In the relative silence of the city street, the uneven pools of streetlights shimmering on the slushy sidewalks, a quiet figure hurried down the street with her head bowed. Shockingly red hair hung down her back, strands catching on her jacket, tangles of liquid blood in the night. She paused, for th figure was indeed a woman, and her head tilted as though expecting to catch the sound of footsteps, of an angry and persistent tread. There was nothing.

In that moment the light caught one side of her face. Pale skin, so pale her face seemed irridescent, unearthly, lay over a bone structure that was sharp and angled. It could do with some softness, but something had tightened the lines, carved them down to edges that seemed to cut the light rather than bending it. Metal twinkled as she moved, revealing studs, bars and rings adorning her visage; modern-day armor for a contemporary warrior.

In height she was certainly not much, an elfin woman who would not be intimidating to many. Instead she sheathed herself in a black leather jacket, a tight pair of black jeans adorned with silver buttons along the sides of her calves. A thin red scarf encircled her neck, the ends tangling with a few tendrils of her hair, nearly the same shade. Her boots were heavy, silver buckles clasping her ankles.

As she resumed walking the thud of her boots against the cement was dull. It mixed with the occasional splashes when she stepped in the slush that pooled, the detritus of snow that had fallen and been crushed beneath the feet of others who had taken a similar path earlier in the day. A dreary evening, the warmth coming strictly from plumes of breath that occasionally escaped lips painted as red as her hair and the glow of light that came from overhead or from windows that were mostly covered within. It came also from the occasional twinkle of Christmas lights.

Kristian was on her way home after work and was most definitely regretting not taking James up on his offer of an escort, or at least a ride. It had seemed silly in the brightness of the shop, the familiar scene giving her a false sense of security.

Now she walked alone and fought hard not to hunch her shoulders, fought not to walk like a woman afraid of shadows.

Too bad she was.

Within those shadows lurked more than enough danger. Then again, danger could lurk just as easily inside those supposedly cozy homes, those apparent havens of warmth and security. Dazzling displays that she caught in glimpses through windows that were more than often gilded lies as Kristian knew all too well.

Her fingers played with those items that rested inside her pockets. In the left she let her fingers trace the edges of her keys, comforted by the potential for damage they held, the potential to give her a few more moments to run. In the other, a small baggy with a new piece of jewelry for her belly button. Through the plastic she could feel links of chain, tiny jewels, the smooth metal ball that capped one end of the bar. A minor extravagance, and she felt disgust rise within herself. Why she bothered she was not sure. No one would see it unless the hem of her shirt lifted at work, revealing the hollow of her navel, the shadows of her hips. There certainly was little enough chance anyone would be seeing her navel for any other reason.

A wry expression twisted her lips, not nearly a smile, and the hint of a dimple shaded one cheek. If someone had been watching her in that instant they might have seen the trace of the girl she had been. Before. Always before.

The fact that there was indeed someone watching was a fact that would have made Kristian hurry even more for that false security that lingered in her apartment, due mostly to the number of locks and chains on the door, the metal shafts she used to keep the windows barred, and the bat she kept under her bed.

Yet none of those things would protect her from what watched her from the shadows.


The End

5 comments about this story Feed