Derrick stared at the ceiling, counting the bumps. There were one thousand three hundred nighty-eight bumps in each section. Not being able to sleep left a lot of extra time for things like counting ceiling bumps. Also wood wall panels, the wall by his bed had five hundred eighty-one panels. He sighed, might as well go for a walk.
Walking was another thing he had a lot of time for. He knew the quickest and longest ways to each and every one of the all-night cafes, food markets, pubs and even a twenty-four hour bookstore. One of the reason he'd picked this particular city was it's night-life.
Not that he was the typical denizen of the night. Those people were trendy; they could discuss gallery openings, the latest indie hit, politics, films, not movies... films,and moved through life with a grace Derrick would never possess. If his clothes matched it was due more to the random alignment of the universe than any conscience or unconscious thought of his mind which was inevitably preoccupied with ensuring that one foot always followed the other. Objects seemed to have a habit of winding up directly in his path, he hadn't broken a bone in a while and he intended to keep it that way if at all possible.
He tripped over a stack of books in the hallway leading to the door, his glasses sliding down his nose. Pushing them back into place while righting himself with the familiarity of someone for whom this is a regular occurrence he sighed again and opened the door to the street. It was quiet but not entirely deserted. His dark denim jacket did not stand out against the night as he began walking, without much forethought, to the book store.
Derrick liked books. Besides counting, not sleeping left him a lot of time for reading. He would loose himself into a novel for hours, experiencing love, joy, betrayal... life. Series were the best, he didn't have to worry about meeting new people and learning new places. His current obsession was Clive Cussler novels, Dirk Pitt and his womanizing ways being somewhat of an idol of his. Rescuing the woman at the last possible second, always prepared with a witty yet charming response; Derrick could only dream of achieving that level of cool, and as he rarely dreamt, he read. His long dark hair fell across his face as he concentrated on his feet and counted the steps.
Twenty-five steps short of the required three hundred and six steps to the bookstore he heard a man's laugh. Not a pleasant laugh, the kind one expects after a good joke or particularly humorous remark; an evil laugh full of dark deeds and malicious intent. His self-preservation kicked in and he sought to determine the source of laugh so as to put the greatest distance between it and himself in the shortest amount of time.
To his left was an alley where a rather large man stood towering over an impossibly tiny woman in an ornately embroidered green dress. She seemed very out of place in the grimy ally. Her silky dress and pale features were even more pronounced next to the greasy, leather-bound ape.
The next day Derrick was not entirely sure why he ran towards the laugh. Despite hours of introspection he failed to produce even a single valid reason for picking up one of the trashcans and throwing it at the man. However that is exactly what he did.
“Stay away from her!” he yelled as the man staggered against the wall.
Even more amazing than Derrick's act of heroism was the fact that instead of turning him into a rag doll, the man looked at him, at the woman, and then ran out of the ally and down the street.
The light of the ally gently illuminated the woman's petite features. Her blood red lips were full, her almond shaped eyes were dark and hooded by impossibly long eyelashes, the pair were currently combined to create a most unusual grimace.
“Are you ok?” he cautiously reached out a hand to her, his face twisting into the most reassuring expression he could muster given the circumstances. The woman looked up at him, her eyes now full of hate. He took a shocked step backwards into a pile of boxes and crates, as he fell he heard what he guessed was her voice although he could not place the accent or the language.
He looked up to see a flash of green disappearing around the corner. As he struggled to his feet he replayed the events in his mind. Already they seemed more like a movie than his life, damsels in distress were not part of Derrick's reality. Her face and that beautifully musical voice swirled around his mind. Who was she?