Torrent

He looked at her strangely before walking away faster, wilfully ignoring her plea for help.

Was there no gentleman in this place?

She walked on, hugging herself to try and retain some warmth.

The odd, hard ground suddenly began to turn spotted, dark patches of grey appearing sporadically.

Scarlett looked up and felt something splash onto her face.

Within moments the drops had become a downpour and she ran, finding every door shut to her and every face at the window hostile and unforgiving.

Eventually she found some amount of shelter by a larger building, huddling close under the shelter of its overhanging roof.

She pushed the door and, to her surprise, it was open.

When she saw what was inside she felt her eyes widen and prepared to run in the opposite direction.

"You can come in, you know."

Scarlett turned to see an old man polishing a candle holder, and when she heard his voice her fear started to dissipate.

She stepped inside, grateful for the brief respite from the rain.

"Thank you." she said in a small voice, surveying her surroundings.

It was the resemblance to the Helionist temple that had struck fear into her heart, but upon further inspection she could see this place was different.

There was a statue of the Christ across from her. It was a church.

"What brings you here?" the man asked, turning around with a friendly smile, "Runaway?"

"I suppose." she replied, almost certain that he would be as unable to understand her earlier situation as she was.

"Well, you are more than welcome in the House of God, my dear." he smiled, "Have a seat. Perhaps I can find some dry clothes for you."

She sat on one of the pews, trying to keep her eyes glued to the ground.

Scarlett found herself constantly looking up, and somehow her gaze ended on the statue.

Then she would be overwhelmed with shame and her eyes would return to the ground.

The old man returned eventually and handed her some clothes before disappearing again.

She changed quickly, finding herself in a faded short-sleeved shirt and a very baggy set of trousers.

Trousers! With her arms bared! In a church!

When the priest returned with a blanket she wrapped it around herself like a shawl, doing her best not to blush with embarrassment.

This town was horribly modern. She wouldn't expect such brazen fashions in Paris!

He seemed to notice some of her humiliation and laughed.

"It's an old youth group shirt. I hope it doesn't smell too much like mothballs."

"You have my thanks, good sir." she replied in a docile tone, trying not to reveal the fact that she had a very difficult time understanding what he was telling her.

He nodded, before tottering off to resume his housekeeping.

Scarlett did her best to warm herself, and in the security and quiet of the church, found herself fast asleep.

***

Scarlett woke up suddenly, the brand on her neck twinging as she came to her senses.

There was banging at the doors, which seemed to be barred from the inside. She turned to see the priest kneeling by the Christ, sobbing.

"What has happened?" she asked, shocked.

For a moment she had the delirious thought that the Helionists had found her, and that they were here to drag her back to her living death.

"Pray, child." the priest cried, "Pray! The end of days is here!"

The doors burst open and Scarlett felt her blood run cold.

Horrific beasts that may have once been human staggered in, reaching their arms towards the priest and towards Scarlett.

In her horror she recognized the tattered robes of the Helionists, those that she had slaughtered. 

Had they come back from the dead to claim their retribution?

"Flee!" she yelled towards the priest, "Flee this place! I will stave them off!"

"Flee from the Church?" the priest replied, "Never!"

Scarlett tied the blanket around her head and ran, putting as much distance between the monsters and herself.

She found a door leading out from the side, and called to the priest again.

There was no reply, but moments later she heard screams of pain.

Scarlett pushed open the door, and compelled herself to run.

Tears found their way to her eyes, but she wiped them away angrily.

She was a coward. A miserable coward. 

The beasts had come for her, and a religious man had died. 

Scarlett lost count of how many miles she had run, of how many times the hard ground scraped the soles of her feet.

The world seemed to be burning around her. Screams assailed her ears. Every fifty paces she heard a woman's wail.

Eventually her energy began to wane and she slowed, breathing heavily, and tried to seek shelter.

After a multitude of locked doors she came upon a small general store and, finding it open, quickly stepped inside.

And was quickly stared at by two pairs of eyes.

The End

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