Bitter wind violated my exposed flesh, sending a deep chill to the very core of my bones. Mother had warned me that London was cold, but I thought she meant cold like Melbourne in winter, not winter in Antarctica. If it wasn’t for the fact that my jumpers were all packed down at the very bottom, I would have stopped and added an extra layer of protection. But I was cold and feeling far too lazy to reorder my bag, so I went without. Yes, I was an idiot.
As per the map’s instructions, I turned right onto Gillingham Street. It was becoming really
hard to focus on the map because the streets were barely lit. I cursed myself inwardly that I didn’t just buy a portable phone charger, but I would be sure to rectify my error first thing tomorrow. My goodness, this would be a lot smoother if I was using my phone’s Google Maps. Anyway, what was done was done.
For a Saturday, there was very little nightlife, which I thought was odd considering what I knew about Londoners and drinking, although I have to say my knowledge on the subject was like ninety-five percent based on Geordie Shore reruns. But still, there was not a soul on the street.
I could feel my anxiety grow; it wasn’t helped by the fact that some random man told me someone was trying to kill me—though he wasn’t some random man, was he? He knew my name. I felt a shiver run up my arms; I didn’t think I could feel any colder. Maybe I should have stayed and heard him out before running away…again, if I had, maybe he had a portable phone charger.
Looking back down at the map, I estimated I had maybe another six-minute walk ahead, although I wished I had just paid for the stupid cab fare, but I really couldn’t justify the cost for, what, maybe four hundred metres. I walked further every day on my morning run.
The light flickered in the lamppost above. How strange. It flickered again, but this time, it didn’t light back up. I was plunged into darkness as the rest of the streetlights also extinguished.
THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP
My anxiety started to peak, and my instincts told me to get out of there fast. All of a sudden, I felt eyes on me. Shit shit shit. My pace quickened into a slight jog, my bag swinging heavy behind me.
Why did it feel like the approaching darkness was watching me? I looked up to the sky where once a moon sat giving light to the sky, but now it was gone, shrouded by darkness. I started to shake uncontrollably; I couldn’t tell if it was from the cold or my anxiety. Both seemed to be at war for dominance over my body and mind.
A sound emerged through the darkness, muttered voices. I started to run, every fibre of my body telling me to do so. My flight response was fully active, I flew down the street, but the voices seemed to be gaining on me. They were now close enough to hear what it was they were chanting. “Consumptura est lux tenebris.” They repeated it over and over.
I crossed the street in mere seconds, but was stopped from going further by a gate of iron. I turned to go around, but to the left of me, I found that the men were closing in on me. Looking to the right, they were doing the same yet only metres away.
Fuck fuck fuck, my only option was to jump the fence. It wasn’t very tall, so I knew I could make short work of it. I put my hands on the spikes and pushed down, lifting my body. I swung my legs up and jumped down. The hem of my shirt got caught on a spike, lifting my shirt up, trapping my arms. “FUUUUCK!” I yelled, trying to fumble myself free. I was shaking so violently, I could barely unhook it, the process taking minutes rather than seconds.
It came loose just as the men closed in. It was then that I realised my duffle bag’s strap must have also gotten caught on the spike as it lay broken just on the other side of the fence, but I could clearly see the men’s robes of red now. I hadn’t the time to retrieve it. I’d have to let it go and hope I found it later after I had made it to a police officer.
Even the darkness seemed to draw dimmer. How was that possible? Turning, I started to run, pushing past plants and shrubs, pulling my shirt back down as I ran.
Their chant suddenly changed, I could now hear their voices ringing in my head as if they were whispering right into my ears. “Arbores et plantae saxa animari, prohibere eum.” Their chant had changed. It felt as if the trees were drawing closer, which couldn’t be so.
Something grabbed my foot. I let out a scream as I fell to the ground hard. What was that? I looked around, but all I could see was grass. I must have tripped over a root or something, though I couldn’t see one. Getting back on my feet, my left ankle felt swollen, and as I put pressure on it, I let out a loud scream. I hoped against hope that it was just twisted and not broken. I tried to run, but the pain was just too great.
CRASH. The gate lifted from the ground and flew into a tree. The robed men continued to follow me. FUCK.
“HELP! Someone, anyone, help me!” I shouted.
One of the men raised his hand at me, and my voice faltered. I tried to let out a scream, but my voice was gone. What in the name of Ursula the sea witch was this? All I could do was try limping away.
Roots lifted from the ground before my very eyes, spraying moss into the air, leaving the earth a maze of traps, clearly designed to stop my escape. What was I to do? I tried to hop over them, the pain forcing tears to fall from my eyes. But the pain didn’t stop me. I continued to push myself, for my life clearly depended on it.
“Corrumpam vineam eius,” shouted one of the robed men. Instantly, vines fell from the trees and launched themselves at me. I ducked and missed the first one, but the rest found their target, instantly forcing me to the ground, wrapping around me like dangerous pythons.
The roots curled up, pulling me to face the robed men, forcing me to watch as they approached. The men were dressed in robes of red. I could just make out a crucifix scar on one of the men’s outstretched arms. Wrapped around their hands were what looked to be rosary beads, but something looked wrong. It seemed like the beads dug into their hands, drawing out a dark fluid.
The wind changed, and the smell of metallic ooze hit my sinuses, causing my nose to curl. That answered the question of what the fluid was: it was blood. I struggled with everything left in my body, but it was no use, the vines just grew tighter and tighter, almost to the point of breaking bone.
“Help me,” I prayed inwardly. “Someone, please.”
A man in the centre stepped forward chanting with the others, “Accipere auferat divina virtute.” Something jabbed into me sharp like a needle, causing unimaginable pain to flow through me. I screamed and screamed, but no sound escaped me. Whatever it was it felt like it was crawling through my veins.
He continued forward towards me, chanting. Only a few feet away, I could now clearly make out his face that was hidden by a hood. He looked to be in his mid-fifties with a full white beard, long hooked nose, and beady black eyes. He kneeled beside me and raised his outstretched hand over my face. I tried to close my eyes, but they were forced open. The man squeezed his palm into the rosary beads, which I could now see were made of jagged barbed wire that cut into his flesh. As the man squeezed, blood fell like water droplets over my face. On impact with my flesh, it sizzled like acid; it smelled like it too. I was truly dead. My only thought was on my parents, hoping they would be able to get past my death. My vision started to fade to black. This was the end of me. My eyes finally closed. I had no strength anymore. Maybe death wouldn’t be so bad? And with that thought, it all went silent.
The earth reverberated. There was loud running, yelling, and what sounded like sandbags hitting a wall, but I couldn’t open my eyes to see. They felt like they were welded shut.
“You must continue the chant!” shouted a voice that felt like spiders crying in my ears.
The chanting started again. “Accipere auferat—” But was cut off mid-sentence as what sounded like thunder struck the earth. I needed to run, move, get up, break the bonds holding me. My brain told me this, but it was as if I was buried alive.
Something dropped beside me. It radiated warmth. I wanted to lean into it. I tried to but failed. I wanted it closer. “Please come closer,” I begged the universe, and by some grace, it did. I felt a hand on my cheek; it was warm to the touch. Who was this? What was this? Again, I tried to open my eyes but failed. I started to panic again. This couldn’t be the end. My mind started to race. Mentally, I was thrashing back and forth, wishing my body to do the same. This feeling of disconnection was the scariest thing I had ever felt.
“By Zeus, Alex, gods fucking dammit, your lips are blue,” growled a familiar voice. Was it the Adonis? It sounded like him, and for some unexplainable reason, I hoped it was him. I could feel his hands on me. Everywhere he touched, I felt warmth.
“Jin, we’re going to need a recovery charm,” he yelled at an unknown person.
“Babes, I am fucking busy if you didn’t realise, you know, holding off the Priests of Bellum Sacrum,” bit back an unknown, effeminate voice.
“Fuck it all to Hades, you couldn’t have just come with me at the train station.” The Adonis’s voice turned gravelly. But I couldn’t follow him at the train station because he was a stranger. I didn’t know him; therefore, I couldn’t trust him. But was he here now to save me? So maybe that meant I could trust him?
“Fuck it, we’ll have to swap,” called the Adonis back to the person he called Jin, I assumed.
No, don’t leave me! He can not leave me. Don’t take the warmth away. I’m so very cold. As if he could hear me, he assured, “Don’t worry, Alex, I’ll be back.” Then he was gone. The coldness set back in, his warmth only a haunting memory.
Thunder struck the earth again; there were more screams of pain and terror. The smell of metallic ooze grew almost too strong to possibly bear. A thud beside me. Was it the Adonis? It couldn’t be because this person didn’t radiate warmth like he had. Was he friend or foe?
“Queen, don’t even stress, okay, I’m here to help you, boo.” It was that voice again; it was distinctly fem, but like fem male, not a fem female. I assumed it was Jin, but I really wished I could open my eyes and stop all the guesswork.
“Álysoi kaí desmá nýn spázete.” I felt warmth all over my body. Suddenly, I felt weightless like I was flying in the air. The darkness began to fade as a white light came towards me. I tried to meet it halfway.
Light burst into my reality as my eyes flew open, temporarily blinding me as my eyes readjusted. A man who couldn’t be any older than myself stood over me, his hair fairy-floss pink, kept neat and short on the side with a front fringe that covered the tops of his brows.
“Is he awake yet?” yelled the Adonis from somewhere just out of my field of view. “Yes, fuck, give me a second, Miss Bossy Tiger,” snapped the pink-haired man. He turned and spoke to me, trying for a soothing voice, but came off very condescending.
“Hi, Alex, my name is Jin. I’m going to need you to stand up. Can you do that for me, dolls?” But wasn’t I tied to the ground by vines?
“Jin, get him the fuck up now. We need to move!” said the Adonis, running back into view. “I’m trying,” he responded.
“Then try harder.”
Before I could process what was happening, one of the robed figures instantly appeared
behind the Adonis, bloodied dagger outstretched ready to strike, going for the killing blow. “NOOOOOOOO!” I screamed, sending out a blast of energy that felt like it came from my
very soul. I couldn’t let the Adonis die.
Gusts of power forced the robed man into the air, flying back with a loud crunching sound
into a tree. The dagger burst into smoke. It took me a moment to realise what it was I had done. My body retracted inwardly, instantly forming a ball. What had I just done? I started to rock
back and forth, tears falling from my eyes.
THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP
I was a freak, and I may have just killed someone. I needed my mother to tell me it would be okay, but she wasn’t there, so I didn’t know what to do. I needed to know I didn’t just kill someone. “Shhhh, calm down, it will all be okay,” said Jin softly.
But it wasn’t going to be okay; nothing was. It would never be okay again. “Right, fuck this. Get the fuck up now, idiot, before you get us all killed,” growled the Adonis.
I just looked at him, like was he kidding? Like really, was he kidding? The rudeness. I was
going through something. Instantly, my anxiety and grief turned to anger like a light switch. I was standing up, pointing my finger at him. “Who the hell do you think you are? Do not EVER talk to me like that again, do you understand?”
The corners of his mouth turned up slightly; the barest whisper of a smile ghosted his face. “That got you up, now didn’t it?”