three steps, she had reached the man's position without activating even a single trap.

'You really have improved since your exam, very impressive for a girl like you'.

'I'm glad to hear that,' she coldly replied, though she felt a bit uneasy at being so close to that man.

'Then… are you sure about this? There won't be any coming back after I have finished. I must tell you that not anyone was able to maintain their sanity after it. You know what that means… to be turned into a perfect deadly machine yet unable to feel anything, your only satisfaction comes from the war, from the death of the others. Possibly you could turn into a first rank assassin or even worse into a shadow. You are aware of the fate of the shadows, aren't you?'

'Death'.

'Exactly, is your soul so desperate as to seek my help?'

'I'm not desperate and I don't have a soul either, I just need it to stop interfering with my duties. That' s all. I'll consider it as a second exam, in order to gain more power and become a stronger Elite I must take it. If I fail then I'll welcome the consequence: death'.

'If you are so firmly decided then let's make it. I need time to prepare. I will see you in three days. Be ready for Tuesday morning at midday'.

'I am thankful, sir'. Her tone was neutral, but her feelings were not.

'You are welcome,' he darkly replied. With that she started retiring but he stopped her, 'Should you reconsider, let me know and don't come. But if you do really come then bring with you that knife of yours, you know what I mean'.

Her heart jolted at his words, but she seemed not to accuse it. 'Yes,' she whispered.