The stitcher plunged his toned arm into the searing hole before him. He knew Nyx had escaped him for now but if he could simply feel where she had fled to, he’d have an opportunity to catch her later. Nyx was unimportant; she wasn’t the killer.
Nyx had already crossed the texture but the stitcher could taste her essence in the burning wind. He could sense where she had left. For now other, more important things were at hand.
He set his sights on a new goal, there was no point lingering over Nyx and she wasn’t about to return to Earth tonight. She had fulfilled the majority of her duties and she would be too fearful of being caught. She knew she didn’t stand a chance against the stitcher.
He looked out at the city of London, a cocoon of bright lights tucked neatly beneath a jet sky. Across the greying water of the Thames the north bank dazzled and shimmered, St. Paul’s Cathedral looked lost and lonely amidst the looming high rise glass structures that protruded from the river edge.
Once more clouds seemed to pause in the sky. The waters appeared to slow down, sloshing from side to side more lethargically, as if they were becoming tired of the infinite pendulum. London yawned, grinding slowly to a halt. Traffic paused, pedestrians stood mindlessly in the middle of roads. Sound hung loose in the sky, a constant tone, not subsiding or rising but a monotone thrum.
Time had stopped. It had lingered in the stitcher’s mind, and in turn stopped in reality. He imagined time as clay and kneaded it into the correct position, thrusting the moments around his fist and manoeuvring the years to suit him.
So it became the future. He stood in a London that was broken. Moss covered the streets and vines hung from balconies. The city was silent aside from the subtle shifting feet of small animals and the chirping of crickets in the undergrowth. Strange but beautiful flowers grew from corners that no one had noticed before.
Breathing in deeply and enjoying a moment of subtle silence, the stitcher let the sheer immensity of nothing fill his ears. He smelt the fresh air pollute his nostrils, the moist taste of foliage and trees that had slowly broken through the city. He could feel the time on his tongue, it coiled around him like a snake pressing its’ teeth into his mind. He knew he didn’t have long, not long at all.
The city was a husk of its’ former self. Monuments of a past Britain were nigh unrecognisable but the stitcher knew this place well. He took to the air, gliding softly through the wake of the age-old tragedy.
As the stitcher passed through the streets wrapped in darkness, he thought of how this came to be. The stitcher knew time better than anyone, yet his life had never been lived in chronological order. He often had the awareness of what would come to pass without ever seeing how it came to pass.
He could be sure this was no natural disaster. Ash didn’t clog the streets and brittle human statues weren’t choked in sulphur. Damage to buildings was purely weathering; animals and plant life had slowly burrowed into the walls. No ice age had befallen this city, the weather was consistent and cool and the occasional threat of rain graced the sky.
The city in general had been fairly well preserved, nature had claimed back it’s land and climbing vines had conquered dominant structures. He passed by the dark monoliths of buildings, visual epitaphs of the late 21st century.
He had a good idea of what might have happened but it was too soon to make assumptions. Whatever it was had clearly wiped out the majority of human life on earth and if there were any survivors, they lived in squalor. Scavenging food day to day.
The stitcher traced his way through the city. Passing Westminster abbey; the once monolithic building had been reduced to an overgrown greenhouse. Stain glass windows had burst from explosions of bright flowers and vicious looking weeds. The Big Ben clock tower appeared to be in a similar state, yet the clock faces still managed to peer through the mesh of vines.
For a while the stitcher floated along above the silent city. No lights graced the windows the light seemed to have been sucked out of this city.
He started to glide down amongst the buildings, noticing behemoth spider webs strung between skyscrapers; the remnants of a soul lingered in one, he hoped dearly it was no one he knew.
In the distance a light caught the stitcher’s eye. The darkness had swallowed London, so the flickering of flame was almost immediately recognizable. As he drew closer he could hear voices, quiet but sounding moderately jovial. He could tell only a handful of the wing walkers were there; their voices rang pure and beautiful through the night air in their strange harmonious singsong.
The building he approached was submerged in utter darkness save for one fiery square half way up the tower. He floated towards it. The window had been broken and the frame of the glass was left in a square of stubby glass shards.
Shadows ran up and down the cracked wall, delineated in an orange crush of colour. The walls looked soft, mossy and damp. They would have appeared a bright green in sunlight but at night they just added texture to the dancing shadows that the fire cast.
The stitcher slunk in, the fire and the members gathering around it were in a connecting room through a square arch. He stood just in the shadows before the threshold, listening contently to their discussion.
“Thing is,” said a teenage boy with short brown hair, his smile broke into a thoughtful expression, “you have to wonder, don’t you?” he took an apple from a small pouch at his waist and took a bite. He continued to talk whilst chewing, “if the stitcher is so powerful, why would he need our help?”
“You should know as well as anyone Grey, look around you.” The girl that spoke had an authority about her, a sort of knowing look. “The life of this world has almost entirely been wiped out and our own family are being hunted. Perhaps we aren’t helping him as much as he is helping us?”
“It’s not as if he’s got much to help us with. It’s not like we’ve got much to live for here.” Grey grunted sulkily. He took another bite of his apple and slid closer to a female form to his left.
A breeze shuddered through the building, the fire danced angrily in the wind and the building creaked ominously.
The girl to Grey’s left sighed. She was exotic looking, she appeared to be about as human as the stitcher. Her form was slender and she was most definitely a biped, yet the colours of her skin were bizarre. Soft clashes of red and blue, she almost reflected the fire.
“What about me?” she whispered
“You’re all that I’ve got, Wynd” He spoke gently into her ear.
The others around the fire fell silent and the wind whistled through the building. The stitcher watched on for a few more minutes as the gathering in front of him begun to prepare a meal. He was slightly concerned that none of them had noticed his presence.
“You really should be more aware of your surroundings, younglings.” The stitcher stepped into the light of the fire, shades of orange scattering across his fur.