for the story so far
My name is Keegan and I am dead. Okay so not yet, but the thumping in my ears prevented me from hearing the creature that was chasing me, and my eyes were weird. End of life weird. Fifteen minutes ago I was concerned that the thing chasing me was male. Now, I wasn’t even sure it was human. I needed to stop, my energy reserves were flagging, but this thing didn’t let up. Sometimes I had heard two distinct feet, sometimes four. Once I thought I had noticed so many feet that I couldn’t even count. This was harder running that scoring a try in rugby league at school.
The shop fronts darted past and I wanted to look in the glass across the road for a reflection, but to do that would mean I would slow down and I couldn’t afford to do that. I scanned the area ahead, looking for an escape. My eyes were super sharp, picking up imperfections in the pavement, picking up changes in light.
I darted into a barely noticeable dark doorway and headed down the stairs. It should have been dark but my eyes that were freaking me out meant that I could currently see everything with a weird green glow, like night vision goggles. Odd, super odd because I did not have night vision goggles on, I did not own night vision goggles and I had left my bike tied up outside the shops. I’d actually asked some of the quieter kids at school to go to the movies. First time I had ventured into the strange world of a social life. I was allowing myself one experience. That experience wasn’t turning out so great.
The passageway ended at stairs. There was an option for up or down. I selected down and parkoured myself down a level as the thing following me entered the building. I landed like a cat and rolled under the stair landing. Four feet sounded on the metal stairs, loud enough to intrude into my pounding ears. Damn it.
My breathing was heavy, my chest was thumping. I had never run so hard or so fast. My eyes were, god, I did not even know what my eyes were, still acting like night vision goggles in the low light.
Feet padded down the stairs, slowly now. The approach was cautious and I wanted to run, but I couldn’t breathe properly. The metal supports for the stairs felt cold, where I pressed up against them but I was burning hot.
A voice forced itself into my brain.
“We are at the exits. You have nowhere to go Keegan.” I couldn’t place the direction it came from. The voice seemed to echo throughout the room I was in.
What the fuck? The thing on the stairs was immediately above me. I risked a look up. A man was crouched down on the landing, four paws splayed, human head. He rose, his paws morphing back into hands and feet. I shook my head but the image was still there. Overlayed was the image of my father, his heart ripped out of him.
Whoa, double fuck. I shuffled sideways, backing away from him and into a spot, I could stand. I stood. The stair was in front of me now. I was level with the thing’s knees. I bolted again, but too slowly. I thumped into a wall of muscle.
“Slow Down and breath Keegan.” The man who spoke, the wall of muscle, his breathing was barely rushed. I’d only had one man thing chase me, so where had this one come from. I’d give myself a chance with Paw man but two of them? Oh man, I was confused. I backed away as far as I could, pressing into the wall now. Paw man to my left, the other one to my right.
Could run again? Could I go under the stairs again? I flicked my eyes in that direction. It was a maze of dark shapes. At least one of which was moving. Perhaps not. Forward led towards a wall. Fucking hell, what a stupid decision to go into that fucking doorway.
“That was a decent run for someone who hasn’t morphed yet.” Paw man said, his voice slightly gravelly. Who the hell were these men?
“Perhaps we should discuss this somewhere less threatening. I believe coffee is an appropriate beverage in this world.” Muscle man said.
Where the fuck were these people from? Coffee, this world. God, I needed to think.
“I am not going anywhere with you lot,” I panted, trying my best not too.
“Honestly Kid, if we’d wanted to kill you, we would have done that 20 minutes ago,” Paw Man said.
I think I growled. Kid, I hadn’t been a kid for a very long time.
“I’m not going anywhere with you,” I bit the words out of my mouth.
Muscle man stepped back a little, revealing the exit to the basement I was in.
“I am sure you will feel calmer and safer if you are in public.” The man reasoned. He was a decent height, about my height and he was completely unaffected by the situation that we were in. He was completely in control.
I moved forward, having little chance to move any other way and I exited the doorway. Two men were waiting outside should I want to run. It was a well-lit alley and my vision returned to something like normal. Guess that wasn’t going to kill me at the moment, now I just had to worry about things that looked human but were possibly animals.
A group of people were crossing the alley entrance. Their laughter echoed down into the long narrow space and a man beside me raised his hand and waved. I scowled.
“You right mate,” someone called.
“He’s fine. His brother busted him inside a nightclub underaged. He’s grumpy because he paid $200 for fake ID and his brother has it now.”
The fellow who had asked laughed heartily. “That’ll teach you.” The crowd moved on, extra laughter now filled the space. The noise in my brain receded a little and I picked up a siren in the distance and continual laughter closer.
I narrowed my eyes, the green tinge was still at the edges, teasing me, taunting me. I didn’t know. Stupid eyes. Stupid ears, my ears hadn’t done anything like this in 18 months when my father had been murdered.
“Come, there is a coffee shop about 300 meters to the North.” The muscle man spoke. He seemed to be the one in charge and he escorted me out of the alley.
If I tried to change direction, the things with me simply moved and I found myself back on the path. If I slowed down the pace, they picked it up and I was forced to follow. My vision was now not green and night vision like but everything was in super sharp focus.
The clothes the things wore appeared to be normal, but I could see the weave and the uneven thickness of each strand of fiber. If I didn’t know any better, I would pick the fabric as a natural fiber. My mother had been big into natural fibers. Dad and I had laughed at her insistence on cotton sheets and linen and woolen clothing. What a random thought. I had to get focused so I could get away from these things.
I pushed into the muscle man and he took hold of my arm lightly. I tried to shrug him off and he released me. But it wasn’t a result of me forcing the issue, which was odd because I was actually really strong for my age. I played in the Open League team at the school, I was being scouted by professional teams, but I had more important things to do. The only thing I wanted from my football at the moment was a scholarship to Oxford University, and I only wanted that for access to their libraries. I was strong though when I tackled, the opposition went down. I was also fast, capable of outrunning anyone from one end of the field to the other in a game, but yet he had released me.
“Smile, you are not in danger from us,” Muscle man attempted a conversation with me. I shrugged. I did not know who these men were, only that they were not human and they could outrun me.
“That was a good run you gave me. Pity you can’t outpace a four paw.”
“Yet you took ages to catch me,” I snarled, surprised at how guttural my language sounded.
Paw man laughed. “On two feet you are faster and I could not mutate in public. You must get your speed from your father. He is incredibly fast.”
Thanks to Jane Matthews for this week’s starter sentence.