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Come Away O' Human Child!
It was no surprise the baristas at the Dancing Gorgon didn’t even know her name, even if she came in every single morning, right at seven a.m. The girl waited in line as people ordered their fruity cocktails of cream and chocolate shavings while all she could think about was a big cup of hot black coffee. The baristas there hated it when she came in, but since she bought something every time they never asked her to leave, even if she spent hours on her computer.
Once the golden brown liquid was placed in her hands the girl stepped outside into the frigid air. With shaking hands she pulled out a cigarette from her purse and lit it with a satisfying exhale. It was moments like these that she got out of bed for. It was still dark outside, but light was just beginning to rise over the tops of trees as her breath came out in a shaking cloud. She took a sip of coffee, then another. Today would be a day for fog, she thought to herself. A perfect day to disappear when no one wanted you around anyways.
As she drank her coffee the girl noticed a young man walking towards her in the distance. He passed by the broken fountain people still threw coins in for luck and stepped over weeds and trash that had been left behind. He was tall and thin, or maybe it just looked that way from the trench coat he wore buttoned up to his perfect pale throat. His long dark hair had been pulled back into a ponytail and his eyes were shaded behind yellow glasses. The girl backed away into the shadows of the coffee shop. This was the third time she had seen him in the last week. They never spoke, or even looked at each other, but he was always there, skulking about like some lost mutt. Except…he didn’t resemble a mutt to the timid girl.
From inside the store she could hear the Reggae music blasting loud of the chattering voices of coffee-slurping business men and college-bound kids. The coffee shop was always alive with bright, eccentric life but for some reason the girl felt as is a dark cloud had settled over her heart like a forewarning of something terrible. The closer he got, the worse she felt. Something about him was just…wrong.
He had reached the Dancing Gorgon and went to open the heavy wooden doors when he paused. Turning ever so slightly his pale green eyes locked with hers as she pushed herself farther into the wall. With a single nod he disappeared inside. She watched him from the dirty windows as he order a drink. Black coffee just like she did. She considered walking away before he had time to come back outside, but whoever this guy was, he was seriously messing with her personal bubble. The Gorgon was her place and no way would she be driven off by some weirdo that couldn’t find somewhere else to be.
Quickly she sat down at a wrought iron table set and put her headphones to her ears. Soothing metal and the crash of drums blocked out all other sounds. Including his voice asking if he could sit down.
“HEY!” He shouted over the music. The girl opened one eye. “What’s your name?” She hesitated before slipping off the headphones. Up close the boy really wasn’t a boy anymore, but a grown man. Her toes curled inside of her boots.
“Why do you want to know?” She said in a voice that didn’t lack fear. He smiled. Sat down.
“I’ve seen you around a lot and wanted to know who my stalker was.”
“You think I-?“ The girl gaped. “You’ve been the one popping up everywhere I go, not the other way around.” He smiled again, that disturbing but I-know-everything-you’re-thinking smile.
“Ok, so we keep seeing each other by chance. But really, what’s your name?”
“Noel.” She said bluntly. “What’s yours?”
“Noel,” He repeated, rolling each syllable off his tongue. “That’s a pretty name.”
“Not when every Christmas song mentions it for an entire month. Then it just gets irritating. I’m probably going to have it changed when I’m eighteen.” Noel shut her mouth quickly. Why was she rambling to a complete stranger?
Adrian set his coffee down but never took a drink. He watched her from behind his strange glasses which made her think maybe his eyes were blue and the glasses just made them look green. Being so close, Noel could see how dusty his skin and clothes were like he had just climbed out of a trunk in the attic.
“You’re not from around here, are you?” She suddenly said. He shook his head with a smirk.
“What gave me away?’
“The dust.” He looked down as if noticing it for the first time.
“Oh yes, that.” He murmured. “Dust comes with the territory.”
“What do you mean?” Adrian pulled out a necklace of silver with a single amethyst stone wrapped in a shell of intricate designs. He handed it to her gently.
“Kalliope. I’m sure you’ve heard of it.” Noel stifled back a gasp. Only in her dreams did Kalliope exsist. It was another world, very different from this one, but full of creatures from the Black Forest. As she took the necklace she realized Adrian could be anyone of those creatures, or even just one of the Fae, but dangerous nonetheless.
“No, no I don’t know that place.”
“Sure you do Noel. You were born there.”
“Right. And next you’re going to tell me my mother was a kelpie?”
“No, she was a bitter young nymph.”
“Ok….look, I don’t know what you’re getting at, but here’s you’re weird necklace. If you’ll excuse me I’ll be leaving now.” She stood to leave but Adrian grabbed her arm. Pulling her face close to his, he whispered,
“You have to go back.” Noel dug her nails into his paper-soft skin.
“Never.” She hissed. “I will never return to that place.” Adrian’s grip tightened. He was beginning to change, right there in front of the humans. He skin seemed to melt like wax to the stone-hard black scales of the demons. His long brown hair molted into a thorny headdress as his eyes began to shift and change until they were merely yellow slits in his emotionless face.
“You will come back.” He growled. With long red claws the demon ripped a door in the air which created a portal between the two worlds. Noel froze remembering the portal that she had crossed so many years ago when her mother had given her up for adoption. Inside the portal was dark and vibrating with a hundreds lost souls that would never find their way out. When you crossed there would be a suffocating blackness that filled your lungs and heart until you thought you would drown.
“Why do I have to go back?” Noel shouted. “Kalliope has no need for me.”
“You are the one. The half-blood Fae that will bring the kingdom to ruin.”
“No,” She shook her head. “ I won’t! I have no purpose in that place. Let me go!” Tearing away from the demon’s grasp, Noel dropped her coffee as she began to run through the parking lot. With lightning speed she was sprinting through the woods and tiny apartments when Adrian appeared again at her side. Where ever she ran, whichever way she turned, he was there.
“Come back to Kalliope!” He roared over traffic. Noel dodged a low hanging branch that led to a ravine. There at the center of the dark ravine was a small pool of water. Adrian saw what she was about to do and screamed in protest, but Noel was already shifting. Just as Adrian reached out to grab her she dove into the pool that to a normal human would only be two feet deep, but to her, it was a vast retreat of water that kept her safe. Her powerful tail pushed her deeper and deeper into the water until she was so far away from the surface that she could no longer see Adrian’s hideous demon eyes. In the murky water she was safe…for now.