It was a Saturday evening, atop a winding hill in an old abandoned house. It was pouring and hardly anything was visible in the onslaught of water, which made for the perfect cover up to the crash-landing. Something – someone had landed in this unsuspecting home. Everything was damp. The roof of the kitchen had caved in, the windows were shattered, the tiles were cracked and covered in debris, the cabinets had been crushed, the pipes were bent and leaking water, and all that was left standing was an marble island counter. On top of it, lay the child that came crashing through. Her body lay limp, and her mind was settled in an unconscious state. She was an odd being, what with her pastel mint coloured hair, and her ruby coloured eyes, hidden behind closed eyelids. Her long hair curled slightly around her neck and chin as she breathed long, smooth breaths. But that peaceful slumber would soon be rudely interrupted by a man who had been ordered to bring her back with him – dead or alive.
Tebias was a man of power. A man of defiance. A man of severity. A man to be reckoned with. He wore an attire of stealth, allowing him to move through the night without a trace, and to be feared by anyone who dared lay unwelcome eyes on him. With each step he took towards the entrance of the kitchen, his thick combat-fitted boot crunched down on scattered debris from the dismembered roof. And with each crunch, it shook the child’s sleeping mind further towards consciousness. It wasn’t long before she began to stir, her body making faint, but noticeable movements as a whimpering groan left her parted lips. With eyebrows pulled together, her eyes slowly fluttered open, the pupils dilating and taking in their new and unknown surroundings. Her dim ruby eyes squinted, as they glanced about while her limbs began to trudge about the counter top, making movements to sit up on the cold, damp marble. Tebias stepped into the doorway of the kitchen as she lifted herself up with weak arms to lay eyes on the man unknown to her. A knowing grin tugged at the corners of his thin lips as he looked over the vulnerable child who looked onto him with wonder and confusion. He took a step towards her, shaking his head in amusement as he took a look around the decrepit room.
“My word, Saphora. Look at the mess you’ve made…” he mumbled to himself, kicking a wooden plank out of his way. The child flinched and looked down at it as it was moved, before looking back up at him, wondering who he was. He was in fact her hunter – hand chosen. Saphora stayed silent as he continued to grow closer to her, moving with careful and planned actions. He raised an eyebrow, carefully examining her expression.
“… Why do you not run, I wonder,” he said to her, tilting his head, his slicked back red hair shifting in his ponytail. Saphora moved her head back as he drew closer.
“Run?” she repeated, obviously not comprehending. With raised eyebrows, Tebias was taken aback by her response, before the grin that had been tugging on his lips finally broke through.
“Could it be…Do you know who I am?” he asked her as he would a child. She timidly shook her head no. He let out a chuckle and shook his head, giving a glance to the ceiling, before returning to meet her confused eyes.
“What fun. And tell me. Do you know who you are, child?” he asked her, leaning forward with an extended hand. Her chin lowered at the question, her eyes darting to the side for a brief moment before answering.
“…I am, Saphora?” she asked, more than answered, having heard Tebias address her as such. He nodded and smiled, looking down at the cracked tile.
“Indeed you are. And do you know…what you are?” he would question her again. This time her brows pulled together as her lips parted to answer. But nothing came out. She did not know.
“That’s quite alright. You don’t need to know. Just come with me,” he said, almost demanding it. But Saphora was hesitant, as she should have been. She gently shook her head and began to move back. But the moment that caught the eye of Tebias, his hand slammed down on the counter, making her flinch and yelp, her eyes going wide.
“Now,” he breathed, his grin fading into a hard line. After swallowing the lump that had formed in her throat, she sheepishly began to slide forward, but was immediately stopped by an urgent voice ringing in her head.
“No, Saphora!” it yelled in a whisper, stopping her completely. The woman’s voice rang in her ears as her eyes darted about, while Tebias’ hand gripped the edge of the counter in frustration. His temper was not one to be toyed with.
“Is there a problem?” Tebias asked with a snarl, making Saphora refocus. She wasn’t sure of what to say. She was still trying to figure out what, and who she had just heard, and if she had in fact actually heard it.
“Move,” Tebias demanded. And once again, Saphora began to move forward. But again, she was stopped by this ringing voice of a woman, strangely familiar to her.
“You mustn’t go with him, Saphora. Listen,” she echoed into her ears. And then with a grunt, Tebias reached forward, his patience having been worn.
“Alright then,” he said, going to grab her by the wrist. She gasped as she was yanked forward by it, her face scrunching up in pain and discomfort. She pulled her wrist back, only to have it yanked on again, this time dragging her across the counter-top.
“No!” she shouted in protest, shaking her head and pulling in resistance again, to no avail. Tebias pulled again, a frown forming on his face as he pulled Saphora onto the floor, and proceeded with dragging her out of the kitchen. Saphora’s bare heels dug into the floor as she desperately tried to use her own weight as an anchor against his force. She clawed at his gloved hand that was tightly secured around her wrist as she was continued to be pulled. And then the voice rang again.
“Listen to me my child. Quickly! Repeat after me…” she whispered in her ear. Saphora flinched and muffled her whimpers, long enough to listen to the woman’s words. Noticing the sudden lack of resistance, Tebias turned around to look at the girl, who had her head somewhat down, seemingly in deep thought. He tugged on her wrist cautiously, making her trip forward, expecting a reaction. But the one he got was something he was unprepared for. Saphora’s head snapped up, revealing her now wide, glowing white eyes. Tebias almost immediately jerked back and released her hand, so that he could raise his own in defense. But it was too late. An immense amount of energy launched from Saphora’s body into him, sending her hair whipping behind her, and sending him flying through three dry walls before finally landing unconscious against the forth in one of the bedrooms. Saphora stumbled back onto the floor after the ambush, her lashes fluttering as tears welled in her stunned eyes. She took in gasping breaths as she took in the sight before her, the dust and rubble slowly clearing from in front of her. She coughed a couple of times before wobbling to her feet, and leaning back on the marble counter, which seemed to become somewhat of a sanctuary to her. Her blurring eyes looked around as the woman continued to talk to her.
“Now run, Saphora. Get out of there!” she yelled. And within the instant, she took off, not exactly knowing where. She stumbled a couple of times, holding onto the wall or whatever was around for support until she found the front door. It had been kicked in, so all she had to do was run out onto the driveway. She breathed heavily as she looked around the abandoned lot. It had only just stopped raining, so the air was moist and thick, making her drags of breath longer and more strained. She took a quick look behind her to be sure Tebias wasn’t after her before she ran out into the driveway, and then down the hill to where ever the winding road would take her.
With a startling jump, she awoke from a dream all too familiar. A memory of her first experience on Earth. The only experience she could recall before the beginning of her new life. Gripping the sheets that were now somewhat damp, she sprang up into a sitting position and gasped for breath that she felt she had lost. Looking around the room, she groaned, throwing her fists up and back down on the mattress. She was tired of this - of these dreams that she could never grasp. They always ended the same way, leaving her in fear and anxiety. She wanted to get more out of it. But that was proving to be more difficult than she had hoped. So difficult in fact that she was seeking therapy for the dreams. The memories. She, and everyone else were convinced that the dreams were causing her headaches. So she attended therapy twice a week to try and cure what had been determined to be amnesia. Monday and Friday. Today was Monday. And her appointment was in two hours, at one o’clock pm.
Saphora sighed, shaking her head and looking at the clock on her bedside dresser that read 11:04am. Great, she thought. I over slept. Now I’ll have to fly there. Contrary to what most people believed to be fun, flying took a lot out of her. Sure, it was fun for a while. But Dr. Lupin’s office was almost thirty minutes away by flying – longer by car. Keeping her concentration for that long put a strain on her, and added to her constant headaches. It was funny, she thought. That sometimes having to go see her therapist, the one who was supposed to be treating her headaches, would be the cause of them. And some of the worst. Exhaustion was one of the worst types of headaches. Because not only was there pain, but there was also fatigue. She didn’t take it for granted, the fact that she could fly. But if she could go about her day without it, she did. She usually only flew when she was stressed. Being above the clouds always calmed her nerves. And almost always helped put her to sleep. Because it wore her down, it usually did the trick. Saphora hardly ever used the gift for joy rides around the city. It just wasn’t in her. She didn’t know how or when she had come up with the ability, so in the back of her mind, she was always wondering when it would be briskly taken away from her. She had always thought that it would be, so she never wanted to press her luck. She never flew too high. Just high enough to stay above the clouds. She never went too fast, and she never did any tricks. She was a very careful girl. Just because she could fly, didn’t mean that it would be the death of her.
She was ready in less than twenty minutes, and was out the door in the next five. Fran had left a note on her dresser, reminding her that she had an appointment today, and not to do anything “rash”. Which to her, meant not doing what she was about to do – fly. Fran was the woman that found her on that fateful night. She was one of the only things, if not the only thing, that made it certain that her dream was in fact a memory. Saphora had gone running down several streets, crying and screaming for help, until finally a light in a nearby house turned on, drawing her attention to it. Fran came out shortly after and went running to her, fearful of what had happened that had caused such a reaction in her. Fran eventually ended up taking her in, after failing to find out where Saphora had come from or what had happened to her parents, and ended up raising her as her own child.
She was very accepting of Saphora’s abilities, Fran. But she was also a very cautious woman. She was worried that if the wrong people saw what she could do, that they would question, bully, or even harm her. She believed that her little girl was very special – and for good reason. And she didn’t want anyone taking her away, to do God knows what to her. So she was constantly warning Saphora, although she didn’t need to. Saphora knew all too well the dangers of what could happen if she were to be found out. It was unexplainable, which to the public, meant highly dangerous. It wouldn’t matter what Saphora said. She would be branded as a threat to the United States, and therefore the world. Unless she had done something to help everyone, like Superman, or Dr. Manhattan. She would have to become a hero in order for the label of threat to be removed. And that just wasn’t in her. She wasn’t the hero type. So she always took Fran’s words to heart. After all, in every movie, if the target resisted if they were found out, it was always their families that suffered in order to get what they wanted.
But we’re getting off the subject.
“Hello, Saphora. You can go right in,” the secretary at the front desk said to her.
She didn’t even look up. She never had to. She always knew who was coming in, and who was coming out. Saphora couldn’t help but wonder if there were cameras around the office. Some of which would be facing towards the door. The screens of the cameras could be on the computer that was in front of her, granting her access to where everyone was.
Saphora nodded, walking past the desk and making an immediate right down the hall to the elevator that would lead her to Dr. Lupin’s office. The walls in the hall, as well as a majority of the office, were bland. They were a beige colour. Very dull. Here and there, there were paintings, or what looked like paintings, hanging up on the walls. Tulips, lilies, roses. The only source of colour in the office. But they weren’t actual paintings. They were pictures of paintings. They had all the detail of the brush strokes, with no texture. She knew because she had touched them before, having once admired the paintings. They were, at one point, the only thing she admired about the place. Now, there was nothing. She only came to please Fran. Because frankly, there had been no progress in her case since she had started coming nearly three years ago. She understood that progress didn’t happen overnight. But to have never missed a session in three years, and still have nothing to call an accomplishment? Of course, there may have been the fact that she wouldn’t take the medication prescribed to her for her headaches. But she highly doubted that that was the reason. After all. There was no medication for amnesia.
It had gotten to a point where she had wondered if she minded never remembering. Except for the nights that the dreams haunted her. It had been almost sixteen years since that night, bringing her to about the age of 22. They couldn’t be sure, because she didn’t know how old she was when she was found. But those years were more than enough time to create a new, comfortable life without her past. Aside from the nights with dreams, she was beginning to care less and less about whatever she was missing. She would, however, like to know how she gained the ability to fly. She remembered perfecting it, but not obtaining it.
“Ah, Saphora! Come in, come in,” Dr. Lupin greeted, putting down his cup of coffee. The scent filled the room, and Saphora’s nostrils as she entered the room. The bridge of her nose scrunched up at the smell of it. But she knew that her nose would eventually become immune to it, once a few minutes had passed. She closed the door behind her softly, keeping the handle turned until the door was shut before letting it quietly click back into place.
She sat down in the chair in front of his mahogany desk, and gave a faint smile. He returned it tenfold, making his glasses bounce up as they were lifted by the roundness of his cheeks. As she situated herself in the chair, she watched as the doctor took out one of the many files about herself. She found it strange. She and the doctor had only ever talked about so much and yet there were as many as four binders filled with information. And unless he was rewriting everything they had been talking about, she doubted that there could be so much from just the small conversations that took place. She had never seen what was in the files, and had never asked. But each time she met with Lupin, her curiosity of what could be inside grew.
He placed the fat binder on the surface of his desk with a somewhat loud plop, before smiling up at her. She couldn’t help but narrow her eyes. It was things like that. The subtle references of mocking that made her hatred for him fester. It was like he was saying, “I have all this information – on you. And you’ll never get to see it.” But again, she set aside her feelings of distaste, and powered through for Fran.
“How’re you doing?” he asked, looking up at her. She cleared her throat.
“I’m alright, thank you. Yourself, doctor?”
He laughed and proceeded to open the binder, flipping through the many sheets of paper, trying to find a specific area to stop at. She didn’t know what or where that was, but considering that they always started with the repeating of her dream and/or memory, she could only assume that it had something to do with that. He grumbled softly as he flipped through, before chuckling again.
“You’ve been coming here for nearly three years, and you’re still so formal with me. Why’s that?” he asked, taking a sip of his coffee and pushing his glasses back up onto his nose. She shrugged and answered simply.
“Because you’re still in a formal position,” he glanced up at her, setting his mug back down with raised eyebrows.
“True … Why don’t we get started?” he said, having found the page he was looking for. She nodded, somewhat indifferently.
“Have you been waking up out of breath still?” he asked. She nodded.
“Yes. I woke up like that today.”
“I see. And yesterday?”
“The day before?”
“The day before that?”
“And before that?”
“I see,” he said, scribbling away onto the page. Perhaps it was some sort of chart, taking note of her sleeping patterns. That was in fact what it was. But she couldn’t be certain. The binder was at an angle that prevented her from seeing it properly. She watched as he wrote, before he started talking again. “And have you been having any headaches when you wake up like that?”
“No. Not usually.”
“Mhm,” he hummed, writing again. “Well, they don’t seem to be worsening, just happening more often. You might start experiencing headaches with them if they keep happening so often,” he noted. She didn’t think that was the case, but she nodded anyway.
“Have you been taking your medication?”
“Yes.” Lie. She’d yet to take one pill in the three years.
“Do you need a refill?”
“Alright. Be sure to let me know when you do,” she nodded. “Now then … Have you remembered anything, since the last time we’ve spoken?” he asked. She frowned, and shook her head. If she had, she would have been anxious to let him know, and hear his response, despite her opinion of him.
“I see. Can you tell me the night you do remember? About the night you met Miss Mousescawits?” he asked, leaning back in his chair. She sighed. She had been asked to repeat what she remembered in every visit, regardless of the doctor. She figured it was to see if the story would change at all. To see if she was lying. Or maybe to see if anything had been added, that she didn’t realize she remembered. Either way, it was a process that drained her. Because it didn’t matter what else she could remember about the night. It was before that night that she wanted to remember, if she was to remember anything. That night was unpleasant, aside from meeting Fran. And being made to constantly repeat it only worked on her nerves. If anything, she wanted desperately to forget that night.
“I woke up in a kitchen … Everything had been destroyed, but a counter top. A marble counter top. This man walked in when I woke up.”
“Do you know what he looked like?”
“No, but he had red hair.”
“He asked me if I knew who he was. I didn’t. And then he asked me if I knew who I was. And I said Saphora.”
“Why did you say that?”
“Because he said it.”
“Did it feel right to assume your name was Saphora?” She nodded.
“Yes. I knew it was Saphora when he said it. Then he asked me, if I knew what I was.”
“What you were? What do you mean?”
“I don’t know. That’s what he said. I told him I didn’t know, and he told me to go with him. But a woman told me not to.”
“A woman?” he repeated, leaning forward. She’d never mentioned the woman before. A voice, yes, but it being a woman, no. Dr. Lupin was intrigued. She slowly nodded. “You believe the voice that spoke to you was a woman?”
She nodded again, and he began writing in the binder again. “I see, I see. Go on. Did the woman sound young? Old?”
“She sounded like a woman.” He nodded, and continued to write, signaling her to go on.
“She told me to say what she said.”
“What did she say?”
“I don’t remember. But when I said it, the man fell back into a wall. Then she told me to run. And I left the house, and ran down the hill to hide from him.”
He had stopped writing, and was now leaning on his desk, listening intently. She stared at him, having finished her story, and waited for a response. He looked on for a few more moments before pushing his glasses back up.
“You… You said when you said what the woman said, the man fell back?”
“Into a wall.”
“Through three walls, and into the fourth.” His eyes widened a bit and his head slipped from his hand.
“Through three walls?” She nodded. “How?”
“I don’t know.”
“Were you hurt as well?” She shook her head.
“I fell back on the floor, but I wasn’t hurt.”
“How is that possible? Did you push him?”
She shook her head, but then hesitated. She didn’t know. She couldn’t remember.
“I … don’t know. I don’t remember how it happened. Only that he flew back.”
“I see… Why don’t we take a look at your back now?” he said as he wrote a bit more. She nodded and stood, making her way over to the bench in another part of the room. Once he was done writing, he closed the binder, put it back in the drawer, and took out another one not as thick, before locking the drawer. He made his way over to his leather chair, carrying the binder and his mug. Both of which he placed on an end table beside the chair, before rolling up the sleeves of his button up collar shirt to his elbows.
“Alright, let’s see that back,” he huffed, walking over behind her. He was always doing that. Trying to fill in the looming silence with something. He often repeated himself in order to do so. Remembering that her hair was down, she quickly twisted it around and pulled it over one of her shoulders, holding it in place with one hand. She took in a deep breath as he pulled her shirt back so that he could see beneath it. He studied the intricate, oddly designed interlocking patterns that almost read as hieroglyphics – because they were. When she had first started coming to this man, the birthmark, as they called it, was only located on the back of her neck. Since then, it has spread to her right shoulder, and slightly down that side of her back. It was off white in colour, a few shades lighter than her skin tone, making it noticeable if it was being looked for, or at. It almost looked like a white-ink tattoo, which it was often mistaken as. They were on the verge of giving it another title. He stayed quiet as he studied the area, his bare hands gently grazing over certain areas that interested him.
She looked around the room as he took his mental notes. She looked at his desk, the photos, the plants, the chairs, the carpeting. Anything and everything that would keep her from feeling like a case study. It was the part of the session that she hated the most. Being made to feel like an object of observation was one of the few things that could anger her. Perhaps it was because that she secretly feared it. That by some chance, the constant observation would give way to discovering her ability to fly. And then just like that, she’d be hidden from the world. The rumored infamous Area 51 would burst into the room and take her to some quarantine to be analyzed and poked at. She feared that at any moment the doctor would find something alarming. Something odd that would draw attention to her. But as always, after a few more moments of minimal observation, Dr. Lupin released her shirt, allowing it to flatten against her back, and moved to sit on the chair in front of the sofa.
“Well, it doesn’t look like it has spread anymore since last month,” he concluded. She nodded, letting go of her hair, letting it stay on her shoulder until her movements caused it to fall back.
“Does it hurt at all?” he asked, making his way to his seat and sitting down, crossing one ankle over the other, his hands folding over his stomach. She shook her head no.
“Good,” he mumbled, taking the binder into his lap and opening it up to take notes.
“Alright. Let’s talk about your dreams now. Have you had any other ones? Anything strange?” he asked. She gave him a look. As if her only memory of her existence wasn’t strange. He cleared his throat, nodding as he caught his mistake. “Right, I mean. Well, any other ones that you haven’t mentioned?” She hesitated before answering, which made him curious and eager to press her on.
She shook her head no.
“Are you sure?” She nodded.
“They just haven’t been happening as often I guess.”
“Oh. Well is that a bad thing?” he asked, jotting the note down. She shrugged.
“I guess not?”
“Well I should hope not. Less nightmares are always a good thing, right?” he asked with a smile, his glasses inching up over his eyes. She stared at him - at the faux compassion, and nodded, generating a smile of her own.
“Yeah, I guess so.”
Walking out of the building, Saphora reached into her back pocket for her phone, wanting to call Fran and tell her about the session. She always called after each session. Not only because it was Fran’s request, but because she wanted someone other than herself to keep track of what happened in the sessions, in case she forgot. She did a lot of things like that – to keep track of memory. She was somewhat paranoid of losing it, knowing that she had before. She was conscious of the fact that it could be taken from her again at any moment.
“Hi, honey.” Fran greeted, picking up on the second ring.
She didn’t call her mom. She never had, and she doubt she ever would. It wasn’t that she was trying to disrespect Fran, or anything. But she knew that she was not her mother. And therefore just didn’t feel that she should be called that. She was grateful for everything that she had done for her. But calling her mom just seemed foolish. And Fran didn’t seem to mind it. The relationship did just fine without the title.
“How was the session today?” she asked, as she always did. Saphora shrugged, turning right and heading down the street towards home.
“Same as always. But I think I remembered something else, though it doesn’t seem-“
“Something else? What, what?! Tell me!” she urged excitedly. Saphora had to move the phone away from her ear, the volume her voice had reached was so high.
“It’s nothing, really. Just this woman’s voice.”
“A woman? A woman was there with you that night? And she let you face that monster all by your-“
“Fran! She wasn’t there.” Saphora groaned, rolling her eyes as she walked down the semi-busy street of the small town outside of her own.
There were flower shops, bakeries, antique shops, pawn shops, a small record store, an even smaller library, and a café shop. But that was just on this strip. There were some more shops along with some more places to eat down the road and on various other streets. Fran was silent for a moment on the phone and was drowned out by the talking of the people that Saphora passed. Talking about the weather, their sons’ baseball games, their friends who were being scandalous, and everything else that Saphora could never seem to take interest in. But then Fran finally spoke up.
“What do you mean she wasn’t there, honey? You said you heard her.”
“I did. I heard a woman speak to me. But she wasn’t there. At least … I don’t remember her being there,” she explained, her walking slowing as she entered her subconscious.
Was there a woman there? Saphora wasn’t sure. She didn’t remember a woman being there. She just recalled being instructed to say words, and that’s what she did. But maybe she was there. After all, how could she hear something that wasn’t there? She wasn’t crazy, was she?
“Of course she must have been there, Saphora. Don’t be ridiculous. The nerve of that woman. Leaving you with that horrid man,” Fran huffed. Saphora knew she had her fist on her hip in frustration, and she laughed.
“Well I’m alright now, aren’t I? But yeah, I guess she was there. She helped me, you know. You shouldn’t be so harsh on her.”
“Helped you? Helped you by doing what?”
“She … I don’t know, she told me how to get away.”
“Hmph. Well … I guess so. At any rate, I’m glad you remembered something, honey.”
Saphora scoffed. “Yeah, it’s only been three years.”
“That man has done nothing but help you, Saphora. You mind your manners.”
“Yeah, yeah,” she grumbled. That man has nothing but clean out your wallet, she thought. “So what’s new at the zoo? Find any lost species of sea horses?” Saphora joked, walking past the corner record store and making a right.
“Very funny. No, we haven’t. But there is something new, apparently. They won’t tell us what it is, though.”
“A surprise at a zoo? That’s never good.”
“That’s what I said. But they’re promising it’s going to be the biggest attraction since the lions.”
“The lions. That’s promising a lot.”
“I know. I can’t wait to find out what it is! What are you up to? Are you heading home?” Fran asked. Saphora could hear the rustling of papers mixed with the sound of a fax machine in the background. She knew she was busy at work. She always felt bad, calling Fran when she had work to do. But Fran always insisted, so what could she do but comply? It always seemed to brighten her day, even if she was swamped with work.
“Not yet. I’m going to head to the woods to blow off some steam,” Saphora admitted, even though she knew that Fran wouldn’t approve.
“To do you know what?”
“Yeah. Just a little bit. And then home. I promise.”
“Well … Alright. Celebrate remembering. But then it’s straight home, okay?”
“I should remember things more often.”
“Very funny. Home after, okay?”
“Yes, yes. Home after.”
She ran to a nearby tree, climbing it. She pulled herself as high as she could to get to the branch that was furthest up, so that she could make a clean jump without being spotted. Seemingly jumping into the air, she rose herself up above what clouds there were. She made sure she was high enough to pass as a bird or an airplane from a glance. With a sigh of relief, she stretched, before taking off to head deeper into the woods. She wanted to think about this voice that she had remembered during the session. It seemed to her that she had always remembered, but had just forgotten to bring it up during the sessions. But hearing herself bring it up today made her think about it. What was that voice? And from whom did it come from? She wanted to remember if there had actually been a person there, or if she had in fact been hearing voices at the time. Because if she was, then that was an entirely new thing she had to take into consideration. That could put her whole opinion of the truth in jeopardy. After all, hearing voices was not a natural occurrence, right?
It was quite soothing, watching all the clouds pass her by. It was like running your hand through a dream, as she reached her hand out to touch them. They were a magnificent colour, with the help of the setting sun. She smiled, stretching her arms out and closing her eyes, letting her hair whip behind her and about her face. Although she very much feared falling, she had a mixed emotion about flying. On one hand there was the ‘what if’. But on the other hand, who wouldn’t love being able to run their fingers through a cloud and race with the birds? She took in a deep breath and counted her blessings for being able to experience such a feeling.
But that feeling was soon cut short.
She flinched upon hearing what sounded like a pain-riddled roar erupt in the skies. She wobbled in the air, her limbs flailing and struggling to keep her balance. Her heart skipped a few beats when the realization that she could fall from such a height quickly kicked in. Her eyes grew wide as her limbs continued to flail before she fully regained her stability. She quickly started to lower herself back to the ground when she realized that there was a chance of falling. And then again, the roar struck the sky, making her heart drop, and her balance waver again. And then, almost immediately after the roar, a bolt of pain struck the sides of her temples. A skull-splitting headache. With a clenching scream, she gripped the sides of her head and she fell the rest of the way, hitting three branches and then finally a tree. She hit the tree with a loud thud, her body curling around one of its thick branches. She coughed up some saliva and mumbled in pain, as she gripped the branch for dear life. Her shaking frame held onto the branch as she looked around with her now blurred vision. She could hear her own breathing blaring in her ears, as her heart pumped at about a mile a minute. It happened. It had actually happened. She had fallen. Because of a headache? No, that scream. What on earth was that scream?
The tree was pretty high up, and what she heard next made her heart stop for the third time in that minute. The trunk of the tree began to crack. It was going to snap – fall. She had hit the tree so hard, that it was going to fall. She moved herself into a squatting position on the branch as quickly as she could in her current amount of pain, and grumbled when gravity began to take over, causing the tree to tilt forward. She swore under her breath as the tree slowly began falling and jumped from it, landing in front of its path. She landed with a sliding thud on her feet and turned back to look at the falling tree, gaining in speed. She cringed as another bolt of pain struck and crippled her to the ground. The ear-shattering sound flooded her ears once again and she felt herself tearing up. She didn’t know at this point if it was from the pain of her worsening situation or not. She whimpered and held her hands to her temple, waiting for the pain to stop. When it did she sighed in relief, but immediately remembered her situation and looked up. Her mind raced as she thought of what to do, but coming up blank. She could have moved to the side and out of the way of the trunk, at least sparing herself that. But her mind was far too tattered to concentrate on such a simple action.
Not seeing any options, or enough time to move out of the way, she covered her head and ducked, waiting for the tree to fall, and prayed that it would somehow miss her by some miracle of millimeters. She cried, her chest heaving as she thought of Fran in what she thought to be her final moments. How she had always told her to be careful, not to go too high. She should have listened. Why didn’t I listen? she thought. But what happened only added to her astonishment. She heard the tree fall with a loud crack, and felt the ground shake beneath her as it did. Her eyes were closed tight as she waited for the onslaught of pain. But none came. There wasn’t even a hint of it. After a few moments went by, she dubbed it safe to open her eyes, and take a look at the damage that had been done. The tree had indeed fallen, corrupting the natural layout of the ground around it into a dent. But where she had been standing, the ground was at peace. In fact, a significant area around her was at peace, as if it had never been touched by the tree. Slowly, her hands returned to her sides as she looked up in curiosity. The tree had been bent upwards above her, almost like it had been snapped in half to protect her. She stared at it in shock as she took a few steps back from the destruction, trying to piece it all together in her mind. What had just happened? Had the tree split on its own? Had she done that? And if she had, how in the world… She kept looking, along the entire tree, looking for answers but finding none. She looked down at her hand, eyeing its shaking frame, now with slight horror. She shook her head and looked around to see if anyone had in fact seen what had happened. And indeed, there was one.
A man. With … red hair.
Her body seemed to freeze, when her eyes came into contact with his. His black eyes. Bottomless pits …
“Making a mess again, I see,” the man laughed, shaking his head.
His arms were crossed as he stepped towards her. Menacingly. She took a step back towards the tree, whose life had suddenly been ended. Something inside her wanted to run. Her body was on edge, her mind was drawing blanks, and she hadn’t the slightest idea why she wanted to cry. The man smiled as he continued to walk forward and she continued to retreat. His head tilted and his eyebrows raised as his arms lowered to his sides.
“I’m starting to think you remember me, Saphora,” he said in amusement.
And with the saying of her name, her fists clenched, and she knew why she wanted to run. But it couldn’t be. It wasn’t real. The night wasn’t real. It was a bad dream. The dismay! To see her nightmare before her. She had gone for so long wanting to prove that her memory had in fact happened. That it could be validated. And now that she was standing face to face with the man she had feared the most in her entire life, she wanted it to be everything but real. The man from that night is who he was. And she was in no position to escape him. She took several more steps back until he stopped walking and she nearly tumbled over. This can’t be happening, she thought. I’m seeing things.
“And it seems like this time you feel like running! Could it be that you remember it all now?” he asked, continuing to walk once again. She took in a sharp breath, trying to remind her lungs how to breathe. She took a quick glance around, wondering if it would be best to scream for help. But given their location, she doubted anyone would be able to hear her. But a part of her also wanted to talk to the man, and find out who he was, and how he knew her. But for now she stayed quiet, her mind having forgotten how to speak.
“What’s wrong? Why don’t you speak? You remember me don’t you? Surely you must have many things to tell me,” he said curiously. And without thinking, she shook her head, which sent him into a fit of laughter.
“You mean to tell me you still do not remember? You’re making this too easy now. It’s been years, you know,” he laughed, coming closer. Her fists clenched again as he burst into laughter. She wanted to get in on what was so funny.
“So tell me who you are. And why you’re showing up again years later, knowing who I am,” she demanded, actually taking a step forward. This made him stop, and tilt his head back up.
“My name is Tebias,” he said bluntly. “I am hunting you.”
Her head tilted back slightly at the harshness of the words. Hunting? She didn’t know what those words meant in that context. Only she did, but didn’t want to make the connection with what he just said and herself. Not only did she have the urge to run, but charge at him with everything she had in the same instance. She didn’t know which one she should have done first.
“Don’t understand?” he asked, reaching for his hip, and unhooking a weapon that resembled a gun of some kind.
Her eyes immediately darted to the previously concealed weapon, wide and cautious. Her arm flinched, as if to protect herself, and then her entire body flinched when hearing and seeing the second half of the tree trunk to her left side slide forward along with the movement of her arm. Both of their heads jerked in its direction, and stared at it in bewilderment. It stopped when she did, its branches still giving off slight movements as a few dozen leaves fell from them. She turned back to look at the man by the name of Tebias, and he turned to look back at her, now in a crouching position. He honestly looked quite scared. Which meant … He didn’t do it. Slowly, he stood straight, and cracked his neck, looking back at the now still tree trunk. He fixed his attire and repositioned the weapon in his hand, clearing his throat.
“Well that was odd,” he said with a slight grin.
She shook her head a bit. He wasn’t going to fool her. This tree… What was she doing to this tree? She turned back to look at it again in wonder, and he cleared his throat again, trying to get her attention.
“As I was saying. I’m your hunter. I need you to come back with me, or I might have to use this. I spared you this weapon before because you were a child. But it seems I underestimated you,” he said with a grimace, walking towards her again. She swung her arm out again, staring at the tree. But it did not move. She raised her arm above her head, and still nothing. This made him laugh.
“What are you doing? Do you think you did that? Obviously the tree just fell a little more,” he said, rolling his eyes.
She stopped her moving and thought about that. It had been in a position where it was susceptible to falling further. Her suspicions died a bit as she thought about the logic behind that. She turned back to look at Tebias, who was beginning to really close the gap between them, making her retreat again.
“Who are you?” she asked again, having been lost in her thoughts.
“Why, I just told you. Is your memory really that bad?” he asked in a soft voice.
“What do you mean, you’re hunting me?” she asked, beginning to feel like she was in a dream. Maybe she had actually fallen unconscious in the tree, and she was now dreaming. It would make sense that she would dream of him, after just talking about him in her session with Dr. Lupin.
“Just as it sounds. You’re hearing it right,” he said with a grin, spinning the weapon on his index finger, causing her attention to be drawn to it. And then it was suddenly aimed between her eyes, making them go wide as her body tensed. She was in no dream. Her body would have startled her awake ages ago. No. This was a living nightmare.
“So are you going to come with me, or am I going to have to use this?”
“That’s none of your concern. It’s a yes or no question.”
“I think it is my concern.”
His grip on the weapon tightened in frustration and she took an uneasy step back, which he followed and then some.
“Yes or no,” he repeated, his eyes narrowing while hers darted about. Her heart rate quickened and her frame began to shake again as he waited for her answer, which she knew to be no. Sensing her answer, he shrugged and gave off a look of indifference before speaking.
“Suit yourself. Such a waste,” he said before going to pull the trigger. She felt her body pulse with adrenalin as her arms moved to guard her body, and her face buried itself into them. The time seemed to expand and move so much slower, because she saw it all. From under her arms, she watched the ground beneath her pulsate and indent into the ground, almost like a ripple. And as she panicked, her breathing quick even in this slow-motion vision, she watched as the tree trunk as it was slung forward over her and into Tebias. The bullet Tebias had fired had gone into the trunk of the tree as it hit him, and sent him hurling into the ground under it. She lifted her head with wide eyes and watched him fly alongside the tree while his weapon was knocked into the air and out of sight.
And then time picked up, and everything landed with a ground-shaking thud. She seemed to be gasping for air when it was all over. She watched as the tree rolled to a stop, the leaves shaking subtly. She looked around at the other half of the tree, which was now beginning to fall down on her at a rather quick pace. She lifted her hands above her head, looking up at it in horror, and then in disbelief when it stopped in midair, almost like it was floating. She blinked, and stared, before even considering moving her hands, in fear that if she did, the seemingly magical tree would then continue to fall. But with a sudden knowledge of what she was doing, or an involuntarily jerk of her shaking body, she did just that. She shifted her hands to the left, and the tree followed, falling onto the ground. She huffed out a nervous laugh and looked down at her trembling hands in awe. I did that? she thought. The tree … Did I just move a tree?! And then another realization hit her, once again. She had just seen Tebias. Tebias. His name was Tebias, and he was real. But with what had just happened … She looked over at the rummage of the one half of the tree trunk that had fallen, slammed up against another tree with what she knew to be Tebias under it. Had she just killed someone? Her chest heaved at the thought, and she felt her knees go weak for a moment. Even though the man had just tried to kill her, she may have just killed someone. Her body shook as her mind started to pick up in speed during her thought process. She started to panic. What would she do?
“Oh my god … He’s real. He’s real, and he’s dead,” she said to herself in a shaky voice, as she began to move her feet. In fear that if she didn’t, they would give in on her. Suddenly her world was thrust into action. She’d waited all this time for some kind of contact with her past, and now she was getting it – physically. He was just in front of her. Talking to her. Threatening her. Her head spun as she tried to recover from the impact with the brick wall of reality. For the first time, without paranoia behind it, she felt fear. Actual, logical fear. Her hands fumbled for her back pocket, aiming to take out her phone so that she could call Fran. But she stopped herself when she heard movement from the branch that had been tossed. Her body froze as her head slowly turned in its direction. It rocked, ever so slightly, stabbing Saphora’s heart with a surge of fear, before slipping from the angle it was leaning at on another tree, and falling to the ground with a loud, earth-shaking thud. With eyes that seemed to be caught in headlights, she stared at the tree, watching, and anticipating any sudden movements from it. There were none in the next immediate moments. But she didn’t want to stick around to see if there would be any in the near future. If Tebias was alive, she wanted to be as far away as she could before he came to.
Making the wise decision to leave, Saphora took off in the direction that would take her towards the zoo, where Fran worked – or so she thought. She didn’t want to go home – not where she would be alone for the next several hours. She wanted to be in a crowd. She wanted to be somewhere she could hide, where if she was found again, it would be harder to get a hold of her. But more than anything, she wanted to feel the safety of being in Fran’s arms, under her watch. Of course, that wasn’t real safety. Not from a man with a gun. But Saphora was frantic. She didn’t know where else to turn, or where else to go, except to the only person she trusted would do her no harm after listening to what happened.
After running for about a minute, and getting deeper into the woods, Saphora began to lift herself into the air. She was doing so hurriedly, causing her limbs to flail with the fluctuation of her distraught concentration. She ended up running into a tree, so to speak, and wrapping her body around the branch she hit. She coughed from the impact to her diaphragm and gagged for air as she tried to keep her grip on the branch. In the mists of the chaos of her cracking psyche, Saphora felt her eyes begin to well with tears at the stress of the trauma. Her chest heaved in a sudden sob. Why didn’t I listen to Fran? she thought hysterically, blinking away the forming tears. This was too much. What was happening to her? Why?
She lifted herself up on the branch with uneasy limbs, and steadied herself to leap into the air. But during the moment of takeoff, that same bone cringing cry struck her ears, and her hands immediately went to cover them. Her concentration was nearly shattered as she screamed and fell to the ground with a crackle and a thud. The air left her lungs once again, and she curled into a fetal position. Her hands gripped the thick grass of the ground as her lips parted to wheeze and force air into her crumbling lungs. Again she coughed, desperate to inflate them as she lifted herself back onto her knees.
She couldn’t fly. And the zoo was over an hour away on foot. The tears began to well again. What if she couldn’t make it to the zoo before he woke up and came searching for her? She turned her body to look behind her. Thankfully, there was no sign of Tebias’ recovery, if there was one to be made. Her head jerked back in its previous direction with a sudden sense of ambition, filled with the desperate hope that she had the time to get away. But now that she feared flying, she would have to rely on other methods of getting to the zoo in a timely fashion. Feeling her lungs recover, she stood once again, and started running in the direction that she needed to go. And while doing so, she dug into her back pocket to reach for her phone once again. She speed dialed Fran, and waited for her to pick up as she rushed through the scattered trees, trying to get to the open road on the other side. Fran picked up on the third ring.
“Hi, honey. You finished doing you-“
“Fran, he’s real. I saw him! He’s … He’s …” she breathed as she ran, being careful not to let the phone slip from her grip. “He said he was hunting me, Fran. A tree fell! I fell when I was flying, Fran, I’m sorry. I’m so sorry,” she said in a slurring cry into the phone, nearly tripping over herself. Fran shook her head, stopping in the mists of her walking and pressing her index finger into her other ear so she could hear her better. The man who was walking with Fran slowed to a stop as well, turning back and seeing the look of distress on her face. They were on their way to the iguana exhibit. Fran pressed the phone against her ear; there seemed to be static interference.
“Wait – What? Saphora, honey, slow down. I can barely hear you. What are you saying?”
Saphora groaned, pushing her free hand against a passing tree to give her a bit more speed. She gave a quick glance behind her as she ran, to see if Tebias had begun to follow. He hadn’t, but the combination of her turning and hurried movements caused her to trip over an uplifted root and tumble onto the ground. She grunted uncomfortably, dropping the phone and tumbling a few feet forward.
Fran’s eyes narrowed and then widened when she recognized the sounds of movement of pain. She bent over herself, pressing the phone to her ear in worry.
“Saphora? Saphora!” Fran shouted, alarming some of the people that were around her, including, Brad, her coworker. He came closer, worried but not quite sure what to do.
Meanwhile, Saphora was slowly getting back onto her knees for the third time, while looking around for her cell phone. She could hear Fran yelling on the other end, and it helped guide her hand-ear coordination. She succeeded in finding the phone, and stood up, placing it back against her ear and immediately starting to run again.
“Fran, he’s real!”
“Who’s real? What just happened? What was that?”
“I fell, Fran. I heard this noise and it was awful and I fell into a tree and the tree fell only it didn’t fall and-“
“Saphora! Slow. Down. I can’t understand you. You fell?”
“Flying! I fell out of the sky.”
“What did I tell you?! Are you okay? Are you hurt? Where are you?”
“I’m in the woods,” Saphora sobbed. “He’s trying to kill me. I can’t fly! Please, come get-“
“Kill – what? Hello?”
“Saphora? Hello? Honey?”
The phone’s connection was beginning to worsen, no doubt due to the dense area of forest she was currently in. It wasn’t long before the phone beeped and cut out completely, losing the signal. Saphora whined, listening to the line go dead, and looked at her phone in utter disbelief and propelling sorrow. In a hurried trial, she tried dialing her number again. But with each attempt, all she got was the distant beeping on the line, telling her that there was no service. With a huff of frustration she stuffed her phone in her pocket and picked up her speed. She thought that maybe if she could get to the road, she could have a good enough service to reach Fran. She could tell her where she was, and get her to come pick her up. She had to tell her what happened. That the story she had been telling for all these years, and blindly defending, was actually fact. Facts that left her with so many more questions. But none that currently had any time to be answered.
Meanwhile, Fran was at the zoo, still standing in the middle of the pathway, yelling into her phone.
“Saphora? Saphora! Hello? Saphora?” she repeated again, and again. Brad, who was beginning to get more concerned, stepped closer to Fran, wanting to know what was wrong. Fran’s eyes were beginning to tear up, and Brad, like any other sensible man, did not want to have a woman crying – especially not beside him on a crowded path.
“Fran, what’s wrong? What happened to Saphora?” he asked, placing a comforting hand on her shoulder. She immediately sprang up and grabbed onto his other arm with her free hand, somewhat startling him.
“She’s in trouble. She’s never in trouble, Brad. She said she fell out of … in the woods. I lost her signal. She sounded like she was hurt,” Fran said, trying to level the wobbling in her voice. Brad gripped her shoulder a bit tighter, trying to steady her.
“I’m sure she’s alright, Fran. Saphora seems like she can handle herself.”
“But then why would she have called? She’s always fine, Brad. Why would she have called if she was fine?” she asked frantically. Brad struggled for words as Fran let his arm go and put her phone back into her pocket, turning on her heel and heading in the direction from where they had come. “I’ve got to go find her.”
Brad’s eyebrows shot up in surprise as he jolted after her, carefully taking her by the elbow to turn her back around.
“Whoa, whoa. At least tell the manager first, Fran.”
“You tell him for me. I’ve got to go now. She could be hurt out there. She sounds like she was crying. Tell Wayne I’ll make up for it in tomorrow’s shift. It’s an emergency.”
Small sounds from the forest floor behind her made Saphora’s back arch as she ran. Normal noises, which were probably caused by her own fast movements through the leaf and twig covered ground. Even so, they tormented her, convincing her that Tebias was only a few short steps away, mere moments away from cornering her again. And without any answers to help her defend herself.
Finally, after a few more yards, she saw the opening of the forest, which let out into the road. She smiled, curling her hands into fists as she once again added a little more oomph to her speed, hope powering her on. She looked to her side as she ran, fumbling to take out her cell phone again and try dialing Fran. With her jerky movements, it proved to be somewhat difficult as she approached the side of the road.
She finally was able to pull it out as she ran onto the dark pavement of the road. She gripped it tight in victory. But that feeling was short lived. It was almost immediately replaced by shock. Two bright headlights and an ear-ringing horn were the last things she saw and heard before everything went black.
In the throne room of the castle of Kiran, Vida paced back and forth in the corner of the room which served as her personal library. The room was dimly lit, due to the time of day. Their sun had begun to set some hours ago, and the lighting was turning into a warm auburn. The white pillar walls of the throne room were painted with the deep auburn, and the warmth of the sage curtains seemed to be enhanced with the warm colour. She was in deep thought, Vida. She was thinking about the past, once again, and what she could have changed. She regretted so much, and she was still wondering how to right her wrongs. Had she made the right decision? What decision did she have to make to justify it?
“M’lady! M’lady! Tebias has made contact! He’s made contact!” a little thing by the name of Artemis shouted, running into the throne room. Her large round glasses bouncing up and down on her full cheeks. Her bedroom maroon eyes, enhanced by her glasses, were wide and fearful. The queen, who was standing in front of her personal bookshelf, turned almost immediately at hearing that name. Her expression followed Artemis’.
“What?” she asked in disbelief.
“I’ve seen it. She was in a forest. She fell, and when she rose, he was waiting for her.”
“Fell? Fell from what? Where is she now? Where is Tebias?” the queen asked, walking to meet Artemis half way into the room. The height difference between the two was amazing. Vida, who stood at five feet and eleven inches, towered over Artemis and her mere four feet and ten inches. The bottom of Vida’s white gown trailed behind her as she hurried to Artemis, the silky fabric flowing around her feet as she slowed to a stop. Artemis panted as she tried to force words from her straining lungs.
“She’s … She’s been hit by one of Earth’s land vehicles. Tebias is unconscious. She was able to defend herself, but just barely, M’lady,” she explained through panting.
Vida’s hand rose to her chest in what looked like relief. She looked from side to side, giving herself a moment to think. To think about Tebias, and the danger he proposed to her daughter.
“I thought he died with that spell … Even performed by her, it was very powerful,” she said, meaning to be said to herself.
“No, M’lady. He’s survived, and is continuing to hunt her. He was not killed in this battle either.” Artemis said as she did. Fast paced and articulate.
Her breathing had returned to normal, and so had her speech. She was a fast talker. A side effect of her abilities. She had the gifts of a photographic memory, extending knowledge with foresight, and as a perk, the ability to manipulate gravity. Not quite levitation, as Saphora had just grazed the surface of, but merely adding or taking away gravity from anything, though not anyone. Being the queen’s advisor, she usually used the perk to tend to the library. Walking up walls and bookshelves to organize books, scrolls, or what have you, in zero gravity.
“Yes … It seems I’ve underestimated him, as I feared. Where is Saphora now? Is she alright?” Artemis nodded.
“Yes. Her body, it’s in a state of healing. She’s unconscious, but I cannot see where she is. Forgive me.”
“It’s alright, Artemis. Thank you. I will try to speak to her again. How did she fall?” Vida asked, turning around and walking back to her personal lib
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