View from Behind


In the hallway, she pushed me forward again.  I stopped at the elevator, but she grabbed me again and thrust me into the stairwell.  We went down quickly and out into the crisp Vancouver morning.  The sky was a roiling overcast threatening more rain.  The streets were dark and empty.  Traffic was limited to the rare lonely car making its way down the rain-slick streets.

She walked briskly, long legs pushing her farther ahead so that I had to rush to catch up.  "So..." I said after a drawn out moment.  "You know my name.  You are...?"

"Tsillah."  She said, sparing a glance in my direction.  Her eyes widened momentarily, and I found myself following her gaze to a darkened advertisement on a nearby building.  The light over it had gone out, and the man and woman on the advertisement were dancing in the dark.  Actually moving.  

As we watched, the man moved against the woman violently and she tried to push away from him, their silhouettes acting out a deranged scene.  The colors seemed to pulse and vibrate, as if they were stretching against each other.

"Okay...That's... not normal."  I said.

"No."  Tsillah said.  "It's not."  She stepped forward and grabbed the front of my shirt, propelling me into the harsh pool of light from a nearby streetlight.    She leaned in very close so I was forced to stare at her enormous brown eyes.  "Rule number one,"  she said, "Stay in the light.  The things following you thrive in the shadows."

At that point, I figured she was a psycho.  But the numbers didn't add up.  She knew Dr. Salminiw.  She knew my name.  Of course, I had blindly followed her out of my hotel room into the street on nothing more than the strength of her figure and the vague threat of naked steel.

"You were in an accident.  Flatlined in the ambulance." She said, her voice flat and devoid of emotion--as if  she were reading from script.  "shocked back after one minute twenty seconds and went into coma for four days.  In the past year, you have lost your job, your family, your friends.  You came to Vancouver seeking answers because you have the growing suspicion that--what was the phrase you used--nightmares walk among us."

I was shocked.  So much for doctor-patient confidentiality.  She'd obviously read Salminiw's file.  All of that would have been in his notes. "Dr Salminiw--"

"No."  Tsillah said.  "It's more than just his records.  You are right."

"God damn it."  I shouted.  I stood in the middle of a pool of harsh streetlight and glared at this dark-haired woman.  "How are you doing that?"  Her eyes gleamed like gold fire within the shadows.

"What?"  She challenged, not afraid at all.

"That's the second time you've replied to things I haven't said."

"Third, actually."  she smirked a little.

"And you're what--reading my mind?"  I asked, sounding far less sarcastic than I'd intended.

"No."  Tsillah smiled with a patronizing lilt.  "You are just terribly easy to read."

At once, my presence deflated.  The adrenaline was starting too wear off and my irritability edged upward.  In addition to sleep, I needed food.

"But you are right." her smile faded, a vaguely haunted look coming to her eyes..  "There are nightmares out here. Real honest-to-god ugliness from the Dreaming.  And if you can see them, they can see you."

The End

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