“Where is that child?”
The suns descent to the horizon was almost complete and its light was becoming scarce against the auburn sky. The warm summer air then rushed through an open window as a worried mother stared out of it into the distance, waiting for a sign of her son’s return.
“He’s probably out with that horrid child Chad. I don’t know how many times I’ve told him not to associate with that little piece of shit. He’s gonna have something waiting for him when he gets home, that’s for sure.” The abusive father ranted on without taking his eyes off of his newspaper while the mother’s eyes continued to watch the horizon.
Meanwhile that child was with that little piece of shit, Chad. They laughed and joked as they hiked deeper and deeper into the Killan swamp.
“Chad! Chad! Chad, wait!” Chris cried as he tried to maneuver his way through the thick mire. “We have to turn back! We went too deep. It’s dangerous out here!”
“Oh, please don’t tell me you’re afraid of those stories of monsters and ghouls. You listen too much at story time… Look, I found a lake!”
The lake was a disgusting and still green. Not a creature seemed to stir within the thick swamp waters. This however didn’t hinder the two boys from their adventure. Chad, of course, was the first to volunteer to tread deeper into the swamp. He carefully stepped onto one of the ancient tree roots that protruded from the thick green waters and slowly inched his way across.
“See I told you, Chris. It’s just a regular swamp that some guy probably hid a dead body or two at and had to make up those stories to keep people away.” Chad said as he laughed, nearly falling into the swamp’s waters. He just caught himself before falling onto the other side of the small lake. Chris soon arrived after him. He fumbled behind Chad, him too nearly falling before reaching the land.
“Ow! What are you doing?” Chris said as he picked himself up out of the mud.
Chad however didn’t answer. He eyes were fixed on the fog that was slowly rolling in.
“What is it Chad?” Chris asked, but then he too saw it.
It was a small figure standing in the mist. The silhouette of a young girl in a summer dress stood still in the distance. Chad was stuck in awe at the figure, but Chris was apparently ready to go. He inched away back towards the large tree root that they arrived on when the girl seemed to flinch. A sharp pain then shot through both of the boys’ heads at they cried out in unison. It was as if someone was in their head stabbing all around with a dagger.
Chad was the first to fall to his knees. His own blood began to accumulate under his nose and drip around his mouth. The pain seemed to intensify as the girl drew nearer. He put his head to the floor in an attempt to curtail the agony.
Chris then stumbled back onto the root as he began to search for an escape, anything to stop the pain. It was then when he really caught sight of the girl. She was so beautiful. Her black her billowed in no presence of wind and her beautiful dress seemed to be untouched by the swamp that surrounded her. She brought her own light to the swamp.
Chad’s cries now seemed almost nonexistent in her presence. Nothing seemed as important.
She now stood in front of him and he could feel her consciousness enveloping his own. It was so warm, powerful, and comforting. It was as if all the problems in his world had left forever. The girl then slowly lifted her hand to him. She gently stroked his cheeks, and as quickly it seemed his problems disappeared they returned tenfold. She grabbed his forehead and all of the blood in his body seemed to rush to his head as if he was standing upside down. Within seconds he dropped to the floor with a splash as his body went numb beneath him. Slowly the damp earth took him, devouring him whole as he sank into the swamp.
15 Years Later
Star rested on the couch in the pitch black as she stared in utter wakefulness. She watched the clock tick, and then tock as another sleepless night went by. The sudden rattling on the fire exit didn’t seem to faze her as a dark figure shimmied the window open and then stepped into the dark apartment. The figure then pointed to the light switch and an arch of electricity shot from his finger tip. The lights flickered on shortly after the arch hit its mark.
“Babe, what are you doing in the dark?”
The lights revealed the figure to be James Badmon, a local street level hero of The Twelves. He seldom was seen working with any other heroes, nor was he affiliated with any organization as reputable as The Sentinels of Liberty and Justice, but he did his part. More interestingly, he is one of the very few heroes of Khazan without a secret identity, or alias. Whether this is due to sheer stupidity or bravado is yet to be seen however.
Once the lights were on James looked upon Sarah and was immediately taken over by heartache. Sarah’s face was soaked in a mixture of salty tears and makeup that ran down her face as she clenched onto a throw pillow.
“I had the dream again, Jimmy.” She said staring past him, as if looking through him. “It’s like they’re getting worse and worse every time I close my eyes.”
James didn’t know what to say, he was not a man known for his words. He sat down next to her, wrapping his arms around her in an attempt to comfort her.
“I’m sorry babe. I wish I was here more to help you with this… but I can’t stay long. I have to finish my patrol.” He said as he kissed her on her forehead.
“These patrols of yours are starting to get longer and longer Jimmy.” Sarah stated, her tone growing tenser by the second. “If you don’t want to be with me you don’t have to make excuses. You can just go! Just like all the others! You’re not here when I need you anyway!”
James was quick to answer.
“Don’t say that. You know you come first in my life, but there are things I have to do. The crime rate is on the rise and with more and more villains crawling out of the woodwork it’s now more important than ever that I use the abilities that were given to me. I have to do my job. I promise when I get back tomorrow we will spend the whole day together.” James said as he rubbed her soft, silky hands before bringing them to his lips for an affectionate kiss. “…After your see Dr. Goodwin, of course.”
She pulled her hand away.
“I hate going to that see her.”
James embraced her again and they sat in silence together for several moments. Only the stray siren and yell of a deranged citizen could be heard from through the still open window.
James finally broke the silence, pulling away from her.
“Listen, I have to go, but I’ll be back first thing in the morning to go with you to see Dr. Goodwin.” He said as he kissed her forehead once more. She smiled. He walked back over to the window as he looked over at her. He returned a smile and then blew her a kiss. She reached up and caught it as he stepped onto the fire escape and back into the night.
James entered the barren alleyway, looking back over his shoulder to ensure the coast was clear before jumping and then climbing up the fire escape ladder. He scurried up the steps before he arrived at his window, and after giving it a bit of a nudge he opened it and stepped through. He then glanced over at the empty couch somewhat expecting to see Star there. He looked down at his watch and once again realized how late it was. Star most likely left for her appointment over an hour ago. Slapping his palm into his forehead, he began to take off his shoes and clothes and head towards the bed. It had been a long night.
Star lounged uncomfortably on the leather couch in Dr. Goodwin’s office. It made a noise every time she fidgeted to change her position and she hated it. Other than that however the only other noise was a soft tune that could be heard outside of the office in the waiting room, that, and Dr. Goodwin’s frantic scribbles onto her little notepad.
It felt like forever for Star before Goodwin finally looked up from her notepad to Star, as if to check if she was still there. She then placed her pen down on the glass coffee table that sat between and after taking a momentary pause, began to speak.
“I’m sorry to say, I haven’t been able to find an explanation to your dreams Star. The only reasonable explanation for such vivid dreams, and trust me it’s a long shot, is to say that they are not dreams, but repressed memories of some kind. Things that you maybe remember seeing or hearing about as a young child that are just now, because of triggering events, starting to resurface in your subconscious.”
Dr. Goodwin then fixed her glasses back onto her angular nose and folded her hands over her crossed legs. Star sat confused as she tried to soak it all in, but she still didn’t seem to understand. The good doctor then glanced at her watch.
“Oh, I’m sorry, we’re out of time, but you’re welcome to schedule another appointment if you’d like.” The doctor said as she stood and motioned towards the door. “You’ll find your prescription at the front desk.”
The cool summer wind greeted Star at the door as they opened up to her. She took in a deep breath and fingered the new bottle of medication, paroxetine, that Dr. Goodwin had given her.The dose she was to take was quite abnormal, but then again, her case was quite unusual. Hopefully, it would have more affect than the last. She then trudged off into the hustle and bustle crowd of Khazan City.
It wasn’t long before she made it to her building. The dilapidated apartment buildings the James refuses to leave on claims that he wants to ‘stay close to the problem’. The self-indulgent asshole. She popped the cap her the medicine bottle and downed two pills. She pushed open the heavy door to the building and large, balding man stood on the other side, leaning on the wall to the hallway. He shot her a disgustingly sly smirk her way and, after holding off her own vomit, returned a polite smile of her own.
It wasn’t until after she walked up the first flight of stairs did she take notice of the footsteps behind her. She finally looked over the railing and saw the large man from the hallway following her. He had a intimidating tattoo on the top of his head that stood in place of his lost hair. Star quickened her pace, and began searching for her keys. She could hear his pace quicken also. Her door was at the end of the hall, hopefully James was home.
She fumbled with her keys as her brisk walk turned into a jog and then a full out run. She could hear the heavy footsteps closing in behind her, but didn’t dare look back. She was almost at the door, almost there, then everything faded to black.