“Are you okay?” I heard the voice repeat. I lazily opened my eyes to be greeted by a pair of muddy green eyes, filled with worry and a hint of confusion, “You’re the guy from the park aren’t you?” she said again.
The world was spinning a little bit from the tequila. I smiled, “Yes I am…but most call me J-J-J-Jasper,” I sat up and was relieved to see that the alcohol was being a pain reliever from the fight in the club, “I’m sorry if I seemed creepy. I’m just a photographer looking for good pictures.”
“It’s fine I just wasn’t sure what your intentions were. And I’m Helena.”
“Helena…about as pretty of a name as the photos you make,” I said with another grin.
“Look are you okay or not?” Helena’s tone turned into a tone of annoyance for some reason. All I did was compliment her, “I’m not here for drunken compliments. I just felt a little sorry for the sad angel in the dirty trash heap,” She snapped.
“Hey,” I stood up, feeling slight throbbing in my thigh and across my chin. The tequila was going to wear off soon and all the pain was going to hit me at once, “I’m just trying to be friendly. What are you even here for?”
She whipped her head over her shoulders and scoffed, “It’s none of your business. All I need is to tell a prissy angel and have him alert his stuck-up father and mother who will report me to the elders.”
I walked up to her until I was right in front of her, towering over her fairly short build. I looked down at her, anger filling my chest as I spoke, “Don’t you dare assume what I am, Helena. You don’t know anything about me, or my father, or my mother. You know nothing of me,” Even though I was furious with her, I couldn’t shake off the fact that even under the terrible fluorescent lights, she was quite beautiful. The fire in her eyes was even stronger than before, but why, I could not pinpoint. Some of her hair escaped her ponytail and I fought the urge to reach down and brush it behind her ear.
She narrowed her eyes and her nose wrinkled, “You smell like piss and liquor.”
I rolled my eyes at her and turned and stormed down the alleyway. I could hear her footsteps as she followed me, but despite my state I managed to be faster than her. I turned at the end of the alleyway onto the main street and almost ran into a cloaked figure, “I am so sorry sir I didn’t-“
“How do you-“
Someone from behind me hit me on the head and the world went dark for the second time that night.
When I finally came to, the figure from the street was there but another figure in a cloak had joined him, “Rise Thorn.”
I did as I was told and almost wanted to scream in pain. The tequila had worn off and the pain from the fight had finally taken its full grip on me, “Are you…Romulus?”
“Where are we?”
“Look around you. Doesn’t this look familiar?”
I looked around. We were on the corner of a seedy intersection. I looked up at the street sign and my heart fell, “This is the street…”
“Why did you bring me here?” I spoke quietly.
“We brought you here, to the darkest part of where angels reside, to the same street where you watched the life leave your mother, to have you prove your worth.”
“My worth?” I winced from the emotional and physical pain I was feeling, “But…how?”
“We want you to run down this street where your life changed drastically at the shadiest time of night. You won’t know exactly where the end is, but the end will be marked by my fellow colleague,” He acknowledged the other cloaked figure before continuing, “You will have fifteen minutes.”
I laughed, “Why should I do this? I haven’t anything for you to take from me. I have no father, no mother, hardly any money to get by-“
“We can use your own body against you. For if you don’t make it to where you need to be in fifteen minutes, a group of men will make sure you experience the same fate as your mother.”
“Your time starts now Thorn. Don’t let yourself or your mother down,” and Romulus disappeared into the shadows.
I stood at the corner of the street dumbfounded and shocked. I have to run…I have to. I turned down the street that accounted for all of my nightmares and did the only thing I could do: run.
As I ran flashbacks of that night ran through my head.
I was sixteen and I was at home. My mother had gone out to quick run errands but it was getting suspiciously late. She knew it was dangerous for herself as a human to be walking around a town of angels alone but she assured me she would be okay. She still had the last name of Thorn to help her. But it was running late so I decided to leave the house to go look for her.
I turned onto the very street I’m on now and saw a group of men, the twinge in my back informing me they were angels. They were all standing above a limp figure. I heard one of them say, “Shame. She was fairly attractive for a human in the wrong side of town.”
One of them was looking through a purse, “You wouldn’t believe who this broad is. She’s a Thorn.”
“No,” I said to myself and I sprinted towards the group of men.
I ran even faster down the street and found myself stopping at the very place she was laying that night. I remembered what the men said to me:
“Well if it isn’t the little Halfling son,” they said as I sprinted towards them, all the adrenaline I had thrown into my young body as I punched one of the men in the jaw, “What did you do to my mother!”
I glanced down to the ground and saw her motionless in a large puddle of blood, “Mom?” I bent down to try and help her but one angel wrapped his hand around my neck and lifted me off the ground, “Listen Halfling,” he spoke as I began suffocating in his grip, “This is what happens to humans when they think they can live within us. Because they can’t. And as for you, you cannot even consider yourself a Thorn. You’re more like a pathetic bastard child and should be treated as such,” the angel punched me in the face but then released me from his grip and threw me onto my mother’s broken body. I didn’t even see them leave as I gathered her in my arms. The blood had mixed into her long blonde hair and was splattered on her unmoving face, “Mom…Mom wake up please,” I begged pathetically but I knew better. That amount of blood outside of her body…she was gone…
I could almost still see the blood stain from those years ago while I stood in the exact spot. I knew time was ticking on the clock but I couldn’t bring myself to move. But then I realized: I needed to win. I needed to. For since I couldn’t save my mother that night, I knew I could at least avenge her death. And Romulus was the key.
So I ran. I ran like I never thought I could run before. I pushed all the flashbacks away from my mind. The funeral. The running away from the orphanage I lay waste in for a year afterwards. Where was this cloaked figure? Where?
I had reached the outskirts of the town when I saw him. In the distance he was standing on top of a hill. I picked up my speed and finally arrived at his feet, “Well done Thorn. With two minutes to spare as well.”
I fell to the ground heaving. When I looked up to see the figure again, he had already mysteriously disappeared. All I could see was the sun beginning to rise in the distance as I passed out from exhaustion.