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"This would be the hardest part," the thought flickered through his head as he stood before the door, "This always is the hardest part." A burning, that signaled that tears were near had started in his eyes as he extended his hand to press it flat against the opaque wood of the door, feeling the power that it held move up his arm. He swallowed and stepped closer so that his body almost rested against the door. He felt tired, so, so tired. This door could end this, if he could bring himself to step through it.
He let himself lean against the door, his hand pressed between his heart and it. His other hand, his left, trailed over the wood, across the hinges, and into nothingness. A harsh laugh barked from his throat, the door, as he had already known, was attached to nothing. He let his hand fall away front its side and raised it so he could pillow his head on his arm. His eyes, too heavy to hold open, slipped closed. If anyone had dared to venture through the thickness of the trees and came to the edge of the clearing all they would see would be a man, hardly out of boyhood, leaning on a wall of nothingness.
His hand dropped to the knob and the vibrating increased. The knob fit perfectly into his palm.
"All I have to do is turn it," the thought drifted through his tired brain, "I just have to turn it and, for me, this will be over, my journey will be through at last." a click echoed through the silent forest. He stepped back as the door swung open, reveling what lay within. His breath caught in his throat when he saw what awaited him. He took a final deep breath of the thick air and stepped through the door...
Chapter 1: The Beginning of Insanity
Sixteen Years Later...
He felt he was going insane. The thoughts of this weaved in and out of his head until they would drive him to insanity, if, that is, he wasn't there already. He first felt the insanity creeping into his mind only a week ago, on an ordinary Monday morning, after stepping out his front door and saw the garish, yellow car idling at the end of his driveway. When he had tried to approach the car, it had launched forward and sped down the empty, tree-lined street. At the time he thought little of its appearance and it had almost left his mind until he stepped out of Westchester High that afternoon and there it sat again, in plain view of the front doors, at the very edge of the student parking lot. His blood had run cold at the sight of it and, just as before, it fled when he approached. As the days progressed, the car's prance grew. Everywhere he went it followed. When he asked those that were around him if they saw it, the response was the same, a look that questioned his salinity.
On the corner of the street as he walked home, in the parking lot when he stepped out of the market with his aunt, everywhere it seemed to be, never making an attempt to hide. The car was only the first thing that forced him to look into his salinity. Soon after its first appearance other, stranger things came to his action. The new student whispering so only he could hear, "Follow him..." and "The game...” How the man who sat, reading in the library, looked up from his book every few seconds to look at him. How the same couple could always be seen behind him. And the more he noticed how similar those that followed him were; all of them the same sun touched skin and fathomless eyes. They all moved with the unnatural grace of a readier. Again, when he asked, he was told that he was simply being paranoid. He knew not why he was being followed; only that when the car graced him with its presence or the beings stuck ever close to him icy fear pumped it through his veins.
Being stalked by people only he noticed as different wasn't what convinced him that his salinity was slipping. It was the dreams, dark, awful dreams that he always woke from with a cry on his lips; dreams about a clearing in the middle of a thick forest, and… a door that stood in the middle of it. A door attached to nothing.
A shiver raced through him as he walked down the "main street" of the small town, going to the library, with the memory of the past week tugging at his action, "Surely I can't be ... insane," he could hardly bring himself to think the word, "I mean I can't be insane, I've done nothing to become so." As if on cue, the car turned from a parking lot, just before the town’s only stoplight, several yards in front of him. The back of his neck tingled, a familiar warning that he was being followed. He slowly turned his head to look at the couple, both wearing dark jackets against the biting September air and both looking hungrily at him. He caught a glimpse of white teeth as one smiled at his panicked expression. Maniacal, feminine laughter drifted to him. His action returned to the car. It had stopped at a red-light. His heart picked up speed nag he could hardly contain the urge to run.
"Yes," the woman called from behind him, "Please by all means run, I might enjoy that."
But ever slowly he passed the car. The window rolled down as he did and a hand shot out from the dark interior, "Nathaniel," a voice hissed his name from the darkness, the hand brushed his arm.
Panic chose that moment to take him. He burst into a run. Over the wild beat of his heart he could hear the pursuit of the couple as they chased him. Their footsteps drew dangerously close. A hand swiped through his hair, "No! Not again, they can't take me again!" he dived into the street, rolling as he landed, and the blare a horn and the squeal of breaks filled the air. His back cracked against the pavement, followed by his butt and head.
He lay there dazed, with the shriek of tires screaming around him. The tire of the truck he had dived in front of kissed his cheek as it came to a stop. "What the h*ll are you doing!" the driver, a large man with a receding hairline and a huge beer gut, yelled as he slammed the truck door.
"I-I'm sorry s-s-sir," Nathaniel stammered, "I-I w-was being chased," he glanced behind him and saw nothing, the sidewalk was empty, as was the street where the yellow car had been. It was as if it had never happened.
"Are you stupid or dumdum?" he asked rudely.
"No, I-I-I," he tried to speech but the words seemed to catch in his throat, "I'm not crazy," he said more to himself than to the driver.
"The get out of the d*mn road," the driver said harshly as he lumbered back to his truck.
Nathaniel slowly picked himself off the road, wincing as his back protested, and limped to the sidewalk. The trucks engine roared to life. He turned in time to see it speed down the road, leaving him alone again in the cold afternoon light.
He carefully started back towards the library, "I was being chased," a shiver ripped through him as the feel of the hand through his jacket and the one that had ran through his hair came back to him, "I'm not crazy, I can't be," the stubborn, rational part of him demanded, "Then how do you explain them disappearing?" the rational port of him hissed back, "The car could have drove off and the people..." the hopeful part protested, "They could have what? There was nowhere for them to go."
"Nathaniel," a voice broke through his inner conflict, "Nathaniel, finally the thought you'd never get here!"
He let his gaze go to the front of the tiny brick building and smiled slightly. Wordlessly he walked to the front of the building and wrapped his arms around the person who had called his name, "Hey Sydney," he whispered, pressing his lips to his girlfriend's.
She pulled back so she could look into his eyes, "Where were you?" the accusation was clear.
He sighed, Sydney had a habit of being jealous, "I just got... held up," he responded carefully.
"Held up?" doubts colored her voice, "Anyway, at least you're here now, we really have to get started on this project."
He nodded and followed her inside.
The inside of the library was simple. The carpet was tan, the walls white with shelves lining most of them, radiating four and five rows out. The middle of the library held a handful of long outdated computers and scarred tables and armchairs. Nathaniel followed Sydney to one of the tables and watched as she unloaded an array of pink and purple notebook's, pens, and highlighters, along with a heavy textbook, from the small bag in her arms.
Inwardly he sighed, "Sometimes she's just too girly, too soft. she would never survive..." the gimmicked as the thought found its way into his mind, one of many random, frightening thoughts that he found himself thinking over this past week. He shook his head to clear it and tried to focus but found his mind drifting to anything but what his girlfriend was saying, "She’s too weak, she could never survive."
"What do you think?" she asked, searching for repose to a question he hadn't hearted.
"Uh," his eyes snapped from the opening door to her.
"I wanted your input for this project. Should we do an oral report, a skit, or what? I mean it is a long book," she snapped his fingers in front of his face when his thoughts started to wonder, "Where's your mind today Hon?"
"Uh, sorry I just feel,” like I'm losing whets left of my salinity, "a little off today."
"Maybe I can fix that," she smiled and leaned across the table to plant a kiss on his lips.
"My gods, David," with that one voice his whole world was torn apart.
He jerked back from the kiss with a gasp, his eyes flew open and his gaze went to the woman who had entered only moments earlier. She was the exact opposite of Sydney; she was thirty’s, her face worn from hardship. Her eyes were brown and her hair a black, tangled halo, surrounding her pail and shallow skin. The jeans and sweater she wore were little more than rags and caked in dirt. The woman that stood dumbfounded before him was a stranger, but her voice brought the strangest felling of deejay-vu.
"David," she breathed, "Oh gods... how?"
"Nathaniel, do you know her," Sydney demanded, angrily.
"I-I, yes... no... I-I don't know," he stammered, he couldn't tear his eyes away from the woman, "Cissa," the name fell from his lips without thought, coming from somewhere deep within him, and pain bolted through his head.
The woman smiled, "I don't understand, you reached the door, you shouldn't be here, at least, not like this. I shouldn't be able to feel your power, you shouldn’t remember me," she spoke almost to herself and reached for him. She hooked her fingers under his chin, lifting his face for a better look.
Pain erupted from where she touched, bolting to his mind, making him cry out. A memory that both was and wasn't his clawed its way to the front of his mind. The castle, the feel of hundreds of bodies packed into a small space, the stench of sweat and fear, the words of their captors echoed through to the crowd as they explained why it was they were chosen, the feel of her fingers curling around his, the fear that made him grasp it tighter... and now the forest, a different time, a different world, the sound of Them charging through the trees behind them, "Go!" he said to her, stopping to turn and face them, "I'll catch up," he drew the blade at his wrist. She hesitated, "No," an edge of stubbornness crept into her voice. "Please Cissa, go they won't kill me." She disappeared the same instant that they burst through the trees... the pain subsided as he was slammed into the present. He jumped to his feet, "What's happening to me?" he said through clenched teeth, his head felt as if were going to split open, "Who am I?" the question, like her name, fell from numb lips, another memory took him... He stood again in that small room, centuries earlier. He heard again their words as they so calmly explained that they would all soon be dead. This time the fingers that gripped him were male…
Before she could answer the library door opened. “S***,” she cursed under her breath, he followed her gaze and saw the man that entered, fear shot through him, “I have to go;” already she was backing away, “The person that can answer your questions will be here in a week’s time. I’m sorry D- Nathanial.”
“Go,” he moved in the man’s path, “I can hold him off for the seconds you need,” the words that spilled from his lips were foreign, as if they came from another. She stood there for only a second longer before she dived into the bathroom.
Nathanial blocked the man as he tried to follow her and his gloved fingers curled into his shirt. He got a look into the dark glow in the Hunter’s eyes before pain split his head and oblivion rushed up to meet him…