It was around midnight and the streets were deserted. It was Halloween and everyone was on their way to their homes after a crazy night of sweets, liqour and costumes. He had just passed the last street before his destination when he heard a strange noise move through the wind. He stood still for a moment and listened, unsure of what he had just heard. Seconds passed and the only sounds that surrounded him were the sounds of the night and the wind blowing plastic candy wrappers around the quiet streets. Everything else was silent. It was only when he began to walk forward that he heard the sound again. It was a whimper, small and sweet, but filled with sadness and despair; barely audible with the wind beating against his face, but he heard it. It was coming from a dark alleyway that stretched out in front of him and he moved slowly towards it.
The night was much darker than usual. The sky was filled with gloomy gray clouds and seemed to blacken each time he looked up, erasing any natural light that was provided by the moon and stars. Shadows of every shape danced in the pale shine of the street lamp that towered to his right. From what light that the street lamp provided, he could see a door that was embedded on the side of the alleyway. Pieces of black paint had chipped and fallen off the door in large chunks and were scattered on the ground around it, leaving the door a pale brown in comparison to the black paint that hung still on the door. The weather had changed drastically over the month. Humans went from wearing shorts and dresses to jackets and sweats within a week. he was wearing a white shirt underneath a navy blue sweater and a black leather jacket. He was usually immune to the cold, but that night was extra brutal,seeping through all his layers of clothing, giving him goosebumps on his arms and at the back of his neck.
Beside the door was a giant, moss covered dumpster with light brown covers. The dumpster was over flowing with black garabage bags, flies buzzed in a circle around the dumpster, attracted to the stench that came from it. The whole alley smelt aweful, like mold and rotting food. When he walked closer into the alley he could feel the crunch of animal bones under the weight of his feet. Dozens of mice ran from one side to the next, disappearing into the darkest parts of the alley, where no light had reached.
He looked around for anything out of the ordinary and spotted something blue from behind the dumpster. It swayed back and forth at the bottom of the dumpster and at the side nearest to the wall. He slowly walked toward it, ready to attack if needed. the stench was so powerful that it burned his nostrils and brought tears to his eyes. every step he took was like swimming deeper into as endless sea of foul smelling trash. He considered turning around and walking back the way he came, desperate to get away from the smell. But as he turned to walk away, he heard the noise again, this time much louder as if he was closer to the source. That was enough to change his mind and he continued toward the source of the whimpering. He covered his mouth and nose with the sleeve of the sweater which helped abit with the smell, and walked faster towards the dumpster, animal remains crunching louder with each relentless step he took.
He looked behind the dumpster and slowly lowered his hand in shock, no longer concerned about the smell. Piles upon piles of black trash bags stood as tall as the dumpster, about three feet in the air, against the wall. the bags had been ripped open by wild creatures searching for food and the floor was covered in the remains. Here and there he could see animals in all stages of decay that got trapped underneath the piles of bags. But he was focused on something else.
Among the dead animals and garbage was a little girl around the age of four, he thought. She was dressed in a blue, sparkly fairy princess costume that was torn and dirty. Her legs were up closer to her chest and her head was in between her knees. She was shivering uncontrollably, most likely from the cold and the desperate sobs that ranked through her body. As he walked closer to her, he could see she was covered in blood and dirt from head to toe, her once white stockings were stained and ripped . He stood in front of her awkwardly, watching her, unsure what to do.
" Little girl, why are you crying?" he asked. "Are you hurt?"
She didn't respond. She didn't even acknowledge that someone had spoken. He looked her up and down for any visible signs of physical damage but he couldn't see with the dumpster blocking the only source of light. He strained his eyes, trying to analyze every inch of the little girl in front of him but all he saw were scraps on her knees and arms, nothing that said all the blood was hers. He let of a puff os air through his pierced lips and took off his leather jacket. He knelt in front of her and covered as much of her bare skin as he could. He watched as she began to relax and sink into the warmth of his leather jacket. He felt for her, he could feel his heart squeeze at the sight of her fragile state. All these years of seeing bad things happen to humans he never sympathized, he wasn't suppose to. But this was different somehow, he couldnt help but feel sorry for this small human.
"There, there.." He tried to sound as comforting as he could, using the most soothing voice he had. " Everything will be okay. Are you lost? "
He tried to crouch closer, but decided against it when he saw her body stiffen again.
"Where are your parents, little girl?"
At the sound of him mentioning her parents, she relaxed and was lifting her head. his gaze met hers and his breath caught in his throat. They both sat there, looking at eachother, as still as statues. Her face was covered in dirt and blood like the rest of her and there were streaks on her face where her tears had left a clean path down her cheeks and nose. Her brilliant, long black hair was matted and stuck to her face in giant clumps. Her face was filled with an unimaginable sorrow and here eyes were red, puffy and glazed over with unshed tears.
He hardly saw any of that though. What caught his attention was the colour of her eyes. They were a remarkable blue at the edges of her irises, then changed the colour of green grass. Her pupils were surrounded by gold flakes that seemed to make her eyes dance. She was the prettiest girl he had ever encountered. The little girl kept his gaze on him, an envelope of silence devoured them as they watched eachother. Underneath the fear and sorrow was a hint of wisdom, the kind of ancient wisdom no four year old child could begin to understand. He vaguely remembered a beautiful colour like her eyes before, but before the memory could surface, she spoke for the first time since he had found her, breaking the silence and forcing him back to reality.
"Mommy and Daddy won't wake up" She said in a soft whisper. " I tried but they wont wake up."
Fresh tears spilled down her cheeks. She wiped them away with the back of her small hand, smearing tears and dirt across her face.
"Where are your parents?" He asked, but he was unprepared for her response.
She lifted up the same small hand she had wiped her face with and pointed a tiny finger to something behind him. By that time, some of the clouds had dispersed, letting a bit of moonlight shine through. It was only then he realized the two limp figures lying on the other side of the alley side by side on the stomachs, their faces turned towards them. Their skin was as pale as the moon, and their eyes stared lifelessly at them. He noticed then were all the mice had been running to earlier. They were crawling underneath and over the two bodies, riping holes in their clothing and nibbling at their fingers. With a look of disgust planted on his face, he got up and chased the rodents away. Up close he could see each body had two bullet wounds in between their shoulder blades. They lay in a pool of their own blood and looked like they had been there for a while.
The man was wearing a tattered and torn black suit with black leather shoes that had lost their shine. His hair was a golden brown, cut short and mangled with blood. The woman was in a pale pink coat and beige coloured stockings that were ripped and stained, although she had no shoes on her feet. Her hair lay in long, tangled curls of blond and her mouth was slightly open. dried blood was splattered across her face and her neatly manicured nails were dirty and chipped. Pieces of clothing were scattered everywhere as though a big fight happened where he stood. Now that he was close, he could smell the copper stench of blood.
He knelt down on the heels of his shoes beside the two bodies and rubbed the back of his neck, not sure what to make of all this. When he looked up, he saw the little girl watching him with anticipation, her eyes sparling in the moonlight more then her fairy costume. He sighed softly, got up and walked back towards her. He couldn't imagine what this little girl had ben though, watching both her parents robbed and shot right before her pretty eyes. It made his angry and protective over her, but mostly he felt guilt threaten to take the breath from his lungs. Even though this was not his doing, he still felt responsible, and the feeling welled up in his chest and made his throat sore.
He cleared his throat, kneeling in front of her again, trying to block the view of her parents from her innocent face. He looked at the shape and curves of her face, trying to find something to say and coming up with nothing. He could still see the sadness and fear in her, but she never once shied away from him.
"Mommy and Daddy are not going to wake up, are they?" It was more a statement then a question and he searched her face. He watched as more tears ran down her cheeks. He smiled at her, ranking his brain for a way to explain to her that her parents are never going to wake up again. How do you explain to a child that her parents have been murdered?
"What is your name, child?" He asked politely.
"Melaena," she replied. " Melaena Brookes."
"Well. Melaena Brookes, your parents must be very proud of you and how well you are behaving." He smiled at her slightly, hoping it would get her to stop crying.
To his relief, she smiled back, clearly appreciating what he has just said. But the smile was shortly lived and a far away look too its place.
"Is Mommy and Daddy going to Heaven?" She asked innocently.
The question caught him off guard and he wasnt sure how to reply. She didnt look old enough to understand the complcations of Heaven and The Under World, but she was waiting patiently for his answer.
" Your parents will be in a place were no harm will come to them again." He said, desperately hoping it were true. It seemed to be enough for Melaena, however.
Suddenly he heard footsteps and laughter coming towards them on the other side of the alleyway opposite of where he came from. It was time for him to go, but he needed to do one more thing first.
" Close your eyes, Melaena Brookes, just for a moment." He waited and watch as she hesitated, her eyebrows drawing closer in confusion.
"Just a moment," he said again, " I promise this will all be over soon."
With that she slowly closed her eyes. He pulled his hands to her temples as gently as he could, pausing for just a second to look at her once more. Then he erased every memory she had of him, took his jacket from her softly, and disappeared into the night, just as the footsteps came close enough to spot her.