'There was a time, looking through myself
Wanting to pretend
If I escaped, I could fill myself,
I don't think you can
Been far and wide, but that hole inside
Never really leaves.When I went away, what I really left, left behind
"Million Miles Away"The Offspring Chapter One-A Pact
"And when you know you can't relate
To one more shiny face, your heart breaks
And no one's there,
And when you know you can't go on,
Coz everything is wrong, your heart breaks
And no one cares.
Yeah, if I make it I'd be amazed
Just to find tomorrow,
Yeah, one more day and I'd be amazed
Just to see it waiting,
Yeah, if I make it I'm still alone
No more hope for better days.
If I could change
Then I'd really be amazed"
She stood on the shredded walkway of the long-dead bridge, deathly silent and completely still. She was cloaked in black, only a few strands of blood red hair emerged like little flickers of flame from coals, dancing in the salty breeze.
As the night wind whistled past her, whipping her cloak, she suddenly resembled a dark phantom, her black shadow cast and distorted on the undulating mirror of the inky sea below. Her eyes, the only part of her darkened face visible, were a bright, sparkling aquamarine and glittered like prisms in the weak moonlight.
She took a step forward, black booted feet passing momentarily over the edge of the crumbling bridge, kicking loose stones so they tumbled down into the dark, spiralling for what seemed like an eternity before they finally hit the waves below, sinking without a trace.
'What if I were to suddenly drop off the edge?' she thought, piercing aqua eyes following the pebbles as they plummeted down, hitting the water without even a splash. The night itself was silent, save for the relentless thrashing of the waves against the ancient stone of the bridge and her own distracted thoughts. 'Would I exit so peacefully? Or would I go slowly…painfully…'
Something brought her out of her thoughts. The noise of foot against gravel, scraping, grating. Instinctively, she turned round, her cloak billowing in the wind like a storm cloud, her face exposed to the pale white light from the dusty half-moon.
Someone else was standing on the bridge, less that a few feet away from her. A stranger, hands in the pockets of his black jacket, staring contemplatively into the ocean, just like she had a few moments ago.
'Perhaps I'm not the only one who needs to get away sometimes' she thought, examining the still silhouette of her company. He was taller than her five foot four inches by quite a bit, graced with a long, tangled mane of coal-black hair streaked throughout with messy brown streaks. Dark eyes, inquisitive, scanning the surface of the ocean slowly and thoughtfully. Dressed in nondescript clothing, tracksuit bottoms, sweater, jacket…pretty damn unremarkable. Yet there was something strange about him. Something she could not put her finger on…
He looked up at her, noticing her for the first time and offering her a weak half-smile. Not everything was right about him. In fact, nothing was. Her reason for coming to the bridge was bad enough. What was his...?
He opened his mouth to speak, but closed it again. Something on the surface of the waves appeared to have caught his attention, and it held him for a brief moment before he realised that it was only a log being swept along by the hungry waves of the estuary.
Her instincts told her he was relieved. Something about that stranger was not right.
He spoke up at last, a clear, almost deep tone, thoughtful and contemplative.
"I thought I was the only one who ever came here"
"So did I," she answered shortly. She did not feel the slightest bit comfortable around him.
He took this in, gazing at the thick, syrupy surface of the inky waves below. Then, turning his face up again, he scanned her briefly before asking
"What's your name?"
She seemed a little surprised by this, as if she had been expecting him to stab her or something. He was aware that he looked like some sort of dangerous nutcase…after all; there was the unbrushed hair and pretty manic-looking eyes.
"I'm Miette," she ventured warily. Only the highlights of her blue eyes were visible from the Reaper-like hood she wore, a thick cloak of black material that stopped somewhere near her ankles.
"Why are you here?" he asked her conversationally, shoving his hands in his pockets and peering down at her through the long, tangled semi-dreads that obscured his face from view.
She seemed offended and drew back into her cloak a little, eyes never leaving the rough, choppy ocean far below "I'm sorry" she said, more than a little huffily "I didn't realise this was your bridge"
"No, no I didn't mean it like that" he shook his head "I just wondered why you were here. It's unusual to see someone other than my reflection here"
She hesitated before giving her answer in a quiet, almost timid tone. "I just wanted to be on my own," she answered truthfully, finally looking up at his face.
She'd seen his shadowed form when he had been standing, further down the bridge, but this was the first time she had seen him up close. His messy hair was partially dreadlocked and clearly dyed black, dark brown roots and long, chocolate-coloured streaks weaving in and out of the dreads. The semi-dreads hung in his face, snaking down past his dark, earthy brown eyes. His skin was very slightly tanned, probably made paler by the black of his hair. He was about twenty three-ish, judging by his face, but he might have been older.
"Ah…same here" he grinned knowingly, the first expression other than the blank stare she'd seen him pull. "It's all very well living in the city, but sometimes I've just got to get away. It keeps me levelled to know that life isn't always so hectic and crazy"
"Yeah" Miette suddenly felt very conscious of herself and jerked her hood further over her face, hiding even the flame-red strands that had flickered in the night wind.
He tried again "Can I ask why you've got that hood over your head?"
Miette's gaze travelled back to the dark, churning pool of ink below, the endless expanse of dark brine that, moments ago, she had considered leaping into. She shuddered when she realised that she had been contemplating suicide…
"I don't like showing my face" was her less-than-adequate answer.
He cocked his head to the side, thick clumps of tangled black hair falling across his face. "If you say so," he replied, confused.
Miette said nothing more. Her eyes were fixed on her black shadow in the water, her long cloak flowing out behind her like a flag, the dark, star-speckled sky a beautiful backdrop, with an anaemic slice of moon peering out from behind a cloud.
"Looks like I'm crashing your party" the stranger said apologetically, his distorted reflection on the water moving further from hers "I guess I'll leave you alone now. Seems like you need this place more than I do"
"I don't mind you being here," Miette said graciously.
He said nothing, but stopped walking away and instead, sat on the edge of the bridge and swung his legs over the edge, letting his legs dangle, uncaring as to whether his unlaced trainers should fall or not. A few stones were dislodged by the movement and tumbled into the brine with their earlier neighbours.
"I'll just sit here then," he announced, swinging his legs like an impatient child's.
It was only a moment before Miette grew tired of being alone and joined him on the edge, lifting her cloak up to reveal a pair of ordinary black jeans. She sat on the cold, slightly damp stone and let her cloak drop, watching as it billowed around her ankles like a cloud of thick black smoke. She too allowed gravity to pull her legs down, watching as her reflection peered into her eyes and told her she was a mess and to pull herself together.
Her companion was staring ahead, not at the water but at the horizon, where the sky was brightest and the stars were the most numerous. He seemed fascinated by that strip of royal blue sky, fading to black as the sky spread out. She watched intently as his thin brown eyebrows knotted together in thought before they arched above his half-closed eyes and his short, spiky eyelashes dug into the soft-looking skin of his cheek. Then he blinked, long and slow, before turning to Miette.
"You have a very expressive face" she told him, and watched his expression change yet again as he tried to work out whether she was paying him a compliment or not.
"Really?" he asked, his slightly nasal voice quiet against the roaring sea below.
"Yup" Miette confirmed, "I can almost read what you're thinking"
"Oh…" he let his gaze drift back to the horizon, chewing his bottom lip and knotting his eyebrows again in thought.
Miette let him think and, feeling at ease, pulled her hood down, shaking her head to let the wind run through her hair for a bit. Her hair was short, about chin length, spiky and bright scarlet tinged with flaming orange. The vivid fire of her hair was harsh against the soft night, and as her hair blew out behind her, it seemed that something in the distance was on fire. Her long black eyelashes framed her sparkling, icy blue eyes. She had a graceful bone structure; high cheekbones and a delicately curved nose, her hood pooled around her neck like thick oil.
"That's better," he commented, flicking a pebble into the water and watching intently as it plummeted aimlessly into the water and sank without a trace.
Miette suddenly thought of something; she didn't even know his name. She'd been analyzing his face and telling him how easy she could read it, but she didn't even know what he was called.
"What's your name, then?" she asked, mimicking his swinging feet unconsciously.
"Jonathon" he said, pulling his sleeves over his hands and wrapping his arms around himself as if he was wearing a straightjacket. To add to the 'escaped lunatic' effect, he began rocking very slowly, his dark, tangled hair falling over his dark eyes and pale face.
"Jonathon…" Miette repeated slowly, as if it was a word from a foreign language. Then she examined his face, or what she could see of it. He did not suit the name Jonathon. It was too normal and everyday, and he seemed very out-of-the-ordinary.
"Yeah" he confirmed, drawing his knees up to his chest and swaying from side to side gently. "That's my name. Boring, isn't it?"
"Mmm" she agreed. Then, realising she must have sounded rude "Well, it's not boring, I mean, it's just a normal name"
"Not like Miette" he stopped rocking and put his hands on the ground to steady himself "What does your name mean, anyway?"
Miette thought. She had never questioned the origins of her somewhat unusual name.
"You don't know?"
"…no" Miette admitted.
"Never mind. It's a nice name, anyway" Jonathon announced amiably, pulling his hands out of his sleeves and replacing them on the cold ground. "So, do you come from around here?"
He obviously didn't recognise her. Good. She breathed an inward sigh of relief and brushed a lock of flaming hair from her cool eyes. As long as she kept anonymous, she'd be safe…
Something jolted her violently out of her lulled state. Something she'd been praying she wouldn't hear…
They were following her again.
"Shit!" Jonathon suddenly exclaimed quietly as the ear-splitting whine of the police sirens drew closer and blue lights flashed on and off in the distance. His eyes were wide and panic-stricken "Look, Miette, sorry, but I have to go…" he pushed himself to his feet and scanned the long stretch of broken concrete spanning most of the wide estuary.
"You have to go? Jonathon…" Miette was cut off as he turned tail and began to run up to the end of the bridge, his long tangled hair flapping behind him like a mass of entwined serpents. His footsteps served as an eerie beat to the rhythmic squealing of the enraged sirens.
Miette was suddenly seized by a fit of panic. Dashing after him, feet sliding dangerously on the soaked cobblestone, she snaked out an arm and caught his jacket, jerking him back violently. Both almost tumbled to the floor, but Jonathon righted himself and dragged Miette back up with him.
"What the…what are you doing?" Jonathon asked breathlessly, pulling his arm out of her grip and facing her, feet restless, eyes wide, hair chaotic.
"I…I have to get away" was her terrified answer "Please…you don't understand…I have to get away!"
"What are you on about?" he asked apprehensively, trainer-clad feet ready to fly again.
"Please…help me…" Miette pleaded, all traces of her former mystery and dignity gone, replaced by blind panic and fear "I can't get caught…not again…please…"
The blue lights flashed, not so distant now, coming closer and closer.
"Look…" Jonathon scanned the edge of the bridge, his eyes flitting from Miette, to the blue lights, to the bridge. "Look…I can't…oh hell…just follow me. Don't get left behind, understand?"
Jonathon once again broke into a sprint, the closeness of the blue lights and whining sirens spurring him on, closely flanked by Miette, her long cape flowing out behind her like some dark banner streaming from the back of an aircraft
Miette's sky-coloured trainers shone brightly against the dirty indigo-grey cobbles of the bridge and they were soon a dishwater-coloured blur as she sped up. The rhythmic slap-slap-slap of her feet and the erratic, booming drumbeat of her heart in her throat were the only sounds she was aware of.
Jonathon sped ahead. The distance to the snapped-off end of the cross-channel bridge was still a little way, and with the blue lights pulling up to the base of the bridge, there wasn't much time left. He pushed himself a little more, speeding up, his legs feeling like big bars of iron, muscles tensed like tight rubber bands on the point of snapping. Breathing in was like gulping down a mouthful of fiery splinters. His vision was monochrome. His pumping arms were flailing feebly. But he was going to make it.
It was then that Miette made her mistake. She turned around. The blue lights were now big black cars, sirens wailing, lights flashing, fully armed officers emerging. She panicked, her footing became irregular, slipping and sliding across the cobbles but just about staying upright. Then, finally, inevitably, she lost her footing. She hadn't been looking where she was going and her foot had got caught in a grimy, rain-shiny drain grill. She cried out shrilly and shoved her arms out in front of her, forcing all of her weight on them. As she landed, her left wrist was violently snapped backwards, and although Miette didn't hear it, the bone snapped slightly with a brittle crack. It was the kind of abrupt crack that snapping a biscuit in half would make. But in her breathlessness and panic, Miette didn't hear it. She felt it though; a sharp, burning sensation ripping up her arm before beginning to pulsate steadily, each pulse full of a sobbing, ceaseless pain. She whimpered, and then tried to ignore it. If she didn't try and get up, she was done for.
Jonathon had heard her cry out and he too turned around, skidding to a halt when he saw her struggling to stand. With an exasperated yell, he turned and ran back.
"Come on!" he breathed, grabbing Miette's injured wrist and yanking it violently, pulling her upright with a pained yelp.
"Aiiii!!" Miette screamed, her sprawling feet just about keeping her steady. Jonathon's vice-like grip tightened, and suddenly there was no pain, just cold numbness. She regained her footing and allowed herself to be pulled along like a child, eyes watering.
As they neared the edge of the bridge, Jonathon pulled her to a halt. His eyes were like those of a lunatic, wide, dark, covered in tangled, matted hair and unblinking.
"We're gonna jump" he told her.
"What??" Miette exclaimed incredulously
"We're jumping," he said, as if it was the most normal thing in the world.
"We're fucking not!!!" Miette squeaked
"Yes we fucking are!!!" Jonathon said steadfastly
"But…we can't!" Miette's eyes traveled down to the undulating mass of black below and suddenly a glut of fear found its way into her throat and, for a moment, she was mute.
Jonathon eyed her resolutely "Do you want to get away or
His final statement was so blunt, so stark. Miette wanted to get away. Away from the blood and glass and twisted, broken, shattered memories. And if she drowned, so be it. At least she'd be free.
Miette stared up at Jonathon through her spiky, flaming fringe and, breathing hard, nodded.
They both approached the edge of the bridge, shuffling until their feet were hanging over the crumbling precipice.
"Ready?" Jonathon asked breathlessly, his chest rising and falling heavily.
"…yeah" Miette answered fearfully.
"We'll be okay" Jonathon promised "I'm gonna jump with you"
His hand found hers. Panicked, she grabbed hold of it and allowed her small hand to be engulfed in his.
"If I go down," Miette told him "You're coming with me. Understand?"
"I promise you" Jonathon pledged. "I promise"
Miette gulped in her last breath and, quelling her tattered nerves, closed her eyes, and put all her faith and trust in the stranger clutching her hand…
"GO!" Jonathon yelled, and as he did, he leaped off the edge, pulling a shocked Miette with him. She felt solid ground give way to rushing air; her cape ripped from her and left floating above her like a storm cloud. She felt her hand slipping from Jonathon's as he tumbled soundlessly towards the inky waves. And she felt fear, giving way to the terrible realization that she was about to die…
"Shit!!!!!!" She screamed, one last sound echoing into the formerly silent night, before she plunged beneath the cold black waves and her world gave way to utter stillness.
Author's note: I'd like to warn everyone reading this that I don't think this will be the most normal stories. Thanks for reading it.