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The Living Fairy Tale
She sighed, running a hand through her hair. The mist from her breath circled into the air above her, the tiny droplets mirroring the stream of light from the fading lamp posts overhead. The night had enclosed around her, restricting what she saw and the cool nights breeze ripped at her clothes forcing her to pull her coat tighter around her fragile frame as she juggled the folders and files in her arms.
A cold hand hesitantly stretched out to fumble for her car keys, the pile of folders teetering precariously in her arms, “for God’s sake.” She mumbled between chapped lips. Throwing her folders onto the roof of her car, she held her coat pocket tight with her right hand as she struggled to dislodge the keys from her earphones with her left. With a whisper of triumph she pressed the unlock button, the beep of the car and flash of the orange lights bringing the world to life for a passing moment.
The hair on the back of her neck stood on end and she paused before opening her passenger door. With a paranoid glance she scanned the empty car park for any signs of light. From here she could see the front of the vets, the windows glowing an odd green colour from the emergency exit sign that hung above the front doors.
Next to it stood the local Chinese shop, it had seen better days and had been closed for the past 3 months by the health inspectors. It was deserted, the windows coated in a thick dust on the side and crude graffiti on the outside.
She listened intently to the night, in the far distance she could hear the sound of a train and if she really concentrated she could hear a car somewhere at the borders of the town limits. Taking a deep breath she pushed the sense of paranoia from her mind and hurried to undo her door, the inside light of the car casting a pool of light around her.
Quickly throwing the folders onto the backseat she hopped from one foot to the other, as she tried to warm up. She still hadn’t quite got used to the winter nights here; it was so different from back home, even though she’d lived here for two years.
Walking towards her driver’s door, she paused once more as she heard the shuffle of feet. “Wh-who’s there?” She called, fear gnawing at her bones, making her hurt all over. Nothing responded and the sound of footsteps seemed to have faded away, so opening her door she prepared to get in.
“What do you mean, you didn’t mean to get her killed!” A man shouted. She jumped and dropped her keys, eyes wide and frantic as they searched through the darkness.
Fear rose in her chest and her breaths became quick and short.
Hair standing on end and ears straining to hear anything she felt her eyes sting with pressure. Trembling hands fumbled for her phone, where had she left that little black mobile that she was forever losing?
An image of a phone sat on her desk next to a stack of paper work she had yet to complete flashed into her mind; she had no way of calling for help. Taking deep breaths of the freezing air she strained her ears again to listen out for another voice or any sign of movement.
Silence. Bending down quick enough to grab her keys, she threw herself into the car and was about to slam her door when from her new position she saw the source of the voices. “I trusted you, Mutt. And because of you she’s dead!” The tallest man screamed. About 20 metres from her two figures stood, one pushing the other against a lamppost that looked as though it were bowing against the form of the figure against it.
She watched as the taller man shoved the other man back into the lamp post again, the entire structure juddering with force. The man leaned in and for a moment she thought he was kissing him, but then the man who was pinned to the wall began scratching and screaming in pain.
The tallest man pulled back and laughed manically, she just caught a glimpse of his face, and saw a familiar red liquid dripping down his chin. She’d seen enough of it in her time as a vet for her conclusion to be sure; it was blood. She gasped her chapped lips forming a small ‘o’ shape as a cold hand rose to cover her mouth in horror as she watched the tallest man lean over the other man who had now slumped to the floor, twitching in pain.
Biting her tongue to stop herself from screaming she watched him whisper something before he disappeared out of the circle of light and into the shadows of the night. She was torn, did she lock the door and drive away thereby saving herself, or did she get out of the car and help the dying man.
A sucker for an act of heroism, she ran across the uneven car park, her lungs aching with the exercise. Nearing the slumped over figure, she slowed her pace down, relieved to find that hers were the only footsteps she could hear echoing around her.
“Are you ok?” She asked, as she knelt down and ran a hand across the man’s face.
“And who might you be?” A low growl echoed around her, as her head whipped round to face the same man as before. Just past his shoulder she could see her car, illuminated by the interior light; safety was so far away now.
She could see his face better now, it’s angled edges looking too sharp to be natural. His eyes were dark and beady and she could see the evil in him. Clambering to her feet she stumbled backwards, but a flash of something zoomed past her and the tall man flew off of his feet falling back into the darkness. Stunned she remained where she was, tears streaming silently down her cheeks, her knees shook and she grabbed hold of the lamppost to support herself.
Realising about the injured man might be dying, she looked down ready to try to remember the basic first aid training she’d been given at school, only to find herself alone in the pool of light, the injured stranger had vanished without a trace not even a blood stain could prove he had been there.
Just as she was about to risk the distance between this pool of light where she considered herself safe and her car, a gleam in the moonlight caught her eye. Turning slowly she saw what appeared to be a blood trail leading in the opposite direction.
‘I can’t possibly leave him to die, I’m a vet, I can help.’ She ran a hand through her hair and fought her conscious and logical mind until she came to a decision.
Taking a deep breath and tucking her cold hands into her pockets she ran off into the darkness, following the blood trail hoping that the moonlight would last in the shadows.
She’d become so disorientated, she didn’t even know whether she was heading for the vets or the main road, but as her feet hit gravel she realised she was being led up the back alley that went to the back of the Chinese. She noted that the blood trail wasn’t getting weaker, anyone bleeding this much would need urgent medical attention, she pushed herself harder, quickening her pace, she had to find the stranger.
Dumpsters lined the darkened alley and the lamp post glow was left far behind as she was plunged into the sort of darkness that felt never-ending. It felt cold as she felt her way along the wall hoping she’d be out of the alley soon.
Sure enough as moon light ghosted across her face, she found herself at the empty lot behind both the vets and the Chinese restaurant.
“Where are you?” She whispered into the night, straining her eyes to search the whole area, the tall, decaying wire fencing reminding her that just beyond her was the beginning of the wild-lands; in other words, danger.
“Where are you?” She repeated again, mostly to herself. A shiver went down her spine as the sound of a bouncing stone echoed near her.
“Are you lost?” Someone whispered from the darkness, the voice enchanting and dangerous. She froze and spun around eyes darting around in the darkness, the moon cast a musty glow on the broken tarmac and from here the boarded up windows of the Chinese looked scary and the whole place had a sense of abandonment, as though no one would hear you scream.
Taking a deep breath, she decided to answer the person who’d spoken, “no.” Her voice cracked and splintered with fear. She’d always hated mind games and this felt a little like someone was playing with her.
“I beg to differ. For if you weren’t lost, then why would you be in a place like this, all alone?” The voice asked. Something in that voice made her hair stand on end and made her shudder with fear, she was glad she was wearing her coat as the cold nipped at her fingers and face.
“I was looking for someone. I think they need help.” She whispered, turning around slowly as she said it, hurriedly searching for the person that was making her instincts scream at her to run for her car, lock the doors and drive away never to return.
“Oh no dear, it is you that needs the help.” The voice this time was followed by a hiss. She heard movement behind her just in time to turn to face two glowing red eyes moving swiftly towards her. With a startled yelp, she stumbled away and held her hands weakly up in front of her as some form of defence. A vice grip formed on her right wrist and she screamed out in pain as the bones in her wrist strained under the force.