July 20th, 2017
It was a long struggle Sophie put up before she came to the spot of her death. Though she did not know it yet.
For at the moment all she knew was the sharp pain in her lungs from cold air. And the stiffness of her ankles and ache of her hips in twisting as she came around a corner. She fell. The glass knife (what remained of it, most of it was in Alestor’s face) in her hand cut her palm. She switched hands, rubbed her ruined skin on her garments and wrapped it with a piece of her sleeve. So much of her body ached like she just came out from duress from an iron maiden.
“Where are you girl?” She heard in the distance. An echo of an echo, her body slow and steady as it came up. Her bruised knees were made to shiver and she looked side to side. She couldn’t even tell what room she was in. Half the stripped wall laid in the floor to her right. On her left was a small hole in the wall, she ran into it. A toilet blackened with the years lay on its side. Its contents spilled, tar or coffee looking fluid that smelled of something septic. She crawled away from it. In front of her, there was another door or the door frame at least. There were stalls and there were sinks. And she ran past them all.
“Come back sweetheart, I need you.” She could hear him. Closer now, a voice that boomed and seeped its way through every nook and cranny. She swore she heard something else, a bloodhound. Tender steps of something tactile slapping away at the floor. She came to the cafeteria, it was down the hall from the bathroom. Some tables were still there and the plastic bright blue colored chairs were there too. They fell into clutter and she held her breath for fear. Sophie looked down the halls. She couldn’t bear the thought of watching him come through the hallway. She ran for the kitchen. There was a bar of sorts, a serving station that separated the two areas and she hid behind the cooking instruments where the rusted metal ovens now slept.
She brushed against a rusted handle. She jumped.
An oven door opened and the pilot light rolled out. It was a noise that hushed her immediatel. She could hear her heartbeat, felt it too, in giant pulses through her veins.
He was coming. Running, screaming inside. She raised her blond head and saw through the broken glass of the food concession stand. It was empty, most of the kitchen was stripped. There was a hose, like a snake, dangling from the wall. A few pots laid about.
“It won’t hurt.” Alestor screamed. “I won’t hurt you, I promise.” His hair was wild. His face, a blustering mess of grunts and deep breaths. “Just let me have your neck!”
Sophie held her mouth again. She begged her body to hush. Past him, past the madman, she saw the dog. The dumb faced lazy legged dog. Wide and grinning, slobbering over the floor and biting the concrete floor into granite. It looked like a mass of tendril-like hair. It was tasting for her footsteps. Her body felt torn, tackled in two directions. To hide, to run.
She stepped over the pilot light. Oh, no.
F***, f***, f***. F***!
Maybe they hadn’t heard it?
They turned. They knew it, though they could barely see her form. But the fear shot into her skull like a wide, diamond bullet. Right through her third eye.
She ran for it. The chasing steps sounded off like a barrage, like a coming army onto the fielding. The bots, the pans, all of the instruments falling or brushed aside.
It sounded like canon fire, the screams of the dead and the dying.
She ran to the exit. Ran past the leaking restrooms and the despondent libraries and the offices of dead writers and of dead editors and past the ocean of desks now breathing dust into the air.
She ran to a window. Thought to jump, saw the smoke and the flames and the height thought otherwise. Fine then, up further, up as high as the sky. She ran. The stairs nearly fell on her but she ran anyway past the shattering floor and its shifty steps. The rubble she shot down sounded off like a rolling rock down the steps of a great temples and mountain.
It was like Mt. Olympus. It felt just as tough at least.
The fire exit lay ahead. She pressed her body against the door. Screamed.
“Open.” She yelled. The doors budged, the moonlight came in and her vision blurred. “Open!”
She hit the door handle. She kicked it. She slapped. She headbutted.
Then she felt a pain on her back.
She went through the door, somehow?
And Sophie fell and crawled a bit before her vision of twos cleared, zeroed in.
Alestor was there. All the loose robes and gowns on him pushed west. He looked like the dying sail of a sinking mast, the ship long since sunk. Her heart sank. She looked back. She could see four yellow eyes in the now obscure darkness.
“It didn’t have to be you.” Alestor said. “You should have never snooped around. It wouldn’t have been you.”
She punched the floor.
“It could have been someone…someone older at least!” Half anger, half morose. Alestor’s voice died and inflected with the confliction. “Not you, not another kid…”
“You murderer.” She said underneath her breath. Alestor leaned in.
“Wh-what was that?” His hands shook.
“You murdering son of a bitch.” She repeated. Her nose dripped, her eye lids were hot.
“Murderer?” He was screaming at the sky. “I do what I do for love.”
“Is that what you tell yourself?” She stood. “F*** your love.”
His lips parted but he was blank for an answer. Then he closed him and it was like his mind was made up. His guilt and his fear shook off, Alestor gripped his knife.
Sophie gripped her own. Glass, just a piece. She felt the weight in her hand and repeated as she had done on the school grounds, with the other bullies. With Pip. Because Alestor was just another bully.
Just someone who pushes around, just that.
She cocked her shoulder back, she brought her arm down and with one final throw, chucked it at him. The knife cut Alestor across the cheek. She cut the sympathy from his heart.
Alestor’s face turned back. The large cuts all across his eyes, his cheeks. Two bursting gnashes, the flesh blooming like a flower.
“What are you looking at?” She asked. “You freak.”
He touched the lines of blood. His head, shaking and on brink of exploding.
“You ruined my face, you bitch.” He said. He came to her. And she stood still, proud for a moment that she was not begging. Not in fear. She was proud she held her tears back. Even when it came at her.
She felt the knife run through her like a warm hug. A hotness came to her that spread across her body. A strong sting spread across her belly. The air made it worse. She put her hands up, they fell limp after a while though she did not know why. Her brain wanted to move, her body could not. She wanted to talk, couldn’t. She wanted to punch the floor, but her hand didn’t even raise. The struggle ended after a while and she fell, face first. But it didn’t hurt. Nothing much hurt. She tried moving her face, nothing. Like a statue, a museum piece locked into some stubborn pose. It was all guesswork after that, to see what moved and what didn’t. A toe, fingers.
Then she didn’t have to guess at all.
And she went stiff.
And the burden of life seemed cut from her. The bark and the fire, the moaning and the screaming. Faded. Color faded. And of all things to last longest, she was glad it was her memories and her imagination and her dreams and her feelings.
The grainy film of memories in her head didn’t know where to go or stop. So she thought of her mother and grandfather. She thought of the good and the bad. The frustrated and the sad. She thought of her mom’s face and it made her glad, very glad. Mom was always a cry baby, always stressed. Well, it’s not like Sophie was any different. Not till now.
Now she was cold, cold and very calm like the good girl she always wished she could be.